Atlanta school district to consider closing more schools

The Atlanta school board will consider closing more schools in the coming months.

The discussion of potential closures comes less than a year after the board voted to close one school and merge four others and four years after it closed seven schools and moved boundaries at dozens of others.

Dozens of Atlanta schools are half-full. Most are elementary schools in south Atlanta. But some high schools, including Douglass and South Atlanta, are far under capacity too.

“Atlanta Public Schools is a system that was built physically for more than 100,000 students,” Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said. Today, the system has about 50,000 students.

Carstarphen said her recommendations for which schools should be closed would be based on factors including size, school performance and proximity to other school buildings.

“It’s not random,” she said. Where the district can find other groups interested in using vacant school buildings — for preschools or other uses — it will, she said.

Although Grady High School and some schools that feed into Grady are overcrowded, Carstarphen has said in the past that redistricting and sending some current Grady cluster students to other schools is not an option.

Discussions about closures are expected to take place during budget planning this fall with a vote likely early next year, Carstarphen said.

Budget commission chairman Matt Westmoreland said the commission has not yet started to discuss potential closings or mergers, but said the board had learned from past experience.

“If this becomes a topic of conversation, then I hear those things: Start earlier, engage the community before any decisions have been made, and then come with a clear rationale,” he said.

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