Atlanta school board members Nancy Meister and Courtney English attended the Aug. 15 Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting to update residents about Atlanta Public Schools.
Among the topics were a search for a new superintendent, the opening of the new North Atlanta High School and the approval of the Atlanta Classical Academy Charter School.
Meister said the opening of the new high school, located in a former IBM campus on Northside Parkway was “flawless.” She said the school’s cost, $147 million, was due to its size and location. It will accommodate future growth in the North Atlanta cluster of Atlanta Public Schools, she said.
“It’s just going to be a great place,” she said. “It did cost a little bit more than the others, but it’s quite larger.”
Meister also talked about the search for a new APS Superintendent. A search committee and search firm are looking for a replacement for Superintendent Erroll Davis. Meister said it’s unlikely the Board of Education will approve hiring a new superintendent until after the Nov. 5 elections.
Meister described her ideal candidate for the job.
“I would like to see transparency, someone who believes in this decentralization concept, someone who understands that APS is not a one-size-fits-all district,” she said.
English said he wants a superintendent who will give schools more autonomy than they currently have.
“Education isn’t something that needs to be done to people. It needs to be done with people,” he said.
The BOE unanimously approved the petition for Atlanta Classical Academy at its Aug. 12 meeting, going against Davis’ recommendation to deny the petition.
Meister made the motion recommending approval of the school.
“I think this is a great opportunity for our kids to have a choice,” Meister told the BCN.
David Fitzgibbon, chief appraiser for the Fulton County Board of Assessors, also spoke to the BCN.
“I love the work, I hate the politics,” Fitzgibbon said. “We should have about 220 people to do our jobs right. I’m down to 129.”
He said recent changes in state law regarding property tax assessments have increased the number of appeals his office receives. He said 85 percent of residents appeal tax assessments without stating a reason. Fitzgibbon said the changes to the law have created public relations problems for his office.
“The main reason people appeal is [their taxes] went up too much, by too big a percentage,” he said. “In most cases, we settle or convince you we’re right, on 95 percent of those properties.”