LIVE BLOG: Board of Education Meeting – August 12, 2013

Aswoosh

Thank you for following our live blog of the August Board of Education Meeting for Atlanta Public Schools.

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

REFRESH your browser often for updates.

The meeting will begin soon.

2:25pm – Board meeting called to order.

Up first this afternoon is an update from the Superintendent Search committee.  Committee chair, Mr. Sellars along with David Owen have taken the microphone and will introduce firms that will give presentations today.  A re-cap of presentations will be posted to the blog by the Board Office following the end of this live blog.

List of important documents for tonight’s BOE meeting:

Gains and Losses: http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/files/9AESBN71E8CA/$file/Board%20Doc%20Gains%20and%20Losses%20-%20August%202013.pdf2.pdf

Resolution to Restructure Booker. T. Washington High School:  http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/files/9AHMH85B48B1/$file/Washington%20HS%20Small%20Schools%20Transition%20Resolution%20.pdf

Construction Status Report:  http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/files/99RSB671D524/$file/Aug%201%202013%20Const%20Status%20Report.pdf

Financial Forecast Presentation:  http://www.atlantapublicschools.us/cms/lib/GA01000924/Centricity/Domain/1/FY%202013%20Financial%20August%2012%20Board%20Meeting%2008%2007%202013%20doc.2.pdf

Day One APS:  http://www.atlantapublicschools.us/cms/lib/GA01000924/Centricity/Domain/1/Day%20One%20APS%20Summary%20Presentation%20for%20ABE%20-%2012Aug13%20FINAL2.pptx

3:14pm – Presentation by first search firm candidate is complete.  Standing by for other presentations.

Tonight’s BOE work session agenda includes:

Superintendent’s Search Firm Presentations
Day One APS UPdate
Financial Forecast
Summer 2013 Environmental Issues

3:23pm – Second search firm candidate preparing to present.

3:27pm – Second search firm candidate now presnting to BOE.

3:56pm – Superintendent firm presentations have ended.  10 minute break and the work session will begin again.

4:25pm – Board work session back in session.

Dr. Alexis Kirijan, Chief Strategy and Development Officer will now give a presentation on the “Day One” start of school process.

DAY ONE PRESENTATION:  http://www.atlantapublicschools.us/cms/lib/GA01000924/Centricity/Domain/1/Day%20One%20APS%20Summary%20Presentation%20for%20ABE%20-%2012Aug13%20FINAL2.pptx

Thanks to centralized regsitration, 5,000 more students were registered this year copared to last year.  The district implemented the Day One commande center which responded to over 1600 calls, providing answers to commonly asked questions from parents and principals.  The center operates daily during the first 5 days of school from 6am until 6pm.  Over 8,000 tasks have been completed by staff members preparing for the start of school.  Currently we have staffed 298 teachers for the 13-14 school year with 91 open positions.

–Stay tuned for the full talking points following the presentation–

Q&A:

Meister:  I want to thank Dr. Kirijan, it seems very seamless and that was a great report.

Kinnane:  Did we get feedback about the Wednesday start?  There was great communication about that.

Kirijan:  We heard from staff that the mid-week start was great for them.  The same with parents who thanked us for the mid-week start.

Superintendent Davis:  It turned out to be the best choice to do it mid-week.  People were happy to be able to get into schools with open houses before school began.

Muhammad:  I would like to ask a question about the CEO program.  How is that being funded?  How many schools?

Kirijan:  We have 58 schools participating in the program and it is federally funded program.

Meister:  So we have 91 open positions.  Is that correct?

Michael Gray:  We have 94 teaching positions currently open with no recommendations.

Meister:  Is there a time frame put on principals.

Gray:  We are working on it everyday.

Meister:  So the 298?

Gray:  Those are teachers who have been hired (and processed).

English:  What is the breakdown for those positions in elementary, middle and high school?

Gray:  I don’t have that here with me but I can provide the BOE with that.

English:  Around the HR hiring process, when we say we have not identified folks to recommend to principals…or is it we have not identified….

