LIVE BLOG: Board of Education Special Legislative Meeting and General Meeting – April 14, 2014

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

View today’s agenda here:

REFRESH your browser often for updates.

The meeting will begin soon.

11;57 am – Board meeting called to order.

Esteves, Brown, Collins, English, Amos and Grant present for roll call.

Legislative agenda approved.

Board enters into executive session to discuss personnel matters.

The board is expected to reconvene at 1:30pm.  Please tune back into our live blog at that time.

2:00pm – Awaiting the return of the BOE

2::55pm – Superintendent Davis gives media interviews.  Board of Education continues their executive session.

3:00pm – Meeting continues

Board Chair Courtney English reads BOE resolution.  Each member takes an opportunity to read a section of the resolution.

“Be it resolved that Dr. Meria Carstarphen will serve for 3 years…”

Board of Education has unanimously approved Dr. Meria Carstarphen as the next superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools.

The Atlanta Board of Education today voted unanimously to hire Meria Joel Carstarphen as Superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools. Dr. Carstarphen brings nearly 20 years of education and experience in diverse, urban public school districts including Austin, Texas, Saint Paul, Minn. and the District of Columbia. She will lead and provide oversight to a district with an $850 million budget, 49,000 students, 7,000 employees, and more than 105 learning sites.

Dr. Carstarphen will help to rebuild the public’s trust and confidence in Atlanta Public Schools.  She comes to Atlanta with an impressive record in transformative educational leadership that has led to significant student performance gains.

“Today marks a critical step toward achieving educational excellence for our students.  This is an important moment for our children, communities and our city,” said Courtney D. English, Atlanta Board of Education chair. “Given her focus on the development of the whole child, and using a collaborative approach to see that students achieve, I have the utmost confidence in Dr. Carstarphen’s leadership. She is the right leader at the right time for our system who will deliver the best education possible to our students. It’s time for Atlanta to believe again.”

Dr. Carstarphen was selected as the sole finalist for superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools on March 27. Since then, she has attended more than 30 events in all six school board districts and every cluster, reaching 1,200 members of the community, including parents and community members leading up to today’s vote.

“Over the past two weeks, I have met with students, parents, educators and other local leaders and residents from across Atlanta who have shared with me their hopes and dreams for Atlanta Public Schools. I look forward to working with the Atlanta community to ensure that every child has access to a quality education so that they have quality choices in life,” said Dr. Carstarphen. “I’m honored and humbled by Atlanta’s belief and confidence in me as we work together to restore pride in Atlanta Public Schools.”

Dr. Carstarphen is excited to be in Atlanta. She is eager to join the Board of Education and the Atlanta community in working collaboratively to make Atlanta Public Schools the best in the nation.

Local and national leaders have expressed their support and endorsement of Dr. Carstarphen as a highly qualified and passionate leader who can restore the public’s trust and drive a successful future for Atlanta’s children. These leaders include former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, Great City Schools Executive Director Michael Casserly, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and City Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell.

As superintendent of Austin Independent School District since 2009, Dr. Carstarphen has made extraordinary achievements in academic excellence. They include:

  • Improved graduation rates to an all-time high of 82.5 percent and reduced longitudinal dropout
    rate by 25 percent
  • Increased the African American graduation rate to 79.6 percent, specifically African American males
    to 76.2 percent
  • Increased overall SAT and ACT exam scores
  • Increased college application rates to an all-time high of 92 percent
  • Improved attendance rates at all levels to 95 percent
  • Secured the system’s highest financial ratings by multiple rating agencies such as first ever and retained AAA bond rating, received awards for budget transparency and financial reporting
  • Received largest USDE Teacher Incentive Fund grant in country for $62.3 million

Dr. Carstarphen credits the support of an amazing team with these results. They were achieved in part due to efforts to move away from a culture of high-stakes testing to one that emphasizes the whole child, every child; social and emotional learning; equal arts-rich environments; alternative pathways to graduation and disciplinary program reform.

She managed Austin’s urban school district with an annual budget of $950 million; 12,000 employees; and 87,000 pre-K-12 students in 123 schools. Her professional experience includes teaching at the middle school level, and teaching elementary education in Seville, Spain, and Caracas, Venezuela. In leadership roles, she has led the Saint Paul Public Schools in Minnesota, and in accountability positions in urban public schools systems in the District of Columbia, Tennessee and Ohio.

