Atlanta school board weighs options to ease overcrowded campuses

Atlanta Public Schools officials are considering what to do with the former site of Inman Middle School, located in the growing Midtown High School cluster.  (Vanessa McCray/AJC file photo)

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Atlanta Public Schools officials are considering what to do with the former site of Inman Middle School, located in the growing Midtown High School cluster. (Vanessa McCray/AJC file photo)

Atlanta Public Schools’ consultants offered two ideas Wednesday to address overcrowding concerns at east-side campuses.

The suggestions are part of the development of a facilities master plan that will guide decisions about how best to use school buildings over the next decade. Although APS enrollment is predicted to increase by only a few hundred students over the next 10 years, several schools in and around Midtown face capacity issues.

To ease that problem, consultants from the Sizemore Group offered two scenarios to repurpose the former Inman Middle School in the Virginia-Highland neighborhood.

They advised opening a new kindergarten through fifth grade elementary school at the site or moving third, fourth and fifth graders from the nearby Springdale Park Elementary School into the building.

Both proposals would require attendance zone lines to be redrawn in the Midtown cluster of schools, shifting some students from one elementary school to another.

What to do with the Inman site has been a lingering question since middle school students moved out of the building in 2020 and into the recently renovated Howard Middle School.

Students from Morningside Elementary School have occupied Inman while their building is under renovation and will remain there through next school year. The Inman site will be available for other uses beginning in fall 2023.

Notably absent from the consultant’s report was a proposal APS made in September to turn the Inman site into a fourth and fifth grade academy to serve students from four surrounding elementary schools.

That idea drew opposition from some parents who didn’t want their children to transition to a new school in fourth grade. Families also expressed concerns that it wouldn’t solve the overcrowding problem and that some students would live too far away to walk to the school.

In response, APS announced in October that the district would delay opening an upper-elementary academy.

“We were intentional to communicate the pause to allow for us to come back to this process,” Superintendent Lisa Herring said Wednesday.

Some schools in other parts of Atlanta face an opposite problem: Their buildings are under-utilized because of smaller student numbers.

Before consolidating or closing those schools, consultants advised APS to monitor enrollment numbers over the next few years.

Tom Sayre, of the Sizemore Group, said that approach will allow the district to “remain as flexible as possible” as it gauges the impact of COVID-19.

APS enrolls 48,753 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The district lost roughly 2,000 students during the pandemic.

Consultants also proposed other changes. They include redistricting Centennial Academy so that it feeds into Washington High School instead of Midtown High School. Dunbar Elementary would feed into Price Middle School or Herman J. Russell West End Academy instead of Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School.

The school board intends to vote on those proposals and the plan for the Inman site in June.

In the fall, the board will consider other changes that could impact additional schools.


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