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42 Comments

  1. 1

    Riley O'Connor

    Truthful? That’s a novel idea.

  2. 2

    Saul

    Especially in Brookhaven.

  3. 3

    Thomas Porter

    There is nothing more seemly than most all of that first administration of Brookhaven wanting to be on this Board, and it feels like they just want to abuse it. If it were a true lottery, without influence, I’d bet they would resign in the first 6 months. Further, what qualifications do they have in education?

    Reciprocally, I think Kim is on it for all the right reasons.

  4. 4

    Melanie Pollard

    Great Article, Ms. Abramowitz.

    There are many issues that JMax stood firm on in his campaign and failed to come close with during his tenor as Mayor. His campaign rhetoric is typical of his approach to politics. The issues you site on conflict of interest are dead-on. That is the way JMax leads in government clearly illustrated here in Brookhaven and why his entry into state government will be disastrous for citizens who want quality of life more than big business money.

    One issue that I felt strongly about was the protection of Brookhaven’s Trees- particularly the specimen mature trees. JMax promised to not let development destroy our canopy when in fact he promoted quite the opposite and was famously quoted as saying “A tree is a tree”.

    My property value in Pine Hills was irreparably damaged by his leadership in addition to higher taxes, outrageous water bills, stormwater damage due to high-impact development to name a few. Our quality of life here in Pine Hills is forever compromised by the densification he permitted, the removal of acres of trees, the congestion that followed, the stormwater runoff that now invades our properties- all of which he now says is a “civil matter”. (Town hall meeting in May; Zoning 101 meeting in June).

    I have become an activist as a result of his leadership- the positive I choose to focus my energies on in an effort to prevent more damage to other unsuspecting residents.

  5. 5

    Poor Pup

    He adopted a stray puppy, y’all! He can’t be a bad man like everyone is saying because he adopted a stray. I just hope he knows you can’t use Lysol on a dog.

  6. 6

    No BIA needed

    Last time I checked, we have young families moving into North Brookhaven in droves to get into the Montgomery Elementary School attendance district. Similar things are occurring around Ashford Park. There is no crisis.

  7. 7

    Eddie E.

    Ann,
    Thanks for refocusing on REALITY.
    Fantasy seemed to have controlled the discussion so far.

  8. 8

    Bill

    “What is hard to understand, however, is J. Max Davis’s repeatedly promising in his campaign for a State House seat that separation from the county schools will be accomplished. ” I don’t find it hard to understand. There used to be no city of Brookhaven and now there is, that was a change. Now the schools are under the county school district, this IS going to change. I BELIEVE it. When so many people are so tired of the waste and corruption, we will join together and DO SOMETHING about it. Fortunately our republic allows for this.

  9. 9

    Jack Smith

    Montgomery, like all the schools in North Dekalb, is over capacity and becoming very strained. They barely got all the kids in class rooms last year. In addition we lost a principal after a little more than one year on the job. Sadly, Dekalb has no real plan for over the crowding other than more trailers. People did move in our area at the promise of a Montgomery being a great school but the the school is now struggling to meet the demand of a surge of students and not enough resources. On top of that Montgomery has gone from being rated a 9 by Greatschools.or to a 7.

    http://www.greatschools.org/georgia/atlanta/736-Montgomery-Elementary-School/

    There is a crisis and interestingly it is due to all the new families that have moved into the area and Dekalb not keeping up with the demand or even having a real plan. The school building is the same school my family attended in the 60s with very little change. It just is not adequate for the increased density. Dekalb has the ability to make a change as we have seen with Chamblee High but so far no word on how to fix this growing problem.

    https://brookhavenpost.co/overcrowding-in-cross-keys-cluster-leads-to-more-trailers-and-reco-to-revive-briarcliff-hs/30649/

  10. 10

    Brookhaven Bob

    J Max Davis has had his day in the sun. It is time for new leadership to represent us in District 80. Vote for Taylor Bennett for the Georgia House of representatives!

  11. 11

    Saul

    Bill, close your eyes, hold your head back and click your ruby slippers. But before you do, you need to investigate the legislative path required to achieve your desires for a Brookhaven school system. Reread the second from the last paragraph above and center your research from that point.

