LIVE BLOG: June 10th Board of Education Meeting

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The meeting will begin soon.

2:18– Committee of the Whole Meeting called to order by BOE chair Reuben McDaniel.

1.o1 Roll Call

1.02 Approval of the Board Work Session Agenda

The Board Work Session begins.

Chuck Burbridge, Chief Financial Officer- Financial Forecast

Burbridge: Essentially there were no changes in the revenue or expenditure forecast for May. The forecast hasn’t changed from the May presentation at all.There is no new news to report for the revenue expenditures.

No questions from the board.

Vickie Cleveland, Exec. Director, Special Education/ John O’Connor, Asst. Superintendent for Student Services: Special Education Audit Update

Cleveland: In 2009, APS posted a Request for Proposal to conduct an external audit of the special education program. The findings of the audit were presented to the board in September 2010. They were 29 recommendations from the audit.

Cleveland shows the current implementation status for the recommendations.

Cleveland: Multiple training and feedback sessions provided to Principals and Asst. Principals. Special Education Procedures manual has been developed. Supplemental materials are currently being designed, and full implementation of the manual will begin in fall 2013.

Cleveland: One of the top priorities for the 2012-13 school year was to increase inclusionary practices.57 percent of  APS special ed students received services in the general ed environment this school year. This is very promising data. We are working hard to build more inclusive environments and build systemic changes including building more classes/programs in APS schools.

O’Connor: We have changed the name to the “Special Education Program”. We have made significant changes in the roles and responsibilities of our Special Education Lead Teachers. They only teach one period a day, and they provide support for the school-wide special education program for the rest of the day. We have also reviewed the classes of every special education teacher and special education paraprofessional across the district to move toward equity. We also began a re-mapping of regional/self-contained special education classes across the district for implementation during fall 2013-14. We are also adding a total of 25 Special Education teachers, 10 contingency Special Education teachers, 3 Assistive Technology Specialists, 2 Board Certified Behavior Specialists, and 2 Intervenors. Our top priority is to build effective partnerships with parents of students with disabilities and building trusting relationships. 13 of the 29 recommendations have been fully implemented, 11 partially implemented, 3 will launch in fall 2013, and 1 will launch in fall 2014.

Y. Johnson: My first question relates to the audit, and I recall that the auditor indicated that there would be short, long, and midterm fixes. Were all of the short term items completed?

Cleveland: Some things are in place, and some things will be coming on board in the fall.

Y. Johnson: What was the timing for the short, mid, and long term items?

Cleveland: I didn’t see the timeline broken down that way.

Y. Johnson: So you’re saying by fall of 2014, the audit findings will be fully implemented? Is that correct?

Cleveland: That’s correct, absolutely.

Meister asks about the process for identifying special education students and services received. Cleveland explains that the process begins with an SST.

Harsch-Kinnane: Has the firm that did the audit remained involved throughout the process?

O’Connor: They were involved to a point, but they are no longer involved. We are moving forward with the implementation.

Harsch-Kinnane: It just seems to make sense that you would have outside eyes looking.

O’Connor: We have used our resources with the auditors. We dissolved that partnership.

Harsch-Kinnane: When we talk about the 10 contingency teachers, does that mean we would go ahead and bring them on staff?

O’Connor: Let’s say enrollment is larger than we think, we would be able to hire someone quickly if we have contingency teachers.

Muhammed: Which recommendations would you say are top priority?

Cleveland: Looking at our referral process would be a top priority, as well as staying on top of timelines.

Muhammed: You mentioned the surveys parents completed, can you give us a feel for the number of responses?

Cleveland: That is information that the DOE does make public.

Muhammed: Is that for the district or overall?

Cleveland: Each district has to complete the surveys, and we can see the percent that was returned. This is information we could really use in terms of parent engagement.

Muhammed: Are parent mentors year-round employees?

Cleveland: They are part-time employees, so they are with us through May.

English: We were told there were 9 additional things we wanted to prioritize in addition to the audit. Have these items been addressed?

