LIVE BLOG: Board of Education Meeting – May 14, 2012
2:06pm Our live blog from today’s Board of Education May meeting will begin shortly. Please refresh your browser often for updates. Today we will have a 2pm Committee of the Whole meeting, followed by a 6pm Community Meeting and finally a 7pm Legislative Meeting. The Legislative Meeting is available to view on Cable Channel 22 after the meeting concludes.
2:11pm Meeting has been called to order. All Board members are present.
2:15pm Chuck Burbridge is presenting budget update. Summary of FY2012 Revenue on screen. Burbridge says that the efforts made back in August are showing in regards to budget and payroll. Says there is better control in payroll. General Fund risks – Consolidated Application for Title Funds is approved (was categorized as a risk due to nonapproval but now approved). Opportunities – ERate Reimbursement Status: Commitment Letters for Reimbursement: $33M ERate Reimbursements received to date: $723,332.53.
2:23pm FY13 Budget will now be presented by Superintendent Davis and Chuck Burbridge. It is difficult and challenging to address the totality of the decline of revenue and not in cost in one year, but we will try – says Davis.
A busy year Accreditation challenges – CRCT investigation – Student remediation – Redistricting/Demographic study – Strategic planning – Major reorganizations – Culture, climate and safety – Infrastructure – Challenges in Title and Special Education.
Davis: Excellence can no longer be an aspiration, it has to be a standard. We must have a strategy driven budget. We will need to reinvent our budget and planning practices to achieve desired academic goals, not just cost to continue. We must also live within our means. In FY12 amended plan Board approved reducing fund balances by 36M and we will come in substantially less than that. It had been my goal to bring you a budget with no fund balance decline in FY12 and we did not meet that, but we were able to limit it to things such as one time items. $10M in fund balance compared to $36M in FY12 amended budget.
When it comes to excellence in all that we do, we are certainly implementing changes with respect to students, but more importantly we are standardizing our schools as we had towards Common Core. We are going to put AP’s in each school. We are going to try to have nurses at schools 5 days a week and increase # of social workers. One of the things we are doing in that area is that we will now have a resident officer/investigator in each of our high schools and that person will also have supervisory responsibilities. Projects designed to address academic rigor include implementation of Common Core, investment in early learning, accelerated math in all middle schools are a few.
Organizational Infrastructure: We want highly efficient systems and processes. We are trying to use Maynard Jackson as a test bed…we are working in there now. We are not only improving the system at Jackson, but developing a tool box that we will use at all other high schools. Staff being trained in Common Core GPS, vlaue added growth model, ethics, customer service, project management, process improvement. We are training 500 staff member this week in APS in customer service. We want everyone who walks into an APS school to have a pleasant experience.
Revenue by Source: FY2013 Reveue – Local Revenue – $395M (assumes $20M property tax decrease)
State Revenue – $151.5M (assumes $9M additional QBE funding as a result of the declining LFMS and CPI coding correction).
Other Sources – $9.9M (assumes $2M increase in indirect cost revenue and $2M in Erate Revenue.
Total Revenue – $556.4M
Appropriations by Function: Instruction $311.2M represents 5.1% of FY2013 appropriations.
General admin 2.5%, School admin 6.5%, transportation 2.7%, business services 1.6%, maintenance 10.9%, other support services 5.3%, charter schools 7.8%, unfunded pension 7.6%.
The only things going up for the most part in this budget is Charter Schools and Benefits. Everything else is being reduced – notable reduction in salaries.
Transportation practices will have to change in order to live with this proposed budget and higher fuel costs. Maintenance and operations will need to change.
I like to look at this budget as if we are taking a house down to the studs. Hopefully in doing so, we can estabilish the foundation and then in FY15 harvest the benefits. FY13 is really a difficult year.
Positions that will be reduced – 285-475 (resulting from several actions, including CRCT actions, school closings and reorganizations).
What is not provided in this budget? Inman long term capacity final recommendation. Repurposing schools, potential recommendations from C&I Project Excellence, long term implementation costs of revised school safety approach..
Risks to Budget: The amount of change required to provide programs at the $ amount we have available means we may not achieve our goals. We are anticipating CRCT implicated admin leave salaries will no longer be on budget, but not knowing poses a risk to the budget.
Recent experience shows that there may be a risk to us due to the higher enrollment of charter schools. Dollars go with kids – if enrollment is higher, that will take dollars away from APS. IT poses a risk due to project delays, obsolete equipment, support reductions…
Final risk is that revenue picture could be worse than we are projecting.
