LIVE BLOG: Board of Education Meeting, April 1, 2013

Thank you for following our live blog of the April  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.

2:20pm – Meeting called to order by BOE chair Reuben McDaniel.  This is a work session with Chuck Burbridge, CFO giving a brief financial report.

Burbridge:  We are reflecting the one time e-rate that has come in but we are still showing tight resources.  I really want to carry over that theme when I talk about expenditures.  We feel confident that we could bring expenditures in below the appropriation authority but it doesn’t happen by accident.  It takes management of resources in order to hit this so we will be working closely with Sr. Cabinet and all budget managers to assure that the budget comes in below. We have to spend less thru the remainder of the year, we should be able to do it but it will take diligence to bring the budget in on target.

Muhammad:  Can you share with us how we were able to save those dollars, the $10M or so?

Burbridge:  Areas where we are spending more than we originally expected are salaries, areas where we are spending less are benefits and supplies.  We are having to move and manage our resources between those areas this year.  Some of those savings you might say may be a mild winter where natural gas was in our favor.  There are a lot of little ways you bring in spending below your estimate.  Almost a year ago we budgeted a contingency for a RIF and unemployment compensation…well that wasn’t realized, and we are spending less on that particular benefit line, but more on the salary line.  We will have to move those benefits into salaries.

Muhammad:  Can you tell me where the expenditure on charter schools per pupil comes in?

Burbridge:  It falls into a category called “other uses.”  Unfortunately its not the only thing in that category.  YTD we’ve spent $32M in other uses, that is where the charter school expenditure comes from.  That is the line the charter schools are paid from.

McDaniel:  Do you have an idea of what percentage of that line item is on charters, or can you get that to us?

Burbridge:  I can get that to you.

McDaniel:  Can you give us an update on the budget timeframe and the process.

Burbridge:  First meeting with budget commission was on Thursday.  We are rexamining and scheduling the meetings going forward.  Based on the first meeting we know we will need to reschedule community meetings.  Original calendar had a tenative adoption of a budget today, that will not happen.  We will compress the meeting schedule.  There is a fairly hard end to the budget process in June, but we have some flexibility between now and then to schedule meetings.  We were targeting for the week of April 22nd for another budget commission meeting, certainly before the end of April.

YJohnson:  I appreciate the diligence the committee has shown, my ultimate question is how much time will we get between when we get the final and have to make a decision.

Butler-Burks:  We have asked that we go back and revise the calendar in order to have the time to digest and make the critical decisions that will have to be made.

2:35:  Committe of the Whole Meeting now beginning

Butler-Burks:  Can we add under discussion and action I would like to add a discussion of the scheduling for the superintendent search.

McDanile:  Any additional items?

Muhammad:  Yes, I would like to see if we can have some discussion about this unfunded pension liability.

McDaniel:  I know we will have some discussion about that in Executive Session, but I can put it on the agenda under our new business, will that be ok?

Muhammad:  That’s fine. Thank you.

Motion to approve, motion carries.

Public Comment Period – One person has called in to speak.  Public is reminded that they must speak about an agenda item and they will be alloted 3 minutes.

APS Parent:  Before you start spending 2.8 million on multi-copier printers and copiers, those are devices that help adults, not children.  If you can’t spend enough money to help my daughter, in a charter school to learn, then maybe we can’t afford copiers and printers.  I think its something to hold off on and wait and make sure you can treat all the students in Atlanta fairly and equitably before you spend any more tax paper money on technology.

That ends the public comemnt for this evening.