O’Connor: We provided information for the superintendent’s scorecard. What we’ve been asked to do is report back the top 10 priorities and some of the things that are critical.

English: When we will get that information?

O’Connor: I don’t know the pathway that it takes.

Y. Johnson: Is there ever any assessment for all children, and not just those that may be acting out?

Cleveland: We have a universal screener that we use to assess students and where they are with reading and math. Teachers are constantly doing formative assessments in the classroom.

Butler-Burks: I would like for us to look at the appropriate amount of hours for the parent mentors and their case loads. I know being part-time is not enough when we look at the number of families they are supporting. What is the appropriate amount of time based on their case loads if we really want them to be effective? I am also concerned that with the second RFP we decided to do something else and the board approved a certain amount of money for that. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen the audit, and I don’t have a comfort level as to where we are in implementing what was recommended.

Davis: The question is whether these things remain priorities or if there are higher priority items. What we are trying to do now is suggest what are the top 10 priorities in this area.

Butler-Burks: We may not be on the same page around the process to get to that point, and I still don’t know what we did with the funding from the RFP. I’m not sure how we needed a company to do it at first, and then we stopped using the company. We’ve always had an extra set of eyes and level of assurance with audits.

Davis: We have to go back and look at how we can provide some additional assurance.

The Special Education presentation has ended. The board is now moving to the work session agenda.

1:03 Approval of the Minutes of the May Meetings

1.04 Approval of the June Committee of the Whole Meeting Agenda

Amos: I would like to add discussion and action around the small schools at Washington High School.

McDaniel: Is it something different from last month?

Amos: I think it is time to go ahead and do what we are planning on doing, show some leadership and close the smalls schools at Washington High.

Amos’ motion to add Washington Small Schools to the agenda carries.

Mesiter: I would like an update for the public around the superintendent search.

McDaniel: We’re going to do that.

2. Consent- Policy and Accountability

2.01 Report No. 12/13-1754 Authorization to Revise Policy JCDAF Use of Electronic Devices by Students (Final Approval)

The board’s policy review committee met on April 23, 2013, reviewed feedback from instructional staff on Report No. 12/13-1749 from the April board meeting, 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 for the incorporation of personal devices into the instructional program.

Butler-Burks: I know we asked to get some additional information around how we would make sure teachers felt supported through this policy. That is a big concern.

Harsch-Kinnane: Along with that, there was a lot of talk about what the actual rollout will look like and how that will be communicated. I think that goes along with the support for teachers.

Davis: We generally don’t plan rollouts until we approve the policy. This will begin for the 2013-14 school year.

Y. Johnson: I recall the conversation that they had already started having these conversations with the principals. This has been going on for quite a while. My indication was that at a minimum, the district has been having those conversations with leadership.

2.02 Report No. 12/13-1755 Authorization to Revise Policy BA Goals and Objectives (Final Approval)

The board’s policy review committee met on April 23, 2013 and recommended the attached revision to policy BA Goals and Objectives. This revision aligns policy BA with the vision, mission, core beliefs and commitments that were adopted by the board in the district’s strategic plan.

2.03 Report No. 12/13-1756 Authorization to Revise Policy DC Annual Operating Budget (First Reading)

At the June 5, 2013 meeting of the board’s policy review committee, the committee recommended to the board a revision to policy DC for its consideration. The revision changes the legal level of control of the budget. The revision requires board approval for transfers of appropriations within divisions (e.g. finance, operations, instruction) that exceed $1 million or 2 percent of the total division budget, whichever is less. Board approval would also be required for all transfers of appropriations between the budgets of divisions.

Y. Johnson: There was a conversation around wanting to have more input for the purposes of the budget. We wanted to put that in the policy. There are a couple of words in there that are placeholders and may require further discussions– like the words “chief” or “cumulative”. We want to try to determine what the language will be so we can have input from the public.

McDaniel: We are going to try to get this policy passed for first read tonight, with final read on July 1st.

