21 Aug 2014
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Petition Drive to Save David T. Howard School

Petition Drive to Save David T. Howard School
OLD FOURTH WARD — Some seek to save the old David T. Howard High School from possible demolition and to repurpose the facility to relieve overcrowding in Atlanta schools.

They've started a petition on change.org directed at the Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. and the school board that presses for adaptive reuse of the 90-year-old campus at 551 John Wesley Dobbs Ave. NE.

The petition, started by neighborhood activist Priscilla Borders, says the seven-acre site offers the best opportunity to relieve overcrowding in the Grady High School cluster:
  • it is the largest of the recommended sites by the Inman Task Force at 7 acres with appropriate field space available;
  • it is property already familiar and accessed by many in the immediate and surrounding communities;
  • it is easily accessible by the Freedom Park Trail, Atlanta BeltLine and soon-to-come Atlanta Street Car;

The Grady cluster includes Grady High, Inman Middle, Mary Lin Elementary, Hope-Hill Elementary and Springdale Park Elementary schools.

Along with Old Fourth Ward, the cluster includes Candler Park, Inman Park, Lake Claire, Virginia-Highland and Poncey-Highland and Midtown.

At the height of last year's redistricting row to relieve overcrowding in some schools and close underutilized facilities, some neighborhood leaders, including Borders, proposed repurposing the Howard facility as a middle school to alleviate the overcrowded Inman.

But the idea pitted some factions of various neighborhoods in the cluster against one another.

There was staunch and vocal opposition to any redistricting scenario that would take kids out of the high-performing Inman.

Some in Old Fourth Ward saw the opposition as having a racial undercurrent, charging parents in the surrounding affluent neighborhoods simply didn't want their kids going to school with children from working class and poor families living the Village of Bedford-Pines apartments on the Boulevard corridor.

In the end, Inman stayed intact, though it remains overcrowded.

Opened in 1923 as an elementary school that replaced three other schools that were established for freed black slaves and their children, APS shuttered Howard in 1976.

Its most famous graduate was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr.

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