KEEP SPRING RIDGE AT NORTHWOOD
Dear Fellow Northwood Parents, Friends, and Neighbors,
As many of you are aware, Fulton County Schools’ final redistricting proposal will move Spring Ridge students from Northwood Elementary to Hillside Elementary. Spring Ridge families opened Northwood in 1996 and have been an integral part of our school community for the past twenty years. Just like many of you, Spring Ridge parents have volunteered countless hours as copy parents, room parents, PTA chair and board positions, and as foundation members. We’ve endured hardships as a school community like the Atlanta Snowpocalypse and celebrated the many accomplishments of our school, like our number one ranking in the CCRPI Score.
Please sign this petition to include your voice to keep Spring Ridge at Northwood. On February 19th, 2016, the board will vote on the final map recommendation proposed by the district’s Operational Planning division.
We believe the proposed changes to Northwood will be detrimental to our school community in the following ways:
- Northwood elementary has a capacity of 800 students. Looking at the current three year projections with no changes to our school community, our numbers rise from 774 this school year to 777 in 2016-17. In 2017-18, we peak at 793, and then fall back to 786 in 2018-19. None of these projections put us at our capacity. The county forecasts us in need of 6 classrooms this year, but as active volunteer parents, we see some classrooms being used as planning space or a teachers’ lounge, but no visible needs for instructional space due to underutilized space within the school. If additional classroom space is needed, the former teacher lounge should be utilized again and meetings can take place in other classrooms. Under the final map recommendation, Northwood’s enrollment decreases in the 2016-17 year to 653, then rises slightly in 2017-18 to 671, and peaks in 2018-19 to 674, which at the lowest point is 147 students below capacity. If you estimated 20 students per classroom, this translates to 7.35 empty classrooms. This is detrimental to our school environment through lost revenue from Fulton County as dollars per student, lost family donations to our PTA and Northwood Foundation funds, and most importantly, lost jobs for some of our beloved teaching staff.
- One thing that stands out about our Northwood community is active parent involvement. Spring Ridge parents have historically and are currently serving as classroom readers, field trip parents, STEM Day organizers and volunteers, Career Day volunteers, music and movie night organizers, home room parent organizers, teacher appreciation chairs, classroom helpers, PTA chair positions, and serve as two of the six Northwood Foundation board members. Removing Spring Ridge families from Northwood will leave a void of significantly invested volunteers that may take years to cultivate.
- The final recommended map undermines the historical neighborhood groupings south of Old Alabama Connector. The Spring Ridge clubhouse hosts many of Northwood’s Cub Scout and Girl Scout troops. In addition, Spring Ridge opens our swim and tennis teams to our friends and neighbors throughout the Northwood community. The methodology utilized to create the proposed redistricting maps is over 15 years old and doesn’t take into consideration increased traffic patterns or population growth. Nor does it analyze single neighborhood populations, but may inequitably group study areas into very large groupings resulting in flawed centroid points. Conversely, the program may also group study areas into very small groups which may alienate historical neighborhood groupings.
- When weather has permitted, you may have seen many Spring Ridge parents walking our kids to school as a “walking school bus”. Spring Ridge’s proximity of being one mile from school allows us the unique opportunity to take advantage of the many health and social benefits of walking to school. “School siting and design are examples of how the built environment can influence children’s health. When new schools are built a long distance from where families live, then children need to be driven to school, depriving them of an opportunity for physical activity, and contributing to air pollution and risk for automobile crashes. On the other hand, if schools are located within walking or biking distance of where people live, and if safe routes to school are provided, then children can make walking or biking a part of their daily lives, establishing healthy habits that can last a lifetime.” (http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/causes.html) “Local governments can support locating schools within easy walking distance of residential areas by changing land use policies and/or renovating existing schools located in residential neighborhoods.” (Environmental Protection Agency, 2003). The AAP recommends government “considers children's ability for active transportation to school in the process of determining the location of a school.” ( http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/123/6/1591)
We are advocating that we stay in our “walking distance” school to take advantage of the many above listed advantages of walking to school. We are asking the county, to follow their own criteria and take into account planning and zoning efforts so that our children’s ability to walk, play, and get to school safety are your top priority. And that the school board consider “active transportation” to school in the process of determining the locations of neighborhood placement within our school district.
- In regards to geographic proximity, Spring Ridge is 1 mile from Northwood Elementary and over 3 miles to Hillside. We currently travel through one traffic light to Northwood and will navigate 7 traffic lights to get to Hillside. Currently, if a child needs to be driven to school for early morning activities, we have an approximate drive time of 3.5-4 minutes to Northwood. A parent could then return home in 3-4 minutes or continue down Old Alabama to Holcomb Bridge and half a mile to GA 400 for work. The same travel time to Hillside results in approximately 7.5 minutes to Hillside and then 15 minutes to get back home. Parents who would be traveling to GA 400 will have to access GA 400 2.3 miles further down Holcomb Bridge Road in morning traffic vs traveling only .5 miles to GA 400 from Old Alabama. The reverse would hold true when picking up from after care in the afternoon. Even though this appears to be “only 3 additional miles”, these miles can equate to an additional half hour or more to morning and evening commutes, which greatly affects the quality of life for families of working parents.
- In the proposed round 1 and round 2 maps, there were neighborhood groupings outside of the Northwood district that were proposed to be moved to a different school. In these cases, they are slightly closer to their proposed new school and in the final map recommendation are being allowed to stay in their home schools. We ask that Spring Ridge be given the same consideration as we meet every Fulton County redistricting criteria in terms of geographic proximity, traffic patterns, neighborhood groupings, and instructional capacity to stay in our home school. The total number of children that will be moved from Spring Ridge, after removing current 5th graders who will be rising to middle school, is 60 children. That’s approximately 2 children per classroom. In turn, this equates to only one other child per classroom that our children will know in their class when they are moved to their new school. We ask that the school board take into account the disruptions to our families, our school community, our teachers, and most importantly our children for such a small reduction in school population.
Thank you for your support in keeping Northwood our community school.