Superintendent Davis will now read the consent agenda.  The first 7 items are being taken together for Q&A tonight:

2.01 Report No. 12/13-1738 Authorization to Create Policy JGB Student Aid Programs (Final Approval)

Action (Consent)

2.02 Report No. 12/13-1739 Authorization to Repeal Policy JGC Student Health Services (Final Approval)

Action (Consent)

2.03 Report No. 12/13-1740 Authorization to Repeal Policy JGCB Student Inoculations (Final Approval)

Action (Consent)

2.04 Report No. 12/13-1741 Authorization to Repeal Policy JGCC Infectious Diseases (Final Approval)

Action (Consent)

2.05 Report No. 12/13-1742 Authorization to Repeal Policy JGD Student Psychological Services (Final Approval)

Action (Consent)

2.06 Report No. 12/13-1743 Authorization to Repeal Policy JGE Student Social Services (Final Approval)

Action (Consent)

2.07 Report No. 12/13-1744 Authorization to Repeal Policy IGB Student Support Teams (Final Approval)

McDaniel:  This is simply clean up work for the policies we have now.
YJohnson:  We need to make sure that whatever thoughts we have from a policy standpoint makes it into the policy.
Kinnane:  Somewhat similar question.  I understand this is a policy clean up issue, but it touches on where we are with the implementation and work within the special ed department.  We’ve been asking, we’ve done audits and we’ve seen some fo the recommendations implemented, but kind of where are we regarding the implementation of that audit.
McDaniel:  I wouldn’t  want to put the staff on notice today regarding special ed updates.
YJohnson:  The work we’re doing now is creating an umbrella and special ed falls under that umbrella and we just don’t want it to end with the repsonse to these policies.
McDaniel:  Are you requesting we put on the work agenda of our next meeting we put special ed on the work session?
Kinnne & Johnson: Yes
McDaniel:  We will put that on the next agenda.
Meister:  Is 2.01 absolutely necessary at this time in order to move forward with the work that needs to be done?  It seems it all wraps into one and we’re putting the cart before the horse.
McDaniel:  In a practical matter, this really is clean up of policy, if we wanted to take more time there is no urgency, but…
Meister:  I’d like to have it pulled, 2.01 for sure.
McDaniel:  Remove from the consent agenda?
Meister:  Yes
McDaniel:  Any other questions?
Davis: 2.08 Report No. 12/13-1745 Authorization to Revise Policy GAD Professional Development Opportunities (First Reading)

Policy GAD has been revised to clarify the professional learning requirements for Atlanta Public Schools’ employees and to remove outdated provisions related to the management of the district’s professional learning program.

2.09 Report No. 12/13-1746 Authorization to Revise Policy FDC Naming Facilities (First Reading)

The board’s policy review committee met on March 12, 2013 and recommended the attached revision to policy FDC Naming Facilities. This revision clarifies the process for selecting a naming or renaming committee and the criteria for name selection.

2.10 Report No. 12/13-1747 Authorization to Revise Policy IHDA Salutatorian/Valedictorian (Final Approval)

The board’s policy review committee met on March 12, 2013 and recommended the attached revision to policy IHDA Salutatorian/Valedictorian. This revision states that consideration will be given to shared valedictorian and salutatorian designations in the event of a school closing in the district. The board’s policy review committee recommends that the board waive first reading and adopt this revision with no public comment period.

McDaniel:  When we waive something we have to have a unanimous vote.

YJohnson:  That looks different than it looked before.  I didn’t think we would vote to waive the policy I thought we were looking to make revisions.

McDaniel:  We are not voting to waive the policy, we are voting to waive first read.

YJohnson:  I would want to have some conversation among board members about it, maybe we can talk on a recess or break and come back to it.

McDaniel:  We can move this off the consent agenda.

Butler-Burks:  I have a question around the piece being added, are we considering charter schools being public schools or any schools in the area?

McDaniel:  The intention was to include charter schools that are APS schools.

Kinnane:  I meant to say the superintendent can make some recommendations within…it could be an elementary school, middle school, any school as it reads now.

YJohnson:  I am happy to have that conversation, but some people haven’t had it…there is nothing wrong with changing this, I don’t know that will make changes to any particular situation.

McDaniel:  The bottom line is that last year Tech High closed and 2 of them (val from Tech and val from Jackson), we as the administration did not give the school any leeway in having co-vals or co-sals.  From a policy perspective this gives the administration the ability to do that but they do not have to do it.

Kinnane:  What will this mean for this year, are we even looking at it from a timing perspective, the Val/Sal breakfast is tomorrow morning.