Butler-Burks: The initial policy was even more stringent then this. We changed it to nothing pretty much, and now we’re trying to change it to something that is a balance between the two.

Harsche-Kinnane: What was your concern about the word “Cumulative”?

Y. Johnson: Just what it means in this context.

2.04 Report No. 12/13-1757 Recommendation to Deny Three Start-Up Charter School Petitions

On April 19, 2013, Atlanta Public Schools received seven petitions for proposed start-up charter schools to begin operations in 2014-2015. The petitions were reviewed to ensure the contents included required components of the Amended Georgia Charter Schools Act of 1998, O.C.G.A. § 20-2-2061 through §20-2-2071, the current Charter Schools Rule 160-4-9-.04, and the Atlanta Public Schools policy and application for start-up charter school petitioners. Two petitions, Praada Academy School and Rhodes Institute of Science, Technology, and Mathematics, were returned to petitioners as substantially incomplete. Of the remaining five petitions, three petitions: NEXUS Academy of Atlanta, Georgia Family Academy Charter School, and Greater Change Performing Arts Academy were deemed deficient for reasons including but not limited to: lacking viable educational plans, leadership capacity, facilities plan, sound financial planning and community support. In accordance with O.C.G.A. § 20-2-2064, Atlanta Public Schools will provide a written statement of the denial to each charter petitioner and the state board within 60 days of local board action. The remaining two petitions are still under review and will come before the board at a later date.

2.05 Report No. 12/13-5128 Personnel Gains, Losses, Promotions, Appointments, Creations, Reclassifications and Abolishments

Davis: One interim principal is being selected and being recommended in this report.

Butler-Burks: This is not the same report that we got last night. What are the changes?

Gray: HR Exec. Directors were added to the report, and we removed a couple of recommendations for creations of positions.

Harsche-Kinnane: It looked like there were a few newly created jobs, new classifications, and created positions that look like promotions on the report even after we discussed this in budget meetings.

Gray: The only newly created position is the parent liaison position that is funded through Title I.

Meister: Are we going to add the Special Ed positions that O’Connor referenced earlier on here?

Gray: They will be added at a later date.

Meister: With the HR positions that are on here, I assume they are a part of Project THRIVE?

Gray: Yes, that’s correct.

Butler-Burks: I see a couple of other changes since last night. I even see one that was interim last night, that isn’t now. I would hope that we would be notified of any changes. I would like for this to be pulled from the consent agenda.

This item was pulled and will be discussed further after executive session.

3.01 Report No. 12/13-1140 – Authorization to Enter into and Execute Contracts to Provide Electrical Supplies


The Atlanta Public Schools procurement services department solicited vendors to provide electrical supplies.  A total of eight (8) proposals were received and evaluated (list of bidders attached).


That the superintendent be authorized to enter into and execute contracts with B&S Electrical Supply Company, Inc., E. Sam Jones Distributor, Inc., MSC Industrial Supply, Regency Lighting, Voss Lighting and W.W. Grainger. The  contracts shall be for one (1) year with four (4) one-year available options to be exercised at the discretion of the superintendent.  These contracts are conditional upon the firm’s ability to comply with requirements set forth in the solicitation document.


To provide electrical supplies.


The estimated annual cost of these contracts is $360,000.


Funds are available in general fund account number 100-6706-6100 and SPLOST fund account number 354-6792-6100.

3.02 Report No. 12/13-1141 Adoption of the Tentative FY 2014 Special Revenue Budget


The FY 2014 Special Revenue budget is ready for tentative adoption by the Atlanta Board of Education.


That the Atlanta Board of Education adopt the tentative Special Revenue budget as presented.


To approve the estimated revenues and expenditures of special revenue grants and projects for the fiscal year 2014 budget.


The estimated Special Revenue budget totals $130,697,048.67 for fiscal year 2014.  Since revenue equals expenditures (self-balancing), the net cost to the district is zero.


Various non-general fund sources.

McDaniel: We will take these budgets for final approval at the June 27th meeting.

