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LIVE BLOG: December Board of Education Meeting – December 2, 2013

Thank you for following our live blog of the November 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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2:16 pm:  Meeting called to order

PRESENTATIONS:

School Closure – Repurposing Committee Update – Steve Smith, Associate Superintendent

The purpose of the school closure repurposing committee is to identify educational and/or operational usage opportunities for the seven school buildings that the board voted to close in April 2012.

The primary objective of the committee is to provide the superintendent a school facility repurposing recommendation plan for each school facility.

Established in May 2012.  Two phases, phase 1:  2012 Board approved closures.  Phase 2:  Properties from past closures.

There are three tiers for usage.  Tier 1 is APS use, tier 2 is charter school use and tier 3 is community interest.

Q&A:

Kinnane:  The tier one, how do we ensure…the tier 2 being the charter schools, how will we make certain within this, there is going to be a changing landscape of which facilities we need to use, how will we plan for that?

Superintendent Davis:  If we need to reserve buildings, we will reserve them and not put them into surplus.

Kinnane:  I guess I’m asking for unforseen needs.  I know we have a plan in terms of the construction plan, but making sure properties are available if the need arises.

Smith:  If we have an administrative use and we designate the building as such, we reserve the right to place an administrative tag on it.  At that point the charters have the right to use that facility.

Davis:  We would have to look back at how many are being reserved at any given time.  Generally speaking we should have at least 2 buildings available to us at any given time.  That is a good point [Ms. Kinnane].

Muhammad:  I’m looking at the Wesley building on page 6.  Under phase 2 properties you list among those there the Wesley building…

Smith:  I see the phase 2 properties.  I see the Wesley building.  It says community use Wesley building.  Your question?

Muhammad:  I want clarity around what Wesley building we are referring to here.

Smith:  Carla Pennyman manages our day to day and speak to the question on the table.

Pennyman:  The Wesley building is on Wesley Ave. behind Coan.  It is a vacant building and at one time was used as a reloaction building.

Muhammad:  Is it just Wesley?

Pennyman:  Wesley Elementary

Smith:  We can list it moving forward as Wesley Elementary.

Butler-Burks:  On page 6 under phase 2 properties, I see both AD Williams and Carey…I am confused as to why the company listed, Northwest Business, is still being considered for both.

Smith:  They are listed in that way because those individuals in the community recommended that use for both of them.

Butler Burks:  This says deferred.

Smith:  Right, we did have the building tour on Nov. 18 which is pending, what we don’t have is the outcome from that tour.  What delayed that process was they wanted a tour.

Butler-Burks:  Is there a recommendation from the community…will they [NW Business] have to choose one?

Smith:  They would have to choose one to utilize.

Butler-Burks:  Is this the English Ave….is this the….I see Mr. Hoskins shaking his head no so that answers my question.

Smith:  In terms of next steps, once the recommendations come from the community we will go thru the process of vetting the physical capacity of the building for the entity requesting the property.  The repurposing committee makes the recommendation to the superintendent and the superintendent makes the recommendation to the BOE.

Muhammad:  That is the next steps for phase 2, correct?

Smith:  Yes.

Muhammad:  You have one here that is open thru 2014…if something else is done differently than what’s here…anything done differently than what’s here comes back to the board?

Smith:  Yes.

Note:  The full presentation will be posted after updates have been made.

Fiscal Update – Chuck Burbridge, Chief Financial Officer

Burbridge:  Right now we have no changes to the revenue or expenditure forecasts.  View the Summary of FY2014 Activity HERE or here http://www.atlantapublicschools.us/cms/lib/GA01000924/Centricity/Domain/1/FY 2014 Financial December 2 Board Meeting 11 27 2013.pdf

END OF PRESENTATIONS

CONSENT AGENDA

Ms. Kinnane is making a motion to look at status of K-8 in the Jackson cluster.  Motion carries.

Kinnane;  I notice we don’t have an update on the superintendent search and this being our December meeting and not knowing where we stand with the timeline…

McDaniel:  I do plan to discuss that.

Kinnane:  Just to see if it needs to be in discussion and action.

McDaniel notes that a special called meeting will take place after the search committee meets.

There are no speakers tonight for this portion of the meeting.

Davis will now read the consent agenda.

Item 2.02

Recommended Action
That the Atlanta Board of Education accept the recommendation of the superintendent to approve the conversion charter petition for Centennial Place School, and that the board chair and superintendent be authorized to sign any documents required for the charter school including, but not limited to, the APS charter agreement, state charter documents, state or federal grant applications, grant budget forms, and minor modifications to the charter agreement.

THE SUPERINTENDENT REPORTS:

On May 6, 2013 the Atlanta Board of Education passed a resolution encouraging the exploration of a public/private collaborative K – 8 pilot program at Centennial Place Elementary. Over the past few months, Atlanta Public Schools Office of Innovation staff and our external partner, Integral New Schools Atlanta, have worked closely together with Centennial Place staff, parents, community members and other stakeholders, developing a K – 8 plan for Centennial Place. The goal of this plan is to give the school greater flexibility, higher levels of accountability, and deeper relationships with external partners targeting and supporting the school’s STEAM focus.

The school will open with 585 students in grades K -6 and add one grade each year until reaching full capacity in Year Three with 775 students in Grades K – 8. The current Centennial Place building will be expanded to serve these additional students.

A conversion charter school model was chosen for this pilot as this model gives the school broad flexibility and sets aggressive performance targets within a site-based management model. Centennial Place will be governed by a local board constituted of members representing Atlanta Public Schools and the Integral Group and other key strategic community and business partners.

Several community meetings have been held to gather community input on this project. As required by law, Centennial Place parents and school staff participated in a secret ballot with two-weeks’ notice and the majority support the conversion plan.

The school has proposed several innovative measures including the creation of enhanced career pathways for teachers, numerous hands-on learning experiences for students and the creation of “Data Days” embedded in the school calendar allowing decision-making to occur immediately following data-collection periods.

RECOMMENDATION:

That the Atlanta Board of Education accept the recommendation of the superintendent to approve the conversion charter petition for Centennial Place School, and that the board chair and superintendent be authorized to sign any documents required for the charter school including, but not limited to, the Atlanta Public Schools charter agreement, state charter documents, state or federal grant applications, grant budget forms, and minor modifications to the charter agreement.

REASON:

Georgia law requires local boards to approve or deny charter school petitions submitted locally within 60 days of submission.

Another vote was taken today and the item passed 108 to 6.

Kinnane:  I just want to say, I think the board knows my feelings on this, when this item was pulled we left that day thinking we would have a board work session around this item.  My first question is around the vote itself.  I asked the question about the number of parents being represented around the vote.  This time there are fewer parents that voted.  I understand it is the day after Thanksgiving, that it is a re-vote.  We are being asked to make a decision to convert one of our exemplary schools into a charter and I don’t think we have a representative number from that vote.  How do you feel about that number?

Mueller:  Typically revotes will have a lower attendance.  This is only my opinion.  It is still right after the holidays and that is a factor as well.  I want to make it clear, obviously I’m not an attorney, but the language in the statute is clear that it is the number of parents present.  If I were a parent and I felt strongly about it in a negative sense that’s when I would have come out to vote.  A simple majority is what is needed to pass this.  That is the law and that is what was understood by the parents.

Kinnane:  The community itself is not allowed to vote on this yet they are being affected by this vote.  I would think not having that large a number of parents that are at the school be representative is a bit of a concern.  My next point of concern about the petition is the governance board.  Let me ask you a question, we have a petition before us…the petition did not change since last month and we cannot change anything on the petition because it has been voted upon, right?

Mueller:  I would have to leave that to the General Counsel.

Counsel:  I don’t see anything in the statute that speaks to that but I will look into it now.

Kinanne:  So the two APS representatives, what does that mean?  Who would be the APS representatives?

Mueller:  The discussion we had internally is that the senior cabinet would nominate 1-2 individuals and then the senior cabinet will choose that person.  We ran it by the state and there is nothing in the law that says that employees of the district cannot serve on the board.

Kinnane:  In terms of the relationship between the Local School Council and the governance board, would there be any restriction disallowing a stronger relationship between the two?  In terms of recommendations coming from the LSC?

Mueller:  You are talking about an entity that is not the governing board recommending individuals to sit on the governing board?  I don’t think that is possible.

Kinnane:  This is a start-up governing board…

Mueller:  I can’t think of an example…

Kinnane:  I guess the concern is how the parents and community members that serve on the board will be chosen.

Mueller:  So you’re thinking that that would be the group to nominate parents?

Kinnane: (inaudible)

Kinnane:  It will be expected that everyone living in the zone can attend the school, but it talks about a number of students.  As the zone grows, if it grows, how will that be handled?

Mueller:  If more children live in the zone the number will be expanded.  In order to have a lottery there would have to be a threshold number.  I don’t think there is a way to exclude children that live in the zone.

Kinanne asks about the choice to attend Inman vs Centennial Middle.  Mueller explains that the intent is that there is no grandfathering to Inman unless the children are currently enrolled there.  If the grade is offered at Centennial Place the students will go to Centennial Place.

Kinnane:  Can you require a child to attend a charter school?

Mueller:  Yes.  If that is there zoned school.

Muhammad:  (inaudible)

Mueller:  It would work like an administrative transfer but would work like a lottery.

McDaniel:  Ms. Muhammad is asking if someone is the Centennial zone and does not want to attend Centennial…

Mueller:  They would need an administrative transfer just like they do now.

Muhammad:  In the traditional schools we ask for administrative transfers for specific reasons…

Mueller:  I don’t think there will be any difference between someone this year who wished to transfer to Benteen and next year, when its a conversion charter, the same criteria would apply.

English:  The difference would be that I am now trying to transfer into Inman which has significant crowding issues.  The point she’s getting at is that if I’m attending 5th grade and want to attend Inman…

Kinanne:  Right now families have chosen to move into the Centennial zone because it is a high performing school in APS.  With this petition, that could change drastically.  It is a different structure than what they thought they would be a part of.

Mueller:  I don’t understand what is meant by drastically.  I see now a deepening of relationships, but a lot is similar to what they have today.

Meister:  Is there any way to modify the charter so that there is a win-win for 4th graders opting out of Centennial so that they can go to Inman for middle school?  That would help us with planning.

Mueller: I think this falls into whether the charter can be changed at this point.  We asked for community support framed in a certain way.  My feeling is that changes probably could be made, but it is possible that they might not be able to be made.

Counsel:  I think this is something that should be discussed in executive session.

Meister:  Was that issue brought up at all in the survey?  Do you know?

Mueller:  I do know there has been ongoing discussion from the beginning.  I believe we articulated very clearly.  I know the question has been discussed between parents, staff…I know its been an open discussion.  My response I sent to folks who asked from the school was articulated that way, if the grade is offered at Centennial, you will go to Centennial.

Butler-Burks:  Is the review 5 years or annual?

Mueller:  There is a 5 year term for the charter but we as a district do an annual review.  The reporting is financial, operational and academic.

Butler-Burks:  So it does not come back to the board annually.

Mueller:  No, that’s once every 5 years.

Kinnane:  Question about the teacher contract piece of it.  My understanding is that the statute says that the teacher contracts would be held thru the school system..but that doesn’t seem to be happening.

Mueller:  The waiver dictates what can go in the contract.  My understanding is that that cannot be waived.

Conversation now taking place around teacher benefits and plans.

Kinnane:  So the teacher, in terms of what it states in the petition, that 75% of the teachers will have math or science…be highly qualified…what does that mean for present and future teachers?  They are not going to be all math and science classes at the school.  It seems like a high number of teachers when we traditionally have a hard time getting teachers in those fields.

Mueller:  I think that as the school grows they will need to focus on hiring math and science teachers.  I don’t know if you are imagining that that they will fire the teachers who don’t.  They have always been a STEM/STEAM school.

Kinanne:  I just wondered because it seems like a high number.

Muhammad:  There has been so much focus on…a lot of questions…why would you say that as a school system this would be a good recommendation for us to try?

Mueller:  In reading this, what encouraged me, first of all I like the conversion method.  You are actually encouraging folks that work in the district…they get a little autonomy and sharper focus.  That really seems to be to me something we should invest in.

Mueller explains the innovative facets of the school and that they have been working towards this goal for 18 years.

Butler-Burks:  [Compliments Ms. Kinnane for her diligence on this issue] We’ve been on this for an hour and had we had a work session we may not have been here.  Thank you Ms. Kinnane for combing thru the petition and coming up with some questions that are still unanswered.

Kinnane:  When Centennial came into existence it was given freedom and unique opportunities so that it could grow in a unique way and not go to a conversion charter.

English:  The school went from being in the top 10% in Georgia to being ranked 894 out of 1100.

English says that the school has lost leaders, Muhammad says the school has lost resources.

Davis:  We are trying to run a pilot that compares governance.  Is performance a function of governance or structure?  That is the question we are seeking to answer.  We want to have a pilot so that we can inform a future policy.  We want to run a limited pilot here.

Kinnane:  I don’t think it is a pilot when we are talking about the approval of a charter petition.

Davis:  We are talking about one learning site with this structure out of 90+ learning sites.

Mueller:  If there were another conversion charter that came down the pike, it would come the way this one did.  This is not a slippery slope in that sense.

Muhammad:  I want to make sure we are not leaving Toomer out of this.

Davis:  We are talking about traditional board governance in the Jackson cluster.  K-8, but different governance.

Muhammad:  I think the fact that we are having to go thru this is speaking volumes.  I think it is saying that we need to revisit how we are doing what we are doing at our schools and are we meeting the needs of all of our kids.

This item has been moved off of the consent agenda.

Item 9.05 Construction Status Report

CLICK HERE to view the latest construction report or visit http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/files/9DLRVR6DE333/$file/Dec_2_2013_Const_Status_Report.pdf

Item 2.02 has been pulled for executive session, Item 2.03, gains and losses for discussion and action.

ADDED ITEM TO THE AGENDA

Update on K-8 in the Jackson Cluster.  Ms. Kinnane has requested the update today or at least by the next meeting of the board.  She would like to see a plan of action and timeline for this plan in the cluster.  “It is never healthy for a community to live in limbo.  They need to know where things are going.”

Davis:  We’ve had a number of community meetings and I am waiting for one additional piece of data and after that I will make a recommendation back out to the community this month for comment.  It will go to the community for comment and then board for action.

Kinnane:  In that there will be a plan of action, something so that we not only know what the recommendation is but also when it will happen.

Davis: Yes

Kinnane:  Thank you.

OLD BUSINESS

Superintendent Search Committee Update

McDaniel:  The committee met in November and was presented with approximately 15 or so candidates to the closed session.  The search committee reviewed those names.  All 15 have been talked to.  We will meet again on December 17th after they have vetted those candidates and we will continue narrowing down candidates.  It is my recommendation that this board meets as soon as possible after December 17th so that the board.  We would want all board members present at that meeting between December 17th and 19th.

The board will now enter into executive session.

6:18pm – Board meeting continues with public comment.

Washington High Parent requests that her child be moved out of Washington High School and into Carver Early College due to health conditions.  Says that only Carver EC can address her child’s academic needs.

Community member says that traditional schools need the autonomy that charter schools have.  “Give traditional schools what they need.”

Toomer Elementary Parent:  My daughter is currently in kindergarten and I would like to ask the board to support the proposal of K-8 at Toomer.  I understand parents are concerned about the impact to the Jackson cluster as a whole.

Toomer Elementary Parent:  I have a 4th grader and kindergartener.  I’ve watched parents as they struggle with the choice of staying at Toomer vs going to the other myriad choices of middle schools that they have.  Toomer being able to offer K-8 will make a big difference in our school.  We need APS to do their part and I see that it is not on the agenda tonight.  We are asking for a slow adoption, we have submitted a wonderful plan. As parents and the community we’ve done our part and we need the board to do their part.

Toomer Elementary Parent:  I am here to promote the K-8 model at Toomer.  I think Toomer is an amazing school.  We had a really rough year last year with the merging of East Lake but we’ve come back strong.  I think we are a perfect place to do the K-8.  We have a great core body of students even though we have lost many students to Drew.  The reason we’ve lost many students to Drew is that they don’t want to go to middle school at Coan.  I feel we need to become K-8 because we were in a really great place before redistricting and we need that extra core thing that will make us stronger.  I certainly, along with the parents here tonight, we’ve been working very hard for this, but we all have our heart in this school and want to keep it going.  The momentum will get lost without this.

Kirkwood Resident:  I come to speak with you with no children in APS schools but I chair the Kirkwood education committee and I really believe that sowing the seed early will yield great results down the road.  I for one could not argue against the Drew Charter expansion.  I believe that Drew is doing a lot of excellent things, but I’ve seen how it has impacted my community and neighbors.  Our community is tight knit and I am here to advocate for K-8 at Toomer.  If you provide the opportunity for K-8 at Toomer you will not regret it.

The next speaker is principal Alison Shelton of Centennial Elementary School.  She asks for support from the board as Centennial seeks to become the district’s first conversion charter school.

6:35pm Parents continue to speak out on behalf of K-8 at Toomer Elementary School.

Community member, who is a former history teacher, asks that the board of education considers precedent when deciding to convert Centennial to a charter school.  “When a group of parents and teachers manages to convert a school into a charter school, parents are faced with the decision to accept the lead of the charter or to transfer out of the school and hope that they can find transportation.”  She says that simply because the process is legal, does not make it right.

1965 graduate of David T. Howard High school speaks to the board about his experiences as a student in the district.  “History and literature teachers would almost go into acting mode to put you in the mood for the lesson.”  He asks that the Howard building be put back into service.  “I would also like to thank Brenda Muhammad.  For 14 years she has been a fierce advocate for our children.”

D.H. Stanton Community Advocate:  Stanton is rising.  We have worked on this school as a community.  We have embraced it when faced with a challenge and our embrace has not weakened.  We have an excellent dual immersion program at the school as well as the Leader in Me program.  We are also working with Graduation Generation.  We have a few outstanding items, including the early learning center.  We hope we can get issues on this resolved in the not too distant future.  Stanton has become that small school for innovation and as we move forward we have an excellent opportunity to leverage a small school and do those things we know will be successful.

