From Jeff Shaw and Lori Van Rossem, Mary Lin's Task Force Reps:
The Inman Middle School Capacity Task Force began meeting over the summer, and has had three meetings thus far, on July 11, July 24, and August 7. Superintendent Erroll Davis, with assistance from school board member Cecily Harsch-Kinnane, formed the task force for the purpose of exploring options to address middle school over-crowding at Inman and within the Grady cluster. The task force co-chairs are Larry Hoskins, APS Deputy Superintendent of Operations, and Karen Waldon, APS Deputy Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. Task force members also include two school board members, Ms. Harsch-Kinnane, and Brenda Muhammad, Inman principal Paula Herrema, two Inman teachers, and 16 parent representatives. The 16 parent representatives include two each from the five Grady cluster elementary schools (Mary Lin, Morningside, Springdale Park, Centennial Place, and Hope-Hill), two each from Inman middle school and Grady high school, and two superintendent appointees. Lin’s two parent representatives are Jeff Shaw and Lori van Rossem, with Tamara Jones and Jennifer Hubert serving as back-up representatives when Mr. Shaw and Ms. Van Rossem cannot attend.
The full minutes of all task force meetings are posted on the APS website.
It was established at the initial meetings that the task force will not be making any formal or final recommendations, or taking any formal votes on any recommendations or options, but rather it is intended that the task force will explore and discuss various options for addressing over-crowding at the middle school level within the Grady cluster. All final decisions on these issues will be made by Superintendent Davis. The task force meets every other Tuesday, and it is anticipated that it will meet through the end of October. The next meeting will be on Tuesday, August 21, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in the Inman auditorium.
The first two meetings mostly addressed procedure and protocol. A set of task force “norms” were also adopted that can be seen on the APS website at http://www.atlanta.k12.ga.us/Page/29002.
It was also discussed and understood at the first two meetings that additional building capacity will be necessary to accommodate all current and future projected Inman middle school students. Co-chair Larry Hoskins stated that APS does have money available for this additional needed building capacity, either for a renovation of an existing building, or for constructing a new building. There was some preliminary discussion of potential sites for a new middle school facility, and Mr. Hoskins distributed a list of all currently owned APS properties which are possible locations (see list of sites attached to minutes of July 24 meeting). Chief among these listed possible locations are the David T. Howard Building, the old Walden middle school, and the vacant Bass fields site near Moreland Ave. and Austin Ave.
At the July 24 meeting, Mr. Hoskins also distributed enrollment projections for Inman under various scenarios, including use as a school containing only grades 6-7, as a school containing only grades 7-8, and as a 6th grade academy, and as an 8th grade academy (see enrollment projections attached to minutes of July 24 meeting). These projections also included clarification that the official capacity of the Inman building is 875 students. Mr. Hoskins explained that this 875 capacity figure is based upon 35 core classrooms at Inman, and 25 students per classroom. There was some discussion about this capacity figure, with some parents arguing for a lower capacity figure. At the August 7 meeting, Mr. Hoskins again confirmed that 875 is the Inman capacity figure which Superintendent Davis and APS have reviewed and approved. The Lin task force representatives believe this capacity figure is a fair and reasonable. Under the projections for Inman, if Inman were used as a 7-8 school (with a 6th grade academy located elsewhere), student enrollment would remain within the 875 capacity until 2020-21, and then would barely exceed capacity thereafter.
At the most recent, August 7, meeting, Mr. Hoskins distributed information regarding three potential new second middle school (grades 6-8) scenarios. These three potential scenarios are: Scenario #1: Morningside and Springdale Park elementary schools continue to feed into Inman middle school, while Mary Lin, Centennial Place, and Hope-Hill elementary schools feed into a new, second middle school; Scenario #2: Morningside, Springdale Park, and Lin feed into Inman, while Centennial and Hope-Hill feed into a new, second middle school; and Scenario #3: Morningside, Springdale Park, and Centennial feed into Inman, while Lin and Hope-Hill feed into a new, second middle school. The information regarding these three potential scenarios also included the projected racial breakdowns at Inman and at the new, second middle school under each of the three scenarios, and the racial breakdowns are generally unbalanced in comparisons between Inman and the new middle schools. Mr. Hoskins stated that Superintendent Davis had reviewed these three potential new, second middle school scenarios, and he was not comfortable with any of them, and found each unacceptable, and each is therefore off the table as an option to address over-crowding at Inman. (See minutes of August 7 meeting and attachments.) Mr. Hoskins stated that there may be other second middle school options that Mr. Davis might consider, but these three options or scenarios are off the table.
Lin’s representatives to the task force agree that the three presented new second middle school scenarios are unacceptable. Not only would the new second middle schools under these three scenarios present significant racial imbalances, but would also present significant differences in socio-economic status, and academic performance, between the two middle schools.
At the August 7 meeting, given that the most likely second middle school options are no longer on the table, Lin’s representatives urged the task force to strongly consider a new sixth grade academy or school, at a separate location, with grades 7-8 remaining at Inman. The Lin representatives believe that a new 6th grade academy, which serves the entire Grady cluster, would be the most inclusive and equal option. Any two middle school option will raise divisive issues regarding how the boundary lines are drawn for the two middle schools, as well as resulting issues of uneven academic performance between the two schools. Lin’s representatives would support locating the 6th grade academy at the Howard Building location, or would also urge APS and the task force to consider other locations further north and more geographically central to the Grady cluster.
Lin’s representatives also pointed out at the August 7 meeting that with the addition of two new Grady parent representatives to the task force, who both reside in the Morningside area, that the there are now seven parent representatives on the task force who reside in Morningside (two for Morningside elementary, one for Inman middle, two for Grady, and the two Superintendent appointees), while there are three parent representatives who reside in Springdale Park (two for Springdale Park elementary, and one for Inman middle), and two representatives each for Lin, Centennial, and Hope-Hill. Lin’s representatives expressed concern with having seven representatives from Morningside. Although many of the Morningside representatives are excellent, nonetheless this imbalance will impact the discussions of the task force as each representative’s perspective is naturally shaped to some degree by where they are from. Lin’s representatives, however, made it clear that regardless of the composition of the task force, Lin will continue to work diligently in an utmost spirit of cooperation and good faith on the task force.
The next meeting on Tuesday, August 21 (from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in the Inman auditorium) will cover the agenda items not reached at the last meeting, including other potential parcels of available land, Howard and Walden building status, and more in depth consideration of the potential grade configuration options. It was also requested to have more guidance from APS on the success of the various configuration options. The parents and public are welcome to attend task force meetings as observers, but cannot participate or ask questions or make comments during meetings.