Archive for January 14, 2013
Update 1/15/13, 9:50am: The public can now comment on the proposed 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 calendars here:
Thank you for following our live blog of the January Board of Education Meeting for Atlanta Public Schools.
View today’s agenda here: http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/Public
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Chuck Burbridge, Chief Financial Officer will bring the first presentation.
Financial Update, Chuck Brubridge, CFO
Download the Presentation: FY 2013 Financial Update Jan 14 Board Meeting (PDF)
Burbridge says that an e-rate update will be available in February. The worst news we’ve received since December is a 2.8M negative impact due to ruling against the district regarding charter schools. We continue to look at payroll information. Expect payroll review to have positive impact in February. Working with IT to get a mapping between multiple systems regarding payroll.
ERate reimbursement status: When we started the year we were talking about 7-10M in reimbursements. The overall revenue picture has not changed much.
End of Presentation
Chief Sands will now give a presentation from the Department of Safety & Security
Safety & Security Presentation, Chief M. Sands
Download the Presentation: Security Department Board Presentation 1-14-13 final without notes
Today’s presentation is an overview of conversations that began last year around climate, culture and safety. APS implemented a new safety program over a year ago, beginning with the Douglass cluster.
Our response tiered across 4 levels: Public Safety, technical Security, Cooperative Partnerships & Emergency Management
55 Atlanta Police Officers assigned to middle & high schools.
233 Atlanta Police Officers on roster to fill positions.
70 percent of our safety personnel report to APD. This structure weakens our ability to proactively address crime issues on campus. When we began our discussions a year ago, we learned that crimes that occur on school property impede learning in one way or another. Many of the incidents originate from bullying or other aggressive behaviors. 46% are crimes against property. The 2011 data was one of the factors that supported searching for an alternative service delivery model. A cross functional work team was developed. As a part of that work, it included hosting focus meetings last January, 2012 in each quadrant of the city. These meetings gave an opportunity for parents to give feedback. This year’s focus, taking place this week, are continuing to gather feedback.
Stakeholders have told us they want a proactive not reactive response by officers. The Douglass cluster was chosen to test the school resource model because Douglass led the district with 106 crimes against persons and 26 crimes against property. 22 officers were assigned in this feeder pattern with 6 at Douglass. This year 7 School Resource Officers with 40 hours of school based training. Already we are recognizing a slight decrease against crimes against people. There is an increase against property.
We anticipate ending the school year with a decrease in both areas.
APS is moving towards the Triad School Resource Officer Model. Counselor/Social Worker-Law Enforcement Officer-Teacher.
The Triad Model consists of full time employees that are armed law enforcement personnel assigned to middle and high schools who are trained in school specific topics. They are taught counseling and resource skills.
The School Resource Officer (SRO) program gives consistency and improved services with focused training that is scalable, leading to safe schools.
End of Presentation.
Davis: What we need is a more full time commitment. With the cluster framework we want to have officers who are there full time and learn all of the kids in the cluster as they move from elementary to middle to high school. The officers can do planning among themselves, identify sensitive relationships and head these issues off much earlier. There is a lot more prevention in this plan than in the past. The question is where do we get full time officers and there we need to be careful as the city is trying to put more officers on the street and we want to be more respectful of that. I don’t want anyone, however, to be surprised about the direction that we are going.
Muhammad: Are we saying we would be limiting or replacing officers?
Sands: We would phase out the school detective unit while maintaining our relationship with APD for additional support.
Muhammad: So we are going to phase out the school detective unit made up of APD officers?
Muhammad: And we believe that would work better for us?
Sands: We are exploring 100% Atlanta Public Schools police officers across all areas of safety and security.
Muhammad: Have we looked at how that would impact our relationship with APD when it comes to 911 calls and emergencies?
Sands: Yes, working together, collaboratively is going to work for the entire city.
Muhammad: At some point will we get an outline and you share what this will look like?
Sands: Yes, we are working with leadership on that presentation.
Muhammad: Are we looking at intervention programs? Not just locking them up? Mediation?
Sands: Absolutely, we would have a programmatic focus.
Davis: Like she mentioned earlier we would make sure officers had a cadre of appropriate responses as opposed to “you broke a law, lets lock you up.” Under the present structure we cannot train 233 part time officers who can only work 20 hours a week. Our schools are open more than 20 hours a week. We want trained officers and continuity in our buildings and we want them to have a better understanding of chain of command in regards to safety and security. The APD officers while working with us, do not work for us and every once in a while we learn that.
H-Kinnane: When you say going to 100% I hope you don’t mean going directly to 100% because we lose a lot of… (talks about officers with years worth of internal knowledge about the district). It seems like we could have a need for both.
Davis: We will have some need for part-time officers.
Butler-Burks: In the past, even under better financial circumstances, the start up was so expensive that as a result of that we started building that relationship with APD. I think this information is good but I don’t want to get so far down the line and then come back and say we can’t afford to do it. It was extremely expensive to start up a police department even though we are one of the few districts without one. You’re talking about fleet…there is a lot that goes into putting on human bodies. That’s probably what makes me the most nervous of all. Have we looked at the cost and what that means?
Sands: We have looked at numbers and we will pull it all together and have it available for you. We have a lot of what we need already when it comes to fleet. Training will not be our biggest cost. Uniforms and numbers will be our biggest costs. What we’ve learned from our pilot is that when you have officers who are fully engaged, you don’t need big numbers. Back then we had 6 and 7 officers in schools. With this pilot (at Douglass) we actually cut the number of officers and now we think we can cut it by one more person.