2:58pm Options: Increase the millage. Use the fund balance (one time solution).
What does all of this really mean? Proposed FY13 budget is $556.4M vs. $604M in FY12
FY13 budget is $47 less than FY12 budget. There is a 10% cut to all major departments except C&I where there is a 7% cute. There is no cost of living increase or step increases (4th year). There will be 2 furlough days.
Budget community meetings will be held on May 15 at Burgess Peterson ES, May 17 at Garden Hills ES, May 22 at Slater ES, May 24 at Peyton Forest ES. All meetings begin at 6pm.
On June 4th the Board will adopt the final FY 13 budget.
Burbridge has ended his presentation. Q&A from the board now beginning.
Y.Johnson asks if special education services will be cut this coming school year. Some fear of increased class sizes.
Karen Waldon: We are not decreasing or cutting back on special education services this upcoming school year.
Davis: There will be some schools, because we are consolidating, the average number in classes may go up/get bigger, but that is not the plan for our special ed classes. Classes will not go above the approved ratio.
Muhammad: Building Operations question. I’m asking about this one because this one is impacted more than any other department. There looks to be a 60% reduction and 50% reduction is staff. Am I correct?
Burbridge: That is what is in the book. Yes, there is a reduction in staff. A custodial reduction – rather than APS custodians on staff we will use contractors.
Muhammad: Some time ago we raised a concern about contracting all of these positions out. Many times I’ve heard how individuals working have to go back and clean up behind our contractors. We want a clean and safe environment for our children. Have we given this a lot of thought?
Larry Hoskins: We have given this a lot of thought. I hear those sentiments both ways from the contractors and from the APS custodians. When we get those types of issues and finger pointing we are out there getting those things corrected. Today about 70% of the custodial cleaning sq footage is actually outsourced to contractors. If approved we will move from 70% to 90%. Under this new proposal we are planning to keep day custodians in elementary buildings as APS employees. Those schools are better suited by an employee vs a contracted employee.
Muhammad: We are talking about 80 or 90 people. Did we get feedback from principals as to which works better for them? I’ve seen custodial staffs go beyond the call of duty. They open up, they close up, they are there later than their hours….
Hoskins: We’ve got information anecdotally from principals. We did not go out this particular time to find out the preference. Being in the business for quite a while, we understand the unique needs at the elementary school and wanted to be sensitive to those needs.
Davis: People have responded asking if there are additional services from our own employees that we get that we do not get from contractors. Certainly that makes the decision harder. We wrestle with whether we can afford to give up those additional services from our APS employees. The reality is that we may have to give up the additional things for budget concerns but we are not oblivious to the added services given to us by our APS custodians.
Butler-Burks: In the past we’ve asked principals to tell us their preference. It seems that we did not do that during this process. My question is around the school culture and climate piece. From sponsoring children on fieldtrips to children who forget their lunch money – how do we ensure that we don’t lose that culture and climate isn’t lost. How much are we really saving?
Hoskins: It costs .70cent per sq foot vs $1.60 per sq foot for APS custodians. In total, this shift saves us about $3M that we are able to put towards our 10% budget reduction. We have engaged our custodial contractors and they have all agreed to give our employees first rights at the positions they will create in order to ramp up and continue with the custodial services within APS.
Harsh-Kinnane: I always thought that the reason we gave the principals the choice was that the burden is on the principal to get accustomed to the change that will happen. I’m not sure why we felt that we couldn’t give that.
Hoskins: Respectfully, we just didn’t have the budget to give principals the choice. That’s the honest answer. I just didn’t have the luxury to poll principals – we pretty much know their choices because they are living with their choices right now. Some are solely contracted, solely APS or a hybrid.
Davis: These are painful decisions and we’re not proposing these things in the vein of “let’s be generally more efficient…we have to find $47M.” The comments you’ve made about culture are correct. I dispute any of them. I believe employees will/are more engaged than any contractors we put on the property. They will identify with the kids more, I agree. The question is “if not here, where?” Is that level of engagement and interaction worth $3M? In our proposal we want you to know that we have considered these things and rightly or wrongly we have decided that we cannot afford to pay $3M for that engagement. If this were an environment where we were just trying to “get better” it would be different but we are not trying to get better, we are trying to match our revenues and our costs.
