School district rezoning: not enough notice, not fair

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The recent Atlanta Public Schools’ proposed rezoning of areas currently part of Grady’s attendance zone to the North Atlanta High School zone led dozens of parents to question the school board’s transparency regarding the plan. Additionally, problems have arisen with the distance of the zones in question to North Atlanta and the disregard for sacrifices families living in this zone have made to be in the Grady cluster.

The Grady cluster has been facing an overcrowding crisis for years, as many families have moved into the zone so they can send their kids to Inman Middle School and then Grady. Grady has a reputation as one of the best public high schools in Atlanta, and city-wide changes also add to the allure of Grady. Atlanta’s cost of living and housing prices have skyrocketed as landmarks such as Ponce City Market and the BeltLine have attracted residents looking for new economic and social opportunities in an urban setting. The most in-demand real-estate is the area that falls within the Grady cluster. Atlanta, as a city, is changing, and this is evidenced by the large class sizes and packed stairwells at Grady.

The rezoning, while inconvenient and understandably a cause for concern, is not uncalled for. Grady doesn’t have the space or the money to build onto our existing campus to accommodate rising enrollment. Furthermore, the school doesn’t have the time to design a more intricate plan while currently facing capacity issues.

Families affected by the rezoning have also started a conversation about the transparency of APS, as they were not made aware of the plan until November 15. APS should be open to conversation with the community when making decisions, and this should have been practiced when designing the rezoning plan. On the other hand, the community must be open to the possibility of change and compromise for the betterment of the school district as a whole, especially if we want to see problems like overcrowding disappear. While there are flaws in the execution of the plan to alleviate overcrowding, we as a community should be working to solve a problem that is affecting our schools, and at the same time the school board should work toward better conversation with the community.

The Southerner believes that parents are rightly frustrated with APS. The short notice given to the affected families was especially surprising. Since rezoning is such a hot-button topic and affects such a large population of families, it is expected that plenty of notice would be given to those impacted. The short notice is also very harmful to the overall situation because it appeared as if the affected wouldn’t have any say in the matter. Furthermore, these families have often worked hard to live inside the Grady district. This rezoning means that all of their hardwork and effort would amount to nothing. We understand that the idea as a whole is still being worked out, but the way that APS initiated the plan was flawed and could have been more tactfully approached.

Atlanta has been changing and is continuing to change. This requires rezoning, redrawing of borders and accepting the ways in which the community must handle this change. If there is no acceptance, compromise or conversation, the schools and the students of the city will be hindered.

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