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Open Letter to the Tucker Civic Association

A letter about the possibility of incorporation for Tucker. Why not?

Dear Tucker Civic Association Leadership,

I read recently that the Tucker Civic Association studied the potential of incorporating the city of Tucker sometime around 1996 or 1997. I was wondering if you have any reports available to the public regarding the findings of this study? If so, how could I go about obtaining a copy?

Separately, is your association currently involved with any type of study or movement that would allow for the incorporation of Tucker into its own city, especially in light of the recent accreditation issues with DeKalb County Schools? If so, how would someone go about joining any committee or study group or participating in the discussions?

I have been active in the issues surrounding our schools and have serious concerns about my property value as well as the decline in general of our area as a result of abuse within the school system that has sent an unusually high number of the county’s most difficult students to our schools, forcing many of our neighborhood families out. It is harming our way of life and is likely causing realtors to steer their clients elsewhere if they have children as one must also factor in private school education to the cost of living here.

If you were to look at the schools in Tucker, you would think we are a community living in poverty, which is not at all the case. Many of us have worked hard to afford to buy homes in this area and have been disappointed to learn that our neighborhood schools are not serving our neighborhood children. This fact is harming the community's ability to stay cohesive as many of us must all send our children to different schools all over the county. This is not by choice, but by necessity.

In addition, several Tucker schools were selected unfairly for cell phone towers which are known to reduce property values and suspected to be harmful to the health and safety of children and people who live nearby. Again, there has been no concentrated effort to inform the Tucker residents when these issues are taking place and we believe our community is being harmed as a result.

We are very interested in looking at the costs associated with incorporation as much of the infrastructure has already been designated with that purpose in mind. Tucker would be the third largest city in DeKalb County, behind Brookhaven and Dunwoody, which have already incorporated.

It makes sense that many of us would want to at least look at this option again at this time. Thank you for any information you can provide. 

