Atlanta school board doubles down on opposition to Buckhead City plan

The Atlanta Board of Education has made its opposition to Buckhead cityhood one of its legislative priorities for 2022. (AJC file photo)

The Atlanta Board of Education has made its opposition to Buckhead cityhood one of its legislative priorities for 2022. (AJC file photo)

The Atlanta Board of Education reiterated its opposition to the creation of a Buckhead City with a new resolution that calls the idea irresponsible.

In a unanimous vote Monday, school officials waged their latest attack on the cityhood push. The fresh strike comes in the form of a two-page resolution urging state lawmakers to reject attempts to allow the affluent community to leave Atlanta.

The resolution raises concerns about a potential loss of $250 million yearly in school tax revenue should Buckhead break away and the impact on students who live there. Nearly 50,000 students attend Atlanta Public Schools, including roughly 5,500 in Buckhead.

“Creating a new city without addressing the financial, student enrollment, legal, operations and governance issues created by Buckhead deannexation from Atlanta is irresponsible for Buckhead, Atlanta and Atlanta Public Schools,” the resolution says.

The document represents the district’s most detailed and lengthy criticism to date on the cityhood proposal. In December, the board adopted a list of 2022 legislative priorities that includes advocating against the formation of a new city.

The Buckhead City Committee, which is leading the movement, responded in a statement issued Monday to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The group took aim at the Atlanta school system’s low reading and math scores on state tests and its nearly $1.4 billion annual budget, which it described as a “bloated bureaucracy.”

”APS would be much better served focusing on getting those test scores way UP and improving the quality of our children’s education rather than inserting APS in the business of the Georgia Legislature,” the statement said.

Buckhead City proponents have framed the issue as one of public safety, contending a separate city would be more effective at combating crime. They have said repeatedly that they intend for Buckhead children to remain in Atlanta schools.

But APS officials counter that without political and legal maneuvering, students would be reassigned to Fulton County Schools. State law does not allow for the creation of new school systems, and Buckhead students “would face uncertainty,” the resolution states.

APS is among a growing chorus of critics opposed to a Buckhead divorce. Last week, more than 30 area businesses asked legislators to reject the secession proposal.

Chair Eshé Collins said the board’s action makes it clear that they are committed to “serving all children.”

School board member Cynthia Briscoe Brown, a Buckhead native, said it’s important for APS to stand up against the cityhood proposal.

“True Buckhead natives have always considered it a responsibility and a privilege to contribute their time, talent and treasure to benefit the larger community,” she said. “Our schools, like everything else about our city, are better when we all work together for the benefit of every child.”

Briscoe Brown said that “every dollar, every hour and every brain cell” spent to resolve the many issues with the proposal are “a waste of resources that we could be using to prepare students from every neighborhood in Atlanta.”