Muhammad: With schools under 300 do we really need an AP?
Davis: It turns out that those schools with less than 300 are all in high needs areas. One of the thrusts with putting AP’s in place there is to allow the principal to be an instructional leader.
Butler Burks: Can we consider, the way we did with food service, there was a very organized way our employees transitioned to Sodexo. There were no guarantees but it was organized. If this gets approved I would ask that it is organized and employees are engaged.
Davis: I can commit to that. We’ve had prelim conversations with vendors and we can get more formal if we move down this route.
Amos: Have we identified that .90cent gap? It’s more powerful in this enviornment to ask employees to take a cut before asking them to lose their jobs altogether. (applause)
Davis: We can look at that. It is not our goal to just un-employ people. The primary difference is probably not in salary, but in benefits. I don’t know how much of a salary cut it will take but we can go back and take a look at that. I won’t sugar coat this…this is a very vulnerable population and even if they transition to a contractor, the benefits pkg will not be as robust as with APS which is why the cost is different. We’ve been dealt a pretty rough blow from the state. Our benefits program with the state is increasing. But we can take a look at that – we will get to work on this.
3:37pm – End of Budget Q&A – Repurposing Committee presentation now beginning led by Steve Smith
Repurposing of closed buildings: We prefer to repurpose each of the schools. The purpose of the school closure repurposing committee is to identify educational and/or operational usage opportunities for the 7 school buildings that the board voted last month to close. The primary objective of the committee is to provide the superintendent a school facility repurposing recommendation plan for each school facility. Committee will also focus on the 14 previously closed and unused buildings owned by APS.
Currently a 16 member steering committee. Ms. Muhammad was appointed by Chair McDaniel. Councilmember Aaron Watson, APAB member and others make up the committee. We plan to develop focus groups in each of the communities that will be comprised of school community stakeholders.
PTA’s, Local School Councils, Board of Education, NPU’s, Neighborhood Associations, Atlanta City Council and City Planners, Office of the Mayor and other community leaders will also work with this committee. Their input is critical.
Impacted Schools: Capitol View ES, Cook ES, E. Lake ES, Herndon ES, Kennedy Middle, Parks Middle, White E.S. We are making plans for those.
Per the redistricting plan, we have identified uses for 3 of those 7 closing schools.
Committee will evaluate the facility in 2 phases. Phase I priority focuses on Capitol View, Herndon, White and Cook. Phase II focuses on other 14 previously closed schools.
Tier I Use: APS use. Tier II Use: Charter Schools. Tier III Use: Community Interest
Keep in mind that Kennedy and Parks will be phased into career academies. East Lake will be transition for Coan while Jackson H.S. uses the Coan facility during renovations.
We have a potential system wide use for one of the other elementary Phase I schools.
Per GA Law, each local BOE shall make its unused facilities available to charter schools. Some of our charters have expressed interest in using our buildings. Number of factors to consider, but charter usage will factor into respurposing plans.
There is a variety of interest from community members. Would not take place until after Tier I and II uses are evaluated.
First community meeting/focus group will be May 31st. Second community meeting/focus group will be held mid June. Our goal is for the 4 priority buildings to be occupied by August 6th.
Amos: You say you want public input but then you say you’re making plans.
Smith: When I say making plans, I refer to the usage of East Lake for Coan and career academies at Parks and Kennedy. We have had individuals approach us, but we want to work through our communities.
Amos: Herndon and White I am very concerned about for obvious reasons. I would like the priority to be changed to APS #1, Community #2 and Charter #3.
Smith: Well that is a state law. If council can elaborate.
Sharron Pitts: That’s if there is a request for a charter shcool, it doesn’t automatically go to a charter.
Amos: I would just like to see the community be able to get a fair chance. Charter schools want the building, its no secret. I just want to see the community have an opportunity to use the building.
Butler Burks: If a charter is currently in an APS building, do they still get first priority to move to another APS building?
English: Are these meetings open to the public?
English: I’m talking about the meetings of the committee itself. If we’re asking for community input, but then we have these robust committee meetings where no one sees it…what I’m asking is that meeting open to the public?
Smith: Yes, we will make sure you are invited to those meetings. The organizing of the committee is for the purpose of going to the community to hear from the communities.
English: Are they supposed to show up to focus groups with proposals?
Smith: Yes, they can bring propsals, suggestions for uses and at that point we will be able to share any proposals we have received on the district side that may not be known by the community.
