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City Council briefed on Atlanta school closings | Schools

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City Council briefed on Atlanta school closings
City Council briefed on Atlanta school closings

ATLANTA (WXIA) -- It's one of the most emotional issues any parent and child can face...the loss of their local school.

It's happening in school systems all over the metro area and now it's the city of Atlanta's turn.

School closings can also have a tremendous impact on real estate values.

That's one of several reasons why Atlanta City Council members are now involved in the process of closing as many as 13 of the city's 85 schools.

They got a briefing on the redistricting plan from the City School Board and Superintendent Erroll Davis Wednesday afternoon.

They were told it's a simple math problem...too many empty seats.

"A lot of these buildings were built, of course, to support children who were there, in many instances, because of large housing projects which are no longer there; the children are no longer there," explained Superintendent Davis.

He said he understands and even praises the emotions of many parents upset over possible closings in their neighborhood.

But he said it's a better use of taxpayer dollars and a way to improve programs at the remaining schools.

"Our commitment should be to getting a better education for children, not necessarily to buildings," Davis added.

With 7,200 empty classroom seats, Davis estimates the system could save $6.5 million by closing the 13 campuses.

He said the savings could be used to place more badly needed counselors and social workers at other schools.

Many parents and students have vented their anger and frustration at several continuing public hearings, but this was a quiet briefing for council members.

Davis explained that his list of 13 schools is only preliminary and subject to change before the school board's April 10 vote.

At least one council member warned the board to expect what she called a "war" from many in her Capitol View community.

District 12 Representative Joyce Sheperd said her community will "fight" to keep Capitol View Elementary School open.

She called it a beautiful, historic building that should not be torn down.

Superintendent Davis repeated that nothing is set in stone yet and said a committee will decide how to possibly utilize the closed school buildings for other purposes.

Sheperd said her district already suffers from too many boarded up school buildings which are hurting the neighborhood.

City Council President Ceasar Mitchell promised council members will work with the school board and local communities to ease the pain of the cuts.

"There's no issue that's more personal for a parent, for a family, than the education of their child and, really, their real estate investment," he said.