Decatur Terrace Neighhorhood Petitions for Decatur Annexation

At last night’s Decatur City Commission meeting, residents from the Decatur Terrace neighborhood submitted a petition to be included in Decatur’s Annexation Master Plan. Currently the neighborhood is part of Avondale’s master plan, but these Decatur Terrace residents have asked to be removed.

According to representative Renee Valdes, 86% of residents of the 110 Decatur Terrace residents who participated in this effort support inclusion in Decatur’s annexation plan.

According to the petitioners, the neighborhood is made up of 147 residential parcels. The neighborhood is bordered by College Ave to the north, Craige Avenue to the South and Arcadia Avenue to the west.

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Annexation petitions can be filed with the Decatur City Manager’s Office through this Friday, October 24th. And for all the annexation addicts now craving a Master Plan timeline, here it is through the end of the year.

  • September – October 2014: Information and feedback meetings scheduled and background information refined.
  • October 24, 2014: Petition Deadline
  • November 12, 2014: Joint Work Session between the City Commission and the Decatur Board of Education.
  • December 1, 2014: Final Report Released to the Public
  • December 9, 2014: Board of Ed considers adoption of Annexation Master Plan
  • December 15, 2014: City Commission officially receives the Annexation Master Plan. Considers adoption of an annexation resolution.


77 thoughts on “Decatur Terrace Neighhorhood Petitions for Decatur Annexation”

  1. Seems like a bad idea from CSD’s perspective unless there’s a school building in that area.

    1. Nearly all of the purely residential annexation requests are a bad idea from city’s perspective. They are clearly, however, a wonderful idea for the residents themselves, which is why unincorporated neighborhoods continue to request annexation (even though there is not room for more children in the schools – nor enough money to properly educate them – and even though these residents requesting annexation must certainly be aware that the city stands to gain nothing if they do become part of the city).

      Decatur Terrace – Avondale wants y’all! Wouldn’t you want to be part of a city where you won’t be draining the city’s resources from day one?

      1. Sheesh. You guys should just get it over with an pass an ordinance banning any new household with two or more kids unless it will pay at least $20k/year in property taxes.

        And though I have absolutely no authority to speak for Avondale on this or any subject, my .02 is that Avondale should be even less interested in annexing preoperities whose owners have now made it clear that they don’t want to be in Avondale.

        1. Plenty of city of Decatur residents – not all, but lots – are not in favor of pure residential annexation without any commercial. The tax digest is simply already out of whack with the majority of taxes coming from residential. The city needs more commercial to balance it out.

          Um, it is not just about the schools. Much of Decatur’s charm/desirability is that it has a more “urban” feel, with walk-ability and pockets of commercial built before we built cities for cars. The Decatur Terrace neighborhood in no way fits that description (same for the Clairmont Heights neighborhood and Forrest Hills neighborhood, both of which are also seeking annexation).

          Decatur should not turn into a sprawling city – we already have *plenty* of those in greater Atlanta. All of these residential annexations would lead to sprawl, which is the opposite of what Decatur is about.

          Decatur is a special place. The size and make-up of the city have a lot to do with that. You state that Decatur Terrace residents don’t want to be part of Avondale, but what about the fact that many Decatur residents don’t want that neighborhood to be part of the city. Does that matter? Even though physically small, Decatur has plenty of homes currently, and many new housing options are under construction and/or soon will be. People are welcome to *move* to the city of Decatur if they want to *live* within the city of Decatur.

          1. I was simply referring to this:

            “Wouldn’t you want to be part of a city where you won’t be draining the city’s resources from day one?”

            as being harsh.

            As a general matter, I agree — you want to live in Decatur, then move to Decatur. Same for Avondale.

          2. “Um, it is not just about the schools. Much of Decatur’s charm/desirability is that it has a more “urban” feel, with walk-ability and pockets of commercial built before we built cities for cars. The Decatur Terrace neighborhood in no way fits that description (same for the Clairmont Heights neighborhood and Forrest Hills neighborhood, both of which are also seeking annexation).

