Atlanta school board approves policy that may end rift with City Hall

The George Adair School on Catherine Street is one of the properties Atlanta Public Schools wants the deed to. The city hasn’t turned it over so far. Photo courtesy of Terry Kearns

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The George Adair School on Catherine Street is one of the properties Atlanta Public Schools wants the deed to. The city hasn’t turned it over so far. Photo courtesy of Terry Kearns

Theboard agreed late Monday on an affordable-housing policy that reflects the city government's guidelines and named a dozen people to a task force that will explore repurposing surplus school district facilities into affordable housing units.

Mayor Kasim Reed has refused to turn over the deeds to some Atlanta Public Schools properties unless the school system agreed to a 15 percent set-aside for affordable housing units on projects where developers use public funds to build multifamily housing. Reed has raised concerns that Atlanta is losing thousands of affordable housing units.

School system officials say the mayor’s stance defies a long-standing practice of approving school property deed transfers to APS. The school board sued in March 2015 to gain the deeds to the properties.

Reed’s office said in a statement, “We believe that this policy is a positive step forward and look forward to reviewing it.”

School board chairman Courtney English said Monday’s actions will create greater stability for students. Educators have cited research that shows low-income students whose families move for financial reasons do not perform as well in school.

"Increasing the number of affordable housing units will reduce mobility and help to ensure more stability in a child's education experience," English said.