Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen dances with Harper-Archer Elementary School dancers after she delivered her final State of the District address at the newly renovated Harper-Archer Elementary School. Bob Andres /
Photo: Bob Andres/
Photo: Bob Andres/

Carstarphen to explore potential for Atlanta arts school 

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen wants to put together a plan to launch a school focused on the arts. 

Carstarphen endorsed the idea last week during her annual State of the District address, which under her leadership has evolved to feature student performances in music and dance. This year, students even performed with shadow puppets. 

Carstarphen said she was inspired by those contributions and said she thinks it’s time to explore opening a school that caters to the arts. 

The idea has circulated before. In May of 2018, a “new arts high school” was among potential projects that district officials told the school board it could consider supporting, should revenue from a one-cent sales tax used for building projects come in higher than estimated. 

In an August 2018 presentation, the district said the cost for creating a new arts high school would depend “on design and approach.” Facilities master plan documents from that time noted that a newly constructed 400-student performing arts building is estimated to cost $60 million.

Carstarphen said she thinks an arts school could attract financial support from outside groups. 

“This is one where I think we would have enough partners that would be excited about it and might even help us be able to get it off the ground before we figure out all the other bits and pieces within a bureaucratic system,” she said, when asked about the concept after the State of the District. 

Carstarphen said she plans to work on a plan for an arts-focused school and bring a proposal to the board to consider before the end of the school year.

Her contract expires June 30, and the school board said in September her contract would not be renewed. 

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