Muscogee school attendance zones are going to change. Here’s your chance to speak up

The Muscogee County School District will take another step next week toward its first comprehensive restructuring of school attendance zones in more than 25 years.

MCSD will conduct two community meetings to share information with residents and gather their input.

Both meetings will be in the board room at the Muscogee County Public Education Center, 2960 Macon Road: Monday at 6 p.m., then Tuesday at noon.

Neither meeting will be livestreamed or recorded for later viewing, MCSD communications director Kimberly Wright told the Ledger-Enquirer.

“We are offering two meetings to give the community the opportunity to attend,” she wrote in an email.

No details were provided about the plan, so it isn’t clear which schools and neighborhoods will be affected and when.

The Ledger-Enquirer reported in September 2022 that the MCSD administration presented to the board the rationale and process for changing the boundary lines of school attendance zones.

Construction of new neighborhoods, new roads and new schools, plus the closing of old schools and the increase or decrease of the population in various parts of Columbus, have caused attendance zone problems, according to the administration’s explanation on the agenda of that meeting last year.

Goals and process

The administration listed three goals for changing school attendance zone boundary lines:

  • Improve the sustainability of attendance zones in growing residential areas.

  • Improve the balance of feeder schools so middle schools don’t have significantly more elementary schools and high schools don’t have significantly more middle schools funneling students to them.

  • Improve the efficiency of student transportation.

The administration also outlined the process that requires a task force to explore options, propose solutions and implement the plan while MCSD’s Teacher Advisory Council reviews the task force’s work and provides feedback.

The task force was asked to consider the following factors:

  • Population changes to existing neighborhoods and plans for future neighborhoods

  • Feeder school patterns

  • School capacities for enrollment, academic programs and special services

  • Pedestrian safety

  • Safety and efficiency for student transportation, changes in traffic patterns and major roads.

Superintendent David Lewis said during that meeting he wants to eliminate situations where neighborhoods have students living on opposite sides of a street assigned to different schools.

Naomi Buckner, the board’s District 4 representative, wondered aloud during the same meeting whether restructuring attendance zones would resegregate schools “even more so than what we have now.”

MCSD chief operations office Travis Anderson replied, “We are taking into consideration the impact of demographics to make sure we are not unintentionally creating a situation in which we are segregating our schools.”

He added, “Our city overall is extremely diverse.”

Buckner countered, “Our city is extremely diverse, but many of our neighborhoods are segregated.”

MCSD attendance zone task force

  • Travis Anderson, chief operations officer

  • Terry Baker, west region chief

  • Robin Barber, operations and support services director

  • Jeff Battles, athletics director

  • Matt Bell, central region chief

  • Jerald Bellamy, transportation operations supervisor

  • Tonya Douglass, principal of Waddell Elementary School

  • Wes Drury, development and business support manager

  • Kenya Gilmore, prevention and intervention practices director

  • Erika Grantham, transportation routing specialist

  • Sureya Hendrick, principal of Shaw High School

  • Christine Hull, K-12 curriculum executive director

  • Godfrey Jackson, transportation director

  • Stephanie Lilly, transportation assistant director

  • Trikella Nelson, guidance programs director

  • Kevin Scott, student services director

  • Sonia Sheehan, student services manager

  • Kimberly Thomas, director of Early Success Centers

  • Victoria Thomas, career, technical and agricultural education director

  • Ronald Wiggins, east region chief

  • Kimberly Wright, communications director.

Anderson told the Ledger-Enquirer via email last year that the superintendent’s cabinet appointed the task force members based on the individual’s role in the school district.

The task force consults with the Columbus Consolidated Government’s planning department. The Teacher Advisory Council has a representative from each school in the district.

Representatives are appointed by their principals.