Dr. Meria Joel Carstarphen earned a doctorate in administration, planning and social policy with a concentration in urban superintendency from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She earned a bachelor of arts in political science and Spanish from Tulane University and master of education degrees from Auburn University and Harvard University. She has also studied at the University of Seville, Spain, and University of Innsbruck, Austria. A public school graduate, Dr. Carstarphen hails from Selma, Ala., where she began her teaching career.

Carstarphen will start work officially on July 7, 2014, replacing Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. who was appointed superintendent on July 1, 2011.

LowryTweetsContract Details:

  • 3 year contract
  • July 7, 2014 start date
  • Base Salary: $375,000
  • Retirement Contribution: 10% of the annual salary
  • Medical, vision, dental, disability and life insurance coverages
  • One-time relocation reimbursement
  • Automobile Allowance:  $1200 a month
  • Expense Allowance:  $800 a month
  • Annual performance evaluation to be conducted by the Board
  • Contract does not include any provisions for performance bonuses

3:20pm – Press conference now taking place (full video will be available on this blog later this afternoon).

Carstarphen:  We will have a very special moment to do some great work in this city.














3:30pm – Special legislative meeting is now adjourned.  Regularly scheduled April meeting will begin shortly.  We will continue to blog from committee of the whole and community meetings on this page.

APS hires Meria Carstarphen as superintendent (WXIA)

APS Board names Carstarphen superintendent (WSB Atlanta)

Austin Superintendent Carstarphen to lead schools in Atlanta (Austin American Statesman)

It’s official – APS has new superintendent  (

3:55pm – Work session has been called to order.

Chuck Burbridge, CFO, gives brief financial presentation.  No changes at this time to the financial outlook of the district.

Esteves:  What is the plan for presenting the budget to the budget committee?

English: We pulled the budget from this agenda because there were some questions and it has not made it out of committee yet.  Matt will work to schedule another commission meeting sooner rather than later.  Davis will work will Carstarphen on issues that may have a budget impact.

Presentation completed.

4:00pm – Committee of the Whole meeting called to order

March meeting minutes approved.

English:  We have removed the budget from the agenda altogether.  I am moving 2.03 to discussion and action.  The Jackson cluster recommendation is already in discussion and action.

With these revisions the agenda has been approved.

2.01 Report No. 13/14-1722 Authorization to Revise Policy JCDAF Use of Electronic Devices by Students (First Reading)

2.02 Report No. 13/14-1723 Authorization to Adopt Calendars for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 School Years

MOVED TO DISCUSSION AND ACTION 2.03 Report No. 13/14-1724 Recommendation to Approve a Zone Change for Inman Middle School

2.04 Report No. 13/14-5122 Authorization to Abolish One (1) Educational Telecommunication Specialist Position, Create One (1) Media Production Specialist Position and Execute a Transition Plan

2.05 Report No. 13/14-5123 Personnel Gains, Losses, Promotions, Appointments, Creations, Reclassifications and Abolishments

Esteves asks about the concentration of losses in particular school clusters.

Lee says that 20 of the 37 resignations come from District 7.

Davis agrees to look into concern with Human Resources.





April 14, 2014 at 11:59 am Leave a comment

Board of Education Special Legislative Meeting begins today at 11:45 a.m.

An Overview of the Monday, April 14, 2014
Atlanta Board of Education Meeting Schedule

I. 11:45 AM

- The Board will enter into an executive session

Discussion and Action:
II. 1:30 PM
- The members of the Board will vote on the hiring of the Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent.




*An executive session may take place before, during or at the conclusion of the meeting to discuss any appropriate topics.

**Action may be taken

Howard W. Grant, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Atlanta Board of Education

April 14, 2014 at 10:57 am Leave a comment

Humphries Elementary jumps high to reach goal for heart fundraiser

jump rope 5
The third, fourth and fifth graders at Humphries Elementary School recently raised funds to support the American Heart Association by showing off their jump roping skills. They raised a total of $100.00 which will be donated to cardiovascular research and education in an effort to help save lives in the community and across the country.

