The Atlanta Public Schools held a community meeting Wednesday night to discuss the possible closure of one of its smallest elementary schools. The district is considering closing Whitefoord Elementary, in Edgewood, and shifting students to nearby Toomer and Burgess-Peterson.
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Student enrollment determines the number of teachers and support staff each school receives. Schools with bigger student populations qualify for more teachers, counselors and administrators.
Atlanta Superintendent Meria Carstarphen told the crowd of more than 100 people that Whitefoord’s enrollment of 272 students is so small, it’s more efficient to close it and increase the populations of Toomer and Burgess-Peterson.
“We’re just able to do more that we think is better for kids, including offering more early childhood options and having a larger complement of support services, like counselors, a full-time librarian, additional support positions,” Carstarphen said.
Some parents expressed concerns, ranging from bus schedules to traffic patterns, to disrupting the “family atmosphere” some said exists at Whitefoord.
“Teachers here are like family,” said parent LaWilliam Heath. “They can recognize what’s going wrong, instead of moving to another school where the teacher just seems like she’s just getting a check, and she don’t really care.”
Carstarphen said the district would be sensitive to the issue. Whitefoord teachers would get “priority” status if they choose to interview for jobs at Toomer or Burgess-Peterson.
The plan isn’t final yet. The school board will take a vote March 6.
A note of disclosure: WABE’s broadcast license is held by the Atlanta Board of Education.