YJohnson:  I am not opposed to it, but I don’t want people walking away that it leads to a particular end result.

Muhammad:  I believe the current (inaudible) allows the administration to make this decision…

McDaniel:  No, the current policy does not allow the administration to make this call, the current policy allows there to be one.

Muhammad:  There is some latitude.

McDaniel read directly from the policy which states that the superintendent cannot make a regulation inconsistent with policy.  The proposed policy change gives a more-than-one option.

More discussion, item moved off of consent agenda.

Davis: 2.11 Report No. 12/13-1748 Authorization to Revise Policy JCDAF Use of Electronic Devices by Students (Final Approval)

The board’s policy review committee met on March 12, 2013 and recommended the attached revision to policy JCDAF Use of Electronic Devices By Students. This revision allows all students to bring mobile telephones to school with the permission of their parents/guardians. The board’s policy review committee recommends that the board waive first reading and adopt this revision with no public comment period.  This policy revision will become effective immediately and remain in effect throughout the 2012-2013 school year upon board approval.

Davis:  I have sent a letter to all principals regarding this item.

Kinnane:  I thought that at the last meeting we decided that there would need to be a period of information and education regarding bringing cell phones to schools…. (inaudible)

Davis:  One policy is for cell usage next year, the other is the extension of usage to elementary and middle schools.  I said I would be willing to do that this year but one of your colleagues suggested being uncomfortable with that so I sent out a note that said I anticipate this policy being changed following this meeting.

Kinnane:  So its not that this one is different…

Davis:  This one is the existing policy with its applicability extended to middle and elementary schools.

Kinnane:  I’m fine with this, except the concern raised at that time was that the burden is put on the schools in terms of enforcing this and the thought and education of the students that needs to go into this for the parents and students..have we now gotten feedback that its ok to go forward?  That was the restraint of the policy.

Davis:  I must admit a tad bit of confusion.  We never brought forward a policy change, we are reacting to the Board’s desire for this change.

YJohnson:  I thought this was the compromise  – we also decided there are some different levels regarding using the technology moving forward.  This gives the relief without the punitive use towards kids…

Kinnane:  I have to say at a point I was pushing for this to happen, but the concern….I don’t want it to overburden schools.

YJohnson:  I think they believe this is the softer way, to still get thru the school year.

Butler-Burks:  I want to express the concern I’m hearing from teachers about not feeling supported with the current cell policy.  While I think this is good from a parent and student perspective, I don’t want to leave out the support teachers say they are lacking.  I don’t know what we do about that, but I fear just continuing to extend latitude to parents and students to use their phones….when they (teachers) have to enforce usage.

Kinnane:  It doesn’t really change it in terms of the essence of it (reads from policy), {inaudible} Wants a sentence struck from the policy.

Davis:  All we are saying is that this policy will be applicable until we make another revision, next month.  We can make the regulations say that even more clearer…

Davis:  2.12 Report No. 12/13-1749 Authorization to Revise Policy JCDAF Student Use of Electronic Devices (First Reading)

The board’s policy review committee met on March 12, 2013 and recommended the attached revision to policy JCDAF Use of Electronic Devices By Students to go into effect for the 2013-14 school year. This revision allows all students to bring mobile telephones to school with the permission of their parents/guardians. It also permits high school students to use mobile telephones during the lunch period and allows for the incorporation of personal devices into the instructional program.

YJohnson:  There were a lot of concerns related to electronics in general, we anticipated that children would be using electronics in the course of their schoolwork and we knew there would need to be discussion around how that is used.  We wanted every opportunity to get feedback from teachers and others on this policy.  We anticipate education for parents, teachers and students.  One of the problems now is that so many people are blatantly violating policy, that if we loosen the reigns a little it will be better for enforcement purposes.

EJohnson:  With the Naep tests we found students were taking pictures and posting them to the internet.  What has happened tends to tell us that students will use cell phones to undermine the educational process.

Kinnane:  In light of what Ms. Butler-Burks said about teachers…the other, beyond using electronic devices in classrooms, we have to be sensitive that the expectation is that students would own these devices (inaudible).