This event was sponsored by Debbie Akbar, physical education teacher at Humphries. “We had fun exercising our heart to enhance our level of physical fitness,” Akbar said. “It was harder than we thought it would be, but it was lots of fun!”

jump rope 4

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 1.15.42 PM

April 3, 2014 at 5:59 pm Leave a comment

Live Blog: Budget Commission Update – April 3, 2014

Today, from 3:00pm and 4:30pm we will live blog the Board of Education Budget Commission update.

This is the last scheduled budget commission meeting before the BOE is expected to vote on the FY15 budget.

–REFRESH your browser every 10 minutes for updates–

3:20pm Matt Westmoreland, Commission Chair, calls meeting to order.  Asks for an update from Chuck Burbridge, district CFO, from his recent community meetings.

Burbridge:  The district hosted 4 community meetings in all 4 regions of the city.  We had good support and acceptance as it related to the addition of the employees to support the work of Student Support Teams (SST).  The first narrow topic was around the recommendation not to fund the extended day program.  There were community members who were very vocal about their support for extended day from Springdale Park Elementary.  More so at Woodson than other meetings there were two issues related to paraprofessionals.  The first issue was the decision not to have ESOL paraprofessinals in the budget.  Essentially what we are seeing is a reduction in paraprofessionals with the trade-off being an increase in teachers.  I will contrast that with the second paraprofessional issue which is media paraprofessionals.  Many were very passionate about the inclusion of media paraprofessionals.

Last night’s discussion at Cascade, we got a little off the budget and onto policy around how the district is approaching charter schools.  The community engaged in a broader discussion about charters, including budget, at that meeting.  I’ve been responding to parents.  I responded today to a parent who reached out about the Mays field house issue.  I think we received a nice reception from people who were happy we were present.  The meetings lasted for approximately 2 hours and we stayed until there were no more questions.

–Burbridge is now speaking about  the difference between the two previously posted budgets–

* The C&I and Operations bottom line did not change between the two budgets.

Karen Waldon, Deputy

Waldon: The major adjustment was the shifting of the support we asked for as it relates to physical education teachers.  We are working on a plan where we move forward pushing in some paraprofessionals in physical education.  We also wanted to move towards a more robust approach to gifted services.  We have not decreased our support for gifted education.  The challenges with fully funding the expansion of Atlanta Virtual Academy — I’ve talked with Tony Hunter and members of the AVA team — we will be able to find some resources to do some levels of expansion.  We feel that it is a priority for APS to position itself to provide access to virtual learning to our parents and students.  We won’t be able to fund it totally in the amount originally suggested, but we will be able to fund it enough to provide services needed.  There was no change to EIP.

Meister:  At NAHS, they have earned 3 gifted teachers and now that’s been pulled?

Waldon:  This was brought to me today, but there should be no reductions to earned positions for gifted positions this year.  We are checking to see what is circulating that would make anyone think that.

Brown:  Right now I want to focus on a larger issue.  It is one I am really struggling with and I hope you can hope me.  In our original conversations we laid out several things with the administration we wanted to achieve (no furloughs, earlier start of budget process, etc), then we wanted to see in the budget pushing more and more resources to the school level and giving principals opportunities to have control of that.  I don’t see that in this budget.  Can you help me with that?  I feel like that is the big goal.

Superintendent Davis: Some will not be apparent in the numbers.  For instance principal advisory council is helping me design the recruiting process, that would not be reflected in numbers. The principals number 1 item was SST and we’ve moved $4M into SST.  Principals are now a much more integral part of the hiring process.

Waldon:  To go back to the SST, the superintendent’s council has a subcommittee of 8 principals who are tasked with what that SST redesign will look like.  You can take the teacher budget, it sits in C&I, school counselors, nurses those are in C&I’s budget but they are in the school-house.  We are losing 60 positions after this year because of the end of the Race to the Top funding.  We won’t have those positions next year.  Even with those positions in place, they don’t support CLL, they support schools and their costs sit in the C&I budget.  In terms of pushing out those resources to schools, I think we have a pretty solid job.

Brown:  I understand many of these buckets actually support our schools, but I’m not seeing a move into our schools, into our students and those who do not visit this building.

Davis:  Moving more things to regions and direct school support and out of this office, as Karen said there will be 60 people fewer here next year…

Brown:  How many people are in this building?