Gray:  We have positions for which principals have not recommeded a candidate, that can also mean we have not found a candidate to recommend to a principal.

Muhammad:  You said these are positions that are still open and these are teacher positions.  In regard to positions period…Are principals recommending the staff that they would like to have?  ARe they able to make those recommendations and are they making them?

Gray:  Yes ma’m.

Muhammad:  So principals can recommend staff?

Gray:  With the exception of those areas where we may have openings and leveling must take place.

Muhammad:  So if there is a school where a person served as a teacher/principal/AP and that person is no longer there, would that person be assigned to another school even if that request have not come from that new school principal?

Gray:  Yes.  Those teachers with least seniority will move to schools that have vacancies before we begin the hiring process.

Burks:  Can you explain the process that should be used once a principal has a suggestion?

Gray:  Once a principal has a vacancy for a position, they will place a requisition in our Taileo system that specifically identifies the position and requirements.  HR will then forward to them a list of candidates that meet the requirements.  The principal then becomes the hiring coordinator, selects candidates for interviews, then gives final selection to HR for recommendation.  Next , HR contacts the candidates for documentation to begin the process of hiring.

Burks: The CEO program, when we had to do the federal applications we had a good demographic grasp of the number of kids on free and reduced lunch.  I think this program is great, but how do we keep this demographic information?

Larry Hoskins, COO:  Under the program it is now illegal to go out to those schools with the free and reduced application.  I believe both the Title and nutrition program are both aware how important that information is to schools and districts.  They have not come up with a solution yet, but we are looking forward to one soon.  The schools that are not in the CEO program we will continue to collect that information.

Burks: What can we expect to see in schools without full time officers?

Hoskins:  Based on the variables that were used to determine full time placement now vs later was based on our history with those particular schools.  I will make sure we have that information for you soon.  In January, we will have a full compliment of SRO’s in middle and high schools, full time.

Amos:  Specifically around schools around schools that are still merging, what additional resources are we putting into Brown and what are we doing at Parks to make sure they don’t suffer the same fate as Brown.

Davis:  There are physical restrictions that lead to the appearance of crowding and we are working with facilities on this.  To the extent leaders need resources, we are expecting them to come forward with those requests.

Amos:  I heard Dr. Kirijan say that Washington was one school that did not take advantage of early registration.  I’ve alos heard about kids sitting in advisement because they do not have schedules…

Kirijan:  Those students who are late registering are late getting schedules.  They go hand in hand.

Davis speaks about teachers placed as a result of the budgeting process such as flex positions.  “We said that we would like the major issues addressed and our major issues are academic.”  If the principal felt that that (math placement) was an inappropriate use, we would give them the flexibility to use the position in another way.

English:  Can we get a report out during break around where those openings are?  Broken down by elementary, middle and high schools.

Gray:  We will do our best.

Alvah Hard, Director of Facilities now gives the Summer 2013 Environmental Issues Presentation:  http://www.atlantapublicschools.us/cms/lib/GA01000924/Centricity/Domain/1/environmental hazards summer 2013 presentation Board Final.pps

Q&A

Muhammad:  I noticed in your report on the water issues that DH Stanton was not one of those schools you worked with over the summer and I know there are some specific problems there.  I do understand that it has been brought to the attention of operations and the community has been informed that this department is not scheduled to address the issue until next year and I am very concerned about this.

Hoskins:  I did meet with members of the Stanton community last week.  What was shared is that Stanton, from a SPLOST IV standpoint, is categorized as a priority III or IV building which according to our time schedule we will not begin the exhaustive renovation for that building until that time.  I did assure the community that we will begin addressing water/leaks and HVAC issues and provide solutions.  One of the things that put Stanton’s full renovation…from a priority standpoint…their ranking, is the low enrollment at the school.  We do understand how important a conducive learning environment is for all of our students.

Muhammad:  Will this be done before 2014?

Hoskins:  The board accepted the SPLOST recommendation with this prioritization.  We will go and remedy the HVAC issues in classrooms and roof leaks now.  I did share with the community that we will get on these issues asap.  We are not going to wait to resolve the immediate issues.