Davis:  {To BOE} You’ve raised some pretty large issues between first read and second read, but you’ve raised some large questions.  Do you want to continue with this reading or start again.  We are doing some research with other districts and I want to make sure we have to incorporate that.

McDaniel:  Procedurally, if you are not able to get enough information by next month, the board can hold it for another month.

Muhammad asks about where the money from collected phones currently goes, Davis says school activity fund.

CFO Burbridge answers that Bill Scott’s audit plan does include an audit of the school activity account.  He does audit that on a regular basis and these funds would be included.

Davis: 2.13 Report No. 12/13-5124 Personnel Gains, Losses, Promotions, Appointments, Creations, Reclassifications and Abolishments.  See the recommendations here: http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=95WLNN554C10

Davis: 3.01 Report No. 12/13-1130 – Authorization to Enter into and Execute a Contract to Provide Auditing Services.

McDaniel:  We pulled this off at the last board meeting, Mr. Johnson are you comfortable with this?

EJohnson: Yes

Kinnane: I want to go back to the losses and gains, the creation of positions on page 7.  Are these new positions from requirements of Race to the Top?

Karen Waldon, Deputy Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction:  Yes, these are related to our 4 lowest designated schools for additional support, these are positions they have requested.  They also have embedded an individual support person from the state and that person also signs off on the needs and submits it to us for the support.

Davis:  3.02 Report No. 12/13-1131 – Authorization to Enter into and Execute a Contract for Multifunction Copiers.

That the superintendent be authorized to enter into and execute a contract with Xerox Corporation to provide multifunction copiers. This contract shall be for one (1) year with two (2) 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.

Kinnane:  Let’s keep in mind the comment made by the parent earlier.

Burbridge:  We would be changing providers under this contract and it is for the entire district.  The majority of the devices are in schools and used for school purposes.

Davis:  We are making a concerted effort to reduce the number of copiers in this building (APS Headquarters).

Davis: 3.03 Report No. 12/13-1132 – Authorization to Amend Report No. 10/11-1157 to Increase Funding for a Microsoft Campus Licensing Agreement.

That the Atlanta Board of Education amend Report No. 10/11-1157 to increase the authorized amount from $500,000 to $700,000. This represents an increase of $200,000 from the current authorized expenditure amount.

McDaniel:  Any questions?  Motion to approve?

Motion on the floor, no discussion, motion carries.

YJohnson:  I think the concern is, from an optical standpoint, that we are making policies and there is so much around special services and we don’t want to miss something that needs to be dealt with specifically.  If there is not a real urgency, can we not clean up after we tighten up the policies.

McDaniel:  Another option is to take them down from the agenda today.

YJohnson:  That is probably appropriate.

Buter-Burks:  I think the timeframe should be centered around the work of the task force and not the next board meeting. {makes motion, motion carries}

Note:  2.01-2.07 have now been removed from the agenda.

McDaniel:  We are now moving on to the Val/Sal issue. Before we make the motion I want to be clear on what this policy is and what we’re voting on.

EJOhnson:  I’m really concerned about this particular policy because I know in the past we’ve had co-Vals/Sals, but we start talking about school closings, it looks like we’re micro-managing policies and that’s a mistake.  We should just let the administration make a decision on what they want to do.

Kinnane:  I think that is a valid concern, the goal with this policy change is to make what we thought we had already, available, the ability for the superintendent to designate a co-val/sal.

McDaniel:  Currently the regulation is in violation with a policy we have.

Kinnane:  His point is that there could be another exception that gives rise to the reason again.

YJohnson:  If we took it out he would still have the flexibility.

McDaniel:  The truth is that tie is also in conflict on our policy.

YJohnson:  Does supt. Davis have some thoughts on that?