Burbridge:  There are 377 cubes in this building but there are not 377 people in those cubes.  Even finance has 5 people that are in schools 4-5 days of the week.

Davis:  More of the other points about moving this to regions and schools is that we have too many schools.  To move one person from CLL and duplicate them in schools totals $8M.  I don’t have $8M.  If we had a lot less schools I could provide a lot more services.  We cannot totally delegate a lot of the financial responsibility to the school-house level until more are trained at the school-house.  The first step is training at the regional level.  [Davis explains that there is risk when you allow schools to touch Title spending].

Brown:  I think the issue of schools is something we will have to deal with over the long-term.  I will also say that over the next very short period of time, I need to see cause and effect between dollars and outcomes.  I am very frustrated that we don’t seem able to track that in many areas of this budget.  I think we need to make that a very early priority so that a year from now we won’t have to have this same conversation.

Davis:  When you take the new SST positions, we will be able to track those kids – however how much is due to the new SST roles vs higher quality teaching.  Perhaps we can point more the elimination of barriers.  We are brining a lot of different things to bear on that student in the classroom and hopefully they will do better.

Waldon:  One of the expectations we have for schools are continuous improvement plans.  Every school has a plan and we look forward to seeing the outcome at the end of the year.  For example, our nurses have a plan for continuous improvement.  What are the needs, the process, challenges and the outcomes.  We have those plans for every component of C&I.  We do tie their work to this.  Each week team members bring forward accountability reports.  We have good data around this to share.

Davis:  We also can give you work sessions on those types of things.  We can show you what data we have and how that data is used to inform teaching practices. [Davis asks the BOE director to make a note about a presentation or information around what resources go to school-house].

Collins:  I see there has been an increase in performing arts, but from my understanding all middle schools do not have performing arts.  What can we do to make that happen?

Waldon:  One of the challenges ongoing has been, there was a practice in place years ago called flipping the script.  There was a degree of autonomy that came with that.  One of the things that principals were allowed to do was to make decisions concerning programming.  The principal at that time, may not be the current principal, would make that decision.  The challenge has been providing some degree of standardization within the district.  The same thing goes for textbooks – the district may adopt a textbook but a school could opt out and choose a different textbook.  Rightsizing things is something we have been doing progressively.  We are asking the fine arts coordinator to take a look at teacher sharing, teacher schedules… We will look at that and see if we can at least get half-time support.

Davis:  From a budget decision perspective, this is driven by the teachers in C&I, and when we level in the fall – that results in an increase in teachers.  In the last 2 years we added teachers without asking for additional resources.

Esteves: I want to echo Cynthia.  Some schools feel they are receiving less teachers than in the past.  How do we access the number of teachers needed at schools, particularly at overcrowded schools?  What flexibility are we giving to our principals to assign teachers in an area where they need them.

Davis:  We should not have any classrooms in this district that exceed the norms you set as a Board.  Overcrowding is again..they earn what they earn based on the number of children.  The principals in the school have great flexibility but they cannot create classes larger than what you have authorized.  The only thing that is dictated is the maximum size of the classroom and that is a board approved level.

Westmoreland asks for a presentation from operations – Larry Hoskins will present.

Hoskins:  The major difference since the last budget is in safety & security and facilities.  The consequence of the last budget was that 42 people would need to lose their jobs to meet the thresholds operations was given. We went back and looked at a new initiative for officers and decided to hold off, shifting the resources to facilities to save 31 custodians, several electricians and painters.  One of the other shifts is in utilities.  After looking at our history with utilities, we took a harder look at our usage and made a cut to the utility budget based on information about natural gas prices.  At the end of the day we are still looking at some employees exiting operations at the start of next school year –Possibly 9 positions, 2 of which are currently vacant, for a net of 7 employees.

Westmoreland:  It was explained at some point in the budget process was that we were not going to fire custodians but we were not going to fill their jobs when a vacancy occurred.  So no one is leaving?

Hoskins:  About 80% of our custodial activity is provided by contractors.  As our folks leave, we outsource those services.  From a financial standpoint that has worked very well in the past for us.  Typically you can save on benefits.  Going forward, under the Affordable Care Act, we are researching whether outsourcing will still be affordable.  It will be interesting how ACA impacts outsourcing not only in APS but in other industries.

