Atlanta's wealthiest and whitest neighborhood is exploring possible secession from the rest of the city, taking hundreds of millions in tax dollars away from the public school system.
The Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education will consider formalizing its opposition to a plan to create Buckhead City that district officials say would send about 5,500 students to the neighboring Fulton County School System and could cut an estimated 26 percent from the district's annual budget, reported Axios.
“The proponents of the Buckhead City movement are very loud, but there is a relatively quiet majority that are very concerned about the impacts that this will have on education but also the region,” said school board chairman Jason Esteves.
State Sen. Brandon Beach, of Alpharetta, prefiled legislation to incorporate the affluent neighborhood, saying residents want more control over crime and taxes, and Buckhead City Committee chairman Bill White says the proposal could include language that would allow the new city's students to continue attending APS schools.
"While Georgia law makes clear that APS expands with the City of Atlanta, it is silent on what happens when the city limits contract," said White, a Donald Trump fundraiser who recently moved to the area. "The law does not say that APS shall have the same boundaries as the city. Regardless, we are confident the Buckhead City legislation will provide that APS will continue to serve Buckhead families."
A community group that opposes the cityhood measure commissioned a study that found APS would lose $232 million of its $893.5 general fund budget, and both Esteves and White agree that school board members have other issues to worry about besides the secession -- but the Trump backer fired off a shot at district officials.
“A better use of the board members’ time would be to try and get those scores up rather than interfering with what 70% of Buckhead voters think, which is their right to vote,” White said.
Esteves, however, said school administrators would be stuck completing work the cityhood proponents have not done themselves in selling their plan to voters.
“They are making promises based on hope and not the law,” Esteves said.