DeKalb County parents, reportedly worried about the possibility of court-ordered busing, have turned to area private schools as safe educational havens for their children. And some of the more worried have considered moving out of the county.
“To some degree we do understand parents are looking to put their children in private schools,” says Andrew J. Olsen, director of communications for the DeKalb County school system. “There’s always the possibility of forced busing, which we don’t anticipate. We don’t see any indication of a mass exodus from the schools yet.”
Dorris Winecoff, a Realtor with Buckhead Brokers, has been selling homes in DeKalb County since 1964. She says that the community – black and white – is rallying behind the schools. In April, the DeKalb Board of Realtors will visit all the schools in the county so the Realtors can better sell the school system to prospective customers, she says.
Winecoff admits the signs she has gotten have been contradictory. “I have had two or three people looking to move out of the county because of the possibility of busing,” she says. “And, I’ve heard that more are doing that. But I have not listed a house for anyone who is moving because of the schools. And, I’ve had people buy houses because they want to be in the DeKalb County school district.”
Westminster Schools, one of the more prestigious private schools in Atlanta, refused to comment on whether applications were up this year.
However, Brother Paul, headmaster of DeKalb County’s Marist School, says that applications are indeed up this year.
“For the past several years we have averaged about 600 applications for 200 slots,” he says. “This year, we received between 700 and 750. We recently held an open house and it was one of the largest we’ve ever had. When the court ruling about possible busing came down back in September or October, we were absolutely deluged with inquiries.”
Brother Paul says the school is going over the applications and will start the interviewing process.
“The word around town is that applications at the private schools are up because of the court situation,” he says. “Now we’ll be going through the process to find out which applicants are applying because they want the kind of Catholic education we offer or whether it is for other reasons.”