Live Blog: February Board of Education Meeting

Thank you for following our live blog of the February 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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The meeting will begin soon.

2:08pm Meeting called to order

Superintendent’s Remarks:

Good evening, everyone.I want to reiterate what I stated at the board meeting earlier today, Feb. 3, 2014. We have come through a difficult time over these last several days. No one can say they are pleased with all of the chain of events that unfolded as a result of the snow and ice that beleaguered the Southeast.

Ultimately, about 500 of our students had to stay overnight (or shelter in place) at 10 sites throughout the school district (Final headcount as of 7am Wednesday morning was a little over 500 children).  Parents were away from their children in the middle of a snow storm.  And we estimate that about 70 percent of our employees live outside the city of Atlanta.  Thus, many of them were forced to navigate icy and congested roads while simply trying to leave their jobs and get home to their loved ones.  People were stranded and frightened.

Thousands of accidents took place, causing injuries to some.  Tragically, the storm claimed the lives of several people in the Southeast.  We are thankful that none of our children were among the accident statistics.

I wish to apologize to our students, parents and employees, especially those who faced danger on the road.  I know that too many of our own were stranded on buses; in their cars; or away from their homes in schools, churches and places of business.

As a district, we delivered our students safely but we did NOT deliver students in the timeframe that we wanted.  As a district, we did NOT close our schools and offices early enough when information was available, even it it wasn’t in our hands, that could have led to another decision. If we could go back and do things differently, we certainly would.

Those who actually did the right thing are countless APS employees who performed random and deliberate acts of kindness, compassion and bravery:

Our heroic bus drivers – delivered our children home safely.  Our entire transportation department worked through the night to reunite our  students with their familiesOur teachers, school support staff and administrators – stayed late or overnight to comfort, cook and care for their studentsOur operations, curriculum and communications team members – stayed overnight at the central office and in a couple of our regional offices and schoolsAnd our employees – who faced difficult journeys home, but have spent the last few days on,   NOT off, in order to make sure the important work of the district continues.

To every person who was personally and profoundly affected, I am committed to making sure this scenario never occurs again.  As the board chair stated, board members are involved in making sure we have the right policy framework in place to handle emergencies effectively.  As we review our crisis management protocols, we will involve the feedback of students, parents, employees, government and other partners to improve our emergency preparedness and responsiveness.  In fact, we have already begun the lessons learned process to determine where we can make improvements.

Earlier today, Deputy Superintendent for Operations Larry Hoskins gave an update of our preliminary assessment. In addition, earlier today, I visited the bus depot, Deerwood ES, E. Rivers ES, North Atlanta HS and Therrell HS to thank and hear from those who were directly affected.  Our school counselors and employee assistance programs have been re-engaged to help children and adults deal with what we know has been a traumatic experience for many. As we move forward, we will incorporate the lessons learned on an ongoing basis.  

Parents have asked some valid questions, such as “Will there be changes to the school calendar to make up for the missed days?” News reports indicate that other school districts will make up the days by adding instructional time to the calendar and delaying the last day of school.  At this point, APS has to do neither. State law allows for up to four days of emergency closings before school districts are required to adjust their calendars.  So far this school year, we have held four days of emergency closings.

Therefore, without further closings, we will NOT need to change the dates for holiday breaks, the last day of school, graduation ceremonies, etc.  That means for the upcoming Presidents Day Holiday, school will be closed as planned Feb. 14 and Feb. 17 for traditional schools, and Feb. 17 for year-round schools.  (Note that Presidents Day is still a normal reporting day for annual-duty staff).

We will certainly announce the new dates for other rescheduled events on our websites.  We thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we make these necessary adjustments because of the snow storm.  Again, let me emphasize that although we cannot control the weather, we certainly can control how well we prepare for it and how well we react to it.  I continue to applaud our dedicated employees who reacted with heroism and graciousness.  You have my commitment – our collective commitment as a district – to do a better job going forward.

