by: Tony Thomas Updated:
DUNWOODY, Ga. - In recent years, there's been a large trend in metro Atlanta of unhappy residents pushing to form their own cities.
Several new large suburbs have sprung up, giving residents more local control over such things as planning, zoning and police enforcement.
Now, some of the original pioneers in DeKalb County are pushing another idea -- starting their own school district.
The Dunwoody City Council is set to list among its top legislative priorities for 2013 an effort to change the State Constitution to allow new independent school districts to form.
Current law bans any new school districts in the state.
City Councilman Terry Nall first brought up the idea publicly last week and says the area has the will power to push it through the state legislature.
"For us this really isn't about dissatisfaction or satisfaction. Initially, this is about us having an option about local choice, local control," Nall said.
Nall insists the push is all about residents first having the choice to realistically discuss the idea, then later actually decide whether it's something that should be done.
Many parents are unhappy with the sometimes struggling DeKalb County Schools. The district faces budget shortfalls and many other issues that continue to attract headlines around the metro area.
Dunwoody resident and parent Mike Park is one of many who like the idea.
"I think we will get a better education system as a result of less schools that we have to control," Park said. "My personal opinion is I think there is a lot of administrative overhead and I don't think it's representative of the entire district.”
His wife agrees, but realizes it's a long shot at best.
"It would probably be years from when it would happen, but that's OK. " Lauren Park said as she looked over her two small children.
Depending on how any proposed legislation is written, the idea could affect only the Dunwoody and theDeKalb County area, or every school district in the state.
Even Nall admits it could take years for even a vote to be held.
"Very much a long shot." he said.
That uncertainty is mainly because it's unclear if Dunwoody could get the support of other parts of Georgia, or even other parts of DeKalb County.
"Breaking away is always, let’s try to solve something other than actually facing the problem and fixing the problem and then talking about breaking away," said resident Herb Sprague as he walked around the Dunwoody Village area. "The whole school district has to work together."
But many parents like the idea of at least looking into a Dunwoody School District.
"We like the small class size, two teachers to every class. So it really seems to make a difference," said Dunwoody parent Lisa Steiner. She currently drives her daughter to a private school in east Cobb, but says a new smaller school district might mean she'd bring her children back closer to home.
Dunwoody leaders must first convince two-thirds of state lawmakers to support the idea, then put the issue to a statewide ballot to amend the constitution.
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