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Old 04-07-2008, 06:05 PM
56 posts, read 160,757 times
Reputation: 23


Hi everyone,

My family is relocating to the Atlanta area this summer. After some research, we think we'd like to live in either the Morningside or Fernbank elementary school zone. I keep hearing buzz about overcrowding and potential redistricting in both of those schools, though. With that, I have four questions:

1. Which school is better (i.e., high performance, diversity, small classroom size, not too snobby)?

2. Is there any place where I can get a concise answer about what's happening at these schools in terms of redistricting/overcrowding?

3. Is it likely that we could buy a home zoned for Morningside or Fernbank elementary this year and have it be rezoned for some other school next year?

4. Do most of the people who live in the Morningside or Druid Hills neighborhoods just send their kids to private schools?

Thanks in advance. I am learning so much from reading the posts on this forum.
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Old 04-07-2008, 06:26 PM
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DeKalb plans no redistricting any time zone. As long as the current Superintendent is in place, in DeKalb, there will be no rezoning. They did a few school closures that go into effect next year, but none in the Druid Hills cluster. It left such a bad taste in the super's mouth, that he is through.

They have started an annex for Morningside and there seems to be no political will to redistrict. I don't think this will change.

Both these schools, if redistricted, would send students to schools with a different socio-economic population than themselves. (However, I think this is changing in terms of the neighboring schools to Morningside.)

Frankly, I think the City of Atlanta schools are better funded, they spend the most per student in the Southeast. I believe that you can tell this.

In GA, you can have no more than 21 students in a 1st through 3rd class and no more than 28 in a 4th -5th grade class. In Kindergarten it is 21 but once 18 is reached there must be a teacher's aide in the classroom.

I know many families at both schools and they aren't snobby at all.

Both those schools are very high performing.

There are certainly families in both those neighborhoods who send their children to private school. In Atlanta, sending children to private school often has no correlation to the quality of the public school. Very often, housing choices are made regardless of school district. Many parents went to private school and want that for their children. Others are concerned about weaknesses in GA curriculum. Some want a religious education, etc.

Can you arrange to visit in May? At this point, you will probably need to wait for May because state testing begins in two weeks and last two weeks.
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Old 04-07-2008, 09:12 PM
Location: Atlanta/Decatur/Emory area
1,320 posts, read 3,878,619 times
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You should definitely visit both schools as early as you can. There are other very good schools in the area as well that you may not yet have considered by might appeal to you.

I had a client last year with 2 young children who was trying to choose between buying a house in the Morningside district and neighboring Mary Lin (also City of Atlanta but serving the area around Candler Park). My client's mother had been an elementary school teacher and my client was very dedicated to scoping out the schools in detail. All the "buzz" and, in truth, the test scores, show Morningside as the better of the 2 schools, but she fell in love with Mary Lin. She thought it had a much more nurturing environment versus the academic factory mentality of Morningside. [BTW, I did try to get her to connsider Fernbank as well, but she was only interested in the Morningside/Mary Lin area.]

It just pays to take everything you see (including test scores) with a grain of salt and to make sure you visit the schools yourself to get a feel for where you and your children will fit in best.
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:48 AM
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Yep, I'd also pick Mary Lin over Morningside also even though the scores may not be quite as high at Lin. Believe it or not, sometimes super high scores mean that the school is a test factory. I visited both schools not too long ago and I really liked the feel at Lin better. Others may feel differently though, and we live in the City of Decatur school system so I am not an expert. Also, Morningside is really, really crowded.

Now, here's something to throw a wrench into your plans. I was talking to an "in the know" parent in the Lin district just last night, and she told me that APS plans to open the Howard School on Ponce de Leon as a new elementary school in the next couple of years to relieve crowding at Morningside. The new school will draw mostly from the Morningside district (the western part) and a little from the Lin district also. If you want to be absolutely sure that you stay in the M'side district, you will want to live on the east side of the school.

Given the neighborhoods that will most likely feed into the new school - it should be fine academically. However it is sth to keep in mind.

Fernbank would not be involved because it is not in the Atlanta system. Fernbank is also an excellent school. If you will be a long term resident - you will probably want to take a look at Shamrock (the middle school) and Druid Hills High so make sure that they are also to your liking.

Last edited by cmtiger; 04-08-2008 at 07:56 AM..
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Old 04-08-2008, 11:39 AM
56 posts, read 160,757 times
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Thanks for your responses!

We were initially interested in Mary Lin too. We excluded it mainly because we prefer large mid-century modern ranch houses and saw a few online in Morningside/Lenox Park and the Druid Hills area.

As beautiful as the bungalow homes are in Candler Park and Inman Park, the ones in our price range tend to be a little small. Plus, we still can't get a feel for the crime factor in those neighborhoods.

And speaking of M/LP, some ranch houses there for about $500K appear to be very close to train tracks. What's the train noise factor in that neighborhood? Does anyone know if trains actually run on those tracks or if they are simply ancient tracks that haven't been removed?
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Old 04-08-2008, 01:08 PM
Location: Atlanta/Decatur/Emory area
1,320 posts, read 3,878,619 times
Reputation: 496
Mid-century homes are my absolute favorite. There are very few in Atlanta -- particularly intown. If you are still considering neighborhoods, you might want to look in the Oak Grove Elementary school district (especially the Amberwood subdivision). There are also some gorgeous mid-century homes in Pine Hills near Lenox (but you might want to limit your search in this neighborhood to the City of Atlanta part of Pine Hills in Sarah Smith Elementary district).
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Old 04-08-2008, 03:36 PM
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Yep, Oak Grove is a great elementary school!
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Old 04-09-2008, 10:45 AM
56 posts, read 160,757 times
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Again, thanks everyone!
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Old 04-09-2008, 08:09 PM
Location: Atlanta
45 posts, read 182,063 times
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We are on the same decision making track as you are cautious-mom. We are relocating from the DC suburbs and have been working on choosing between Morningside and Fernbank. We spent a week in Atlanta in mid march and visited all the schools in each of those tiers (morningside/inman/grady, and fernbank/shamrock/druid hills).

We actually ended up choosing the morningside tier. We made this choice based less on the elementary schools (both seemed wonderful from what we could tell), and more on the upper level schools, middle and high. We just really did not care for the feel we got from Shamrock middle, and the location seemed really far away from the areas in which we would be living. I'm sure it's a fine school - don't want to offend anyone! - but it just didn't click for us. Druid Hills high seemed alright - a bit run down maybe. But we just really were excited with what we saw and experienced at Inman Middle and Grady High. Also, our current school district is considered top notch (top 5 in the nation) and so we were comparing what we saw at Inman and Grady with a strong system. The Atlanta public schools seemed better able to replicate (and maybe even improve on) what we have here. And with 3 kids, private school is definitely not an option, so the public schools have to work for us, or else we won't buy in that area.

As for the comment about a new Atlanta public school opening soon - that's true. It will be where the Morningside Kindergarten annex is currently located, in the old Howard school site. It is allegedly supposed to open fall 2009, but we'll see if that comes to pass. It is supposed to draw from the Va. Highlands end of the current Morningside district, and some of the current mary lin district. It should be a great school with a strong community backing it up. No one I have spoken with is worried about it in the least - as far as we can tell.

Good luck!
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Old 04-10-2008, 05:37 AM
56 posts, read 160,757 times
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Thanks Rentsto3! FYI, we are relocating from the DC suburbs too!
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