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The Tale of Two Cities Will Continue Unless ….

We Demand Equity for South Fulton 

Important Issues: Updated March 2004

  • UNDER FUNDING OF WESTLAKE.   Last month the Board passed a budget of 34 million to build Westlake (building only).  At least 39 million is needed.  Alpharetta High is being built at $110.00 per sq. ft.  Westlake is proposed at 90.00 per sq. ft. 
  • GROWTH IN SOUTH COUNTY DEMANDS MORE SCHOOLS.  All of the SPLOST II North County Schools have been built, while only 20 % of South County Schools have been built.  Money is  short.  SUPPORT Board Members Bryant and Bowie’s demand for a funding mechanism to build the needed South County Schools.  The Board needs to use the Reserves as they did  three years ago to build Northview High in North Fulton.
  • HIGH BUILDING STANDARDS FOR ALL SCHOOLS.    All the North County SPLOST Schools have been built with the highest of standards under the guidance of Fulton Board of Education Capital Programs.  Board Members Reeves, Dean and Houseman now want to abolish Capital Programs to economize on the remainder of schools built in South County.  Schools in North County are  BEING BUILT at 110.00 sq. ft. while the new plan FOR SOUTH COUNTY builds at around 83.00 sq. ft.  This kind of economizing to build even more North County Schools is being done on the “Backs of South County Students”.  We cannot LET Board Members Reeves, Dean and Houseman give us poor quality schools.   Our only guarantee of keeping quality is to ensure the Capital Programs remains in operation.
  • INSIST ON TIMELINES FOR REMAINING SCHOOLS.  Building schools is time sensitive. Architects must be hired and land purchased.  Demand that South County High School, Westlake, South County Middle and Elementary Schools building process be on schedule. (land and architects).   Not doing so can delay the opening of these schools by a year.  Delaying South County Schools allows Board Members Dean, Reeves and Houseman to have more money to do as they please.
  • LEADERSHIP IN OUR SCHOOLS.   School Communities require good leaders with visions.   Come out and support our Board members and demand the leadership needed in our schools.



School Board Votes for New Westlake High with Conditions

Pride, dignity, determination, perseverance and beauty can only express what was demonstrated by the outpouring of residents who trekked some fifty miles to North Fulton County to press for a new Westlake.  This issue has demonstrated that some people want a sense of community and we came from different streets, subdivisions and areas of Southwest.

Parents and residents provided examples of the type of legacy they want to leave their children and Disraeli Smith, II, a sophomore of Westlake from the Hunters Forest subdivision, demonstrated that their are some young people ready to take the baton and continue our struggle.  His remarks focused on the inadequacies of the science labs and how Westlake students are unable to explore and experiment in the sciences.  He talked about the lack of heat, overcrowding, poor curriculum and portable classrooms.

Disraeli was joined by several parents and Commissioners Bill Edwards and Bob Pitts.  We owe a debt of thank to our Commissioners and school board members, Linda Bryant and Zenda Bowie.  Commissioner Edwards gave some stirring remarks and indicated that it is time for the Board to stop ignoring South Fulton.  For the 100 or so of us, who were there we rose to give him a standing ovation.  Equally important was the leadership of Mrs. Bryant and Bowie.  To insure everyone is clear, although Ms. Bowie abstained last night, it was because of the unusual language that was added to the motion.  Her concerns are valid despite the school board's legal counsel clarification on the motion.  We cannot allow anyone to reinterpret what we all know to be factual, and both of our board members will need our prayers, love and support ahead.

Although the Board voted 6-0 for the rebuilding, there was unusual language attached to the motion that does not seem to be the usual manner in which a school is approved for construction.  What we understand at this point is that the Construction group can proceed with developing the plans. There are several issues that remain unclear:

  • The Board's financial commitment?
  • How will the funding of the school issue be resolved?
  • Why will it take three years for Westlake to open, 2007 as opposed to September 2006 (two years is the normal construction time)
  • Can the building of the school be fast tracked?
  • When will the adjacent lands be acquired for the building?

These issues are more the reason for why we will have to monitor the school board's actions, to insure Westlake is not delayed into eternity or that any other school preempts the building of Westlake.