Muhammad:  We can expect, before SPLOST, we will have the air conditioning repaired.

Hoskins:  Yes.

English:  From a BOE perspective, I think with voting to keep schools open we made a clear statement about what we wanted.  If there are kids in the building we have to do something.

Davis:  We certainly accept that, which is why it is on the SPLOST list, but what we are talking about is maintenance issues and I don’t think we have any program that we shouldn’t do maintenance on any school.  The reality is that we have horrible HVAC issues throughout the system.  I go into one classroom and its freezing and another its hot.  It’s an ongoing battle and I don’t want to give anyone the impression that we are not maintaining the schools that are open.  In terms of the HVAC conditions, we want them all to be working properly.  It is a huge challenge with the age of the school, how they have been designed…

Muhammad:  I think in this particular case, the point is we have a school now with a need and the air conditioning system is not working.  The rain is coming in the building.  We want to know if we have to wait.

Davis:  As he said, we are going to fix the leaks.  In terms in HVAC, the question is what are we going to do (extent) vs if we are going to do something.  The reality is that we are not going to gut the school, we are going to try to balance the system and make the situation better.  It is often issues of design and some of these systems are ill designed.  2014 is when the building gets totally re-done.  We don’t have a policy that says don’t do maintenance.

Amos:  It has rained in Atlanta before.  That building (Washington) has been there since 1924.  What is different about this year than years before.  We need the money right now to remediate this.  What are we doing right now, today, to ensure that when my neice and nephew walk into Washington or into the list of schools you’ve shown us, that they do not have respiratory problems.

Davis:  I will let Alvah address this, but we will have mold.  It will happen again and again.

Hardy:  These are not flood issues they are humidity issues.  The consultants would be happy to tell us to cut stuff out if their motivation was money.  The Sutton auditorium was the worst case we had this year and it was not re-opened until we did air quality tests.  In Washington’s case, these occurances occured towards the end of the year and we started with the ROTC building and addressed new buildings as they became known to us.  As a precaution we chose to do air quality testing and found four additional areas.  Those areas were cleaned over the weekend and locked until the air quality tests come back.

Amos:  There is 20M sitting Washington Cluster directed to SPLOST funds. How about redirecting that money and using it to fix the issue.

Davis:  What we are doing is not impacted by monetary concerns, it is about safety.  This is not new to us, we remediate mold every single year.  This is not the most intense situation we have had and they are not fantasticially expensive to solve and we will spend the money to solve them.  In none of our discussions has cost even arisen.  If the board wants to re-do a SPLOST plan, we can re-do a SPLOST plan.  There is no such thing as a trivial situation from a parents perspective.  When we find it, we remediate it.

Meister: You talk about air quality samples.  Did you actually sample the mold?

Hardy:  The air quality tests the number of particles in the air, both mold and dust.  The test is counting the spores.  The consultants we bring in during remediation look and tell us what kind it is.

Meister:  And there have been no reports of school with really bad mold.  I know at Sutton it was on things like the curtains and seats.  It would seem that those things would need to be removed from the site to be removed properly.  Was this done?

Hardy:  No, the process used was done with specialized equipment.

Meister:  So commercial is different than residential?

Hardy:  Quite a bit.

Amos:  When will our parents feel safe?

Davis:  We will communicate safety and give the appropriate assurances.  I believe on the 4 rooms we have isolated, we are looking to have that data today.  We should be able to give an all clear signal.  You’ve made a good point about status reports.  We will commit to getting at least a status report out to parents tomorrow.  If we can predict a timeline, we will give that tomorrow as well.

End of Q&A

Dr. Danielle Battle, Executive Director of the South Region, introduces 3 of the district’s newest principals.

Charlotte Davis – Interim Principal of South Atlanta High School of Law and Social Justice.

Maureen Wheeler – New principal of Hope-Hill Elementary School.

Dr. Timothy Jones:  Principal of B.E.S.T. Academy High School.