English: Has the planning committee determined the criteria for proposals?
Smith: Not a written set of criteria yet. We will have to evaluate the ideas and options of leasing, selling, demolishing as we meet with the community.
Harsh-Kinnae: About the charter schools, when you said something in place by August 6th…from a timing standpoint at what point do we have to say what the plan for the building is? Same question for phase II buildings. What if we have a planned usage in the future?
Davis: The real question is do we believe we have a need now or reasonable time in the future. If we believe this is the case, I’m not sure what approvals we would need from you as a BOE, but it would stop right there. If we decide we don’t have legitimate use and there are no charter requests then it gets more interesting.
Smith: Keep in mind that charters would have to get approval by the community as well.
Pitts: We also have a surplus property in policy and those would be the properties that would be in play.
4:00 This concludes all presentations.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE MEETING:
4:01pm Committee of the Whole Meeting now beginning.
Harsh-Kinnane: Move to pull easement at Grady High School item from the agenda due to unanswered questions.
McDaniel: I checked and this can be addressed in June.
8 speakers have called in to speak before the beginning of the meeting. Public comment will begin now.
Mr. Carey: Item 2-24 Reduction in force I am here to speak to the board in regard to the lay off of employees. I received calls about a sudden meeting that would be held on May 10 at Maynard Jackson and these employees were upset about the way it was brought up. I advised them to show up and do what was asked of them by their supervisors. Since the new superintendent has taken over this school district is operating in a lot of secrecy in how it is run. Mr. Davis is not being fair to employees in his actions and how he operates. Mr. Davis, in my opinion is a Republican. Over the whole country these actions are being taken by Republicans over government workers. I don’t believe this action against employees about budget itself. Nobody here understands the stuff up on the board. I do know that Gov. Deal appointed the superintendent and it will be hard for this board to govern the superintendent. I see an attitude by Mr. Davis and this board that I’ve never seen before.
Custodial Inspectors Representative: Item 2-24 Reduction in force. We’ve already had a reduction down to 2 inspectors. Students are the first priority. If you have no inspectors to watch the contractors you will end up with sick kids and upset staff. Consider keeping at least the 2 inspectors on staff because there is no one overseeing the contractors.
Mrs. Tavares: Item 6.04 Budget. We want to make sure our special education program is a fidelity. We want to ensure that we are looking at early intervention. We are asking that every kindergartener is tested for early intervention. One of the things we tend not to put on our budget is a line item for parent involvement and parent engagement. Anything does not have a line item does not have the same level of accountability. We appreciate the fact that customer service is on the budget priority but concerned about equity in parent engagement. Interesting that the increase in our budget is on charter schools. We are killing our traditional schools and improving our charter school system. We are asking that the non-classified staff be treated with respect.
Ms. Whitt: Item 2.24 Reduction in Force. Speaking on behalf of custodial inspectors. I started as an hourly custodian and worked my way up to inspector. We are the eyes and ears for the board. Everyone always thinks the educators are the most important people but if a building is not clean or a bathroom is smelly a child cannot concentrate and learn. We are the Q&A people for these contractors. We do our job with a smile and dedication and I think that should be rewarded. The custodians come in every morning and clean up things that the night contractors did not do the night before. We deserve a chance to retire with APS.
Ms. White: Item 2.24 Reduction in Force. I am an APS custodian of 20 plus years. There was an article in the paper that said the night custodian does work comparable to ours. We don’t just clean, we replace tiles, replace lights, we move furniture, strip floors, assist children in the cafeteria. I find it to be appalling that you would compare a contractor to the ability I have in your service. You should not pass this b/c you know that these people cannot do this job the way we can do this job. I do my job with dignity and compassion. We are a full part of APS. I listened to the budget and the cuts, but not once did I hear someone say that this is about children. We have nothing to do with the spending, so why are we being cut?
Ms. Harris: Item 2.24 Reduction in Force. I’ve been with APS all my life. I am a product of APS and a custodian for 23 years – proudly. I want to address the cuts on May 10th. We had a mandatory meeting with 24 hours notice. 84 would be cut from over 160. I asked Mr. Alvah Hardy what would management do without the custodians? Will management be cut I asked? He said no. We pay benefits just as well as anyone else. Find the money someplace else.
This ends the public comment to items on the consent agenda.