Meister: Have you looked at practices in other districts?
Sands: Yes, metro & statewide and also with Council of Great City Schools. DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett, Fulton, Cherokee all have their own agencies.
Meister: Have they had them for a substantial amount of time?
Sands: Yes, 12 years for the least amount of time. These programs have been growing since the 90′s. In all of the programs where I have read the research on the programs they all show positive feedback and results. There is limited data showing a decrease in violence, but there are a lot variables that play into that.
Meister: The level of training, how would that compare?
Sands: We would only recruit experienced officers. We would work to ensure that first of all we recruit the best, look at lessons learned from other districts and training. Three years ago, we actually participated with Atlanta in an active shooter training. These are all realities that we can make happen. I don’t see training being a showstopper.
Muhammad: You talk about recruiting the best. Will these officers be post certified?
Sands: Yes, all will be post certified.
Muhammad: Even if they are retired?
Muhammad: Do we actually now have a police department?
Sands: Yes, the Atlanta Public Schools Police Department
Muhammad: These SRO’s will have arrest authority?
Sands: That is correct.
Davis says that a full report will be ready for the board in 2-3 months. McDaniel acknowledges that this presentation was put on the agenda today because of its timeliness.
HKinnane: We are getting a lot of questions about the proposed bell schedules. Will we discuss?
Davis: The bell schedule and the calendar are not the same.
Butler Burks: I think we should look at how we can attract the best ones we currently have. (Cites pension and service time issues).
Bell schedule question arises again. Steve Smith says he will get the information requested to BOE today.
HKinnane: I can tell you what was said…
McDaniel: I put the bell schedule on the agenda…
HKinnane: It was given as proposed and because it was given at these meetings people wanted to respond.
McDaniel says at the appropriate time, BOE can ask questions.
Bell schedule added to agenda.
McDaniel: Tonight we were asked provide a list of names we thought would be good on a committee for Supt. search. (asks for names)
HKinnane: I thought we were going to have a discussion about entities and making sure we have a representative group.
McDaniel says that the names were asked for as a starting point for discussion.
HKinanne: The names themselves won’t…we won’t know some of the names…
Meister: One of the things I had asked in an email last week was that its extremely difficult to pinpoint people when you don’t know their responsibilities and I believe you were going to get back to us about that request.
McDaniel: My email back to you was that we would discuss today. I believe we need to get approval of names and organizations. We discussed this last week and no one brought this up.
Meister: I brought that up.
McDaniel: No you brought up what they would be tasked with.
Meister: I believe I did….
YJohnson: Maybe we should do this now. Is it just an adhoc? What information will they give to us?
McDaniel: We will have that conversation at the appropriate time on the agenda. What I was trying to do was an administrative task. Public Comments?
Dr. Grant says that public comment will now begin. Each individual has 3 minutes.
Atlanta Prep Academy Board Member: I am asking you to vote to renew APA Charter. Over time the Board has experienced tremendous growth. Our building limits us from reaching our student count under our current charter. Now that we are working with a positive cash flow, we have plans to move more funds into teacher development and salary. It has always been the policy of APS to review the charter in it’s 5th year. We are only in our 4th year. We feel that it is unfair to single us out.
Atlanta Prep Academy Board Member: For over 20 years I’ve worked for large insurance companies and banks as well as boards of nonprofits. Today I would like this board to focus on our math curriculum, the source of concern for APS’ charter department. We have switched to Saxon math program and educated our teachers to deliver that program and we expect good results. We take our students as they come. Looking at CRCT tells you one thing, but when you look at what we’ve done with these students over 3 years when we’ve had them, that’s a different story.
Atlanta Prep Academy Supporter: With respect to change, the math and reading scores can be improved. We have worked to bring about significant change with parent involvement as well as improving the academics of the school.
Founder & Director of Afterschool Program for Atlanta Prep: We have 5 great teachers in our program teaching critical thinking, voice lessons, guitar, theater and music production. We provide them with field trips, recitals, guest speakers.
CT Vivian: When Atlanta Prep came in, we were rejoicing for another place to train and better our children. We are all joined together as a part of the community to make sure this school stays. We need that extra year to prove to you. We have a number of children that come to the school each weekend. Their parents bring them and its important to notice that their mothers largely bring them. So many of the children in the area do not have their father in the home and they need men to relate to. We have brought in 12-15 men each weekend and they relate to these young men. We have various subjects for each weekend and they sit and talk and they start bringing up what they have always wanted to talk about but can’t because of so few men in their neighborhood. We have taught them that prepared boys make better men. Each Saturday men we ask them to speak to this and they do. Because of the Academy, we are able to have special programs.
Priscilla Borders: We just found out at Hope-Hill that our principal will not be renewed. My son is a 2nd grader and in the fall he will be operating with his 3rd principal. Lack of consistency hinders our ability to move forward. Parents are coming to me and asking questions that I can’t answer. I don’t know why at this juncture we do not have a permanent principal and we want to be informed.
Billy Hungeling: Next year we will have our 3rd principal. As a community member looking to send my 2 children to Hope-Hill is not something I want to see. You can’t build a school with community involvement if you all don’t put in a principal that will be there permanently. The neighbors would like to start some initiatives.
Centennial Elementary Parent: I’m here to address you about the calendar. Our kids have proven success in a year round school. The system has been proven. We as a community don’t understand how we were presented with three calendars with no data to show the benefits. Boyd backs us as well and they are number 1 one in the district. Our most important thing is the education of our kids. We serve shelters in the area, we had kids to come in 2 weeks ago, we feel they would be at a disadvantage.