Davis:  The regulation we have now is in conflict with the policy in that it allows for a tie but it does not allow for the naming of a co-Val/Sal.  Again, to say something should be considered just means it shouldn’t be precluded.  There is alot going on around Vals & Sals.  This is focused on one school, but we have ongoing investigations surround grade changing and accusations, so the one thing we need to be clear about are the rules.  Now the regulation does not address closings but it does address requirements of “being there” and I understand that they were put there at the urging of this board due to those “shopping” for schools to be Val/Sal…there is money involved, the Vals and Sals get Zell Miller scholarships, full rides to state institutions, Univ. of GA system gives automatic admission to Vals…there is a lot more than honor to this.  We are dealing with a lot of those issues now.

YJohnson:  So removing the language of school closings doesn’t do anything for him (supt) Mr. Johnson.

EJohnson:  You can set a policy then you don’t have a choice.

YJohnson:  This actually gives more flexibility.

McDaniel introduces new language that replaces “school closings” with “special circumstances.”  Motion carries unanimously.  2nd motion carries unanimously.

Note:  This policy change allows the administration to designate co-val’s and co-sal’s when there are special circumstances (including the closing of a charter high school), and more than one student is eligible for the designation or a newer student (from the closing) is eligible for the highest honor.  Again, this allows the administration the latitude to make that decision.

This ends our consent agenda.

Report No. 12/13-0110 Class Size Resolution

Kinnane and Meister both express concern over a resolution added to the Board agenda at 2pm today regarding class sizes. Here is the resolution:

http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/files/96CJFS4D013B/$file/Resolution-%20Class%20size.pdf

They say the community had no opportunity to voice their concerns (applause from audience).

Butler-Burks says that the upcoming budget commission meeting could help to inform this decision.

McDaniel agrees that there is no harm of tabling this until May.

Conversation continues regarding class size concerns.  Davis says that some schools are overly crowded, but others are not.  Appreciates that some schools are terribly crowded but that is not the norm at every school. Data tells us that class sizes have gone down, not up.

4:08pm – Board is entering into executive session.  Meeting will continue at 5:30pm.

5:58pm – Meeting is called to order

Committee of the Whole meeting will now continue.

Karen Waldon introduces the 6 new principals approved last month.

Committee of the Whole meeting is now adjourned.  Community meeting will now begin.

COMMUNITY MEETING SPEAKERS

Parent:  Thank you for Ms. Harmon at Gideons Elementary, she’s the right person for the job.  There are a lot of things going on with the media surrounding the CRCT cheating scandal.  You guys haven’t given us anything about the redevelopment of this test.  My daughter standing here goes to Carver.  Today I received a call from her Math teacher who says my child should know the stuff I’m teaching her from Parks Middle School.  She knows she has a problem.  I have not seen a book this year, so why is the teacher calling me about my child not passing…where are the books? I need to know why my child has been falling through the cracks of this CRCT.  These babies are suffering.  It’s still the same old Beverly Hall up in here.

APS Educator Representative:  I want to speak about the new cell phone policy going down to the lower levels.  I am a high school teacher and we have a hard enough time regulating cell phone usage at that level and I certainly don’t want it down at the lower levels.  It happens with our young ladies with longer hair…they will have their ear buds in their ear and you won’t even know they have the headphones in and they have missed most of the lesson.  The lower levels are the formative years.  To take it down is a negative thing to do.  I heard from the parents that they want to contact their children, but I’m old school and that is what the front office is for.  It is difficult to regulate proper usage.  There is everything on a cell phone, Facebook, Instagram, everything.  It is difficult to monitor and taking that to the lower levels is not a good thing.  Moving on to the calendar, I sent an email regarding feedback and I have not received a response.

Community Member:  I will remember that Mr. Sam Williams and the people in the community supported the former superintendent.  He and they should be in jail too, not just Ms. Hall, not just the teachers, but ya’ll too (the Board).  How could you sit here and watch the apple barrel get empty in front of your face and say nothing.  When is Ms. Hall going to turn herself in and when are you going to resign. All of you should be tossed, all of you should resign, how you can sit here and rule over this school system is sickening to me.

AFT Teacher Representative:  We are asking that you increase the amount of support personnel in the schools.  Research shows a direct correlation between class size and achievement.  We would like you to consider that our employees are paying more to get to work and stay at work.  We would like for you to consider a cost of living increase without increasing the cost of our benefits.