4:20 Superintendent Davis reads thru the consent agenda. Note: I will pull out a few of the agenda items as jpegs to add to this blog (below), however all agenda items with attached documents can be found here: http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/Public
English: How is the reorganization of IT this time different from what we did last year.
Dave Williamson: This group was not impacted at all by the previous reorganization. 3 things spurred this. We had to look at what is going on in Curriculum and Instruction and realign ourselves with what was going on there. There is an increased focus on digital learning such as distance learning. This is a whole new set of skills…a whole new focus.
English: Will this re-org impact the people that were impacted last time
Muhammad: When we had these major changes brought to us in August, it was our understanding that that was what was required to get this department in order. Now we’re back here again and we’re talking about a large number of employees that are either being moved or are they being shifted?
Davis: The IT reorganization did not address instructional technologies so this is not a second whack at the same group of people. The new head of C&I has made a decision as to how she would like to align IT with the thrust of C&I. I’m not sure what was said about the overall organization, but this was an area that was not touched previously.
Muhammad: Are you saying that when this came to us before, back in Aug/Sept of last year, are you saying that it had nothing to do with the instructional side? That was not my understanding.
Williamson: The only thing that happened with that group was that they were moved from C&I to IT.
Muhammad: Now you’re moving them out of IT?
Williamson: Now we’re going back and looking at the jobs of those individuals and recrafting them
Muhammad; I remember discussions that we were aligning with C&I and making sure those roles functioned directly in the classroom.
Davis: The movement to IT certainly gave it an opportunity to have a more technical focus. As David has said, they were not downsized or modified they were only moved. They were not a part of the reductions. All we’re saying now is we are taking that group and asking how do they face off with C&I and the answer is we would like to make organizational modifications. When they were moved the C&I structure that was in place is certainly not the C&I structure that is in place now.
H-Kinnane: I can understand a need to do more, but I thought the point last year was to do this.
Williamson: Now with the new structure in C&I, its important that we make these changes so that we can align with the direction of C&I.
English: Have we evaluated or tested whether what we did last year is working?
Davis: Is your question about Instructional Technology or whole re-org?
English: Whole re-org
Williamson: Feedback tells us things are better, but no formal survey has been done.
Reduction in Force conversation
English: We are currently interviewing for 17 principal positions. I was under the impression that we were giving principals the chance to build their own teams but how can we do that if we don’t hire the principals first? We are doing the exact opposite. The job fairs for teachers are done. If the principals are not in place they cannot interview their teachers.
Davis: That is true but we also have to have teachers. As we go thru the process of hiring principals we are committed to find the best ones we can and we’ve had several pools where we are not satisfied with the pool period and we are going back. We are not going to rush the choice of a leader. On the issues of hiring your own team, I am committed to that. The guidance we have given to principals is that we will have 3 job fairs and we have an excellent pool of teachers. But we are in a special situation with a large number of teachers available. I don’t want a principal going outside to hire a “C” teacher that is the daughter of your choir mate when we have highly qualified applicants. We owe it to the exisiting work force to give them the best and hardest look possible.
Butler Burks: I am not sure that message is being communicated to principals. Even internally.
Butler Burks: I just ask that you would communicate that or check on that level of communication.
English: What mechanism are we using to determine highly qualified? Teacher evaluation?
Davis; Teachers will come with a track record of what they’ve done. We will have access to their performance evaluations over the years. Our legal people are on point to make sure there is not disparate impact in any direction. Your assessment is correct with the first phase having to do with the merged schools because the only teachers in those pools came from merged schools. Each principal will get a teacher allocation. Some will have declines, some increases so there will be a 2nd process ongoing and that will not be restricted to a small set of schools. We will rank our schools by their Title percentage and then provide Title II support to make class sizes smaller – then we would have to see how many teachers that will require. I hope, in my wild optimism, that we will be able to find positions for teachers. This is not an exercise to purge teachers – but if one is a teacher and brings a portfolio full of problems – that is the only thing I have to use.
Butler Burks: Clarifying questions. On page 3, table 2 on merging schools – it says functioning with 2 principals (Adamsville,Miles, Grove Park, Woodson). Is this 2 schools per school?
Hoskins: There will be 4 principals between those 4 campuses.
Butler Burks: What about para-professionals?
Hoskins: We will move on para-professionals after we finish with this stage.
Butler Burks: Are any of the positions listed here vacant?