    In the meantime, keep on clicking on those ruby slippers so the rest of us will know just who the silly uneducated voters actually are. Kind of like those voters with J. Max signs in their yard that have no understanding of honesty. Check out the legitimacy of politician claims before you embarrass yourself. If you cannot meet the intelligence standards Brookhaven requires, code enforcement may have to kick you out!

  12. 12

    Ann

    Actually, Bill, there isn’t a way to do this. That’s what I’m trying to explain. I understand that you want it to happen, and I believe I understand the reasons you feel as you do. But at the current time and for the foreseeable future, the city can’t secede from the County schools.

  13. 13

    Shawn Keefe

    Ann, does this mean Scott Holcomb will not be supporting HR 4 in the upcoming General Assembly session? Why won’t the Democrat delegation in DeKalb support innovative education ideas like Independent School Systems so our children have better opportunities? Many families are growing tired of our tax $ supporting an over-bloated system of 100,000+ students which is resulting in a countywide graduation rate of <60% when our neighbors to the south in Decatur, a 90% graduation rates. It’s time for DeKalb’s Democrat machine to stop politicizing education and start doing what’s best for our students and taxpayers.

  14. 14

    J Max's Sandwich

    Shawn, your agenda is showing, first for filing against Taylor, and now supporting this sham of a school. What does Jmax, Bates, and RCW know about running a school?

  15. 15

    Shawn Keefe

    Mr. Sandwich, HR 4 (the Independent School System bill) has ZERO to do with BIA. I am not an active supporter of BIA because it does not benefit every child in Brookhaven; an Indepedent School System has a chance to do that. That’s why I’m fighting for this bill as a member of the Georgians for Local Area Schools Systems. What’s wrong with Ann’s statement is that we have a lot of support for the bill (Republicans) but unfortunately the other side of the aisle is happy with the status quo in DeKalb’s schools and other struggling, mega-systems in Georgia. With regards to Mr. Bennett, he was breaking the law by not disclosing his personal financials. He acknowledged the same and filed his PFD. I’m an officer in the GOP, should I be supporting the D?

  16. 16

    Josh

    So what is exactly untruthful? He supports it, and will work to get it passed. The votes aren’t there today, but they may be there in 2, 4, or 6 years to do it. Pushing reform is always an uphill battle, but the reality is the legislative process allows for horse trading, Republicans have a large majority, and rural Republicans can be convinced if it doesn’t negatively effect their communities.

    Almost nothing that Taylor Bennett is running on will be accomplished because he’s in the minority party. Does that mean he’s untruthful?! No, because he will still try to pursue his issues. Same for Jmax.

    This is nothing more than the negative nancy bridgade being negative about any change that encompasses so much thinking in Brookhaven.

  17. 17

    Kathleen

    Shawn,

    You think you’re so clever with your sly mention of Scott Holcomb. We’re not as ignorant as you tend to assume we are. We know who Dr. Abramowitz is.

    Your small core group that thinks that they run this town is getting a wake up call.

    Repeatedly, citizens have asked of our leadership to put forth as much effort to demand change and resolve issues but instead this same SMALL group with BIG egos continues to try and shove their ideas at us as if they are all knowing.

    If as much effort was directed to the citizens as a whole the outcome would be much different. This cloud of dishonesty, lack of trust, slimy behind the scenes scheming, moves for personal gains and political advancement wouldn’t exist and a lot more could be accomplished.

    When something is broke you first try to fix it. Shiny and new is not the only option.

    Face it, the Republican party, our party, is running scared and a large majority of us want to see change from within instead of this continued attempt to try and control us with scare tactics, lies, and pleas to guilt us into being good soldiers.

    Your mission appears to be education so do just that … educate us instead of demanding of us that we see things your way.

  18. 18

    John Doe Brookhaven

    Certainly not, if your party affiliation is what matters more than your interest in electing a responsible, honest and ethical representative.

    And that’s pretty much US politics in a nutshell. It’s college football, with only two teams. Doesn’t matter who the best candidate is, just which one is wearing our school colors.

  19. 19

    Preach It Sis

    Amen.