Washington High Alumni Association Board Member:  I came tonight to personally thank Mr. Davis for correcting the situation at Washington High School.  I had an opportunity to walk through the school with the president of the alumni association and had a chance to see the work that was done at the school.  I would like to personally thank him for correcting the issues.

END OF PUBLIC COMMENT

7:00pm

Board now discusses Centennial K-8 conversion charter.  BOE member Kinnane says that she will not vote in favor of this item.  “I don’t necessarily think we’ve done our due diligence around having the first conversion around this piece.”

Kinnane:  Having a vote with less than 200 people does not set a good precedent when it comes to taking one of our schools and turning it into a charter school.

E. Johnson:  I also have a concern about what the governance board will look like.

Vote taken.  Passes.  Centennial Elementary School has become the district’s first conversion charter school in the history of APS.

This ends our live blog for the evening.  Please watch the legislative meeting beginning tomorrow night on Comcast’s channel 22.

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December 2, 2013 at 3:15 pm Leave a comment

LIVE BLOG: Special Legislative Meeting – June 6, 2013

Thanks for joining our live blog from the Board of Education Special Legislative Meeting.

8:50pm  We are switching over from Twitter to the blog to make it a little easier for everyone to follow along.  The meeting started about 35 minutes ago.

Board and CFO Chuck Burbridge are in the midst of discussing teacher allocations and classroom size for the proposed FY14 budget.

8:51pm

Burbridge: A teacher costs 80K on average, no matter where we get the revenue.  The cost is still 80k.

Kinanne: Looking at what we allocated in payroll for last year and this staffing allocation has us at 63 less…

Burbridge: It doesn’t affect QBE.  If we have all rookie teachers, the augmentation will be minimal.  Your base is based on your student count, not the number of teachers you hire. Calculted on March student counts, so its done.

Kinnane: But the student count, the # of teachers is related to that, is the number we had last year…is that at all…

Burbridge: That number is the number we get starting July 1.  It’s based on the march student count.  Our base is at 47,000 students. Those are fixed numbers. We’ve already reported the tenure of our force based on last year.

McDaniel: Is this sheet used to calculate the total number of teachers, or if we approved this budget as it would there be 17 fewer teachers at Mays next year?

Burbridge: This budget is based on 1761 teachers.  I can’t tell you if there would be 17 fewer at Mays, will that actually happen? There is a difference between budgeting for it and implementing it.  This is what the allocation suggests.  There are other teachers that will be added into this.  Even when added they may decided how they will use those teachers.

Davis: This is a starting point.  Last year we were changing teachers in October and we hope to get that work done earlier this year.  The number of teachers is going to change.  I say these things and you don’t want to hear them, but this is not an exact science, it’s an art.

Burbridge: And that art takes place between individual principals and the teachers.  This is really an initial allocation based on the formulas we have available to us for the 1761 teachers.

Burks: So this situation would force a Mays, if they wanted to have smaller classes, to use their Title I dollars for teachers.  Starting day 1, they would be here.

Burbridge: Or special teachers.. EIP

Burks: I saw 3 schedule changes last year, that is a lot.

Davis: That is why I’ve said we want to get that done early this year.  We would like to get the numbers done within the first 3 weeks of school.

Muhammad: What about those year round schools that start next month? How are we factoring them into this equation.

Davis: The interaction with them would simply be sooner.  We are trying to do what took 3-4 months last year, within the first month this year.

Kinnane: I can’t even believe that we think we should start day one with these numbers.

McDaniel expresses concern over this staff allocation being used as an actual example of what would happen on day one.

Burbridge says that when the actual distributions are done they traditionally look different than what they actually end up with on payroll.  “This is a planning number to get an overall budget amount.  It is hard to believe that we would have such dramatic swings between what we allocated one year with a waiver and what we would allocate this year with the same waiver.”

Meister: The state is telling us we are going to get 2091 for core teachers…

Burbridge: It’s actually 2900.  That is if we were paying our teachers 30k, but we dont.  That’s a computation to get a resource dollar amount.  They are just computing resources.  There is no expectation that we could have 2900 teachers based on the dollars they are giving us. That sheet is not used to dictate how many people you should have.

Kinnane: Once again, these numbers we’ve been asking for from principals for each school…was that done…

Davis: Either February or April that requests went out to principals.  Meetings were held with principals.  I can’t tell you the degree of agreement or disagreement, what was changed but they didn’t happen just within the last month. These numbers are not suddenly put in front of principals.  I know that discussions have taken place in principal meetings. These are not surprises or unknowns to principals.

Kinnane: My question wasn’t whether there were surprises or unknowns, but whether there was input.  This information was shown to them but was information given back.

Davis: You have to start somewhere, I either give them to you or you give them to me. If your question is ‘Is there an opportunity for them to evidence a concern,’ the answer is yes, there have been opportunities and venues for those discussions.  We will staff appropriately using whatever waivers we have and we want to get them in early during the first 3 weeks of school.

Kinnane: And I think that’s good, but that’s for tweaking.  I can’t imagine we can go to any HS principal and tell them they are losing this many teachers…

McDaniel asks about the 41 number on the allocation sheet for Grady.

Burbridge: We pulled this from a mathematical formula.  This is not based on conversations with principals.

McDaniel: If you lined up Ms. Waldon’s number with 1761, could we get the numbers school by school.

Burbridge: We can get those numbers for you. The averages we have in the FY14 formula show that our smallest classroom sizes are at ES 21.1, MS is 28.3 and the largest would be 30.4 at HS. Current staffing has our smallest classes at HS level, average 23.6, ES is 24.8 and MS is 27.7.  FY14 allocation of teachers is similar to actual of FY13.  Question is, should HS classes be smaller than your ES classes.  That’s something that can be discussed and you still have time without changing the overall budget.

McDaniel mentions that with the graduation rate, that’s a discussion you would want to have.  Burbridge adds that you would also want to know whether a child could read at the elementary level.

Burbridge: Example, you take a Therrell HS of Health & Science…they had on payroll 11 teachers, they are allocated 10.  You divide with student count and end up with 23 students per teacher. But b/c its a High School, when you add in specialty teachers, we may add in another 8 speciality teachers, ending up with class sizes that may approach the teens, 13 per class.  Whereas when you add at elementary, you still have that class size and specials won’t reduce your core 1st grade size.  And as the superintendent indicated, there is still that work being done out there with the principals.

Kinnane: What did Ms. Waldon use for the staffing allocation?

Burks: I thin what we heard, is the intention is to start the year off with this piece of paper and then adjust the first three weeks.

McDaniel: I don’t think that’s what we were told.  It would be reasonable for someone to say that the math says Grady is down 18 teachers but we negotiate and then they are down 2 teachers.  I don’t think anyone has said we would start off the school year with this exact number of teachers at each school.

Burks says she will not feel comfortable approving the budget without a better understanding of how the schools will be staffed.

Davis says that what is being memorialized is not the allocation the Board approved last year, it is where the schools ended up last year.

Meister: What type of waiver will this require?

Burbridge: +5, which gives you the same teacher allocation as…

Davis: Actually there are 40 teachers difference.

BOE asks what it would cost to add 40 teachers.

Burbridge: This piece of paper is based on the waiver +5

Davis: Up to +5 is already reduced by 40 teachers

Meister: I think what we were driving up during this whole budget process is to get to +3 and in my opinion there has been a total disregard to what the board requested.

Davis: I believe you were told of the costs to get to each of those levels.

McDaniel: Where we got to in the end was how we get classrooms that looks next year like it did last year (in terms of size).  In my mind, the budget and the policy is driving where we are trying to get to as opposed to the waiver. If we did a waiver of 2, some schools would look better than they did last year, and some would look worse.  We can’t say the mathematical formula is driving strategy and policy.

YJohnson: You mentioned Ms. Burks about what day one looks like, in my mind you wouldn’t know until day one…is that not the case?

Davis: We would have an allocation there for the kids.

YJohnson: When would we have that day one number? Would we approve something now with the understanding that we would…

Davis: There is a change in the mix, but the mix doesn’t have to change.  This just has to be remixed, especially when we have a net decrease in the number of students.  The logic of the state allocations says that classes should be bigger at higher levels, before any waivers.  We have lower sizes at higher levels.

Burks: My frustration…if these were the numbers given to February or March and there has been conversations, I guess I’m struggling with why no one has said what the numbers are in the conversation.  They’ve seen this as early as February or March and we have not had indication since we’ve been having budget meetings and this has been the hot topic and no one has said these are not the numbers.  This is the first time I’m kind  of hearing…

Davis: I think principal discussions are over.

Burks: If they are over I think we should have had different numbers.

Davis: I’ll check.

McDaniel: My understanding is this came from finance as a simple mathematical numbers, C&I did not give you these numbers…

Burbridge: We received these numbers from the demographers in February and are used for budgeting but do not reflect actual allocations.  Budget planning last year for Grady was 39, but they got to 60.  How they got to 60 is something that happens outside of the budgeting process.

McDaniel: We are making decisions on how many teachers we want to have in the system.

Burks: If I’ve seen these numbers, I’m not sure I would allow these numbers to be distributed.

McDaniel: We’ve asked finance to give us more details, from my perspective what we’re trying to do as a Board is decide how many teachers we want in the system.  It seems to me that we are now allocating in the budget process, give her take a few, that we had last year. From a budget process, we’ve gotten to where the Board can make a decision.  Mr. Davis we would ask you to make the philosophical decision as it relates to class sizes.

Burks: I think the waivers we’ve approved at the elementary schools are higher +5, as opposed to high schools +3 (in response to Supt. Davis comment about a district trend in the past towards small high school classes).

Burks: This actually decreases the number of teachers.

McDaniel: Yes, we have a fewer number of students and fewer number of teachers.  The overall number of teachers is 23 less.  (4 less once you factor in adjustment of Parks MS closing).

Burks: We won’t have an answer to this tonight, but I think the question is, when will we have an answer.

McDaniel: Mr. Burbridge do you have anything else regarding your presentation yesterday?

Burbridge says that other outstanding questions are continuing to be researched.

9:57pm Board is now going into executive session.

10:43pm Exec Session has ended

Burbridge gives a final recap.  The FY2014 general fund expenditure budget is $592,018,545.

McDaniel asks for clarification/conversation around class size, school by school as well as personnel savings during future budget discussions.

Burbridge is asked to explain calculation of 1761 teachers in FY14 proposed budget.  Formula is calulated at +5 over max for ES & MS and +3 over max for HS.

View all documents related to the FY14 budget here: http://www.atlantapublicschools.us/Page/35535

June 27th would be date for approval of final budget.

Burks: My last request would be to get some very strong talking points for the Board. There are some key things that need to be communicated effectively, security, bell changes….there are some very specific things that we need to do around the budget that includes talking points.

Vote taken. Opposed are Kinnane and Meister. Vote passes.

This ends our live blog for the evening.

10:52 – End of Blog

June 7, 2013 at 12:51 am 5 comments

LIVE BLOG: Board of Education Budget Commission Meeting, May 29, 2013

Thank you for joining today’s live blog.  Please refresh regularly for updates.

Agenda Items:

Roll Call
Review Budget Calendar
Review of Proposed Budget
Refer Budget to Board with Recommendation
Adjourn

3:15pm: Meeting is called to order, agenda approved.

BOE and school leaders are discussing revised calendar.  Certain dates must be met to meet obligations to the state of Georgia.

PROPOSED CALENDAR:

5/28 Send notice to paper advertising availability of budget for public review (will run in paper tomorrow).

5/29  Budget Commission Meeting and APS Board Meeting

6/3  Advertise millage and digest

6/4  Community meeting

6/5  Community meeting

6/6  Public hearing and APS Board meeting (tentative adoption of budget)

6/10 Advertise millage and digest

6/13  Advertise budget

6/17 APS Board meeting with final approval of millage

6/20 Advertise budget

6/27  Final adoption of budget

Burbridge:  We need to start the clock running with the approval of millage items.  June 6th is the official hearing as a result of the notice in tomorrow’s paper.  Board would be in a position then to tenatively adopt the budget. Once budget is adopted we must advertise for 2 consecutive wks. Once advertised we can take final action on 6/27 and new fiscal year begins 7/1.

McDaniel says that there will be resolutions because of the millage rate.

Butler-Burks: There are several pieces of information members have asked for over the past couple of weeks.  I’ll give the 4 items I have.  The first is the information around class size. The second is we submitted 4 questions and we will review those responses.  Additional questions around furlough days and there are additional questions around talking points.  So we can start with class size.  We want to thank Mr. Burbridge and his team for putting together comprehensive documents around class size.  One of the questions was what would the cost look like if we kept K-3 the same in terms of class sizes and 4-12 was a plus to to the state maximum.

Steve Smith: Mr. Burbridge and his team are ready to respond.

Burbridge: For difference in cost I’m going to use this summary sheet that says class size by dollar.  That change (high schools) is worth 800k.  Middle schools we would go from plus 5 column to plus 2 column so that is $1.8M.  Then I’m going to pick up grades 4 and 5.  5th grade I will pick that up as the difference between 11M and 9.6M which is 1.4M.  4th grade is the line above that and we can call that 900k.  The sum of that is $4.9M for the +2 scenario.

Class Size (By Dollars)

Class Size (By Dollars)

Kinnane: Where is the cost differential for keeping it as is.  Where is that increase?

Burbridge:  I do not have a current by school, by grade of the budgeting for staff with me. I know how the budget was developed but an individual school may have different resources than what was budgeted.  I have not done the run that pluses up the budget by individual schools and grades.

Meister: We don’t know what that difference is….it probably would be less.

Burbridge: It has to be budget plus, there is no real net.

Burks: Maybe some of the information presented has not been clear.  It is my understanding that the most recent budget we received factored in class sizes being where they ended the last day of school.

Burbridge:  There are sufficient resources in the FY14 proposed budget to maintain all the teachers that are currently on payroll, but I don’t know if you would need more teachers at a high school…I don’t know where those teachers are.

Burks: From what I’m understanding what we’re looking at now as we look at these numbers would be, for instance if we said MS at +3 at $1.1M, its taking us down from where we are now…

Burbridge: Yes

English: What is the plan for the gap this would create?

Smith: We would lean on the resources we have to fill or close that gap.

English: I want to stay on the policy making level but at the same time, sometimes we find out on the back end that there are some adverse actions that are not in line with what the board thought would happen.  If we go with x scenario and it creates an additional 4.9M gap…I just don’t want to be back here in August asking “what happened.”

Smith: If given a directive by the board we would have to follow that.

Burbridge: Looking at the options, one would be fund balance.  Two would be furlough days, that’s 1.5M per furlough day.  Third place you check is what programs would be looked at for offsetting reductions and there probably not many programs to be looked at…we exclude the classrooms, the schoolhouse in general. We’ve talked about busing, bus policies and things like that but you’re in a very small universe of the budget to squeeze another 5M out of.  If you put it in the context of vacancy management you are talking about another 5% reduction.

Larry Hoskins: I want to make the BOE aware of this potential situation as you contemplate class sizes.  There may be situations in the district where if we cap the 4th and 5th classes at something lower than +5, especially at schools like Brandon & Smith where we already have capacity issues…if that drives us into more space then we will have to contemplate modular buildings and other ideas to meet class sizes.  I just want to put that on the table in context with what Mr. English said.  That is  a real risk….Inman, Springdale Park.

Burks: We certainly appreciate that and I think probably what could help with that if we’re saying keep it the same we would be where we are now.  Unfortunately we haven’t been able to get what “the same” is.  We’re trying to figure out the impact of starting from where you are, or the same and….it’s kind of hard to figure out where we really are vs what a +2 or +3 would do.

Hoskins: We won’t know until kids show up in the fall what the actual splits are. We would minimize the risk if we kept it where it is, as opposed to +2 or +3.

Kinnane: I appreciate what you’re saying Mr. Hoskins, however facilities should not be driving what we feel is good instructional decisions.  Hopefully we can give principal’s some creative decision-making about classroom sizes.  I don’t mean to doubt what you’re saying whatsoever but we are about instruction.

Hoskins: I’m not saying that facilities should drive the decision but I want you to be aware.

Burks: So we have the answers to that and the answer for middle school.

Meister: I think I know the answer to this question, and I know this is extremely difficult and the most important thing is our teachers and our students and I brought up  this to the superintendent and was given a quick no and was told it would have to come from reserves, but I hope that you have looked really deeply in all positions in the central office to make sure we can get it to a more manageable point.  Our teachers are being so strained.  Was the effort really made to look deeply?

Smith:  Yes, the effort was made and fortunately in this case your response is in line with our thoughts that our teachers and students come first.  What you have in front of you is, by far, according to everything we know at this point a very honest budget.  It is one that is straight forward.  Our team has worked diligently to find those cuts.

Meister: In looking at these numbers it looks like in C&I, because of a re-org, we increase by a million dollars….

Smith: We would be happy to respond to specific questions where it may appear that way.  But again, our efforts in combing thru and making the cuts where we made them, we feel very confident that what is in front of you reflects the type of diligence that will get the commission to the point of accepting a budget.

Burks:  What may help…we’re trying to figure out what to do…the piece we haven’t heard is where are we struggling the most academically and where do we feel a smaller class size would help us in terms of a smaller class size.

Smith: I will defer to Ms. Waldon about how we are addressing those needs and gaps.

Karen Waldon: We have gotten in some prelim data regarding student performance and what we see across the board is that the improvement is beginning.  Not nearly what we want to see but we believe we are moving in the right direction.

English: What scores?

Waldon: We’ve looked at writing, CRCT preliminary data…just on initial review we are beginning to see student achievement trend in the right direction in some areas.  When you look at best practices around (class size) its not the #1 factor impacting student achievement.  We do not feel class size is our biggest issue, it’s the actual teacher.  We believe we have structures in place with things such as EIP to support class size.

English: When you talk about quality of the classroom teacher, where is that reflected in the budget?  How are we recruiting, retaining?

Waldon: In terms of the budget, based on what we have to work with we try to make quality decisions.  (Waldon refers to changes in early learning and how 70% are Kinder ready but that leaves a significant population who are not). Without the resources we try to retain and recruit the best teachers into the district.

