Retracing, reopening and redistricting

Retracing, reopening and redistricting

Ten years ago, the school system lacked enough students for Westchester to function as an economically-conscious school. When the small elementary student population was spread out, Decatur wasted money by operating more schools than needed; however, the recent growth in population caused Decatur to redraw their maps.

The final map for redistricting Decatur’s Kindergarten to third grade schools, map 7A, was decided on the 18th of Dec. Next year, the new map will move students to different elementary schools.

Westchester is the City of Decatur’s central office but previously served as an elementary school. The Board of Education closed the school in 2004 because it lacked sufficient enrollment for a K-3 school.

“Rezoning kids is no small matter. It’s painful for them, [and] not everyone is going to be happy,” Decatur Metro blog stated. “But here’s the thing: when we rezoned the last time around, we knew that we’d have to rezone again in a few years to incorporate Westchester.”

Senior Lily Vann-Womack attended Westchester Elementary through second grade. She recalled the environment as a very inviting and welcoming place. She still holds unique bonds with her peers today.

“There was a strong familial vibe,” Vann-Womack said. “I remember that everyone was friends with each other.”

Vann-Womack mentioned the possibility of Scott Blvd. causing difficulty for small kids to walk to school. Nevertheless, she continues to have a place in her heart for her elementary school.

“I’m sure if [Westchester] is anything like when I was little, the kids will love everything about it,” Vann-Womack said. “It’s an awesome place.”

Cristin Davis is a mother of two children, one of which attends Oakhurst Elementary in Decatur. Based on the map, her daughter, Riley Davis, is one of the kids who will most likely be transferring to Westchester in the Fall of 2014. This transfer will come with a few major changes for the Davis family, as well as their neighbors.

“Our new commute will be approximately 1.7 miles on very busy roads, which means with little feet, we will no longer be able to walk to school,” Davis said. “[Reopening Westchester] will give our neighborhood the longest commute in the city.”

A “grandfather” rule is in place for rising third-graders, which states that they may continue to attend their current school. Riley has the option to be “grandfathered” into Oakhurst Elementary; however Davis’ son, Brady Davis, does not.

The redistricting plan will not only affect the trek to school, but also the sense of community Riley felt at Oakhurst. Yet, Vann-Womack believes that the sense of community at Westchester is just as good, and Davis agrees.

“No matter what happens, we will put a positive spin on the situation,” Davis said. “We have mentioned how both schools are equally as good, and that a lot of her friends from the neighborhood will be switching too.”