Postponed – BOE delays middle school merger

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt April 14, 2014
Members of the Atlanta Board of Education at BOE's April 14, 2014 meeting.  - Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

Members of the Atlanta Board of Education at BOE’s April 14, 2014 meeting. – Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

The Atlanta Board of Education isn’t ready to tackle the topic of whether to merge Coan and King Middle schools this fall.

During a Board of Education meeting on the afternoon of April 14, Superintendent Erroll Davis suggested the board should hold off making any decision for a week. The board was ready to consider a recommendation from Davis that would’ve moved King Middle School students to Coan Middle’s campus this fall so APS could renovate the King campus.

The superintendent, who will leave office this summer, said he wanted to know whether APS should move all King students into the current Coan campus while renovations at King are taking place.  Shortly before the board discussed the middle school merger idea, they voted to hire Davis’ replacement, Meria Carstarphen.

“One of the points that was made is that if you were to move all of the students into King, how soon does construction and renovation begin at King? We have, now that I look further in the budget, I see $10 million as a stage 4 project for King,” Davis said, according to the TalkUPAPS blog. “The real issue here now with respect to Coan students next year, is should we move all the students into Coan because changes will be taking place at the King building. The other question is if it takes a while to get those changes started should we move the kids at all. I hope to have an answer by next week. The critical path to that answer is knowing how soon we could start construction. The normal cycles may not be appropriate in this case. I will have more in a week or so.”

School Board Member Leslie Grant said she didn’t mind postponing the decision, but said the delay means prolonging the uncertainty for parents who are sending their kids to Coan this fall.

“I want to make sure we are making this decision based on (people) not facility,” Grant said, according to the TalkUPAPS blog.

“You are right, we have learned (from previous redistricting) that we have to do a better job and we are committed to putting additional counselors, social workers and security in place when we make these transitions,” Davis replied.

There was confusion throughout the day on whether the superintendent’s recommendation would be on the agenda. There was an initial unconfirmed rumor that the item would be pulled off the agenda. Shortly before the meeting, an APS spokeswoman said the item would be pulled from the agenda, and then sent along another message saying it was placed back on the agenda.

School Board Member Cynthia Briscoe Brown said the agenda for Monday’s meeting was more flexible than most.  School Board members were set to consider the Fiscal Year 2015 budget, but it was removed prior to the start of the board meeting.

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