Smith: Granted, its been since the 90’s since I was a principal, but smaller class sizes was the trend from 80’s but the effective teacher is extremely critical in that process.  I can tell you that even when a classroom is smaller or at max, when you have an effective teacher in the classroom that individual is able to deal with disciplinary actions as they arise.  An effective teacher in front of 5 or 15 can deal with discipline.  It is a continual cycle.

Burks: If we saw a need to decrease classroom size, where would that be?  There have to be other strategies other than having an effective teacher in every classroom.  From an instructional pov, what would those grades be (most impacted by lower class size).

Kinnane: We have excellent teachers who are effective but they cannot do their job as well with too many kids in the classroom.

McDaniel: If we said we want to add 20 teachers to the current system, where would you put those teachers?

Waldon: There are a lot of factors that would have to be considered.  We have academic challenges pre-k thru 12.  It is hard for me to say reduce here but allow this level to go up.  One way to approach it would be to look at current state, looking at students who are poised to exit the district and that may be a point of focus.  Then you could look at the students entering…that may be a point of focus.  And I’ve been a middle school principal as well…  In terms of a blanket place, it is a challenge for me to answer that.

McDaniel: If I said here are 20 teachers, is 20 enough teachers to make a difference.

Waldon: Every teacher could make a difference somewhere, but its hard to say.  Possibly at the middle school level?   I know that’s not the answer you are looking for, but there are challenges across the board.

McDaniel: I know there are academic challenges but some are not affected by class size.  How many more teachers would we need…

Waldon: If we could keep every classroom at the state max, that would be a start, but with budget constraints I don’t think that can happen.

Burbridge: Say we had a target and we know 1.5M is available per furlough day, where might be an effective way to use that.  If you went to +2 at 4th grade and +6th grade level, that would represent about 1.4M.  You could target those two transitional years.  Is that kind of where you are trying to drive towards?

McDaniel: To me it’s not necessarily waiver number.  My question was, if we had a furlough day worth of teachers or a fund balance worth of teachers, where we would prioritize teachers.  It doesn’t have to be a blanket answer.

Burbridge:  That proposal (from earlier) would put approx 6 teachers in middle schools and at 4th grade I’m looking at another 12 teachers.  I don’t know which schools would benefit.  Would you then stop there or do you say principals you can move them somewhere else?

McDaniel: To the extent we have those types of answers we can say with 1.5M of reserves this is what I can buy.

Burks: So do we want to talk about 4th and 6th?  I’ve also heard 5th and 8th…

Waldon: Can we take a moment to look at our data…I would want to take a look at those grade levels.

Burks: Does everyone understand that that prolongs the decision we need to make?

McDaniel: Are we talking about an hour or 5 days from now?

Waldon: Perhaps an hour, but if not tomorrow.

McDaniel suggests the idea of figuring out how to save the money and figuring out at a later date how to apply the teachers.

Mr. English asks where the services that actually support students in the classroom are in the budget. He notes that when he was teaching 7th grade boys, that 2 children less in the classroom would not have made as much of a difference as services that helped the student to come up to the appropriate grade level.  He speaks about students who are hungry, heads of household and struggling academically.

Waldon speaks to the numerous partnerships and school support members at every APS school.  “The piece that is probably not showing up in the budget process is how do we create quality support structures for students.”

Waldon: There are students for whom we implement tier 1 strategies, then there are others who need more intensive support.  We will never have the resources in terms of money that we would like to have.  The question becomes how do we position ourselves to access those resources if they are not in a general fund budget.

English: I appreciate that.  It’s the same question I ask all the time, “what are we buying.”  If we are going to have these conversations let’s make it 5 to 10 year decisions that will drive student achievement.

Waldon: Sustainability is always the concern.

Muhammad:  Early on, someone talked about have we looked at the administration and budget.  I have a specific question there with regard to the concern that there is some duplication of work or assignments or funding in that area.  I want to ask one specifically.  I happened to look at some materials and one identified an Asst. Supt. for Teaching and Learning and another for Executive Director for curriculum and instruction, are those the same person?

Waldon explains that the Asst. Supt. for Teaching & Learning  serves in the supervisory role and the E.D. is funded by the GE Foundation and focuses on Common Core.

Conversation has turned to the measurement/formula used to staff EIP teachers.  Ms. Waldon explains that some schools have more EIP teachers than they need.  In those cases the district is working to rectify those issues.  No schools, she says, are understaffed with EIP teachers.

Ms. Kinnane asks about increase in Fine Arts and P.E. budget.  Burbridge explains that in the past, those teachers were lumped in with core instructors, now they are not.  It is not so much an increase, but simply a different way of budgeting for those instructors.

Mr. Amos asks about the teachers leaving the recently closed Parks Middle School.  Human Resources explains that those teachers have all been reassigned for the next school year. No teachers were let go via a reduction in force (RIF).

5:00pm

Board is now discussing whether they want to wait for additional information from Curriculum & Instruction before moving forward.

Board discusses whether or not this budget addresses the goals of the current 5 year strategic plan.

McDaniel: Mr. Burbridge, on the current fund balance projected in this budget, what is the difference between that number and the 7% industry standard #?

Burbridge: $8M, approximately

McDaniel: How many teachers does 2M buy us?

Burbridge: About 26.  We use about 13 teachers per million.

McDaniel:  From my perspective, we talk about fund balance but the other places we know are furlough days and there is the opportunity for us to push for some incremental reduction in the high end of the organization.  I think that from a budget perspective we have some risks and I don’t suggest we spend down all $8M in the reserve.  I am also not in favor of an additional furlough day for anyone below an assistant principal level.

McDaniel puts several suggestions on the table to get to $2M.

Burks: Mr. English made mention of additional para-professionals, you probably could get more para’s than teachers…they are about half the price.  We could consider a cross between para’s and teachers.  Are we all in agreement with Mr. McDaniel’s suggestion?  Are we all okay with 2M?

McDaniel: 1.5M out of reserve and another .5 from perhaps furloughs for those above assistant principals and other areas.

Burks: I needed clarity around the furlough days.  I thought the 196 was principals and below…

Burbridge: We actually tried to calculate furlough days outside of the schoolhouse.  The 196 would not include custodial personnel, principals, AP’s or anyone else who keeps the school house operating.

McDaniel: My thought was not so much schoolhouse vs non-schoolhouse, because there are those in this building (CLL Downtown) making $30K or below who would be hurt by a furlough day.  It was more of a salary level.

Burks: I agree we need to talk about assistants in the building and what that means to them.

YJohnson: Is it my understanding that today we will have a recommendation from the commission to the board based on…

McDaniel:  we will receive a budget from the budget commission, we will not approve a budget today.  We will then have the public meetings.  Basically this is what would be posted on the website and we would drive a tenative budget.

YJohnson: So are we getting to the point where we are comfortable?

Burks: Yes, and I think we will be even more comfortable when we go through these four questions.

Meister:  I wanted to state for the record where I stand.  I really would like to have seen a deeper dig from the central administration.

McDaniel explains to board that if you take the 8.6M off the table from the sale of the AIS property, that there is some risk.

Meister: We need to discuss the sale of real estate separate from the budget.  I feel like we’re being forced to co-mingle when these should be two separate decisions.

Board is moving on to questions from previous meetings:

Atlanta Board of Education

Responses to Questions from the May 20th Budget Commission Meeting

QUESTION

RESPONSE

1.

Does the proposed budget include layoffs of any teachers, including Pre-K teachers? There are no planned layoffs for FY14.  We will continue to work with the state regarding our Pre-K program.  Through the State’s guidance, additional assessment and evaluation of teacher qualifications may take place to ensure compliance with state guidelines.

2.

Does the proposed budget include any salary increases for any staff? The proposed budget does not include any increase in salaries for FY14.

3.

Does the proposed budget include any newly created positions? (at least four positions have been mentioned in various meetings) There are no newly created positions planned for the FY14 budget.  The four positions referred to earlier are positions that will be recommended for reclassification.

4.

Does the proposed budget include written documentation of the additional $2.52M cuts in C&I? Curriculum and Instruction ($2.52 million):

  • Program 1506—Professional Development.  $665 thousand (funds are available from other sources)
  • Program 1610—Deputy Superintendent of Instruction. $70 thousand (eliminate funds established to repurpose Cook site)
  • Program 1627—Forest Hill Academy.  $248 thousand (funds are available from other sources)
  • Program 1218—Other Entities. $17 thousand (funds are available from other sources) Funds reserved to support schools throughout the year
  • Program 1203—Substitutes. $1 million (enhanced tools will allow tighter control of this cost)
  • Program 1231 – Administrative Services/External Programs. $236,416 (proposed reclassification of 2 positions into federal programs)
  • Program 1614 – Administrative Services. $282,385 (proposed reclassification of 1 position into federal programs and proposed abolishment of 2 positions)

Pre-K Q&A

Ms. Burks expresses concern over meeting held with pre-K teachers and information given to those with Bachelors degrees saying that they would have to reapply for their jobs.

Waldon: We are trying to align APS’ program with what is expected from Bright from the Start.  We don’t believe we need to move away from our plan and we are having conversations around transitioning.  We want all of our classrooms to be aligned with those around the state where teachers must have a Bachelors degree.  This is a juncture where we believe we can make those significant improvements.  There are individuals who have been in the system for years and they have not moved forward with getting the degree they need.  The state grandfathered in, but the state has indicated that some of our classrooms may be on probation next year.  We do not want to see that happen.

Linda Anderson, C&I: We did have 2 meetings with our pre-K teachers and explained that we were out of compliance in some our classes.  Teachers are asked to have a Bachelors degree.  We shared that information and that we need to correct compliance issues.  After the meeting, we had some teachers who came to us  We had a 2nd meeting and explained that we do want to move forward with the teachers and assistants to have the appropriate degrees.  We want the students to leave the classroom kindergarten ready.  We did share with them at that time that we will be coming back to them and what that plan will look like in the future.  We are going to have to correct where we are and their proper credentialing.  In terms of their feeling today that they will not have a position, we have not shared that they will not have a position next year.

Waldon says we have 25 lead teachers who meet the state credentialing, 16 who do not.   Says that it isn’t wise to compromise the pre-k program.

Burks: I don’t think anyone is asking us to compromise anything.  I just think there is a way to do it.  “Grow before you go.” (Burks speaks about giving our pre-k teachers an opportunity to enhance their skills).

Burks confirms that there are no expected teacher layoffs in the proposed budget.

Salary Increases Q&A

Burks: Are we expecting any grade/step changes for incumbents in June that would affect FY14?

Smith:  There are not any known increases in ’13 that would impact ’14.

English: Including HR?

Smith: Project Thrive? Yes, that includes Thrive.

Burks: The project Thrive we approved is reflected in this budget?

Kinanne:  What may have been someone serving in one capacity may

Smith: If individuals are sitting in one position and are promoted to another position, yes, that would be a normal course of an individual who might receive a promotion of some sort.

Kinnane: That would raise a concern.  If those are promotions and salary raises but we are being told there are no salary raises…  If we’re not having salary raises for teachers then no one should be getting salary raises.  If we’re saying we’re not doing that then no one better be getting that.

Burks: Playing with titles for people to get salary raises.

McDaniel: IF a person is taking an existing position they could not get the higher salary?

English: Even in the hypothetical, how do we do give that person a raise and not give a teacher a step.

McDaniel:  If a person competes for a position and gets selected are we saying they shouldn’t get additional money?

Burks: We’re saying don’t reclassify the position for the person to get additional money.  What we have seen a lot this school year is the reclassification of a position so that the person gets more money.

Meister:  I’ve heard that teachers who have gotten their masters are not getting an increase. (Burbridge says that all teachers should be receiving an increase when they obtain a higher degree).

Smith:  May I make a comment based on what I heard and saw based on facial expressions.  There is no sinister plan to pass a budget and reclassify positions to allow individuals to get an increase in pay.  I wanted to at least respond to that.

Newly Created Positions Q&A:

Burks: We have heard of at least 4 positions….if we know of any during the budget process let us know of them at this time.  We’ve even heard the names of people who would be in some positions.  That is why there is a level of discomfort.  That’s troubling.

Amos:  I was stopped during graduation week and the topic of our parent liaisons came up and I was told we are going from degree-preferred to masters degree required.

Waldon: That is not true.

Burks: I would say we should see a list of any recommended re-classifications and a justification along with financial impact before any budget is passed.

Muhammad:  If there are people that are in administration, and we do have several new people in administration, and we are talking about no increases or re-classifications moving forward, does that impact any of those individuals who came on in the new administration?  Are they exempt or are they are a part of this as well?

Burks: Does this relate to reclass?

Muhammad: Yes, or commitments that were made to individuals.

Smith: We certainly can include that with any research we are doing.

Muhammad: If a commitment has been made to someone are we rescinding that commitment?

Additional C&I Cuts Q&A:

Waldon presents to BOE.

Waldon: When you look at the C&I structure/org chart, long term I’m not sure how we will support some of the work we need to do.  Right now 50% of the positions budgeted centrally still go out to support schools but are based on soft dollars, 50% of our staff are funded with special revenue (Race to the Top, Title, etc).

Kinnane: Knowing that times are lean, looking at the central office and they may be funded by soft dollars but we have a large number of people working at the central office, was there a look at additional people supporting the classroom and if there could be any shifts that way.

Waldon: There could potentially be some shifts.  When we look at districts like Houston, Charlotte, Denver we are in line with the kind of work we have to do.  One of the things we’ve been addressing for anumber of months are  many issues surrounding compliance.  That can’t be done at the schoolhouse.  In a couple of years, a number of positions that are here, no longer are here.  That’s one example of a scenario within C&I (support given to schools for Common Core with positions funded by Race to the Top).

McDaniel: What would really help everyone, is to challenge us to think about who really needs to be here.

Smith:  We absolutely will continue to do that and take an even harder look.  We talked about functional requirements and continue to ask those tough and necessary questions.

-END OF Q&A-

Burks:  What we’ve talked about is that we will start with our class sizes where we ended this year and look for an additional $2M to increase our teachers/paraprofessionals with a max of 1.5M coming from fund balance and ..5M coming from furloughs or central office cuts. No newly created positions outside of teachers, we would be presented with any new re-classifications prior to any final budget, we are looking at 3 furlough days and possibly more.  Bell schedule will change. Increase in presence of security and officers.  We will make a recommendation to our policy committee to look at a policy around any budget changes over 2% would have to come back before the board before it is done.  We started to see a lot of re-classifications and moving of positions so we are going to be looking for a policy to be implemented for this policy based on classifications.

English: What would be the big budget takeaway around the millage piece?

McDaniel: Each time we sell real-estate or potential transaction, that transaction has to come before the board.

Meister:  Where did we come up with the $8.5 if we’ve thrown other properties into it.

McDaniel:  Originally it was 6M based on AIS sale, they then went back and said lets look at all inventory and access what it is all worth.  That’s when they came up with the 8.5M number.

Kinnane: So leaving some amount in there for property sales, we’re not saying we’re approving the sale of AIS.

McDaniel: We’re not approving any sale.  If we deny them all, we will be 8.5M short.

Meister:  Do we as a board think its realistic to market and close and do everything with these properties?

Burbridge:  Can we identify and sell properties to bring resources in by June 20 2014, I don’t see that being an impossibility…a challenge…but not impossible.

McDaniel: We are not starting from zero in the process (sale of the property).

English:  Just for me, the second piece is a broad strategy question.  If we had a tagline around how this budget will improve student achievement, what would that be?  That is the most important work. What does this represent in terms of our ability to drive student achievement.  I know we’re doing stuff, so that is still a major point of discomfort for me.

Burks: I’m hoping that before we get to the final budget we will have that answer.  Maybe we can put talking points together based on departments/buckets.

English: Just because it is so important and I don’t want to send mixed signals, I’m ready to support the budget.

Smith:  My understanding is that you’re receiving…

Burks:  At this point we are up against a June 27th timeline and we still have time between now and the adoption of a tentative budget and we have to have a public hearing.  We still have time to be provided more information that outlines this information.

McDaniel: We have a strategic plan, balanced scorecard, superintendents scorecard and this budget drives the results we want to see on that scorecard.  I would like to see a presentation that brings those items to life.  How does this budget drive us to those balanced scorecard….

Muhammad:  I understand we have a balanced scorecard, but I think it is important that we say what we are requesting as a board.  If we want to see graduation rates increase or test scores increase in some particular area…I just hope this board can be clear about what it wants to see.

Burks: I agree.  I’m going to ask our board chair to work with Mr. Amos, our accountability chair, on that.

Smith:  I want to be sure that we have the same set of talking points that you have recorded.  There are a range of 8 to 10 or 11 over the last half hour.

Burks: Yes

MOTION

Burks makes motion to move budget forward with items earlier raised. Motion passes. Meeting adjourned.

LEGISLATIVE MEETING now beginning.

McDaniel: We will adjust the agenda to show us receiving the recommendation + resolutions.

There will be public comment from one community member.

Speaker represents the Jackson High School cluster and SEACS and says that the BOE has missed an opportunity to make bigger systemic changes this year.  Suggests a school based budgeting process in the future.

McDaniel:  Ms. Burks…

Burks: I would ask that the board receive what was voted on out of the budget commission meeting.

Kinnane: Ms. Burks would you  mind reading the item again about what we are receiving?

Burks: The class size for the next school year would start where they ended this past school year at a maximum.  There would be an additional 2M to fund additional teachers/para’s.  1.5M of that could come from fund balance.  A minimum of 500k would come from looking inside of central office and additional furlough days based on salaries.

McDaniel: We will receive this budget as a board which will allow us to post it on the website and hold public meetings.

Motion made

Muhammad;  Is there another opportunity for a budget commission meeting before the adoption?

Burks: There could be and we would have to be presented with a budget that includes all of these things.  It would have to be the beginning of next week before June 6.

Motion carries

REVISED AGENDA now includes

Resolutions for Action:
a.  Report No. 12/13-0114: Requesting a tax levy for the fy 2014 general fund budget (first read)
b.  Report No. 12/13-0115 Requesting a tax levy for the fy 2014 bond sinking fund (first read)

Motion carries.

7:06pm – Meeting adjourned

 

CALENDAR RE-CAP:

5/28 Send notice to paper advertising availability of budget for public review (will run in paper tomorrow).

