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49 Comments

  1. 1

    Come on!

    Your tax dollars at work Brookhaven. A school in Norcross. Good luck to those who are sending their kids there – you’re guinea pigs in a big experiment.

  2. 2

    Janine

    Thanks to Bates Mattison & Joe Gebbia who wasted our money & resources. Rebecca & the Round One too but at least they’re gone.

  3. 3

    Justin Owings

    Congrats to the BIA on launching an impressive school despite huge odds! You all did an amazing job with the facility and I’m excited to have my kid in a school that has a 21st century curriculum and teaching-style that isn’t just didactic, worksheet-led learning. You’d think that would have been done away with a few decades ago!

    My 2nd grader already had a great first day. THANK YOU!

    To those who have and would like to share their vitriolic opinions about the BIA, at least bring your A game and make a coherent argument. Get educated on what the BIA is doing and make a rational case against it, if you must. Finally, remember, hoping for a new school filled with young children to outright fail just so you can feel good about your pessimistic opinion is a pretty rotten thing to do. Don’t you have better things to do with your time?

  4. 4

    Susan

    Justin the major complaint Brookhaven residents have regarding the BIA is that it was created with $60,000 of misappropriated taxpayer funds by misguided Brookhaven elected officials that should have known better. Their anger continues knowing that this $60,000 will never be returned. Brookhaven was not created for the purpose of creating schools. The only reason the school is not located at old Skyland is because of the citizen outrage when it became clear that property was the potential location if purchased by Brookhaven. Also, one city councilman in a financial bind was trying to make the BIA an income source. You know the story.

    I am glad your child is happy at BIA and hope she does well. Just remember any vitriolic comments are rooted in the deceptive manner the school was created and the legally questionable actions of elected officials involved in its creation. Is that hard to understand?

  5. 5

    Justin Owings

    I understand where folks are coming from w/r/t taxpayer funds and I understand that the City wasn’t created to create schools.

    But the City was created to support the citizens and like it or not, schools are a public good (I personally don’t like it). Meanwhile, a huge number of new families have come to Brookhaven and are having children. Those children must attend schools. Dekalb schools has been and continues to drop the ball on education — even as much as local schools have made strides in improving despite Dekalb. So far be it for someone to secure a State-funded charter for a school that is using a curriculum that could be the future of how education is approached. Imagine if the BIA is wildly successful: what would that do for Brookhaven? For one, it would very likely increase house prices; two, it would elevate the Brookhaven brand. I’m sure there are lots of other benefits to having one of the better schools in the state local to your City.

    But we’re not there and we very well may never get there. We just don’t know.

    But what I do know is that complaining about events that happened a long time ago and actively deriding a new school does absolutely zero good and very well could do some harm to real people — the real kids who are attending the school, the real teachers who took jobs to try to make this school a success, and on and on.

    The BIA exists — the money is gone and not coming back. So let’s move on from the bitterness about its creation and association with a City Councilman.

    And for the sake of the kids and even the City, let’s hope for the best — because that is good for all of us.

  6. 6

    Susan

    Justin, the problems with public education in our area appear to be the lack of involvement of parents and taxpayers in general with all of the schools in our area, not just their child’s school. If Brookhaven government was so concerned, they as our representatives should have put pressure in the school system along with concerned parents. Did that ever happen?

    No one is complaining. We are just reminding everyone about a little indiscrete Brookhaven history. To forget history in Brookhaven is to let the political opportunists mismanage taxpayer money again. It’s also hard to respect people that just expect everyone to roll over and forget the mismanagement of $60,000. Try that in the private sector and see how far you go. I guess there are several interpretations of morality and integrity depending on your goals.

  7. 7

    BiA parent

    We are so happy we made the brave decision to give BiA a shot! It has been a refreshing experience and change from the county public education system. The facility is awesome as are the teachers and curriculum model. Hopefully the city of Brookhaven will support this school and help bring it back to an intown location. All classes have a cap of 20 students (vs classes on 35-40 in area 4th and 5th grade classes). Kids have recess multiple times a day, collaborative projects and access to current and relevant technology. Give it a shot – next year will certainly be harder to win the lottery!

  8. 8

    Justin Owings

    Lack of parent involvement? I guess you don’t have kids at Ashford Park. Parents up are involved up the wazoo. I went to a more with it elementary school I n Alabama of all places and it had a fraction of parental involvement. That’s not the problem at all.

