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Wanna escape Ct (north east)!!

USA
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Wanna escape Ct (north east)!!

Hi ,

I know its the same old question again but,

as a couple with a 3 year old kid, we are desperate to escape CT/NE after 6 years. Totally, clueless about Atlanta,apart from the warm weather fact, and some postive facts I read on this forum.Still its good to be in touch with a local for we need all the help that you can offer regarding :

1)Cluster communities with individual desi homes(we plan to buy a house soon).

2)Good schools

3)IT job scene.

How are Marietta ,Alpharetta and Decatur areas in regard to my areas of interest ?

Any info. would be cherished, and I need it so soon... Thanks a lot.

Atlanta, Georgia
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11. Re: Wanna escape Ct (north east)!!

You shouldn't need to be concerned about the schools in the Alpharetta/Roswell area -- pretty much any of them will be solid schools. "Great" or "best" s a pretty subjective thing; several of the high schools in Gwinnett County, where I live now, are among the highest-rated in the state, but I have no desire to send my kids to them -- they're huge (3500+ students at many of them), overly concerned with athletics, hyper-competitive (you better be a college prospect if you want to play a sport, because there's several kids trying out for every single spot on the roster -- same with other types of activities), and just a few years away from being overrun by the same types of social and demographic problems that have swamped some of the other schools closer in. Anyway, a school that's right for you and your kids may not be right for someone else. We're in the market for a new home right now, and the Centennial district is one of the areas we're considering.

You may or may not find a lot of cluster home development in those areas (land prices aren't yet at such a premium there), but you will find lots of newer subdivisions with new and recent (less than 10-15 yrs old) houses, with neighborhood swimming pools, tennis courts, neighborhood associations with social activities, etc. If you're at all interested in meeting people and having friends for your kids to play with, you won't have any trouble finding that in most newer Atlanta subdivisions.

A quick MLS search in the Chattahoochee High School district shows 151 current listings between $100,000 and $250,000, almost all of which were built after 1990 -- that doesn't include the Roswell, Centennial, Milton, or North Springs high school districts, all of which are in the Roswell/Alpharetta/Duluth area of north Fulton County. Chattahoochee is one of the newest high schools in the county; the Roswell, Centennial, and Milton districts are going to have more of a mix of older and newer neighborhoods (older, in this case meaning up to 30 years old, newer being 15 or fewer).

Regarding the AJC link, you may have to go to http://www.ajc.com and register (it's free) in order to access the page for the schools guide. The link that I posted before takes you directly to the search page for the schools guide.

USA
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12. Re: Wanna escape Ct (north east)!!

I have got really wonderful responses from everyone.....already feeling at home....have one more questions...

How is Gwinett county and suvanee in particular? I know this area's coming up really fast, but how are the schools.....i also want proximity to grocery stores, etc...

Atlanta, Georgia
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13. Re: Wanna escape Ct (north east)!!

Re: Gwinnett County schools

What I'm going to offer is, of course, only my opinion. I have different notions of what type of schools I want for my kids than many people; I'll try to make my biases obvious so that you can consider what I have to say in light of them.

Gwinnett County's school system is now the largest in the state of Georgia, with upwards of 135,000 students last year. This coming school year, there will be over 142,000. By 2010, the system is expected to have over 160,000 students. This is a result of the county's explosive population growth over the last quarter century -- in 1980, there were only 166,000 residents; the most recent estimates I've seen are that there are nearly 650,000 now. As a result of this growth rate, the Gwinnett County school system has had to run as fast as it can just to keep up. There are now 99 schools in the system, with more being built every year.

Unfortunately, they aren't being built fast enough, and the way schools are financed, they can't be. Most school construction in Gwinnett County is financed via a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). This tax, by state law, has to be renewed by a referendum every five years. Therefore, the farthest out the school district can plan construction projects is five years -- there's never any guarantee that the tax will be renewed (though it has been every time in recent years). The best way out of this dilemma is to build large schools -- it costs a lot less per student that way. In the case of some of the newer Gwinnett County high schools, that means upwards of 3500 students per school. Most of the middle schools have between 2000 and 3000 students. A lot of the elementaries have well over 1000 (my local elementary has approximately 1200).

While I perfectly understand why Gwinnett County has been forced to build huge schools instead of small ones, I don't necessarily want my 6 year old in a school with 1200 students. Perhaps even more importantly, I don't want my kids in a high school with 3500 to 5000. It's just too big. It's too easy to be just another face in the crowd, with nobody really knowing you, and in that type of environment the sort of social ties that reinforce positive behavior tend to break down. Also, certain things don't scale particularly well -- for instance, the number of students who can participate in activities such as sports, music, drama, etc. reaches a maximum fairly quickly, and everyone else is left out. Anecdotally, I've heard stories like the situation at Collins Hill High a few years ago, when 85 girls who'd played volleyball in middle school tried out for a dozen or so spots on the varsity team. In some places, you practically have to be a college prospect just to be good enough to participate. That's part of the reason why Gwinnett County teams dominate many sports, winning lots of state championships, but it's not necessarily the environment I want for my kids.