            Decatur should not turn into a sprawling city – we already have *plenty* of those in greater Atlanta. All of these residential annexations would lead to sprawl, which is the opposite of what Decatur is about.”

            Well, to be fair, parts of Winnona Park really aren’t that different from Decatur Terrace in terms of walkability. I mean, the streets are wider, but there are still a lot of residential streets without sidewalks in WP. And there’s not really a pocket of commercial in the interior of WP, just some businesses on College, same as Decatur Terrace has. And all of Decatur Terrace is going to be walkable to the future Avondale station development.

            1. Okay, then. Since we have a few pockets of City of Decatur that are not too walkable, let’s add more!

              1. I’m not in favor of annexation (unless there’s a Walmart hidden somewhere in the neighborhood), but I just didn’t think the area’s lack of walkability was a strong reason not to annex. The homes there were built in the 40s and 50s, just like a lot of homes in Decatur, and it’s not like DT’s a neighborhood of cul-de-sacs.

        2. Well of course they don’t want to be in Avondale. Being annexed by Decatur will give them a gigantic windfall in property values and being annexed by Avondate would not.

          1. I think at this point, if Avondale Estates would stand up a charter school system (built around the Museum School, of course), I think it would become EXTREMELY desirable. It has excellent policing and is poised to have a lovely “downtown” village.

            With the latest annexations coming in, it might be time for them to think about setting up a middle/high school charter. The school zoning for that otherwise lovely town blows.

            1. True, but what are the chances that DeKalb County would let that happen? Or is Avondale Estates Republican enough to get some support from the State and/or legislature to do this?

              1. I don’t know enough about how much say the county school board has in the matter to parry your questions. But I did just look up the Museum School’s web site, and it turns out they’re K-8. I wonder how much work it would be for them to grow with their students…

            2. Unfortunately, living in Avondale does not guarantee enrollment in the Museum school. So, while by all accounts it is a good school, it is not exactly a solution to the school problem. I’m sure I don’t know what the fix is, but it is a sad situation for Avondale residents.

              1. I have a question/idea about which I’ve wondered for years. It isn’t just wrt Avondale Estates, but concerning schools at large. When schools are perceived to be “bad” and middle-class ppl choose not to send their kids to them, going private (or even homeschooling) instead, what you have left is a group of kids whose families likely have no other alternatives. You say the school situation is a “sad” one for Avondale residents, and I’m guessing you mean the middle class white families who don’t have a “good school” to call their own, where every kid in town is guaranteed a spot. (Well, what about the lower-income, mostly ppl of color, who are left at those “bad” schools – nobody is ever worried about them, which is the truly “sad” part – but I digress).

                What if all of the middle class (mostly white) families got together and decided to go “all in” wrt their local school. If all of those students and families were to enroll, things would change – for everyone – bc then it couldn’t be a “bad” school forever. This is essentially what happened in Decatur in 2003-ish when the district went from six or seven elementary schools to only three. Many parents whose children were attending Westchester – Ponce de Leon Heights and Lenox Place in particular – were NOT happy to end up in the Oakhurst zone b/c back then, Oakhurst was definitely not a school that middle class white ppl chose for their children. It was a “bad” school, to be avoided (“I’m not sending MY children to THAT school.”). Well, the families worked together – they were “all in ” – and decided they were going to make Oakhurst a great school, and it happened, so much so that now ppl consider all of the elementary schools in the city to be of the same high quality. And Oakhurst is the school with the highest enrollment (which is also due in part to the tear-downs and McBungalows that are all over Oakhurst these days – which is another digression, and I won’t go there).

                Why can’t the Avondalians whose kids don’t get into Museum decide together to change their local school into a successful one? Can anyone answer that? Charters do serve a purpose, but there are problems, such as these, in this particular case: there isn’t room for all of the city’s kids to get a spot, causing rifts in the community, and it leaves the local elementary school even worse off than it was before.