    It’s a system problem. Have you ever tried to change a system from the inside? It’s extremely difficult. The American education system has barely changed in a hundred years — except to add more standardized testing, which by the way has been proven not to move the needle on education. Not surprising though because changing a system from the inside is very, very hard.

    A state chartered school has lot more leeway than a DeKalb school. This is a huge benefit of it.

    But anyway, I don’t think anyone js going to forget the missteps of local government with regard to the BIA. Not with the army of people who come out of the woodworks to dog on a school every chance they get. Move on and find another thing to gripe about — there are plenty of other political missteps to hammer on that don’t have potential negative ramifications on young children.

    Choose your battles.

  9. 9

    Matts

    Bwahahahaha Mattison!

  10. 10

    ellen

    Enjoy the Norcross Innovation Academy, LOL!

  11. 11

    Susan

    Justin you obviously missed a major point of my message. In addition to a child’s neighborhood school, parents should be involved in public education regionally. What currently has negative effects on schools around you may one day be your schools problem too. The DeKalb school system does not evolve around Ashford Park.

    That’s the problem. There is very little involvement with the school system by Ashford Park parents and other parents of school age children in our area with the DeKalb school system. But parents in our area have involved themselves with DeKalb school system when it suits their needs. As our area started becoming gentrified and racially diverse in the last century I was shocked to find that the gentrified banded together and pressured the school system to redistrict area schools into the attendance areas we now have north of I-85. In part, this selfish behavior is responsible for the DeKalb school nightmare we have today.

    I don’t have an opinion on charter schools. But we all pay school taxes and it’s in our best interest to see that a school system is run efficiently and produces educated students we can all be proud of. It might be a good idea to seek changes to public systems by streamlining the education process incorporating the advantages of charter schools. Before you laugh at my suggestion, we have had an interesting occurrence here in Brookhaven over the past couple of weeks. Concerned residences of Ashford Park and Brookhaven Fields joined together to protest two developments being planned for Dresden Drive. One project will not be constructed as desired and it looks like the second may be on the way out too. The room in both instances was electric with community spirit.

    How were these projects opposed? A community banded together and voiced their opinions about the future of their neighborhood just as they did years ago by modifying the school attendance areas. In other words, these neighbors didn’t just move on. They took a stand. I guess some people talk a good game but never follow through unless it impacts them personally.

  12. 12

    Justin Owings

    Susan,

    Being involved in anything is a lot of work. Case in point the two events that happened locally that you mentioned. I was personally involved in both (see today’s article or the one from the last Planning Commission meeting). I spent hours upon hours (I’d say it’s probably over 100 hours of my time at this point) in meetings, crafting the presentations, and speaking at both Planning Commission meetings (mind this was a huge team effort and I was but one team member!).

    So yea, you could say I get what it means to band together and get involved. That said, every time I was involved it came at the expense of time away from my family, my spouse, my dayjob, etc. Parents getting involved with their school is the low hanging fruit and the most important, most effective way to bring change to a school. And in the time constrained world of a parent, you have to apply triage and get involved where it makes the most sense — and that’s locally.

    Which brings me back to the local activism that I was involved with re: the Planning Commission. I got involved in local politics here because my time was very likely to have an impact — I made the same judgment parents of school-aged kids are making — get involved where it will have the most impact (local vs regional).

    Anyway, I see your point about getting involved at a regional level, but I understand that with limits on time and energy, parents are just being smart and acting where it’s most likely to have an impact. Just like the neighbors did re: these local developments.

    As for school, the easiest, most efficient way to get the change you want for your kids NOW (and now is when it matters) is to move to a school that is not encumbered by nascent bureaucracies and inertia. In almost any huge organization (like a school system) you have such powerful forces of bureaucratic inertia that “turning the titanic” is next to impossible. Really, were it possible w/r/t trying to reconfigure the current school system from within, don’t you think it would have happened already?

    There is lots and lots of reading on this subject (of schools) — one place to start might be The Underground History of American Education by John Gatto.