A big part of the reason for the explosive growth of Gwinnett County has been the extremely developer-friendly stance of the county commission. There are scarcely any grounds on which the county commissioners are comfortable denying rezoning requests or development permit applications. Any tract of land that becomes available is typically rezoned for new residential development, often multi-family. A vast increase in the number of apartment units in the western and central parts of the county has provided homes for many of the county's new residents. Despite the undisputed benefits of growth, the prevalence of rental vs. owner-occupied housing does have certain negative effects, among them higher crime rates and decreased sense of investment in and attachment to the community. This has its effects in the schools as well -- large numbers of students who are there one day and gone the next, overcrowding, students whose command of the skills and knowledge expected at a given level is below par.

In the Meadowcreek cluster, where we currently live, there are several schools that have barely met the minimum standards for improvement in the No Child Left Behind act the last couple of years, and a couple that have actually failed to do so. The high school and middle school have both made the state's list of persistently violent schools, based on number of reported incidents of violence on campus.

The situation is better, for now, in the schools farther to the north and east in the county; many of them consistently rank among the better schools in the state academically. I have to believe, however, that as development continues to expand in those areas, the same problems that plague our local district will make their way into the outlying areas as well -- it hasn't been that long ago that our area was dominated by moderately well-to-do single-family housing.

I'd love to be able to stay in Gwinnett where we live currently, but as things stand I'm just not comfortable sending my kids to our local elementary, and the middle and high schools would be out of the question, barring a dramatic turn for the better in school quality and an equally dramatic reduction in school size. Our house is on the market, and we're looking for something in DeKalb County or the East Roswell area of Fulton. While the taxes are higher and some Fulton County schools aren't dramatically smaller than those in Gwinnett, the pace is growth is slower, and those areas are older and more established than equivalent areas of Gwinnett, and the schools are as good or better. Most of the areas that can be developed have been, and the local governments are quite as likely as Gwinnett's to approve every development project that's proposed.

All that being said, there are still tons of people flocking to the Collins Hill (Suwanee), Duluth, Brookwood, Parkview, and other school districts in the more newly developed areas of Gwinnett, and lots of people love living there. I really don't want to be any farther away from downtown than I already am, and I expect the problems I'd be moving away from to follow me out there, but obviously lots of people disagree.

Decatur, Ga
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14. Re: Wanna escape Ct (north east)!!

The Decatur area is very centrally located, (I've been transferred all over Atlanta from Kennesaw to Lawrenceville to Union City/ Jonesboro and except for the 400 area have never had more than a 45 minute commute. Lakeside HS is traditionally on of the better ones in the area. I don't know if you would consider this a bonus or not, but the largest concentration of people from the Indian subcontinent is in the North Decatur area. Lots of new housing is going into established neighborhoods so you can have the new house within a stable neigborhood. That being said, you will probably have higher taxes than outlying areas, but you can be at the downtown museums, shop at Lenox, be at a Braves or Falcons game in minutes.

USA
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15. Re: Wanna escape Ct (north east)!!

My opinion about Gwinett is a bit altered....well I dont mind, after all good schooling has to be a major criteria, kids are important and so is there overall development.

I have heard that taxes are low in the Forsyth county and there' slot of development in Cumming area, but the schools are Not the blue ribbon.......

Being failry new to the USA schooling system(as right from my school to post graduation has been in India), Iam notsure what Blue ribbon stands for.

Any insight is again welcome.

Alos I agree Decatur is good but cna be a little too crowded.

Georgia
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16. Re: Wanna escape Ct (north east)!!

I moved from CT to Marietta 5 years ago.

Walton High and the Walton school district are great, but you'll be paying more than you think for a house. It'll take at least $300k for a decent house in a decent neighborhood. And there are some subdivisions where the prices go for the $550-$750k range. I'm not familiar with the schools in the boonies, but the house prices are a lot less. But then if you have to get to downtown Atlanta, fugetaboutit!! It might take an hour and a half, each way.

USA
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17. Re: Wanna escape Ct (north east)!!

How did you like the change.....from CT to Marietta (Atlanta )?

You moved 5 years ago, I am sure things have changed for the better now. Right ?

Georgia
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18. Re: Wanna escape Ct (north east)!!

Hello, someplace.

Yes, I like the change. Going from central CT in the Wallingford/Meriden/Middletown area, we really felt like we're in civilization now. Convenient to a lot of different things, like stores, specialty places, restaurants, etc. that you can't get in Connecticut except maybe Greenwich, or lliving in NYC. I go downtown occassionally, and it's about an hour, depending on when you leave in the morning. We live in Marietta, suburb outside Atlanta, and I work on the outskirts of the city which is about a 20-35 minute commute depending on the traffic. Where you work in my opinion should have a big influence on where you live. I've seen people say that they won't spend more than $250k on a house and then have to live 30-40 miles from where they work. And that extra 10 miles may take another half hour to get to work, and home as well. Get a house with an efficient a/c system because you'll need it. The BIGGEST surprise moving here was that house prices weren't as low as what the literature/webisites indicate. Looking around at houses in good neighborhoods, realtively close to work, with good schools may even cost MORE than where you are in CT; I think you said Waterbury. The only thing I know about IT jobs is that General Electric is a large employer of IT and engineers at several locations in the Atlanta area. One GE place is less than 5 miles from where I live, but about 15 minutes in morning traffic. Good luck.

Bigdawg