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Alpharetta Postpones Hearing on $10 Million Bond Issue for Amana Academy

The city had scheduled a hearing at 6 p.m. today, Dec. 3, on the public charter school's plans, but cancelled today's hearing to ensure the public has more notification about it.

The Amana Academy $10 million bond issue hearing originally scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. today, Dec. 3 has been postponed, the city of Alpharetta announced this afternoon.

"This action is being taken by the City of Alpharetta to ensure enhanced notification to the public as to the time and place at which the hearing will occur.  A revised hearing schedule has not been determined at this time," said the notice issued by Assistant City Administrator James Drinkard.

The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 requires a public hearing as a pre-condition for the exclusion from gross income for federal income tax purposes of interest on all qualified private activity bonds, according to the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board. TEFRA requires, among other things, that the issue be approved either by an elected official or body of elected officials of the applicable governmental entity after a public hearing (a “TEFRA hearing”) following reasonable public notice, or by voter referendum.

The project being financed is located at 285 South Main St., Alpharetta. The project will be owned by the Borrower and will be operated by the Borrower as a K-8 charter school within the Fulton County Georgia school system. The facilities being financed are located within the corporate limits of Alpharetta.

Amana Academy plans to buy the shopping center building in which its school already is located, and expand beyond the old grocery store site that has housed the public charter school and King's Ridge Christian School before it built its own school.

The city announced at a recent meeting that it would have to move its Community Development Department from within the center on South Main Street because it received notice of Amana Academy's plans.

Amana Academy's attempt to get a property on Marconi Drive rezoned for use as a school was rejected by the city after stiff community opposition.

Elizabeth Hooper was one of several local residents who contacted the city about the hearing. She sent a letter asking the city expressing concern about the ity Council making any endorsement of the school, and complained about the short notice of the hearing.

"I am writing to express my concern over any endorsement from City Council regarding the long term viability of Amana Academy or the city's representation of community support for this charter school. I am also concerned about the very short notice given regarding the TEFRA hearing on December 3rd," Hooper wrote in her letter.

"If we have learned any lesson about start-up charter schools over the past year, it is that a school board's or the state's willingness to renew charter petition's are never guaranteed," she said.