5/29  Budget Commission Meeting and APS Board Meeting

6/3  Advertise millage and digest

6/4  Community meeting

6/5  Community meeting

Note:  BOE could decide to include an additional budget commission meeting prior to 6/6

6/6  Public hearing and APS Board meeting (tentative adoption of budget)

Note: Accountability commission is scheduled to meet during the 2nd week of June

6/10 Advertise millage and digest

6/13  Advertise budget

6/17 APS Board meeting with final approval of millage

6/20 Advertise budget

6/27  Final adoption of budget

May 29, 2013 at 7:13 pm Leave a comment

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Search Community Input Schedule

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Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Search Community Input Schedule

The Atlanta Board of Education’s Superintendent Search Committee has released the schedule for four community input sessions – May 15, 16, 20 and 21. The sessions are designed to give citizens the opportunity to provide feedback on the characteristics they believe are critical in the next Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent.

The Superintendent Search Committee has committed to gathering input from all key stakeholders such as parents, teacher and students. “All members of the search committee affirm the importance of gathering extensive community input in this search,” said committee chair Ann Cramer, who is a retired IBM executive and mother of former APS students. “We hope everyone interested will take advantage of this opportunity, and we pledge to provide full transparency during the process.”

The search committee will also post an online survey to gather input from community members, using it as well as the input from the community sessions to develop a profile for the next Atlanta Public Schools superintendent. The committee will then submit the profile to the Atlanta Board of Education for review and approval. After approval by the Board of Education, the search committee will use the profile to attract and recruit potential candidates. Ultimately the committee will recommend three to five candidates for the Board’s consideration.

Superintendent Search Committee community meetings

The Superintendent Search Committee will hold community meetings at schools in every cluster. The purpose of the meetings is to obtain input regarding the profile for the next superintendent.  The meeting dates and locations are listed below. All meetings will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

bw-cal-Atlanta-CE-Press-Release-revised-Final

For updates, please visit www.atlantapublicschools.us/superintendentsearch

May 10, 2013 at 3:06 pm Leave a comment

LIVE BLOG: May 6, 2013 Board of Education Meeting

Thank you for following our live blog of the May  Board of Education Meeting for Atlanta Public Schools.

View today’s agenda here: http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/Public

REFRESH your browser often for updates.

The meeting will begin soon.

2:20pm – Meeting called to order by BOE chair Reuben McDaniel.  This is a work session with Chuck Burbridge, CFO giving a brief financial report.

FINANCIAL REPORT

Summary of FY 2013 Expenditures

General Fund
($Millions)

Beginning Balance
FY 12 Actual $79.2, FY 13 May Forecast $80.9, FY 13 Budget N/A, April Forecast N/A, FY 12 Actual N/A
Ending Balance FY 12 Actual $80.9, FY 13 May Forecast $69.5, FY 13 Budget $12.5, April Forecast $0.0, FY 12 Actual N/A

Opportunities
–Depending on how the current appeals and adjustments are resolved, we may have additional increases to the property tax forecast.
–Non-salary expenses are lower when compared to same period for prior year.
Risks
–Salary expenditures remain high and  we will continue to monitor vacancies.
–Forecast for other revenues related to indirect costs and E-Rate may not fully be realized.
{End of Presentation – no questions from BOE}
Next up is a presentation of PROJECT THRIVE:  Human Capital Transformation by HR

The district views this Human Capital project as the primary vehicle to refocus our Human Resources organization to deliver services that are operationally sound and, even more importantly, completely aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives and the needs of the core business which is effective instruction.  The district wishes to develop a best-in-class Human Resources organization that supports its mission by transcending transactional proficiency and adopting supportive, strategic Human Resources activities.
VIEW THE ENTIRE POWERPOINT:

HR Proposal   

http://www.atlanta.k12.ga.us/cms/lib/GA01000924/Centricity/Domain/1/APS%20Board%20Meeting_HR%20Transformation%20Proposal%20for%20New%20HR%20Structure_May%206%202013_%20FINAL.ppt

2:58pm – The BOE work session has ended and the

Two items will be added under discussion and action:

1.  Washington High School, begin process of moving away from small schools and into small learning communities

2.  Begin discussion of reconstitution of Douglass High School

3.  Superintendent’s score-card approval

There will also be four reports from various committees including the Superintendent Search Committee.  We will now have public comments from members of the community who have called in to speak on specific agenda items.
Speakers:
Speaker 1: Item 2/04
What is missing is the ability to support the Jackson cluster.  What is missing is how to get the dollars out to the classroom.  What is missing is the full context of the FY 2014 budget.  I just looked at the HR presentation on guiding principles and strategy and I don’t see that in the agenda for these items.
Speaker 2: Item 2/04
I come to you today to discuss goals and objectives.  I will discuss APS central office budget and antiquated planning.  Our charter schools could be destroyed if APS continues on this path.  One school, Tech High, immediately shut its doors last year due to the pension fund issue.  (Dr. Grant:  Again, I would like to remind you that you called in to speak on mission, vision, goals…) Earlier this year Fulton County ruled that APS was violating the law (surrounding charters) and ordered APS to release the money.
McDaniel:  We’ve asked that you speak towards specific items on the agenda and you have not done that.  What you’ve done is taken an agenda item and transitioned to another topic.
Speaker:  This is about the vision of the strategic planning
Speaker 3:  Class size resolution
As a board your job is to set policy and I urge you to set a policy limiting class sizes to the current size.  The resolution today is not what you’ve done in the past. In the past, the waiver has always been to 33 and APS has budgeted to 28, this year they are budgeting to 33, not 28.  They are budgeting to 33, there is not enough money and they will get rid of teachers.  They will remove 300 teachers.  I’m not pulling these numbers out of thin air.  We haven’t seen a budget yet and its not your job to micromanage the budget.  Last year we lost 400 teachers and this year they are talking about another 300. That’s 21% of the workforce.  I understand that teachers need help, they need HR, bus drivers, back office…but if we’re gonna cut costs, lets not do it in the classroom, lets do it in administration.  There is a lot of fluff that can be cut.  Force APS to make difficult choices in their own house and not in our schools. (VIEW THE LATEST BUDGET PRESENTATION HERE: http://www.atlantapublicschools.us/cms/lib/GA01000924/Centricity/Domain/12/Budget%20Commission%20Meeting%20Presentation%2005%2002%202013.ppt
This ends the public comment portion of the meeting.
Superintendent is now presenting the Consent Agenda.  View the entire agenda here:

2.05:  Authorization to Revise Policy JBCCA Student Assignment to Schools (First Reading)
YJohnson:  The concern was whether we would routinely consider transfers when we were considering the capacity of a school.  This policy will outline how we will determine capacity for students which will then determine the availability for transfers.   The capacity as a base level would always be established by the zoned students.  That was the conversation. In my mind I thought this was important enough to bring to the BOE.

Superintendent:  I think that prior to this revision the view of capacity of the building was a physical capacity, meaning that if we ever have a building that was not at its capacity we could fill it.  The policy does make it clear that we will consider the faculty capacity, in essence we will not increase the faculty to accommodate transfers into the school.  Once a child is there on an admin transfer, they are included in our capacity count going forward.

Meister:  We had a lot of discussion about this.  There are a few things that were taken out of JBCCA that I believe are being put into a regulation.  I do believe those are policies we have in place and now they are being shifted into a regulation and I question that.  There are a lot of different definitions on capacity.  Classroom space is cited in the policy but doesn’t have a definition.
YJohnson:  Having a K-12 administrative transfer was never a part of the policy.
Meister:  No I just wanted to add that to the discussion.
Superintendent:  I think we’ve responded to the concerns with logic behind it, but if you want to have that discussion, then perhaps we can take it back to committee.
EJohnson:  I want to know what the administration thinks of the policy.
Superintendent:  I think what you have before you represents our best work around this policy.
Butler-Burks discusses employee transfers…
Superintendent:  The issue comes when you say its time for that child to move onto the next school. Then you have a child in a school where the parent is not working, or the parent moves somewhere else.  The real issue from a policy perspective is whether once a teacher has a child in a cluster, whether you are willing to let the child proceed thru the cluster, knowing that you may bump a child or add to the capacity definition.  I agree 100% that if the child comes with the mother/father to a school, that that is a perk we have provided, but as far as remaining in the cluster….
Butler Burks:  One of the things I’ve learned about Atlanta is that we’ve known to be the first and only sometimes so I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t find it.
McDaniel:  The issue around employees being able to have their children in the system is one the BOE seems to have interest in.  I think the policy committee should have discussion on what part of that should be policy vs regulations.
YJohnson:  So 1.  BOE employees allowing their children to be at the school where they are.  2.  The consideration of a K-12 administration transfer for employees.  3. ?
Meister speaks about the fact that some items which she thought were law have now been pulled from certain policies.  Makes references to No Child Left Behind laws.
Superintendent:  The law has changed and when the law changes we have to make a policy change.
Meister:  So when the law changes…
Superintendent:  We obviously should have a policy that says we have to follow the law, where then we don’t have to reference the law in the policy.
Meister:  My last one was the definition of capacity.  I thought as a board we would talk about class size and capacity.
YJohnson:  And just for my list, do we want to see a definition of capacity in the policy?
McDaniel:  I think one of the issues is how class size goes into the definition of capacity.  The way the policy reads now is that we give the administration the tools to use and the administration brings back the capacity.  The question is whether we as a board are going to define capacity.
Superintendent:  The mechanics of how you define this says that this is an exact science and it is not.  If we are going to move to a new building next year, we may do something different next year…how those factors all fit together is not precise. (Superintendent uses examples to support the fact that the formula for capacity is not a one-size-fits-all exercise).
The policy committee will discuss these items at their next meeting.
McDaniel is pulling 2.05 and 2.06 from the agenda.
2.07:  Authorization to Abolish and Create Positions within the Human Resources Division.  See today’s presentation here: http://www.atlanta.k12.ga.us/cms/lib/GA01000924/Centricity/Domain/1/APS%20Board%20Meeting_HR%20Transformation%20Proposal%20for%20New%20HR%20Structure_May%206%202013_%20FINAL.ppt
Discussion has been taking place on this item for about 10 minutes.
HR:  We simply want to make sure we were cost neutral or under what we are currently spending.  One of the critical things we did was to look at other large urban districts and what they were doing.
Superintendent:  Fixing a number assumes a delivery technology and we are…as we move more and more things with program learning and computer tech, we may want to go to a different number (teachers:teacher mentors)
HR:  We are asking you to fund where we believe we should be.  Moving to 14-15 you will notice that the positions in green have been deferred b/c we don’t know what will happen to Race to the Top.  Once we have confirmation we can come to you with recommendations of the number of teachers for 14-15 school year.

THE SUPERINTENDENT REPORTS:

As outlined in report number 11/12-5116, the board previously authorized the abolishment of thirty-one (31) Human Resources positions.  All of the positions were proposed for elimination so that the District can refocus our Human Resources organization to deliver services that are operationally sound and, even more importantly, completely aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives and the needs of the core business, which is effective instruction.

In December, 2012, the District embarked on a HR Transformation initiative, which is funded and supported by the Gates Foundation, and which was approved by the Board of Education on November 5, 2012.   The initiative, called Project Thrive, has developed a robust and modern service delivery model that leverages best practices and enables operational efficiency, centers of expertise for Talent, and Strategic HR Partners focused on proactive and strategic services for Regional Directors and Principals. The district designed a best-in-class Human Resources organization that supports its mission by transcending transactional proficiency and adopting supportive, strategic Human Resources.

As mentioned above, the Board previously abolished thirty-one (31) positions, of which seventeen (17) are classified and covered by Board Policy GCKA.  The Board, at the same time, approved creation of thirty-two (32) positions. We recommend the transition of funds from the positions created in Report 11/12-5116 to create forty-eight (48) positions in support of the new HR Structure, which includes the thirty-two (32) positions mentioned above, plus sixteen (16) current positions.

Further, to fully support the strategic objectives and desired future state HR capabilities and services, we recommend an additional twenty-four (24) positions for the HR function. We are transitioning funds for positions currently in Curriculum and Instruction, which are currently performing HR activities, to create funding for the additional positions. This action would have the additional benefit of streamlining HR activities across the District, enabling HR expertise services, and allowing it to fulfill its mission to perform as a best-in-class Human Resources organization.

RECOMMENDATION:  That the aforementioned positions are abolished and created. And, the attached plan and organizational structure are approved.

REASON:  To streamline HR activities across the District, enable HR expertise services, and fulfill its mission to perform as a best-in-class Human Resources organization.

FINANCIAL IMPLICATION:  Cost Savings  

FUNDING SOURCE:  General and Special Revenue Accounts

Butler-Burks asks for this to be moved so that an amendment can be made.  Item is moved to New Business.
2:08 Authorization to Abolish and Create Positions within the Curriculum and Instruction Division and Execute a Transition Plan
Kinnane asks that this item is pulled for discussion and action.
4.01  Authorization to Amend the Project Budget and Construction Management at Risk Contract with J.E. Dunn Construction Co. For the new NAHS Construction Project
Kinnane poses question about the need to increase this budget.  Alvah Hardy, Director of Facilities, gives explanation.
From the Agenda Item:THE SUPERINTENDENT REPORTS:
In April 2012, the Board authorized the superintendent to enter into and execute a contract with J. E. Dunn Construction Co. (formally known as R. J. Griffin & Company) for the New North Atlanta High School construction project (Report 11/12 -4311). Unforeseen conditions have been encountered and additional costs will be incurred to satisfactorily complete the project including removal of solid rock and large crushed rocks, processing of unsuitable soils and large crushed rocks for backfill, additional building code requirements, repairs to the existing building, a U. S. Department of Labor wage rate determination investigation that could lead to an increase in applied labor wage rates, and temporary facilities to accommodate the phased completion schedule. To accomplish these changes, it is necessary to obtain approval to increase the construction management at risk contract amount and the project budget.
RECOMMENDATION:  To follow established procedures and provide for the implementation of the Atlanta Public Schools capital improvement program consistent with providing a complete project within the approved project budget.

REASON:  To follow established procedures and provide for the implementation of the Atlanta Public Schools capital improvement program consistent with providing a complete project within the approved project budget.

FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS:  Increase construction contract in the amount of $13,593,989 and the project budget by $13,993,989.

FUNDING SOURCE:  The funds are available in the Capital Construction accounts.

Butler-Burks request explanation as to why a principal’s request is being honored as a building request.  Increase comes from SPLOST III budget and leaves SPLOST IV unchanged.  Asks for cost of reconfiguration of building based on principal’s request.  Mr. Hardy will bring that answer back to her at a later time.

Superintendent:  No one is disadvantaged in SPLOST IV because of this.  Now obviously, if some of those projects had been done in SPLOST III we could have done more in SPLOST IV, but we didn’t know at that time what the close-outs would be in SPLOST III.

Meister: Was there collaboration between past admin team and current admin team?  So much work was put into this prior.

Hardy:  I can’t answer to the collaboration.

Meister:  But you were at those project meetings.  I just don’t understand how we change course.

Superintendent: What might be helpful is a deconstruction of what costs drive what.  What we know now is that the majority of this ($5.8M) is due to the rocks.

Hardy: 900K = design changes, $1.9M = permit code issues…..

E.Johnson:  I’m a little concerned that we are making adjustments based on what an individual wants.  That would set a precedent.  Are these luxury changes or changes to accommodate a program.  (Johnson brings up the fact that requests were made by principals and parents in the past that were denied, but in this case approved).

Butler-Burks concurs and suggests that the money could be used towards another school in SPLOST III.

YJohnson:  What is the total?

Superintendent:  While he’s looking, if you look at construction costs this is a big building.  When you look at cost per student, this is not nearly as expensive, including Mays.  Cost per student was much more.  Number excludes the land.

YJohnson:  REally?

Superintendent:  Yes.  It’s just a bigger place.

English:  In our other schools, were there spaces where we can address a critical need?  I want to know what those needs are and if they exist.

Superintendent:  We would have to go back and look at SPLOST III projects that have been deemed complete.  Those that were not started have been moved to IV and given priority

EJohnson suggests pulling the item.

McDaniel recommends discussing it when it comes back up later on the consent agenda.

2.05, 2.06 pulled off agenda  and referred back to policy committee.  2.07 moved to new business.  2.08 moved to discussion and action.  2.09 moved to after executive session.  3.01 moved to discussion and action after executive session.  4.01 moved to discussion and action.

Consent agenda approved with changes.

Item 2.08 now back up for discussion.  Principals will now be able to hire full time and/or part time parent liaisons during the next school year.  If a principal wanted to hire one part and one full time parent liaison, they could under this agenda item.

Butler Burks:  Why don’t we create the number of full time and part time positions…we say we are pushing the decision down but actually we are forcing the decision.

Superintendent:  I think the solution to this is some flexibility in the personnel system particularly on non-revenue funds…these are Title funds.  Its not our desire to restrict them, its our desire to give them an option.  We are not trying to force 94 full time on them.  The problem is not with the money, the problem is with the system (HR system that locks positions into position numbers with no flex).

McDaniel:  And if we pulled this off the agenda…. (asks about timeline).

YJohnson suggests new language.

McDaniel:  We need to get to a point where we have 2 items.

Superintendent:  The one thing that is going to cause timing issues is the creation of positions in HR.  I’m not sure why abolishment would cause you problems.

Kinnane says she wants to not abolish.

Superintendent:  We can deal with them next week in budget discussions.

Kinnane:  I thought the reason it came to us now was getting to the gist of…we have a program that supports our classrooms, but we are now saying….

Superintendent:  I don’t think you want to go for a net increase.

Karen Waldon: I appreciate the level of concern from Ms. Kinnane, it was a level of concern in C&I also.  We are convinced that the model will work.  We are using the new teacher center materials and the model will remain intact. The school support on the ground will really enhance what we’ve already done.  If the previous model was applauded by the state, this one will be done so even more.

Kinnane:  It feels like we’re losing the people that have received this training.

Waldon:  The onsite support with master teachers, we believe, is an important part of this program.

McDaniel:  We have an item with 2 components (94 new positions created, elimination of 17 positions)

Motion made and 2nd to separate two items.