3.03 Report No. 12/13-1142 – Adoption of the Tentative Capital Projects Budget for FY 2014


The FY 2014 capital projects budget is ready for tentative adoption by the Atlanta Board of Education.


That the Atlanta Board of Education adopt the tentative capital projects budget as presented.


To approve the revenues and expenditures of capital projects for the fiscal year 2014 budget.


The capital projects budget totals $6,352,978.


Capital projects fund balance and general fund reserves.

3.04 Report No. 12/13-1143 – Adoption of the Tentative Debt Service Budget for FY 2014


The FY 2014 Debt Service budget is ready for tentative adoption by the Atlanta Board of Education.


That the Atlanta Board of Education adopt the tentative Debt Service budget as presented.


To approve the revenues and expenditures of debt service for the fiscal year 2014 budget.


The Debt Service budget totals $8,651,424.


Debt service millage.

The consent agenda was approved, minus 2.05 Report No. 12/13-5128 Personnel Gains, Losses, Promotions, Appointments, Creations, Reclassifications and Abolishments. This will be discussed further after executive session.

Amos discusses the problems with small schools at Washington High School.

Amos: I get it as a parent, board member, uncle, and mentor. I am asking this board to support the outcry from the community to close the small schools at Washington.

Amos put a motion on the floor to close the small schools at Washington.

Butler-Burks: I would like to hear from the administration. The longer we wait, the more it impacts our budget.

Davis:As I indicated in the last meeting, I assume you guys went into this structure with some deliberation, and I have some concerns about going out this structure without deliberation. Last year we discussed small schools from a cost effective perspective. From a administration perspective, we sense that at Therrell and at Washington there doesn’t seem to be major support for small schools. There seems to be a very different view in the parental bodies at South Atlanta and Carver. This week, I will get a draft essentially that says there are some real concerns about trying to do this before schools begins in August. This plan was based on the assumption that it would not be done for the 2013-14 school year, but rather for the 2014-15 school year. I don’t differ with Mr. Amos, it is just a matter of what is feasible in a short amount of time.

Y. Johnson: If there is a concern, do we even know if changing the structure will get the results we desire? I would like for us to be thoughtful before we make a decision that would have such a great impact.

Harsche-Kinnane: The question really is why isn’t the current structure working. There was a lot of talk about this last year and this year.

Davis: What we’ve tried to do is look at how can we get more economies in terms of sharing teachers between small schools and increasing the number of AP courses. Again, we have just started that process so it is premature to get any evaluation from that just that. It is obviously easier to find one good leader, than it is to find three of four, and that is one of the problems with small schools. We have been making changes to achieve some economies, but I don’t know if some of the economies will be as significant as we estimated. It is not clear to us if it is the structure that makes them successful or unsuccessful, or if it deals more with the leaders and the teachers.

Harsche-Kinnane: It is not just about saving money, but serving the kids. We should’ve been looking hard at why this isn’t working at Washington.

Davis: I think there are a lot of reasons. As you say, if these were designed to meet the needs of community and the reason small schools were originally put in place, and the community would like to see a different structure– I don’t have a problem with that. There are legal processes required that we have to fulfill before this can happen, in addition to items that need to be addressed with operations, facilities, and programs. I have no problems doing that, but it is just a compressed time frame. We need approvals, we need school codes.

E. Johnson: We may need to look at our policy for bringing stuff at the last minute to added to the agenda. If you bring something the day of the legislative, it is hard to make a decision that day of the meeting. In recent times, we’ve had a quite a number of things being added the day of the legislative meeting, and for me, that’s a problem.

McDaniel: Mr. Amos, do you want this done immediately or as quickly as the administration sees fit?

Amos: This is not last minute. This has been two years in the making. I would like to see it done immediately. Supt. Davis said it would not be impossible. This structure is not working, everything has dropped because of this structure. Why are continuously wanting to hold on to it? My motion still stands.

Butler-Burks: I thought we were going to get information today and a recommendation, and I know that we didn’t. I know we have a special call meeting on the 27th. I don’t know if this is one of the items that could be added.

