Members of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods during its March 14 meeting listened to a presentation by a group seeking to create a K-12 charter school in North Atlanta.

Matthew Kirby is chairman of the group behind the idea. The school would be called Atlanta Classical Academy, but when it was first conceived it was called Northside Classical Academy.

In a blog posting about the switch, Kirby wrote that, “’Atlanta Classical’ is more aligned with our objective to serve Atlanta families with a high quality K-12 academy in a smaller-school environment.”

Kirby said the proposed charter school would feature a “classical model” of education.

“It’s basically a liberal arts approach that is content driven,” Kirby said. “It is content rich. Our students at all times will be studying literature, history, math and science and a foreign language.”

Kirby told the BCN that the parents backing the school want to give the community more options. Charter schools have more autonomy than traditional public schools, usually operating under their own governing board. In exchange, the schools are held to higher academic standards.

Kirby said the local governing structure would be more responsive to students’ and parents’ needs.

“What’s unique about it, is it’s a major change in governance structure,” Kirby said. “Right now we have a board of education. We have nine folks on that board. They’ve got a $600 million budget. It is extraordinarily difficult for a board to be responsive to the needs of the community.”

Discussion about the school began in 2011 but picked up new momentum in 2012 with the statewide approval of an amendment to Georgia’s constitution. In November, voters approved an amendment that allows the state to approve charter schools, an amendment opposed by the Atlanta Board of Education. Kirby said he plans to present a petition, which as of March 11 had about 400 signatures, to Atlanta Public Schools in April.

The enrollment will be small, around 700 students. If the school is approved by the Atlanta Board of Education and the state, it could open in fall of 2014 and serve Kindergarten through 10th grade initially.

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of