Now have an item to abolish 17 positions related to the Human Resources transformation.

Kinnane:  I don’t think it is, what I am raising is, not I’m saying, I don’t see the benefit….I would say there is a relation between what is going to be created in that division, yes, but I don’t think that is the same thing as saying we are eliminating the 17….

3 opposed (Kinnane, Butler Burks, EJohnson), motion passes.

Moving to Executive Session.  Community Meeting will resume at 6pm. Live Blog will continue then.

6:40pm The BOE is back and the community meeting will now begin with the first 30 comments.  The remaining speakers, approx 40, will speak after the committee of the whole meeting.

Speaker (Able Mable) I think it was a mistake that Kennedy was closed.  I’ve been hearing from parents in the neighborhood about overcrowding (in the new school) and conflicts.  Now I hear that Drew is coming into Kennedy.  It almost seems that Kennedy is good in physical structure for a whole side of town to come over, but not to keep the kids there and use recruitment to get kids to come to the school.  We also heard about the career academies but no real plan on how it will look.  We need for Kennedy not to close next year….no closure…what we want to do is to organize in a way that we can bring that school back online.  The money you are using at Brown, which is a little out of control, we can bring that back to Kennedy.  I’m an alumni also of BTWashington and we believe that we want to go back to one school, one principal.  We think the children would be better served with a comprehensive Washington structure.  One school, one principal and given the proper academic support from the board and the community.

Speaker:  We are from the Street Smart project and I want to present you today with a gift.  Our card is inside with our website and we want to build bridges.  We are here to reduce underage drinking and we focus on Adamsville and English Park.  We just wanted to present this to you. Speaker:  I attend Harper-Archer and I came from Sutton Middle School.

Speaker:  (Toomer Parent) Our school currently has the desire and the community support to move this (pre-K) program in the coming year.  We have the capacity to start an academic 6th grade in the next school year without any additional cost.  We are looking for the BOE support in this.  We believe this will give the opportunity for the brand of Toomer to continue.  As they matriculate they look for other options (charter/private) and we would like to retain more students.

Speaker:  (Jackson Cluster) I sent all of you a letter late last week and I’m going to highlight a few pieces. We are really excited in the Jackson Cluster.  We have fantastic leadership at all of our schools.  You are doing amazing things with the building of Jackson High.  What we need for you to do is think more about greater autonomy and equity in all of our schools because we do not want you to undermine our success.  Please, think strategically and creatively.  Thank you.

Speaker:  (ANCS Parent) We are very responsible stewards, and even though the offer has been made to return the funds, that money would have to be given back if we lost.  I started a petition online that I understand isn’t going to do much, but in a week’s time we got 1300 students.  These are 1300 people who are willing to fight very hard for students in APS.  We are really looking forward to working with you.  When parents wake up, they don’t say I want to send kids to a charter school, they say they want to send their kids to a good school.

Speaker:  (ANCS Parent) I commend you guys, you have been to our school.  I do appreciate that you’ve been there.  We have people and parents who are private school educated who want to go to a public school and make it work.  Take away the politics, take away whatever else is going on and its just kids.  They are here today and they are representative or our school and neighborhoods.  If you’re spending $45M to feed a school fed by 40% charter students I think you must respect charters and fund them equally.

Next two speakers also speak on behalf of charter schools, Wesley International and ACNS

ACNS student Luke just “rocked the mic.” with a great personal story and advocacy for his school.  Great job Luke – you are one amazing kid!

Next speaker represents neighborhood group NAPPS speaks out against the potential sale of the property where Atlanta International School is housed as a possible way to

Following speaker advocates for charter schools becoming a part of the strategic plan for Jackson High School.  “We are the ones coming in and giving our heart to that school.”

Speaker: (ANCS Parent) Able Mable said something interesting which is “neighborhoods change.”  I moved to Grant Park in ’89 when couples would come to GP, have kids and leave.  Now you look around and there are a million kids.  Jackson is on the cusp of greatness.  $45M is a huge investment we are making in that school, yet we want to cut the funding to charters.  If the charter schools fail, I worry that Jackson is going to fail.  We succeed, Jackson succeeds.   We can do better, we can make this work.

I am a parent of children at Grady and Inman.  Overall your teachers are not teaching and your administrators are waiting for the sky to fall, something to happen.  No one knows how to return phone calls, emails, letters (to BOE).  I don’t want to wait at the school for 3 hours for the principal not to address me.  I would like my kids to be taught a lesson.  If my child with an IEP has to do a foreign language, how does he pass the class and how does he graduate?  You all sit here and I wait for these answers.  I’m not worried about charters…you’re not teaching the kids in your own schools.  Whose teaching our students?  When are you going to start reprimanding the teachers and administrators. (Huge applause)

Speaker: (Grady Parent) As our reserve fund is dwindling I am afraid that we are all going to find ourselves fighting and clawing for the remaining funds.  Really put a plan in place (regarding budget) so that we really have a roadmap.

Speaker:  I am here with a group called Neighbors United for West End.  Our concern is Brown Middle School and Kennedy.  Right now Brown is overcrowded and now it is a bigger problem because we have students stacked on top of one another.  There was a situation last week where there were 13 fights before school started.  We are going to stay with this because we are concerned about our children.  We are concerned there are no books for our kids to take home.  We have kids who can’t read, write or do simple math.  We are here to stand up for them because they cannot stand up for themselves.

Speaker:  (Community Member – West End)  Years ago my daughter was preparing for middle school.  I live a 2 minute walk from Brown and I went to the school, spoke with the counselor and talked to her about my daughter.  I showed her the grades and reports.  The guidance counselor walked around the desk, closed the door and said “If you tell anyone I told you this, I will deny it.  I would not send my child here.”  She gave me the name of Drew Charter and I heeded her good advice and enrolled my child in Drew.  I drove to Drew everyday when I lived a 2 minute walk from Drew.  That is a crime.

Speaker:  (Community Member) We need two schools Brown and Kennedy.  It was so great to hear the young man earlier say he reads books, we don’t even have books [at Brown].

Speaker:  (Community Member – West End)  I would like to say that we have some serious issues, but we also have solutions.  We are district 2 and we are serious about our commitment to the young people.  We need Kennedy and Brown.  Let’s split the population.  We’re trying to build a sustainable cluster for success.  We have ideas and passion.  Brown, the leadership needs help and work.  When we came out to the school and said we could help, APS tells us they have to do paperwork.  They say all teachers are not bad, but if you are following bad leadership….  We have to do some serious cleansing in our schools.  We are fed up.  With the increase of the population, the sewage system is backing up.  Pay attention charter schools, these are the resources we are getting.  They take the kids, crowd them up on top of each other, then suspend them.  We need to revisit the approach to discipline in our schools.  The only time those kids get to go to the schools is when they get into a fight.  Mr. Amos, Mr. English stand up for these communities.

The next speaker talks about the political power and persuasion that went into building Drew High School.  “We did not suspect that Kennedy would be occupied by Drew.”

Next speaker speaks about how the district has divided parents and how we have not been able to communicate to the community what will be done with schools that close.

Speaker:  We are fighting like crazy to get a field house at Mays High and we are spending $3M on rocks? (NAHS).

Speaker: (Teacher Union Leader)  We are continually having problems finding candidates to serve on the BOE.  We are going to ask everyone in the audience to call us and email us your contact information so that we can put the hot irons to the state capitol where the money is being taken from the schools.

Next speaker asks that the classroom teachers not be increased in the 2013-14 budget.

Speaker: Many special ed teachers have been forced to sign a remediation plan.  These teachers are highly qualified in the subjects they teach, but you are asking them to become highly qualified in subjects they do not teach or have never taught.

Following speaker asks for a motion on the floor tonight that closes small schools at Washington High School.

Grady High Student speaks about the school’s robotics program and asks that all schools in Atlanta have a STEM based robotics program.  States there are 3 major obstacles when starting a robotics program – lack of knowledge, funding and sponsors.  Says that she and teammates will work to establish teams.  Asks that the BOE makes a public commitment to support robotics as a competitive sport and puts it into every APS K-12 school.

READ TONIGHT’S AGENDA HERE –>http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/Public

This ends the firs part of tonight’s community meeting.

8:00pm COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE now beginning.

The HR agenda item is now back up for discussion.

Butler Burks asks that an amendment is made to the part of the item that speaks to teacher mentors. Motion to amend carries.

Gains and Losses up for vote.  Motion carries.

Item 3.01 regarding Career and Tech programs and lab equipment up for discussion.  Motion carries.

Item 4.01 regarding NAHS additional funds needed to complete construction.  Mr. Hardy says that the principal did not act unilaterally.  $450K deals with the chemistry lab and hoods due to the height of the building.  The original design had chemistry labs in all for academies, but because of the 10th grade being the time frame you take chemistry, those 10th graders would remain in their 2 level academy and that’s when we changed to floorplan for the labs.

Butler-Burks:  You said it was changed from the original design.  Would this cost have been in there in the original design?

Hardy: No.  In reference to the design at other schools, some campuses were designed as independent schools and were accommodated as individual schools.

Butler-Burks:  My recommendation would be to not change the original design.  This is a want vs a need.  Its a change to wanting grades by floor which adds $450K to a project.

Kinnane:  Has NAHS transitioned from small learning communities?

Superintendent:  They will still have SLC’s.

Kinnane:  But I thought the change was to change the school to grade level floors.

Superintendent:  They will be in SLC’s but by grade as well.

Karen Waldon:  I don’t have the proposal that was drawn up with me, but one of the concerns at NAHS was that there were issues regarding student access, equity in terms of programming…so they do have the SLC’s.  They are separated by grade level but the SLC’s are in tact.  Many of the students were not able to access the AP classes and this is a more robust approach to that.  Dr. Mays and the head of our SLC’s went out to meet with Dr. Taylor and we know this is a viable approach.

Meister:  Is there another place to find the $450k in the budget?  If we have to do that is there a place to find those dollars?

Hardy:  This is the best way to approve those dollars.  I’m not really sure I understand the question.

Meister:  If this is a want, is there another place….

Hardy:  There is a $1.9M contingency, that is true in all of your budgets.

Kinnane:  What threw us are the changes.  We do want to build the labs and now is the time to do it. I don’t think we are suggesting we don’t want to outfit labs as we should.

Butler Burks:  The initial design allowed for the appropriate # of labs.  It was the changing of floors that changed it by $450k.

Superintendent:  I agree, but I wouldn’t hold this out as an anomaly.  We expanded the music program (building) at Jackson.  This is not strangely unusual.

Hardy:  It is not uncommon to have programmatic changes.

Kinnane:  For the Jackson one it was a little different, the design was to best house the …It wasn’t that someone came in and said I want a whole different approach or plan.  We don’t want to shortchange other schools that also want to make those modifications.

Superintendent:  If that is the concern you can drop the authorization by this amount and we can figure out how to get the funds from within the budget.

McDaniel:  We do need chem labs in the school and floor by floor gives him the physical configuration he needs.

Hardy says that the hoods in the lab re-design represent $450k.

Buter Burks moves that BOE modifies increase  by $450k.

Muhammad: Does this mean we won’t have the labs here?

McDaniel:  It sounds like two options is that they will either find $450k somewhere else in the budget or put them back in original design and students would have to go to different floors for chemistry.

English:  I have an equity question.  There are schools around the district without labs period.

Hardy:  A high school?

English: I can take you to 3.

Muhammad:  They will not be without, they will have a lab.

English:  My commentary was on the entire increase.

Kinnane:  We all got thrown by hearing changes were requested.  But did it come from a safety issue?  Is this because of safety concern?

Hardy:  It’s because of a student management issue.

McDaniel:  Motion on floor is to approve action item less $450K

Motion passes.

Amos brings a motion to the floor asking the BOE to move on Washington High School’s small school model.

YJohnson:  I would like to hear from the supt. in relation to that.

Superintendent:  As you remember over the last year, we waxed hot and cold on this not so much on a philosophical perspective but over what is politically do-able.  We decided during the last process that this wasn’t worth doing and we could get some economies out of the schools by sharing resources.  Looking at the performance of the small schools, 9 of the 12 “priority schools” as designated by the state are our small schools.  Leadership counts more than structure.  The only cost comparisons we’ve ever made is looking at NAHS, Carver EC at one time and saw 6-700k difference.  We looked at it this year and said is it worth the fight.  We wanted to do away with small schools 2 years ago.  We want to get public comment, polling and make recommendations on what we’ve heard.  We’ve heard from the Carver community and South Atlanta who are not particularly in favor of doing away with them, but Therrell and Washington…

Amos:  I would like to withdraw my motion and  put another on the floor.  Authorize superintendent to start the process of closing small schools at Washington High Schools and for the superintendent to bring back a plan of transition to the next board meeting.

YJohnson:  Is it my understanding that given the input you’ve received you are comfortable moving forward with Washington?

Superintendent:  We’ve had strong indication from Washington but there are more people in that community that are not at these meetings.  What we would do is have school closing meetings as required by law.

EJohnson asks that the district looks at the data behind the schools.

Muhammad:  I think we should do it differently.  I think a lot of people didn’t realize what the change was for the schools.  There were people there and they were there to listen and they were not able to communicate to the parents or young people in the school.  Someone is going to have to talk back to those in the audience to let them know what the plan is.

Superintendent:  There are two separate messages you are talking about here.  The start process is to take the comment pro and con. The other is a free form exploratory discussion.

Motion passes.

Next up is the discussion item surrounding the reconstituting of Douglass HIgh School. Brought by BOE member English.

English:  Douglass had a history of being one of the highest performing schools in the district, now, with the exception of Crim, it is the lowest performing in the district.  The motion would be to authorize the superintendent to begin the reconstitution of Douglass High and to provide recommendations of principal autonomy throughout the district.  A great deal of talk has been around allowing principals to pick their own staff…if we believe that all problems are leadership problems I would like to see a plan in place to allow principals to choose their own staff.

YJohnson:  There are strict state-driven guidelines to reconstitution.   That seems like the extreme, what do we gain by reconstitution that we couldn’t gain short of that.

Superintendent:  Reconstitution does give the principal the shortest term opportunity to reshape the workforce.  This is a school under a school improvement grant.  It’s doable and drastic.  But when you’re in the bottom, maybe drastic measures….  I’m supportive of it but I want to be able to do it.

YJohnson:  Does the principal stay?

Superintendent: Yes (Note – principal is new as of this school year)

Kinnane:  My discomfort with it is that there is a process that has to be met with the system and the state and I don’t understand the need for making the changes at the school.  I think the process is going to have to happen within parameters.

Superintendent:  Actually the answer is no on the principal, but we have put in a new principal…we’ve done that step.

Meister:  I have seen something very similar to this go on before and we have to be careful…

Superintendent:  Well the student government association has come to us and asked us to reconstitute the school.

Butler Burks:  It may be hard to do it between now and the school year but maybe we can think of some short-term things.  I struggle with that because we’ve had principals ask for that in the recent past and we have denied them.

Superintendent:  I would say never deny the principal of the lowest performing school in the district.

English:  It seems counter intuitive to put a principal at a school with a 40% graduation rate and not allow him to choose his staff.

Board members are saying that the superintendent has the right to move forward with this action on his own and that the board should not be the one to bring this action.

Davis explains how during the last hiring process best efforts were made to allow principals to pick their own staff.  As long as we have people in leadership who don’t document their staff, he says we will continue to have those issues.

English:  You’ve got the LSC, PTA, staff in the school, district representative, students who all want it to happen.  I would hope that this board would stand up and say a 40% graduation rate is not acceptable and we need to stand with students.  Stand up, stand with the community and say this is not acceptable.

English moves that superintendent bring back a plan in accordance with the ??? (inaudible).

Motion passes.

BOE discusses superintendent’s scorecard.

No questions.

Motion on floor to approve scorecard. Passes.

9:45pm LEGISLATIVE MEETING now beginning.

 Amos would like to add to the discussion and action item to the agenda regarding the combining of  Brown MS and Kennedy MS.

BOE acknowledges teacher appreciation week and nurses appreciation week! We love our teachers and staff!

McDaniel:  I want to encourage community members to participate in meetings in the community around creating a profile around our next superintendent.  Meeting dates are May 15, 16, 20, 21st 6-8pm at various school locations.  Unveiling of the APS archives will be June 27th.

McDaniel:  We will begin our graduation ceremonies on May the 27th.

Davis:  I also would like to welcome those who are here as well as those who are viewing on tv. The end of our semesters are drawing close.  There are only 12 days left of school for our traditional students.  We are in the home stretch and every day counts and I want to see every student in school.  I want to take this time to congratulate our Gates Scholars.  APS ranks in the top 5 schools in the nation with its number of Gates Scholars for 2013.  Kudos to the students and those that help the students get there.

I want to announce retirements: Mr. Sterling Christie, Price MS principal for 7 years with a total 41 years in education.  Lastly I join the chair in thanking all APS employees including teachers and principals.  Today was teacher appreciation day.  May 1st was also school principal day.  I’ve visited almost every school in the past 2 years and I am very pleased that the Mayor and Civic Leaders have committed to working with us to share the good in our district.  Steve Smith will lead our presentation for National Teacher Appreciation week.

Steve Smith introduces the teacher appreciation video.

{VIDEO PRESENTATION}

Superintendent approves items on the consent agenda.

Amos brings motion to the floor to revisit the final attendance zones and decision made regarding Kennedy Middle school and redistricting.

Motion passes.

Board discusses the resolution requesting class size exemptions for 2013-14 school year.

YJohnson:  Are we budgeting based on the maximums?

Chuck Burbridge:  Yes, we are budgeting based on the maximums.

Meister:  I have an elementary school where they are asking the principal to increase the 5th grade by 34%.

McDaniel:  There is obviously some hesitation about making a decision on this tonight.  If it is the will of the board maybe we can get clarification on the last date that we can file the waiver….I would expect us to have at least 1-2 special called budget commission meetings before that point.

Resolution will be tabled.

Report up next is the K-8 Pilot Resolution.  http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/files/97FVTN8250B4/$file/K-8%20Pilot%20Resolution%202013.pdf

Kinnane suggests naming Toomer as the Jackson cluster school to be used for the K-8 pilot.

