Atlanta’s population is booming. New condos are being built and the city is becoming crowded and more expensive to live in. With the influx of people coming into the city, schools are also becoming more crowded. More space is needed and the schools have started to use annex’s in other buildings to house some of their students.
Springdale Park Elementary (SPARK) is currently located on Briarcliff Road, near The Paideia School. It will have a kindergarten annex in the Metro City Church, a one minute car ride away from the school’s main building. The annex will hold SPARK kindergartners starting in the beginning of next school year.
The Metro City Church is currently being used as a Kindergarten annex for Morningside Elementary. However after the Morningside kindergartners move out of the annex, the entire school will use the building and trailers of Inman Middle School temporarily, while the Morningside building is being renovated.
“Morningside parents were very concerned about the k campus when they were being moved into it,” SPARK principal Terry Harness said. “But then they fell in love with it. So they have been very helpful because they’ve talked to support parents and said it’s a great thing.”
The parents who will have kindergartners in that annex are also embracing what the Morningside parents are saying about the Metro City Church annex.
“The overwhelming response to the MES annex has been positive,” said Katye Watts, a parent to one of the rising kindergartners. “Almost every parent I have spoken to has said their child had a great experience at the annex and that they preferred the smaller campus given the options.”
Morningside paved the way for Spark and therefore SPARK will do many of the same things that Morningside did.
Despite all the positive feedback that Morningside parents have relayed to SPARK parents, there are still many concerns about the new campus.
“Anytime you have a dual campus you have to think about offering the same things that we would have to have offered at the main campus,” Harness said. “Most people don’t know this but even though Morningside is there K campus is right down the road Springdale Park. So SPARK makes their lunch for them and a cafeteria manager delivers their lunch to them.”
The kindergarten campus (or the K campus as it is most frequently being called now) will still have all of the same specials that the main campus offers. There is a big multi-purpose room that will be used for the specials art, music, and gym. The schedule will have to be rearranged to fit the new aspects of the K campus and take in mind the differences between the two campuses.
The idea of a kindergarten annex is not a new thing. Morningside Elementary School had a kindergarten annex in The Hirsch House, which was the property of The Howard School at the time.
“The kids really thrived there,” said Mindy Mailman, a current kindergarten teacher at SPARK, and then teacher at The Hirsch House annex for Morningside “and the transition to first grade at MES did not seem to be a problem at all.”
Similar to the Metro City Church, The Hirsch House had a trailer that was used for art, PE and music. When the year was ending, the other students at the Morningside main campus gave the kindergartners a tour of the main campus and helped them to become more familiar with the first grade classrooms.
The current SPARK situation is not that different from when Morinigside was at The Hirsch House. Once the kindergartners are moved to the Metro City Church, a lot of space will be freed up.
“Right now we were having band and orchestra in the cafeteria,” Harness said. “With kindergarten at the K campus, band and orchestra will actually be able to have a classroom space that they can play in instead of the cafeteria. Miss Wade the band teacher won’t have to set up the classroom every single day and they take it all down.”
Every part of Springdale Park is being used at the moment, but with the kindergartners being located on a different campus, classes that used to be held in The Hirsch House building, which is now a part of SPARK, can now be in the main building.
The Hirsch House is on SPARK property and will most likely still be used, but the main building is where all homeroom and core classes are.
“The building can only technically hold 693 kids,” said Harness. “And we have almost 800 like 796 or something like that. So we’re definitely well over the building capacity, but we’re making it work and we’re doing what we need to do.”
A new kindergarten teacher is being added. That would make a total of eight kindergarten teachers. There will also be a seperate nurse, administrator, secretary and custodians.
The annex, having only kindergartners will be centered around them and made to fit their needs.
“A K campus can often make for an easier transition for little ones from Pre-K to K,” Mailman said. “It’s smaller, and features an environment that’s totally-focused on getting the kids used to school.”
Annexes provide a great opportunity for kindergartners to get accustomed to the differences that elementary school brings.
Everything that is currently available to students at the main campus will be available to the students in the annex.
“The school will be divided into two campuses,” Watts said. “But ideally the younger students will have a more intimate environment in which to transition to elementary school.”
The new kindergarten annex offers students a place to adjust to something that may not be what they are used to. They are the youngest kids in the school and will be missed by students and staff alike. Although more opportunities will open and there will be more space in which to act on those opportunities.
“My hope is that the annex will provide kindergartners – and older students – with more space,” Watts said. “While our cluster seeks more permanent solutions to the overcrowding of our schools.”