Recap of Atlanta Public School Board of Education meeting on November 11, 2013


The Board of Education held its monthly meeting yesterday. The following is a recap of the meeting and decisions made. See the full live blog at Talk-Up APS here and the agenda and resolutions here.

Financial update – CFO Burbridge indicated that, after the first four months of the new fiscal year, the revenues and expenditures were generally on track with the budget, however the $8.5 million in budgeted revenues for property sales is still in question. He also indicated that the $5.9 million Vacancy Management cost savings in the FY14 budget may have been aggressive, but they are monitoring it closely.

Comment – the $8.5 million in revenues from property sales includes $6 million from the outright sale of the property, currently leased by Atlanta International School, to AIS. This sale became a specific election issue when AIS held a meeting to inform parents of which candidates were in support of the sale. For more information – see here.

Board deferred approval of the Centennial Place conversion charter petition – approval of the charter petition required the approval of 50%+ plus of both parents and teachers at the school. Both approved the conversion, however they voted on slightly different versions of the petition. As such, the parents will have to vote again on the revised petition before the Board can approve it. In the prior vote, parents approved the conversion charter by an over-whelming margin 208-5.

There was a lot of discussion on the impact of approving the first conversion charter in APS. The administration stated that this is a pilot program, consistent with the Boards direction last May (see BoardDocs May 6, 2013 meeting – item 7.03), to test conversion charters and the K-8 structure and that subsequent policy would be informed by the pilot program. In addition, the K-8 structure would be tested with Toomer, which would have a traditional governance structure (see AJC article here).

APS has been working with Integral New Schools Atlanta and the community to develop the plans for the conversion. If approved by the Board and subsequently by the GA DOE, the school will open with 585 students in K-6 and add a grade level each year until it reaches full capacity of 775 students, K-8.

Board approved the elimination of one staff furloughs day – the Board approved eliminating the staff furlough day scheduled for January 6, 2014. The administration had asked that the furlough day be pushed back into May and June so that they had more time and financial information in advance of the furlough days to asses if they will be needed. The Board declined to wait and unanimously voted to eliminate the furlough day. Two other furlough days are still scheduled in 2014. See AJC article here.

Update on the Mays High School mold and other problems – Byron Amos requested that the administration update the Board on the status of the multiple physical plant problems at Mays High School. Superintendent Davis indicated that the drainage problems on the site had been fixed, the repair of a sewer line was underway and that one building had been shut down until the HVAC system was replaced which would counter the mold problems that have been encountered.

Comment – back in August when all these problems were identified, the administration minimized the issues. Both the media and the Board weighed in heavily and it appears the problems are being fixed.

Board approved the resolution to enter into a Construction Management Agreement for the Bunche Middle School additions – the contract is with J. E. Dunn Construction Company for a guaranteed maximum price of $29.9 million. The original budget for the entire project is $32.9 million. No questions were asked – see next item.

Construction Status Update – there was NO construction status update.

Comment – I am re-publishing the chart because it continues to raise questions that the administration and the Board are not yet addressing. Budgets and cost of projects continue to increase and not a single question was asked by the Board members on any of them. Do we have another NAHS issue in which the cost of the project skyrocketed and not a single question was asked by the Board while it was happening? Let’s hope not, but as of now, the Board does not know and they are not asking questions.
Const Status 110113 v1

The chart above raises the following questions:

  1. The Bunche project budget changed from $24 million last month to $32.9 million this month. In addition, the Board is being asked to approve the GMP of $29.9 million today. What changes have occurred in the project to increase the budget by 37% since last month?
  2. The Mary Lin budget has increase by $3.1 million since last month. Why?
  3. The Rivers budget has increased by $8 million since last month. Why?
  4. The Sylvan project budget has increased by $10.7 million since last month. Why?

Board approved the formation of a task force to determine the use of the David T. Howard School – Board member Muhammad requested that the task force be established and the formation was approved. See the AJC article here.

Board commends achievements of two APS employees – Per Talk Up APS,

Georgia Trend magazine AND the Atlanta Business Chronicle recently named Sonya [Hunte] to their 2013 list of “Forty Under Forty.” That is, 40 outstanding Georgians under the age of 40. Sonya made the list because she is a bold advocate for children who do NOT have permanent housing…. Sonya is the district’s homeless education liaison, who works every day with social workers in our schools and community partners to get students the services/support they need to succeed in school.