  13. 13

    Susan

    Justin making positive change in a school system is all about a coordinated, shared responsibility effort by a concerned group of citizens in the greater community. It also takes the participation of a lot of people willing to share the burden of the end game and selflessly communicate and pass the baton to keep movement momentum in forward motion. Apparently planning and zoning issues rate higher than education for the majority in our gentrified Brookhaven neighborhoods. If education was important there would be a citizen group pressing the DeKalb school system for reforms and neighborhoid concerns utilizing our city council people when needed.

    Justin, is there such an organized group of Brookhaven citizens wanting to change our school system? Do they have a Facebook page? Or is the focus on another school created with $60,000 of Brookhaven tax dollars and just screwing the school system we are forced to support with our tax dollars?

  14. 14

    Justin Owings

    1 – Am I to understand that you have accomplished positive change within the school system — what was your strategy? How did you do it? What success did you see?

    2 – Could you explain how a new school in a booming area– an area that has more students than classrooms and is requiring more funding to provide trailers and teachers and has student to teacher ratio going in the wrong direction– hurts local schools funded by local property taxes when that new school alleviates local tax burden as it is funded using already appropriated state funds set aside for charter schools?

  15. 15

    Susan

    Justin just keep on fighting zoning and development issues. They are truly more important than education and evidently more worthy of your time.

  16. 16

    Justin Owings

    Nice try ignoring my questions. Of course, that was sort of my goal: to call you out. You speak as an expert but can’t share the most basic proof. I can point to the scoreboard. Both with my choice in school and the effect on my neighborhood for zoning.

    And I don’t hide behind Internet anonymity.

    So how about I keep doing what makes sense– effecting real change for my family by supporting a new school and protecting Dresden Drive and my neighborhood with fighting the good fight at City Hall. If it is not clear, that’s actually keeping my priorities straight as an arrow. Trying to affect regional change on a local school while my kids suffer through it when a better option is available? That would be foolish and irresponsible …

    … Sort of like armchair activism — hoping to effect change by trolling Brookhaven Post comments with vitriolic snipes about things you can’t change.

    But you keep up your internet comment driven activism. And fooling yourself into thinking you’re actually making a difference.

  17. 17

    Susan

    Is that what you did Justin? Call me out? Or have you exposed yourself as one of the many in the neighborhood that want to complain about DeKalb schools yet not want to involve yourselves in making necessary changes the system screams for. Imagine the signal that would be sent if a like number of Brookhaven residents that attended recent planning meetings showed up at school board meetings in red shirts and filled the public time voicing their concerns and desires.

    Enjoy your drive to Norcross five days a week and that long wait in return rush hour traffic. And remember those two large parcels on Dresden are too valuable to just sit and the longer they do the greater chance large unwanted projects will be built on them. Look at Buckhead. Then what you going to do about MARTA? Looks like you have your work cut out for you. You’ll be a planning and zoning expert before its all over.

  18. 18

    Brenda

    So excited to see this come to fruition. And I am so excited to have more education options available to our kids.

  19. 19

    Mark S.

    The trip from Brookhaven to the BIA is not a problem. Love that it is near Technology Park where I work. Super convenient. Thanks BIA!

  20. 20

    Mandy Miller

    It will be a little strange “talking shop” with my 4th grader once they learn coding. I am a database modeler and super excited this school will get students ready for the real world while DeKalb is trying to decide whether or not to get in to the real estate business with Doraville where I live. Glad to be out of that mess!!! Go BIA! Here’s to a bright future!

  21. 21

    Fellow BIA Parent

    Didn’t you just change your argument on him, Susan? First, you say that committed residents bring about desired change (via fighting development on Dresden). “The room in both instances was electric with community spirit.” Then, in the next breath, you disparage him for fighting against the same zoning changes you praised? Armchair activism at its best.

  22. 22

    Come on!

    You’re crazy. What elementary school has 35-40? I have 3 kids at Montgomery and it is a wonderful neighborhood school with committed teachers. I’ve heard from a few parents already who have gone BIA and the jury is still very much out. Send your kid where you want to send him or her, but don’t tell me to send mine there. We have an elementary school (two if you count APES) that score in the top 10% of all schools in the state. When BIA comes close to that, please let me know. I’ll be waiting for quite a few years I think….