                (And before anyone rebuts with this point, I will at least acknowledge that it is a lot easier to bring about change in a small system like CSD rather than in a larger system like DeKalb County School System. It won’t be a short transformation. But why not try??)

                1. Wow. I shouldn’t have to point out that you don’t know me, but it appears there’s an awful lot of assumption you’ve heaped on to my simple statement. But for the record and benefit of everyone else here who doesn’t know me, I think *every* kid should get a good education. That’s actually kinda my professional gig, but you didn’t know that, so okay. So what I meant was that it’s “sad” that by some random chance (specifically a lottery) some kids in a given neighborhood get to go to a “good” school, while others do not. With respect to your example of Oakhurst, I’d say you are partly right, but another part of what changed that school’s performance over time has been the changing demographic makeup of that neighborhood. If someone wants to get down on me now for noting that neighborhood schools in “rich” areas are likely to perform better than those in “poor” ones, then so be it.

                  1. InStitches – it’s not about you – and I’m really sorry it felt that way. It’s the general mentality of “my kids need a good education, but I’m not going to worry about the rest.” I didn’t mean to imply that you personally only give a damn about your own kids – or other kids who are similar to your (hypothetical) kids. I was trying to point out that while Avondale’s situation isn’t great, there are so many more who have it so much worse. I’m sorry it seemed like I went off on you personally. It’s years of frustration about (most) ppl not giving a damn about education inequality.

                    But seriously – could you answer my question? Or anyone else? I’ve spent a long time thinking about this, and again, not simply about Avondale. If all of the parents decided to go to their local “not so great” school – all together – and change it for the better, would that work? It would tremendously change the demographics of the particular school community.

                    (Note I commented about the rift in the community of some kids getting into Museum and others not. It’s not right, but the charter route is the route chosen by that community, and it has consequences. Also – yes – Oakhurst demographics began to change. A lot. Did the whitening of the neighborhood make the schools better, or did the better elementary attract more middle-class white families? I know, it’s kind of chicken and egg.)

                    1. A couple of things in response to CH tirades:

                      1. Decatur City Schools was a good system prior to 2003. I know twelve years of propaganda to the contrary may make it seem otherwise, but it was. The desegregation of Oakhurst Elem. could have just as easily been accomplished by re-drawing the districts and zoning the west-side neighborhoods near the tracks like Lenox Place to Oakhurst and leaving Westchester alone. Instead we got the 4-5 concept and all the issues that come with schlepping every kid in the city across town.
                      2. I know personally folks who tried enrolling their kids at Avondale Elem. The DeKalb administration made it impossible for them to stay. To say it’s a hot mess is a serious understatement

                    2. I agree with Smith that CSD was a good system before 2003, not perfect, but some of our current great teachers, principals, and administrators were working on the south side in the schools with dwindling enrolment. It’s hard to disentangle the CSD enrolment boom from CSD quality from the gentrification and development boom in Oakhurst from the abject failure of the DeKalb County School System around us. But it’s clear that the current phase of gentrification in Oakhurst had already started before Westchester closed. Desegregation could have been achieved in multiple ways without closing Westchester–everything from what Smith suggested to magnet schools to limited school choice. For some of these factors, causation may be bidirectional, kind of a chicken-egg-which-came-first situation.

                    3. The residents of Avondale Estates did actively try to make the public neighborhood elementary school better about 10 years ago, I think. They created a foundation, garnered lots of support from residents, and were told in no uncertain terms that their help was not wanted nor were their children. When the group approached the school district, they were rebuffed again. With DeKalb County School District’s recent rejection of the Druid Hills Charter Cluster petition, I have little hope that Avondale residents renewed’ efforts would have any likelihood of succeeding. Currently, Avondale students are zoned for Druid Hills high school. Should Atlanta annex the Druid Hills neighborhood, under Georgia law, they’d take the schhols with them. Avondale kids will be zoned to Towers High School, a much less desirable school. The DeKalb County School District has a large part in creating this craze for annexation.

