Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Suburban Plaza update: Starbucks, LA Fitness

The Cross-Neighborhoods Committee has some Suburban Plaza updates. First, some timelines:

  • Walmart construction is scheduled to begin in October 2014, with the store expected to open on February or March of 2016.  
  • LA Fitness (old Winn Dixie building) has been granted their land disturbance permit and is in the process of applying for their building permit. Demolition of that building should begin soon. 
  • The Starbucks drive-through SLUP was approved by the Board of Commissioners on September 23.
  • Selig plans to begin facade and parking lot renovations in January 2015. 
  • Selig is in final negotiations with two junior anchor tenants.  As soon as the contracts are signed, they will release their names.

A refresher: the last available map we shared on August 2014. Click to enlarge.

Greg Catoe at Selig Enterprises also shared some additional updates about Starbucks and LA Fitness.

With regards to Starbucks, Selig is seeking a variance for the Starbucks building to be built closer to North Decatur Road (5 feet away from their property line, vs the 75 feet required by our code of ordinances). This would allow pedestrians to access to Starbucks directly from the sidewalk that Selig will be adding along that side of North Decatur Road.

At a tilt, to align with the master plan: this is a close-up of the future LA Fitness and Starbucks. This is the side
of the development closest to the North Decatur Road and Church Street intersection. Click to enlarge.
"Suburban Plaza LLC  is requesting a front yard setback variance  be granted to allow a drive-through restaurant to be constructed at 2641 North Decatur Road, which is part of our Suburban Plaza shopping center property that is currently being redeveloped to include several new tenants including, among others,  Walmart and LA Fitness. The proposed tenant for this building will be Starbucks Coffee.  This variance application is seeking relief from the 75’ front yard setback requirement as noted in Sec. 27-581 of the DeKalb County Code of Ordinances.

The proposed Starbucks will be approximately 1,750 s.f and will be situated approximately 5’ back from our property line along North Decatur Road. To accommodate this new building, an existing 2,000 s.f. building that currently encroaches upon the required 75’ setback by approximately 40’ will be demolished (the former Pizza Hut). With the sole exception of the front yard setback, our proposed site plan meets all requirements of the existing DeKalb County Code of Ordinances and it  has also been designed to meet all the requirements governing drive-through restaurants in Article 4.2.23 of the zoning ordinance update that is anticipated to be adopted in the coming months.

A Special Land Use Permit for the drive-through component was approved by the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners on September 23rd, 2014."

Selig "has not received the official documentation from the planning department noting our approval and the conditions" but Catoe will update the Cross Neighborhoods Committee upon receipt. Selig is continuing to study and refine the details of the crosswalks to ensure the safety of those shopping at the center.

Below are some depictions of the LA Fitness building's exterior.

 Details of the LA Fitness building. This image has been split into five views,
below, to improve online visibility. Click to enlarge.

1. Southwest view, as seen from existing Suburban Plaza stores such as BigLots.  Click to enlarge.

2. Northeast view, from the general direction of the North Decatur  Road and Church Street intersection. Click to enlarge.

3. Northwest view, as seen from the North Decatur Road and Blackmon Drive intersection area. Click to enlarge.

4. Southeast view, frontage, main entrance as visible from Church Street.  Click to enlarge.

5. Legend describing colors and materials. Click to enlarge.

Reminder: "Blueprint for DeKalb" [Sept 30]

September 30, 6:30 pm, Maloof Auditorium, 1300 Commerce Dr., Decatur, GA, 30030


Thursday, September 25, 2014

City of Decatur not interested in annexing Medlock Park neighborhood

From Lynn Ganim, MANA Acting President 

Many people in the Medlock neighborhood have expressed interest in, and in some cases hope for, being annexed by the City of Decatur. On September 21 MANA Board members met at our request with Decatur Mayor Jim Basket, Commissioner Fred Boykin and City Manager Peggy Merris to discuss the City of Decatur's expanded annexation map (now engulfing the Medline LCI study) and its impact on the Medlock neighborhood. We repeatedly expressed our concerns that Decatur’s interest in our surrounding businesses has negative effects on the viability of any new city that may include us. It seems unfair that Decatur's interests should have priority over those of other County residents who will be negatively impacted by Decatur's annexation plan. We also asked if Medlock should include annexation into the City of Decatur as an option for our neighborhood in our upcoming survey.