The Association of School Business Officials recently named Holly Morales as a “certified administrator of school finance and operations.” … the certifying association is a reputable, international professional organization for school business officials [and] the certification process is intensive. Certification is granted only to highly qualified individuals who pass an exam, maintain the highest professional standards and show how they support quality education services….Only a handful of individuals in Georgia have achieved this type of certification….Holly is the first and only person at APS.…She … is now the director of accounting for special revenue funds.

Comment – congratulations to both – I know that the certification earned by Ms. Morales is not easily achieved and requires extensive work – well done Holly!

Also, a new piece of information came out in the presentation for Ms. Hunte – there are 2,200 homeless students in Atlanta. The reason this is interesting is that during the recent election, the number used by certain candidates was 4,500.

Board approved the policy on the use of school facilities – the policy on the use of school facilities by outside organizations was approved. In essence, Operations has the authority to approve the use of facilities that are for a term of less than 1 year. All other agreements for the use of facilities greater than one year would be brought to the public for comment and then to the BoE for approval.

Board approved the resolution to revise the Student Safety Policy – the GA General Assembly requires the Board to adopt a policy on concussion management for youth athletes.

Board approved the resolution for the Drew Charter School enrollment preferences – Drew is requested that they be allowed to give the Cox Pre-K Program (associated with Drew) and the East Lake Sheltering Arms Earl Education and Family Center Program preference on admissions into the Drew kindergarten program. The administration indicated that the resolution was simply memorializing the existing practice followed by Drew and it was approved by the Board.

Board approved the appointment of new Chief of Human Resources Officer – – the new Chief of Human Resources Officer Ronnie Price’s appointment was approved. His background, as reported by Talk Up APS, is as follows:

Ronnie J. Price, Sr.… has a B.A. in Business and Political Science, with a minor in Economics and a MA in Public Administration. He has completed all requirements for the PhD degree in Government but the dissertation. All academic work completed at the University of Virginia. He has worked in the HR field in academia for 25 years and 8 years within undergraduate and graduate student affairs specifically with Engineering programs at Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science School. Most recently he served as the Associate Vice President for Human Resources at the College of William and Mary.

Board approved certain procurement contracts – the $4 million contract for computer hardware & installation services with Prosis Information Systems and the $600 thousand contracts for plumbing supplies with Ferguson, Inc., HD Supply Facilities Maintenance and Noland Company were approved.

Board approved the resolution to transfer $600 thousand of funds between divisions for BoE elections and the superintendent search – there was no discussion on the issue and it was approved.

Comment – As I noted yesterday, the expense for the upcoming election was well-known at time the budget was prepared and should have been specifically identified at the time. If the Board wants the administration to be more accountable on the budget, they should have questioned this omission and requested that the transfer amount be itemized by Division and by the Object account so that the BoE can see where the funds are coming from. If the Board does not ask hard questions when budgetary changes are made, then the administration has no incentive to be more specific and detailed as it prepares future budgets.

Board approved the resolution to settle certain Worker’s Compensation claims – Three employees have submitted claims and APS is offering $42.5 thousand to settle the claims.

Comment – this recommendation was based on the net present value analysis, the settlements make sense.

Board approved the property lease transfer for Latin Academy Charter School – Courtney English and Byron Amos voted against the lease transfer (see AJC article here).  As background, Latin Academy leases the Anderson Park Elementary School facility. However, due to the amount of repair work required to maintain the property, Latin Academy will transfer to the former Capital View Elementary School property [added & corrected] for three years with an option to purchase the property at a future date. The charter school will be responsible for utilities, maintenance, capital improvements, operating expenses and insurance for the facility. Pursuant to state law, no lease payments can be charged to charter schools.

Board approved the appointment of APS BoE representatives to the Beltline Affordable Housing Advisory Board (BAHAB) – the Board is responsible for appointing six members to the BAHAB. The approved appointments are Chantel D. Mullen, ESQ., Amon Martin, Justin Babino, ESQ., and Elke Davidson for a term of two years expiring in 2015.

2 Responses to Recap of Atlanta Public School Board of Education meeting on November 11, 2013

  1. In reference the the mention of Mays High School as being the school with the Mold challenge should the school be Booker T. Washington ?

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