Hoskins: On page 5, there are 164 positions that will be impacted with this RIF, 113 of those are currently filled and 51 are vacant. One RIF is predecated by closures and mergers. Then there is a part of the RIF predecated on budget reductions. The positions listed in that table on page 5 are budget reductions (164 excluding teaching).
H-Kinnane: For the closing and merging of schools you talk about they will go to their previous position, what if their previous position was eliminated by a school closure?
Davis: A number of the principals have participated in the principal search. A number have tenure as a teacher and they can participate if they wish in the job fairs for employees.
H-Kinnane: Some of them it says they would go to a previous position prior to what they had before an interim, but if that position was abolished….
Davis: They don’t have any right to a position. They will not be placed back into anything. They will be allowed to apply for principal’s jobs and teaching jobs as well.
H-Kinnane: For the teachers from the small high schools and the teachers from closing/merging schools who have been asked to go to job fairs, it says they will be notified on May 28th?
Hoskins: That’s the target date to have all of those positions recommendations communicated at that point. The allocations that schools received in the last week or two were predicated on numbers based on our demographic data.
Davis: I want to stress that this will not be the only teacher allocation they get once we rank based on Title.
Y Johnson: I have a question related to the custodial piece as it related to this and I know we’ve got certificated employees and I want to be clear that they are all being handled the same way as it is related to the steps.
Davis: Everyone has a different set of rights based on being certified, at will, etc.
Y.Johnson: So June 30th we will have an idea of that portion of the RIF.
Hoskins: Yes. Certificated includes teachers, media specialists and others. Those allocations are predicated on student populations. For the most part it will be teachers, not Civil Service staff, custodians…
Y.Johnson: So there will be one last leveling tied to FTE?
Hoskins: Actually 2. The exercise we just wrapped us was for merged/closed schools. Now that the remaining schools have gotten their allocations, we will do what we call a June leveling based on projections for next school year and student allocations. We will do a RIF on the 30th of June and that is on the timeline.
Meister: We are not making any administrative changes in the small high schools, just teacher changes?
Waldon: That’s correct. Teacher changes reflect a reduction based on duplication of staff.
Meister: How do we then measure the small schools for ranking?
Waldon: We should be able to see some difference early on. We have some schools that offer zero AP classes.
Meister: At the end of the year if we have some small schools and they are being ranked against larger schools….
Waldon: The programmatic changes will not shift completely to the look of SLC’s this year. It would not be appropriate to do that this year, too much upheaval….transitional year. It might now be apples to apples to the 2013 school year. On one campus, we have 3 schedules running. We don’t have across the board in the small schools common planning times and this will be in SLC’s and small schools. We were looking to go to a common schedule across the board and we had some challenges there, so we opted for each campus having the same schedule. If there is an Early College program those schools will have a 4×4.
As to principals, we want to bring the recommendation for the June Board meeting. There is a chance we could have an interim named in some situations. Our committment is to get the best leadership in our schools.
H-Kinnane: I see the loss of 9 media para professionals in our high schools. What does that mean?
Williamson: There are still full time media specialists.
H-Kinnane: It doesn’t seem like a high budget item compared to what our H.S. Media Centers can provide
Davis: Outside of 1 or 2 things everything else is going to be a lot of little things. You will see a lot of these types of reductions all over the place.
H-Kinnane: Custodians – It looks like we’re saving in the short run but this will cost us. Some things you can’t place a dollar value on but some things you can. I think there are lessons learned in the system and the city and have we looked at those?
Davis: The issues that were raised this evening about the roles our APS custodians play were taken into consideration. I have communicated personally with a number of people on these issues. We’ve got some good suggestions to look at and we will. But harsh reality if you are going to bring a budget into line that is 80% personnel, then you will have some loss in personnel. I am open to looking at other areas and opportunities. But the answer at the end of the day will not be no impact. These are ugly decisions but they are necessitated by the times. I can’t grow $120M. To date we’ve reduced costs less than $60M. These are never easy decisions and contrary to living legends we do care and we do agonize. Again, I will go back and look at some of the suggestions and ideas we’ve had this evening. If there is anything we can do to avoid layoffs we will do it.
Butler Burks: Gains and Losses – What is the community outreach specialist and what about the attendance specialist? We do evaluate the superintendent on truancy. Do we have any thoughts on how to capture that work of attendance? (BB asks that if there is ever a change to board docs that it can be submitted ahead of time)
Waldon: Additional specialist to align with the clusters.
