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Midtown parents oppose Atlanta elementary school rezoning plans

ATLANTA (CW69 News at 10) — Parents are pushing back against plans to rezone three Midtown elementary schools and open another elementary school.

Concern and frustration describe parents' reaction over potential plans by the Atlanta Public Schools to rezone the Midtown cluster that includes Springdale Park (SPARK), Morningside, and Mary Lin elementary schools in Atlanta. Plans to also open a new elementary school at the former Inman Middle School are also raising an alarm.

"I was completely blindsided. I live just a couple of blocks south of here in Morningside, easy walking distance from the school," said Diana Black, whose oldest child is scheduled to start kindergarten at Morningside in 2023. "We would be sent to the Inman Middle School, which is not walking distance from us, and it's 30% farther away."

Black says parents first heard about the plans days before a 5-to-4 vote by the school board to move forward.

"That was alarming and very concerning, because as we know, it takes a village to raise children, and right now it feels like our village is being ripped out from under us," she said.

School officials said that the board has only approved a first read of the recommendations and delayed a final vote. The district says the changes are needed to address overcrowding.

Shannon Gaggero and her neighbor, Guenther Huber, both have children who attend Springdale Park Elementary. "Board members are telling us different versions about their understanding about what their 'yes' vote meant," said Gaggero. "This does not address our long-term capacity issues at the high school level, so it's a band-aid on a larger problem."

This concern was echoed by Huber.

"What I'm really scared about is the disruption. APS says themselves that transitions are really hard for kids, especially school-to-school transitions, and here we have a proposal where you're impacting almost 900 kids," said Huber.

They say keeping a dual campus at Springdale Park is a better solution and spelled it out in a petition.

"Springdale Park today is already a dual campus, where they have a separate K-center, versus a main campus; and we can use that model and continue that with the current SPARK building at the Inman building," said Guenther.

He went on to say that a dual campus would offer better education and more stability.

APS officials are planning several community engagement meetings this month, with a final vote expected in August.

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