                2. I think the issue is that as long as a better alternative exists, you are splitting resources. This is exactly what’s going on in Kirkwood. Drew is accepting very, very few lottery kids from East Lake and Kirkwood, because the pipeline is now full of siblings of current students, who are automatically admitted. You’ve got a pretty committed and vocal group of Toomer parents (the local APS offering) who have probably missed the cut at Drew after several years of applying. If the entirety of the neighborhoods collectively put their weight behind Toomer it could make substantial gains really quickly. When there is a currently- better option, especially one that offers K-12 now, people are still going to throw their name in the hat and hope to get picked.

                3. Before the Museum School was formed, a group of Avondale parents went to the principal of Avondale Elementary to see how the community could work with her. She rebuffed them many times. Eventually that group got to work on forming The Museum School. I have heard from a neighbor that since there is a new principal, a group has been meeting with him. The rumor is that he is much more receptive to neighborhood participation. Hopefully the school will be turned around so that people will send their children there. Children from “No Mans Land” and Avondale are districted to the school. I don’t know anyone who sends their children there, though.

                  1. The people I know that sent their kids to Avondale had horrible experiences. Administration was difficult to work with, teachers seemed to not care, and the classes were full of behavior issues. It did not seem a viable option to them after just a short time.

            1. I disagree. Property values in Avondale Estates is very good and it is obviously a desirable community. Business growth is taking off. Schools are the issue plain and simple.

  2. Most of this is the “no man’s land” that was left to the County when Decatur and Avondale did annexation toward each other a few years ago.
    I know someone who lives in the area with a child who has to go the Lakeview High School.

  3. Lately I don’t have much to say about annexation other than that even an area with a low density of children will have a huge impact on City Schools of Decatur because space is even tighter than the budget. More revenue can buy trailers, I mean learning cottages/mobile learning centers, but not necessarily school building space. Space comes from a different type of financing, best I understand it.

    However, I am beginning to wonder if we’ve been leaving out a factor that small city administrations may be considering when they look at annexation–I’ll call it the well-heeled residents factor. Maybe annexations can be attractive to a city even if they don’t have the optimal ratio of revenue-producing businesses to revenue-consuming residential, child-containing households. Maybe it’s not just about money but also about cities wanting well-heeled residents. Maybe it’s the flip-side of reducing the number of public housing units in Decatur. Maybe that’s why massive high-end development has been generally supported even though there’s official bemoaning of the loss of character, history, diversity, and trees. Well-heeled residents don’t cause a lot of trouble and are good for our image.

    1. By “massive high-end development,” are you referring to the teardowns, the new condo/apartment buildings, or both? I think people like the latter because they hope the people moving into condos and apartments are less likely to have children. With respect to all the teardowns, I don’t know. Apologies if I didn’t understand your meaning.

      Ultimately I don’t think it matters that much whether the residents of an annexed area are well-heeled or not, because in a few years’ time the population will largely be people with kids, same as the rest of Decatur. We can tear down houses on Dalerose just as easily as we can on Fayetteville.

      1. I’m just trying to decipher the contradictions that I perceive in how we talk about ourselves in Decatur vs. what we actually do. We say we want high density and walkability but we annex suburb style neighborhoods that extend out from our periphery, tear down smaller homes to put up mammoth ones, and get rid of a huge block of downtown, walkable public housing to leave a field (albeit with some nice trees in it) and less diversity (albeit fewer school children). Since we all seem to agree that annexing residential neighborhoods is somewhere between revenue-negative and revenue-neutral, I can’t figure out what motivates the city administration and commission to do it. “Neatening up the borders” doesn’t compute for me. It’s analogous to the excuse for cutting oneself another piece of cake–“Oh, I’ve got to neaten up the edges. Whoops, it’s still a little uneven, so I need to neaten it up a little more…” Since neighborhoods don’t tend to be concentric, there will always be borders to neaten up.

