LIVE BLOG: November Board of Education Meeting

2:44pm – Meeting is called to order.  All BOE members are currently present with the exception of Mr. Emmett Johnson.  He is away on BOE business.

McDaniel says that 2 items are on the work session agenda.  Both items have been approved for the agenda.

An hour ago McDaniel says superintendent Davis received a letter from AdvancedEd stating that the district has now acquired the status of accredited.  The report related to the work of APS and the BOE shows a focused effort to address the directives from AdvancedEd.  The letter also states that the district has endeavored to regain public trust.

In recognition of the progress, the AdvancedEd affirmed that APS will move to status of accredited.

2:50:  Presentation from CFO Chuck Burbridge

Full financial report will be posted online within the next 24 hours from the finance department.

Conversation taking place about staffing and budget.

Davis:  At this stage I would be reluctant to say that we should pull teachers from schools.  While there is heightened risk that we will have an overage at the moment, we have identified potential offsets.  The real issue here is how do I control this on the 2014 budget to make sure the staffing sheets and budget sheets actually equal what the payroll says for the school.  You hear from parents that they are crowded, so the staffing ratios at the macro level will seem to have gone down.  We are seeing 1’s, 2’s, 3’s over the staffing level as we march through each school.  We will be doing bottom up spreadsheet budgeting for 2014.  We will be building it from the bottom up.

Butler Burks: It was a concern of knowing which areas, when we find the 273…

Davis:  The number is now less significantly.

Butler Burks:  The report that we were supposed to get back was around the trending number and even though the number may be less than 273, where those 273 people are.

Davis:  The number we will use is the number on the payroll and that shrinks on a month to month basis.  It’s not that we are withholding information from you, we don’t have it to give and won’t have it for a few weeks.

Kinnane:  You seem certain that it will be at the school level and we’ve only gone through one region…

Davis:  We are seeing consistent overages.  For instance we see people coded to the CLL, however we now know that all people coded to the CLL are not at the CLL.  The trend is that the issue is at the school staffing level.

Note:  BOE member E. Johnson arrived prior to the budget presentation.

Meister:  Is it the principal handing it in to you?

Davis: Yes, we get the data from the principal.

Burbridge:  We are getting the physical names of the employees from the principal and comparing it to payroll – this is about as granular as it gets.  We need to get an understanding of how this arose so that we can get a hold of it for the future.

Butler Burks: I think this is an example of what happens when we don’t do this work on the front end.  I think it is very important to know where these 273 positions are.  I want to express the need and the urgency to get this done.

Davis:  I think what you are seeing is the absence of systems that talk to each other.  What we are finding is that the staffing levels is different than the budget staffing sheets.  When you don’t have crisp processes and you have 100+ sites and get off 1 or 2 all of a sudden its huge numbers in terms of dollars and that is where we are.

3:12pm Proposed 2013 Legislative Priorities by Steve Smith, Assoc. Superintendent

State-Local Partnerships, funding, school choice will be the three general priorities for 2013.

Examples of matters we believe should be left to local school board include school calendar, personnel, curriculum, facilities, creation of new schools and school reform.

Full Powerpoint presentation available shortly on this blog.

English:  When we talk about the idea of school choice, I struggle with [the remarks] I guess it can be generally true except 9 times out of 10 the school parents want to transfer to usually are not accepting students.  I’m struggling with accepting that we are truly offering school choice.  When we say we have an open campus, it has a 17% graduation rate.  I don’t think what you’ve said is at the heart of what school choice means.  Moving forward, aside from wordsmithing, I would like to see our plan for school choice between now and December.  For now, I don’t think this is it at all.

Kinnane points out wording in priority #1 that is confusing.  Smith: Noted

Presentation is complete.

3:32 – Public Comment

Four individuals have requested to comment during today’s meeting.

Community Member:  Regarding Report No. 12/13-1715 Authorization to Revise Policy GCB Classified Personnel Positions (Final Approval):  I’m here to say that this is against the charter.  Back in 2004 I believe Ms. Pitts signed off on a document to abolish the civil service commission for some reason.  That was done illegally at that time.  Since that time, this board has operated illegally in regards to the charter.  I know some of these members were not here in 2004, but what I’m saying is that the policy as it stands today would be illegal due to the fact that the school system is now having their employees do what a civil service was designed to do.  They are now doing under HR what should be under the powers of a civil service commission itself.  What I’m saying is that if this board changes the procedure, it would be violating the charter because the charter calls for the civil service commission to facilitate the rules under GCP.  At present, this board and the APS administration, is in a hurry for some reason to change this policy.