End of public comment.
5 minute break.
The board has returned.
THE SUPERINTENDENT REPORTS:
On September 28, 2012, Atlanta Public Schools received a petition from Atlanta Preparatory Academy (APA) to renew the school’s charter for a second five-year term. The current five-year term expires on June 30, 2013.
A staff committee and external reviewers have thoroughly reviewed this petition. The applicant has not met the minimum requirements for a successful renewal petition as contained in board policy IBB, in the Charter Schools Act of 1998 (O.C.G.A. §20-2-2060 through §20-2-2071), and outlined in State Board of Education Rule 160-4-9-.04 Charter Schools and Guidance both effective August 3, 2006.
For renewal petitions, the state rule (160-4-9-.04 Charter Schools) requires the local board to consider 1) how the charter school succeeded in meeting AYP, 2) how the charter school succeeded in meeting the performance-based objectives stated in the charter, 3) how the charter school succeeded in achieving financial stability, and 4) how the charter school succeeded in achieving organizational stability. APA has exhibited significant deficiencies in each of these areas:
1) APA failed to meet AYP in 2011, the final year of Georgia’s participation in NCLB criteria.
2) Atlanta Preparatory Academy ranks in the bottom 20% of schools statewide, across all grades, in each tested subject (Reading, ELA, Math, Science and Social Studies). The school ranks in the bottom 50% of APS schools, across all subjects, in each grade served (Reading, ELA, Math, Science and Social Studies). Of the 30 academic performance goals established by the school, which required a 2% increase in student performance, only 4 were met.
3) Current enrollment (467) is 45% lower than originally projected in the school’s charter application (842). The financial statements of the school reflect a positive cash flow and Atlanta Preparatory meets the standard for the number of days cash on hand, however, there is concern regarding outstanding debt to Mosaica Education, Inc, of $801,384, of which $568,000 is due June 30, 2013. Although the school’s education management company, Mosaica Education, which holds the note, has agreed to restructure payments to eliminate the balloon payment, such a large outstanding debt held by a contracted service provider presents an untenable financial situation.
4) Atlanta Preparatory Academy opened a year late and the school has argued that they should be given an additional year to generate positive results. Although the school’s renewal application includes an aggressive turnaround plan and several talented individuals serve on the board, the petition review committee does not believe that the school will be successful, given past performance and the lack of observed organizational stability observed on the board over time.
Given Atlanta Public Schools’ desire to increase quality education experiences for children and given the failure of Atlanta Preparatory Academy to successfully meet the majority of the performance based goals set in its charter, the Superintendent recommends that the board deny Atlanta Preparatory Academy’s petition to renew its charter.
Board has no questions at this time on this item
Item 2.02 (First Read)
THE SUPERINTENDENT REPORTS:
The calendar development process for 2013-14 and 2014-15 included a community-wide survey with approximately 5,900 respondents as well as analysis of student attendance data. As a result of the survey responses, the proposed calendars are consolidated calendars with August start dates. The proposed calendars have been reviewed by a diverse committee representing parents, employees and communities across the city. Feedback from this committee has been incorporated into the proposal. The proposed calendars cover the next two school years to provide advanced planning time for APS employees and families. Frequently asked questions regarding the school calendars are also attached for informational purposes.
Changes from past calendars include the consolidation of all schools to a single calendar as well as changes to the scheduling of some staff work days. For 2013-14 and 2014-15, the superintendent’s proposal provides flexibility to principals and supervisors in the scheduling of one (1) teacher work day and in the scheduling of 200-day and 220-day staff members (e.g. counselors, social workers, assistant principals) outside of the teacher work year. This will allow schools to tailor their staff schedules to best meet the needs of their students and parents.
The 2013-14 calendar also includes four (4) options for work calendar reduction days for all employees.
The board should accept the 2013-14 and 2014-15 calendars for first reading.
Comment on the proposed new calendars here: http://www.atlanta.k12.ga.us/Page/34392
On Item 2.03, Gains and Losses Davis notes that There will be no interruptions or disruptions to schools during the 2012-2013 school year.
On Item 3.02 Authorization to Enter into and Execute a Contract to Provide a Facilities Master Plan Needs Assessment Alvah Hardy explains to BOE member Kinnane that this is a ground up start on the facilities master plan.
On Item 3.03 Authorization to Enter into and Execute a Contract to Provide a Virtual Desktop Computing Solution Davis explains that we are creating a base technology framework for every school and then and only then will we use Title I funds to support that base framework.
Item 3.05 Authorization to Purchase Furniture from the State of Georgia, Alvah Hardy explains to BOE member Muhammad that this furniture is used in schools, specifically those receiving renovations.
End of consent agenda by superintendent. Moving item 2.01, 2.02 & 2.03 into discussion. Consent agenda approved.
Discussion & Action:
2.01- Authorization to Deny Atlanta Preparatory Academic, Inc. Renewal Petition
Gail Burnett (APS Charter School Data Specialist) discusses renewal and specifics of data comparing M. Agnes Jones and Bethune to APA.
Burnett: The data APA put together is wanting in a number of ways. Actual 2012 results for APA:
-1 out 2 students were not passing a particular CRCT.
-6th grade social studies: 3 out of 4 students failed the assessment.
Burnett: Growth data for APA is severely lacking. Based on the results, it would take APA 10 years to get to a place where they are functioning on an average state level for most of these assessments.
