Atlanta Public Schools Employees To Receive Pay Increase

System has fully implemented first system-wide adjustments since 2009

Atlanta Public Schools employees will see their first pay increase in over five years.  The school system has fully implemented a district-wide pay increase plan that was announced by the Atlanta Board of Education in late June.  The plan represents a $12 million increase in the system’s overall salary budget.  All full-time employees who were hired by the district prior to July 2014 will receive an adjustment that will be paid in equal amounts throughout the rest of the 2014-2015 school year or in a one-time payment. This is dependent on the employee’s date of hire.

“I am really happy to be able to reiterate the Board’s appreciation for the support that district employees have continued to provide to the students and families of Atlanta Public Schools,” said Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen, superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools.  “We have some very committed employees, and this is a direct, positive impact on their lives.”

Wages for Atlanta Public Schools employees were frozen in 2009, as a result of major cuts to education across the state.  Based on tenure and work schedule, some employees will see increases in their July 31 pay.  Others will see the increase start in August.  The amount of an increase will also vary, with those who were hired before June 2009 receiving the largest increase – a 5 percent raise. The average pay increase for employees will be     4 percent.

“Having a great school district starts with having talented and dedicated employees, and we a committed to Atlanta Public Schools becoming one of the nation’s leading districts” said Dr. Carstarphen “I believe the children of Atlanta deserve this type of commitment.”

Atlanta Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia, serving approximately 50,000 students across 106 learning sites. The district is organized into nine K-12 clusters with 87 schools, 17 charter schools and two citywide single-gender academies, where students are offered rigorous instructional programs that foster success in school and life. For more information, visit

July 31, 2014 at 6:17 pm Leave a comment

Award-winning virtual world planned for students this fall

By: Leslie Rivera, Communications Officer

Students heading back to class for the 2014-15 school year are sure to notice their new virtual desktops.

The approval of a $15 million infrastructure upgrade, a digital resource known as MyBackPack, officially launches at the start of this school year but has already been recognized as an innovative use of technology. APS was among the honorees at the Digital Content and Curriculum Achievement Awards (DCCAA) for K-12 at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2014 conference in Atlanta on June 30.

“This year’s winners are leveraging the power of digital content and curriculum in creative ways that enhance and personalize learning. They offer innovative examples for other schools to emulate.” said Alan Cox, Senior Vice President for the Center for Digital Education.

The portal houses digital resources where students and teachers can write, create presentations and access a secure internet search engine. All APS students can expect to receive a login and password for MyBackPack sometime at the beginning of the school year.

Students will experience MyBackPack firsthand but there will be other technological advancements to improve their digital learning. APS Chief Information Officer Tony Hunter highlighted several planned projects and explained that upgrades to all teacher laptops will be completed this summer and the district is also beefing up school-based technical support.

“The focus is on making sure every school has access to a technical support person,” Hunter said. “Technical support personnel will be assigned to certain schools so that they are familiar with a schools’ individual needs.”

The focused tech support is critical as APS adds 24,000 “in points” or nodes for its virtual desktop platform. That accessibility means an additional four to six computers in classrooms dedicated for student use. The virtual desktop platform allows students to login from home or on vacation. “This is a major step forward,” said Hunter. Virtual desktop offers students ‘same user’ experience so that students can log in to a familiar environment and have access to the same look and feel of their classroom desktop and applications.

Outside of the physical classrooms, middle and high school students will now have access to an increased number of virtual online courses. That number jumps from 12 courses to 44 this fall, including Gifted and Advanced Placement courses being offered for the first time through APS’ Atlanta Virtual Academy.

All of this is possible because of a major infrastructure upgrade recently approved by the board of education.

The $15 million investment includes network switches, bandwidth and cabling to support digital learning across the district. The process of the upgrade will begin at the start of the school year and work on the project will continue into 2015.

Schools re-open August 4, 2014 for the 2014-2015 school year.

July 31, 2014 at 12:50 pm Leave a comment

New NAHS principal Curtis Douglass excited about providing students with meaningful academic and social opportunities

Principal Douglass wants NAHS to serve as a model for other urban schools throughout the United States.

Curtis Douglass is a New York native, raised by two loving parents who instilled in him the importance of education. After high school Douglass attended Morehouse College where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History.  During his matriculation at Morehouse, he fell in love with the city of Atlanta and decided to remain and pursue his career in education. He began his career as a classroom teacher in Fulton and DeKalb public school systems.

While teaching, Douglass earned a master’s degree in Education from Georgia State University and an Educational Specialist in Educational Leadership from Lincoln Memorial University. Douglass has worked in school administration for nine years, serving as the assistant principal at Shiloh High School and Gwinnett High School in Gwinnett County before joining Atlanta Public Schools as assistant principal at North Atlanta High School.

During his time as the assistant principal at North Atlanta High School (NAHS), the administration team had great successes. The number of advanced placement courses offered at NAHS increased, the administration successfully overcame challenges associated with moving into a new facility, the rate of student tardiness decreased and the academy model of the school was restructured to meet the needs of students based on specific grade levels.