        Hence, my theory that maybe the motivation for annexation of well-heeled revenue-negative residential neighborhoods is that they are good for our city image and perceived to have grateful new residents who won’t cause trouble. I’m not wedded to this theory since I’ve only had it for a few hours but I’m waiting for a better explanation of why COD tends to approve annexation. Some of my best friends live in annexed areas…. 🙂

        I see less inconsistency in the approval of high density multi-family multi-purpose housing downtown, although there is that tree thing.

        1. Another theory–annexed areas are ripe for major renovations, build ups, teardowns/high end construction. That implies that COD administration/commission is pro-development/construction. Don’t know that to be true.

        2. That field is planned to be redeveloped into high-density residential (majority market rate). Housing Authority wants to sell that land at some point and has no long term plan for it to remain a field.

          1. Will there be opportunity for the families displaced by the renovation to move back?

            1. All displaced DHA residents were given opportunity to come back and many (if not most) chose to do so. All demolished units have already been replaced on a one-for-one basis through the new construction that’s already taken place (which is at a higher density than the previous units). Selling off the currently empty parcel you reference for market-rate housing is the financing strategy to cover the note on all the new units already built.

              1. This is interesting because I have heard it said that the renovations are resulting in a net loss of public housing units. Not true?

                1. I’m not a spokesperson for the DHA, but the one-for-one replacement factoid is one I’ve heard repeated multiple times by people in or closely aligned with the DHA. It’s always been offered as a point of differentiation, even distinction, in the era following the Hope VI program, in which many units of subsidized housing throughout the Atlanta metro (and US overall) were demolished to make way for mixed-income replacements offering significantly fewer subsidized units.

                  According to the DHA website, “when they are done,” the original 288 units will be replaced by 288 new ones. No reduction.

                  1. I believe you have it right, Scott.

                    I was at the commission meeting where the upcoming re-development of the property further down Trinity was discussed. If memory serves, I think that project will result in a few extra units. Allowing for the current tenants to come back, move the people from a property in Oakhurst over, and then offer that Oakhurst parcel for sale too.

                    1. Please excuse my ignorance with this subject, but on average how long to people live in DHA housing units? Is it more short term (weeks, months) or long term (years)?

                    2. TinMan – long-term (per your definitions), I should think. Much like would be the case with most apartment rentals.

                  2. I really appreciate this information about the number of units of public housing being the same or more than what existed before the DHA renovation. This is what I originally assumed was happening. I’ve tended to have a high regard for COD leadership and was discouraged to hear it said in some recent meetings that COD talks a good line about diversity but doesn’t follow up with policy and action. I am glad to be learn that we are not losing our capacity for reasonably priced, decent public housing. As usual, I learn a lot on Decatur Metro.

                    So, Scott, what do you think is the motivation or motivations behind COD’s approval of annexation requests?

  4. Look at the projected 2018 school enrollment. I don’t want my kindergartener to go to school with 800 other seniors at DHS. Renfroe has doubled in enrollment in 7 years.

  5. I say we just dispense with ALL potential piecemeal annexation petitions, and annexe the entirety of the area east of Decatur, sucking up Avondale Estates with it. That way, we’ll have at least 3 school buildings that I know of, plenty of additional commercial (with plenty of room for development), and create one big fat city plumb in the middle of DeKalb. Go big or go home, I say! 😀

      1. It’s been done—Oakhurst was its own city once. Less Balkanization I say, something needs to counter TuckLakesidecliff.