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Blaine Milam February 07, 2013 at 12:22 PM
My understanding is that it is not currently legal in Georgia for a community that incorporates into a city, to annex the schools that already exist within a school system. Although I would be interested in Tucker incorperating, I am a Tucker resident, I dont think incorporating alone would address the school issuse that you are talking about. I do believe Dunwoody is looking for a way around this, possibly starting their own school system indepentant of Dekalb?
Lisa Pierson February 07, 2013 at 03:53 PM
Thank you for bring this to the associations attention. Majority of our neighborhood feels the same way. I am for us incorporating and am ready to vote.
Cheryl Miller February 07, 2013 at 04:46 PM
Blaine, I think you are correct about the incorporation of the schools, however, I have noticed that the school board is a lot more cautious with how they handle schools that have the city-level of government to stand up for them. I know that they did not even attempt to put cell towers in those areas, for example. Dunwoody has been able to leverage its financial and political power to create charter clusters of schools and magnet schools for high achievers, making their portion of DeKalb appear more desirable to homebuyers. Whereas, our schools seem to be used to comply with the No Child Left Behind federal legislation that allows the poorest performing students from "failing" schools to be bused to other neighborhoods. I'm not necessarily saying that is a bad thing, but when so many of these children are bused to one school that it actually changes the status of the receiving school to also become a Title I, that's bringing undue hardship to one particular area. And, the money allotted for Title I students actually stays with the school, so the extra resources to help these kids is not something that is coming along with them. So, they are not being served well either. If Dunwoody is successful in changing the state constitution to allow for more school districts, it would be great if Tucker could follow right behind them. I'm just really getting tired of watching my money being used to bring harm instead of good to my own neighborhood.
Cheryl Miller February 07, 2013 at 05:34 PM
Thanks, Lisa. I'm ready to vote, too!
Cheryl Miller February 07, 2013 at 05:58 PM
Or, I guess, we could allow a portion of our residents to be incorporated into a city called "Lakeside." http://northdruidhills.patch.com/articles/lakeside-cityhood-movement-announces-arrival
Leslie Richardson February 07, 2013 at 08:11 PM
Thank you Cheryl, for reaching out to the Tucker Civic Association. Our answer to the question of incorporation is two-fold: one is on a practical level, and the other is more intangible. First, although we have a variety of thriving businesses in the area, we do not have the tax base to sustain incorporation. A city needs both the depth and breadth of solid and multiple commercial enterprises to warrant city-hood. We are, however, able to enjoy a good cost-of-living as well as traditional city services that are provided by Dekalb county. The second part of this answer is,as I said, intangible, dare I say emotional, in nature. Tucker is a community, not a city. One only needs to see how we rallied around Ace Hardware to see what we do for one of our own in a time of need. Tucker Civic Association has known this for a long time. Our new initiative, Tucker Lifelong Community, is a program we have developed with the help with grant money and dedicated professionals and volunteers. The TLC, as we affectionately call it, has developed a plan for the future of our community. Our focus areas are Living, Growing, Moving, and Aging. It includes everyone and excludes no one--Come on out tonight at 7:30 to our Kick Off Meeting at the Baptist Ministry center to find out how you can be a part of the future of Tucker! Thanks again, Leslie Richardson, President, Tucker Civic Association
Blaine Milam February 07, 2013 at 09:00 PM
Here's a link to the study for the incorporation of Tucker, that was produced in 2006. Its a bit dated and there are many iussues that have changed the dynamics of such an endeavor since then, but it is the only professional research that I know of and may be a good place to start a new incorporation movement. http://www.tuckercivic.org/docs/IncorpPrelimFeasRept.pdf
Brian Crowe February 09, 2013 at 07:19 PM
I don't think your pie chart makes your point. The definition of "low income" for Title One purposes is household income under 45K. The chart shows that about 20% are under 30k, and then about half fall between 30 and 75k. How do you know that a substantial portion of that group isn't under 45K? Moreover, keep in my mind that the schools here aren't necessarily going to reflect the demographics of the zip codes, where the higher incomes may skew toward older residents who no longer have schools age kids. This would seem to be especially true in Tucker. As for incorporation, my sense is that the business community would be solidly opposed to it.
Guy Midvale February 10, 2013 at 02:46 PM
Ms. Miller, I appreciate your sentiment and your willingness to get things moving. Thank you. However, I have to point out a couple factual misunderstandings in your letter. First, none of the schools in Tucker is going to get a cell tower. Briarlake Elementary has a signed contract for a cell tower and Lakeside H.S. was on the list. I don't know if that contract was signed. Secondly, I know families that have chosen not to send their children to Tucker Middle and Tucker High School for safety, academic, and social reasons. I do not believe that is from necessity. You appear to be exaggerating the issues. I offer the PTAs of Midvale and Livesy as proof that many parents love their schools. I support any movement or group which will lead to Tucker incorporating as a city. I love Tucker and the small-town we have here. Hopefully that will happen. I also support the schools within Tucker. We are lucky to have wonderful, dedicated teachers in all of the schools. I do not believe any movement to become a city will change the way the Dekalb County School system buses students around. The two most effective strategies for reducing the number of students from outside Tucker are 1) require proof of residency at least once a year & verify it and 2) work to put smart, ethical, and effective leadership into the Dekalb County School System. We have a year to get a new superintendent. Hopefully the governor will replace the BOE this summer
Brian Crowe February 10, 2013 at 03:51 PM
About the comparison of zip code to Tucker High: isn't part of 30084 in the Lakeside zone, and also isn't a small part in Gwinnett County?
Cheryl Miller February 13, 2013 at 06:23 PM
The 30084 is a zip code that is dedicated to those with a Tucker address. Currently, Evansdale Elementary is part of the Lakeside cluster but there is speculation that they will be rezoned to Tucker. And, yes, part of Tucker falls into Gwinnett county. That was my other option... what can we do to have our schools in Tucker annexed by the Gwinnett school system? Or just take all of Tucker. Dekalb will likely sell it to them since they need the money so badly to make up for decline in tax revenue. Anything but what we have now would be an improvement.
Cheryl Miller February 14, 2013 at 07:50 AM
Guy, I think you are helping make my point by mentioning Midvale and Livsey. Two great Tucker schools that will be closed according to the new master plan being followed by the school system.
Guy Midvale February 14, 2013 at 01:15 PM
Ms. Miller, Again I have to point your your factual errors. Neither Midvale nor Livsey is going to be closed in the next 5 years. Midvale wasn't even considered in the latest "reorganization" proposal. I think Livsey will be closed before the 2018-19 school year, but Midvale can not be closed. When Livsey closes many of those students will have to go to Midvale which will make it overcrowded. This is because Smokerise is going to be rebuilt to hold 600 students instead of the 900 students Dr. Atkinson wanted to put there. https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dekalb.k12.ga.us%2Fwww%2Fdocuments%2Fnews-and-info%2Fpress-releases%2Fpublic-hearings-for-phasing-out-of-instructional-facilities.pdf
Cheryl Miller February 16, 2013 at 03:32 AM
No errors to correct. I saw them on the decommissioned list as having zero students enrolled for the 2016-17 school year. They will likely go to the new megaschool that will replace Pleasantdale. I will find the link to the document and post it for you. Livsey has been through the "almost going to close" process twice now so they are already aware that it will happen eventually. I was surprised about Midvale, so maybe that was an error on the report, but it would make sense is Pleasantdale will hold 900 and currently has 600, doesn't it? Livsey are intended to be bused to Smoke Rise. That leaves Brockett, unfairly named as a Title I and also on a previous closure list but saved by the neighborhood parents who are now being forced out in one way or another. Smoke Rise parents went through the same thing and they even converted their school to a charter but that didn't help. It was written up in the AJC Get Schooled blog. And your other item about no cell towers in Tucker was not a correction. There was a cell tower planned for Brockett where I was an active and involved parent. I helped organize the effort to stop it. There was also one planned for Smoke Rise, which many people have told me is considered part of Tucker as many of our residents are in the attendance zone. Then, the same is true for Jolly, also on the list and very near the border of Tucker but technically in Clarkston.
Cheryl Miller February 16, 2013 at 03:37 AM
Smoke Rise also feeds to Tucker Middle and Tucker High. We just recently lost Idlewood to the Stone Mountain cluster against their will. So that is about 600 fewer students for the Tucker "cluster." They would have been replaced with students from Evansdale, which is actually located in Tucker, but they complained and were listened to so they will stay in the Lakeside family for now. So, you can see how the school system has an odd way of picking and choosing which schools will close or open and who goes where and it has little to do with the population estimates. I am guessing it is more to favor one area over another based on where those connected folks want to send the people with money or chase others out of. I think we are being dominated by the real estate market which is trying to rebound from the recession. How do you see it?
Cheryl Miller November 21, 2013 at 04:22 PM
An update to my earlier comment about having "lost" Idlewood to the Stone Mountain cluster against their will. I have been told that the plans to redistrct Idlewood did not actually go through in terms of attendance zone, however we did lose them in terms of their voice in the voting community for a school board member. The Idlewood Elemenary School precinct was changed at the last moment so that those voters would participate in a vote for the school board candidate in District 6, who ended up being Melvin Johnson. How does it makes sense to vote for an elected official in one district but send your children to another district? But, then again, how does it make sense that our elected school board officials are being told that they don't really represent us based on the district that voted them into office any longer and should only represent the entire school district once they are elected?

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