H-Kinnane: Any progress between 2011 and 2012?
Burnett: Depending on the grade level and subject, you may find there is some improvement, but the improvements seem to be very small. The growth data gives you a more accurate picture of what is happening in the school. When you look at that data across the state the school doesn’t even come close to 50th percentile in most subjects.
English: It seems like the district has very different view of APA financial situation than APA does.
Allen Mueller, Exec. Director of Innovation, APS : According to their audit they do owe a debt of over $800,000. There are other things that are troubling about the financial situation. Somewhere around 40 percent of their revenue was spent on instruction, which is extremely low.
Amos: How did we get to this 4 year, 5 year place?
Mueller: About a year after the board at the time approved the original charter APA said they weren’t able to get funding for their building site, so they amended their charter to open a year late.
Amos: When we changed the start date, we didn’t begin a new 5 year contract?
Mueller: Correct. It’s the same contract, with the same ending date. No changes.
Muhammad: Could there have been some miscommunication? Maybe they thought they were entitled to another year.
Mueller: I can’t speak to what they ascertained. All I can tell you is that the contract we signed to amend the charter states that no other parts of the contract changed, except for the start date.
Muhammed: So this is the year that the charter would end?
Mueller: Yes, that’s correct.
English: Are there traditional schools in APS that are performing lower than APA?
Mueller: Yes, there are.
English: We’re going to close one school because of low academic performance, but yet leave others open. Help me understand that.
H-Kinnane: The only way we can hold charter schools accountable is when they come up for renewal. It is a very painful thing to close a school. I understand that, but as a charter you have an agreement to meet certain performance goals.
Mueller: The charter schools get a waiver–they get flexibility, which is a different playing field than traditional schools have. It is kind of like comparing apples to oranges.
Muhammad: I’d like to ask Mr. Amos, since APA is in his district, what kind of feedback have you been getting?
Amos: It has been across the board. What I see here is we have had APA board reps come forward and admit their faults, and they are willing to change that moving forward and do something different. I do see an organization that sees some hope, some change, and they have put themselves on a one year deadline to make that change. I am going to put forward a motion that we give them that year.
Amos puts a motion on the table to grant APA the one year. There was no second. The motion dies.
E. Johnson: A contract is a contract. We have to look at the best interest of the students.
E. Johnson puts a motion on the table to deny the one year renewal of the charter. Y. Johnson seconds this motion.
Muhammad: I am concerned about the ability to move the school to where it needs to be and to be turned down by the state. I think the school needs as much time as they can get so they can prepare their students for transition if needed.
Motion to deny APA renewal carries 8-1.
2.02- Authorization to adopt the 2013-14 and 2014-15 School Calendars (First Reading)
Meister: I think we should defer this first read for next month so we can participate in the community meetings. I think our constituents would feel more involved with that.
Davis: I think that is feasible, but we are being subjected to criticism already for being late for those who want to plan around the new calendar. We are feeling the pressure of being late. My understanding is that, in previous years, you have approved it at this meeting. There are a lot of reasons why later can be problematic from a planning perspective.
H-Kinnane: We need to hear from the school community.
Davis: We will listen. We wil come back and highlight what the concerns are and whether we agree or disagree.
E. Johnson: It looks like to me if we do the first read now that won’t stop any community input. I am puzzled why we want to delay the first read. It isn’t like we are doing the final.
English: If we move the first read to Feb., it can almost be a truncated time period. Logistically I don’t know if that would work.
McDaniel: Is this calendar a compromise between traditional and year round or is this a different approach altogether?
Rebecca Kaye, APS: We looked at if there was one calendar that would work for everyone, what would that calendar look like. We ended up with a hybrid of the best of the different calendar options we have before us. This calendar has the same number of instructional days and vacation days as we normally do, it is just structured differently.We expect to see that there will be more uniformity across the district. The proposed recommendation is much more similar to the traditional calendar we have had in the past.
Butler Burks: I am struggling with Summer learning gaps. My motion is that we ask the staff to move forward with the community input as outlined and have the first read on Feb. 4. The final read would be in March.
H-Kinnane: In past years what has been the time frame?
Kaye: The board approved the calendar for 2011-12 and 2012-13 in January of 2011.
The motion carries. The first read will take place on Feb. 4 and the final read will occur in March.
2.03- Personnel Gains, Losses, Promotion, Appointments, Creation, Reclassifications and Abolishments
Butler Burks questions the position title change from Community Outreach Specialist to Family Engagement Specialist. It was noted that only the title would change, not the job description.
Davis: I think we need to address whether there is a community outreach and engagement function outside of this and who is doing that.
Butler Burks: It was originally described to us that these people would be hired in the clusters doing community engagement work. It was brought to us to approve the position in that way. It has been communicated to the public in that way, and now we’re changing it. What are we going to do to communicate that change to the public? You don’t have to answer the question today.
Butler Burks: In terms of the principal selection process, was this process followed correctly?
Davis: Yes, ad nauseam.
Muhammad: We heard from some parents from Hope-Hill earlier. I think they expressed a legitimate concern about the number of principals they’ve had in the school. How can the school ever be successful without a permanent principal?
Davis: What we’ve tried to do is have a well defined process and move through it to bring some stability. Hopefully the people we are putting in place are permanent. We don’t want to leave anyone in place when we don’t believe it is the best option, just because of stability. That is our goal. We need good operators of the school.