Under article 5, it says that if you have a civil service system, you should have a civil service commission.  The classified worker would not have an avenue to rebut a hearing officer’s decision.  As it stands today, the board rubber stamps whatever the system says so this is not going to work.  There are about 15-20 classified employees whose pay has been cut during conferences instead of hearings.  These employees did not know they were entitled to hearings.  I am asking the BOE to table this policy until someone has a chance to look at it.  I have trouble getting the names of the people who sit on this committee.  I’m here today to ask this school board to table it cause you are in the blind.

Representative from GA Association of Educators: Policy GCB – I hold in my hand the charter that talks about that specific policy.  What you are being asked to vote on does not agree with the charter we have in place.  If you want to streamline this, then do so,  but to change it puts you in violation of your charter.

View the proposed policy change here: http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/files/8ZKT3V757427/$file/GCB%20Classified%20Personnel%20Positions%20Policy%20-%2020121105.pdf

View the regulation for GCB here: http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/files/8ZKT4G758A67/$file/GCB-R%20Classified%20Personnel%20Positions%20Civil%20Service%20System%20Regulation-20121105.pdf

Labor Union Representative:  After reviewing policy GCB, we find several discrepancies.  To push and rush this through will be an injustice to all of the classified employees of APS.  We are simply asking you to review policies in place and those that are in violation of the charter.

This ends public comment for this meeting.

The superintendent will now read the consent agenda.

  • Report No. 12/13-1713 Authorization to Approve KIPP Atlanta Collegiate’s Request to Amend Their Current Operating Charter to Create an Additional Enrollment Priority

THE SUPERINTENDENT REPORTS:

KIPP Atlanta Collegiate (KAC), a locally-approved charter high school in its second year of operation and currently serving 190 students in grades 9 – 10 is requesting approval to amend the enrollment priority language in their charter. Currently, KAC has set two enrollment priorities, one for siblings and the second for children of staff and board members. After these priorities have been met, the school draws students from throughout the entire district on a first-come, first-serve basis. Unexpected high demand for the school has meant that over half of the students currently enrolled in KAC did not attend a KIPP middle-school program and, subsequently, students graduating from KIPP 8th grade programs have not been able to attend KAC.

KAC wishes to amend their charter to create a third priority for students graduating from current KIPP 8th grade programs to ensure that students desiring to continue in the KIPP program through high school may do so. Any available spots not taken by students after the three priorities have been met will then be open to students throughout the district, subject to lottery as per state and federal law.

RECOMMENDATION:

That the Atlanta Board of Education accept the recommendation of the superintendent to approve the charter amendment request for KIPP Atlanta Collegiate to amend their charter to give enrollment preference to students graduating from KIPP 8th grade programs.

REASON:

The priority should be granted in order to ensure that the students who have committed to the KIPP program in middle school have the option of continuing with KIPP through high school.

Butler Burks asks that the word Atlanta be added to make it clear to which this item refers.

  • Report No. 12/13-1714 Adoption of the 2013 Legislative Priorities (FIRST READ)

THE SUPERINTENDENT REPORTS:

The legislative priorities for 2013 have been developed to support the Atlanta Public Schools’ commitment to student success. These priorities permit staff to advocate for or oppose legislation based on a clear, concise, consistent framework.

RECOMMENDATION:

The board should approve the attached legislative priorities for the 2013 legislative session.

REASON:

The legislative priorities provide an advocacy agenda on matters affecting public education and will serve as a basis for advocacy during the 2013 legislative session.

  • Report No. 12/13-1715 Authorization to Revise Policy GCB Classified Personnel Positions (Final Approval)

THE SUPERINTENDENT REPORTS:

Policy GCB has been revised to streamline the policy, clarify the role of the hearing officer and move detailed information about the superintendent’s management of the civil service system into an administrative regulation. The civil service system will continue to operate in accordance with the charter governing the Atlanta Public Schools. The proposed draft regulation is attached for informational purposes.

RECOMMENDATION:

The board should accept the revision to policy GCB for final approval

REASON:

To state the board’s vision for a civil service system in accordance with the charter and remove details about the management of the system.

YJohnson:  I would like for someone to speak to potential conflicts with the charter raised by our speakers.