        1. So maybe Oakhurst should secede and be on its own again. We’ve got an elementary school, we could make FAVE the middle school, and Renfroe a high school. The Solarium could be the City Hall, and the village (especially with the new shiny streetscape plan) would be the town square. Then leave all the COD folk to figure out the annexation mess. Who’s in? *


  6. Decatur Terrace is wasting their time. Forrest Hills is not seeking annexation into Decatur because Decatur doesn’t want residential. DT has their heads in the sand and won’t accept the reality of the situation. Kind of pitiful.

    1. It is all about the schools. Everyone is in panic mode. If Druid Hills successfully pursues annexation into Atlanta, Avondale, Decatur Terrace, Forrest Hills, etc., find themselves redistricted to Towers.

      There is considerable uncertainly as well if the City of South Atlanta (aka Prosperity) is realized, for Decatur Terrace, Forrest Hills, the neighborhoods off of Rockbridge near Avondale. We all can’t afford to pay for private school educations.

      Then there is Briarcliff/Lakeside/Tucker looking south to Decatur and Avondale borders. Such encroachment could be an opportunity for Avondale to be part of a new school system, but only if the legislature acts on the bill that would allow existing cities to “throw in” with newly created municipalities that would be permitted to create new school systems.

      It is not surprising that neighborhoods want to petition for annexation into Decatur and the excellent school system: Avondale can’t offer that school system and all of these neighborhoods are worried about the future of their children, and the outcomes (annexation and otherwise) of the biblical 40 days ad 40 nights of the next legislative session cannot be predicted.

      1. If Avondale, Decatur Terrace, etc. all find themselves zoned into Towers, doesn’t that create an opportunity for those communities to, y’know, improve Towers? Or are you suggesting that the other neighborhoods feeding into Towers are somehow intractably broken?

        1. Wacky Sitcom Neighbor – that is somewhat the point that I made above with regard to making the neighborhood school you have better by having families go “all in” together. Thank you for the “intractably broken” comment – Amen.

        2. To be fair, changing a school — especially a Dekalb Co. school — is something that takes a lot of time. You can’t blame parents for preferring an established, functional school system over a school that might eventually improve at some point. I wouldn’t read any backhanded slights at the neighborhoods into it.

  7. Everyone is looking out for themselves. Expecting a different approach always disappoints. Fact, the only reason these annexations are fomenting is DeKalb county has problems and the legislature will effectively take decision making from them very soon. Everyone is looking for a lifeboat, or the least objectionable alternative. It is all very rational…..

  8. Decatur City leaders need to come clean on their revenue position. If you add the value of all property in Decatur and divide it by the population, Decatur has $49,692 in property value per person. Unincorporated DeKalb = $21,339. Dunwoody = $57,853. Avondale = $53,444.

    Property taxes are the primary source of local government revenue. The fact is that Decatur and other cities are in a better financial position than unincorporated DeKalb, and yet the “cities are out of balance” and need to annex Medline, Emory Commons, Rio Circle and YDFM. The above numbers were prepared by a GSU expert in local government taxes for the Operations Task Force.

    1. You are only taking the revenue side of the equation into account and completely ignoring the expense side. If I make $100k a year, but my bills total $101k, I have a problem.

  9. I don’t understand all the issues however I feel we have a school system where growth is outpacing capacity and proposed annexations appear to add extreme additional pressures. 2300 kids at Renfroe with annexation. 980 now. That is extreme.

  10. “… Oakhurst was definitely not a school that middle class white ppl chose for their children. It was a “bad” school, to be avoided (“I’m not sending MY children to THAT school.”). Well, the families worked together – they were “all in ” – and decided they were going to make Oakhurst a great school, and it happened, …”

    Wow. WOW. Is this the prevailing narrative nowadays? That Oakhurst only became a good school after middle class white people decided to make it so? Or is that just one person’s take?

    1. I can’t speak to what folks living in Oakhurst were saying at the time. But parents in Westchester had tons of respect for Ms. Mack–Westchester leadership was assertive in letting us know that there was great leadership and some great teachers there. In fact, some Westchester families who were zoned to Clairemont chose to send their kids to Oakhurst instead. That was allowable the first year (and maybe longer, not sure) because there was plenty of space then.

