Fulton commissioners urge school board to reconsider relocating HQ to Sandy Springs

Fulton County commissioners want school officials to rethink plans for a new $34 million administrative headquarters in Sandy Springs amid concerns the location will be an inconvenience for parents and students in the southern part of the county.

The board passed a resolution on Wednesday urging the Fulton County Board of Education to reconsider its recent decision to move its headquarters from Cleveland Avenue in the southern part of the district to Powers Ferry Road in Sandy Springs.

Commissioner William “Bill” Edwards, who represents much of South Fulton, proposed the measure, approved 5-0 by the Board of Commissioners. Two commissioners were not present for the vote.

Currently, Board of Education meetings are held in north and south Fulton. If board meetings were to be held primarily in Sandy Springs, Edwards argued, that would put a strain on South Fulton parents interested in weighing in at school board meetings.

“That ain’t right,” Edwards said in an interview Friday. “It’s not fair to South Fulton to have the meetings in Sandy Springs. … I’m suspicious you’re going to move everything to Sandy Springs.”

Fulton School Board President Linda Schultz said school board members have not yet determined where board meetings will be held.

“The bottom line is, we haven’t had the discussion,” Schultz said, adding that board meetings could end up being held both in north and south Fulton locations.

The district’s move is part of a broad plan that will see it go from using six older buildings to three newer ones. The new headquarters for the nearly 90-mile-long district will be at 6201 Powers Ferry Road, with other office functions performed at 450 Northridge Parkway, also in Sandy Springs, and at 4025 Flat Shoals Road in Union City.

District officials say the plan would produce a one-time savings of $22 million in capital investment and an annual savings of $2.2 million. District officials say it would cost close to $56 million to renovate the six older buildings.

The district purchased the Sandy Springs property for the headquarters in October. District staff members are expected to begin moving into the facilities by September 2014.

Edwards said the projected savings should go toward improving South Fulton schools, which some parents have long complained has been neglected in favor of the more affluent north. District officials say, however, the headquarters move is in line with a northern population shift. And the offices in Union City will provide a southern presence.