Chuck Burbridge, APS’ CFO gives the Financial Forecast Presentation:  http://www.atlantapublicschools.us/cms/lib/GA01000924/Centricity/Domain/1/FY%202013%20Financial%20August%2012%20Board%20Meeting%2008%2007%202013%20doc.2.pdf

Q&A

Muhammad:  I would like to go back to operations if you don’t mind.  Almost 75 years ago, a lone African American donated land so that African American children would have a place to receive an education.  That was David T. Howard.  In recent years we have talked around the Howard building, over it…but nothing has been decided about what we will do with Howard.  The community has expressed a desire to know what will be done with the school.  One of the things they want, is for that school to remain a school.  I do hope tonight, at some point, that we have an opportunity to hear from you what we will do with David T. Howard school.

McDaniel:  We will take it up as real estate and talk about it at the committee of the whole meeting.  We are at the 6pm hour, typically our time to begin the committee of the whole meeting.  My recommendation would be to begin, to into executive session then return for the community meeting at 6:30pm. We have 51 speakers tonight.

Motion on the floor for approval of agenda.  Second.

Discussion:  Meister asks that report 1703 for charter school petitions is broken up into two items.  One would be recommendation to deny Atlanta Classical Charter, the other to deny the start up charter for Hinds Feet Montessori.

Motion carries.

Amos:  Clarification, there is a need to continue a discussion Washington High, not sure if it needs to be added to item 7.02 or discussion and action.  It is simple, until the district can tell us whether the building is safe, do our kids need to be in the building?

McDaniel:  Ms. Muhammad has asked to add Howard to discussion and action.  We now have 3 agenda adjustments.  Splitting the charters, adding discussion on Washington and adding discussion on Howard.

Motion carries.

Board will now enter into executive session to discuss real estate, litigation and personnel.

7:30pm – Committee meeting now beginning.

Over 50 speakers scheduled to speak tonight.

Tweet2

Speaker:  I am here to discuss Howard and how it could sove capacity issues in the Grady cluster.  We still see Howard as a viable solution to capacity issues and think that a 6th grade academy is a solution now and a long term solution.

Speaker:  I would like to see by a show of hands how many of you would enroll your children in Booker T. Washington in its current state.  Mr. Smith said Thursday that he would not jeapordize the safety of kids.  I would have to beg to differ because kids were in summer school with mold and sewage.  Mold has been an issue for a long time at Washington.  For the past years, we have been begging for the basics at Washington.  We have met with your former E.D. Mr. Hunter and shared our concerns.  We want our kids to have the same education that everyone else has.  There is a problem at Washington and it continues to exist.  Superintendent Davis was supposed to propose a transition several months ago, did not happen.  We were not on the agenda last month.  We have given you a transition plan for Washington.  Believe me when I tell you that we matter, the kids matter, the community matters.

Speaker from Washington High School demands that the band uniforms with mold are replaced, not cleaned.

Speaker:  I’m here to discuss the urgency at Washington High School.  For Washington not to be on the list as a place that needs to be taken

Speaker:  Where is the outrage?  The problem you are dealing with is perception.  You can’t have a ship that is light years into the future and a stone aged flinstone mobile.  What you have is mold and mildew and other infrastructure problems.  And I tell you, Brown MS has mold in it as well.  What we need is a sense of urgency.  You need to have a 3rd party come in and evaluate the options.  We have to understand who is to blame, accountability is the key,  {Speaker is expecting district to come back to parents with a serious report}

Speaker:  We would like you to re-open Kennedy Middle School.  Why is there only one middle school feeding into Washington High?  Why is enrollment at Washington so low?  Why did we only have 141 graduates from Washington for the year 2013?

Speaker:  I am a former instructor at Booker T. Washington.  I am a proud alum of Jackson, Sutton and North Atlanta.  Parents should be able to be in the community where they live and have a safe place to be.  Its been well documented in my classroom.  The nurse constantly gives out facemasks to the kids. Many of them miss days in school.  Mold is airborne and blocking off a room seems inadequate to me.  Faulty logic.  When we are looking at who is in charge of this, there is clearly incompetence.  Our administration, the oversight of facilities management….if we are talking about an issue that is pervasive, an issue of neglect.  We need to take another look at the administration at Washington.