The gist of Decatur's response is that they are not interested in annexing the Medlock neighborhood or any other significant residential area because of the effect on the Decatur schools. There were no qualifications in their response. That door (or should we say “gateway”) is not open to us.

Decatur representatives emphasized their desire to control the main “gateways” to their city, with Mayor Baskett expressing dismay over the DeKalb County-approved development of Suburban Plaza as an example. The elephant in the room: why didn’t Decatur move to assume stewardship of these “gateways” a mere few years ago when they were underdeveloped? The first annexation wave came following the announcement that Suburban Plaza was to be redeveloped; the expanded map followed the Medline LCI study completion. City of Decatur officials did not express concern over the effect of their plans on other areas of the county, including Medlock, except to say that the moves towards municipalization in the county had impelled their decisions.

Decatur acknowledged that individual homeowners adjacent to the proposed commercial annexation areas can request to be included. Individuals included in the annexation plan who wish to be excluded can request to be removed. See Decatur’s annexation page here.

It appears that at this point our choices include being annexed into Atlanta (assuming Clairmont Heights and Druid Hills also decide on the same course of action), being included in a new city (whatever compromise Lakeside and Briarcliff or the legislature determines,) or remaining in a possibly dramatically smaller unincorporated DeKalb County.

We face complex choices involving many variable and unknowns. Soon we hope to distribute summary information sheets to make it easier for everyone to see what is involved in each of our available choices. We will also conduct a survey, as legislators and others are very interested in having a reliable record of our opinions. MANA is working diligently on survey design and distribution logistics; we will follow soon with additional information and survey timelines.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

New ways to support fundraising at Laurel Ridge Elementary

Laurel Ridge Elementary has some new ways you can help support the school's educational mission - both are quick, free, easy, and allow you to turn the shopping that you're already doing into additional dollars to support local public education.

For those who are smartphone users, Shoparoo offers an easy way to scan receipts using the free Shoparoo mobile app that turns pictures of your shopping receipts into cash donations for Laurel Ridge. It doesn't matter where you shop or what you buy - every receipt adds up to funding that can help support your local elementary school.

After testing the app, it seems pretty easy and folks at the school are telling me that the dollars are already starting to add up. Receipts from stores that sell grocery items return instant cash to the school (think Publix, Target, Kroger, convenience stores, dollar stores...) and receipts from other retailers earn entries for cash prizes.

More details are available at the Shoparoo website.

Kroger Community Rewards

Another great opportunity for folks to help Laurel Ridge Elementary with fundraising that is easy and painless.  Kroger will donate a percentage of your purchase to Laurel Ridge through your Kroger Plus card!  Just create an account and choose Laurel Ridge as your community partner. Use the following link to start earning money for Laurel Ridge today!

1.     Select your preferred store which may be:

        2205 Lavista Rd Ne, Atlanta, GA 30329 (Toco Hills Store)

        2875 N Decatur Rd, Decatur, GA 30033 (Dekalb Industrial Store)

2.    Enter your Kroger Plus card number.

3.    Scroll to the bottom of the page to “Community Rewards and choose Laurel  Ridge as your school!
That’s it!  Laurel Ridge earns money every time you shop at Kroger and use your Kroger Plus Card!

We've mentioned Box Tops for Education and Coke Rewards at several of our past community meetings - these are still a great fundraiser for Laurel Ridge Elementary, so don't stop collecting! You can either bring them to a community meeting or contact Tanya Myers at medlockassoc@gmail.com for pickup.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Old stuff is new: vintage sales around town

The AJC alerts us to 3 vintage sales happening around Atlanta.

One of the sales will take place later this month in front of the Decatur High School, sponsored by www.therevivalofvintage.com:

"10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 27-28 in front of Decatur High School, 310 N. McDonough St., Decatur. Free. (Free parking at DeKalb County Courthouse deck at East Trinity Place at Commerce Drive.) 

