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Jackson Cluster Elementary Schools Discuss Capacity Issues

Attendees discuss capacity issues at local elementary schools at a meeting held at Parkside Elementary. Photo by Clare Gordon.
Attendees discuss capacity issues at local elementary schools at a meeting held at Parkside Elementary. Photo by Clare Gordon.

By Clare Gordon

The Jackson Cluster community met at Parkside Elementary on March 20 to discuss anticipated capacity and under-capacity issues at the three elementary campuses of Parkside, Barack and Michelle Obama Academy (BAMOA), and Benteen. Stemming from recent meetings and discussions, five possible scenarios were put on the table. These include 1) a re-zoning for Summerhill, Woodland Hills, and Boulevard Heights; 2) a re-zoning of those same neighborhoods and much of the westside of Grant Park; 3) combining all three schools and forming three grade level academies; 4) forming two grade level academies at Parkside and BAMOA with Benteen remaining a Spanish immersion school (Benteen has been approved to launch Dual Language Immersion for the 2018-2019 school year) servicing all of the zoned neighborhoods; and 5) making no changes at all.

Leigh Schrope, Parkside’s PTA president, said after the meeting: “While I appreciate any discussions relating to redistricting will involve heightened emotions, I am thankful for all of those who have been dedicated to keeping the discourse respectful and focused. I have been impressed that so many of our neighbors are taking an active role in these community discussions to help determine the best approach for all three schools and our cluster.”

While APS is seeking community feedback and recommendations, the district’s Board of Education will make the final decision. Whatever option is ultimately selected (or any variation thereof), no changes will be made for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year. APS leadership indicated a survey, based on the recent discussions and data gathered by the district, will be sent out to the community. They hope to come to a decision by the end of 2018. Any changes would then likely be put in place for the 2019-2020 school year.

“During this process, I have really enjoyed getting to know so much more about our sister schools BAMOA and Benteen,” added Leigh. “We are all headed to King and Jackson so it’s been a great jump start for many of our families to meet and get acquainted.”

More information regarding this topic can be found at www.apsstrongschools.com/jacksonclusterconversation.