Speaker:  The administration of Booker T. Washington needs to be removed immediately.  I will not stop until something is done. {Parent tells story of child being hit in eye while on the campus}.

Speaker:  The first thing I would demand (at Washington) is that the next leader is accountable.  There have been security issues at Washington.  Not only has an outsider been allowed to come in and assault a student, but we as employees were never contacted afterwards.  When you ask an administrator for books for your kids and they say I’ll give you books for those kids, but not those..that’s a problem.   We went 6 months without being able to make copies for our students.  When you don’t have materials for your kids and they are in an environment where they can’t breathe… this is not unfounded.

Speaker:  I am the orchestra teacher (at Washington), the brand new instruments all have mold on them.

Speaker:  Mold is everywhere.  On band uniforms, Seats in the teaching theater. ROTC uniforms. Where is the value of life for all children? It is documented that the system is well aware of it.  Where is the obligation, sense of urgency and warning of parents of possible health hazards?  Absolutely nothing has gone out to parents…oh, I forgot, calls went out.  The system would have never treated students at the $150M Taj Mahal like this.  Students were in the building for summer school and programs.  Adults for professional development sitting on seats with mold in the teaching theater.

Speaker:  My daughter is in Kindergarten at Toomer ES.  I am here to support the proposal for K-8 at Toomer.  My daughter had a wonderful experience in pre-k and we are looking forward to another wonderful year.  I believe the k-8 plus

Several speakers speak on behalf of charter schools tonight.  Two charters, Atlanta Classical and Hinds Feet are on tonight’s agenda.

Final speaker is a senior at Carver Health Sciences.  She is requesting that AP Calculus is offered at her school.  She has a teacher certified to teach, but says he is not allowed to offer the course.  She wants to major in engineering.

–End of  Community Meeting–

Committee of the Whole

Report No. 13/14-1703 Recommendation to Deny the Start-up Charter School Petitions of Atlanta Classical Academy and Hinds Feet Montessori School of the Arts Charter Schools

Hinds Feet Montessori Charter has been removed from the agenda and given a 30 day extension.

Davis:  I cannot in good conscience recommend any charter now or in the future due to the unfunded pension fund.  In a scarce resource environment I cannot advocate increasing the burden on traditional school to create non-traditional environments.  By 2019 the pension fund could grow to 900k/1M.  Nothing in my remarks should be seen as anti-charter.  My view is that this problem must be solved.  We need to resolve that problem.

Meister:  I would like to have this pulled from the consent agenda so that we can vote on it separately.  I understand the view of the system but I believe we should have been forthright before we went back and asked them to do this work.

Burks:  Last month we were very clear about what we wanted Atlanta Classical to come back with, and I want to make sure we are clear with what we want Hinds Feet to come back with.

Davis:  Concerns remain regarding the school leaders lack of experience and possibly some conflict of interest issues.  We will communicate those directly to Hinds Feet.

Report No. 13/14-5103 Authorization to Abolish Five (5) Payroll Specialist Positions, One (1) Time and Attendance Specialist Position, Create Two (2) Payroll Accounting Analyst Positions, Three (3) Payroll Associate Positions and Execute a Transition Plan

Burks:  I would like more information about how this came about.  During the budget process we asked if we were considering more reorganization.  Even though this is small, this is still a reorg of the finance department.  My 2nd question is around the HR support we provided around the reorg of other departments.  Resume writing skills, interviewing skills… I don’t see 6 people as being small when it comes to their jobs.  How long ago did we know about this considering that from April to July we asked the question.

Davis:  You asked for a list of reclassifications.  I believe I referenced some reclassifications in finance.  These are they.

Burbridge:  Yes, we have a resume writing and interview skills session scheduled for the staff so they will be ready for the interview process.  I thought we had communicated this reorg.

Davis:  I will give you the exhibit again that you got in closed session.

Muhammad:  Are any of these positions being abolished, do any of these people qualify for the new positions?