Note: Packed seat at today’s meeting – additional seating brought into the room.

Several community members have signed up to speak.

Westmoreland brings up topics to be covered.  Talks about 3% increase possibility for employees.

Davis says that administration is working through creative ways to distribute that increase based upon last pay raise and other specifics.

Meister:  As a minimum, we will be giving the 3%

Davis:  Yes, if you approve.

Conversation now shifting to Technology.  New CIO, Tony Hunter, is updating the board.

4:30 – Blog has now ended.







April 3, 2014 at 3:30 pm 1 comment

Price Middle School Wildcats Learn to Quilt

Ms. Janice Johnson, Art Teacher at Price Middle School, provided an opportunity for students to work with visiting quilt artist, Mrs. Dawn Williams Boyd on March 17th and 18th.  Mrs. Boyd taught a group of fifteen girls the concept of designing individual quilt blocks, how to put the blocks together to make a quilt and how to quilt the blocks together.


The first quilt was believed to have been placed on a carved ivory figure of a pharaoh from the First Egyptian Dynasty in 3400 BC.

The first quilt ever created was believed to have been placed on a carved ivory figure of a pharaoh from the First Egyptian Dynasty in 3400 BC.  Over time, the necessity of quilt making has taken many shapes and various techniques have been developed.  Since 1980 a renewed interest in quilting has emerged with many artists creating quilts and putting them on display in museums and galleries.


Mrs. Williams Boyd grew up in suburban Atlanta where her mother was an APS Social Studies teacher.   Mrs. Williams Boyd has exhibited her work in various exhibits and galleries and enjoys working with young people to further the art of quilting.

Through the combined efforts of Mrs. Williams Boyd and Ms. J. Johnson the Price students were able to create a paper quilt made of twenty eight block designs.  The students worked together to layout the pattern and “sewed” it together as well as added a border.

On Wednesday, March 25th the unveiling of the quilt took place and it remains on display in the Price Middle School main lobby.





Story by Tammy Rosado, Media Specialist, Price Middle School

April 3, 2014 at 2:49 pm Leave a comment

Budget Commission Meeting Notice-Atlanta Board of Education

Budget Commission Meeting Notice-Atlanta Board of Education

April 2, 2014 at 8:55 pm Leave a comment

Contest gives APS principals chance to win more than $20,000 in school security enhancements

The ASIS International Foundation, the non-profit arm of the leading organization for security management professionals worldwide, is offering all APS high school and middle school principals the chance to compete for a minimum of $20,000 in security program funding as part of the ASIS School Security Funding Competition. ASIS is asking school leaders to assess and share the security issues confronting their buildings, staff and students.

The contest application asks principals to comment on specific security concerns on their campus, how those security issues impact the educational goals for students, how principals rate the security levels at their schools, and how principals would use the prize money to improve overall security on their campus.

Program highlights include:

  • a minimum of $20,000 dollars awarded to the winning school; additional monies and equipment may be donated by ASIS vendors;
  • ASIS will sponsor a career day that will introduce and expose students to a globalized perspective of the security industry, allowing them to meet individuals from leading security organizations around the world;
  • ASIS International president and board members will visit the school following the announcement of the competition winner;
  • the winning school’s principal or principal’s designee will be recognized at the ASIS International luncheon held this October in Atlanta;
  • the winning school will be featured in newsletters and bulletins around the world.

Previous competition winners have used the money awarded by ASIS to install state-of-the art indoor/outdoor surveillance cameras, security software, outdoor lighting, to purchase two-way radios, and to install and repair fencing around the school.

The contest winner must use the funding to purchase equipment that will improve school security.

Applications for the ASIS International School Security Funding Competition must be submitted by close of business Thursday, April 3, 2014.

For more information about this opportunity to create a safer learning environment at your school, contact your school principal or APS Grants Manager Dale Butler at




April 2, 2014 at 4:17 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts Newer Posts

APS on Twitter

APS on Instagram

Graduates!!! #jackson13 #jackson13 #jackson13 #jackson13

Enter your email address to subscribe to Talk Up APS and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 11,028 other followers

APS PhotoStream

More Photos


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 11,028 other followers