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Old 03-06-2016, 12:09 AM
 
948 posts, read 335,932 times
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1. Budget - up to $450k
2. House/Condo/Townhome? House (open to new construction)
3. Employment Status(commute/work from home) work from home
4. Children(public school vs. private) neither - read below
5. Suburban or Urban lifestyle preference or a mix of the two - mix of the two
6. Easy access to public transit, important or not? Not important
7. Preferable demographics of desired neighborhood. Racially diverse ideally, or friendly to a multi-racial family, younger demographic, families with young children.

My husband and I are moving back to Atlanta from Austin due to family proximity. We have three children under four and have realized the need to be closer to family. While in Austin we've placed our two eldest in very unique pre-schools. Other schools here, what you would consider elementary and above, are just as innovative and unique. Think Sudbury/democratic, stem-based, outdoor-based (like the entire day), language immersion and arts immersion, even farm-based, etc. Most are considered "private" in that they are not funded by the county and require tuition, which is quite affordable, under $7,000/year for most of them.

Now that we are moving back (lived in GP and Midtown for three years, as a couple and then with our oldest), I have to consider schools, etc. Upon some research, I'm disappointed to see that the bulk of the schools are of the compulsory sort, heavy on testing and/or with a huge push of college preparedness. I find most of these programs teach to the test and don't teach kids to think for themselves. I did find a new school - the Sudbury School of Atlanta, which I was pleased to see, but I'm hoping to find other choices. So far, I've come across:

Private:
Sudbury School of Atlanta

Charter:
The Globe Academy
The Museum School
International Community School (I'm aware it's an IB program, but the cultural diversity it offers is really exciting)
Chattahoochee Hills Charter School (my sons have spent more time outdoors while at school than inside, so this option is my favorite)

I know the charter schools are lottery based, so we can thinking about renting a short-term apartment within the boundaries, then buying if my eldest is selected. However, we have to pick between the Fulton and Dekalb zones -

I also came across The New School in downtown, which I think would be a great option for high school. Discovery School in Gwinnett is other option.

So I wanted to ask the forum, are there any schools that I missed that are similar to ones listed above?

Note: I've ruled out schools like Paideia, Cliff Valley, etc. I cannot justify dropping $20k per kid and exposing them to the dark side of elite private schools, when I can take a fraction of that amount and immerse them in a new culture every summer - think learning German in Munich or learning to cook Thai food in Koh Samui.

In terms of location, and because we work from home, I would be fine moving to whichever suburb if it meant my children could attend such schools. As far north as Woodstock, west to Chapel Hills, however not interested in the east suburbs (Tucker, Stone Mountain, etc.). We are city people and like to the hustle and bustle of a big city, with access to arts/culture, restaurants and music venues. We love Piedmont park, so certainly intown would be great. However, if a suburb has a main street that's walkable and we could get a large home, and certainly be happy there for the next several years.

Any ideas? Thanks in advance.
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Old 03-06-2016, 06:34 AM
 
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You really need to visit. I think you need to tour each of the schools and understand how unique or not unique they really are.

And you need to understand just how difficult each of the schools are to get into. Globe for example has far more children on the waitlist for Kindergarten then the number of children they actually accepted for K. They have 100+ for first grade on the waitlist with no available spaces. There is a real downside to relying on charter school admissions you need a solid plan B.

Does your oldest start K next year?
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Old 03-06-2016, 07:00 AM
 
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You may want to check out Friends School of Atlanta and the Waldorf School, located across the street from each other in Decatur.

You may be able to find housing within your $450K budget in Avondale Estates which is very close to both schools. Living in Avondale Estates may also give you a bump in The Museum School lottery, but I'm not overly familiar with how the charter school process works.
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Old 03-06-2016, 07:20 AM
 
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Chattahoochee Hills Charter school had 650 kids applying for 35 spots and you need to be here in January to apply for the following school year. It will be tough for you to make that work.

I moved from Atlanta to Boulder Colorado a few years ago, and we have the type of schools you are looking for here in Boulder. I don't remember any in ATL that were affordable. High Meadows in Roswell is sort of what you are looking for, but it's almost $20k.
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Old 03-06-2016, 07:38 AM
 
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I agree that High Meadows is closest to what you are looking for but is way above your $7K budget for tuition, and I believe it is a more traditional curriculum than what you are looking for. The children are in and out of doors all day, but they are at their desks for good bit, doing work in fairly structured environment. Berry College Elementary and Middle School in Rome GA is an amazing school--tuition is about $10k. It is a bit like High Meadows in that it has access to amazing outdoor spaces--1000s of acres, working farm. however, neither of these schools is the sort of unschooling environment you are looking for.