After a robust discussion over the resolution and a possible amendment, the motion to move forward with possible K-8 pilot at Centennial and Toomer passes.

Discussion has moved to the budget.  Next meeting Butler Burks says that the members should receive a budget book with explanation of changes.  Meeting will take place on 5/13

Public Comment continues:

Speaker: (Wesley Charter Parent) 40% of Jackson cluster children attend charters.  I am here tonight to ask you to do better, please drop your appeal.  The community wants us there and we would like to be there.

Speaker:  (Mays High Parent) After watching you all tonight equity just jumps out at me.  What I’ve seen over the past few months of attending board meetings is a lack of equity.  At Mays we’ve been trying to bring equity…to all of our clusters.  When you can sit up here and say $60M on land.  Then when I hear 90M for one school and look at every renovation since 1999, no one has gone over $40M.  It is ridiculous that you sat up and voted to approve that type of school and then ask others in the district to feel that is equitable.

11:41pm Meeting adjourned

May 6, 2013 at 6:29 pm 1 comment

LIVE BLOG: Board of Education Meeting, April 1, 2013

Thank you for following our live blog of the April  Board of Education Meeting for Atlanta Public Schools.

View today’s agenda here: http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/Public

REFRESH your browser often for updates.

The meeting will begin soon.

2:20pm – Meeting called to order by BOE chair Reuben McDaniel.  This is a work session with Chuck Burbridge, CFO giving a brief financial report.

Burbridge:  We are reflecting the one time e-rate that has come in but we are still showing tight resources.  I really want to carry over that theme when I talk about expenditures.  We feel confident that we could bring expenditures in below the appropriation authority but it doesn’t happen by accident.  It takes management of resources in order to hit this so we will be working closely with Sr. Cabinet and all budget managers to assure that the budget comes in below. We have to spend less thru the remainder of the year, we should be able to do it but it will take diligence to bring the budget in on target.

Muhammad:  Can you share with us how we were able to save those dollars, the $10M or so?

Burbridge:  Areas where we are spending more than we originally expected are salaries, areas where we are spending less are benefits and supplies.  We are having to move and manage our resources between those areas this year.  Some of those savings you might say may be a mild winter where natural gas was in our favor.  There are a lot of little ways you bring in spending below your estimate.  Almost a year ago we budgeted a contingency for a RIF and unemployment compensation…well that wasn’t realized, and we are spending less on that particular benefit line, but more on the salary line.  We will have to move those benefits into salaries.

Muhammad:  Can you tell me where the expenditure on charter schools per pupil comes in?

Burbridge:  It falls into a category called “other uses.”  Unfortunately its not the only thing in that category.  YTD we’ve spent $32M in other uses, that is where the charter school expenditure comes from.  That is the line the charter schools are paid from.

McDaniel:  Do you have an idea of what percentage of that line item is on charters, or can you get that to us?

Burbridge:  I can get that to you.

McDaniel:  Can you give us an update on the budget timeframe and the process.

Burbridge:  First meeting with budget commission was on Thursday.  We are rexamining and scheduling the meetings going forward.  Based on the first meeting we know we will need to reschedule community meetings.  Original calendar had a tenative adoption of a budget today, that will not happen.  We will compress the meeting schedule.  There is a fairly hard end to the budget process in June, but we have some flexibility between now and then to schedule meetings.  We were targeting for the week of April 22nd for another budget commission meeting, certainly before the end of April.

YJohnson:  I appreciate the diligence the committee has shown, my ultimate question is how much time will we get between when we get the final and have to make a decision.

Butler-Burks:  We have asked that we go back and revise the calendar in order to have the time to digest and make the critical decisions that will have to be made.

2:35:  Committe of the Whole Meeting now beginning

Butler-Burks:  Can we add under discussion and action I would like to add a discussion of the scheduling for the superintendent search.

McDanile:  Any additional items?

Muhammad:  Yes, I would like to see if we can have some discussion about this unfunded pension liability.

McDaniel:  I know we will have some discussion about that in Executive Session, but I can put it on the agenda under our new business, will that be ok?

Muhammad:  That’s fine. Thank you.

Motion to approve, motion carries.

Public Comment Period – One person has called in to speak.  Public is reminded that they must speak about an agenda item and they will be alloted 3 minutes.

APS Parent:  Before you start spending 2.8 million on multi-copier printers and copiers, those are devices that help adults, not children.  If you can’t spend enough money to help my daughter, in a charter school to learn, then maybe we can’t afford copiers and printers.  I think its something to hold off on and wait and make sure you can treat all the students in Atlanta fairly and equitably before you spend any more tax paper money on technology.

That ends the public comemnt for this evening.

Superintendent Davis will now read the consent agenda.  The first 7 items are being taken together for Q&A tonight:

2.01 Report No. 12/13-1738 Authorization to Create Policy JGB Student Aid Programs (Final Approval)

Action (Consent)

2.02 Report No. 12/13-1739 Authorization to Repeal Policy JGC Student Health Services (Final Approval)

Action (Consent)

2.03 Report No. 12/13-1740 Authorization to Repeal Policy JGCB Student Inoculations (Final Approval)

Action (Consent)

2.04 Report No. 12/13-1741 Authorization to Repeal Policy JGCC Infectious Diseases (Final Approval)

Action (Consent)

2.05 Report No. 12/13-1742 Authorization to Repeal Policy JGD Student Psychological Services (Final Approval)

Action (Consent)

2.06 Report No. 12/13-1743 Authorization to Repeal Policy JGE Student Social Services (Final Approval)

Action (Consent)

2.07 Report No. 12/13-1744 Authorization to Repeal Policy IGB Student Support Teams (Final Approval)

McDaniel:  This is simply clean up work for the policies we have now.
YJohnson:  We need to make sure that whatever thoughts we have from a policy standpoint makes it into the policy.
Kinnane:  Somewhat similar question.  I understand this is a policy clean up issue, but it touches on where we are with the implementation and work within the special ed department.  We’ve been asking, we’ve done audits and we’ve seen some fo the recommendations implemented, but kind of where are we regarding the implementation of that audit.
McDaniel:  I wouldn’t  want to put the staff on notice today regarding special ed updates.
YJohnson:  The work we’re doing now is creating an umbrella and special ed falls under that umbrella and we just don’t want it to end with the repsonse to these policies.
McDaniel:  Are you requesting we put on the work agenda of our next meeting we put special ed on the work session?
Kinnne & Johnson: Yes
McDaniel:  We will put that on the next agenda.
Meister:  Is 2.01 absolutely necessary at this time in order to move forward with the work that needs to be done?  It seems it all wraps into one and we’re putting the cart before the horse.
McDaniel:  In a practical matter, this really is clean up of policy, if we wanted to take more time there is no urgency, but…
Meister:  I’d like to have it pulled, 2.01 for sure.
McDaniel:  Remove from the consent agenda?
Meister:  Yes
McDaniel:  Any other questions?
Davis: 2.08 Report No. 12/13-1745 Authorization to Revise Policy GAD Professional Development Opportunities (First Reading)

Policy GAD has been revised to clarify the professional learning requirements for Atlanta Public Schools’ employees and to remove outdated provisions related to the management of the district’s professional learning program.

2.09 Report No. 12/13-1746 Authorization to Revise Policy FDC Naming Facilities (First Reading)

The board’s policy review committee met on March 12, 2013 and recommended the attached revision to policy FDC Naming Facilities. This revision clarifies the process for selecting a naming or renaming committee and the criteria for name selection.

2.10 Report No. 12/13-1747 Authorization to Revise Policy IHDA Salutatorian/Valedictorian (Final Approval)

The board’s policy review committee met on March 12, 2013 and recommended the attached revision to policy IHDA Salutatorian/Valedictorian. This revision states that consideration will be given to shared valedictorian and salutatorian designations in the event of a school closing in the district. The board’s policy review committee recommends that the board waive first reading and adopt this revision with no public comment period.

McDaniel:  When we waive something we have to have a unanimous vote.

YJohnson:  That looks different than it looked before.  I didn’t think we would vote to waive the policy I thought we were looking to make revisions.

McDaniel:  We are not voting to waive the policy, we are voting to waive first read.

YJohnson:  I would want to have some conversation among board members about it, maybe we can talk on a recess or break and come back to it.

McDaniel:  We can move this off the consent agenda.

Butler-Burks:  I have a question around the piece being added, are we considering charter schools being public schools or any schools in the area?

McDaniel:  The intention was to include charter schools that are APS schools.

Kinnane:  I meant to say the superintendent can make some recommendations within…it could be an elementary school, middle school, any school as it reads now.

YJohnson:  I am happy to have that conversation, but some people haven’t had it…there is nothing wrong with changing this, I don’t know that will make changes to any particular situation.

McDaniel:  The bottom line is that last year Tech High closed and 2 of them (val from Tech and val from Jackson), we as the administration did not give the school any leeway in having co-vals or co-sals.  From a policy perspective this gives the administration the ability to do that but they do not have to do it.

Kinnane:  What will this mean for this year, are we even looking at it from a timing perspective, the Val/Sal breakfast is tomorrow morning.

YJohnson:  I am not opposed to it, but I don’t want people walking away that it leads to a particular end result.

Muhammad:  I believe the current (inaudible) allows the administration to make this decision…

McDaniel:  No, the current policy does not allow the administration to make this call, the current policy allows there to be one.

Muhammad:  There is some latitude.

McDaniel read directly from the policy which states that the superintendent cannot make a regulation inconsistent with policy.  The proposed policy change gives a more-than-one option.

More discussion, item moved off of consent agenda.

Davis: 2.11 Report No. 12/13-1748 Authorization to Revise Policy JCDAF Use of Electronic Devices by Students (Final Approval)

The board’s policy review committee met on March 12, 2013 and recommended the attached revision to policy JCDAF Use of Electronic Devices By Students. This revision allows all students to bring mobile telephones to school with the permission of their parents/guardians. The board’s policy review committee recommends that the board waive first reading and adopt this revision with no public comment period.  This policy revision will become effective immediately and remain in effect throughout the 2012-2013 school year upon board approval.

Davis:  I have sent a letter to all principals regarding this item.

Kinnane:  I thought that at the last meeting we decided that there would need to be a period of information and education regarding bringing cell phones to schools…. (inaudible)

Davis:  One policy is for cell usage next year, the other is the extension of usage to elementary and middle schools.  I said I would be willing to do that this year but one of your colleagues suggested being uncomfortable with that so I sent out a note that said I anticipate this policy being changed following this meeting.

Kinnane:  So its not that this one is different…

Davis:  This one is the existing policy with its applicability extended to middle and elementary schools.

Kinnane:  I’m fine with this, except the concern raised at that time was that the burden is put on the schools in terms of enforcing this and the thought and education of the students that needs to go into this for the parents and students..have we now gotten feedback that its ok to go forward?  That was the restraint of the policy.

Davis:  I must admit a tad bit of confusion.  We never brought forward a policy change, we are reacting to the Board’s desire for this change.

YJohnson:  I thought this was the compromise  – we also decided there are some different levels regarding using the technology moving forward.  This gives the relief without the punitive use towards kids…

Kinnane:  I have to say at a point I was pushing for this to happen, but the concern….I don’t want it to overburden schools.

YJohnson:  I think they believe this is the softer way, to still get thru the school year.

Butler-Burks:  I want to express the concern I’m hearing from teachers about not feeling supported with the current cell policy.  While I think this is good from a parent and student perspective, I don’t want to leave out the support teachers say they are lacking.  I don’t know what we do about that, but I fear just continuing to extend latitude to parents and students to use their phones….when they (teachers) have to enforce usage.

Kinnane:  It doesn’t really change it in terms of the essence of it (reads from policy), {inaudible} Wants a sentence struck from the policy.

Davis:  All we are saying is that this policy will be applicable until we make another revision, next month.  We can make the regulations say that even more clearer…

Davis:  2.12 Report No. 12/13-1749 Authorization to Revise Policy JCDAF Student Use of Electronic Devices (First Reading)

The board’s policy review committee met on March 12, 2013 and recommended the attached revision to policy JCDAF Use of Electronic Devices By Students to go into effect for the 2013-14 school year. This revision allows all students to bring mobile telephones to school with the permission of their parents/guardians. It also permits high school students to use mobile telephones during the lunch period and allows for the incorporation of personal devices into the instructional program.

YJohnson:  There were a lot of concerns related to electronics in general, we anticipated that children would be using electronics in the course of their schoolwork and we knew there would need to be discussion around how that is used.  We wanted every opportunity to get feedback from teachers and others on this policy.  We anticipate education for parents, teachers and students.  One of the problems now is that so many people are blatantly violating policy, that if we loosen the reigns a little it will be better for enforcement purposes.

EJohnson:  With the Naep tests we found students were taking pictures and posting them to the internet.  What has happened tends to tell us that students will use cell phones to undermine the educational process.

Kinnane:  In light of what Ms. Butler-Burks said about teachers…the other, beyond using electronic devices in classrooms, we have to be sensitive that the expectation is that students would own these devices (inaudible).

Davis:  {To BOE} You’ve raised some pretty large issues between first read and second read, but you’ve raised some large questions.  Do you want to continue with this reading or start again.  We are doing some research with other districts and I want to make sure we have to incorporate that.

McDaniel:  Procedurally, if you are not able to get enough information by next month, the board can hold it for another month.

Muhammad asks about where the money from collected phones currently goes, Davis says school activity fund.

CFO Burbridge answers that Bill Scott’s audit plan does include an audit of the school activity account.  He does audit that on a regular basis and these funds would be included.

Davis: 2.13 Report No. 12/13-5124 Personnel Gains, Losses, Promotions, Appointments, Creations, Reclassifications and Abolishments.  See the recommendations here: http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=95WLNN554C10

Davis: 3.01 Report No. 12/13-1130 – Authorization to Enter into and Execute a Contract to Provide Auditing Services.

McDaniel:  We pulled this off at the last board meeting, Mr. Johnson are you comfortable with this?

EJohnson: Yes

Kinnane: I want to go back to the losses and gains, the creation of positions on page 7.  Are these new positions from requirements of Race to the Top?

Karen Waldon, Deputy Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction:  Yes, these are related to our 4 lowest designated schools for additional support, these are positions they have requested.  They also have embedded an individual support person from the state and that person also signs off on the needs and submits it to us for the support.

Davis:  3.02 Report No. 12/13-1131 – Authorization to Enter into and Execute a Contract for Multifunction Copiers.

That the superintendent be authorized to enter into and execute a contract with Xerox Corporation to provide multifunction copiers. This contract shall be for one (1) year with two (2) one-year available options to be exercised at the discretion of the superintendent. This contract is conditional upon the firm’s ability to comply with requirements set forth in the solicitation document.

Kinnane:  Let’s keep in mind the comment made by the parent earlier.

Burbridge:  We would be changing providers under this contract and it is for the entire district.  The majority of the devices are in schools and used for school purposes.

Davis:  We are making a concerted effort to reduce the number of copiers in this building (APS Headquarters).

Davis: 3.03 Report No. 12/13-1132 – Authorization to Amend Report No. 10/11-1157 to Increase Funding for a Microsoft Campus Licensing Agreement.

That the Atlanta Board of Education amend Report No. 10/11-1157 to increase the authorized amount from $500,000 to $700,000. This represents an increase of $200,000 from the current authorized expenditure amount.

McDaniel:  Any questions?  Motion to approve?

Motion on the floor, no discussion, motion carries.

YJohnson:  I think the concern is, from an optical standpoint, that we are making policies and there is so much around special services and we don’t want to miss something that needs to be dealt with specifically.  If there is not a real urgency, can we not clean up after we tighten up the policies.

McDaniel:  Another option is to take them down from the agenda today.

YJohnson:  That is probably appropriate.

Buter-Burks:  I think the timeframe should be centered around the work of the task force and not the next board meeting. {makes motion, motion carries}

Note:  2.01-2.07 have now been removed from the agenda.

McDaniel:  We are now moving on to the Val/Sal issue. Before we make the motion I want to be clear on what this policy is and what we’re voting on.

EJOhnson:  I’m really concerned about this particular policy because I know in the past we’ve had co-Vals/Sals, but we start talking about school closings, it looks like we’re micro-managing policies and that’s a mistake.  We should just let the administration make a decision on what they want to do.

Kinnane:  I think that is a valid concern, the goal with this policy change is to make what we thought we had already, available, the ability for the superintendent to designate a co-val/sal.

McDaniel:  Currently the regulation is in violation with a policy we have.

Kinnane:  His point is that there could be another exception that gives rise to the reason again.

YJohnson:  If we took it out he would still have the flexibility.

McDaniel:  The truth is that tie is also in conflict on our policy.

YJohnson:  Does supt. Davis have some thoughts on that?

Davis:  The regulation we have now is in conflict with the policy in that it allows for a tie but it does not allow for the naming of a co-Val/Sal.  Again, to say something should be considered just means it shouldn’t be precluded.  There is alot going on around Vals & Sals.  This is focused on one school, but we have ongoing investigations surround grade changing and accusations, so the one thing we need to be clear about are the rules.  Now the regulation does not address closings but it does address requirements of “being there” and I understand that they were put there at the urging of this board due to those “shopping” for schools to be Val/Sal…there is money involved, the Vals and Sals get Zell Miller scholarships, full rides to state institutions, Univ. of GA system gives automatic admission to Vals…there is a lot more than honor to this.  We are dealing with a lot of those issues now.

YJohnson:  So removing the language of school closings doesn’t do anything for him (supt) Mr. Johnson.

EJohnson:  You can set a policy then you don’t have a choice.

YJohnson:  This actually gives more flexibility.

McDaniel introduces new language that replaces “school closings” with “special circumstances.”  Motion carries unanimously.  2nd motion carries unanimously.

Note:  This policy change allows the administration to designate co-val’s and co-sal’s when there are special circumstances (including the closing of a charter high school), and more than one student is eligible for the designation or a newer student (from the closing) is eligible for the highest honor.  Again, this allows the administration the latitude to make that decision.

This ends our consent agenda.