Butler Burks: We already have some of these and we are creating additional?
Waldon: Yes, some are thru Title 1, but this will align with our new clusters.
Davis: As it relates to attendance specialists we clearly have to do this work.
Waldon: We have resources that can support schools if that need becomes available. What we found is that some schools had as many as 6 attendance clerks doing other duties and that needed to be addressed.
Muhammad: Can you speak to the resignations coming out of Carver. That is an unusually large number.
Hoskins: We wither received resignations or did not receive contracts back from them. They had 10 days to return the contract for next year and if they don’t return the contract we move ahead accordingly.
H-Kinnane: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a school where they couldn’t use more help in the attendance clerk area.
Waldon: This is a position that was title funded that we cannot continue funding from that budget. We will make sure those needs are met at the schools.
English: What is the difference between Community Outreach Specialist and Family Involvement Specialist?
Waldon: Community is more global and at the cluster level. Family involvement is at the school level and funded by title dollars.
–20 minute break–
6:24 Board still in recess
6:25 Meeting Called to Order
Community Meeting (75 speakers have signed up to speak)
Meeting will begin with superintendent addressing the small schools.
Davis: As you are aware we are recommending moving from small schools to small learning communities in the 2013-2014 timeframe, not next year. We are suggesting changes for the upcoming year, but none will be made to the early college small schools. EC schedules, principals will stay the same. If you are in an EC we have no recommendation about EC. In terms of the other small schools, they will see standardized schedules with small schools in tact. You will see more AP classes consolidated across the schools giving more opportunity for students to take AP classes. I do not see significant changes, actually, in the other small schools. If people want to come tonight to tell us not to make changes, we agree.
Public Comment (Note – all speakers will not be blogged due to the large amount of people):
Student from Parks Middle: In the beginning of the school year the 8th grade class did not have a science or ELA teacher. The board was too caught up in the cheating scandal to even know what was going on.
Parks MS Parents: 2 weeks before the CRCT my child was told her school would close. What kind of pressure is that to put on a child? These are children! I stand for her and I stand for all the children in my neighborhood. You don’t even come visit these children to make the decisions you have to make. Everyday its something. You keep it saying its not about the scandal but you are doing more harm than the teaching scandal. How can you sleep at night, cause I can’t. My child is being bullied. My community is being bullied.
Community Member: We have directors and managers that make up to $160k in a year, riding around in new cars, APS cell phones – yet you want to cut the custodians. Contractors don’t do nothing yet you want to cut the custodian. To the board members, do whats best for APS. Keep our custodial staff.
Therrell High Students: I would like to speak on behalf of the custodians. The people that clean at night do not do a good job. We have built a relationship with the custodians and I don’t think they should be removed.
APS custodian: I have 6 kids for whom I pay daycare, cheerleader, track, food, housing….I’m 31 and I’m grown and I only have 30 days to turn my life around. It’s just not fair.
APS custodian: If you could just come clean our schools for a week, you wouldn’t believe the things you would see. We make it comfortable where you can enjoy your life.
Parks 6th grade student asks for his mentorship program to remain. Parks MS mother expresses concern about possible gang issues when Parks closes and students go to new middle school.
Capitol View Elementary parent: A lot of you feel that Capitol View is closing but I think it can be reopened. You’ve made a decision to close it and told us our kids would go to Perkerson without giving us a chance to say if we wanted them to go there. You also said that the kids would see familiar faces, but I know that half of our staff will not be going there. They will see 1-2 faces that they know. My child is an A student at CV, how do you think she will do going from a class of 20 to 28. Is that fair to any of them? Not just mine. Where is the savings going? You didn’t ask us, you did not care. You are bullying the teachers.
Volunteer Parent: Will the parent center at Kennedy Middle close? We need clarification about the district parent center.
Community Advocate: My main point is to say let’s halt everything. The system is unstable. Coming off of CRCT cheating scandal, I expected Davis handle that, but now you’re closing schools, repurposing schools, moving staff…its like you’ve come in and made things worse. As the superintendent of education we expect more. I would say this about the BOE, you all have been in place for a long time and you just go along with everything the superintendent does. You have to push back on a superintendent from time to time. If the janitorial staff is having a problem with the change, just imagine the students. We didn’t give the children like the student at Parks any kind of counseling after the CRCT scandal.