    2. I don’t know what the prevailing narrative is, and I don’t know what the perception of Oakhurst Elementary’s “quality” was back in the day, but to me it is interesting that in the spring of 2003 there were only 4 white children at Oakhurst (out of 176 children total, so 2.3%). This past spring there were 371 (out of 526 children total, so 70.5%). The decrease in the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced lunch has also been dramatic, from 74.01% in October 2002 to 12.69% in October 2013 (the lowest percentage among all the CSD elementary schools).

      Maybe someone who was here in 2003 could speak as to whether Oakhurst was perceived as “good” or “bad” then. My own theory is that back then there were fewer quick-and-easy numerical determinations of “quality” to be had–NCLB was in its early stages, no or to assign a 1-10 number to a school–so school “quality” was probably discussed more on a word-of-mouth basis.

      1. I’m not going to take the “good school/bad school” bait, but I can tell you the whole 2003 Reconfiguration was sold by the supt and school board as the best way to close the “achievement gap”. I’ll leave it to you to guess which side of this gap Oakhurst, 5th Ave and College Heights (5th Ave and CH demographics in 2003 were similar to Oakhurst) were on. The gentrification of Oakhurst was well underway in 2003, but it was the Reconfiguration which re-districted a bunch of white children from north of the tracks into Oakhurst Elem that jump started the integration of Oakhurst school.

        I’m not saying that working to close the achievement gap was not a worthy goal – it was and still is. Just that they way it was done – closing a perfectly good Westchester School and creating the 4-5 school – was not the best way to do it.

      2. In 2002 we had with a pre-schooler and like everyone else who lived in the Oakhurst district, had to face “the decision” about whether to send him to private school or Oakhurst.

        What happened next is what makes this community great – a bunch of parents got together and realized that it would be foolish to pay both Decatur taxes and private school tuition. People literally went door-to-door to encourage parents to enroll their kids at Oakhurst. Along the way, Westchester closed and the rest of MAK was moved from Winona to Oakhurst, which speeded up the process, but the critical mass was already rolling along at that point.

      3. When I moved to Decatur I was told many times that it was common for Decatur parents to send their kids to private school for grades 6-8 to avoid Renfroe. I remember discussing this with other parents 11-12 years ago (when our kids were all under 5) and the general consensus among that group of parents that they were going to send their kids to Renfroe…. Not sure if the decision for parents to support Renfoe instead of abandoning it was the main factor for Renfoe’s perceived turn around… it probably was a whole bunch of factors coming together.

        1. IMHO it was families committing to Renfroe but it was also that CSD put stable leadership there. Under that stable leadership, some failing teachers left, more great teachers were hired, and a warm, safe, friendly school culture was fostered. Now I know folks who went to Renfroe before that and say they had a fine time so I’m not positive that Renfroe was ever a disaster. But the perception of it sure improved in recent years. Certainly, it seems to be one of the least toxic middle school environments I’ve heard of. I wish I could have attended instead of where I went, even though my junior high school was similar in size. I am a little worried whether Renfroe can keep its great vibe as it grows. I’d be fine with it becoming a junior high 7-8 school. But that would push the bulge down to the already overcrowded elementary schools. I’m real fond of the ECLC but, if we run out of space, maybe both the ECLC and FAVE will have to be repurposed and we’ll have 7 K-6 schools, 7-8, and a huge high school. Or will we need two middle schools?Hard to imagine for those of us who remember a whole RMS classroom being used for the teacher mailroom and lounge.

  11. The reality of the issue is Decatur Terrace will be part of either Decatur or Avondale and the general consensus is they want to be in Decatur. The neighborhood is revitalizing and there are some beautiful homes there. The area is also pedestrian friendly. Decatur will increase property value and provide better schools, but the residents will pay substantially higher taxes as well. I commend their efforts!