  23. 23

    Barbara

    It was WAY too soon for BIA and the method was 100% wrong but your comments show exactly why it was undertaken in the first place. Not every one can live in precious D1 and the city only has two schools that are good. What about the children in the rest of the city? DCSC will never change, never, and the corruption will only increase as it has over the past 30 years. So this might end up being the best route, although it still should have been done much much differently than the way it was. The city would have wasted your tax dollars on something else like paving Rebeccas swim and tennis subdivision so at least this will help children who dont have the advantage of Montgomery or Ashford Park.

    BIA is here either way, regardless of how it was done, and it’s sad that so many of you grown adults are rooting for the failure of the education of our youth.

  24. 24

    Fellow BIA Parent

    I’ve heard from multiple parents at Montgomery that the older grades (4 and 5) have 35-40 per class. You do you at Montgomery. No one said you had to send your kids there. Thankful for the opportunity to do something totally new with a group of dedicated parents. And, we don’t have to deal with Dekalb bureaucrats! The jury will be out all year for us. It comes with the territory on a new charter school. But at least we are trying a new way. It’s a risk, but I’m confident it will pay off.

  25. 25

    Toff

    I hope BIA is a success. The departure of kids from MES to BIA has had a noticeable effect on class sizes. For my kids their class size has gone down from 24 and 25 to 16 and 17 (2nd and 4th grades).

  26. 26

    Marjorie Snook

    People said the same thing about the commission–it was impossible to fix the commission, so the only option was to create a new entity like the City of Brookhaven. And you just layered on more corruption.

    Meanwhile, citizens got extremely involved, booted the worst commissioner on the DeKalb Commission and are on the verge of electing another good one. Yes, working changes throughout the bureaucracy will take time, but we DID remake the commission.

  27. 27

    RAJ

    NO changes have been made at the County level YET, just better prospects in the future….same as with Brokenhaven!

  28. 28

    Ray Bann

    Parents at BIA are fighting hard to get the school moved to Brookhaven.

  29. 29

    Jason

    What flavor is that BIA Kool-Aid?

  30. 30

    Scott Silvester

    Bates Mattison is trying to get the BIA at the Ashford Park Greenspace. Truth. Believe it. It came up at in sidebar conversation at the PDK advisory board meeting the other week.

    I am in full support. And I hope the city foots the bill.

  31. 31

    Lauren

    Over my dead body will another Brookhaven dime be spent on that school. Talk about banding together for a fight. I’m happy everyone is enjoying BIA and I wish them the best but the gravy train is being decommissioned.

  32. 32

    Ray Bann

    I believe it. Didn’t he get let go? Why is he still involved?

  33. 33

    Scott Silvester

    Head of business development.

  34. 34

    fyi

    I wish the BIA (NIA) students and parents good luck. BTW- Each student / parent owes the Brookhaven taxpayers $143 a head for the $60K of city funds that were poured into this non-core function of the city. When you reimburse the taxpayers I will stop criticizing the school and the moronic city council members who wasted our funds. I will not hold my breath as I see you are expecting more city support for the school in addition to the nearly 23 mils we already pay in property tax for the county school system. SMH.

  35. 35

    Justin Owings

    Susan,

    I have exposed myself as being rational and doing things that have measurable results on my kids and my family — both in my school choice and my local fight. I’m proud of my decisions and I put my name to them. Enough said.

    If at some point you want to have a real discussion, put your full name out there. Own your words and have some respect for your reputation. Maybe then we will get somewhere.

    Until then, I’m done here.

  36. 36

    Jane

    There are plenty of other places other than plowing down a greenspace to put the school. I do’t understand why there isn’t a push to have it at Chamblee plaza – that would be an awesome place to put it.

  37. 37

    Susan

    Be glad to talk Justin, once the $60,000 is repaid to the taxpayers of Brookhaven. What’s that? Yeah you are done. Put a fork in it.

  38. 38

    Ray Bann

    Are they going to change the name?

  39. 39

    PSDad

    BIA has eased some of the overcrowding at MES. We are seeing the same smaller class sizes for our 4th grader at Montgomery this year. The past few years, overcrowding had been so bad that we pulled all of our kids out of Montgomery and the Middle School and sent them to private schools. We are happy to have our youngest back at Montgomery and hope that they don’t restructure and consolidate to make larger classes (as they have in the past). Unfortunately, unless something changes at the middle school and high school I suspect that we will still be looking to private schools after MES. I think Brookhaven spent the $60k on BIA hoping for a different outcome, but the benefit of BIA is evident in our classrooms today and hopefully it will continue to have a positive impact on our community.