Pitts:  The charter says that the BOE shall establish a system of civil service.  The rest of it is permissive. It says that BOE may adopt, establish a civil service commission.  You guys decided several years ago to disband the commission and have a hearing officer.

Muhammad:  So when the charter was amended, the recommendation for a 5 member commission was removed?

Pitts: No, the civil service policy is the same and it is permissive.

Muhammad:  I would like to hold this one until we can get some clarity because there seems to be some confusion around the charter and where we are as a board regarding wanting a civil service commission or having the decision come from a hearing officer.

McDaniel:  What are the implications of holding this?

Pitts:  We’ve had several issues that raised legal concerns that I’ve brought to you.

McDaniel recommends getting further information from Ms. Pitts during executive session.  Muhammad agrees.

View the remainder of the BOE consent agenda here: http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/Public

  • Report No. 12/13-5112 Personnel Gains, Losses, Promotions, Appointments, Creations, Reclassifications and Abolishments

Muhammad:  I want to ask about the number of interim principals we have out there.

Michael Gray (HR):  We are currently interviewing for 24 principals.

Muhammad:  How long does the time span that we’ve had interims in these positions?

Gray:  When will interviews be done and those individuals before the board? By the time school is out in December.  I hope to bring interim principals before the board in January.  Interims will remain in their positions for the remainder of the school year.  It would be too disruptive to remove them during the school year.  By December we will have identified those who will remain permanently and those who will begin in the 2013-2014 school year.  You will know by January, those that will be permanent.

Muhammad:  Are these individuals who are there having to reapply for the positions that they are interims for?

Gray:  They participate in the 3rd level of the process which is a panel interview, but they do not have to reapply.

Muhammad:  I want to ask you about a position on page 6.  I saw a position for Organizational Advancement. Is that new?

Davis:  That is the new name for Strategy.

Muhammad:  It’s renamed.  How does the BOE know when we have a change in our structure.

Davis:  We published an org chart with that on there.

Muhammad:  On page 7 I noticed that we have a loss here of the Executive Director of that department.  Have we lost that person or are they being moved to another department?

Gray:  That person is leaving the district.

Muhammad:  Page 10, I’m looking at the grade on this one but the salary is lower? I don’t know if that’s the case.  Organizational Advancement.

Gray:  Yes, it is going from a ED to a Director.  It is being downgraded to a different position.

Muhammad:  On 12 and 13 I have…can you tell us what happened here? You have a number of individuals here that are losses – were they on the job prior to us making this corrective action?

Gray:  Many of these stemmed from the CRCT investigations.  As a result of the hearings we’ve had to make these corrections.

Muhammad:  What is the policy on rescinding resignations.  Do we or do we not allow resignations to be rescinded?  Can that happen?

Pitts:  Yes it can happen.

Muhammad:  Can you clarify where we are with this Visa process with the employees.  How does that work and where are we with that?

Gray:  If you are asking, whether or not the district will support individuals who come into the district from out of the country requiring sponsorship…we will continue that process.  After the first 2 renewals, the individual must go thru the green card process and the district will not file for or support the expenses related to the residency program.

Muhammad:  Do we have an outside source handling that?

Gray:  We work with the teacher/employee to do that.  We pay for the renewal of the Visa.

Muhammad:  Have we made employees aware of this residency program and have we done it in a timely fashion?

Gray:  Yes we have, we contact those individuals prior to their Visa expiring and the status of the district of supporting their renewal and residency.

Butler Burks:  An email came an hour before the meeting stating that we will hire 16 special ed teachers from the general fund.  How do we expect to continue to manage our general fund positions.  I support anything that helps with special education, but I don’t think you can just throw something out, especially with so many questions around the general fund.

Davis:  This is a dynamic situation.  We will always have ongoing changes in the special needs workforce.  We have some challenges of maintenance and spending of money in this area.

Amos:  Out of these 24 principal positions we are including the community?

Gray:  Yes .

Amos:  Do we know about the outcome of our small schools for next year?

Davis:  No.

Muhammad: My question is around the assignment of these special education teachers.

O’Connor (Special Ed): They will go to ES, MS and HS based on student’s IEP’s.  In April we talked to principals about being inclusive, which often leads to the need for additional folks.  They will be assigned to schools where students need that support – at all levels.

Butler Burks:  How did we come up with this specific number if we don’t know where?  Where are these 24 positions going?

