This is your CPNO Education Committee with an update on the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) Annual Capacity Review Process, including a recently released APS document outlining two scenarios for dealing with the projected high utilization at Midtown High School (HS). These scenarios were officially presented at an APS Midtown HS community meeting on March 9th 2023.
Scenario 1 – Current Environment with Additional Enhancement and Innovations (No
- Explore and collaborate with Midtown HS around the following potential strategies:
- Innovation review
- Review the potential of adding capacity
- Complete a residency review
- Review available resources to support Midtown HS
Scenario 2 – Rezone Centennial Academy Zone to Washington High School:
- Rezone high school students in the Centennial Academy zone to Washington High School effective 2024-25 school year
- No changes to Elementary and Middle school attendance zones
- Review available resources to support Washington HS
This move, along with residency verification or innovative enrollment solutions, would get Midtown HS utilization to 90% in 2024-2025.
Total students moved = 219
Impacted Neighborhoods: Atlantic Station, Castleberry Hill*, Downtown*, Georgia Tech, English Avenue*, Historic Westin, Heights/Bankhead*, Home Park, Knight Park/Howell Station, Marietta Street Artery
*Neighborhoods currently split across Midtown and other APS high schools that would be partially or wholly reunified under Scenario 2.
Impact of the Proposed Scenarios on Midtown High School and Washington High School Capacity
- Capacity: MHS 1600 vs. WHS 1625
- Do nothing
- Projected enrollment: MHS 1,711 vs. WHS 867
- Projected utilization: MHS 107% vs. WHS 53%
- Scenario 1 (no rezoning)
- Projected enrollment: MHS unknown vs. WHS same as do nothing
- Projected utilization: MHS unknown vs. WHS same as do nothing
- Scenario 2 (rezoning Centennial to Washington)
- Projected enrollment: MHS 1,440 vs. WHS 1086
- Projected utilization: MHS 90% vs. WHS 67%
- Note: MHS = Midtown HS, WHS = Washington HS, projected enrollment is for 2024–2025.
At this point, there is no clarity with regard to the nature of the Scenario 1 “innovative solutions,” nor has APS provided any estimates as to the potential impact of these solutions or residency reviews on the projected utilization at Midtown HS. For a non-rezoning option like Scenario 1, APS has set a higher target capacity of 95%, meaning Scenario 1 would need to effectively reduce enrollment, or increase capacity, by at least 191 students for 2024-2025 projected enrollment. At 95% Midtown HS would remain in the “red zone” for capacity analysis, i.e., subject to Annual Capacity Review.
Note that enrollment projections are subject to high levels of error. For example, the Midtown HS projected enrollment for the year 2026-2027 has gone down from 1,820 (in an August 2022 projection ) to 1,705 (in the February 2023 projection ), which is a 6.2% change. However, given that Midtown HS is currently deemed to be over capacity, it is the opinion of the CPNO Education Committee that the strategies in Scenario 1 should be implemented immediately, regardless of whether APS also decides to pursue Scenario 2 in 2024-2025.
Scenario 2 results in a projected utilization of 90% in 2024-2025 at Midtown HS and raises Washington HS to 67%, the “green zone” for capacity analysis. If Scenario 1 is implemented immediately and in tandem with Scenario 2 as suggested above, it should be possible to reduce utilization further. However, Scenario 2 negatively impacts the racial and socio-economic diversity at Midtown HS, with a 6.6% decrease in the black population and a 3.9% decrease in Free and Reduced Lunch Status. While APS data reflect three year average growth in ELA and Math at Washington HS comparable to or exceeding Midtown HS, ELA and Math Proficiency at Midtown in 2022 was 66% and 54%, respectively, compared to 9% and 7% at Washington HS. Midtown HS also offers a broader range of academic programming, like AP classes, than currently available at Washington HS.
Beyond utilization and equity, APS looks at factors such as proximity, traffic and safety patterns, past rezoning decisions and neighborhood cohesion when making redistricting decisions. Centennial Academy is a similar distance from Midtown HS and Washington HS, but the location of its attendance zone on the west side of I-75 creates traffic difficulties for buses trying to get to Midtown HS in a timely manner. Although there aren’t recent rezoning decisions impacting Centennial Academy, it is in the process of renewing its charter, which is anticipated to significantly change enrollment policies. Any disruptions caused by the charter renewal would be compounded by redistricting if Scenario 2 is chosen.
With regard to neighborhood cohesion, impacted neighborhoods will either be rezoned in their entirety or be reunited in whole or in part under Scenario 2 so no neighborhoods should be fractured by Scenario 2.
Will we be doing this every year?
The Annual Capacity Review Process is a new approach by APS to assess capacity issues on an ongoing basis. As implied by its title, APS will undertake this review yearly. One of the advantages of this frequency is that APS will have the opportunity to adjust and refine its enrollment projections based on evolving real-world data, hopefully resulting in more effective and responsive solutions. One of the negatives is that if the implementation of a chosen scenario does not successfully address Midtown High School’s capacity issues, it is possible that a redistricting scenario could be proposed in any given year, a stressful prospect for parents, students and their communities. On March 9, it was requested that, whatever APS decides, it must commit to take redistricting off the table for a set number of years.
April – Draft Recommendation
- April 11-13 – Community Meetings
- April 17-21 – Awareness Outreach
May 1 – Board First Read (if redistricting)
June 5 -Board Second Read (if redistricting)
How can I provide feedback?
- APS has created a feedback form so that stakeholders may share their opinions on the proposed scenarios: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSchpgCFQSKftoSpx5FT-HoGMw20_2N2NrXMKObT3p5JrXNiPA/viewform
- We also encourage you to use the “Let’s Talk” platform as a way to ask questions and engage in the process. APS monitors it and seems to have more accountability to respond to questions directed to this platform. https://www.atlantapublicschools.us/domain/14240
Candler Park Neighborhood Organization Education Committee
Dima Nazzal (Co-Chair)
Yukiko Takeuchi (Co-Chair)
Stacee Burton White