  20. 20

    No BIA needed

    Jack, despite an attempt, you are really out of touch on this one. Three points: 1) The principal left not because of the school. He left because he lives in Marietta and got an opportunity to be at a school 5 minutes from his house instead of 35. 2) You can thank your previous mayor and current mayor for the development at all cost philosophy that are no doubt crowding our schools. 3) I have no idea what Great School rating is and I tend to doubt its methodology. Rather, I’ll give you 2 additional facts you should consider. Montgomery was one of the top performing elementary schools in CCRPI in the entire county http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/news-and-events/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2014/12/dcsd-demonstrates-academic-growth.pdf. It was also given a 5 out of 5 on the school climate rating.

    So forgive me if I’m not overly excited about moving my 3 children out of that environment for a highly suspect BIA that has little to no experience behind it.

  21. 21

    Erika Harris

    Ann, let me start with the last part of your editorial: “Residents of Brookhaven have every reason to be concerned about their public schools, and the desire for increased autonomy is understandable.” This part of your piece speaks to your title – “let’s be truthful.” Yes, Brookhaven residents do have cause for concern. Brookhaven is home to several schools long ignored and slighted by the DeKalb County School System – schools that serve the underrepresented and the overlooked – schools that are full of beautiful and bright minds that are having their needs ignored and poorly serviced due to a bloated, out of touch, and far removed central office.

    Unfortunately in your editorial you are mixing two very different paths for eduation reform. The BIA has zero connection to HR4 (Independent School Systems). I will not speak to the BIA, as I am not a resident of Brookhaven. I will speak to HR4 though, as I am a DeKalb resident, a mom of now three children in DeKalb schools, a teacher, an educational advocate, and the Co-Chair of GLASS (Georgians for Local Area School Systems).

    Over the last two years HR4 has made important language changes in response to feedback and requests within the legislature. Likely this year it will undergo yet another change. Currently the bill reads that ANY city within the state of Georgia may form an independent school system (regardless of incorporation date.)

    To say that it is not a legislative priority is an untruth. Education is a high priority for the Govenor’s office as well as the legislature, as you shared with the Opportunity School District (OSD). You write as if HR4 is in competition with OSD though, and that is as far from the truth as one can get – although it makes for excellent political pandering and background noise… The OSD provides a mechanism for the State to intervene with the most at risk/failing schools in Georgia. It does not, however, touch school district ogranization or address what is an ever growing metro atlanta population.

    The OSD is an important reactive measure for failing schools – and HR4 is a necessary proactive measure to allow for school districts to reogranize into more manageable sized school systems – ones that will be better capable of being effecient with their resources, effecitve with their implementation, and in touch and connected to their learning communitities.

  22. 22

    Eddie E.

    When somebody demonstrates a broad based, fully functional alternative that serves all Dekalb County students, we’ll talk.
    Right now there is no such plan.
    I would certainly hope Representative Holcomb would vote against such a money-wasting pipe dream.

  23. 23

    The rest of Brookhaven

    Any of you have a map of public school performance in democratic elected districts? Let’s narrow that down to Metro Atlanta. Terrible to the point where it’s sad. So we should sign up for that?

  24. 24

    Eric Robert

    J Max in a FB posts tonight said a liberal professor wrote this piece and that its the special interests trying to stop it and that “Education In DeKalb needs change and the elites and bureaucrats will stop at nothing to keep things just the way they are. They don’t care if they have to shortchange your children to do it.”

    I don’t know who the author is. I did go to Emory and often here people try to smear professors there by calling them liberal elites but like I said I do not know enough about this proposal to comment. Anybody have additional information?

  25. 25

    Eddie E.

    So your suggestion is to blindly support the party that has pushed Georgia into dead last for most measures of Civilization?
    A novel idea.

  26. 26

    Eddie E.

    But wait, there’s more.
    Name one aspect of governance that the party of ‘small group’s with big egos’ has improved since taking bare knuckled control in Georgia. One, just one.
    It takes long, hard, diligent work to solve the problems before us.
    But face it, transportation, education, environmental protection, job growth, heck the economy in general, ethics, regulation of insurance and utilities, ALL have suffered dramatically since 2003.
    Eventually, people have to catch on.