Muhammad: As we move forward, especially in schools where we have had turnover, turnover, we need to be mindful that it is not in the best interest of the students to keep having turnover.
Davis: These will not be interim principals. These will be permanent.
Annie Cecil: For the past 11 years I’ve taught at Sarah Smith Elementary. I am here to speak to the compensation of APS teachers. Unfortunately, we are not being compensated for our hard work. Since 2008 we have not received a cost of living raise. The message that has been sent to us on the front lines is to do more and achieve higher results, for less pay. My hope is that you will take this into account. Enough is enough. We are losing far too many qualified and passionate teachers to other districts. You must compensate us fairly.
Mr. William Cook: EPD, in conjunction with the Dept. of Transportation, will provide a grant to APS to help get newer, cleaner school buses in the APS fleet. This will result in dramatically cleaner air inside and outside of the bus.
Mr. Baker: I am the new president of the People’s Town Community. We would like to give our support to the principal at D.H. Stanton. We care about our community and where we are going. Going forward we are with D.H. Stanton and we would like to keep D.H. Stanton rising.
Mr. Crabtree: You are elected to protect public schools and our public dollars–not public in name, but public schools. Please review the document I provided and take it to heart. I hope you will continue to lead and protect your good workers.
Mr. Payne: I am the new president of SNAPPS. I look forward to working with you continuously. Thank you.
Robert Welsh: I am a resident of People’s Town. I am here to show support for our principal at D.H. Stanton. She is available, and there on the weekends. I am here to voice my support for the principal to be made permanent.
Stanton PTA President: DH Stanton PTA President thanks BOE for keeping DH Stanton open & helping to establish a playground. Talks about the strength of the newly established PTA and rise of scores by students. Thank you for keeping our school open.
Rev. Willie J. Webb with Concerned Black Clergy: You have an awesome responsiblity and task to change the culture to make it conducive for children to learn and teachers to teach. In order to do this you need 3 things. You need to be competent, ethical and professional in your job. If you would practice these things that would create the atmosphere we need in the school system. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of not seeing that in many of you. I’ve written you letters with no response. Dr. Howard Grant, he’s a professional man, I’ve got great respect for him but I’ve written every one of you with no response. Please let me know if it is acceptable to write you to get a response.
Bunche Middle School Parent: (parents stand up in audience to support speaker) Parent asks for the district to move forward to hiring a principal for Bunche Middle School. Parents are requesting a meeting with the superintendent. They are concerned about moving into a temporary building next year while the school is renovated with no stable leadership.
Community Member: What is the purpose of me filling out a community inquiry concern form when I have not gotten any response other than a response where the person wanted to talk. It’s time out for talking.
Darlene McKnight: I am a parent at DH Stanton. We are committed to Stanton. The current interim principal has been a tremendous asset to Stanton. She seems to want to be at Stanton, she loves our children and she’s committed to staying. We are asking that you accept our current principal as our permanent principal.
William Teasley: Thank you for the support you have offered as Stanton has worked with the community. Stanton is rising. When you walk in the door there is a banner that says failure is not an option. It went from a low morale school to a school with excited students, teachers, neighbors and leadership. It is aligned with the Jackson IB cluster plan. Just because we are not present does not mean we are not working. We have Pre-K and working now for early learning. We have 9 individuals trained to facilitate 7 Habits training. We have collaborated with GSU and we are looking for your support as we continue to rise.
Gwen Burson: I am a resident of Peoplestown and I have a personal interest in DH Stanton. I’ve had 3 children to graduate from Stanton. Several of our neighborhood organizations have become very involved with STanton. We have embraced the staff and the staff have embraced the community. We have all embraced Dr. Taylor.
Community Member: I am a product of Stanton Elementary school. My son, my daughters have graduated from Stanton. If that community was good enough for me, it is good enough for my kids, my grandkids…its good enough for all of us. We presented a plan to the board, that plan has been implemented. We support the interim principal that was sent to us. She opened the doors to the school. Before her we were told we had to make an appointment. As a community member I’m behind that school and anyone who tries to cross our path again we will be down here in full force. DH Stanton is rising.
Shawna Hayes Tavares: I’ve been an advocate for community engagement but we have too many meetings. I don’t understand why we don’t have one master calendar. (Note from APS – Completely updated APS calendar exists here: http://www.atlantapublicschools.us/site/Default.aspx?PageID=2) I want you all to support the changes of Dr. Taylor at North Atlanta but I hope that you will pull out the best of what is there and make it equitable.
Gideons Elementary Parent: We too are on our 4th principal in 4 years. Last year we had a permanent principal appointed that did not work for our school. She worked on paper only. We have an amazing interim principal that works for our school and community. This is my home, we are not going anywhere. We will continue to fight for my school and principal.
Ron Shakkur: I would like to ask the question, how many schools in APS are acting under expected enrollment (mentions CSK middle/high). Now we have schools like BEST and Douglass because you built a school that is not necessary. Don’t let our resources be wasted by building schools we do not need.
DH Stanton Community Member: We are committed to making DH Stanton a school of choice and to keep it rising.
Nathaniel Dyer: My concern is about behavior throughout the schools. When you have a community and a strong school the connection is the history. Our young people are being bombarded by ignorance in movies, music. The school is the safe haven. There is a sheer lack of pride. They can make the grade but its not sustaining them from home to school and back to home. Administrators are consumed by the level of what is going on.
Community Meeting has ended.
Bell Schedule Presentation now being presented by John Lyles, Director of Transportation for APS.