Burbridge:  All of the employees meet the minimum qualifications and will be considered.

Meister:  We are going from 6 to 5 but this is cost neutral?

Burbridge:  Yes

Report No. 13/14-5104 Personnel Gains, Losses, Promotions, Appointments, Creations, Reclassifications and Abolishments

Amos:  I would like this to be pulled off the consent agenda and discussed separately.

Item pulled.

Report No. 13/14-1106 Authorization to Enter into and Execute a Contract to Provide After School Enrichment Services

Burks:  Are these recommendations that have come back from principals or are these all the after school providers that can provide after school services?

Burbridge:  This is a solicitation we issued thru an RFP.  This was the response to a solicitation not recommendations.

Dale Butler:  These are additional to what is already in place.  Two years ago the district went out for these services, this is in addition to those providers.

Report No. 13/14-1107 Authorization to Enter into and Execute a Contract to Provide Professional Development and Tutorial Services for the Flexible Learning Program

Meister:  What is a flexible learning program?

Andrea Moore:  Flexible Learning Program is a part of the new supplementary education act.

Amos:  Is there any fallout for Douglass not following the recommendations of the SIG (School Improvement Grant) grant?  There was a recommendation from the state for reconstitution. {Note: The SIG grant for Douglass expires in September 2013}

Moore:  Any recommendation given, it is expected that we follow it.  Race to the Top expires in September 2014.

English:  I have a question about the after school folks.  I would hope that if principals can pick from a bucket, I would hope in the future that we include  a principal on the selection panel.  It might be helpful to have folks who are on the ground in front of kids everyday.

Report No. 13/14-1108 Authorization to Transfer Funds from the General Fund to the Lottery Fund

Burbridge:  You may recall that the state started funding the program for a 1/2 day and we continued for a full day even thought the state cut the funding.  I think the state is planning on restoring the funding and this is the first year we’ve handled the deficit by transferring this money into the fund.  It should correct itself next year.  The lottery is supposed to fund the program, but when the state reduced the program we decided to move forward with our program.

English:  How many kids do we have in pre-k?

Linda Anderson:  41 classrooms with 20 students per classrooms, minus 13 vacancies.  We do have waiting lists at some schools.

Motion to approve consent agenda. Motion carries.

Meister:  I would like to make a motion that we approve the Atlanta Classical Academy.

Second.

Discussion.

Amos:  For clarification, I understand what you are saying about Atlanta Classical.  What would be the difference between this and the two conversion charters you are proposing in October.

Allen Mueller:  Conversion charter schools are different in a number of ways.  One of the ways is that there is a contract that is arranged between the converting school in the district and the flexibility in that contract.  Whether employees are employees of the district.  How finances are handled.  If you look at the GADOE website for conversion charters, the conversion is intentionally missing HR, finance.  The answer is yes, there is a difference.

Kinanne:  I think we could negotiate anything with a charter, but with the issue of the pension funding I think the conversion would be the same issue.

Mueller:  I believe unless a judge came in…if you were as a board were contemplating a conversion petition and you said it was funded at the level of a traditional school then we should be able to do that.

Muhammad:  Mr. Supt. your issue is regarding the pension and I think you know where I am.  I personally don’t think we should hold these charters responsible for paying a pension when they have to pay pensions for the teachers that are working at the charter school.  This reminds me of when we started neighborhood charter with Parkside and both are successful.

McDaniel:  What is the neighborhood and the neighborhood association associated.

Meister:  It would be the North Buckhead neighborhood association.

Mueller:  Location would be the Wieuca Baptist Church

Davis:  The problem has to be solved.  I’m comfortable with this because ACA is not the root of the problem or focus of the problem.

YJohnson:  There was a suggestion that we did not have the right to approve the charter, but I think that we do.  My concern is that it appears we asked them to do xyz and then they did and we said…

Mueller:  We don’t tell applicants to do xyz, ultimately it is the board…

Kinanne:  I wanted to, in light of that, I appreciate your conscious in that and the effect on the rest of the system.  I do think we need to address the unfunded pension issue.  I don’t think this is the time.  They have come back with a sound proposal.