  27. 27

    Jack Smith

    First your assumptions are completely wrong. I think a Brookhaven School is a terrible idea. I think city schools are not the right answer either. The only real solution I see is a stronger county school system. Right now Dekalb has a huge number of issues not only in the school system but in the government of the county. No one can deny that. Montgomery has been a beacon in a terrible school system but it is under strain and stress from the increased pressures of more kids than the school can handle with no plan or funding to address the issues. The building is way beyond its life-span. For example, the leaking roof was never repaired last year, I saw no construction on it this summer and can only conclude it still is not fixed. The kids can barely make it to the lunch room because we have may more kids in the school than the building can handle. This area all facts every parent with kids at Montgomery knows.

    This is a common theme in all the North Dekalb schools and there is no plan to make it better. It takes a school system at least a year to come up with a comprehensive plan and then 3 to 5 years to execute that plan. We are years away from a solution and there isn’t even a plan.

    I suggest you read about Great Schools and understand how that rating system works and then take a look at the greater Dekalb system and the ratings. Being a top performer in an under-performing system is commendable but not sufficient. Worse than that we just don’t get any funding. The harsh reality is that we as parents and residents are suffering with our school option in North Dekalb but instead of putting those issues on display and trying to address them I see parents defend their schools and then complain privately about all the same issues I just highlighted. Until these issues come to light and parents make demands for change, the system is not going to improve. The sudden high density development that has been promoted in Brookhaven and Chamblee is also having an direct impact on the schools as anyone can understand. Yet there are still 3 big apartment developments in the pipeline (Olmstead being developed right now) in Chamblee and Brookhaven that will feed more kids in this school. That’s just a numbers game. Yes, I blame both cities. Absolutely because high density with apartments is a short term game with huge long term consequences.

    I predict several trailers for Montgomery Elementary this year as they simply do not have the capacity for the influx of children. The previous principal barely got the kids in classrooms last year after converting the computer room to a classroom. On top of that he did away with sub teachers which makes absolutely no sense to me unless used to fund an additional teacher which may have been the reason. The kids still suffer as they have to be split up into different class rooms when a teach is absent. Hopefully that situation will be addressed this year.

  28. 28

    Ben D'Oveur

    Just like the loser he is. Do you expect more? Look at his legacy and tell me how anyone can think he is credible at all.

  29. 29

    FM

    This was a very informative article. So now, is there anything JMD could say that is remotely credible, honest and transparent?

  30. 30

    Toff

    jack

    Roof is no longer leaking.
    Kids cannot get to the lunch room? Seriously?
    Great Schools ? seriously? 30 all time reviews, only 1 in 2015, hardly substantive
    Kids split up when teach is absent? Yes, happened to my kid twice last year, not a big deal, I can actually see some positives in that
    Influx of kids? Lets see , you may be right however I have seen a number of kids move out this year due to relo’s etc

  31. 31

    enuff govt already

    “schools long ignored and slighted by the DeKalb County School System – schools that serve “the underrepresented and the overlooked – schools that are full of beautiful and bright minds that are having their needs ignored and poorly serviced due to a bloated, out of touch, and far removed central office”—insert any school cluster—Seems like everyone feels they arent given their fair share anymore. If we go to more school systems for example, cities that can afford them, then what do we do with the cities or areas that cant afford them? How do we provide all the needed elements like special ed? What will The State do when it seizes a “most at risk/failing schools” other than throw more money at it? I’m not keen on my DeKalb tax money being spent on a failing school in Laurens County? IMO I dont see either initiative as being the answer.

  32. 32

    Jack Smith

    Individuals don’t rate the school so 30 reviews doesn’t mean anything. Great schools rate them using state and national test methods so, yea, seriously it went from a 9 to a 7 for good reason. You can read about their rating methods. I have been looking at schools all over the metro area and other states, public and private, for about 3 years now and I find their ratings to be pretty freaking accurate across state lines and within the Georgia county system. In addition, being a native and having gone to public schools in the area I know personally how lacking they are no matter what people try to convince themselves of otherwise.

    The lunch room at Montgomery is so small they can’t possible get all the kids in it. So they are shuffling kids all morning long just to feed them. That’s real dude. Go do a tour during school hours. See for yourself.

