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New Buckhead school holds enrollment lottery
by Everett Catts
March 11, 2014 05:20 PM | 3079 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Atlanta Classical Academy in Buckhead will open in August with about 450 students following last month’s enrollment lottery.

At the Feb. 25 public lottery at Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Buckhead, students for kindergarten through eighth grade were chosen from a pool of 1,341 children representing 802 families. Matthew Kirby, the school’s board chairman, said it will add about 50 students each year, eventually having about 700 students in grades K-12. The school is in the North Atlanta High cluster.

“That demand is so strong has been satisfying for those of us who have worked for nearly three years to bring Atlanta Classical Academy to life,” Kirby said of the lottery, adding several hundred people attended it. “Some appreciate that the school will be governed by a local board of directors. Others are interested in smaller-school environment. All seem to appreciate the opportunity to have high-quality options within the public sector. What motivates our board of directors is the opportunity to deliver to Atlanta families a no-nonsense classical school.”

In August the Atlanta Board of Education, despite Superintendent Erroll Davis’ objection, voted 9-0 to approve the school’s charter. Davis said he is against charter schools because they do not have to pay into the district’s pension fund.

“I cannot in good conscience recommend any charter now or in the future due to the unfunded pension fund,” he said. “In a scarce resource environment I cannot advocate increasing the burden on traditional school to create non-traditional environments. By 2019 the pension fund could grow to $900,000 or $1 million. Nothing in my remarks should be seen as anti-charter. My view is that this problem must be solved. We need to resolve that problem.”

In August at the school board meeting when the school’s charter was approved, Allen Mueller, the district’s executive director of innovation, said the school would be located at Wieuca Road Baptist Church in Buckhead. Kirby declined to comment on the school’s location, citing ongoing negotiations with the church. He said in the coming days the school will announce more details on its location and name its principal and assistant principal.

Of the lottery, he said, “When I think about the lottery process, I am reminded of what Winston Churchill said about democracy - that it is the worst form of government, except all of the others.

“The lottery is great because everyone in the district has a fair shot. It is tough because many of the families who gave and gave to help make Atlanta Classical a reality are themselves towards the end of the wait list. All in all, it is a fair process within the context of a system that is generally not the best that it could be.”

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