Last Thursday, October 30, the Woodland Hills Neighborhood Association (WHNA) hosted a cityhood forum at Peachtree Baptist Church. Representatives from City of Briarcliff Initiative, the Lakeside YES! committee, the City of Atlanta, and the DeKalb County Board of Education all made solid presentations. A spirited Q&A followed.
Marshall Orson with the school board explained the mechanics of annexation as it relates to school properties. This is relevant because the Druid Hills area is likely to annex into Atlanta. If that happens, all the school properties in the annex area would become City of Atlanta Public Schools (APS). The elementary school in our area, Briar Vista, has close ties with many of the schools in Druid Hills, and was included in the proposed, and recently withdrawn, Druid Hills Charter Cluster. A representative of Briar Vista spoke eloquently of the close collaborative relationship Briar Vista has with these schools. She fears much of the recent progress Briar Vista has made could be reversed without those close ties.
Of course, if our area becomes part of a new city, Briarcliff / Lakeside, and if Druid Hills does not annex into Atlanta, our school situation will remain unchanged.
If we annex into the city of Atlanta, Briar Vista would become a APS facility. Briar Vista kids would likely continue to go to Druid Hills High if the Druid Hills area also annexed into Atlanta.
Alex Wan spoke on behalf of the City of Atlanta and put forth interesting statistics on the city related to budget surpluses and reduced crime rates over the last few years.
The Briarcliff and Lakeside representatives reminded us that most of the residents of the newer cities in the Metro area were pleased with the level of services they were receiving as compared to their previous county providers. They expect their new city to be able to do the same.
Questions were raised about the property tax impact, particularly on seniors, of annexation into Atlanta. The exemption for seniors for school taxes is less in Atlanta than it is in DeKalb.