O’Connor:  Yes, we absolutely know where each one is going.  These are not general positions, they will be assigned to specific needs.

Muhammad:  I am struggling with special ed teachers being assigned to a school, but what I’m more concerned about is a student having a teacher to address their particular needs.  I’ll give you one school where we have 400 students with IEP’s we know about and that’s what we know….not those who have not been tested…

O’Connor:  We have very few schools with one special ed teachers.  All APS schools at this time have special ed teachers.

Davis:  We are trying to meet the needs of all of our IEP’s.  They are legal obligations.  There is a certain level of effort that you must expend as a district.

Muhammad:  At some point can you bring to us what those specific requirements are from the state?

Davis: Yes

McDaniel:  What I would suggest is that you let us know where they are being placed during our executive session.

Davis:  At some risk, I would like to introduce Sylvia Hall who is here as the new principal of Cascade.  She has not been approved, but in the interest of her time I would like to introduce her.  (stands – applause)

  • Report No. 12/13 -1111 Authorization to Enter Into and Execute a Contract to Provide Athletic Field Maintenance Services

THE SUPERINTENDENT REPORTS:

The Atlanta Public Schools procurement services department solicited vendors to provide athletic field maintenance services.  Three (3) proposals were received and evaluated (list of bidders attached).

RECOMMENDATION:

That the superintendent be authorized to enter into and execute a contract with Valleycrest Landscape Maintenance, Inc. to provide athletic field maintenance services. This contract shall be for one (1) year with four (4) one-year available options to be exercised at the discretion of the superintendent.  This contract is conditional upon the firm’s ability to comply with requirements set forth in the solicitation document.

REASON:

To provide athletic field maintenance services.

COO, Larry Hoskins gives brief answers to questions from BOE.  Two compliments from BOE members Muhammad and Butler Burks on the superb maintenance of the athletic fields in the district.

  • Report No. 12/13-1113 Authorization to Enter Into and Execute a Contract to Provide Human Capital Transformation Project Services Re-Bid

THE SUPERINTENDENT REPORTS:

The Atlanta Public Schools procurement services department solicited vendors to provide consulting to support the district’s Human Capital transformation project.  The goal of the project is to provide support services to transform human resource operations and fundamentally transform how we recruit, hire, select, induct, develop, manage, evaluate, compensate and grow our staff.  The selected vendor will provide both assessment and implementation services.  The vendor will design a comprehensive human capital management strategy. The vendor will also design and/or redesign procedures, processes and structures to support the new Human Capital Strategy.  Funding is provided by the Gates Foundation teacher effectiveness grant.

RECOMMENDATION:

That the superintendent be authorized to enter into and execute a contract with Mercer, Inc. to provide human capital transformation project services. This contract shall be for one (1) year.  This contract is conditional upon the firm’s ability to comply with requirements set forth in the solicitation document.

REASON:

To provide human capital transformation project services.

FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS:

The estimated annual cost of this contract is $3,000,000.

FUNDING SOURCE:

Funds are available in special revenue fund account number 582-2324-3000.

Michael Gray explains how the funds would be used to assess the needs of the human resources department and change processes/train staff to deliver more effective HR strategies.  We do a lot of transactions in HR but we don’t serve our public and partners very well.  We would like to become more strategic in working with schools and transforming teacher effectiveness in schools.

Kinnane questions how this effects techer effectiveness.

Davis:  This will compliment the work of Effective Teacher in Every Classroom.  How we recruit them, train them and onboard them as opposed to just transaction processes.

Muhammad:  As you move in this direction and look at bringing individuals on that compliment this strategy, that’s applicable to the new hires…I want to make sure we’re not going back

Gray: As it relates to the transformation of the HR division, one of the things we really want to do – I believe we get things done through people – ours is a process issue not a people issue.  It is important for us to identify processes and workflow to assist these people in doing the work they do and then train them to do the new jobs that are being created for them. Will we lose some?  Maybe. But it will not be because they will not be trained.

Meister:  $3M for a year seems like an excessive amount of money, is it not?

Gray:  For the amount of resources we are asking them to bring into the district, no it is not.

Butler Burks:  Does the $3M include professional development and training?

Gray:  Yes, it is that and assisting us in implementing.  We are not going to simply have them design a process.  It is assessing, designing, training and implementation.