Goals of changing the bell schedule is to improve students safety, improve on-time arrival and improve efficiency.
Difference between current and proposed:
Current Elementary Start is 8am, proposed 7:45. High 8:15am, proposed 8:30am. Middle 8:45am, proposed 9:05am.
Current Elementary end time is 2:30pm, proposed 2:15pm. High 3:15pm, proposed 3:30pm. Middle 3:45pm, proposed 4:05pm.
Bell schedule APS has now is inconsistent with all other bell schedules in metro Atlanta. Cobb, Clayton, Henry, DeKalb, Savannah, Gwinnett, Muscogee, Augusta, Cherokee County all have similar bell schedules as to the one being proposed by APS.
Disadvantages of current schedule is student safety, lost instructional time, students late for breakfast, faculty late dismissal, inconsistent arrival times, long rides for special needs students.
Schools at various grade levels share buses, which means that a glitch in the elementary drop off trickles all the way to high school.
Advantages of new schedule is improved on-time arrival, improved breakfast participation, we avoid adding 50 buses next school year and there is improved ride times for special needs students.
Kinnane: This feels very early for elementary.
Meister: So we’ll be picking these kids up at 6:45am?
Lyles: We are looking at 800 that would be picked up prior to 6:50am.
Muhammad: We have two different issues here. One would be a time change for the school. The other is a time change for the buses.
Presentation has ended.
Board is entering into executive session. Expected time back is between 8:00pm and 8:15pm.
9:00pm Meeting has reconvened.
Discussion now taking place around superintendent’s search committee.
YJohnson: Do we have any thoughts on the number of people or anything in particular related to the search committee?
HKinnane: I think it feels like, and I think it was you Mr. English that raised the concern when we first brought up a search committee that it was our responsibility…I like the idea of identifying the 3-5 but some of that would be done by the search firm…
McDaniel: There would be input and I anticipated some of the Board members being on the search committee. I expect once the search committee and search firm complete their work the Board takes over from there and it is our responsibility to interview, review backgrounds and other things to get to a final recommendation.
Butler-Burks: I would hope the search committee would see more than 5. I would hope they would review a certain number.
Muhammad: I have a question about the timeline. You’re saying the search committee will create a timeline around our request or just create a timeline to present to us.
McDaniel: To present to us the search committee working with the search firm.
McDaniel’s recommendation is to have a 15 member committee.
1. 5 positions (ideas: teacher of the year, randomly selected high school student council president, mayor’s office, principal, Council of PTA’s)
2. 5 positions via Board vote (we would all justify why we recommended someone, justify them, rank them and take the top 5)
3. 3 Board Members & 2 Adhoc member selected by BOE Chair
McDaniel calls this his straw man approach.
Butler-Burks: I like most of them but struggling with 2 of them. Sometimes when you add staff members to the mix (teachers, principals) some feel like that gives them an edge. Maybe there is a special session just for principals or just for teachers, perhaps led by the teacher of the year and what that means for them leverage wise.
McDaniel: Do you have suggestions for how we get that voice at the table?
Butler-Burks: Not to say that it can’t work, I’ve seen it both ways, but this is tougher.
McDaniel: Is there a teacher or principal position that is non-APS related?
Butler-Burks: You have 2 or 3 teacher organizations…
HKinnane: 15 seems high.
McDaniel: What do you think should be the number?
HKinnane: 9 (others say 11 and 13)
YJohnson: You assume that not all will come to every meeting so you want to always have enough to do business.
McDaniel: How do people feel about the student?
YJohnson: I like it.
McDaniel: How do we feel about removing teacher of the year and principal and putting in a randomly selected teacher organization and removing one of the chairman’s choice to get us to 13?
General consensus among the group over this idea.
EJohnson: I think you may want to have someone from the administrator organization to represent administrators.
English: We should probably select slots then go to who fills the slots.
McDaniel: Yes, self-selecting will be filled first. We could do…I’m not really familiar with the administrator organizations.
Steve Smith suggests that the board asks teacher organizations for advice on those types of groups.
More light discussion.
YJohnson: I noticed you didn’t have a legal organization represented, was that by design?
McDaniel: I would like to hear from members on the choices and ranking. If you have some ideas or thoughts outside of what we have already….
YJohnson: Are you asking for our individual pick?
McDaniel: Yes, what organizations do you think you will use for your 4 picks.
Meister: One thought is, now that we know what we’re tasking them with, what about passing them around and ranking them?
McDaniel: I like that, but I would like to get organizational thoughts first.
HKinnae offers up foundation partners as a group.
YJohnson: I think there should be someone from the local legal associations.
McDaniel: Tell us what they are bringing to the table.
YJohnson: I believe they bring a framework…there is also a human resources group.
Butler-Burks: I’m struggling with this one and it is really around the APAB, Education Chairs, NPUs…I’m wondering do we have enough…I’m still struggling because we have Atlanta Council of PTA’s and those groups that touch schools more so.
HKinnane: I know we’re going to get a parent with the PTA, but I think the only way we’ll get representation with certain populations of schools, let’s say special needs, is parent representation.
Amos: I’m along the same line as Ms. Burks. Your SNAPPS, your CINS, those that come in front of us on a monthly basis. How do we continue to touch the organized parent groups.
Meister suggests that the 4 established groups get together to pick one to serve.
Muhammad: We still have a lot of charters and that’s another pool of parents and there is a charter association or a parent.
HKinnane speaks to the organized parent groups. Mentions SNAPPS, CINS, NAPPS.
