Marietta schools may redistrict Franklin Road apartments
by Haisten Willis
April 07, 2014 12:04 AM | 5125 views | 4 4 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — The Marietta Board of Education may redistrict another Franklin Road apartment complex from Hickory Hills Elementary to Park Street Elementary for the 2014-15 school year.

In February 2013, the board voted to move 33 students from the Franklin Road area to Park Street. They may vote this month to do the same for about 70 students living at the Autumn View apartments.

“We will be returning them back closer to their home school,” said Marietta school board chair Randy Weiner. “This is due to enrollment growing at Hickory Hills. They are maxed out of space. Park Street can absorb extra students.”

Autumn View apartments are at 1035 Franklin Road, just north of Delk Road.

Reversing roles

The move would be a reversal of a previous redistricting. For the 2008-09 school year, 95 students from the same apartment complexes were moved from Park Street to Hickory Hills — which only had 254 students at the time — while Park Street was forced to use trailers for some of its 686 students, according to school system documents. Superintendent Dr. Emily Lembeck even proposed closing Hickory Hills in 2007 because of declining enrollment. But the board rejected Lembeck’s proposal, electing to keep the school open and transforming it into a school emphasizing an arts curriculum with classes in drama and dance.

With that situation reversed, the students are moving back.

Marietta schools officials pointed out the number of actual students being redistricted for a second time should be very low. According to the district, all of the students from the previous redraw have either moved or graduated to middle school.

Franklin Road is something of a construction hot spot right now. Two apartment complexes were bought by the city of Marietta recently to be torn down for redevelopment. Autumn View is not one of them, although more apartments are expected to be purchased by the city.

Lembeck said any redistricting has nothing to do with those construction plans. The only relationship between the two, said Lembeck, is families moving out of the apartments set for demolition has opened up more room at Park Street.

“Park Street may have students that will leave when those apartments are closed down,” said Lembeck. “I think they’ve had a few move already, but it’s hard to determine how many will move.”

Lembeck noted the first round of students moving from Hickory Hills to Park Street happened before renovation plans were ever discussed.

Another advantage pointed out by Lembeck is the students will live closer to their new school than to Hickory Hills.

Board member raises concerns

When students were moved from Hickory Hills to Park Street a year ago, the board voted 6-1 in favor. The lone “no” vote was Brett Bittner, who said he might have two objections to the move.

“I had a question about whether they had asked parents their thoughts or made them fully aware of their choices for going to Park Street,” said Bittner, also the board’s only Libertarian. “The answer I received was ‘no.’ One other thing that concerns me is this redistricting plan comes after Choice Academy applications closed (on Jan. 17).”

Choice Academy is a magnet-type program for students looking to learn about specialized areas such as art, leadership or communications. Each school offers only one of the programs.

Though not responding to Bittner directly, Lembeck said parents will have the chance to consult school board members and make public comments ahead of the vote.

The redistricting isn’t yet a done deal, as the school system is checking enrollment numbers to make sure the move is necessary. If it is, it will probably come to the board for a vote during its April 8 meeting or a special called meeting April 22, according to Weiner.

Newly-elected board member Jason Waters said the move isn’t just a good idea, but a “need” for the schools.

“Hickory Hills needs to be a neighborhood school again, serving its neighborhood. I am 100 percent for that,” he said. “I’m passionate about it. Hickory Hills and Whitlock Heights need a neighborhood school. It doesn’t do good for the kids to ride past two other schools to get to Hickory Hills. It costs us more time, more gas money and research will show you kids do better in neighborhood schools.”

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April 08, 2014
I love both schools. I've had children at Park Street and the staff is wonderful. I now have a child at Hickory Hills and the staff is wonderful as well. Each offers something different. Park Street is more family oriented, whereas Hickory Hills offers a great Arts program. I agree that the kids from Franklin Rd should go to Park Street bc the vast majority can not get their children to school if they miss the school bus due to their lack of transportation. Those are the same children who can not participate in extracurricular activities due to the same reasons. My neighbor has a child in kindergarten that has missed well over 16 days bc she can't get her lazy butt up to get her child to the bus stop in a timely manner knowing good and well that she does not have a vehicle to transport her. As for myself, I have transportation and I could fight for my child to remain at Hickory Hills should I choose to.
April 07, 2014
Call it what it is. Now that the numbers are up at Hickory Hills from offering a desirable program they want to get rid of the "undesirables," ethnic and low-income kids from Franklin Road apartments and concentrate them at Park Street, the worst school in the system. Offer up any excuses you have but it's not much more than new and legal segregation.
April 07, 2014
Call you, for what you are - a fool. Do a little research before you rant. Perhaps you may actually learn a few things.
April 08, 2014
Both schools are great. I've had children attend Park Street and the staff is wonderful. I now have a child at Hickory Hills and the staff is wonderful as well. Park Street offers a more family oriented feel, whereas Hickory Hills offers an awesome Arts Program. It's bittersweet for me because my child actively participates in programs at Hickory Hills. She attends afterschool dance and is a Dragon Player, which consists of drama and chorus. The programs coincide with my daughters passion. However, I agree that the children on Franklin Rd need to attend Park Street because it's closer. The vast majority can not get their children to school if they miss the school bus due to transportation issues. Those are the same children who can not participate in extracurricular activities for that same exact reason. Lord forbid if a child gets sick at will they get picked up? I have a neighbor that has a child in kindergarten and she has missed well over 16 days of school because her mother don't arrive at the bus stop in a timely manner and does not have a vehicle to transport her to school. I will fight for my daughter to stay at Hickory Hills if need be. Not because I don't like Park Street but because my daughter is active in the Arts Program at Hickory Hills.
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