The Country Living Fair is one of three national shows, attracting 150-plus vendors from across the country, organized by the home design magazine that moved this year from New York to Birmingham, Ala. The sprawling outdoor marketplace offers a wide range of treasures: shabby chic decor, architectural elements, jewelry and clothing, primitives, garden pieces and folk art and crafts." Read the rest @ AJC

WABE on annexation

via http://www.decaturga.com/Modules/ShowDocument.aspdocumentid=5373
Red/pinkish areas labeled A-D denote areas Decatur wants to annex; yellow/orangeish
areas are in Avondale Estates' annexation plan. Medlock neighborhood labeled in yellow.
In "DeKalb Cityhood Movement Affects Decatur's Annexation Plans," Lisa George at WABE (Atlanta's NPR station) reports on annexation hopefuls vying for commercial properties along North Decatur Road (Suburban Plaza, Scott Blvd. Baptist Church/Fuqua Development, Medline LCI study area, and Emory Commons/Clairmont Rd businesses). Referring to unincorporated residents:

“If they’re shopping in that shopping center, then and that shopping center is going into a city, then they should go into that city,” says Allen Venet. He heads the City of Briarcliff Initiative, which is now working with the Lakeside group to draw borders for a new city that will likely touch Decatur. 

“We hope to be able to draw our map in a way that complements them as best as we can,” Venet told WABE. “That may not be exactly agreeing with them. We may think that, if they take certain areas, they should go beyond and take some more people, but we’re still working on that.”  Read on or listen  @ WABE

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Notes from MANA community meeting with Councilman Alex Wan, Atlanta District 6

MANA community meeting with Councilman Alex Wan, Atlanta District 6, September 17, 2014

Announcements by Lynn Ganim, acting MANA president:

This meeting is part of a series of meetings where MANA is reaching out to public officials to better understand how our neighborhood may be impacted by annexations or by new cities that include us or happen close enough to impact us.

  • We have reached out to identify a County representative but have not been successful
  • To learn about Commissioner Gannon’s Blueprint for DeKalb, attend Sept 30 meeting 
  • The interim CEO has appointed an operations task force that meets weekly at the Maloof Bldg; citizens are welcome to attend
  • MANA’s Oct 7 meeting will feature Rep Mary Margaret Oliver, who has been closely involved with recent cityhood proposals and will explain the legislative process
  • MANA will conduct a survey (house to house) to better understand our residents’ concerns and preferences

Councilman Wan has represented ATL District 6 since 2010. He grew up on the area, and attended Clarkston High, GA Tech School of Engineering, and completed his MBA at U Penn. In addition to his Atlanta appointment, Mr. Wan also works as director of development for Emory University’s libraries. Mr. Wan clarified that at this meeting, he is representing the City of Atlanta and District 6 and that he is not part of the Emory governance team (that would handle any cityhood/annexation discussions). Extensive meeting notes follow.

Update from the Druid Hills Charter Cluster

An update was posted by the Druid Hills Charter Cluster initiative earlier this week. Although state law requires that the refiled petition be taken up by the DeKalb County school board for their vote on approval or non-approval, agendas for board has over the past several months have noticeably avoided this task.

So... what to do? DHCC advocates are suggesting that if you would like to see the process move forward to an affirmative vote, consider sending a handwritten note. The most effective folks to lobby are probably board members who voted not to approve the petition initially but who will be rolling off the board and may be more willing to shift their thinking on the refiled petition (Ms. Karen Carter, Mr. David Campbell, and Dr. Michael Erwin). E-mail is also OK but these tend to get lost in inboxes and handwritten correspondence may stand out more. You might also consider copying Superintendent Thurmond on your correspondence so that he can develop a sense of community support for the initiative.

Handwritten notes can be sent to:
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

E-mail addresses for board members can be found here.