Butler Burks reminds the group of EMC2. ( I believe SEACS may have been mentioned earlier)
EJohnson suggests that the organization themselves come together to decide instead of Board choosing one person from groups.
HKinnane: If we think about what we’re talking about tasking this committee with we need some expertise.
McDaniel: What I would like to recommend is Mayor’s office, student council president, council of PTA’s, teacher organization, one member from organized parent groups.
Amos: What about the higher education piece?
McDaniel: I’ll put that down.
McDaniel names the other groups suggested earlier as well, APAB, etc. Asks that the members consider this as they make their own lists of 3 names for recommendation. Members are to submit the names with resumes and brief synopsis of why they should sit on the committee. All 27 names will be reviewed and ranked.
YJohnson: Do we have a timeline on when we must submit our names?
McDaniel: Dr. Grant will work on that.
Meister: But it won’t be at our Board meeting? Maybe 2 Board meetings next month?
McDaniel: Either in 2 Board meetings or a special board work session. Dr. Grant and I will sit down and figure that out.
English: I want to keep in mind the timeframe for a traditional candidate. If you play out the logic, we bump up against the appropriate time. I would imagine you want them appointed by February.
McDaniel: Dr. Grant and I will take that into consideration. We will now move onto the Executive Search Firm.
Board has moved onto the costs of the 4 search firms to be reviewed.
Board is receiving summary of the 4 search firms with associated costs (provided by Procurement).
McDaniel says the point allocations given by Procurement are a guide and not the final determining factor.
English: I wonder about maintaining the integrity of the process when I’ve already seen the points.
Sharon Pitts: I have a little bit of concern about this discussion since the RFP usually states how many points an item is assigned.
McDaniel: I don’t believe it was.
HKinnane: Didn’t we do something like this before?
YJohnson: Last time we assigned the points. That’s a different thing than was it in the RFP.
McDaniel: There are only 2 things we can do. Select the highest point qualifier or select another process.
Butler Burks: I move that we move forward with the recommendation of Procurement.
Note: Highest points are from ProAct Search.
Burbridge: If you choose to move in another direction due to the results, you have to do more than say you don’t like the results. You have to prove that there was a flaw in what you asked.
English: I would wonder if we are putting ourselves in the best position to get the highest qualified candidates consider the firms that have applied.
McDaniel: I’m not particularly impressed…
E. Johnson: Are we saying we want to throw these out and start over?
English: I’m not prepared to support any of these.
McDaniel: Downside is time. Do we have a list of other firms we’ve used?
YJohnson: If we were to do something different what would we do? How will we ensure that we have a better pool? From a timing perspective when we extended the contract didn’t we allow ourselves a little more time? It may take more time but we have more time.
HKinnae: I feel uncomfortable with this. It feels like we need to have a process that removes us.
McDaniel: This is our process, so if we are uncomfortable with the 4 firms, we can do things differently.
Grant: I want to remind the board that when you went out with the RFP it was because you wanted a process. A specific search firm process.
McDaniel: But as I look at the results of the process I’m not sure we have…
Muhmmad: (not audible)
Chuck Burbridge brings more clarity to the process.
McDaniel: As I reviewed the RFP’s I didn’t believe we had A firms that would do an A job.
The BOE is continuing to discuss the RFP process for search firms for the superintendent’s search.
This is the last agenda item before resolutions for the committee of the whole meeting. Our live blog will end here.
10:20pm Next up is the Legislative Meeting where votes will be taken on items discussed during this meeting. Tune in to Comcast Cable Channel 22 to view the Legislative Meeting beginning tomorrow.
Thank you for following tonight’s live blog.
Symetra, SunTrust and the Atlanta Falcons recently honored Deerwood Academy teacher Rodrick Taplin as a “Symetra Hero in the Classroom” during a surprise school assembly. Coach Taplin serves as a Physical Education instructor at Deerwood.
Taplin’s colleague, Aleah Brown, nominated him for the Symetra Heroes in the Classroom® award.
“Coach Rodrick Taplin has a genuine concern for the health and wellness of all Deerwood Academy students. He believes that physical fitness is as important to the school curriculum as any of the major core subjects — and that only when students’ physical, nutritional, social and emotional needs are intact is learning intact,” she explained. “Coach Taplin’s activities are geared to increase students’ self-awareness and self-esteem. They learn about the skills they need to build a strong character as well as those important to their nutritional and physical growth and development.”
According to Brown, Coach Taplin has successfully harnessed multiple resources to develop his physical education program. In addition to organizing fitness and health walks and fairs for students and community members, he has also invited various speakers to address all areas of physical fitness with students and arranged theatrical performances featuring members of outside agencies and Deerwood staff.
“He is an incredible role model for and mentor to everyone at Deerwood Academy,” she said.
Taplin is one of 16 K-12 teachers across Georgia who will be honored for educational excellence in the Symetra Heroes in the Classroom program during the 2012 NFL season. Teachers are recognized in front of their students and peers at surprise in-school presentations, and they receive a $1,000 donation for classroom books and supplies. In addition, they receive tickets to a Falcons home game and are acknowledged during an on-field presentation at the Georgia Dome. Taplin was recognized at the Dec. 30 game when the Falcons took on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Teachers may be nominated by their principal, district staff, student or student’s parent. The winners are selected based on their ability to make a real difference in students’ lives; to go above and beyond in their day-to-day responsibilities; and to help students build life skills.