Davis:  I am not opposing this particular entity, they came back with a good proposal.

Kinnane:  Charters serve as an incubator for innovation.  Whether we have some type of moratorium going forward, they have already come to us…going forward from this point.

Davis:  We have a number of options.  There are legislative remedies, other remedies.  I think ACA will do a good job.  I don’t think we can keep marching down this road.

YJohnson:  Mr. Chair, do we have a timeline?  Do we even need to have applicants apply?

Davis:  We can’t stop applicants from applying.  I think by now however everyone knows my position.

Mueller:  There is a cycle for applications.

YJohnson:  Is there a way we can put some (inaudible) around this issue?

Davis:  If this amount is bonded, then it is automatically spread out.  If we could do a bond, then if so the interest on the bond would be spread over all students.  It is in the law now.  It is just that this was done in a matter that was unpredictable by the drafters…

English:  Bond aside, what is our competitive timeline for reaching a resolution outside of the courts?

Davis:  This doesn’t depend entirely on my efforts.  I can’t force negotiations with others.  I will be having intense discussions.  The only one that has a timeframe is the legislative effort.  Legislation was introduced last year and we got bi-partisan support but that too is unpredictable so we need to go down a number of avenues.

English:  I was under the impression that state law required us to evaluate the application on the merit.

Davis:  Yes, you get to decide.

McDaniel:  We’ve been dealing with this for 5- 6 years.  Has nothing to do with charters.  It is not an easy answer.

EJohnson:  This Atlanta Classical seems to meet the requirements of being a good charter school.  With this pension, other board members have kicked the bucket up the road.  If we don’t address this sooner or later it will be before the next board.  I don’t have an answer as to how you deal with that but our interest is first towards all of the students of APS.  It’s a tough situation.  It is really a bad situation to be in and I just don’t have the answers.  We cannot continue on this path with the unfunded pension.

Board will vote on superintendent’s recommendation.  If that fails, new recommendation will be an amendment to the original motion.

Motion to recommend Atlanta Classical Academy passes.

Byron Amos makes a motion to remove all principals as leaders of Booker T. Washington High School.  Counsel explains that the BOE can recommend but not remove school leaders.

Amos speaks to the ongoing issue of mold.  Asks for a plan of action for proper remediation of mold and a relocation plan for the students of Washington.

Davis:  We believe that the building, other than the 4 rooms, are safe.  We would not have let kids back into them. We are hostage to experts and we have experts working.  The problem is not being ignored.  We are waiting for the air quality outcomes on 4 rooms and we believe the rest of the school is safe.

Amos wants students out of the building until superintendent can say with assurance that the mold is out of the school.

Davis:  The only measures we can take are inside air vs outside air.  We will continue to test.  Washington is the only school where we are dealing with the issue while kids are still around.  We did not do it knowingly.  We were advised that the mold was gone but then found more.  We certainly can tell you tomorrow what we’ve found.  We will let the parents know tomorrow as well.

Kinnane:  I appreciate the concern from the school but I do also trust their expertise (Mr. Hoskins and Mr. Hardy).

Davis:  If people believe we are not doing something that should be done, please let us know. In older schools mold will come back and we must remediate it.

Burks:  This is one place where we have a lot of concerns coming from students, staff, alumni…. perhaps we can get a second opinion.  Does it hurt? People have lost faith in the process so far.

McDaniel:  Has the entire building been tested?

Hoskins: Yes, the entire building was tested last week.  It was these four areas that did not pass.

English: I actually visited Washington today.  Aside from the 4 areas that were sealed off, there was an area that I didn’t want to walk thru.  If I had a kid I wouldn’t want them on that side of the building.  When you walk thru one side of the building the air is thicker, there is a different small.  An air quality test is not the end all, be all.  The building literally has a stench.

Davis:  We believe that is water and plumbing related.

Amos:  Mr. English, that is the problem here.  Washington High has been on the agenda for the last 6 or 7 months simply because the administration doesn’t care.  His lack of leadership and urgency is astonishing to me.  I cannot believe we will continue to allow this.  There has to be something done differently.