As the new principal of North Atlanta High School, Douglass looks to make it a school that serves as a model for other urban schools throughout the United States. His immediate goals include raising standardized test scores for all students, particularly for the subgroups that have historically performed below expectations; to continue increasing the number of students receiving an International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma; to highlight options and utilize resources for students who are not pursuing an IB Diploma, and to increase school spirit.

Douglass expressed his excitement as the new leader of North Atlanta High School stating, “As the new principal of North Atlanta, I look forward to building relationships with the student body and providing them with meaningful opportunities, both academically and socially.” He continued, “I also look forward to witnessing a renewed sense of school spirit that will be felt throughout the school by North Atlanta students, faculty and staff.”

North Atlanta High School will begin its second year in a new state- of-the-art facility.  The first day of instruction for the upcoming school year is Monday, August 4, 2014.  For more information about North Atlanta High School click here.



July 31, 2014 at 12:08 pm Leave a comment

New principal Mario M. Watkins announces open door policy at Ralph J. Bunche Middle School

Mario Watkins

Mario. M. Watkins was recently appointed principal of Bunche Middle School in southwest Atlanta.

An innovative veteran educator with 20 years of public education experience, Principal Mario M. Watkins has served for over 10 years in K-12 administration.

During the past two years, Principal Watkins has served as the interim principal at Ralph J. Bunche Middle School and is excited to now make Bunche his permanent home. Watkins says that during his tenure, Bunche has made significant gains on their CCRPI (College and Career Readiness Performance Index) from a 48 to 71. Bunche has also greatly reduced the number of disciplinary infractions and tremendously improved their school-wide climate and culture.

Watkins’ personal academic background includes a Bachelors of Science in Biology from Xavier University, Masters of Public Health, Policy and Management from Emory University, Broad Field Secondary Science Teacher Certification from Oglethorpe University, Educational Leadership Certification and an Education Specialist in Biology degree from Jacksonville State University. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Science Education at the University of Georgia and has taught science at the collegiate level at Atlanta Metropolitan College.

Principal Watkins’ passion for education stems from his deep desire for all students attending Bunche to get a quality education.

As a dedicated father and prideful member of the local Ralph J. Bunche community, Watkins continues to remind his staff to deliver instruction to their students in a way that they would like to see delivered to their own children.

As he enters the 2014-2015 school year as the appointed principal, Watkins says the main goal for Bunche Middle School is student academic success.

“As we enter year three under my leadership, we are making quality classroom instruction our number one priority,” says Watkins.  “The second overarching goal will be to implement a school-wide writing program that will be taught throughout all four core content areas.”

In a letter to parents Principal Watkins lays out a list of upcoming changes and improvements for the 2014-2015 school year at Bunche Middle School. The changes are apart of an effort of moving the school towards becoming a GA School of Choice and national school of excellence. Some of the changes include better communication with parents, utilizing the school’s Facebook page, monthly newsletter and school website. The letter mentions an “open door” policy where parents are welcome to visit the school to provide continuous input for change. In the letter Principal Watkins states “As your facilitator for change, I look forward to meeting you and establishing a partnership for promoting student success.”

A complete list of changes and improvements for the 2014-2015 school year at Ralph J. Bunche Middle School is below:

  • Newly implemented Professional Learning Communities to give teachers the opportunity to effectively plan and implement the new GA Common Core Curriculum
  • Higher academic expectations for our teachers and scholars focusing on positive school culture and climate using Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies.
  • A concerted effort to improve the overall customer service experience among students, parents, community members, and other stakeholders
  • Better communication with parents using our new Facebook Page, monthly digital Parent Newsletter, and regular website updates
  • 150 newly purchased iPads for teachers’ classrooms to inspire a world-class, 21st century learning atmosphere
  • Two newly hired connections teachers to provide a foundational exposure student to the fine arts and to health and wellness
  • An “open door” policy where parents are welcomed and invited to visit the school to provide continuous input for change

Bunche Middle School is currently undergoing construction. The new Ralph J. Bunche Middle School is slated to open in July of 2015.

Along with the construction of a new campus, Bunche was selected as the winner of the ASIS Foundation School Funding Competition, winning $20,000 worth of security equipment to support their efforts in providing a secure learning environment for their children. The award is presented to a school whose administration has clearly demonstrated the challenges they’ve faced to ensure the safety of their students, parents and staff. The security equipment will be installed by September 5, 2014, and the formal presentation of the award will take place on September 26, 2014.

Principal Watkins stated that the equipment would be moved and installed in the new Ralph Bunche Middle School campus once the renovation is complete.

Bunche students and staff will remain at their temporary relocation site during the 2014-2015 school year, the former Archer H.S. facility, until renovations and additions are completed in the summer of 2016. The Archer facility is located at 2250 Perry Blvd. N.W. Atlanta, GA 30318.

Day One for Atlanta Public Schools is Monday, August 4.




July 30, 2014 at 5:59 pm Leave a comment

A taste of things to come from Atlanta Public Schools’ Nutrition department

APS is planning to “kick it up a notch” in the school lunchroom on the first day of school.

Students at four schools will find extra treats in the cafeteria when they return on Monday, August 4.

