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Museum School Gets Five Year Charter

DeKalb County school board also signs letter of intent to allow Museum School to lease the empty Forrest Hills Elementary location in Decatur.

Parents of students attending The Museum School of Avondale Estates can now breathe a sigh of relief.

The DeKalb County school board has voted unanimously to grant a five-year charter to . The approval came during the school board’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Monday.

Additionally, The Museum School has a signed letter of intent (see attached) from the DeKalb County School System to lease Forrest Hills Elementary in Decatur. Forrest Hills closed several years ago and has sat empty except for the occasional filming of a or movie.

“This is a big moment for the school,” said Sasha Webb, board chair of The Museum School of Avondale Estates. “It was a winding path to get here but now we’re on solid ground.”

The Museum School hit a snag when the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that state commissioned charter schools were unconstitutional. The move affected not just Museum School students but thousands of other school children around the state.

But that’s past history. The DeKalb school board approved a one-year charter in June ahead of the new school year for The Museum School, which currently serves Kindergarten to fourth graders.

Under the proposed lease agreement terms, DeKalb County will lease the facility at no cost to the public charter school. By law, school systems must allow charter schools to lease surplus schools free of charge. The agreement, obtained by Patch, also said that The Museum School expects it will pour $1.3 million into school improvements.

“For us, it’s great to have this opportunity and to have a vibrant use for an empty facility,” said spokesman Walter Woods of the DeKalb County School System.

The empty Forrest Hills Elementary cost the school system approximately $100,000 annually to keep it properly maintained and secured.

Woods said that he expects to execute a final lease agreement in November. If the agreement gets signed, The Museum School plans to open its doors in the new location next fall, according to Webb.

The year-old Museum School of Avondale Estates was several years in the making. The charter school is backed by strong support from parents and the community.

“We’ve accomplished so much in our first year,” Webb said. “Now we can finally put all of this behind us.”

However, there could be one problem. What to call the school. The Museum School may have to drop Avondale Estates from its name. That is, unless the City of Avondale Estates decides to annex the school property, which sits just outside city limits.

JG October 11, 2011 at 11:14 AM
Outstanding!!
niclo October 12, 2011 at 12:27 AM
Great news! Congratulations does this mean the school also expands the number of zip codes kids can apply from?
Renee DeGross Valdes October 12, 2011 at 01:20 AM
The charter school has an expanded district to include the elementary school districts on the DCSS website for Midway, Avondale and Knollwood. First applicants in those districts will be able to apply. If any open slots come up and no applicants are available in the district for the school -- any DCSS student in another district can apply for a spot.
Laura Leckband October 19, 2011 at 04:21 PM
The school was approved with a tiered system with preference for applicants from the neighborhoods Renee lists, then open to all DCSS students. However, the tiered system is not likely to remain in place. If precedent holds, DCSS will eliminate the tiered neighborrhood preferences and make all slots open to all DCSS students at the next charter renewal. This is exactly what was done with the International Community School (ICS). Unfortunately, ceasing to be a neighborhood school is the price the school is likely to pay down the road for the decision to redo the charter through DCSS. Annexing Forrest Hills would be a difficult and costly proposition for the City of Avondale Estates, as it contains virtually no commercial property and annexations of residential areas are statistically revenue negative (not enough revenue is generated through the additional taxes received to cover the cost of the services the City must supply).

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