ATLANTA (Feb. 25, 2022) – Due to a court ruling that has fast-tracked the anticipated relocation of Forest Cove residents–resulting in far fewer students projected to be zoned for Thomasville Heights Elementary (THES)– Atlanta Public Schools (APS) and Purpose Built Schools Atlanta (PBSA) have decided to temporarily close THES beginning next school year (2022-2023).
All students living in Forest Cove will be able to complete this school year at THES. Next school year, beginning in the fall of 2022, students who currently attend THES but do not live in Forest Cove will be temporarily rezoned to Slater Elementary School.
“The Forest Cove redevelopment will dramatically improve living conditions for residents and ultimately result in positive outcomes, and we are sensitive to the sudden nature of this situation,” said APS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring. “Therefore, APS and Purpose Built Schools Atlanta will continue to partner to help minimize disruption for families, students, and staff. PBSA is a valued partner. They are doing good work and we look forward to their return at THES when the Forest Cove redevelopment is complete.”
The Atlanta Municipal Court Order of December 28, 2021 ordering the relocation of all Forest Cove families by March 1, 2022, and the demolition of the property by September 22, 2022 due to the poor condition of the property, now take the place of a previous plan developed by APS, PBSA, and a coalition of community stakeholders to continue operating THES while Forest Cove was redeveloped.
APS and Purpose Built Schools Atlanta are aware of the living conditions in Forest Cove, and the primary concern is the long-term health and safety of the families who live there. APS and Purpose Built Schools will continue to work with the City of Atlanta, Millennia, and key stakeholders to make sure that every impacted family is well supported during the relocation process.
“THES has served this neighborhood since 1971 and is the bedrock of an invaluably strong school-community connection,” said Greg Giornelli, President of Purpose Built Schools. “We are confident that the parties to the Forest Cove redevelopment plan will rebuild the apartments over the next three years, and we expect to re-open THES within that timeframe.”
The decision to close THES and to rezone students in the Thomasville Heights neighborhood to Slater Elementary School requires the approval of the Atlanta Board of Education. The matter will be presented to the Board at its April board meeting, with a decision expected in May.
PBSA is a non-profit school management organization that partners with APS to operate four district schools.
Why is Thomasville Heights Elementary School (THES) closing temporarily next school year?
As a result of the pending relocation of all families currently living in Forest Cove apartments (approximately 75 percent of current THES students live in Forest Cove), THES will lose approximately 175 students, with only 60 students remaining in the attendance zone. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough students to sustain a full school.
Where will THES students who don’t currently live in Forest Cove go to school next year?
Pending approval by the APS Board, students who do not live in Forest Cove will be rezoned for Slater Elementary School, which is also operated by Purpose Built Schools. Transportation will be provided for students rezoned to Slater.
What will happen to the other Purpose Built Schools next school year?
Purpose Built Schools will continue to operate a combined Slater Elementary School, as well as Price Middle School and Carver STEAM Academy, as outlined in its 2016 partnership agreement with APS.
What happens now? Can students continue to attend THES before the school year ends?
Yes. APS and Purpose Built Schools will continue to work with the City of Atlanta, the Forest Cove developer Millennia, and key stakeholders to make sure that every impacted family is supported during the relocation process. We expect all students living in Forest Cove to be able to complete the present school year at THES.
In the event that families are relocated before the end of this school year, transportation will be provided to ensure relocated students can continue to attend THES.
When will THES reopen?
The parties involved in redeveloping Forest Cove (HUD, the City of Atlanta, and Millennia) intend to rebuild the property over the next three years. When a redeveloped Forest Cove is complete, APS intends to assess capacity needs to potentially reopen THES in partnership with Purpose Built Schools.
What happened to the plan to continue operating THES while Forest Cove was redeveloped?
A coalition of community stakeholders convened by Purpose Built Schools and APS had formalized a plan to continue operating THES while Forest Cove was redeveloped and to support families during a temporary relocation process. Under that plan, families would have temporarily relocated while Millennia Housing renovated the complex in phases. Now, the terms have changed, the timing has changed, and Millennia Housing is no longer the entity relocating families. The uncertainty of this new approach has required everyone involved to reconsider the original plan.
What will happen to THES teachers and staff?
Purpose Built Schools is working on a plan to retain some staff members for the coming academic year, and APS has developed an interviewing priority process for all staff affected by this temporary school closure. APS and PBSA are committed to assisting staff with employment options during this time of transition.
About Atlanta Public Schools
Atlanta Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia, serving approximately 51,000 students across 87 schools and five programs. The District is organized into nine K-12 clusters with 64 traditional schools, 19 charter schools, six partner schools, two alternative schools and five alternative programs. To learn more about Atlanta Public Schools, follow us on social media – Twitter (@apsupdate), Facebook (Atlanta Public Schools), and Instagram (apsupdate) – or visit us online at www.atlantapublicschools.us.
About Purpose Built Schools
Through an innovative partnership with APS that began in 2016, Purpose Built Schools Atlanta began operating Thomasville Heights Elementary, Slater Elementary, Price Middle and Carver STEAM Academy. Since then, Purpose Built Schools has evolved into a high-impact organization that serves approximately 1,600 students and 1,000 families in four schools that comprise one of Georgia’s lowest-income K-12 feeder patterns. Purpose Built Schools’ mission is to develop students’ skills and cultivate their agency so they can fulfill their unlimited potential. Purpose Built Schools’ model has proven that when low-income students have access to high-quality education, exposure to enrichment opportunities, and basic needs such as housing, adequate nutrition, and mental health supports, they too can thrive.