We need for those of you who have been involved to continue to come out and support us.  We will update you regularly and we ask that if there are other neighbors who want to insure they are included in the communication, they can sign up on this website.  Click on the URL below and add your name to the email distribution list.

Thanks to all of you and remember that this issue is now a vigil that will require all ears to be on alert for anything that can jeopardize our progress.  Last night and the pre-board meeting (on 4/13) indicated that there are three board members who have a different agenda and are patient to wait our community out.

John Davis


Background: A Tale of Two Cities

Fulton Board Meeting Outcome March 11, 2004

A standing room only crowd attended the Fulton County School Board Meeting this evening.  Cars were parked all along the streets since the parking lots were running over.  Elected officials (Commissioner Pitts and Representative Roger Bruce) along with students from throughout the Westlake Cluster were there.  Parents of school age students and parents of children as young as 2 months old were represented.  The group was supported by several neighbors who already had grown children but who still were invested in having a quality neighborhood school.    It was a diverse sight that we can all feel proud of and one day these same students will feel very proud that they were apart of a fight for a quality school.

 During the public comments phase of the meeting, our Westlake students and neighbors made convincing pleas that the Westlake facility was no longer adequate and a fifth- 30 million dollar patch job would be a waste of taxpayer monies.  Speakers confronted Board Members with their insensitivities and lack of commitment to South County students.   Parents insisted that we wanted the same for our children as parents in other parts of the County. Concerns were raised that the SPLOST dollars are coming in slowly suggesting that this Board might leave South County without funding to build the schools we have been promised.   Interestingly, North County parents were there too.  These parents were upset at a Board bent on serving a limited number of students in their communities as well.

 Board Member Bryant and Bowie did not call for the Westlake approval vote.  Both knew they had only one assured vote-Julia Bernath.  A fourth vote was needed.  To have called for the vote and loss would have meant that neither of the three (Bernath, Bowie and Bryant) could ask for the vote for Westlake again during this school board year.   Thus, the vote was set up as an action item for the April Board meeting.

 So here what we believe is happening:   

 The Construction Committee (appointed by the Board) has agreed that the renovations identified by Gardner Smith Architects for Westlake are appropriate.  The Fulton Capital Programs staff must now cost out the building renovations.  As we understand it, if the Westlake renovations costs are high enough, then the Board of Education must decide whether to rebuild or renovate. We have heard the architects say that even with the renovations,  there are some structural and technical inadequacies at Westlake that cannot be corrected.

 The Westlake vote will be held in North County in April; however, we will still have an opportunity to be heard at the Pre-Board meeting (Cleveland Avenue).  Our committee must meet to strategize; in the meantime, we are still pursuing a contact with the NAACP Legal Defense fund.   Since the Board's history is insensitivity, we must be prepared to take alternative legal actions.

 Again, tonight was a great night for the Westlake Community.  It was heartening to see so many parents and students out.  We have one more month to lobby the Board for their support. Please inundate them with emails.   We are on our way to having good schools at every level for our children.  Only a show of strength will let them know our commitment and resolve.

 We will keep you updated.

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 Next Steps:

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Thank You for those who attended and got the word out about the March 11th Board Meeting.  We are not finished yet. Community members interested in the success of this effort should also plan to: 

  1. We need mass attendance again at the pre-Board meeting on April 13 4:30 PM at the Administrative Center.

  2. Be at the North County Board Meeting on April 15th 6:30 PM at Dunwoody Springs (Arrive Early and be on the front rows).

  3.  Continue to email the School Board members particularly:

Next Pre-Board Work Session April 13, 2004

Administrative Center 786 Cleveland Avenue, Atlanta 404-763-6830


From South: Take I-85 to Cleveland Avenue, Exit #76 (north of the airport). Go west (left) on Cleveland Avenue. Administrative Center is about one block on the left.

From North: Take I-85 to the Cleveland Avenue, Exit #76 (north of the airport). Go west (right) on Cleveland Avenue. The entrance to the Administrative Center is immediately to your left.