Community Member:  I think the solution we need to do…we all know the situation and what happened, we need to talk about how we resolve this situation.  Will vouchers or school choice take place here?  What about implementing things in the classroom where kids can learn about a business?  What about taking their gift to the next level. Just like the woman mentioned before, you talk about too many children in a classroom…how can a kid really learn?  We have too many leaders that are taking their position on a lot of different things but no one is being held accountable.  We ‘re talking about our representatives and Congressman.  The main issue is, when a kid comes home and the parent hasn’t been educated.

Drew Charter Representative:  As somebody who worked at Herndon Elementary, Kennedy Middle and now Drew Charter, I can’t tell you how excited we are about collaborating with Kennedy Middle School.  Kennedy parents care a lot about their children (an amen from the crowd).  I want to tell you how excited we are about the community embracing Drew. (Crowd hold up huge signs that say No Drew, Save Kennedy.

“I don’t know any educator who starts out saying I’m going to do something to hurt children.”

Community Member:  (yells) Yes! For the Kids, we got an indictment!   —–  But the culture still exists, children can’t read.  I can say, our kids have been vindicated.  These kids have feelings.  Let’s put a moratorium on that test this year.  How dare you put anything in front of those kids that say CRCT.  Kennedy Middle was one of the worst cheating schools in the country and you don’t give them the chance to mend before you ship them to Brown.  There is a parent who says her child gets off the bus, jumps the fence and sleeps on the porch all day to get away from the chaos in the school.  Then you have 85 kids left at Kennedy, you got Drew Charter coming in with all the resources with the “Drew experience” to share the facility.  Who does that?  Byron Amos should be here tonight.  He had 2 motions to put on the table tonight.  He has let the community down more than once.

Former Teacher:  I would have to send the books from the elementary school to the Middle school so they could teach them to read.  I came to the BOE to tell the board and by the time I returned to my school they had told the school administrators and they retaliated against me.  Everyone thought what I was saying sounded crazy.  {Tells the story of a 13 year old boy in the 4th grade who could not read. Says he was upset and angry – 13 in the 4th grade – and no one had looked at why}.

Community Member:  The last time I came here, I was happy to see the superintendent went up to North Atlanta to address some issues, but I haven’t seen any action in South Atlanta.  The situation in SAtl doubles the trouble we saw in NAtl.  We see leaders telling us that our kids are not graduating and have records…what is your impact as a leader when you know people are having trouble in the 5th grade, 9th grade and they are pushed on.

Community Member:  Everyone knows that good performing schools are proof critical to the vitality of every neighborhood.  The decision to close schools in South Atlanta led to a series of issues…lost property values, inability to attract business.  The mission of APS is important, but the most important thing here is that the APS learns that the lesson to learn is integrity.

Community Member:  On March 2 I attended a meeting where I was given a two page letter stating that I came to the school (Bethune) on the first day of school and asked questions of parents. I asked the principal to retract the statement, it was not true. {Community member continues with the number of people she has contacted}  Yes I was at the school watching my neighborhood children go to school.  I need to get the principal to write me an apology. {Gives letter to Ms. waldon}

APS Parent: I’ve come to address the new bell proposal.  The proposed changes for middle and high school not mentioned in the facts online.  I’m distributing some literature on the subject.  Please do have middle and high school start later, but the same reasons that later bell times for older kids are good, they are bad for younger kids.  While 15 minutes doesn’t sound like much, but it accumulates over days. Elementary school students are the only group too young to be left alone.

Community Member:  Good afternoon, I am a community advocate and a grandparent whose grandaughter just finished Washington High School.  The small high school structure is not appropriate for Booker T. Washington High School.  Washington has produced a lot of home grown leaders.  {Parent hold signs asking for one school, no more small schools.  Grandparent continues with data that shows that small schools are not working in the area of achievement}.  In 2012 you said small schools were not out performing traditional schools.  Not enough to continue with the continued expense.  Our students deserve to have access to a variety of courses using the same similar program structures that North Atlanta has.  NAHS has this program and their students are excelling.