Is homeschooling an option? There are awesome networks of homeschoolers across the city of Atlanta and state of Georgia. If you are looking for non-religious (aka not evangelical Christian), your best bet would be Decatur. You could live in Avondale, and hope for the Museum School, and homeschool if that doesn't come to fruition. The homeschooled kids I know actually attend classes at home school academies 2 or 3 days a week with other homeschool children. Otherwise, I don't see the kind of progressive --more outdoor than indoor--education opportunities available here, and definitely not at the price point you are seeking.
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Old 03-06-2016, 10:28 AM
 
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Thanks for the responses. Is it just me or does it seem odd that if charter schools have such demand, that more of them are not launched? Especially the ones that have the most applications.

A few points of clarification:

Our budget isn't $7,000. I just mentioned it as a frame of reference for the cost of some schools here in Austin
My eldest is four, but is a summer baby, so he'll continue with preschool for 2016-17.
Our intention is to move over the summer, with short-term housing, and begin the enrollment process, wherever that may be, in Jan/Feb 2017.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlJan View Post

Is homeschooling an option? There are awesome networks of homeschoolers across the city of Atlanta and state of Georgia. If you are looking for non-religious (aka not evangelical Christian), your best bet would be Decatur. You could live in Avondale, and hope for the Museum School, and homeschool if that doesn't come to fruition. The homeschooled kids I know actually attend classes at home school academies 2 or 3 days a week with other homeschool children. Otherwise, I don't see the kind of progressive --more outdoor than indoor--education opportunities available here, and definitely not at the price point you are seeking.
Homeschooling is definitely an possibility, but I wanted to exhaust all the school options first. And we're leaning to that same conclusion of it being a back-up, along with the Sudbury school (which also happens to be in Avondale) should any of the charters not work out.
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Old 03-06-2016, 11:14 AM
 
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It is really hard to launch and run a charter school (Let me know if you want more details).

The Museum School was founded by parents who wanted to stay in Avondale but also wanted a public school option. It was a ton of work, but they had a lot of support from the Avondale community. GLOBE and ICS have a different history. I have spent time at ICS, while I love the school and value its mission, I don't think it is really what you are looking for. GLOBE also is probably more traditional than you are seeking.

So that leaves Chat Hills and Museum School. If Brown Dog's numbers are correct, it probably isn't a worthwhile chance. However, you also need to get the Museum School numbers to make a judgement there. The odds may be similar.

Before committing to a location, I would come (without your kids if possible, or leave them with a family member here) and tour these schools.

These public charter schools and public schools (ie Discovery in Gwinnett) have to administer the same standardized tests that any GA public school does. I don't know if this is an issue for you, but just wanted to throw that out to you.
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Old 03-06-2016, 12:29 PM
 
948 posts, read 335,932 times
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lastminutemom - are you a teacher/administrator?

I started looking into the "policies and procedures" of some of the charter schools, and yes, you are correct, there's still the testing factor (which does chafe me), along with attendance rules (like calling a social worker if there are more than eight unexcused absences), and similar penalties for tardiness and uniforms.
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Old 03-06-2016, 12:33 PM
 
3,972 posts, read 11,044,758 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kajo13 View Post
lastminutemom - are you a teacher/administrator?

I started looking into the "policies and procedures" of some of the charter schools, and yes, you are correct, there's still the testing factor (which does chafe me), along with attendance rules (like calling a social worker if there are more than eight unexcused absences), and similar penalties for tardiness and uniforms.
Nope. Just a parent who has a long history in GA's charter school movement. My children attended traditional public schools, charter schools, private school and even a short stint of homeschooling with one of them. Pshw.

Attendance rules are pretty serious in today's public schools (at least in GA) and charter schools with wait lists sometimes take them more seriously than traditional schools. In GA, school funding is based, in part, on students being in school. Does that make sense?
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Old 03-06-2016, 12:51 PM
 
948 posts, read 335,932 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lastminutemom View Post
Nope. Just a parent who has a long history in GA's charter school movement. My children attended traditional public schools, charter schools, private school and even a short stint of homeschooling with one of them. Pshw.

Attendance rules are pretty serious in today's public schools (at least in GA) and charter schools with wait lists sometimes take them more seriously than traditional schools. In GA, school funding is based, in part, on students being in school. Does that make sense?
What model did you find the most success with? Not only for your children's academic achievements, but their overall development/happiness?

I just started learning about charter schools because of the move. So if I'm understanding correctly, in exchange for government funds to run the school and some leeway in curriculum, the administrators have to adhere to performance indicators (test scores, attendance) set by the traditional school board. Hmm, I beginning to think I'm too radical for regular schools and should start some education commune up in the mountains
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