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Atlanta annexation proposal puts brakes on middle school expansion

Annexation, new cities Avondale Estates Decatur Kirkwood and East Lake Metro ATL

Atlanta annexation proposal puts brakes on middle school expansion

Inman Middle School. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Inman Middle School. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen has sent a letter to Inman Middle School parents informing them that the plans for expanding the school are on hold.

One of the reasons is a proposal by residents of the Druid Hills neighborhood to annex three schools into the city of Atlanta.

“While APS is not involved in this process and there are many unanswered questions, if the Druid Hills Community chooses to pursue this path later this year, we would be faced with important decisions related to transitioning additional students and school buildings into the APS family and portfolio,” the superintendent wrote. “Given the proximity of Druid Hills to the Grady cluster, we want to be thoughtful about new construction projects until we have additional clarity around this issue.”

Clarity has been hard to come by in the convoluted and contentious annexation and cityhood debate in DeKalb County. The letter shows the continuing ripple effect of the annexation plan put forward by Together in Atlanta. The TIA proposal would annex Briar Vista and Fernbank Elementary Schools, as well as Druid Hills High, into the city of Atlanta. But the effects would spread throughout the DeKalb County School system. Multiple schools feed into Druid Hills High, including schools in Avondale Estates.

If the annexation proposal happens, what happens to those students zoned for Druid Hills High? There are no good answers for that. At a recent meeting at the High School, DeKalb County Schools Board of Education member Marshall Orson suggested that there might be a way to allow these students to attend the high school via an intergovernmental agreement. So far, there have been no new developments on that front. No member of the state House or Senate has filed an annexation bill or a bill calling for a vote on the creation of new cities. There are several proposals for incorporating areas of DeKalb, including the proposed cities of LaVista Hills, Tucker, Greenhaven, and Stonecrest.

Decaturish asked state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur and state Sen. Elena Parent, D-SD 42, if they had any updates on the cityhood and annexation front. They did not.

“Nothing to report at this time re: cityhood or annexation,” Oliver said via email. She said there are efforts underway to reform DeKalb County government. “There is a lot of activity from Elena and me on ethics, CEO form of government, procurement policies, and an independent auditor proposals from the Task Force. Also, on the House side, (state Rep.) Mike Jacobs is working on legislation regarding HOST from the Task Force discussions, although the Task Force report has not been finalized and published.”

Dissatisfaction with DeKalb County government, including its school system, is one of the primary motivations for the incorporation efforts. Together in Atlanta formed after parents failed to create a Druid Hills Charter cluster. If it had been successful, the charter cluster would’ve encompassed seven schools – Avondale Elementary, Briar Vista Elementary, Fernbank Elementary, Laurel Ridge Elementary, McLendon Elementary, Druid Hills Middle School and Druid Hills High School.

Decaturish has learned through a reliable source that an independent mediator has attempted to rekindle talks between Druid Hills Charter Cluster members and DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond. So far, those attempts have so far been unsuccessful, the source said.

Read it: Superintendent Meria Carstarphen’s letter to Inman Middle School parents.