Report No. 12/13-0110 Class Size Resolution

Kinnane and Meister both express concern over a resolution added to the Board agenda at 2pm today regarding class sizes. Here is the resolution:

http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/files/96CJFS4D013B/$file/Resolution-%20Class%20size.pdf

They say the community had no opportunity to voice their concerns (applause from audience).

Butler-Burks says that the upcoming budget commission meeting could help to inform this decision.

McDaniel agrees that there is no harm of tabling this until May.

Conversation continues regarding class size concerns.  Davis says that some schools are overly crowded, but others are not.  Appreciates that some schools are terribly crowded but that is not the norm at every school. Data tells us that class sizes have gone down, not up.

4:08pm – Board is entering into executive session.  Meeting will continue at 5:30pm.

5:58pm – Meeting is called to order

Committee of the Whole meeting will now continue.

Karen Waldon introduces the 6 new principals approved last month.

Committee of the Whole meeting is now adjourned.  Community meeting will now begin.

COMMUNITY MEETING SPEAKERS

Parent:  Thank you for Ms. Harmon at Gideons Elementary, she’s the right person for the job.  There are a lot of things going on with the media surrounding the CRCT cheating scandal.  You guys haven’t given us anything about the redevelopment of this test.  My daughter standing here goes to Carver.  Today I received a call from her Math teacher who says my child should know the stuff I’m teaching her from Parks Middle School.  She knows she has a problem.  I have not seen a book this year, so why is the teacher calling me about my child not passing…where are the books? I need to know why my child has been falling through the cracks of this CRCT.  These babies are suffering.  It’s still the same old Beverly Hall up in here.

APS Educator Representative:  I want to speak about the new cell phone policy going down to the lower levels.  I am a high school teacher and we have a hard enough time regulating cell phone usage at that level and I certainly don’t want it down at the lower levels.  It happens with our young ladies with longer hair…they will have their ear buds in their ear and you won’t even know they have the headphones in and they have missed most of the lesson.  The lower levels are the formative years.  To take it down is a negative thing to do.  I heard from the parents that they want to contact their children, but I’m old school and that is what the front office is for.  It is difficult to regulate proper usage.  There is everything on a cell phone, Facebook, Instagram, everything.  It is difficult to monitor and taking that to the lower levels is not a good thing.  Moving on to the calendar, I sent an email regarding feedback and I have not received a response.

Community Member:  I will remember that Mr. Sam Williams and the people in the community supported the former superintendent.  He and they should be in jail too, not just Ms. Hall, not just the teachers, but ya’ll too (the Board).  How could you sit here and watch the apple barrel get empty in front of your face and say nothing.  When is Ms. Hall going to turn herself in and when are you going to resign. All of you should be tossed, all of you should resign, how you can sit here and rule over this school system is sickening to me.

AFT Teacher Representative:  We are asking that you increase the amount of support personnel in the schools.  Research shows a direct correlation between class size and achievement.  We would like you to consider that our employees are paying more to get to work and stay at work.  We would like for you to consider a cost of living increase without increasing the cost of our benefits.

Community Member:  I think the solution we need to do…we all know the situation and what happened, we need to talk about how we resolve this situation.  Will vouchers or school choice take place here?  What about implementing things in the classroom where kids can learn about a business?  What about taking their gift to the next level. Just like the woman mentioned before, you talk about too many children in a classroom…how can a kid really learn?  We have too many leaders that are taking their position on a lot of different things but no one is being held accountable.  We ‘re talking about our representatives and Congressman.  The main issue is, when a kid comes home and the parent hasn’t been educated.

Drew Charter Representative:  As somebody who worked at Herndon Elementary, Kennedy Middle and now Drew Charter, I can’t tell you how excited we are about collaborating with Kennedy Middle School.  Kennedy parents care a lot about their children (an amen from the crowd).  I want to tell you how excited we are about the community embracing Drew. (Crowd hold up huge signs that say No Drew, Save Kennedy.

“I don’t know any educator who starts out saying I’m going to do something to hurt children.”

Community Member:  (yells) Yes! For the Kids, we got an indictment!   —–  But the culture still exists, children can’t read.  I can say, our kids have been vindicated.  These kids have feelings.  Let’s put a moratorium on that test this year.  How dare you put anything in front of those kids that say CRCT.  Kennedy Middle was one of the worst cheating schools in the country and you don’t give them the chance to mend before you ship them to Brown.  There is a parent who says her child gets off the bus, jumps the fence and sleeps on the porch all day to get away from the chaos in the school.  Then you have 85 kids left at Kennedy, you got Drew Charter coming in with all the resources with the “Drew experience” to share the facility.  Who does that?  Byron Amos should be here tonight.  He had 2 motions to put on the table tonight.  He has let the community down more than once.

Former Teacher:  I would have to send the books from the elementary school to the Middle school so they could teach them to read.  I came to the BOE to tell the board and by the time I returned to my school they had told the school administrators and they retaliated against me.  Everyone thought what I was saying sounded crazy.  {Tells the story of a 13 year old boy in the 4th grade who could not read. Says he was upset and angry – 13 in the 4th grade – and no one had looked at why}.

Community Member:  The last time I came here, I was happy to see the superintendent went up to North Atlanta to address some issues, but I haven’t seen any action in South Atlanta.  The situation in SAtl doubles the trouble we saw in NAtl.  We see leaders telling us that our kids are not graduating and have records…what is your impact as a leader when you know people are having trouble in the 5th grade, 9th grade and they are pushed on.

Community Member:  Everyone knows that good performing schools are proof critical to the vitality of every neighborhood.  The decision to close schools in South Atlanta led to a series of issues…lost property values, inability to attract business.  The mission of APS is important, but the most important thing here is that the APS learns that the lesson to learn is integrity.

Community Member:  On March 2 I attended a meeting where I was given a two page letter stating that I came to the school (Bethune) on the first day of school and asked questions of parents. I asked the principal to retract the statement, it was not true. {Community member continues with the number of people she has contacted}  Yes I was at the school watching my neighborhood children go to school.  I need to get the principal to write me an apology. {Gives letter to Ms. waldon}

APS Parent: I’ve come to address the new bell proposal.  The proposed changes for middle and high school not mentioned in the facts online.  I’m distributing some literature on the subject.  Please do have middle and high school start later, but the same reasons that later bell times for older kids are good, they are bad for younger kids.  While 15 minutes doesn’t sound like much, but it accumulates over days. Elementary school students are the only group too young to be left alone.

Community Member:  Good afternoon, I am a community advocate and a grandparent whose grandaughter just finished Washington High School.  The small high school structure is not appropriate for Booker T. Washington High School.  Washington has produced a lot of home grown leaders.  {Parent hold signs asking for one school, no more small schools.  Grandparent continues with data that shows that small schools are not working in the area of achievement}.  In 2012 you said small schools were not out performing traditional schools.  Not enough to continue with the continued expense.  Our students deserve to have access to a variety of courses using the same similar program structures that North Atlanta has.  NAHS has this program and their students are excelling.

Community Member:  Good afternoon Board Members.  I’ve communicated to you all via email. SACS action item #1 was to develop a long term communication plan with the work of the school board. You have a constituent services process for the executive branch. If a person has a question for a board member, there is no policy that says you have to respond.  It has also come to my attention that there are board members who use their personal email address to conduct business.  Once you are no longer a board member, those records are no longer available thru open records.  It does not lend itself to best practices, open government or transparency.  I’m asking that it is put on the policy review committee.  I have received communications from board members from your personal email addresses.  You all have received computers from the district, every computer has a unique address.  If there are emails sent from that computer to any other computer that does not have an @aps address you have violated your own code of ethics.  {Raynard mentions that former board member Asa Yancy recently passed away and that there has been no article, no mention of it on social media}.

APS Parent:  With the graduation hovering at slightly over 50%,  I think its time to access the high school Academy model in APS.  We need a high school model that is effective.  {Challenges board to look at the data by academy} We need a graduation rate higher than 50%.

APS Parent:  I have 4 kids in the APS system.  I would like to know what measures will be in place that will assure our parents in APS that this will not occur in the future?  You think our kids are in the 21st century learning, but our kids are really in 19th century learning.  More technology needs to be available.  Your schools on the south side do not have apple computers, ipads, cameras.  I believe that SPLOST money could be used for this technology.  SPLOST money is not being built on the south side.  Things over there are not being built.

APS Parent:  We are tired of dealing with the adults, we need to deal with the children.  In 2010 when the governor stated our wrong to right erasures, we had two attempts to remediate those children.  One was a default 12 week program under Kathy Augustine and another defaulted 4 week program last summer.  We did not post the pre-data or the post data of that program to see if the kids had gains during that time.  Our teachers and our community members are loved, they are highly respected in our community and we feel that all things rest on leadership.  Our leadership is the key, as Mr. Davis has said many times.  The children really need your attention.  What have we done?  How can we improve this process?  What lessons have we learned?  We still have principals that are intimidating teachers.  I don’t know why we even come here anymore, we only have an hour, its our only forum to express ourselves.  We have to be listened to, considered.

Note:  Several other speakers have advocated for the return of Booker T. Washington High School to a comprehensive high school instead of 3 small schools.

APS Parent:  Where is the support you said we would have for the children and the faculty at Brown Middle School?  At Kennedy we don’t know if the kids need support, how are they feeling?  With less faculty and students there are not enough books for the students.  You have not provided that, I expected that and its not fair.

Community Member:  Mr. Davis, we have not healed from CRCT and all the other things that have been mentioned. {Speaker asks that Davis visits and speaks with parents before allowing Drew Charter to share the space}.

Atlanta Charter Middle Parents:  The thing that really struck me tonight is all of the people talking about the things that are not working and are broken.  Our school is not broken, it is a glorious place.  The students want to be there, the parents want to be there.  We are the largest of the independent charters and we will close unless there is a temporary financial band-aid is put on our school by APS.  This bizarre situation with the inequity of the pension funding.  What we are complaining about is the growing gap that is forming.  We need to work with you and really show you that these schools work.  5 out of the top 12 elementary schools are charters.

Atlanta Charter School Parent:  We have 2 children attending Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School and I will not stop until charters are funded.  We heard a lot of positive buzz about up and coming charters in Grant Park.  When our school burned down, our neighborhood rallied and rebuilt our school.  Our school is magical. It is a place where racial harmony truly exists.  It’s a place where guiding principles are something our children use daily.  We cannot survive with the pension cuts.  I beg you, we beg you to hold APS accountable and restore the funding to charter schools immediately.

{Two more parents speak on behalf of restoring funding to charter schools}. “We are all APS students, the funding should be the same.  The 2.8M hits us harder.”

The community meeting has now ended.

The legislative meeting has begun. The live blog has ended.

April 1, 2013 at 6:08 pm 1 comment

LIVE BLOG: Board of Education Meeting March 4, 2013

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

REFRESH your browser often for updates.

2:12pm – Board meeting called to order

First order of business is a presentation by Ms. Sis Henry, Executive Director, Georgia School Boards Association and Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, Georgia School Boards Association District 5 Director.

Dr. Murphy is an elected official and represents the Atlanta, Fulton County and other local districts.  Dr. Murphy will discuss the role of the superintendent and school board team.

This presentation will not be a part of today’s live blog.

Chief Sands will give an update on the

After notification last Thursday, we were advised that a student walked in with a gunshot wound to the leg. Medical personnel, police and resource officers were called.  The school was placed on lockdown and student transferred to Grady Hospital.  The gunshot wound was self-inflicted and there were several witnesses including students in transition from class and a parent.  A 380 handgun was recovered from the courtyard.  We were once again fortunate to have security personnel on the scene as well as a parent witness. There were a number of students who walked past the handgun and none of them touched it.  The administration communicated with the teachers and staff during the incident and a staff debriefing was held the same day after dismissal.  Parents were notified within an hour of the incident.  A parent meeting was held the next day. 

It is critical that we review and revise district protocol in regards to emergency management.  It is important that we make students and staff aware of how they can report incidents privately and keep our lines of communication open.

Harsh-Kinnane:  I want to say thank you to Chief Sands, the security force, the entire Grady staff and everyone at APS who came to help.  It was handled remarkably by everyone involved.

Supt. Davis:  I want to thank Chief Sands and her team and the communications team for their performance during this incident.  I want to reassure parents and students that student safety remains one of our top priorities and we’ve been working to highlight some of the changes we will bring to you in the future.

2:40 Chuck Burbridge, district CFO, gives the monthly Financial Update

Burbridge: What I want to focus our attention on today is the overall spending trend is downward.  Sometimes when we talk about the individual components its hard to see that we’ve been successful in fy13.  I want to tell you that as we continue to monitor and examine spending trends for the district there is further downward pressure on that spending number.  Together with the decline in revenue and decline in expenses we are expecting to use $17M in fund balance.  Our use of fund balance could shrink as much as $10M which would bring us down into a balanced budget situation.  The budget is performing, will perform better than we expected when we started this fiscal year.

Meister:  Where are we in recapturing those 170something employees we were not able to locate earlier this year?

Burbridge:  At one point we had a difference of 300+ employees between budget and actual.  The data has taken us in several directions.  We’ve been moving to cleanse the data of duplicates between payroll, i.e. an employee that may get regular pay then a stipend and they show up twice in payroll files.  Some individuals were paid out of general funds and are not appropriately charged to special revenue funds.  Right now, while there is still a difference, I believe that difference is even lower as we move to clean things up and put people in the right places.  When we passed the budget we knew we were staffing above the budget to the tune of about 30 employees.  The difference between actual and budgeted headcounts is really not as significant as we once thought it would be.

Meister:  Was the largest difference in curriculum?

Burbridge: Greatest amount of work was done in curriculum because they have the most complex schedule of employees when it comes to payment (part time coach, stipends, etc), also most likely to have funds coming from special revenue funds.

YJohnson: I remember being told last year a few times that the data wasn’t reliable. Have we addressed the issue so that as we go into the budget season that the information you present to us in a few weeks is accurate and aligned?

Burbridge: There has been a significant amount of work on the part of many people…there is coding behind every employee and when employees move from school to school or general to special revenue, then coding has to be reviewed in c&i, HR and finance.  They are doing that by matching Kronos and Infinite Campus database.  The data is much more reliable than it once was because it is triangulated.  I am of the opinion that it will get better and I believe they have made strides and that we will have a more reliable budget.  I think FY14 will be much improved.

YJohnson: Mr. Supt. can you speak to how you feel about the numbers?

Supt. Davis:  The work to establish a line of sight of financial control will not be complete before we have to finish a budget.  We will have better insights and will be able to do better board level presentations.  I will want to point out the significant decisions that will be required by the BOE in order to balance the budget.  It’s going to take some difficult decisions to close that gap, particularly decisions with 80% personnel.  We continue to make progress to make multiple complex systems to talk to one another and its going to take a while. 

Butler-Burks:  We were going by a process where we were doing it by regional offices and I guess I’m struggling with  a few things.  I don’t think that so much of it is board and some of it is not.  I think its all board level discussions.  Mainly I’m struggling with how we’re having problems in one department and not others.  I can tell you from my collegues that I’ve talked to that this is going to be a major problem during our budget process. 

Butler Burks says that she doesn’t want to get to a point, as with last year, where the BOE is pushed against a wall due to a timeline.

Supt. Davis:  Most of our district is concentrated in one department and if you miss by one or two (at a school site) then you have a lot.  You have a responsibility for the budget, there is no doubt about that, what I would ask is at what level do you believe you have that responsibility.  I belive we have the responsibility to manage the budget and as long as we The budget…we will have a budget.  It will not be perfect in terms of line items details.  I want to say that in advance.  It is not going to be precise.

Butler-Burks:  That is going to be a major issue during the budget process.  Coming within budget is one thing, spending it is another so it is our responsibility from the bottom to the top.  As budget chair I’ve already seen some concern and I’m trying to give you advance notice… (speaks to possibly taking this up thru policy).

Supt. Davis:  I appreciate the heads up and it may be worthwhile to talk offline.  We have 50% more policies than the largest school district in the state and I’m not sure that policies are always the answer. … (says that he is open to the discussion).

3:05pm – Presentation has ended.

Committee of the Whole is beginning.  Cell phone policy has been added to the agenda based on recent events.

YJohnson: The Policy committee, at its next meeting, will discuss wrap around services.  Ms. Meister and H-Kinnane brought recent conversations to my attention that may have been missed in recent discussions about cell phone policy that may have been missed in regards to incidents such as lock-downs.

Meister:  I would like to have discussion around policy CG.  I’m fine bringing it up in new business.  It’s around placing interims.  We (Kinnane) had discussion around that over the weekend as well as substitutes.

McDaniel:  So CG as well as any other related policy work.

Butler-Burks: Whenever we put together an ad-hoc committee we usually put together a resolution.  We always do a resolution.  Just some discussion around an official resolution around the superintendent’s search committee.

McDaniel: Discussion or new business?

Butler-Burks: Discussion and action is fine.

McDaniel: We will add under discussion cell phones and the resolution, under new business a discussion on policy CG.

3:11pm – Supt. Davis presents the consent agenda items.

View the entire board agenda here: http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/Public

Item 2.01

Calendars for traditional and year round schools have been created following a lengthy calendar development process and the board’s decision to maintain consistency from the 2012-13 school calendars to 2013-14.  The 2013-14 calendars also include four (4) options for furlough days for all employees.

McDaniel: A reminder that this item is for the 2013-2014 calendar only.

3:24pm – Consent agenda has been approved.

Item 2.01 up for discussion

H-Kinnane:  I thought that we left the calendar workshop with…that we were going to look at a possible later start date and I think that what we’ve heard back is that the reason that can’t be considered is that we agreed that we need a 3 day or a 5 day holiday in there.  I have 2 concerns that we’ve moved along from the week long breaks due to the burden that that would provide for childcare.  But I think in a way that may have created a greater hardship because we don’t have a full week.  I also have a concern about attendance, we have such a long break…people may take the days off to fill out the week.  I have concerns about the August 5th start date, if we could make it a later start date…we’ve always received problems getting kids there on the first day if it may make sense to start on a Wednesday with open houses going on the first couple of days….

YJohnson:  I thought that you all had come up with something at that meeting (workshop)?

McDaniel:  Yes, the expectation was that the administration would look at it and make some recommendation.  They have the same recommendation and I guess will want to speak to that.