Next Board Meeting April 15, 2004

Dunwoody Springs 8100 Roberts Drive, Atlanta 770-673-4060


From the North: Take GA 400 to Northridge Road, exit #6. Turn right onto Northridge Road and continue over the GA 400 overpass. At the stop sign just beyond the end of the overpass, turn right onto Roberts Drive and continue approximately 1/2 mile to the first stoplight. Turn right to enter the school.

From the South: Take GA 400 to Northridge Road, exit #6. The ramp becomes Roberts Drive. Continue straight ahead after the stop sign approximately 1/2 mile to the first stoplight. Turn right to enter the school.

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A Tale of Two Cities

(North and South Fulton High School Facilities)


  • The 10 million dollars in renovations that the school board proposes for Westlake High will not bring physical plant up to today’s standards.

  • This is the fourth time they want to squander tax dollars on patching a school built in the 1960’s, instead of replacing it.

  • After renovation, the school still will not have the state of the art facilities that our children would have if they lived in North Fulton.

  • The school board does not want to bus our students to North Fulton anymore, but they do not want to build equitable facilities in South Fulton either – they cannot have it both ways.

Drive to North Fulton and see the 50 Million dollar Alpharetta High that opens this fall:

Once Again, the Southside Is Asked to Settle for Less!

Contact All Fulton Board Members:


Alpharetta High School


In August 2004, Fulton's newest high school opens its doors at 3595 Webb Bridge Road, Alpharetta

The 330,000-square-foot school was designed by the architectural firm of Perkins & Will, Inc. and construction is being managed by Beers Skanska, Inc. The school is built for 1,850 students in grades nine through 12.

Features include:

• 94 classrooms
• 12 science labs
Media Center and cafeteria share a view to a canopy of undisturbed forest beyond an accessible terrace
• Nearly all instructional spaces receive natural daylight
• Campus atmosphere: main academic building, athletics building and arts building
• Athletic fields: football, baseball, softball, soccer, tennis, lacrosse, track and field
• Pedestrian access to nearby Greenway and YMCA
• PLENTY of parking for staff and students

A new Westlake will require us to continue our community efforts.

 We need to remember:

  •  The Westlake facility is 40 years old, among the oldest in Fulton.  In the past 40 years, Westlake has been “patched up” many times.  This mentality of fixing up Westlake, as new state-of-the-art high schools appear in North Fulton causes one to question what the veiled motivation for prolonging the inequity.
  • In the 1990’s, North Springs and Riverwood received extensive renovations, approximately 20 million dollars worth, to update their facilities while Westlake received only 5 million.
  • The 10 million dollars currently allocated for fixing up at Westlake again will still leave the core facility grossly inadequate and unable to meet basis instructional objectives.
  • The Superintendent developed a “Staff Initiative” that would provide a new South Fulton County High School, a new Westlake High facility, and a new model for smaller high school facilities throughout South Fulton.  The school board budget is structured so that North County schools are not impacted by the initiative.  In spite of this forward thinking strategy, there is a faction of Board members who continue to stall these efforts.
  • Why you ask?  Tragically, this is an intentional strategy to sabotage this initiative to address the High School facilities gap between North and South Fulton.  The longer the money can be kept from being allocated to the “Staff Initiative”, the greater the likelihood the funding can be used for a project in one of these member’s districts.  Last spring, about 15 million dollars was over budgeted.  Within weeks of this discovery, the 15 million was quickly spent.
  • As part of the court settlement between the county and black parents, the district will slowly phase out a minority-to-majority busing program that transported black students in south Fulton to higher-performing, predominantly white schools in north Fulton.
  • Fulton was the last metro system under a race-based desegregation order, and its release ends all federal supervision of school integration efforts in the area.  With the games some of our school board members are playing with facilities, it seems perhaps the settlement was premature.
  • Let’s not let Board members “stall” with our tax dollars, as they ask us to double their pay and deprive our children of quality and equitable facilities. 
  • Your community participation at the Pre-board meeting April 12 at 4:30 (Administrative Center) and the April 15 Board meeting at Dunwoody Springs is especially critical.   Whether you have children or not, quality schools in the community can add tens of thousands of dollars to the property value of your home annually.
  • Email all Fulton County Board Members and let them know that you support a new Westlake facility and adequate facilities for South Fulton County schools.