Larry Hoskins, COO:  I want to mention a few things in respect to recovery.  We are pretty much full recovered in respects to getting buses back to the bus compound, those that were in accidents, vandalized are being repaired.  We also had things that needed to be repaired in the schoolhouses.  In connection to the winter storm, we have had some issues with pipes that burst as a result of the freeze and thaw.  We are just about through with the recovery and now are moving to the lessons learned.  We are planning to attend the lessons learned event the city, Fulton County, GEMA and others will conduct.

Q&A
English:  Can you talk about the logic behind how the decision to close schools is made?

Hoskins:  A lot of things go into whether we close a facility.  At the top of the list is student safety and also consideration for whether or not buses can get to schools safely and back to the depot as well.  If you’ve ever taken a look at a bus tire they are larger versions of a race tire.  There actually is not much treading on a bus tire and we are always concerned about whether our buses can navigate icy streets.  During these times we are tuned into the National Weather Service Organization.  There are meetings and conference calls that take place, in this case beginning on Monday we took part in calls with other metro school districts and weather authorities.  There are a lot of things going on in parallel.  We attended those conference calls and had all of the normal conversations we always have with external agencies, including the City of Atlanta and APD as well as Public Works.  There are several different maturations that go on in front of a storm.  We are constantly reviewing information.  You may recall during last week’s BOE orientation the superintendent pointed out that that was what I was looking at during the meeting on my laptop.

Grant:  As long as we are looking at our emergency plans I want to make sure that all of our individual school plans are up to date and accessible.

Davis:  I don’t disagree with you, but I want to caution and give you assurances that we have them and we tend not to publish them for security reasons.  We don’t want them to fall into the wrong hands.  There will be plans we do not post on the airwaves.

Grant:  I understand the caution but I want to make sure they are available.

Davis:  Yes, that is what we’ve done, we’ve made them available for people to come in and look at them but we do not publish them online.

Collins:  I know the website doesn’t reflect it but we are looking to expand the dates of the pre-k lottery.

Board members mention the fact that most principals do not have keys to their school cafeteria freezers and refrigerators.  Davis confirms this and says that this is a part of the review process of the storm and APS operations.

Esteves mentions the difficulty of getting updated information into the parent portal so that parents will be contacted in a timely manner.

Davis:  We had numbers that we called that were disconnected, no longer in service but 30% of our students move every year.  We must begin to verify parent information monthly.  We are now talking about putting a verification attachment on all report cards and progress reports.

Briscoe-Brown asks if there is a report that can be run to find out which numbers are inactive.  Hoskins confirms that we do have the ability to tell if a number was answered, is disconnected or went to a voicemail.

End of superintendent’s remarks.

Via CBS Atlanta: APS Seeks Input: http://www.wbtv.com/story/24624627/atlanta-public-schools-seek-input-on-snow-storm-response

John O’Connor will now present on Students Support Services.  View the presentation: http://www.atlanta.k12.ga.us/Page/40755

Chuck Burbridge, CFO is also presenting today on Summary of FY2014 Activity.  View the presentation: http://www.atlantapublicschools.us/Page/40754

3:50pm – Presentations have ended.

5 minute break

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

Superintendent search committee now presenting.

Search committee chair says the committee is “On time, on target and on task.”  Committee has reviewed over 400 candidates.  Board will receive a slate of candidates by end of February/early March.  In April the BOE will begin to make the decision on the new candidate and present final candidate to community.

No Q&A from BOE around search committee/timeline/candidates.

English:  This process has gone better than anyone could have expected.  I believe we will be able to bring in a truly transformational leader.

Superintendent is now bringing the consent agenda items.

Item 2.01 Report No. 13/14-1719 Authorization to Revise the 2013-14 Staff Calendars
*Current calendar has been revised to cancel the remaining dates for staff furlough.  March 17, 2014 will be a professional learning day for school based employees and bus drivers and a regular work day for non school based employees.  May 26 will be a paid holiday for all regular full time staff members.  Upon approval, this will mean that APS employees will have had only one furlough day for the 13-14 school year.

Item 2.03 Report No. 13/14-1721  Recommendation to Approve a Charter Amendement Allowing Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School to Increase its Stated Maximum Enrollment
*ANCS is now asking to increase the maximum enrollment stated in their charter from 576 to 675 students, changing stated elementary grade enrollment from 60 to 72 students in each grade.  This is due to ongoing high demand and low student attrition, ANCS’s current enrollment exceeds the threshold stated in their charter.