    All these concerns are real. If you want to stick your head in the sand then by all means I am not getting in your way. But the reality remains that the schools in Dekalb are are in serious trouble and Dekalb has no plan for North Dekalb primary schools. I get it that many parents don’t have the ability to move out of our district to better schools (K-12) due to job location or private schools being either untenable or unaffordable. I am in the same boat.

    Listen, that school never got a roof after two years of construction. It might not be leaking now after many patches but the fact remains the building is in adequate and you have to be blind not to see that. Buckets in the hallways last year was absurd. Water pouring in on the first day of school last year absurd and inexcusable. The kids need a better facility. Why are people not demanding it is beyond me.

    Last year we had 7 kindergarten classes. When I first moved into the area over 10 years ago we had 3 K classes. That is just one grade level. The trailers are coming, they have to because there is no space for the kids. It is simple math. More kids and no where to put them isn’t a bad reflection on Montgomery it is the county school system and to fix is going to take parents getting involved and demanding some action.

  33. 33

    SUAWS

    Students United Against Wet Schools. Get your T-shirts ready. Go to the next school board meeting in droves to address your concerns to Dr. Green, and expectations. Send parents from Ashford Park and Woodward too on a monthly basis to represent these same concerns and restate the same expectations. Study the budget and make suggestions. Squeak the wheel until they are tired of hearing you. It shouldn’t take an angry parent to get something done, but sometimes it takes an angry parent to get something done.

  34. 34

    Toff

    Do all kids need to eat at the same time? Lunch hours are staggered.

    I agree the building could do with some improvement, but its fine as-is.

    Sounds like you need to whisk your kiddies off to private school if you are that perturbed.

  35. 35

    Kim

    Monsieur D’Oveur, I imply no approval of the term, “loser,” or any political position others may infer. I simply want to compliment you on your fanstastic blog handle. Très jólie!

  36. 36

    Kim

    I realize this is an op-ed and related subjective dialog and even poltical debate that has ensued (perfectly valid) due to the impending election. Ann is a good person with a defensible position. The candidates in the runoff both have their pros and cons. Therefore, I have nothing to say about who you should vote for on Aug 11. That said, did anyone else note the accolade earned by our neighbors in Dunwoody for being one of “America’s most educated cities?” Is it any wonder, then, that community is making so much ado about their ability to enhance and invest in public education for their kids? Anyone who is paying attention knows I am a rabid support of HR4 and what it represents for me. It is more than “home-rule” in public education. Make no mistake, there are many, many agendas at play in the fight for and against ISDs in Georgia. For me, at the Brookhaven-level view of things, a Brookhaven ISD would banish our gerrymandered public school attendance lines we’ve built via DeKalb County in our area. These lines require children from outside 285 to drive passed Chamblee HS 1-2 miles from their house and to Cross Keys HS 8-10 miles away. It requires families support a child in Dresden ES in Chamblee, a child five miles away to the east at Seqouyah MS, and a third five miles away the other way at Cross Keys. Should ISDs become a reality, It would ensure my “CK kids” could no longer be excluded from our communities in this civic dimension of public education attendance areas and the families would have a “community of interest” school in their city. That is my parochial view. Now, back to the sparring! For those curious, here’s the article: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/cities/most-educated-top-cities-2015/