Muhammad:  This new process is for people who are already in HR.  So we’re paying the existing folk that are there and then we are spending $3M a year to train them.  Is it not feasible to bring on people who already know the work?

Gray: I believe that we have a process problem in terms of HR, not a people problem.  They do exactly what they have been taught to do which mostly has been transactional.  We want to train these individuals moving forward with the new skills and capacity to serve in the positions strategically we have moving forward.

Muhammad:  It is hard for me to embrace this amount of money to train existing professionals.

Davis:  I would not describe this as just training.  That is one component of the work.  This is a massive scope of work – system design and integration – its not just sending people off to school/class.

Muhammad:  Can it not be done by Organizational Advancement (strategy)?

McDaniel:  Where did this bid fall in the prices?

Davis:  There were some legalities about revealing that information in public.

Burbridge:  They were the highest ranked vendor in the process.

Kinnane talks about other areas where this $ could be used.

Davis:  This is not money that I could have used in those areas.  The “or” is not spend it elsewhere, it is spend it or don’t spend it.

Kinnane:  The amount jumps out at you considering other cuts we’ve had to make, even knowing that this money could not have taken care of those cuts.

Meister:  I would ask that we take this off the agenda.

Butler Burks:  I want to hear from Ms. Smith  If this is a continuation of the Gates grant, it may have been effective to hear a presentation around this.  To have some context around how we got to this point.  I’ve heard that there has been a lot of work and meetings put into this.

Davis:  Your point is well taken.  We cannot focus on the classroom then surround that teacher with some of the worst systems.

Angela Smith (Dir of Strategic Programs, lead person for Gates Grant):  In doing our work, we realized how many of our teachers were not being supported by the Human Resources department in APS.  We realized a few months ago that we had a duplication of funds in our Gates grant and we wanted to put our funds to good use.  Many of the issues you have spoken about over the past few months as a board are human resource issues.  Many districts have come to realize you can not place all the interim principals and hire all of our teachers if you do not have effective HR.  We want to transform how we are looking at human capitol in our district.  This vendor has done this for the DOE of NYC, a district much larger than us but the scope was almost identicial to where we are now.  They have had huge improvements with hiring teachers and principals.  This is not about just training, this is about operations, technology, training and alignment. You should see a different organizational structure.

This will be 2 months of strategy and 6 months of implementation.  We should be able to see quick wins.  They are not just here to create a pretty plan, they are here to create a critical process.

Angela Smith answers question from Courtney English surrounding proposed changes to the APS Human Relations department and Gates grant.

Report No. 12/13-4303 Authorization to Amend the Construction Management at Risk Contract with Winter Construction and SPLOST Project Budget for the Maynard Jackson High School Renovations and Modifications Project

THE SUPERINTENDENT REPORTS:

In April 2012 the Board authorized the superintendent to enter into and execute a contract with Winter Construction Company for the Maynard Jackson High School renovations and modifications project (Report 11/12-4310). After the design was completed for this project, an orchestra program was added to the high school music program. In order to accommodate this educational programmatic change, it is proposed to remodel the current practice gym into a comprehensive music suite with band, orchestra, and their associated support spaces. The spaces previously designed for the band function will be redesigned to allow for an enhanced dance space. To recover the loss of the practice gym space and to provide a gymnasium that will provide expanded opportunities for athletics, we propose to construct a new gymnasium with a combined performance and practice gym floor.  To accomplish these changes, it is necessary to obtain approval to increase the construction management at risk contract amount and the project budget.

RECOMMENDATION:

That the construction management at risk contract be increased by $8,000,000 from $32,900,000 to $40,900,000 and that the associated project budget be increased by $8,500,000 from $39,775,615 to $48,275,615.

REASON:

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

FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS:

Increase construction contract in the amount of $8,000,000 and the project budget by $8,500,000.

FUNDING SOURCE:

The funds are available  in the SPLOST Capital Construction accounts.

Muhammad asks about the use of minority sub-contractors on this project. Applauds district on progress made thus far on the project.

Davis:  I’ve asked that we go back and have discussions with this contractor about minority sub-contractors, even though that item was approved after the start of this project.  Going forward, when we have effective implementation of the policty, all new contracts will give preference.

Kinnane:  Is this going back to the original design?

This ends the consent agenda.  3 items moved to discussion and action.

5:15pm – Breaking now for executive session.  Community Meeting will resume at 6pm.

6:30pm – Board continues executive session.