Motion and 2nd on floor for a second opinion from another consultant on the testing of the building.  Motion carries.

Amos’ motion on the floor is for superintendent to bring back a plan of action on the mold issue that contains a relocation plan for students, signed by the BOE tomorrow.  Movement is pending the results of the air quality control test due tomorrow.

Meister:  I wouldn’t want to send my child.  My suggestion is that school should be closed tomorrow.

Davis:  There is no action that has been recommended here that has not been done.  We have protocols developed for mold remediation based on expert recommendation.

YJohnson:  I remember during the initial presentation from Mr. Hardy that he referenced the smell.  I don’t know that we don’t know.  I believe that this was addressed in his report.  The only additional thing is to get a secondary opinion. At a minimum would it be responsible to act without proof that there is mold in the building?

McDaniel:  What is the turnaround on testing?

Hoskins:  48 hours.

McDaniel:  Technical issue or cost issue?

Hoskins:  Technical.

McDaniel states that he is not comfortable with a relocation without the 2nd opinion.  He is comfortable with the closing of school for a few days.

EJohnson:  The danger of the motion is making it without knowing that it (relocation) can be done and when it can be done.

Amos:  We have contingency plans, we just have to care enough to implement them.

Burks:  In putting in a timeline you put in a sense of urgency.  I think that goes with urgency and accountability.  My other question around Mr. Hardy’s presentation.  The mold and mildew was one thing but then there was the plumbing.  I don’t want us to forget that this has a sense of urgency as well.

YJohnson:  Weren’t they working on that?

Burks:  Yes but there would be good to have timeline and a sense of urgency around that.

Davis:  The engineers are working on that.

Motion passes.

Discussion taking place now surrounding the Howard building.  Muhammad asks superintendent to remember the two proposals that he should have received at this time, from the 4th Ward community and Inman Park neighborhood association.  Davis says that he has heard many suggestions for use, even tonight, that he would like to explore.

Amos now asking for resolution to be amended from June to January 2014: http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/files/9AHMH85B48B1/$file/Washington%20HS%20Small%20Schools%20Transition%20Resolution%20.pdf

Davis:  I believe it would be unduly disruptive to change from small schools to one school in the middle of the year.

McDaniel:  Would the current small school principals report to the new leader?

Davis:  We can explore that and change those reporting relationships. I’ve listened to what was said here tonight and we can hire a new person as soon as practicable.

Amos:  My concern is the timing.  We all agree it would have been disruptive and there would have been no schedules for the students.  There are no schedules for the students now.  You have principals who have resided over failing schools.  Your inability or refusal to move has put us in this situation.  Is it more disruptive now than a month ago?

Davis:  What you asked for was a plan for Janaury and June. What you got was a plan for January and June.  I have said consistently that I am not in favor of the disruption in mid year.

-more discussion

Amos says that this same administration removed the administrators/leaders at another high school during the last school year.  Asks why this is so different.

Amos:  We have seen no action from the superintendent unless directed by the board.  That is the truth of where we are now, several months later trying to do something we could have done a long time ago.

Mcdaniel:  If we put in a date by which we hired a new leader…

Davis:  You need to think thru, we are going to have to spend a lot of effort finding a new leader and to get a good seasoned principal, they are probably working and will I release someone from their job to go to another principal job…that would be challenging.  I would release someone who is an AP or instructional leader, but a principal would be challenging.  If you do this you want a lot more than a warm body.  You want a leader that will act appropriately with the community and put these 3 schools together.

-more discussion

YJohnson:  I don’t know how more information from the state would inform this decision.  

Davis:  If you get a new school code I can tell you right now you’re not gonna have {3 valedictorians}

Resolution has been pulled from the agenda. Will be taken up again in a special called meeting.

Committee of the Whole meeting has adjourned.

11:13pm – Legislative meeting called to order.

The legislative meeting is televised on Comcast Cable channel 22.  Please join us there for our telecast.

~Live Blog Ended~

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: