ATLANTA - The Atlanta School Board has voted to move forward with its plan to consolidate and merge schools. The board voted 7-2 in favor of the plan.
Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen said the decision was was tough, but necessary. She believes the move will ultimately improve school performance overall.
The changes were recommended due to low enrollment at several elementary schools. The campuses on the list include Fain Elementary, Towns Elementary, Adamsville Primary and Whitefoord Elementary.
Adamsville Primary and Whitefoord will close in 2017 for the 2017-2018 school year. While Fain and Towns will close in 2019.
Students from Adamsville will attend Miles Intermediate and Whitefoord ES students will be split between Toomer Elementary and Burgess-Peterson Academy. Fain and Towns students will go to a new elementary school housed in Harper-Archer Middle, which will be phased out beginning in 2017.
There are several other mergers and redistricting plans with the schools that will happen over the five-year strategic plan.
Frustrated parents gathered over the weekend and camped out Sunday night, saying the proposal will lead to larger class size - something that will not benefit student performance. They also worry about empty school buildings, fearing they will create blight and lower property values.
The school board is expected to vote on the proposed closings at its regularly scheduled meeting Monday evening.
One stakeholder says the school closures are about more than meets the eye.
"It makes no sense to close schools on children when billions of dollars of development are coming into the area. You have a two billion stadium, but yet in the shadow, a closed Bethune Elementary, a closed Kennedy, which Impacts Washington High. The school board is a joke, they are pawns. Big business runs this," former parent Nathaniel Dyer said with confidence.
Some community activists have pledged to overturn the district's decision and will meet next week for a strategy session.
The plan will go into effect this fall for the 2017-18 school year.