Briscoe-Brown asks that this item is moved to discussion and action.

Item 2.04 Report No. 13/14-5120 Personnel Gains, Losses, Promotions….
*Superintendent highlights the fact that the district’s recommendation for CIO is included in this item.

Item 3.04 Report No. 13/14-1135 Authorization to Enter into and Execute a Contract to Provide and Install Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors
*APS solicited vendors to provide and install CO detectors.  2 proposals were received and evaluated.  Authorization is requested to enter into and execute a contract with AFA Protective Systems to provide and install CO detectors.  Estimated annual cost of this contract is $237,941.  Funds are available.  Covers 219 sophisticated detectors that speak to each school’s alarm system.

Collins:  Once the CO detectors have been installed, is the cost reduced in subsequent years?

Davis:  No we do not have to replace all each year, but we do need an adequate number.  Some will fail over time, some will need to be maintained over time.

Item 3.07 Report No. 13/14-1138 Authorization to Transfer Funds for Virtual School
*There is a need to transfer funds for funding of Virtual Schools.  Authorization is requested to transfer funds between divisions in the general fund for the funding of virtual schools.  Estimated cost is $700k.

Representative Lee asks that this be moved to discussion and action.

End of reading of consent agenda.

Briscoe-Brown asks if the actual number of students allowed to attend Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School is stated in physical charter.

Mueller:  Yes, the number allowed is in the charter.  It is not in the state’s contract with the school.  Part of the challenge is that we coordinate with the state when it comes to charters.  The state has made a move to remove those numbers from the contracts.  I will hypothesize that enrollment numbers on the local level are not as important to them as they are to us.

Brown:  What processes do we have in place or can we put in place to make sure that all of our charters are in compliance?

Mueller:  There really are very few things.  Charters have a full flexibility waiver and are exempt from most policies and rules.  In an instance like this if they are over-enrolled, we are somewhat limited.  We look at the threshold and if they are over enrolled we send them a letter.  We make them aware and we watch.

Davis:  As we talk about better integration of charters with traditional schools, reducing operating costs, etc., we would could also talk about reducing services when they are out of compliance.  If they are not using any services and they decide to do something like this we have few remedies.

Mueller:  Just this board item is proof of them wanting to work with the district.

Brown:  I applaud ANCS for that, even though we are being asked to approve this retroactively.

Mueller:  I do want to point out that there are definitely things that are enforceable and those that are not.

Davis:  I don’t think we are putting things into play that are against state policy.

Brown:  I do thank the superintendent and agree with you (on how task force will garner a better understanding between traditional and charter schools).

Discussion turns to virtual schools.

Lee asks why funds must be moved for virtual schools.  Davis explains that funding was not included originally and although the work went on, we now need to provide funding to support the program.

Lee:  How many virtual schools do we have in our system?

Waldon:  One program, but all schools have access.

Lee:  So basically there is only one virtual school, that’s West End Academy?

Waldon:  No, that is different.  WEA operates on the virtual concept.  AVA is the virtual school available to all of our middle and high school students (for acceleration and remediation).

Lee:  How do we fund WEA?

Waldon:  Students who attend there may earn credits there, but then they graduate from their home school.  It exists as a program.  WEA is a part of the budget I oversee.  We provide resources to them.  Dr. Mobley and I met last week.  Because it is a program and not a school they do not earn FTE dollars.

Lee:  Are we adequately funding that program at this point?

Waldon:  Yes, in terms of the students that are enrolled, but she has a waiting list.  Within our budget process we will address the concerns at WEA.

Lee: I am very concerned that we need to give that program some serious attention.  That program has a waiting list of students trying to get into that program that are now sitting on our drop-out list and we are not servicing those students.

Davis:  The scale of economics here are large.  If you do one thing at every school to meet one need, you’re talking between 8 and 9 million dollars to do that.  If we can find better ways to meet needs using IT capabilities….  I am looking forward to a robust budget discussion around meeting needs.  We are looking forward to your feedback, especially on things we should stop doing.  There has been a significant decline in revenues from 3 years ago.

