APS looks at shutting down some schools, merging others

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Parents, teachers and students packed the auditorium at Frederick Douglass High School Wednesday night. They're concerned about plans that would close and merge some of their schools.

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen says changes have to be made to improve the efficiency and performance of the schools. “It's about us doing what's best for the kids, APS has to do a better job,” says Dr. Carstarphen.

The superintendent presented various scenarios. Among the options, closing FL Stanton Elementary and merging Fain and Towns Elementaries. There's also an option of doing away with the middle school and creating K thru 7 or K thru 8 schools that would feed into Douglass High School. In all the scenarios, Coretta Scott King Academy and The B.E.S.T. School would be shut down. Both are single gender schools.

A number of parents and students voiced concerns about the closing of the schools. “The scenario of closing the schools down would be a disservice for students, the community and the staff that cares about those kids.” says MacArthur Randolf who is a graduation coach at B.E.S.T.

Dr. Carstarphen says Douglass is one of the most challenged clusters in the district. She says there was a lot to consider before coming up with potential plans. “We look at a lot of factors. Enrollment is one, but also the utilization of the building and the buildings within the cluster. We also look at signature programming to make sure we don't take a school off track. There's a lot to consider,” says Carstarphen.

Parents and those in the community say there's got to be a way to improve schools, without shutting them down. “I know they're thinking about the economic part, but there are other solutions rather than just close it,” says Larry Corker who lives in the community.

Dr. Carstarphen says nothing is set in stone right now. She is planning a meeting with students, and there are other town halls scheduled over the next few weeks. A final decision will be made in March.

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