  40. 40

    Marjorie Snook

    Well, all the new elected officials have yet to take office, so it would be a bit premature to expect a quick fix to such an entrenched problem. But at least things are moving in the right direction for DeKalb government. In Brookhaven, I am not so sure they are.

  41. 41

    Fellow BIA Parent

    Something tells me that nothing will satisfy you in this situation. Pretty sure you would still rally against the school even if the $60k were repaid . There are far worse things our government spends its money on than bettering education options for our kids.

  42. 42

    Susan

    Parent, there are several issues handled incorrectly in this city since it’s founding. The misappropriation of the $60,000 is just one of many and not the last. As for the school, it’s just another educational choice if it weren’t created in an extremely questionable manner with city funds.

    Pay back the $60,000 and I might contribute to the library that Bate’s wife is asking contributions for.

    Each government indiscretion stands alone and needs to be rectified. But that won’t happen. Welcome to Brookhaven.

  43. 43

    Susan

    Brookhaven Brookie green.

  44. 44

    bldvl89

    I don’t expect to ever pull my kids out of APES to send them to BIA, but like cityhood (which I opposed), now that the BIA is here (which I also opposed b/c the $60,000 went to someone whose motives and qualifications I remain completely cynical about, Gareth Jenner), I’m certainly not going to root for it to fail. The benefits that come from increasing the availability of schooling options to children in Brookhaven far outweigh any negatives.

    And after watching Justin in these two re-zoning fights in which a group of several dedicated neighbors have obviously spent their entire summer at the expense of time with their families educating themselves on the Comprehensive Plan, the City zoning ordinance, applicable Ga Supreme Court cases, and attending meeting, after meeting, after meeting (always after work, and in many cases, at times when they’re trying to put small kids to bed), it’s patently obvious he walks the walk with regards to trying make a difference at the local level.

    It’s also a totally spurious argument to say that “planning and zoning” rate higher than education for the “gentrified” in Brookhaven based on the T-P and Connolly fights. T-P and Connolly have taken on a high profile, not only because their projects directly threaten individual neighbors in a way no other project within the Overlay has, but because both developers timed the filing of their applications for a summer track (when they figured most n’hood opposition would be dispersed). The result is a group of neighbors, many of whom are parents to school age kids, burning their entire summer educating themselves on how to fight both fights. That’s not evidence that planning and zoning rate above education!

    It’s also ridiculous to criticize parents who support either APES or BIA for not “being more regional” and not trying to tackle all the ills of the entire DCSS. I’d hate to think what naysayers think of parents who send their kids to private schools or homeschool their children. Otherwise, if you’re a parent of school age kids trying to fight T-P and Connolly, this summer has meant having three full time jobs: your regular job; your job raising your kids, and your job educating yourself to fight entire developer teams and their highly skilled lawyers. Take the zoning fights off of those parents’ plates (hopefully by August 23), and naysayers are merely criticizing parents for not tackling the DCSS as their “third job.” But it seems awfully self-righteous to be talking like you’re doing the walking, when in fact you’re not.

  45. 45

    James

    I don’t live in Brookhaven, so I’m sorry about the 60K but that’s your local politics that YOUR city council voted for. Unhappy constituents can run for office, vote their council people out of office, or put up with the status quo. As a Buckhead/Atlanta Public Schools voter, it’s nice to have options other than our local public schools and expensive private schools. I doubt very few who have commented here have toured BIA or are aware of all the transportation options. No need to dis all the BIA parents who are very involved and love the administration and curriculum. We just happen to like education that is stem based, with small classes and great leadership. My child’s teacher has amazing credentials in a class of under 20 students. It’s a statewide school, so check it out if you are looking for K – 6th grade options!

  46. 46

    Doing good

    I have 3 children at MES. 4th grade classes have 25 this year.

  47. 47

    Doing good

    What’s your problem with CMS and CCHS?

  48. 48

    Doing good

    I’ve talked to a few BIA parents who say it’s horrible and are seriously considering putting their kids back and MES.

  49. 49

    Ellen

    You mean Norcross Innovation Academy, LOL! Go MES!

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