    1. Good points, Bobby. It looks like an either/or and if annexation doesn’t occur, the state legislature will end up deciding the boundaries to avoid unincorporated islands. So they really have nothing to lose by stating their preference (long-shot though it may be).

      As far as walkability goes, I’ve always thought Decatur Terrace was perfectly positioned. I’ve long had my eye on this little grid. I know several DT residents who walk to Marta every weekday to get to work and walk to either downtown Decatur or Avondale Village for weekend fun. One friend stated she hasn’t started her car in three months! Daily commuting by foot/rail is not the same “walkability” as occasionally waking home from the Brick Store after a few drinks. Ya know what I’m saying?

      Ask any Decatur Terrace resident and they’ll tell you about their diverse yet strong, tight-knit community. I think we’d be lucky to have this little hidden gem as part of Decatur; a real front-porch community. I fact that they were organized enough to act quickly (democratically and amicably despite conflicting opinions!) to get the needed signatures and submit their petition speaks volumes. I think I might be talking myself into relocating!

      There has been a lot of rejuvenation on every street even before this petition was ever a factor. After reading some of the snobbery and negativity this annexation stuff has brought out, they might have second thoughts.

      1. I’m sure the neighborhood is compatible with Decatur. Our schools are popping at the seams. That is the wall that is going to be hard to climb.

  12. There are two (related) issues here: one is that the school system is already getting overwhelmed with increasing numbers of students, and two is that the “attractiveness” of Decatur to many of us is/was its small-town, community character. Annexation would be a huge mistake on both fronts!

    Something for us as Decatur residents to think about as we continue to flourish (a little too well, in my opinion): the amenity paradox. I don’t think we can include web links here but if you’re interested, you can easily find several recent stories online about it.

  13. I’m very sad to hear about Avondale school and DeKalb County School System administrators who stymied community efforts to commit to their local public schools. There’s a special place in purgatory for them. That’s something that City Schools of Decatur did right as neighborhood families returned from private school flight and recommitted to first Clairemont/Westchester, then Glennwood, then Oakhurst. (Did Winnona Park ever have white flight? Don’t know. And to be fair to Fifth Ave. and College Heights neighbors, I believe that they were recommitting there too but the schools were closed or repurposed because their enrolment declined so much.)

    1. Yes, and we went “all in” and recommitted way back in the early 90s. Nearly doubled the school population at Westchester in five or six years. Same at other schools. That led to renovations and expansions of the schools beginning in the mid 90s. We went “all in” at Renfroe and DHS, too. Plenty of families have worked on making these schools great, long before 2003.

  14. If resident’s overriding sentiment is that annexation is a bad idea, then why is this being considered? Makes one wonder who is profiting from the proposed scenario. Does someone making this decision for our city have property that will benefit from the action? We have built and rebuilt, renovated and re-renovated our schools till there is no more room or appetite for these practices. It has cost us dearly and we are so focused on the schools we forget our older population has been pushed out by viability of lower taxes and selling out while values are high. Long ago we should have offered older folks a larger incentive to stay in their homes. Many who retire don’t plan on their values and taxes multiplying. Those on a fixed income are not able to make a home in City of Decatur viable so they move, thereby placing an increasing burden on the schools when they are replaced with a family of one or more students.

    1. Thank you to anyone who takes note of retirees and seniors, etc. I’m one of them, currently in year two of a fixed appraisal due to a successful appeal. Even so my combined Decatur/Dekalb taxes are just under $5000 a year for my 1450 sq ft cottage. When my property gets reappraised, I’ll first try again for an appeal. If I’m dealt $7000, $8000 or more in taxes as a single homeowner, I too will be faced with moving. Too bad that so many Active Living events are focused for seniors but with no additional income to cover drastic increases in property taxes, folks like me cannot stay. There’s only a paltry concession in exemptions for seniors until reaching 80.

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