7:20pm – The Community Meeting has been called to order.

Speaker #1:  Implores the board to review policy GCB regarding classified employees.  Echoes the sentiments shared earlier this evening during the committee of the whole meeting.  (see above)  He also asks that APS reviews employee feedback before giving more Common Core professional development to teachers and staff.

Speaker #2: I support your decision at North Atlanta High School and feel that this shows equality and fairness to all students.  (speaker gives the remainder of time to a third speaker).

Speaker #3:  I support the decision at NAHS as well.  On behalf of the community, we knew something was looming for a long period of time.  Thank you for the gift of exposing the disparaging differences based on race.  This is an age-old systemic problem of institutionalized racism.

Speaker #4:  I am a 9th grader at NAHS.  Last year I was one of two students to represent APS at a conference against violence.  As a national ambassador for the campaign to stop violence, I took a pledge stop bullying.  Mr. Davis, as a superintendent I know you have the right to do what you did but what you did feels like social bullying to me.  I feel embarrassed how they were treated by the leaders of this school system.  It seems as though our voices have not been heard.  I am asking the BOE to be our voice.  Please give my former principal, as requested an opportunity to defend his reputation.

Speaker #5:  I am here as a Local School Council member at Jackson High and a member of SEACS.  I feel like this project (renovation) has received disjointed attention from the beginning, and I want to make sure that as you’re spending money on this building that the programs inside are addressed.  Our fine arts program needs space, a black box theater and scenic space.  I want to make sure the facility is what it can be for the community and the students.  Those students have waited for so long and I want to make sure that Jackson High School students receive what they should have.

Speaker #6:  I represent NAPPS.  We believe that the support of cohesive feeder patterns will reap benefits.  Tonight I want to speak to you about truth and trust.  None of the long series of excuses for (Oct. 5 at NAHS) have been proven to be true.  This lack of truth has allowed people, many of whom who are not parents in the school, to fill the void with lies and threats that I can only call despicable.  We’ve been hearing about transparency for the last 3 years and this is not it.  Until you as a board shine a light on the events of the past month and require the same of the superintendent and every employee at APS, we will be unable to restore the spirit of trust we have built over the past years.

Speaker #7:  Recent occurrences (at NAHS) has compelled me to come forward with support of the restructuring of the leadership at NAHS and exposing long standing discrepancies at the campus.  I especially hope the 2 board members that represent the cluster can work together.  I am a parent within the NAHS cluster, from Garden Hills to Sutton to NAHS and those disparities and discriminatory actions that I state occur, do in fact.

Speaker #8:  First and foremost I want to commend each and every one of you for the work that has returned our district to full accreditation.  In meeting after meeting I’ve watched each of you begin to collaborate.  I’ve tried to take back to my neighbors after attending these meetings that Buckhead cannot mandate what is best for all students.  It is great when one neighborhood can advocate effectively for their cluster, but it is not great when one neighborhood assumes the role of spokesperson for all.

Speaker #9:  In a tolerant APS all children can and will learn.  We should not have to be rich to reach our potential.  We must commend anyone who has no allegiance to anyone but children.  There cannot be equity unless it rings from north Atlanta to south Atlanta.

Speeaker #10:  (Final speaker speaks in support of the revised plans for Jackson High School)

7:42:  End of public comment

Kinnane brings to the floor a discussion about communication, or lack there of, with BOE members as it relates to personnel changes over the last month.  Would like to address this lack of communication from a policy standpoint.

McDaniel:  You are talking about how the administration dealt with issues around personnel issues?

Kinnane:  I’m talking about school level, as we go thru transitions at the school level where we will get questions and concerns from the community.  The opportunity to be made aware of what was going on.

Muhammad:  I think I understand and I can support it if the majority of the board is in support of it, I do walk cautiously here so that we won’t tread off into any area that is not our responsibility.  I do think its very important however, if major decisions like changing the leadership of a school, that at least the board member that represents that district or that school is informed immediately.

Kinnane:  The decision is ultimately the superintendent’s decision, but this is about looking at this about how we can strengthen communication and input and it would not be about influencing the decision. That’s why the thought about going into the policy committee, we may need to get some guidance from SACS, I don’t think we are unique in this issue.  So I do appreciate that clarification.

