New Learning Cottages at Ashford Park ES

Dr. LaShawn McMilan, Principal of Ashford Park ES, announced last week the 5th grade will be relocated to trailers starting this year.
According to a 2012 Enrollment/Capacity chart, Ashford Park Elementary School was at 124% utilization in FY13 and expected to go to 136% utilization by FY17. Unfortunately, the 10-Year Facility Master Plan “did not consider capacity and projected growth when SPLOST IV projects were identified,” according to Nancy Jester, former DeKalb Schools board member.  “The SPLOST process is political.  The data was made to fit the predetermined decisions in order to justify the building list.”
She goes on to say,

“The DeKalb Board of Education sent a referendum to the voters that funds building new elementary schools where we will only need 40% of the current capacity. Yet, in areas that are already at 100% and projected to need much more, DeKalb is adding very little capacity. Many communities are looking at having trailers in perpetuity. Even if some of the capacity needs were addressed in the next SPLOST, effectively a generation of children will have gone through school in trailers.
When SPLOST IV ends, DeKalb’s taxpayers will have given the school district approximately $2 billion to build and improve schools. It is unconscionable that we have so many children in trailers throughout the district. The weight of this fact was not lost on me during the SPLOST IV process while I was on the board. This is the primary reason I voted against taking this referendum to the public.”

This is the announcement Dr. McMilan sent out:
July 24, 2014
Dear Parents,
As you may know, Ashford Park School has experienced a great deal of growth in the past few years. When I accepted the Principal position in 2012, it was a struggle to keep all of our students in the building. We were only able to keep all homeroom classes in the building by putting non-homeroom classes in learning cottages, and requiring Specials teachers to travel to homerooms to provide instruction. Well, we can no longer avoid the inevitable. The time has now come to move a grade level to the learning cottages. During the 2014-2015 school year, all 5th grade homerooms will be located in the cozy cottages right outside of the cafeteria. The need to move a grade level to the cottages has been predicated by a number of factors. The reasons for such a decision are listed below:
* We have gained an additional 1st grade class due to growth.
* We have gained an additional 3rd grade class due to growth.
* We are required to dedicate a classroom inside the building for STEM activities, if we ever hope to become STEM certified.
* While the 5th graders are the largest students in the school, they are the smallest in number and the most mature students in the school.
* The transition to trailers also prepares our 5th graders for their eventual transition to middle school, where class changes will become a daily practice.
It was not an easy decision to a move a grade level to the trailers, but it is one that could not be avoided. In preparation for the move, the District has added an additional keypad to the cafeteria door that will provide immediate and easy access to the building for our 5th graders. Additionally, each 5th grade teacher will have an extra building key for student use when needing access to the main building. Finally, the Operations Department for the DeKalb County School District renovated all learning cottages last year with new locks; new doors; new floor tiles; new painting; expanded Wifi access; SmartBoards; new lighting; and recoating of all roofs to prevent leaks. Thank you for your understanding. Growth is a great problem to have, but it sometimes comes with challenges. I have no doubt that we are ready for the challenge and we are going to have an outstanding school year!
I hope to see all of you during Open House on August 6th. As a reminder, teachers will meet with families whose last names end in M-Z from 8:00 – 10:00, and A-L from 10:30 – 12:30. Enjoy the rest of your summer.
LaShawn McMillan, Ph.D.

One response to “New Learning Cottages at Ashford Park ES

  1. Brian Bates

    Well . . I feel terrible for the 5th graders at Ashford Park.
    However, they only have 5 “learning cottages” on campus. Cary Reynolds has 21! YES 21! Including a soon to be installed outdoor bathroom complete with running water and sewer lines.
    Here are some comparative facts:
    School Capacity*: AP: 563 CR: 749
    Projected Enrollment**: AP: 530 CR: 1166
    Differential: AP: 33 students CR: -417
    There is an entire elementary school in trailers at Cary Reynolds and no one seems to care. That is about to change!
    **2014-15 School Year Forecast dated 5/19/14