Community Member:  Good afternoon Board Members.  I’ve communicated to you all via email. SACS action item #1 was to develop a long term communication plan with the work of the school board. You have a constituent services process for the executive branch. If a person has a question for a board member, there is no policy that says you have to respond.  It has also come to my attention that there are board members who use their personal email address to conduct business.  Once you are no longer a board member, those records are no longer available thru open records.  It does not lend itself to best practices, open government or transparency.  I’m asking that it is put on the policy review committee.  I have received communications from board members from your personal email addresses.  You all have received computers from the district, every computer has a unique address.  If there are emails sent from that computer to any other computer that does not have an @aps address you have violated your own code of ethics.  {Raynard mentions that former board member Asa Yancy recently passed away and that there has been no article, no mention of it on social media}.

APS Parent:  With the graduation hovering at slightly over 50%,  I think its time to access the high school Academy model in APS.  We need a high school model that is effective.  {Challenges board to look at the data by academy} We need a graduation rate higher than 50%.

APS Parent:  I have 4 kids in the APS system.  I would like to know what measures will be in place that will assure our parents in APS that this will not occur in the future?  You think our kids are in the 21st century learning, but our kids are really in 19th century learning.  More technology needs to be available.  Your schools on the south side do not have apple computers, ipads, cameras.  I believe that SPLOST money could be used for this technology.  SPLOST money is not being built on the south side.  Things over there are not being built.

APS Parent:  We are tired of dealing with the adults, we need to deal with the children.  In 2010 when the governor stated our wrong to right erasures, we had two attempts to remediate those children.  One was a default 12 week program under Kathy Augustine and another defaulted 4 week program last summer.  We did not post the pre-data or the post data of that program to see if the kids had gains during that time.  Our teachers and our community members are loved, they are highly respected in our community and we feel that all things rest on leadership.  Our leadership is the key, as Mr. Davis has said many times.  The children really need your attention.  What have we done?  How can we improve this process?  What lessons have we learned?  We still have principals that are intimidating teachers.  I don’t know why we even come here anymore, we only have an hour, its our only forum to express ourselves.  We have to be listened to, considered.

Note:  Several other speakers have advocated for the return of Booker T. Washington High School to a comprehensive high school instead of 3 small schools.

APS Parent:  Where is the support you said we would have for the children and the faculty at Brown Middle School?  At Kennedy we don’t know if the kids need support, how are they feeling?  With less faculty and students there are not enough books for the students.  You have not provided that, I expected that and its not fair.

Community Member:  Mr. Davis, we have not healed from CRCT and all the other things that have been mentioned. {Speaker asks that Davis visits and speaks with parents before allowing Drew Charter to share the space}.

Atlanta Charter Middle Parents:  The thing that really struck me tonight is all of the people talking about the things that are not working and are broken.  Our school is not broken, it is a glorious place.  The students want to be there, the parents want to be there.  We are the largest of the independent charters and we will close unless there is a temporary financial band-aid is put on our school by APS.  This bizarre situation with the inequity of the pension funding.  What we are complaining about is the growing gap that is forming.  We need to work with you and really show you that these schools work.  5 out of the top 12 elementary schools are charters.

Atlanta Charter School Parent:  We have 2 children attending Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School and I will not stop until charters are funded.  We heard a lot of positive buzz about up and coming charters in Grant Park.  When our school burned down, our neighborhood rallied and rebuilt our school.  Our school is magical. It is a place where racial harmony truly exists.  It’s a place where guiding principles are something our children use daily.  We cannot survive with the pension cuts.  I beg you, we beg you to hold APS accountable and restore the funding to charter schools immediately.

{Two more parents speak on behalf of restoring funding to charter schools}. “We are all APS students, the funding should be the same.  The 2.8M hits us harder.”

The community meeting has now ended.

The legislative meeting has begun. The live blog has ended.

One thought on “LIVE BLOG: Board of Education Meeting, April 1, 2013

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  1. One of the parents who spoke complained that they don’t have “apple computers, ipads, cameras” on the southside of Atlanta. No need to single out the southside – they don’t have them anywhere in the APS district.

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