APS to close Crim High, name central office after former leader

Crim Open Campus High School will graduate its last class in 2020, part of Atlanta Public Schools' plan to consolidate alternative-education programs.

The school board on Monday unanimously approved closing Crim, the high school off Memorial Drive named for Alonzo Crim, Atlanta’s first African-American superintendent.

With the school closure, the board found another way to mark his legacy by renaming its downtown headquarters The Alonzo A. Crim Center for Learning and Leadership. Superintendent Meria Carstarphen called it “an honor” to name the central office after the former superintendent, who served from 1973 to 1988.

“It gives me hope and inspiration knowing he will be looking down on us every day, helping us with strength and focus and commitment to kids,” she said.

Crim's daughter, Woodson Park Academy principal Susan Crim-McClendon, died last month, making the timing bittersweet.

District officials cited Crim High School’s declining enrollment, which has fallen from 560 students in 2010 to roughly 200 students this fall, as one reason to close it. It’s been more than a decade since Crim converted from a traditional high school to one that serves students in danger of dropping out.

Starting next school year, the district will merge the high school’s programs with its online Atlanta Virtual Academy and West End Academy, which allows juniors and seniors to catch up on credits before graduating from their home school.

APS estimates the consolidation will save the district about $1.6 million annually, largely by cutting staff. Roughly 70 employees will be required to reapply for jobs; APS has not said how many positions it will retain. Current staffers will learn by March 25 if they have been offered a job in the new program, a spokesman said.

In 2020, APS plans to open a college and career academy, where nontraditional students and those from all of Atlanta’s high schools can take classes in career fields such as cybersecurity, nursing, aviation mechanics and dental science.

Current Crim juniors will be able to remain at the school and earn a Crim diploma in 2020.

“We are working with each student individually to see exactly what they need,” Carstarphen told board members.

Alternative-education programs will be located in the current high school building, at least through next year.

Carstarphen said no decision has been made about what to do with the sprawling building near the Kirkwood neighborhood. The board is working on a facilities master plan to determine how best to use its properties, and that work will help the district decide what to do with the high school site, she said.