From DHCC:

As talk and organization around the concepts of new cities and annexation continue to grow, the Druid Hills Charter Cluster remains focused on one issue and one issue only: approval of the DHCC by the DeKalb Board of Education for the benefit of our seven cluster schools. It is true that approval or denial of the charter will have real implications for any cityhood or annexation efforts. In light of these growing discussions in our greater DHCC community, the DHCC would like all stakeholders and elected decision-makers to keep the following points in mind:
  • DHCC has the support of all seven school councils and the communities they serve.
  • DHCC represents the most diverse school population in DeKalb County.
  • DHCC's Petition meets all the requirements of a conversion charter petition, as noted by DCSD and the State of Georgia.
  • Charter clusters, such as the DHCC, keep all the local property tax dollars generated within a given high school zone in DeKalb County, and allow the value of those dollars to be allocated equally, on a per pupil basis, across DeKalb County. The creation of new school systems or the annexation of territory into an existing independent school system takes the local property tax dollars generated within that same high school zone out of the DeKalb County Board of Education's budget.
  • Failure to approve the DHCC could result in some portion of the cluster tax base being annexed into the City of Atlanta, the City of Decatur, and/or incorporated by one or more new cities expected to be approved for referendum by the General Assembly in early 2015.
  • DHCC provides a governance structure and petition commitment to improve the performance of ALL seven schools in the cluster.
  • DHCC accepts 100% of all cluster resident students and available capacity is open to ALL DeKalb students by lottery. DHCC has no ability to exclude any student within its attendance zone and no ability to exclude any student from any where in DeKalb whose enrollment is determined by random lottery.
  • DHCC includes new programs and enhancements to existing educational programs NOT available any where to current DeKalb students.
  • Truly empowering school-house level principals and teachers with the flexibility, autonomy, and authority to determine the instructional pacing, curriculum, assessment methods, enrichment programs, and even daily and yearly calendars that best serve their students will result in greater professional satisfaction for our teachers, increased accountability, and sustained improvements in achievement and growth for ALL students.
  • The cluster-level accountability that comes with flexibility and autonomy AND the expansion of school choice via the state-mandated, county-wide lottery that will be offered at each and every cluster school with capacity, will foster healthy and productive competition among our creative, dedicated principals and teachers, leading to better service to, and outcomes for, students throughout DeKalb County.
  • DHCC follows precisely the funding rubric outlined by state law and, as a result, drives a much greater percentage of per pupil funds to classrooms and teachers than the status quo.
The DHCC is a good idea for all students within DeKalb and approving it is the right thing for the DeKalb Board of Education to do for DeKalb County students. Share your voice and your opinion with every official elected by residents of DeKalb County.

September views of the neighborhood

With the recent rains (and rains and rains), the Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve pond actually gained some puddles....

And the mushroom season continues with plump, jolly mushrooms popping up everywhere. Prime real estate for smurfs!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Property tax scenarios for Medlock Park: it's complicated

As we all are well aware, our neighborhood sits in an area that is already seeing big changes. Commercial property development has really picked up in recent years (see our posts on Suburban Plaza, Scott Blvd Baptist Church and the Medline LCI study). We are made to understand that our unincorporated status likely will change as new cities are created or existing cities annex nearby areas.

We have been concerned about annexation plans for several years now, specifically about the lack of information about how annexations affect the County at large. Regardless of how many cities we have, the County is responsible for some services to cities, and for all services to unincorporated areas. When we think about a city having its own police force, we often forget that DeKalb County Police is still in the background, providing services such as aerial support, SWAT, and bomb units, among others. Local emergency planning may be in place, but the County Board of Health's comprehensive public health and emergency preparedness response infrastructure remains a necessity. New cities and annexations change all budgets but are discussed in terms of benefits to the smaller municipality: is this new city viable, does that existing city need this annexation to remain viable. We encourage DeKalb County to argue its case and explain how proposed cities and annexations impact the County's viability, too.