More information about Symetra Heroes in the Classroom is available at www.SymetraHeroes.com/Falcons.
Grade: 7th Grade
School: Parks Middle School
Melina Alferoff is an outstanding honor roll student at Parks Middle School. Melina is bilingual and she speaks French and English fluently. Melina also comprehends the language of Mina, which is spoken in Togo, Africa. Melina was born in Creiteil, France. She lived in France for 10 years. Her family left France and settled in Georgia. After relocating to Georgia, Melina attended Capitol View Elementary School in the 5th grade. Melina was an ESOL student at Capitol View and she learned to speak, write, and understand English during that time. Melina tested out of ESOL at the end of her 6th grade school year. Melina became a part of the gifted program in 6th grade at Parks Middle School. She is now 12 years old and a 7th grader at Parks Middle School where she excels in all of her classes. Melina was recognized for having a 100 GPA and being on the Principal’s List.
Melina is a member of the Morning Announcement Team where she greets the students in French. Melina was also selected to participate in the Duke University 7th Grade Talent Search. She is also a member of Breakthrough Atlanta. Melina’s future aspiration is to become a Renewable Energy Engineer. Melina’s favorite subject is Social Studies. In her spare time, Melina enjoys reading, writing, drawing, exercising, and talking to friends. Melina was selected as the 2012-2013 Youth of the Year by the Pittsburgh Community Improvement Association. Melina was also chosen as one of the Heroes of the Month for the month of September. She is truly an APS student that represents her community and school.
written by Yashica Green, Media Specialist, Parks Middle School
Grade: 11th Grade
School: Frederick Douglass High School
On Saturday morning, January 26, while many people will still be nestled in their beds, Jamariel Hobbs will be immersed in one of the most angst-producing evaluations imaginable to teenagers—the SAT. The looming test-date, however, does not intimidate Jamariel; he welcomes the challenge. After all, last October the 11th grader received the highest PSAT score at Douglass, and he has held the highest GPA in his class since ninth-grade.
Sabrina Hobbs, Jamariel’s mother, says, “I always tell my children that education is very important.” Hobbs also reminds them that they cannot take their education for granted, because African-Americans did not always have access to school. “We take education very seriously, and everyone around here knows what I expect,” she says.
Hobbs’ words have not fallen on deaf ears. Jamariel, elected by his peers as Douglass’s junior class president, is a straight A student, a finalist for the Governor’s Honor Program and very active with the school’s Student Government Association.
“I strive for excellence in everything ,” says Jamariel. But the 11th grader explains that this goal is about far more than making good grades.
For starters, Jamariel believes that striving for excellence sets a good example for his younger brothers, whom he hopes will follow his lead. He also believes that anything short of excellence will delay his pursuit of a career in pediatric neurosurgery. Jamariel admits, however, that the real motivation behind his commitment to excellence is his mother.
He says he has watched her struggle and make incredible sacrifices for their family, and he looks forward to the day when he can give back to her.
“I work hard now, so she won’t have to later,” says Jamariel.
He successfully balances academics and an active social life, and outside of the classroom he is a typical teenager. He participates in the school’s drama club and ran cross-country in ninth and tenth grades. And he admits that his favorite pastimes are reading, eating, hanging out with friends and playing video games.
As he looks to the future, Jamariel says he plans to apply for admission to Emory University, Johns Hopkins, and Morehouse College. And on Saturday morning, January 26, the aspiring life-saver will take a huge first step toward charting the course for his future.
Grade: 2nd Grade
School: Bethune Elementary
Lachey Benson’s teacher describes her as a class scholar who is always willing and ready to help her fellow classmates. Lachey posseses a certain zeal and excitement to take on any task she is asked to do, which is probably why she is a member of the Challenge Program. Taking on challenges and difficult tasks is definitely Lachey’s forte.
Recently, Lachey was selected to speak at Bethune’s Daughters Day luncheon, where she eloquently spoke in front of students, teachers, and guests.
Lachey’s favorite subject is math, and she especially enjoys addition, subtraction, multiplication and measurement. In addition to spending time with her family, Lachey also loves to stay active on the playground. But, more than anything, she loves to meet new people.
Lachey aspires to one day become a dancer, but she is also interested in being a teacher or an artist. It is fair to say her options are limitless.
But for now, Lachey is focused on doing well in school as she hopes to work hard enough to one day skip a grade!
Grade: 4th Grade
School: Morningside Elementary School
Tyrese Miller is an energetic 4th grader with a heart of gold. He stands out as a student who is eager to help others around him. He enjoys assisting his Principal and practices best behavior in the classroom. “Tyrese is a kid who just makes you smile. Not only is he eager to learn and do his best, but he also has a personality that radiates enthusiasm,” says Principal Rebecca Pruitt.
Tyrese believes it is important to listen to people, and to help people even when no one is watching. He cares for people through acts of service, but he also loves relating with friends and helping them resolve conflicts. His genuine care and attention compels people to open up to him, and he loves sharing words of encouragement with them. Tyrese says, “I think people should be nice to everyone even if you don’t like them. Everyone is different, and they might want you to know something but they might not have a chance to tell you, so I like talking and listening to others.”
Tyrese tries his best at everything, and his goal is to improve reading skills this year. “Reading involves everything and you need to read for knowledge,” Tyrese says. When Tyrese grows up, he wants to become a car designer. He is in the early stages of sketching cars, and loves to help his mom wash her car. His favorite subject is math because he enjoys solving problems, and his hobbies include basketball, foursquare, and hanging out with friends.