Margie Burr December 03, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Contrary to Ms. Hooper's statement, this is not a start up charter school. It is in its 8th year and has already had its charter renewed once. The shopping center in question has many vacant stores at this time and has since we have been there. This would be a great use for this location, to keep it from becoming yet another vacant strip mall which have become a blight on the North Fulton landscape.
Kay December 04, 2012 at 01:44 PM
I am in complete agreement with Ms. Burr. Amana Academy is not a start-up and it is an insult to suggest such a thing. Amana Academy has proven its strength in leadership to the children, immediate community, surrounding businesses and the City of Alpharetta. I look forward to the public hearing and I personally will address any concerns that uninformed and prejudicial and biased residents have to say.
Ahmad Alam Khan December 04, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Amana Academy is not a start up school. Its history has been written with awards and recognition. http://amanaacademy.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=89027&type=d&termREC_ID=&pREC_ID=168477&hideMenu=0
Tom Richards December 04, 2012 at 06:44 PM
I also want to express to Ms Hooper that this is not a startup school as she claims. This is a fully functioning and almost at capacity charter school. As a matter of fact it was awarded Charter School of the Year recently by The Coca Cola Corporation. It disgusts me to see narrow minded folks who fought this school when it was going to use an EMPTY building , a building that you could not have even seen, off of Windward. So not in my backyard queen , now will not allow it in someone else's backyard! Another fact Ms Hooper is that this is not a bond backed by the city. So no burden on your Starbucks account. There is no " city support " they are just obligated by law to announce the hearing. Ignorance is not the way to go through life.
Elizabeth Hooper December 04, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Honestly folks, please do your homework before accusing me of insulting you. The term "start-up charter" is a technical term defined by your state DOE. Here is the definition. "In Georgia, there are two types of charter schools: start-up charter schools and conversion charter schools. A start-up charter school is a charter school that did not exist prior to becoming a charter school." http://bit.ly/ViGPvH A conversion charter school pre-existed as a traditional public school. Amana Academy, is, and always will be, defined as a "start-up charter" school - not according to me but according to your state deptartment of education. Apology accepted.
Educator December 04, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Please educate yourselves on the terminology of charter schools. Amana is indeed a Start Up Charter School- ask the administration, they will agree. This is the term for a charter school that is started up by a private entity, versus a conversion charter school which begins it's conception as a public school and then converts to a charter agreement. When Amana celebrates it's 100th anniversary, it will still be a 'start up' charter school.
AMD December 04, 2012 at 10:11 PM
It is so disheartening that this blatant discrimination against such a wonderful school is continuing to go on, especially since it stills seems to be a case where people are basing their opinions on misinformation and a prejudice against things they do not have a clear knowledge of. If the school were so awful, why does it continue to grow and prosper and outperform most other traditional schools in its surrounding area? Charter schools provide options for parents to give their kids what they feel is the best opportunity to meet their child's educational goals and experience, and limiting those opportunity by trying to limit the growth of the charter school movement is unproductive. When the Master Plan for the City of Alpharetta (not the city of Windward) is to promote the opportunity for quality education to be provided to all its citizens based on the demographic information they obtained when the plan was drafted showing that the growth of the city stemming from adults of childbearing years, voting against the school would prove to invalidate this.
AMD December 04, 2012 at 10:11 PM
In addition, it is NOT the responsibility of the City Council of Alpharetta to determine the viability of the school, it is up to FCS to make this determination and they have done so based on fact. In the wake of other current charter school renewal issues, stricter guidelines have been put in place and met on the part of Amana Academy in order for the school to secure the bond needed to renovate the school to accommodate its growth. It is unjust to lump the school in with other charter schools as it is like comparing apples to oranges. We all pay taxes and we all want public funds to be utilized responsibly. Supporting each other for the sake of community growth, especially when it is meant to better the young minds of the next generation through providing a solid education, is a responsible means of utilizing public funding. Please leave well enough alone
Kay December 04, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Ms. Hooper, appreciate your Webster Dictionary moment, however, unless a person is well-versed in Georgia law this article is showing Amana Academy as a "new" school. It would have been much clearer, if you had been quoted with the proper definition of "start-up." No matter how you define Amana Academy it is leagues above most public schools and rivals a few private schools. We are blessed to have some school choice in North Fulton county. Amana Academy is a wonderful school with dedicated staff. I would appreciate the City of Alpharetta recognizing the best of Amana Academy because there is no worst side. I am not completely sure of the delay in the public meeting time (it appeared to be well publicized), but I look forward the approval of the bond and more children being educated in excellence as Amana Academy has done for years and years to come.
AMD December 04, 2012 at 10:17 PM
While your definitions are correct, you fail to recognize the viability of the school for the past 8 years and the financial responsibility it has shown. This is where there is cause for concern. In addition, you also do not demonstrate a full working knowledge of how the approval process works or what the City is voting on exactly. This is why it make you seem to personally attack the school specifically and should display a more solid, factual argument before doing so...
Awesome Alpharetta December 05, 2012 at 12:47 AM
@Kay - "uninformed and prejudicial and biased residents have to say"...a little early for name calling, isn't it?
Tom Richards December 05, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Ok so you are using the actual definition of start up. The problem still remains , what is your hang up with this school? Nice real estate agent picture .
Kay December 05, 2012 at 10:45 PM
No, I am not name calling. I have learned to understand that as much as I love North Fulton, some residents are in fear of things that they have no reason to be afraid of. I am concerned for this school to being linked to the unfortunate FSA or the association of negative pressure due to its Arabic lineage.
Jim Beam December 06, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Mrs. Hooper is just being petulant that her hatred of charter schools and the children they educate got curb-stomped a month ago by 2 million GA voters. Thanks to Amendment 1's passage, Amana Academy parents will have a State Charter Commission to appeal any short-sighted decisions to close what is, by all accounts, a successful school. Have some cheese with your whine, Mrs. Hooper. And get out of the way of these parents and the education of their children. PS: Thanks for all the YES votes your archaic, inane, status-quo-loving articles generated!!
Louise Weldon December 07, 2012 at 09:54 AM
The city council knows that issuance of bonds to investors is time sensitive. By siding with the anti-charter school crusaders AGAIN and delaying the hearing indefinitely, the city council is sending a clear message, “We don’t want charter schools in Alpharetta.” Louise Weldon
Louise weldon December 10, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Louise Weldon When is the date of the the city council meeting that will have the hearing regarding the bond issue for Amana?
Kay December 11, 2012 at 03:28 PM
I have no clue. I do not it has been scheduled as of yet.
Alpharetta residents January 09, 2013 at 02:06 AM
Amana academy needs to be shut down. Il be sure to be at this meeting. The administration staff treat there employees horrible and these parents don't have a clue on what's going on in the inside. Sorry for the kids involved
Dom April 20, 2013 at 03:21 PM
I totally agree, horrible experience at that school. Worst decision we made

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