Lee:  I wanted that to be a part of the discussion because I wanted that to be a high priority going forward.

Collins:  How many students are enrolled in virtual school?

Ty Hayes:  About 300 students, including students receiving credit recovery.

Davis:  Ms. Waldon and I have both taken a visit to virtual high schools.  The one we visited had 47,000 students.  We must utilize this resource more aggressively if we want to meet all needs.

English says that the resolution establishing the Atlanta Educational Research Board (basis for the district’s equity audit) will be taken up at Legislative meeting.

Davis:  I am looking at this as a joint venture between APS and Georgia State University.

Davis reminds BOE that this item is important and is the basis of establishing an equity audit in the district.

Amos:  I think what throws me is the last word, ‘Board.’

Discussion turns to K-8 in Jackson Cluster.

Davis:  In last 3 months we have had 3 community meetings that have been professionally moderated.  I have had one meeting with feeder school parent leaders.  For a variety of reasons I have come to the recommendation that we should not pursue K-8 in the East Region and that we should address issues in the middle school and that it should be done quickly for the entire cluster, not just the eastern part of the cluster.  It is not programatically or economically feasible to have a series of small K-8 schools.  One take-away is that they are too small.  One of the things I proposed earlier was a combination of all of those schools and concentrating them all in the Coan building.  No one found that acceptable.  No one like the Coan building.  No one liked the King building.  It is clear that they (parents) are not utilizing the middle schools in this cluster.  I have raised the question in my smaller meetings about what it would take to get parental investment in middle grades in this part of the cluster and the answer is “a whole lot more than what we are doing.”  They would like something innovative so I will commit to coming back in 2 months with something that is feasible based on community feedback.  There was an interesting example of what innovation looks like, I am not recommending this, but this is the type of innovation talked about….that was to take the King and Coan buildings and refurb them so that they are no longer prison like, to put IB in both so that they feed to Jackson and then to make each magnets for the cluster with one being stem and the other arts based.  The King cluster has not been a part of these discussions, however we have a middle grades challenge in this cluster.  What we learned here we can evaluate for the entire system going forward.  Bottom line, I don’t want to pursue K-8 any further.  I want to pursue innovation in middle schools in the entire cluster, not just the eastern portion.  I don’t think formal action is needed for this recommendation.

Grant:  I want to make sure we put out a timeline for this…

Davis:  2 months

Grant:  What will be your process…

Davis:  I’ve met with the Coan feeder parent leaders and principals, now I will meet with the King feeder parent leaders and I will combine this information and recommend specific physical and programmatic improvements.

AJC:  APS will not make up snow days – http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-education/aps-wont-make-up-snow-days/ndBhs/

Board will now into Executive Session.

6:30pm  The Community Meeting will now begin.

Grady High Student: I am a part of the Grady High Football team and I want you to shed some light on why we had to learn from the news to find out our head coach wasn’t there.

Grady High Student:  Today I speak on behalf of the Grady football team and I am here to gain information on the investigation of our football coach.  Currently I am a junior and next year is my senior season, the biggest of my career.  I’ve been there for years.  I’ve been a student at Inman and there at Grady practicing every summer.

Grady High Student:  Grady didn’t get a fair chance.  I’m a 9th grader.  We deserve a chance like any other high school to prepare for next season.  I don’t think its fair to come outside and see channel 2 news. I wish we could get our coach back.  It really hurts me.  Grady football deserves better.  I put in a lot of hard work.

Grady High Student:  I’m here on behalf of the Grady football team.  Our head coach is a man of integrity and character.  The false allegations that have been placed on his name is downright disrespectful.  Our head coach was always the first to be at the school and the last one to head home.

Grady High Parent:  I am here on behalf of my son who is here with me tonight.  He is in 11th grade.  He has every intention of playing football and earning a college degree.  Our coach is much more than a coach.  He is a teacher, mentor and role model.  Our head coach is not guilty of recruiting.  My son’s name was on that list.  And although we are not guilty, I feel that we are being punished.  For the first time, Grady High will not be represented during college signing day. (Note from APS athletic department:  Grady High School will celebrate signing day with an expected 3 players offered college scholarships)

Two Jackson High School parents ask that security personnel be reinstated to the school.