Property tax bills are of particular interest during periods of  incorporation and annexation activity.  When an area rescinds its unincorporated status (by annexing to an existing city or joining a newly formed city), there is a shift in which entities provide basic services. For unincorporated areas, all services are provided by the county. Cities, in turn, provide a subset of services and the formation of new cities is typically justified on those terms--the county is not doing well enough and local control will allow for better and more efficient services. When the responsibility for services shifts jurisdictions, the funds that support them must follow. Thus, when annexed, a property owner will go from having his or her property taxes levied by two entities (state and county) to three (state, county and city). If economies of scale apply, it may cost more for the smaller city to provide those services. However, if the quality of the services is (or is perceived to be) higher, the city may become more attractive relative to nearby unincorporated areas and property values will increase. Current and potential residents weigh the benefit of increased property values vs. increased property taxes (as well as other quality of life factors) to decide if the higher tax bill is worth it.

Change is the only constant when it comes to property taxes: home owners (who pay property taxes directly) and renters (who pay property taxes indirectly through their rents to landlords) must reconcile with this reality. Aggregate (total) property tax bills may change each year based on the interaction between
  • assessed property value and freezes, 
  • millage rates for different applicable jurisdictions (state, county and city millage rates are recalculated each year and may go up or down), 
  • applicable fees or service charges, 
  • tax credits (e.g. HOST) and 
  • potential exemptions that may vary by jurisdiction (e.g., owner occupancy, disability, senior, or veteran exemptions).  

Side-by-side comparisons of potential property tax scenarios are hard to come by.  The Medlock Park area faces three potential scenarios: remain unincorporated, join a new city or join an existing city. We cannot guess at the property tax scenario for a new city. Although the City of Briarcliff Vinson Feasibility study included Medlock Park and focused on whether the proposed city would be financially viable, it did not address what its millage rates or other fees might be.

We can, however, compare our unincorporated property tax bills to those for nearby Dekalb cities. Luckily for us, some helpful individuals have crunched Decatur and Atlanta numbers for us:
In trying to make sense of these comparisons, it is critical to understand that property tax bills are extremely specific to the individual. A commercial property is taxed differently from a residential property. Homestead exemptions are common and offer significant relief, but other individual exemptions can be difficult to calculate. Take for example senior exemptions: an individual may be eligible for several (county, city, sometimes both), individual income affects exemption eligibility, and each municipality calculates the exemption based on its own formulas (with exemptions applying to different parts of the municipality's budget). Individuals wishing to understand what senior exemption scenarios apply to them should first study applicable county/city websites. The next step would be to contact their property tax office, current tax bill AND projected income information in hand: property tax staff cannot provide an accurate estimate without this information.  In general, the older the person, the more individualized the calculation.

We are currently trying to refine the above information to share a side-by-side comparison using homestead exemptions (vs. none) across unincorporated DeKalb, City of Atlanta and City of Decatur.  Generally speaking, unincorporated DeKalb taxes are lowest, followed by City of Atlanta and then City of Decatur. We cannot know if these trends extend into the future without information from the County about how their millage rates may change due to proposed annexations and incorporations. 

Community Meeting re: annexation to Atlanta [Sept 17]

Just a reminder! To see the original announcement with more information, see http://www.medlockpark.org/2014/09/community-meeting-with-atlanta.html

Friday, September 12, 2014

AWARE (Wildlife Rescue) Art Auction [Oct 2]

Click to enlarge.
3rd Annual Art for Armadillos Art Auction

AWARE is the largest and only wildlife rehabilitation center in metro Atlanta that treats all native species of wildlife. Auction proceeds and your financial contributions allow this important work to continue.


The Solarium at Historic Scottish Rite
321 West Hill Street
Decatur, GA 30030

Thursday October 2nd, 2014​

Hosted by AWARE Wildlife Center

About the Event:
Enjoy an evening of live music, hors d'oeuvres, and bidding on fantastic local art while supporting the rehabilitation and education efforts of Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort (AWARE). Each paid ticket also includes 2 raffle tickets for a chance at one of our door prizes.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

"Blueprint for DeKalb" website now available [& Sept 30 info meeting]

Commissioner Gannon's Blueprint for DeKalb project has launched a website. The Blueprint identifies the need for comprehensive solutions and governmental transparency as critical in revitalizing the County's health and reputation. The Blueprint argues for fixing the County rather than fragmenting it. For an opportunity to learn about the Blueprint and ask questions, please attend the meeting scheduled for September 30th at 6:30 PM in the Maloof Auditorium in Decatur.  