  37. 37

    Eric Robert

    Kim you may have lost me here. I agree the gerrymandered lines should be tossed. And the language of House Resolution 4 I agree with 110%. However there are a ton of hurdles toward allowing cities to form their own Schools. And Dunwoody is illustrative of the concern.
    But first, one point City School systems is not necessarily a Dem vs. Republican issue since many Republicans have been voting against it. Or is that not correct?
    Anyway, the article you linked to actually just reinforces that. The article rather than speaking of the current school is speaking of the residents who live their. They have a high % of high school degrees and college degress. Yes,Dunwoody Schools are good schools, but that’s largely because Dunwoody has very little low to moderate income housing. And so they do well on standardized tests and graduation rates.
    But, as exhibited by their failed bond attempt Dunwoody has tried to get what little low to moderate income housing they have closed.
    Also Dunwoody has adopted a building standard for mixed use housing in the perimeter center that makes it difficult to build apartments. Even though units in the Perimeter Center attract few children due to the high rates, high rates driven by the proximity to jobs, this building standard (all concrete) is driven in part by a desire to not add kids to the schools.
    Dunwoody would get all of the huge Perimeter Center in Dunwoody tax base which is huge. Yes its in Dunwoody, but its there because of regional investments by MARTA, By GDOT and by DeKalb. The tax base is even more lucrative because it doesn’t add kids to the schools. And Dunwoody’s attempts to keep residential out creates an imbalance in the Perimeter Center that pushes residential to the neighboring cities, creates more traffic and creates more tailpipe pollution.
    So my fear is city based schools creates more incentive for places like Brookhaven to drive out your “CK” kids from Brookhaven. I also fear it will create huge disparities in the school systems in Atlanta.
    Do we need to change the DeKalb School system? Yes. Should there be more local control ? Is moving to a city school system – that I worry about – if its done we may need to address the way we fund schools or we have to figure out a state level response to cities providing affordable housing.
    Sadly in the current legislature the nothing will be done to mitigate the negative consequences of income levels in the various school systems.

  38. 38

    Kim

    Eric: I think you are right to have many questions and concerns about HR4. And you are right that it does have come nuances worth examining. That said, I think I need to reset your perspective on Dunwoody as an example. The current enrollment of Dunwoody High School is 1/3 “Economically Disadvantage” according to the GA DoE’s latest data (2014). That number is actually _higher_ than the previous year. So while I understand you concerns about creating enclaves and housing policies, etc., that fact is that Dunwoody is FAR from homogeneous as a community or as a public school attendance area. As for concerns about creating huge disparities in school systems, we already have that and this doesn’t really come into play for me in Atlanta Metro. In more rural districts, this could be a serious risk. But that ship has sailed in Atlanta metro – we have high minority systems in Marietta, Atlanta, Cobb, DeKalb, Gwinnett, and more. That isn’t going to change with municipal system with the possible exception of the the tiniest of geographies or the rural example I mentioned.

    Try as we might (and some may be trying), Brookhaven, thank God, will remain a diverse city for many decades and my guess is forever notwithstanding some persons’ dream otherwise.

    Regarding the partisan dimension, I agree it is not a Dem vs Rep issue. I do not think I suggested it was. It is more a case of high density areas’ representatives vs lower density area reps. That’s my view.

  39. 39

    Kim

    Jack, I would like to express empathy to the Mustangs and the overcrowding. What would you think of Montgomery with say, another 200 kids? Bad right? How about another 400? Unthinkable, right? How about DOUBLE the current number? OUTRAGOUS we would agree. That is the situation at Woodward, Montclair, Dresden and Cary Reynolds. Just wanted to share your pain and let you know you are a) Not alone, and b) much better off than ever single elementary school in the Cross Keys atttendance area in this regard.

  40. 40

    PSDad

    @Toff Improvement is an understatement. What are you, some completely detached dad that only checks in with his family at the dinner table? My 4th grader was eating lunch at 10:30 last year, my 1st grader was eating lunch at 1:15. The cafeteria is cycling kids out for most of the school day to meet the federally mandated school lunch requirements in facilities that were intended for 1/4 of the current student body. My 1st grader had a classroom with 28 kids in a room intended for no more than 16. Yes, overcrowding is a problem. Test scores at Montgomery might be more attributable to socio-economic characteristics than your “fine as is” head in a hole theories. Pay attention or stay out of the conversation.

  41. 41

    GOP Gal

    You are an officer in the GOP? I heard you were handily defeated in your bid for Chair of the Dekalb GOP. Did the state party take pity on you since your own community didn’t want you?

  42. 42

    Eric Robert

    Thanks Kim, I agree not everyone in Dunwoody is well off. Though is 1/3 high? What are the numbers the DeKalb School system. Also does Dunwoody have any transfers from other parts of DeKalb?

    As to disparities in the School systems, I didn’t mean the populations but the funding sources. Every School in Gwinnett theoretically should have equal funding resources from the Gwinnett budget.

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