The Southeast United Dairy Industry Association will be on hand to provide students at Bolton Academy with nutritional information and recipes for a healthy lifestyle. Breakfast giveaways include a variety of Borden milk and yogurt.

There will be a selection of local fresh fruit and vegetables for the children at Young Middle School. Members of Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit organization that aims to increase access to locally grown food, will provide information on its programs and partnerships with farmers markets.

Fresh produce distributor FreshPoint will offer a lunch tasting of fresh fruits and vegetables at Sutton Middle School and Maynard Jackson High School students will be able to sample a variety of flatbreads from The Fathers Table Bread Company. Their breads are baked from scratch using farm fresh eggs. Their whole grain products also contain zero grams tans fat per serving and are free of high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils.

There is much more cooking in APS cafeterias for the 2014-2015 school year.

  • Every fourth Tuesday of the month will be ‘Regional Taste Tuesday’ in APS cafeterias. The expanded international offerings include chicken parmesan, jambalaya, jerk chicken, red beans and rice as well as tropical stir fry.
  • More schools will offer free breakfast, lunch and a snack to students each day as part of the Community Eligibility Provision (formerly called Community Eligibility Option program). Students at the 57 participating schools are automatically eligible and do not need to complete a meal application.
  • Families who wish to apply for free and reduced meals can now apply online. The new online application system is now up and running.
  • 36 APS elementary schools have been awarded a USDA federal funded grant to provide a wide-range of fresh fruit and vegetable snacks not currently being served in APS cafeterias.
  • Atlanta Public Schools are peanut free. Peanut butter or any products containing peanuts are no longer served in APS cafeterias.
  • Menus indicate gluten-free (GF) & locally grown (LG) food options and there is a daily salad bowl item as well.
  • Health scores for each school cafeteria are now posted on the APS main page.

The August menu and new meal prices are now posted online. Please visit for more information.

July 30, 2014 at 7:14 am Leave a comment

New Grady High School principal takes school slogan to heart

Grady High School welcomes Principal Timothy Guiney

Grady High School welcomes Principal Timothy Guiney

Principal Timothy Guiney admits there is some pressure in taking over a post that was held by the last principal for 23 years. Principal Guiney’s approach is simple and speaks directly to the school’s cherished slogan, “Individually we are different… together we are Grady.” He plans to embody this creed stating, “I understand I need to be myself and take the appropriate action to try and uphold that standard.”

The standards already established at Grady High School include challenging advanced placement classes in addition to established drama, debate and arts programs, along with an award winning journalism program.

Principal Guiney is looking forward to advancing Grady from a premiere high school in APS, and metro Atlanta, to a premiere high school in the Southeast. And he believes the school is well on its way. A big part of making that happen involves community. Principal Guiney is grateful to have an active parent base and diverse student group. With their collaboration, he plans to establish a shared mission and goal. In his introductory letter to the Grady community, Principal Guiney also reinforced the importance of both instruction and extra-curricular activities. He wrote, “From a philosophical standpoint, I believe that a safe and secure learning environment is necessary for children to effectively learn. Further, I believe that rigorous instruction and active engagement are the foundation of a quality 21st century education. This is especially important as we continue implementation of the Common Core Curriculum, with a more challenging assessment system beginning in 2014-2015.”

His letter continued, “By setting high expectations, and challenging our students to meet them, I am confident that Grady High School will continue to grow as a learning community. In order to foster your child’s social and emotional growth, please encourage him or her to get involved in extra-curricular activities. Students who play sports, participate in Fine Arts, and join Clubs tend to enjoy their high school experience, while achieving a higher level of success.”

The 2014-15 school year will be Principal Guiney’s thirteenth year as an educator.

Principal Guiney is the father of two elementary-aged school children and began his coursework this year to earn his doctorate in Educational Leadership and School Improvement at the University of West Georgia. He also holds a specialist and master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of West Georgia. Principal Guiney earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

July 30, 2014 at 7:10 am Leave a comment

APS bus drivers are on the road and ready for Day One

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The first day for Atlanta Public Schools students is Monday August 4, but the bus drivers who will transport thousands of the district’s students are on the job now.

APS’ fleet of 333 buses were on Atlanta streets this morning and will head out again during today’s afternoon rush hour, Tuesday July 29. Drivers are conducting practice runs to become familiar with their routes, improve accuracy of timing during current traffic patterns and to approximate pick up and drop off schedules for students. APS Operations Chief Larry Hoskins reiterated the importance of the transportation department’s practice run. “This gives us an opportunity to become familiar with our routes and allows us to provide a high degree of service,” said Hoskins.

Drivers spent Monday in training. The day started at sunrise with a visit from Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen. She energized the crowd of about 400 with a message to drivers about their important role.

“You are the first teacher a student sees at the start of the school day,” Dr. Carstarphen emphasized.

The superintendent concluded her remarks with a simple, “please be safe” as the drivers headed out.

The APS fleet will travel 21,904 miles per day transporting 22,000 students to and from school.

The transportation department will post bus route information to the district website on the evening of July 31. That information will also be available at school open houses on Friday August 1.

The department of transportation can be reached at 404-802-5500.


July 29, 2014 at 1:18 pm Leave a comment

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