The website includes position papers on ethics, internal audits, purchasing, elections, HOST and city hood. Thanks to Deanne for forwarding this information.

(From Commissioner Gannon's Office)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                  CONTACT: Davis Fox

DeKalb Citizens Group Calls for Reforms
In the wake of swirling charges of corruption, a group of engaged DeKalb citizens is bringing forth recommendations to reform DeKalb County government. The diverse group of neighborhood leaders has been working since February to draft the Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb County. The Blueprint is a framework for reform - it addresses: procurement policies, ethics, inefficient operations and the stale political environment.   Today the Blueprints Leadership team called a public meeting and launched a website www.BlueprintsDeKalb.org

“The voices of citizens must be heard to change the direction of DeKalb County,” said Patricia Killingsworth, a member of the Blueprints Leadership Team. “We hope citizens from across DeKalb County – north, south, in cities or outside – will use this current crisis as an opportunity to press for meaningful reforms, and that our elected officials will engage and take their responsibility for promoting ethics and transparency in DeKalb County government seriously.”
“DeKalb needs comprehensive solutions that are as big as our problems,” said Gil Turman another member of the Blueprints Leadership Team. “Many levels of government must be involved and our business and private sector leaders must also press for change.”
www.BlueprintsDeKalb.org contains:
·       The original Blueprint showing the group’s principles
·       A progress report to the Operations Task Force
·       A survey to obtain feedback from the public
·       Draft position papers written by citizens
The position papers include recommendations to ensure more accountability, transparency and efficiency. Among the recommendations are:
·       An internal audit watchdog that reports to an independent body
·       Ethics reform, including removing Board of Ethics appointments from the CEO and Board of Commissioners
·       Greater transparency in purchasing, budgeting and operations to allow citizens to more carefully monitor County government
·       A straw poll to consider term limits and non-partisan elections

The Blueprints Leadership Team will review these reforms in a community meeting on September 30th at 6:30 PM in the Maloof Auditorium in Decatur.  

For more information contact BlueprintDekalb@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Community Meeting with Atlanta Councilman Alex Wan [Sept 17]

from MANA acting President Lynn Ganim

Special MANA meeting

Atlanta's District 6 Councilman Alex Wan will present information about the City of Atlanta and what would be involved if our neighborhood chose to be annexed into Atlanta, one of the several possibilities that have been suggested for our area.

He will speak on Wednesday, September 17, at 7:00 at North Decatur Presbyterian Church.

As has been said many times, even though many of us would like to be left as we are in unincorporated DeKalb County, others are discussing—even planning— changes to our future, and it’s critical that we inform ourselves so that we can make our own educated decisions. Please plan to attend this important informational meeting.
Lay of the land: Councilman Wan's District 6 is outlined by a solid blue line; it abuts unincorporated DeKalb to its right. A dotted blue line further clarifies Atlanta city limits beyond District 6.  MANA is outlined in yellow. 

HorseFest @ Little Creek Horse Farm [Sept 20]

via Facebook...
"Little Creek Horse Farm, (just minutes from our neighborhood!) will be hosting their annual fall festival, "HorseFest" Saturday, September 20th from 12-4PM. This is a fun family friendly event which hosts riding and horsemandship demonstrations, pony rides, kid's crafts, carnival games, vendors, and food. Admission is $5 with kids 5 and under getting in free. Some activities cost extra with all profits going to benefit the Little Creek Farm Conservancy (LCFC). The event will happen rain or shine! Little Creek Horse Farm is located at 2057 Lawrenceville Hwy with our access road being off of Orion Dr. To learn more about HorseFest or LCFC, visit: www.littlecreekfarmconservancy.org"
LCFC is located at 2057 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur, GA

Monday, September 8, 2014

Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb

Found on the DecaturMetro blog site, as a comment to the 9/5 Free-For-All Friday post:

  1. Staci says:
    This Tuesday, come hear DeKalb County Commissioner Kathie Gannon discuss her Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb:
    Our DeKalb County reached a ‘tipping point’ in 2013: nearly everyone now agrees that fundamental reforms are due. Beyond that general agreement, reaching consensus proves difficult. Even listing a Top Ten of the issues, crises and challenges that brought us to this tipping point invariably raises disagreement on one point or another from one quarter or another. We all seem to be going our separate ways.
    To move forward we should consider, “what does reform look like?” Continue reading the Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb @http://www.kathiegannon.com/tl_files/documents/Blueprint%20to%20Redefine%20DeKalb.pdf
    Invite your neighbors, friends, neighborhood association and homeowner’s group to join you at this important and informative session!
    Tuesday, September 9 @ 7:00 p.m.
    North Decatur Presbyterian Church
    611 Medlock Road, Decatur 30033
    Sponsored by Good Growth DeKalb

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Update(ish) on Druid Hills Charter Cluster

The conversation continues regarding the Druid Hills Charter Cluster (DHCC) petition, although it appears to have become very one-sided in recent weeks. DHCC advocates have been pushing the district and school board over the last several months to put the revised petition onto the school board agenda for another vote. And information from the DeKalb County School District's (DCSD) perspective? Cue the crickets chirping.

Representatives from both DHCC and DCSD were invited to speak at the September meeting of the Emory LaVista Parent Council meeting. David Moore, legal counsel for DHCC, presented a lengthy history of the charter petition from origination (out of concern regarding disparities in learning achievement between the five feeder elementary schools) to today (a revised petition has been sitting at the county offices since May 1, 2014; any actions taken by DCSD are largely unknown). The representative from DCSD, Dr. Frazer, kept her presentation to a strict description of the charter application timelines as they are presented on the DCSD website. During the question and answer period, it was clear that Dr. Frazer was not going to or was not allowed to answer questions on anything other than timelines in a general sense. As one might imagine, this left the audience (and DHCC representatives) feeling rather frustrated and confused. You can read more about the ELPC board's response to this here.

This past week, the Druid Hills Charter Cluster published their account of interactions with the school district from the beginning of the process. It is, of course, one side of a two-sided story - but it is a disturbing read. Since DCSD and the board aren't talking, we don't know their perspective on the petition review and (non)approval.

The next school board work session and business meeting are scheduled for Monday, September 8, and based on the agendas that were posted Friday afternoon, there will be no vote or discussion on the DHCC petition. Cue the crickets again...

How long will this continue? Anyone's guess, it seems. However, even if approved, it is hard to imagine how such a ground-breaking charter cluster could ever be successful without these two parties entering into more constructive conversations.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Monday, September 1, 2014

"New voices" in cityhood include MANA

WABE's Lisa George interviews the presidents of the Druid Hills and Medlock Park civic associations (Justin Critz and Lynn Ganim, respectively) to highlight how our neighborhoods are actively engaging in the cityhood debate.
"Neither neighborhood group knows at this point which of the options is probable or even possible. For Medlock Park, annexation by Atlanta would put it at the tail end of other areas that would have to be annexed. That includes Medlock’s next-door neighborhood, Clairmont Heights, another group of DeKalb residents now listening closely to the cityhood discussion." Read the rest @ WABE
To view our posts on the issue, going back to November 2012, click here.

Smartphone & tablet tips for seniors

Crossroad News reports that the AARP is hosting workshops to help users aged 50+ better use smartphones and tablets.

There are several workshops being held in the Atlanta area: the ones closest to us  will take place workshops will take place at the Lou Walker Senior Center, 2538 Panola Road Lithonia, Georgia 30058) | map | as follows:
10am - 12:00pm
2:00-4:00pm on
September 24, October 29, November 12 and December 10.

The workshop will cover touchscreen basics, apps, texting, photo sharing and video chat. For more information, see the flyer. To reserve a seat,  call 877-926-8300 or sign up via http://aarp.cvent.com/aarptekgeorgia and scroll down to the desired location.