E. Johnson:  I appreciate the concern of Ms. Kinnane, but once we start getting into issues such as personnel matters we do start to cross the line.  There are so many things that can happen in administration that would make situations, difficult, for the superintendent to tell board members every time he’s about to make a decision regarding administration.  This has to be handled on a case by case basis.  It is not something I think we should try to legislate with policy.

Meister:  It’s the difference between a communication about implementation of a decision when it is happening.  We get phone calls about a principal when they are being hired.  But in a situation like this where something is going to be on the front page of the papers I think it is a common courtesy that the whole board is notified.

English:  Taking this instance aside, I think the superintendent should have and has complete authority.  I think what we have to do from a policy perspective…I think we could put metrics in place (accountability) involving this.  I really don’t want to get into the specifics of this issue, but it sounds like a communication issue.  We should never find out information however from the AJC.  When we talk about, with the proposed action, notifying a district representative, I would really hesitate anything that would hamper the superintendent’s responsibility.  We have to manage the one employee that we have.

Kinnane:  We do have a policy around communication…personnel…I’m not saying that that (a policy) is what would come out of it.  Mr Davis?

Davis:  I don’t think your request is unreasonable, clearly I could have done better on communication on this.    Taking this to the policy committee may surface policies around this that I am not aware of but then it could simply be a communication conversation.

Everything we do is going to be in someone’s district.  I think the conversation is how high profile will this be and these will always be judgement calls.

McDaniel:  Ms. Kinnane would you be satisfied with this being under the accountability committee?

Kinnane:  I think there are concerns and for people to know these concerns are being looked at…my only concern is on a timing perspectiving…getting in there and having conversations…but…

English:  We are going thru the process now to develop the superintendent’s balanced scorecard and the plan is to have it done by the next board meeting.

McDaniel:  From an efficiency perspective, Mr. English is having a meeting between now and the next board meeting on accountability and could address this issue.  Policy could take longer…

Kinnane:  If we can get it in there from an accountability standpoint in terms of moving forward, I think that is, I would just go back to the superintendent and asking if he minds, I think we’ve made the system more vulnerable about how and why things happen, just going forward what you see is a proper way to communicate, it might be helpful right now…

Davis:  If there are things you potentially have to clean up, then you probably should know about them in advance.  (Davis gives good example of giving a university president the ability to act in the best interest of his school, but at the same time wanting to know about it in advance if he has to “clean it up).

E.Johnson:  There are things that can happen where the board would not be advised of it.  I have never been one to get upset when I see something in the paper and I don’t have knowledge of it, as long as I feel the person has made a reasonable and responsible decision.

Board agrees that accountability commission will address board communication with superintendent under the balanced scorecard conversation for the superintendent.

Muhammad asks that the vote to revise policy GCB is tabled for this meeting until more research can be done on questions/comments presented by community members today.

McDaniel: Is there any legal reason why this would be a problem?

EJohnson:  It is clear to us as board members that what we are doing is legal.

McDaniel:  Based on the charter this is legal.  At this time we would be doing this for time for more research. So the board is ok with holding this until the December meeting?

Board agrees to hold vote on policy GCB until December.

Board now looking at a list of where special education teachers will be placed based on today’s gains and losses agenda item.

Muhammad: There are some glaring…there are some schools that are not here and I want to know how these schools were selected for these teachers because I can clearly identify some that could use a special education teacher.  They are in that department so maybe they can give me some comfort…

McDaniel:  Also if you can give information on additional hires.

O’Connor:  We think that at this time this will meet all the kids services as outlined in their IEP’s.

Muhammad:  For these schools?

O’Connor:  No ma’m, these are the needs that we know we need to meet.

Davis:  How many special ed teachers do we currently have?

O’Connor:  320.  This year during leveling we looked at every single teacher/para and every student and anytime we saw where a class size was exceeded we added folks and when classes could be collapsed we did.  But everyday new children are being added with IEP’s.

Davis:  Do you want the data to see where they all are?

Muhammad: Yes

Davis:  We will make that data available to the board – where we’ve distributed all special ed teachers.

Board currently discussing timeline for possible search firm RFP, if needed, for superintendent search.  If needed, the firm would be selected in January.

McDaniel says the process chosen will give them the “parallel path” requested by board members.

Board will create a new Board Ethics Commission website with documents available in both English and Spanish.

This ends tonight’s committee of the whole meeting.

8:28pm  LEGISLATIVE MEETING will now begin.  Our legislative meeting is televised on APS channel 22.

 

Goodnight and thanks for following.

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