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Expensive Atlanta School Makes Headlines
posted by: Ruthie | August 08, 2013, 06:50 PM   

Atlanta Public Schools often evoke memories of the recent cheating scandal that rocked the national education community. However, Atlanta is now making headlines for a new $147 million dollar school that promises to help the district “dig out of a historic crisis.”

After touring two high schools in New York, and studying other large building, Atlanta school planners purchased the 1977 IBM building, a seventeen-story edifice on a 56-acre plot of land. The building previously held 5,000 workers, however, designing a safe, functional high school to hold 2,400 was a challenge.

“If there was ever a model for an urban high school, this is it,” said Principal Howard E Taylor.

The school is the most expensive school every built in Georgia and critics argue that state-of-the-art facilities do little to improve student outcomes. “The raw numbers themselves in terms of the cost of construction should give pause to any taxpayer,” said Edward Lindsey, a member of the Georgia House of Representatives.  

While many have criticized the exorbitant cost of the building, Principal Taylor justified the cost, saying, “We have a special obligation here. The district is digging out of a historic crisis.”

While some of the 1,400 students are from the region’s wealthiest backgrounds, nearly half are black, about 27% are white, and 20% are Hispanic. The goal of this new school is to raise graduation rates form the current 61% to 90%.

“Hopefully, the academics will be as good as the building,” said Regine Zuber, touring the school with her daughter, Amanda Stevens, 14, this week.

School leaders and administrators hope the new building will raise standards, and the reputation of Atlanta public schools. “The investment in a quality school building signals to Atlanta students ‘We are investing in you,’ which a welcome message after the past cheating scandals,” said one Atlanta citizen.

Still, one wonders if the amenities of these “mega-schools” actually help our children learn to read, write, and multiply. When some public charter schools are struggling just to secure basic facilities, education advocates are beginning to raise questions about equity in funding.

What do you think of this new building? Is it an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars?

Comment below.

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