Toomer Parent says she was disappointed that K-8 will not proceed in her cluster.  “We have voted at Toomer and the PTA and LSC are in support of K-8.”  States that the community is owed another meeting after Tuesday’s was canceled due to the snowstorm.

Washington High Alumni:  I would like to thank all administrators, bus drivers and teachers who secured our children to the snow storm.  I also want to thank the bus drivers specifically because last year they were begging for what they earned. Last month I walked with the board and Mr. Hoskins in reference to the facilities issues at Booker T. Washington High School.  The building was supposed to be done today, but the technical building is still closed. Washington had a water issue today where the kids couldn’t even go to the bathroom.  We are asking you to help us provide the education that they need. (Note:  View the latest Washington parent letter – http://www.atlantapublicschools.us/Page/39112)

Jackson Cluster Parent: Good evening. My name is Lisa Roberson and I am a proud parent of three students in the Jackson Cluster. On March 31, 2012, almost 2 years ago, the Superintendent posted his APS Final Redistricting and Closure Recommendation which was ultimately approved by the Board of Education. In that report, Superintendent Davis proposed and the board approved many things. I am here tonight to address his proposal as it relates to King and Coan Middle Schools. On page 5, the recommendation stated, “M.L. King will realize significant investments from the district, including the International Baccalaureate Program, architectural modifications, and an intensive process improvement focus.” The recommendation also stated, “APS will make significant investments into Coan, including the International Baccalaureate Program and an intensive process improvement focus.”  To date, neither King nor Coan has the IB Program nor has King received any architectural modifications. I implore the Board to fulfill the vision that was in the Superintendent’s recommendation. In particular, please implement a globally-minded education program at King for the next academic year. I am also here to request a full renovation of King Middle School. I met many of the board members here tonight at a SEACS sponsored event at King during the election and I know you saw that the school is in need of natural light and a transformational renovation. APS has given us the beautiful new Jackson High School and its IB Program. Please fulfill the superintendent’s vision for King and Coan by giving them the IB program and please turn King into an inspirational light filled learning environment. Thank you for your time.

Grady parent says “people go to school for the culture as well  as the school.”

Washington High parent asks for superintendent’s resignation and chastises him for actions during last week’s snowstorm.  (Note:  Take our ‘lessons learned‘ survey – http://www.atlantapublicschools.us//cms/module/selectsurvey/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=539)

Parent asks that Kennedy Middle School be kept as a traditional school and not turned into a Career Academy.

Decaturish: Toomer K-8? Proposal Criticized http://www.decaturish.com/2014/02/toomer-as-k-8-proposal-criticized/

Several Grady parents continue to speak out about Grady’s athletic program.

Audience member just led the the room in a verse of “We shall Overcome.”

Community meeting has ended.  Board has gone back into executive session.

8:48pm – Board has returned

Brown:  I would suggest that we move the board work session and committee of the whole.  What we currently start at 2pm to the Tuesday afternoon or the Wednesday morning prior to that Monday.  That would make a shorter day for everyone.  It would allow more community members to participate.  Speaking as a parent, 2pm in the afternoon is the single worst time of the day to be here because you are either at work or picking up kids.  We need to be able to ask for more information and then give senior cabinet an opportunity to research.  It also will mean our community meetings will always begin at 6pm.  My second proposal would be, during the SACS work of the previous board, that group committed to moving meetings out into the community.  I would propose once per academic quarter we move one of our meetings to a high school in a quarter.  This would further increase our community involvement, allowing parents to be involved at their local schools.  That would be easier to do with the committee of the whole meeting the week before.  Finally, the SACS work also, there was also a recommendation that we reach out to the City Council, I think the idea was we would have one meeting where the CC would join us here and one where the CC would allow us to join them and I would like to see that happen a few times in the next couple of years.  I would like to throw those out there and generate some discussion.