PTSA President-Harper Archer (30 year retired teacher): Since spring break, when we found out we were going to have a new principal, the parents/community have been very upset. To remove a principal that was advancing the school – we would like you to leave her where she is. You made a decision to remove our principal and we want it changed.
North Atlanta Parent and teacher: I am a 21 year veteran and was at the inception of the program of the foreign language program. I know budgets are tight but this is not the time to go backward. The majority of our students will pick up a third language in 9th grade.
Wesley International Charter Parent: We got some bad news on Friday. What we heard on Friday, is that Cook Elementary would not come to the community for input. 10% of our kids are zoned to Cook. We pay $875,000 a year in rent to Imagine for our building. We would really like to move to the Cook building. There are 3 APS schools closing within 3 miles of APS headquarters. If the purpose of the closures was to put dollars to work for kids, then our kids are also APS kids and we would like for tax dollars to work for them too.
Herndon E.S. Parent: Why are you putting security into Herndon? What happened to the money for renovation of Kennedy’s pool? Did APS give monetary donations to the beltline project?
Community Advocate: We are here to stand with the parents and students and say no to closures and no to contracting out. I am here to speak to the audience members – the only way we are going to make changes in APS is by organizing and removing these people from the board. We need parents, we need students and teachers and workers to lead the way. We need to demand our human right to education.
Carver Early College Junior: While we realize no changes will take effect next year, we are here to share our thoughts on a merger for the following year. Before the transformation to a small school, Carver was one of the lowest performing schools in the district. Now we are among the best.
M. Agnes Jones PTA President: I am there in the mornings to see the dirty building from your contractors. Most of you don’t even have children in APS.
Carver Early College parent: My son has blossomed at Carver E.C. Our principal is a great leader and I understand that it won’t change next year, but I will be here the year after that to ensure that my son has the same education he does now. I’m here today to say don’t change it at all. The teachers having to reapply doesn’t make sense. The teachers that are there are working. I should be able to get a quality education in Southwest Atlanta.
*Huge turn out of Carver Early College students, teachers and parents. All in t-shirts and with signs*
Our ultimate goal, says a Carver student, is to support learning models that work.
7:50pm Carver E.C. Teacher: Carver is not perfect, none of our H.S.’s are, large or small. Far too many of our students struggle with basic learning. Far too many of our schools lack principals with vision, but the proposal to close and merge our school actually undoes on of the things that is working. Many of our students I worry will be lost in bigger settings with less attention. I saw that with my peers and their students at large schools like Grady where students slip through the cracks.
8:07 – many of the comments continue to deal with custodians and contractors, Wesley relocation to Cook and Carver Early College.
Foreign Language Teacher: Tonight we have representatives here from many foreign language programs throughout APS. Last week we learned that current elementary foreign teachers (20-40%) will be moved to middle or high schools to fill a need, reducing the time of language in the class for elementary learners. At present, APS children are fortunate to be a part of a world class language program. (several language teachers are speaking tonight).
Therrell High School Gates Scholar: I don’t think we’ve been recognized enough. Never have I heard Therrell High School being broadcasted for the great things we are doing. We celebrate the negative and certain high schools in certain parts of town but not the good at some schools. (Note: Talk Up APS published 4 Therrell specific articles and 4 Grady specific articles this year. We will, however, publish almost any article sent to us by students/staff at our schools. Please feel free to send in articles at any time to email@example.com. We want to celebrate all of our schools).
Therrell High Parents: Why do parents have to hear about incidents on campus from the media? Parents want to be involved in the earlier process and not the end. The communication at every level is ineffective. There needs to be more information given to parents.
Therrell Parent complains about the process of meeting for the small school to small learning schools transition. Requests meeting with Board member Y. Johnson and superintendent Davis. “If you include us in the process from the beginning you wouldn’t have all of this disruption at the end of the school year.”
Teacher speaks about lack of professionalism shown during the teacher job fair process. “Employees are questioning the lack of fairness.”
Harper Archer Middle Student: We are going thru a mid-life crisis. In 10 years we have had 15 principals. All I want is an opportunity.
Harper Archer Middle Student: I’m here to argue for equality. The BOE has done nothing for us. We have paint peeling, we have mold. You can change everything with the flick of a pen. You left several of us behind. It’s time for you to take a stand and stand up.
Note: This live blog will end at 9pm
Harper High Alumni says that the school once had a planetarium. #wow (It was one of three in the district in the ’60’s)
9:02 – This concludes are live blog for the evening. Thanks for following.