Supt. Davis:  I’m going to ask Dr. Kirijan…The start date is easy to explain.  Our view given what we asked them to do given all the furlough days that we felt that we did not want to take one more day away from them by starting the school year in mid-week.  But I don’t quite understand your other concern because I thought one of the reasons we had these discussions was to shorten the week long breaks and I was comfortable moving away from the balanced calendar is that the board had done the work to provide the support….If you could articulate and point to where you’re talking about on the calendar.

Kinnae:  It’s in October where we have a Thursday, Friday and Monday off.

Kirijan: Oct. 10th is a teacher workday, the Friday and Monday following that are days off for students and teachers.

Kinnae: And the other is in February

Kirijan:  Yes, that break is for students and teachers

Kinnane:  I think that its important to provide a break that is dedicated to teachers.  I’m all for supporting teachers and making their lives as easy as we can, but …. (talks about the 3 days off not being critical).

Discussion around taking days out of the calendar/shifting days.

Supt. Davis:  What we have for the teachers is an uninterrupted 5 days of planning.  That was seen as something that we wanted to focus on. An intense 5 days of planning. 

Kinnane:  I would like to ask other board members….several of us talked at the meeting about looking at the later date.

McDaniel:  Would anyone like to weigh in?

Meister: Thursday and Friday usually ends up being with teachers getting their (inaudible) together and a meet and greet… (rest is inaudible).

Butler-Burks:  The 10th could be moved to the 6th or is there something in October where there is a need for a teacher workday?  Is October sacred to a teacher workday?

Kirijan:  It’s the midpoint of the semester and provides a workday to teachers.

Butler-Burks: I was asking if it could come up in August… (inaudible)

Kinnane:  We could go to 89 (days) and 91.  Is there anything about there being a greater number of days?

Kirijan: No, but keep in mind the calendar is built around testing days, holidays…there is a lot put into the building of the calendar.  Anything you recommend we would need to go back and make sure that nothing interferred with the calendar.

Kinnane: Well we can’t delay the calendar.  I was going to amend this…so I don’t know if anybody would be in agreement would that, but if you’re saying those days would need to be checked…

Kirijan:  If you’re saying that a day needs to be taken out in October and a day in February then that would keep it aligned. 

More discussion on what it means to teachers to take days away, add, etc.

Kirijan:  What we heard from Ms. Waldon and C&I was that the 5 days prior to school was something that was needed and starting on Monday the 5th and having that as your whole week of school was a preferred calendar.

Rebecca Kaye from Organizational Advancement gives the start dates for other metro counties.  Counties starting on August 12th have all cut instructional days for students.

Kirijan:  We have 4 school districts starting on the 5th.  It’s more than DeKalb.

Davis:  What we’re talking about is starting school 2 days later and taking 2 days away from teachers. The fact that they are starting later does not address the issue of fatigue during the year and we’re trying to build in days that we think are responsive for the workforce. 

Kinanne:  Having been a teacher…. (inaudible)

Butler Burks:  I’m looking at the Fulton County Calendar and they start on the 12th and are doing 177 days vs 180.  By starting a couple of days later in August does that help with teacher fatigue….where I’ve seen it happen mostly is that February block.

Kirijan:  I would like to remind you that in September, we have scheduled a furlough day.  September 2nd. 

Butler Burks: But its a holiday, Labor Day, they would be off the 2nd anyway because its a holiday.

McDaniel will delay the vote until Ms. Johnson returns back to the room.  We’ve pulled personnel gains and loss items, lets have this discussion.

Meister: I would like to get some clarity around the three interim academy leaders that are on this report to start today.  I would like some information around how…it seems like we are living in a world of interims for so many reasons.

Mr. Gray, of HR, now speaking.

Gray: I will take full responsibility for that.  We attempted to bring them before you once we reviewed the policy and correct that oversight (time frame for bringing interims before the BOE). Interims are placed for a period of time, not defined as a perm position.

Meister:  I’ve had a lot of parent concerns because a lot of these interims were teachers.  One of these interims also has the role of athletic directors.  After 4 months is that not enough time, can we not get teachers in those classrooms.  Our previous interims…there seems to be some inequity for holding positions for some not others. We didn’t place other people that took interim positions with temp contracts, it seems like we’ve changed the playing field for those who stepped up to take the place as interims.

Gray:  I agree.  Yes , this is new.  Didn’t see why we couldn’t accommodate the principal.  I don’t see that this presents a legal issue.  We are simply trying to be responsible to principals who have needs that we can respond to.

Meister:  My last point, is the reason that these interims did  not get replaced with full time teachers is that we’re carrying a heavy load of academy leaders?

Gray:  I don’t believe that is the case.  My understanding is that we simply did not place those people before the board and thus their positions continued to be interim, subsequently their positions were filled with substitute teachers.

Meister:  The transition team that we have in place that goes into schools, is that not their job to go into schools until permanent people are placed?  What is their role?

Waldon:  Our goal was to leave those people in place until the principal requested such.  They are continuing their responsibilities.

Butler Burks: There are a lot of effective dates missing which makes this report seem….I mean we have effective dates on some things and not others.  One other I had, if I speak too much about it, it’s not about the person, it’s about the position (says that it may be better for executive session).

Muhammad: I want some clarification on some these positions- family support specialist and family engagement manager.

McDaniel: We can discuss these items further in executive session, and vote on this in our evening session.

Waldon: The family support specialist, this position is a part of the work that goes into our student support services. The other is a part of our Title I funded positions.

McDaniel: We are going to return to the calendar issue.

*The motion carries with a unanimous vote.

Y. Johnson: Cell phone policy…it is a fairly complex issue where we were at one point in terms of high school students, middle schoolers, and elementary, and trying to determine what is the best way parents can have access to their students during emergency situations and still maintain discipline and testing integrity in the schools. APS has had a couple of recent incidents that brought to our attention the need of cell phones during a lockdown situation. This is an opportunity for the board to let us know what we need to evaluate when we look at the policy for the last time. Just have this opportunity to tell us what you might want to see based on what has happened over the last month or so, so that we can discuss it in the next policy committee meeting.

Meister: Will it be inevitable that we will have cell phones and iPads in the classroom tied into curriculum and instruction? Should we make this a bigger discussion surrounding electronic devices?

Davis: We do envision a future where your personal digital devices will be a part of the learning. It is going in a direction of more devices.

Harsch-Kinnane: Many parents are telling their kids to carry a cell phone to school for after school safety reasons. We originally said it would be good practice to roll this out at the beginning of the school year. My concern, in light of recent events, is that we still have the safety issue of parents wanting to have a cell phone somewhere on their person when the  school day ends right now. This timing issue is critical. I don’t feel like it is right for us to be unresponsive to this request for safety reasons.

McDaniel: I think Meister brings up a good point about the education component of cell phones.

Harsch-Kinnane: As our policy exists right now, during an emergency situation a student can be directed to use their cell phone by APS personnel.

Kirijan: We are proposing that the terminilogy appear in the policy also.

McDaniel: It’s a regulation now, but making that terminology policy would be the recommendation of the staff, correct?

Kirijan: Correct.

McDaniel: What I’d like to do is address the concerns of the policy work and determine what we need to do between now and the beginning of the next school year, because I don’t think we need to delay this.

Davis: I would always question against moving too quickly on policy, but we can make the middle school principals aware that this is the way the policy is going.

McDaniel: He would basically let the middle school principals know we are moving to a cell phone policy in middle schools consistent with the policy for high schools.

Harsch- Kinnane: My only concern is do we have the right to ask our principals to do something that the current policy doesn’t regulate?

Davis: We can ask them in writing to do this.

Y. Johnson: Our change actually is for all students, so theoretically any communication surrounding this would be to all principals.

Muhammed: What happens with the 50 dollar fine enforced after a student’s cell phone is confiscated 3 times?

Kirijan: Fines that are collected go into the school’s general fund.

Mesiter: I take issue with telling principals they can do something that is currently against board policy.

Harsch- Kinnane: There are going to have deal with this issue now in the schools.

Butler-Burks: Since this is under discussion and action, is there a vote we can take, based on recent emergency situations, that we have approved this temporarily until the changes in the policy come forward?

Kirijan: We have discussed this policy change with staff, and one of the reasons we didn’t want to implement this policy at this time of the year is because it is close to testing time.

Prescott: The superintendent can make an adjustment to the regulation regarding middle and elementary schools, which may be a quicker way to do this until a revised policy is set in place.

McDaniel: Are we fine with giving that directive to the superintendent? …Ok, we will now move on.

Butler-Burks: In terms of the superintendent search committee, can we put together a resolution that lists the members, responsibilities, and milestones?

McDaniel: Yes.

*Discussion surrounding Policy CG and following policy in terms of personnel and interim appointments.

Davis: Our problem here with policy is that we depend upon memory to implement every policy, and when someone is new they might not have that memory. You are supposed to follow policy, but they are not embedded in a way that we could hold people accountable. We don’t have a compliance function here. These are huge managerial systems tasks, not willfull violation of policy.

Butler-Burks: There must be some policy around general violation of policy.

Davis: We are responsible for knowing all of the policies, but as that number gets larger, what assurances do we have that people do know those policies? They are being violated, and when they are violated we stop it.

Y. Johnson: One of the questions would be, is there some effort underway to embed those policies? In order to hold anyone accountable you have to have specific regulations.

Davis: These will be embedded into our personnel systems.

Kirijan: You’ve accepted the GSBA policy standards. This summer we have a work review that will help put those policy standards in place to make policies easier to understand and follow. We will also put a policy training program together and create a regular schedule for policy review. There needs to be much more organization and alignment around this. We also need to look at our policy managment system, to improve that as well.

McDaniel: Now that we have had this conversation, what specifically would you like to see?

Meister: It sounds like we don’t have the capability to implement or sanction policies that are violated.

McDaniel: So it seems like what we are saying is, from a policy perspective, it isn’t a policy problem, but a systems policy.

Davis: In the interim when people see policies being violated, they should point them out. We shouldn’t violate policies.

The board recognizes social workers at APS.

The board goes to Executive Session at 5:30 p.m.

7:15 – The Community Meeting will now begin.

Community Member:  I am asking that you reconsider something you did last year where you added Collier Heights to Usher Elementary School.  Collier Heights was originally a white community named after George Washington Collier who were white, racists and segregationists.  When we first moved to Collier Heights we had house burnings, cross burnings, lynchings…we couldn’t even go to the school there.  To put that type of name with Ms. Usher seems to be foolish and inappropriate.  I want to really think about it and do the research.  Find out who GWCollier really was and Ms. Usher see if they should go together.

Community Member: I was very encouraged  that you (McDaniel) was open to the idea of the task force for charters.  We want to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.  I believe we are a strong community that can help you, whether its getting our community to help raise the millage rate or others, utilize me and other folks like that.  We hope there is some room for innovation.

Community Member:  I too really want to thank you for coming out.  It meant a lot to the community to see that we do matter.  I want to make sure that you understand how this funding issue for charter schools is affecting us.  We have to balance our budget that starts off smaller, if we don’t get some solution and relief we will have to make extremely painful cuts.  We need to have our funding restored.  It is not an exaggeration to say we will be gone if we don’t get some funding relief.  I know the charters are not everybody and only represent 10%, but out of the top 12 elementary schools, 5 are charters.  We want to help you as part of that task force to come up with solutions.

Community Member & Washington Alumni:  (Speaks about the small school concept) The small schools concept is failing us and causing divisiveness.  Please go back and revisit this.  As an alumni we want to support you, we support anything that is going on at our school.  Thank you Mr. Amos for supporting us.  One principal, one school.

Community Member: I had to follow whether my children were going to follow the school rule or break it (regarding cell phones) and we chose to follow it in middle school.  Keep in mind that there is cheating going on in High Schools with cell phones by students who are competing for academic placement and (status) in the school.  [Speaker continues to talk about the need for more social workers in APS schools to answer all needs of all students]

Parent: The concern we have (regarding guns in schools) are regarding maintaining the gun free zones, there are two pieces of legislation now that want to arm teachers, employees, etc.  We have done a lot of research and we have sent a note to Mr. Davis talking about how the gun free zone has improved safety and we would like your support in fighting those two pieces of legislation.  We support School Resource Officers (SRO’s). 

Community Member: I am here to share an update on DH Stanton Elementary and the effort the community has made to keep Stanton rising.  On May 8th 8:30-11:30am we will have leadership day and it will be an opportunity for the community to see the impact of our leadership program on the school as a whole.  We’ve worked closely with GAState, the Casey Foundation and others to really create a learning complex on the DH Stanton campus.

Community Member:  I’m here this evening to talk about the enrollment issue at DH Stanton.  We’ve been working hard to make sure DH Stanton stays open and is prospering.  I have a map that shows a highlighted area that shows 8.9% and we are advocating for an open enrollment policy and new zoning to allow kids to come to DH Stanton.  [Speaker continues to go thru graph and handout for BOE]  What that says is that most of the folks that live in Grant Park are doing well and have a higher income but there are some who are not graduating from high school.  We are trying to get a more level playing field.

Parent:  I am a parent volunteer at Young everyday.  The cleaning crew at night is deplorable.  There is never enough tissue or soap in the restroom and the building overall is filthy.  As a proud alumni of Washington High School, I would like to talk about one school and one principal for Washington High.  As an alum, I am still and will always be interested in what is happening at Washington.  The communication to stakeholders is awful.  I don’t understand why we have 6 Principals and AP’s with only 800 students.  The money could be better used somewhere else.

Parent:  I am really concerned about the safety in our school system.  The teachers are now the police and the teacher.  You claim that you don’t have enough money to put a police presence in the school but we elected you all to keep our kids safe and give them a decent education.  Now banning cell phones – how do you expect kids to call 911 when their life is in jeopardy? If you are not going to do the right thing, then resign.

Community Member:  It pleases to let me know that the notice for Booker T. Washington HS will not be on the agenda gor this board member, however it displeases me to know how parents were notified.  Parents and students are clueless about the 2 hearings that were held as well as the Common Core Curriculum.  Students are dropping out of school causing low enrollment which could lead to Washington closing in 2 years.  How will APS communicate with parents in the future about public hearings? Why isn’t there enough money to purchase stamps?

Parent of 15 year old Senior at Jackson H.S.:  Ronald is being punished because he attended Tech High, a closed school.  Now he attends Jackson High School.  Ronald has been in the district for 7 years.  He transferred at no fault of his own.  [Mother explains that son will not be able to be named valedictorian because APS policy states that you must be a student at the school for 2 years in order to be named valedictorian] 

Parent (BEST Academy): We as parents and as students have been advocating for improvement at BEST HS.  They are keeping this school in a zone of problem students.  BEST has a low graduation rate right now and we’ve been trying to get a hold of all the deputy’s, superintendents, principals….the first year the boys were promised certain things in order to continue on and graduate from BEST.  There is no brotherhood, constant fighting…I don’t know why you are not looking into BEST Academy.  It is so sad that we as a black community, an urban community, that we have to go thru this.  We’ve contacted you about BEST and we’ve got no answer from Mr. Davis or Ms. Waldon. We’ve been trying to get this school on track.  125 boys failed summer school.  We will graduate 20 boys at this rate. 

Parent (Centennial Place): We are worried about the calendar – planning has not occurred for the year round calendar.  We’ve rallied support for the balanced calendar and we understand that we will have a year round and traditional calendar.  If that is the case we choose to accept the devil we know which is the year round calendar.  We ask that the district start much earlier to address the calendar next year.  Second, the year round calendar is only a piece of the puzzle to our success.  Although it is not on the agenda tonight we ask for support on the class proposal for Centennial Place and that it be brought to vote soon.

Community Member:  I would like to urge each board member to speak clearly and directly into the microphone so that those of us can hear you clearly in the audience.  On to my second topic, this is in regard to discussion of the cell phone policy.  I would ask that the board remain sensitive to the importance of the cell phone policy.  If no one else, a child should be able to contact his/her parent for support.

Community Member:  [Speaker speaks directly about firing an employee, i.e. discusses a personnel matter, thus this won't be blogged]

Parent (BEST Academy) We have an assistant principal that has acted in dual roles as our academy leader, poor teachers, one full year without a science teacher where 60% of our students failed the end of course test, we went one semester without an ELA instructor or math instructor.  We need to identify a principal for our school.  We need our principal now.  There is a resolution that we would like to address.  Children don’t fail, adults do.  We are asking the district to scrutinize the process.

Parent:  I want to say I’m very pleased in what I have learned has happened, that Carver has been saved from the merger that would have been devastating.  I applaud Dr. Battle and all the people that work under her.  All of our Carver School of the Arts were replaced which was great.  I wish we had AP.  When my son who is now a junior applied to Carver School of the Arts he had to audition.  He’s now a candidate for the Gov.’s honors program in music.  When my younger son came to CSOA, there was no audition and I respectfully ask for the return of auditions.  I see no reason why a school of the arts fails to have an audition process.

8:00 – Community Meeting has ended.  Legislative meeting will begin shortly.  Committee of the Whole meeting will now continue.

Item 2.13 Authorization to Revise Policy BBE School Attorney has been waived for first reading.

School calendar discussion continues.

YJohnson:  I understand that that is the case for now, but do we anticipate always maintaining year round for those (3) schools?

Davis:  We have been asked to come back with use for 2014-2015. If both calendars are maintained at a minimum we will try to start both calendars as close to one another as possible.  We will be looking at all of that over the next 4 months. 

McDaniel asks if Kinnane’s amendment included the recommendation of year round schools/calendars.

Kinnane: It did not include the YR schools.

Motion on the floor by Kinnane to keep the YR schools on their current YR calendar.

Passes.

Dr. Grant explains that a seat became vacant on the ethics commission and Mr. David Ross, an attorney and active member of the E.Rivers community was vetted, trained and accepted him as a member of the commission.  Bringing him to the board is a process we go through with all members of this commission seeing as it was this board that created this committee.

8:10pm Board moves on legal matters and hears from  Bill Prescott, APS General Counsel.

8:12 Committee of the Whole meeting is adjourned.

~This ends our live blog for tonight. The legislative meeting can be viewed beginning tomorrow night on Comcast Channel 22.~

March 4, 2013 at 7:11 pm 3 comments

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