LIVE BLOG: Board of Education Meeting – September 9, 2013

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Thank you for following our live blog of the September 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.

2:14pm – Board meeting called to order.

Chuck Burbridge, CFO gives a Financial Summary of FY 2014 Activity.  This presentation will be posted to the blog later this evening.

Q&A:

Superintendent Davis:  With respect to revenue it will take us some time to work thru this transition period of automobile registrations, sort of a one year short-term phenomena.  We see some anticipated short-term revenue there.  We need to see how this may impact our SPLOST.  It may increase from an operating perspective but decrease from a capital perspective.  We will have more on that by the time we get thru October.

Meister:  Is it possible to get, now that the books are closed, budget v actual?

Burbridge:  Yes, I can get you that.

McDaniel:  That is our only work session item, we now move into our committee of the whole meeting.

Dr. Howard Grant calls the roll.  All BOE members are present.

Motion to approve agenda.

Meister:  I would like to make a proposal that the budget commission and board members evaluate the process we went thru and propose items/ideas for the next session.

McDaniel:  Let’s add that to old items.

Agenda approved with added item.

Kinnane:  The last time we met we had the charters come up and talked about our pension obligation and we talked about looking at that going forward, I just didn’t know if we wanted to have some type of discussion about that and how that pension obligation affects us.  I know it was brought up the last time and I didn’t want to leave it.  I don’t want this to get into the situation where we are looking at it on an individual basis again.

McDaniel says it can be discussed, led by Ms. Johnson.

Burks:  I had a question about the difference of the agenda now vs the board docs agenda available over the weekend. What was added?

Grant:  Added was item 7.04 review of policy KG use of school facilities.  Item 5.01 contract with the chief financial officer.

Burks:  Are these emergency items?

McDaniel speaks briefly to the resolution and issue of land use (inaudible).

6 speakers speak on  Report No. 13/14-4309 – Authorization to Enter into a Lease Agreement with the Peachtree Road United Methodist Church for the Soccer Field at the Temporary E. Rivers Elementary School Site

THE SUPERINTENDENT REPORTS:  The Peachtree Road United Methodist Church (PRUMC) has leased the field at E. Rivers Elementary School since 2000. Due to the construction and renovation of the E. Rivers Elementary School site PRUMC has requested to lease the field at the E. Rivers temporary site (former Sutton MS, 4360 Powers Ferry Rd.) to provide a venue for their sports program.  The terms of the lease will begin immediately upon approval through November 18, 2013. The church will be responsible for the year round maintenance and cleanliness of the filed including grass mowing and fertilizing.  E. Rivers Elementary School and the district’s activities will take priority for the use of the athletic field.

RECOMMENDATION:  That the Superintendent be authorized to execute a lease agreement with the Peachtree Road United Methodist Church.

REASON:To allow the Peachtree Rd. United Methodist Church to utilize the athletic field at the temporary site of E. Rivers Elementary School and provide all maintenance to the field.

The BOE has entered into executive session.

5:00pm – The Board has returned and we will now continue with the reading of the consent agenda.

2.01 Report No. 13/14-1705 Request to Transition Booker T. Washington High Small Schools into Small Learning Communities

THE SUPERINTENDENT REPORTS:

In 2006, the district transitioned high schools from the comprehensive high school model to small schools or small learning communities. The small schools model included the funding of one principal for each of the small schools and the allocation of all other costs for each school on a school-by-school basis.  Booker T. Washington High School was among the first schools to be redesigned into the new small schools model, which included three small theme-based schools on one campus with a college-prep focus (Banking, Finance, and Investment; Early College; and Health, Science and Nutrition).  There is some evidence of progress in student achievement at Washington High School, however there has been a decline in attendance and the graduation rate, and two of the three schools appeared on the Georgia Department of Education’s list of priority schools. These and other factors prompted further review into the small schools model at Washington High School.  The district wishes to continue to provide 21st century high school academic experiences that include personalization, rigor, relevance and relationships with accountability and choice.  Therefore, the superintendent is proposing the closing of the three small schools at Booker T. Washington High School (Banking, Finance, and Investment; Early College; and Health, Science and Nutrition) and the transition of the small schools into small learning communities in July 2014.

RECOMMENDATION:

That the board approve the transition of Booker T. Washington High Small Schools into Small Learning Communities.

REASON:

The transition of Booker T. Washington High School to small learning communities will provide more equity in the distribution of resources, students more access to additional course offerings such as Fine Arts, CTAE, and advanced preparatory (AP) as well as more equity, cohesive planning and implementation of campus-wide scheduling, testing, registration, and school activities. The transition of Booker T. Washington High School to small learning communities will also provide for one leader and three academy leaders to foster more collaboration among leadership and an improved, unified school culture and climate.

Q&A

Muhammad:  Will we realize any savings?

Davis:  The only savings model calculations model we have done in the past was the comparison of NAHS and Carver and I’m trying to recall…I believe that number was $700,000, but we have also tried to incorporate some savings already by shared courses across the 3 schools which has minimized some need for teachers and also, I’m not sure we got any economies of scale with Ap.  I do expect some savings, but that is not the motivator for this.  I am comfortable with saying it is not going to cost more. If you made no other changes other than academy leaders vs principals you would have savings.  I anticipate, but we have not made a savings calculation as that was not the primary motivator.

Muhammad:  I ask the question because we have some other needs and I look at some of my schools that may need School Resource Officers, more space, is it possible that some of these savings could be used?

Davis:  Those savings would be incorporated into the FY14 budget moving forward.

2.02 Report No. 13/14-5105 Personnel Action – Tenure Recommendations (Initial)
http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/files/9BAP5L62E807/$file/Tenure%20Recommendations%20(Initial).pdf

2.03 Report No. 13/14-5106 Personnel Action – Tenure Recommendations (Other Georgia Systems)
http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/files/9B3R4A6B8AF9/$file/Tenure%2012-13_Board%20Agenda_ODIST.pdf

2.04 Report No. 13/14-5107 Personnel Action – Tenure Recommendations (Re-Employment)
http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/files/9B3REA6CFEA3/$file/Tenure%2012-13_Board%20Agenda_REHIRE.pdf

Item 2.05 hs been moved

3.01 Report No. 13/14-1109 Authorization to Enter into and Execute a Contract to Provide Glass, Supplies and Installation Services
No Q&A on this item.

3.02 Report No. 13/14-1110 Authorization to Enter into and Execute a Contract to Provide Real Estate Consulting Services
http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/files/9B3MHV5A10C4/$file/Real%20Estate%20Consulting%20Services%20Bid%20Tab.pdf
Q&A
Kinnane would like more explanation on this item.
Davis:  Mr. Hoskins can come forward with more detail, but this involves looking at all of our properties and how best to move forward on them.
Meister:  I see 6% of the sale, what else is in that contract, the consulting bid?
Davis:  The will be doing analysis and putting together presentations.
Hoskins:  Typically the 6% is inclusive of marketing and other tasks specific to real estate.  [Hoskins explains that the agents may be asked to do job assignments, such as community meetings, outside of the normal services]
Meister:  So where does fall in our budget?  Is there a line item for this?  In our budgeting process I don’t remember seeing anything for extraordinary real estate…
Hoskins:  We didn’t budget anything specifically in those lines but in our other lines [Hoskins explains that the difference would be made up and should be small]
Burks:  Will they still work will External Affairs?
Hoskins:  Yes, they will work with the repurposing committee.  We just wanted to cover with the language and in the agreement that all of those situations are covered if we chose to move in that direction.
3.03 Report No. 13/14-1111 Authorization to Purchase Audio Visual Products and Select Services from the State of Georgia Contracts

No Q&A on this item.
3.04 Report No. 13-14-1112 Authorization to Purchase Furniture from the State of Georgia Contracts

No Q&A on this item.
3.05 Report No. 13/14-1113 Authorization to Amend Report No. 11/12-1120 to Provide Professional Learning Content and Services
Q&A
Kinnane:  I understand what we are doing, but I would think the services would be to upgrade their services to the Common Core.  It’s not ongoing?
Davis:  The original was done in September 2011.
Kinnane:  I understand the upgrade…
Davis:  Have we spent money between 2011 and now and now upgrading to Common Core?
Kinnane:  The money was spent on items that did not include the Common Core?  Seems like it would be a replacement instead of an addition?
Davis:  Of products?
Kinnane:  Yes, of the videos.
Karen Waldon:  What is needed now is video of master teachers teaching the Common Core.
3.06 Report No. 13/14-1114 Authorization to Enter into and Execute a Contract with Education Logistics
Q&A
Meister:  We went over to a new (transportation) system last year and we still have problems, will we still have problems?
Davis:  This will provide safety.  Drivers will now have turn by turn instructions (instead of holding route sheets in their hands).  We will now have meetings after they run routes, put information in the system and the next day we can have the new routes up.  Each one will be routes specific and be permanently routed in the buses.
Meister:  Is there anything they can do this year?
Davis:  We’ve had some discussions about it.  As you know we’ve had some transitions in transportation.  I’ve had discussions with Mr. Hoskins and I want to make sure their input gets into our route planning.  While I am sure one can find a bus driver that says I’m not listened to, we are building feedback from our drivers into our process.
Meister:  Will this be voice activated?
Davis:  Yes, turn by turn.
3.07 Report No. 13/14-1115 Authorization to Amend Report No. 12/13-1140 to Enter into and Execute Contracts to Provide Electrical Supplies

Davis:  We are changing our approach when we go into schools, and it comes out of Washington, we’ve been going into schools to fix a specific thing but what we would like to do is that when we go in we will address the totality of the needs of the school while we are in there, whether it is on the work order.  We should see a difference now as we go into schools to do project work.
Kinnane:  Is that communicated to the faculty and principal?
Davis:  We will certainly make sure.
3.08 Report No. 13/14-1116 Authorization to Amend Report No. 09/10-1202 to Enter into and Execute Contracts to Provide Electrical Services
No Q&A on this item.
4.01 Report No. 13/14-4306 Authorization to Negotiate and Enter into a Ground Lease Agreement with Sheltering Arms, Inc. to Operate an Early Learning Program at the D.H. Stanton Elementary School
Q&A
Meister:  Do you know how many students we will accommodate?
Waldon:  I don’t have the exact numbers but it should be upwards of 200 students.  I believe there are two closing in the area.
Muhammad:  I want to express excitement about this for the children in that area.
Davis:  We will have a good presentation on this next month.  DH Stanton has done an excellent job rallying around that school at levels that have not existed in several years.
4.02 Report No. 13/14-4307 Authorization for the Atlanta Board of Education to Consent to Abating Outstanding Fulton County Taxes on 823 North Ave.
No Q&A on this item.
4.03 Report No. 13/14-4308 Authorization for the Atlanta Board of Education to Consent to Abating Outstanding Fulton County Taxes on 1161 Mayland Circle

No Q&A on this item.
4.04 Report No. 13/14-4309 – Authorization to Enter into a Lease Agreement with the Peachtree Road United Methodist Church for the Soccer Field at the Temporary E. Rivers Elementary School Site
Q&A
Mr. English asks fellow BOE members for guidance on this issue.
McDaniel:  Nancy and I have had a chance to meet with those involved.  They are asking for a similar lease to what they have at the E. Rivers facility.  We know that area is congested.  The church has agreed to minimize the hours.  Neighbors are concerned about the precedent this may set.  I think it’s not so much about this program as it is a precedent for the future and the use of our fields and all of our facilities.
Meister:  We met with them yesterday and there is a concern about congestion and I think we need to look at that. I have heard a lot from the E. Rivers community more so than the community.  We need to look at the policy and have some evaluations done.
Burks:  It seemed as if (during the public comment portion), that we are signing off on the lease agreement but the PTA will reap the financial benefit, I heard a $15k number (for concessions).
McDaniel:  As a part of the program, they have allowed the PTA to sell concessions.
Meister:  They have put an extensive amount of money into these fields that we benefit from.
Burks:  But us allowing the lease allows us to negotiate all of those things. (group nods yes)
Kinnane:  Just a word of caution that there may be times that APS (Sutton) needs to use the field.
McDaniel:  The agreement would show APS as a priority.
Burks wants to make sure the athletic dept. doesn’t feel pressure with others using the field for financial benefit at a time they may need to use the field.
Davis:  Well this is elementary, but my understanding is that you have on the agenda a policy review that should address those issues.
McDaniel:  I know that NAHS is using the Rivers temporary site for basketball.
Burks:  I just don’t want it to be taken out of rotation for any of our athletic programs.
Kinnane:  You never know when middle schools may need additional fields.  Just make sure that is stated.
4.05 Report No. 13/14-4310 Authorization to Ratify and Approve All Permits for Use of School Properties That Have a Term of Longer Than One Week at Various School Sites
http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/files/9BDMJV58AFA7/$file/Long%20Term%20Use%20Permits%209-06-13.pdf
Q&A
Kinanne:  This list will only include those that have not come to us for board approval?
Davis:  I’m not sure, but if you haven’t approved them they probably are on here.
Burks:  Do we know the effective date?  (Mentions Young Middle and a church meeting there weekly)
Davis agrees to get that information back to Burks as soon as possible.
3.09 Report No. 13/14-1117 Authorization to Renew the Appointment and Enter into and Execute a Contract with the Chief Financial Officer
No Q&A on this item
McDaniel: We have pulled Gains and Losses
Motion to approve agenda carries.
RESOLUTIONS
7.01 Report No. 13/14-0104 Authorization for the Atlanta Board of Education to Consent to Abating Outstanding Fulton County Taxes on 823 North Ave. http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/files/9B8PNX624379/$file/Land%20Bank%20resolution%20090913%20North%20Ave..pdf
7.02 Report No. 13/14-0105 Authorization for the Atlanta Board of Education to Consent to Abating Outstanding Fulton County Taxes on 1161 Mayland Circle  http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/files/9B8PGD61807B/$file/Land%20Bank%20resolution%20Mayland%20090913.pdf
7.03 Report No. 13/14-0106 Resolution to Transition the Small Schools of Booker T. Washington High to Small Learning Communities and Provide for the Hiring of a School Leader
Mr. Amos asks about change in wording in resolution to reflect start date of the principal.
Davis:  You should continue to check on best efforts of how we are doing and we can give you status reports on that.  we will move as quickly as we can on this.
Amos:  As soon as practical may be June.
Amos asks that a hard date of January be put back into the resolution.
Davis:  I think you want a quality individual in there.  We can put that in there and I don’t think our effort will be upticked because of that, but in the end I’m not sure of what happens if we don’t have one by then other than coming back and explaining why.  If you want it in, we can certainly put it in.
Amos:  I would feel more comfortable if we did put it in there and have administration come back and tell us why they are not meeting the mark instead of asking.
McDaniel:  We agree that we will add to the resolution no later than January 2014.
Burks:  If we can consider having a student as a part of the advisory committee.
Davis:  The way that it is written, that would be our intention.
Amos:  Yes, we can add that.  For a level of clarity let’s put it in here.
Burks:  We are very specific about educational and business stakeholders.
Davis:  That sounds fine.
8.01 Superintendent Search Firm Update
McDaniel:  The search firms are actively recruiting.  Both search committee and this board have a lot of work to do before the end of the year.  We will have a lot of special called meeting around this issue.  From a board perspective we would like to be able to pass along 1-5 candidates to the new board.
Meister:  We did have a work session on the direction of the system, charter, etc., a decision that will need to made in the next year (impact on strategic plan).  Can we have some discussion around this?
McDaniel agrees.
ADDITIONAL DISCUSSION:
Muhammad:  I think at the last meeting I asked about the bus drivers and the days that they had worked and being paid for them. It was myunderstanding that theywould be paid.  If you could give us an update on the drivers being asked to work a week earlier.
Davis:  They get paid for 190 days.  We were in discussion with representatives.  The discussion was did we have plans to pay them incrementally based on the start date.
Larry Hoskins:  There are still ongoing conversations and it is a labor/management situation so I would prefer to do this in executive session.
Meister:  I was wondering if we could get an allocation of resources by school/cluster.
McDaniel:  We do have a need for executive session.  I would suggest the community meeting now and executive session beginning at 7:15.
One hour of community comment will begin now.  Each speaker is allowed 2 minutes.  The community meeting will last one hour.
Speaker:  I have low expectations of APS. I do not mean this as an insult. There are tremendous challenges you face – limited data, limited resources, inability or unwillingness to innovate, sometimes questionable judgment. But I can deal with that. Atlanta’s public schools face obstacles that I am only beginning to understand – much of them social. What little girls and boys bring into schools is often challenging and sometimes insurmountable. Many educators come into the classroom every day to give these kids a chance, and many principals and administrators and central office staff work against financial, bureaucratic, and sometimes political obstacles to provide safe and secure routes to school and a safe environment where children can have a chance. After all, if a school isn’t safe, nothing positive can happen in the classroom. And if parents aren’t shown respect if they aren’t included in a conversation that affects them and the basic safety of their child… nothing positive can happen at APS.Well, I can forgive a lot but I cannot forgive the deliberate exclusion, the literal locking out of a parent from a school safety discussion – a discussion about the safety of his daughter is unforgivable, and I will go so far to say that it may be illegal. I cannot understand why it took several connected and aggressive parents barging into a meeting in order to talk about safety concerns at your kid’s school. It makes me angry and it should make every one of you angry as well. No one should have to battle to discuss the safety concerns of their children with APS staff. Isn’t that their job? And how long does it take to get a copy of a school’s safety plan? Requests have come from parents, and they have not been answered.   On September 19 at 6PM at Benteen Elementary, we will have a forward-looking meeting about the safety and security and discipline at schools in our cluster. I hope to see many of you there.
Speaker – student from Washington High says that her school still continues to smell of mold in the bathroom areas.
Speaker:  It is with a heavy heart that I stand before you to speak on behalf of my child.  First, we have yet to be notified of a timeline for the mold at Washington High School.  No later than Sept. 30th, we want a direction the BOE is going towards on this issue.  The band uniforms and instruments utilized by the children must be replaced.  Mr. Davis said he was comfortable with the process.  As the district has demonstrated with the building of NAHS and Mr. Davis himself has said money is no problem, lets start spending equitably APS, the world is watching.
Speaker:  I am here to tell you that the mold issue is not resolved.  My son along with others have asthma.  Mold and mildew is still a problem and the BOE should do something now.  My son takes Math III and has to have a substitute every 2-3 days.  How can he pass the EOCT?  No model is perfect, but they were better off prior to the small schools.
Speaker, a parent at Washington, says that her child’s teacher is using “Twerk Fridays” as a method of teaching.  She asks that the teacher and school leader be removed.
Speaker (11th grade Washington student), asks that Washington High Early College remains a small school.
Speaker:  If Washington was one school with 3 learning communities, our school would not have to have substitute teachers in core subjects.  We have substitute chemistry teachers every other day.  I would like you to communicate and welcome parents into the school and not retaliate against parents who advocate for their children.
Speaker: Our children deserve to be educated.  We stressed months ago that the education situation we are in was worse than the CRCT (at Washington).  The cheating continues at Washington.  Going into the 5th week of school, schedules continue to be changed.  Mold and Mildew…did a 3rd company assess the situation?  Where can we retrieve a thorough report?  The report on the website is unacceptable.  What is in place as it relates to follow-up.  I think we are going to regret not relocating these children.
Speaker asks that bus drivers and monitors are treated with the dignity they deserve.
Speaker:  I have been a driver for 7 years.  HEre we are 6 weeks into the school year and routes are still not correct.  Edulog is not correct and it creates conflicts between drivers and the parents.  Tonight is the opportunity to make it right, not only for the workers, but for the children.
Speaker speaks about bullying and discipline on buses.
Next speaker asks board to consider if the change of paydates is legal.  Asks district to follow its own ethics policy.
Speaker:  I have been a bus operator for 18 years.  I am the first person and last person the student sees each day.  On average we pick up 144 students in the morning and 144 in the evening.  We are certified CPR, first to attend to medical conditions, we have a driver that saved over 70 children from a burning bus.  As long as I have been a bus driver at Brandon, I’ve had a nick name, 2nd mom.  This is not a job for me, this is my life.  I share my life with the children I transport daily.
Speaker says that there are problems with this system.  “I heard you waste a lot of resources today that is  a system set up for failure.”  Bus driver employee representative says that ongoing discussions are not taking place to his knowledge.
Speaker (Toomer Parent):  Back in May, there was a resolution passed to explore K-8.  The time to make that decision is now.  While we have a strong group of dedicated parents and support, we have an attrition problem fueled by the Drew Charter expansion approved by the Board.  We need to provide another choice for parents who are opting out of middle school in the Jackson cluster.  A decision needs to be made in the fall before application processes for private schools begin.  My fear is that families will begin to look for other options.
Speaker:  This is pertaining to the use of the E. Rivers/Sutton field.  [Speaker says that sports policy dictates that usage must be requested 2 weeks before use of filed].  This board should not consider the use of the field.  Specific documents requesting the usage simply do not exist.  Regarding Butler-Burks excellent point earlier regarding finances, you heard from a rep that these agencies (Rivers Foundation and others) are not related to APS.  We ask for denial or delay until policy review can take place.
Speaker:  I am concerned for the E. Rivers community and the Chastain community.  Apparently, no one thought to engage these communities about how this move would impact them.  This is about planning and engaging a community.  You knew that E. Rivers was moving to Sutton one year ago.  Why are you only now dealing with a thousand soccer players who need practice space?  With all of the traffic and safety concerns, there needs to be management here.  There should have been better planning and better representation.  You have to do better.  This issue could have been avoided.  This is one issue of many that could have been avoided.  Our parents and community members deserve better.
Next speaker asks for more engagement from the BOE.
Speaker:  This last year, I’ve been buying instruments for the school, buying pre-game meals…you all need to give Washington better than what you’re giving us.  The mold from the uniforms, the kids didn’t have anything to to do with mishandling things.  We can’t blame the kids for that.  We can’t blame them for the missing instruments.
Speaker (student at Washington), says that merging schools into one campus will create hardships because all students in all schools are not prepared with fundamental math, writing and grammar.
Speaker:  We have to have a sense of urgency here, there are lives at stake.
Speaker (Washington Student):  Washington has nothing. We have no teachers…nothing. If you can give $150M to NAHS, you can give us something.
Speaker (Washington Student):  I should be granted the same opportunities others have been granted.  We can be some outstanding people.  I would like to go to the top schools.  I would like to be given some chance to be something.  I need some kind of help, some kind of support.  I will be somebody, but I need something.  I don’t have a mother or father anymore.  The band is home for me.  Most people don’t have pride in the band anymore, but I do.
9:00pm – The board continues with executive session.  The live blog will now end.  Tune in to Comcast  Channel 22 to watch our televised Legislative meeting.
–End–

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