Inman Park to Host Candidate Forum – Some Questions for Candidates

Per the East Atlanta Patch,

The Inman Park Neighborhood Association is sponsoring an Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education candidates’ forum at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21, at the Wrecking Bar Brewpub, 292 Moreland Avenue NE.

The candidates attending are Brenda Muhammad (I) and Leslie Grant who are running for the District 1 seat and Matt Westmoreland who is running for the District 3 seat and is currently unopposed.

The following are some suggested questions on a variety of issues for the candidates:

  1. Recently, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that the amount spent on administrators at APS is nearly double the amount spent by neighboring school districts. Additionally, during the recent budget discussions, “inadequate resources” was the reason the average class sizes could not be reduced below the level established last year. Do you believe the current resource allocation between administrative functions and classroom instruction is appropriate? If not, how would you redirect resources between administrative and classroom functions?
  2. Superintendent Davis has consistently said that APS spend approximately 82% of its resources in the “schoolhouse”. However, as CFO Burbridge has stated on several occasions only 56-57% of the resources are being spent in classroom instruction. Do you believe the percentage of spending in the classroom should be raised? If so, where would you get the resources?
  3. Over the last four years, the Board has approved initial budgets that had deficits and ultimately had to rely on General Fund reserves to make up the deficit. This includes FY14 which has a projected deficit of nearly $25 million and which is projected to bring the General Fund reserves to a minimum level. If elected, what are your proposals to eliminate or substantially reduce the Districts deficit spending in the future?
  4. Charter school enrollment in the District is approximately 10%. Do you anticipate that charter schools will continue to expand enrollment in the future?
  5. Superintendent Davis recommended that no additional charter school petitions be approved until the unfunded pension liability litigation and the sharing of the cost was resolved. Do you agree with this recommendation going forward?
  6. The unfunded pension liability which amounts to over $500 million is a continuing problem as it reduces available resources for current students. Do you have any recommendations on how to “solve” this issue?
  7. In your opinion, what does the Atlanta Public Schools System do really well? What recommendations do you have to leverage this strength to improve other parts of the system?
  8. In your opinion, what is the greatest weakness of the APS system? What recommendations or policies would you promote to improve on this weakness?
  9. This past year, the budget process was difficult and protracted. Do you have any recommendation on how to improve upon the process to avoid similar issues next year?
  10. A number of incumbents and candidates have indicated that they favor a more decentralized organization and giving in-school leaders more authority and responsibility for decisions at the school level and then holding them accountable for results. Do you favor this approach, and if so, what policies would you favor to move the District in this direction?

It should be a fun evening and I am looking forward to hear what the candidates say.

[Follow me on Twitter @Financial_Decon]

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