Davis: I have a draft, but it was put together with the assumption that it would not be done until the 2014-15 school year. We could certainly get it done by January, but whether we could get it done in a month is the question.

Amos: I don’t do this in the dark, and I am up here representing the people who have asked for this. I can share this with them and see if they are willing to plan this for January.

McDaniel: We’ll put this on our June 27th agenda. I don’t feel good about making a decision without recommendation, so Mr. Davis can provide that for the June 27th meeting and work through the specifics and timing of the transition for Washington.

Amos formally withdraws the motion on the floor.

Davis: I will bring you back three points of time and the challenges associated with each- August 2013, January 2014, and August 2014.

Grant: I would like to remind the board that we have Special Meeting also scheduled for June 17th to finalize the millage.

4:24- The board goes to Executive Session.

Board has returned from Executive Session.  Public Comment is now beginning.

6:25pm – Community member asks that the agenda of board business is published 3 days prior to board meeting day. Says that this is not currently being done.

Next speaker asks that committee of the whole and public comments be broadcast on channel 22 along with other board meetings.

Community member says that the sale of Atlanta International School makes no fiscal impact on the budget. This is a property with a strong term lease in an area with a rapidly growing community. “We ask this board to be an example of fiscal responsibility.”

Community member: Prior to small schools, Washington High, for 4 consecutive years had the most Gates Scholars in the district. Small schools is an experiment that has failed and we are asking that you close small schools at Washington now and keep Kennedy Middle open.

Next speaker talks about his love for his Kennedy Middle and Washington High School.  Asks that Washington go back to one comprehensive high school.  Talks about the history of Washington, “Anything with more than one head is a monster.”  Complains about the facilities…bleachers that don’t work, grass that is not cut.  “We don’t have bad kids, we have bored kids taught by careless instructions.”

APS Teacher: APS has a tremendous amount of teachers who care for students and it pains me to know that APS has not approved a cost of living increase, those who were there before, during and after the scandal.  How you spend your money is guided by your priorities.  If the students are a priority, I would think the people who educate, inspire and motivate those young people would be a priority as well.  It costs more for me to live in 2013 than it did in 2008 when the board approved the last cost of living increase.  We are the people who see these students more than anyone else in this district.  How can you say that we don’t deserve a 3% increase…those are pennies.

Community Member: I ask that you consider not opening another charter school in district 2 or 5 until we have a concrete understanding of your motive. Appreciation goes out to Mr. Amos, Mr. English.  All of you board members need to be working together with your community.

Community meeting is now ending.  All speakers have had an opportunity to address the board.

7:00pm – Legislate meeting is now beginning.  This meeting will be televised later this week on APS channel 22 (Comcast).

Agenda is approved.

Board chair McDaniel congratulates the graduates of 2013 and announces the opening of the APS archives and museum.

Superintendent Davis also congratulates the class of 2013.  Learn more about our recent graduations HERE.

Davis: There is one sobering statistic, while viewing the graduations I thought to myself this group should be twice the size that it is.

Mr. Davis re-caps the recent presentations given earlier today in the committee of the whole meeting.

The superintendent brings the consent agenda. View the agenda HERE.

McDaniel reminds the audience the the final budget approval will take place on June 27th.  Read more about the FY14 budget process, download and view documents and see the calendar HERE.

Board approves the consent agenda.

One item for discussion and action – gains and losses.  Board approves all items in gains and losses.

Board member Amos gives a re-cap of the community meeting.

Board members give committee updates.

Search Committee has scheduled a meeting for July 1st, the superintendent profile is to be presented to the board.  The process is moving forward.

Next steps for Washington High School small schools: Supt. will share with board his transition plan over the next few days, board will take to community for feedback and board will take up the action on June 27th.

Motion to adjourn.

7:25pm  Meeting adjourned.

While we have your attention:

Need to register a student this summer? Learn how here:

View the 2013-2014 school calendar:







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