English:  Thank you so much, sounds like a lot of thought went into that.  The BOE meeting schedule is something we talked about moving around.  We adjusted to the calendar we are on now to meet our SACS requirements.  The third point is something we can facilities without any action.  For a variety fo reasons I think we need more training and then I look forward to it.  To the second point, I don’t think that requires formal action at all.

Grant:  You are talking about the quarterly in the community meetings?

English:  Yes, I agree we should change (meeting times) and I would refer that to the …

Collins:  I really think it could be for either committee (policy or professional developement).  I think it is a policy issue.  (Collins suggests getting feedback from community).

Meister:  Prior to our SACS work we would have a Monday Committee of the Whole and then a board meeting.  I would like for the policy committee take into consideration that we’ve set our calendars around this current schedule.

Esteves proposes live streaming meetings (Note:  already in process by communication department, first live stream expected by April 2014, pending BOE’s approval of the stream).

Committee of the Whole meeting adjourned at 8:59pm.

Legislative meeting will now begin.

Board Chair Remarks (Courtney English):

Good evening to everyone here and in our viewing audience. Thank you for joining us for the February 2014 legislative meeting of the Atlanta Board of Education.

My colleagues and I want to start by thanking our teachers … bus drivers … administrators … parents … and students for their efforts during last week’s winter storm. Their level of commitment was nothing short of incredible – so much so that every APS student eventually made it home safely.

It’s crystal clear now what our school district should have done. In a moment, Superintendent Davis will provide an update on the preliminary debriefing that has occurred.

At this point, it’s important to reiterate the board’s total commitment to reviewing our policies concerning emergency preparedness and responsiveness, and working with the administration to ensure the flawless coordination of our efforts with partner agencies.

We want to make sure we have the right policy framework and synchronization in place to handle emergencies effectively in the future.

As we understand it, the administration has already engaged school counselors and employee programs. The goal is to provide meaningful support to students and employees who were directly impacted by the overwhelming difficulties of last week’s storm.

Well, this week, from February 3rd to the 7th, happens to be National School Counseling Week.

On behalf of my colleagues, I would like to extend a huge thank you to the district’s school counselors Complementing their hard work are graduations coaches and other school-based professionals who perform the same admirable work: They serve as points of intervention for students and families in need. We applaud all that our counselors do.

I’d like to mention another topic of serious concern to all – whether we serve as a counselor, parent, educator or advocate for children. That topic is teen dating violence.

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. People may be surprised to learn that an estimated one in three teenage girls is a victim of some kind of violence from a partner who they are dating. That’s one in three – unacceptable.

Everyone has the power to do something about this ugly occurrence affecting teenagers. An overabundance of educational resources on this topic is available.

As a start, please visit teendvmonth.org. And be aware of the 24-7 National Domestic Violence Helpline. The helpline number is 1-800-799-7233.

It is for teens as well as adults who may be in situations that they cannot and should not handle alone.

Finally, as our schools and offices resume normal operations this week, there may be some confusion about the many school and district events that have been postponed due to the bad weather. The superintendent will share a few rescheduled dates at the district level.

I would like to add that the deadline to apply for APS’ pre-K lottery has been extended. Many parents have inquired via social media channels and phone calls, so we want them to know that the new dates and times to register their children for the pre-K lottery are as follows:

  • Wednesday, February 5th to Friday, February 7th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at all APS pre-K sites
  • Thursday, February 6th from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Kennedy MS

Also, for the new dates for specific school events, athletic events and academic fairs, we encourage parents to visit APS websites or contact their child’s school.

With that, I’ll turn it over to the superintendent for his remarks and report. Thank you. 

Additional Superintendent Remarks (Erroll B. Davis, Jr.)

To every person who was personally and profoundly affected, I am committed to making sure this scenario never occurs again.

As the board chair stated, board members are involved in making sure we have the right policy framework in place to handle emergencies effectively.

As we review our crisis management protocols, we will involve the feedback of students, parents, employees, government and other partners to improve our emergency preparedness and responsiveness.
In fact, we have already begun the lessons learned process to determine where we can make improvements.
The organizational advancement division, led by  Dr. Alexis Kirijan, began coordinating our efforts to gather the feedback and pertinent information.   We’ve made paper surveys and a sign-up sheet for community focus groups available.  And on the district’s home page, we have included a link to an electronic survey that we ask everyone to take the time to complete.  Please visit www.atlantapublicschools.us/feedback to share your thoughts.

We want to hear from everyone.  As part of our lessons learned process, earlier today, Deputy Superintendent for Operations Larry Hoskins gave an update on our preliminary assessment of our response to the storm.  In addition, today, I visited the bus depot, Deerwood ES, E. Rivers ES, North Atlanta HS and Therrell HS to thank and hear from those who were directly affected.  Furthermore, we have re-engaged our school counselors and employee assistance programs in order to help children and adults deal with what we know has been a traumatic experience.  As we move forward, we will incorporate the lessons learned on an ongoing basis.

○    1. Booker T. Washington High School’s transition community meetings –the Feb. 6 meeting will proceed as planned, and the Jan. 28 meeting is tentatively rescheduled for Feb. 13.
○    2. Atlanta City Regional Engineering and Science Fair – the ES fair has been rescheduled to Feb. 5, and the MS and HS fair has been rescheduled to Feb. 6.
○    Additionally, the engineering and science fair awards ceremony has been pushed back to Feb. 28.
○   3. Community meetings to explore a K-8 transition in the Jackson cluster – we planned for two community meetings in January but were only able to have one due to the snow storm.
○   About 200 people attended the first community meeting.
○   In addition, we have good feedback from the two community meetings held in calendar year 2013, as well as from the taskforce of parent leadership representatives.
○   Based on the extensive input we’ve received, I  made a recommendation earlier to …
–      NOT proceed with a K-8 pilot in the eastern part of the Jackson cluster
–      Address middle grads education of the entire cluster
–      More information about our approach is forthcoming.

Again, concerning the dates for other rescheduled events, we ask everyone to visit our websites for updates.

We certainly thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we make these necessary adjustments because of the snow storm.

Let me emphasize that although we cannot control the weather, we certainly can control how well we prepare for it and how well we react to it.
I continue to applaud our dedicated employees who reacted with heroism and graciousness.
You have my commitment – our collective commitment as a district – to do a better job          going forward.

As we resume normal operations and before I close, let me give the community three more very brief, important updates.  Of course, cities across the nation are celebrating Black History Month.  There is a unique aspect about Black History Month in Atlanta and APS.  No other city has the King legacy, Congressman John Lewis, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Rev. C.T. Vivian, Ambassador Andrew Young and other African-American civil rights leaders – not only in its background, but it its schools inspiring students on a regular basis as we do.  APS does celebrate black history and
Black History Month.  I encourage parents and community members to check with their local schools and Channel 22 to find out about the special activities and programming taking place to commemorate Black History Month.

I also want to alert everyone that nominations are now open for the 2014 Atlanta Families’ Awards for Excellence in Education.  The philanthropic families of Atlanta extend an open invitation for APS educators to apply.  Award winners stand to receive $7,500 each.  Anyone may nominate an educator, or educators may nominate themselves.
Please do so by visiting the atlantafamilies.org.  The nomination and application process closes March 21.

Lastly, earlier today, the board heard two formal presentations from the administration:  Deputy Superintendent Karen Waldon gave an update on student support services.  CFO Chuck Burbridge gave the monthly financial forecast.  All presentations will be posted online and can be accessed at the Parents as Partners Academic Center upon request.  With that, Mr. Chair, I have no further updates.  Thank you.

The consent agenda has been presented to the board and approved.

Davis reads the sole resolution of the evening.  View the document here:  http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/files/9FYMUZ58AB30/$file/Resolution%20February%203%202014%20Establishing%20the%20Atlanta%20Educational%20Research%20Board.pdf

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

Old Business:

English:  I want to highlight the work of the superintendent search committee.  That committee is on target for an announcement in April.  I do want to highlight all of our board committee members were appointed today.

Budget cycle is expected to be completed by April 15.

Charter integration committee will begin meeting soon.

Board training will take place this week from 9-4 on February 5.

9:32pm – Meeting adjourned.

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