23 Aug 2014
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APS Board Chairman Reuben R. McDaniel III On Summerhill

McDaniel and other board members hear Summerhill's concerns.

APS Board Chairman Reuben R. McDaniel III On Summerhill

Summerhill residents spoke loudly Friday night at a specially called meeting to discuss their concerns at being zoned to D.H. Stanton Elementary School in Peoplestown, when the neighborhood asked and initially got zoning to attend Parkside Elementary in Grant Park.

The decision to move Summerhill follows the Atlanta Public Schools' Board of Education April 10 vote to close seven schools instead of 10 as district Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. recommended.

D.H. Stanton itself was a last-minute surprise on the tentative closure list but the Peoplestown community, in a 10-day tilt-a-whirl of activity, managed to keep its school open.

As a result, APS decided that moving Summerhill, which lost its zoned primary school, Cook Elementary, to D.H. Stanton makes fiscal sense in its quest to save money, better utilize its facilities and ease overcrowding.

But the redrawn zoning maps, which the board of education is expected to vote on at the end of this month, must still be approved to be binding.

At Friday's meeting, Summerhill residents said they have nothing against Peoplestown, a neighborhood with which they often collaborate to tackle issues of concern to both.

At the heart of the row between Summerhill and APS is that D.H. Stanton, like Cook, is underperforming academically.

And while D.H. Stanton's supporters have a turnaround plan they say will make it an enviable school of distinction, Summerhill says its current population of elementary school-aged children shouldn't be student surrogates in the meantime.

That was the message they tried to impress upon the APS board members who attended the meeting: Chairman Reuben R. McDaniel III, at-large member Courtney D. English and Brenda J. Muhammad, whose district includes Peoplestown and Summerhill.

McDaniel told East Atlanta Patch that when the board voted to close seven schools instead of 10, he knew some attendance zone shifts were likely.

But he said he didn't know what neighborhoods would change.

And while he said he appreciated the passions and concerns from all the neighborhoods affected by the redistricting, APS has to act in the what's in the best interest of the district as a whole.

Whether the meeting had any impact in how he will ultimately vote regarding the final attendance zone maps or how he will vote, McDaniel would not say.

Please click on the video to hear a portion of our interview with McDaniel.

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