Updates to Atlanta Public School Board of Education meeting today – (1) Combine Coan and King Middle Schools into Coan – then renovate King; (2) Y15 Budget taken off agenda

The Atlanta Public School’s administration has revised the agenda for today’s Board of Education meeting as follows (for a complete review of the agenda items – see here):

Combine Coan and King Middle Schools – see recommendation here with the following reasoning (emphasis added),

The Jackson cluster has two feeder middle schools. Both schools are underutilized in a school system where staff and other critical resources are tied to student enrollment.

Sammye E. Coan Middle School has a current population of approximately 260 students. The facility is designed to hold 1,025 students. There are 441 students living in the Coan zone, which means approximately 50 percent of the in-zone students attend Coan. Within the next five years, Coan attendance is not estimated to exceed 300 students.

Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School has a population of an estimated 460 students in a building that is designed to hold 1,000 students. Of the 718 students living in the King zone, nearly 60 percent of the students attend King.

Combine Coan and King middle schools at the end of the 2013-14 school year. Students at Coan and King middle schools would merge to form a new Jackson cluster middle school. Students in the newly formed middle school would be located at the Coan campus for one to two years while King receives a major $10 million to $20 million renovation from current SPLOST funds to reflect current design principles for educational facilities. Enhanced student supports and social services (e.g., security, social worker, counselors, etc.) would be added at the Coan building as part of an active plan to ensure a smooth transition for all students.

Comment – This consolidation of schools is very reasonable. Leaving two schools open that are underutilized simply results in an a lower amount of resources for each student body. The savings from closing one school – which include school administrative and operations support staff – should result in those savings being brought back into the unified school.

Carstarphen Election as Superintendent – Also, as a scheduling note, the Board will meet at 11:45 a.m., but intends to immediately move into Executive Session to further consider the last details associated with Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen’s contract. The actual vote to elect her as the next APS superintendent will be held at approximately 1:30 p.m.

FY15 Budget – The FY15 Budget has been pulled from the agenda.

Comment – My sense is that there is some discomfort on the Board regarding the fact that no expenditures have been reallocated from administrative functions to direct instruction activities. All newly elected Board members included this reallocation in their campaigns during the last election and, so far, the administration has been unwilling to conform to the Board’s requests on this issue.

While I believe there are other alternatives to deal with the budget and get it passed so that the new superintendent can weigh in and make the needed changes, it appears as if the Board is going to try to continue negotiating with an administration that has clearly stated it is not budging.

It is time to move on – the current administration is not a willing partner in this discussion – and with two feet out the door, any further discussion with them on the budget is futile and can only result in mischief and cause disarray. The Budget Commission and the Board should maintain their stance on reallocation or reduction of expenditures, but also send a message to the current administration that their time is past and the Board is moving forward with the new superintendent.

How can they do this? Simple – pass the current budget “as is” and place a moratorium on $15-25 million in spending that cannot be spent or committed until the new superintendent reviews the budget and makes recommendations for changes.

This will kill two birds with one stone – the current administration is bypassed without an unnecessary fight and the new superintendent will show us her position on spending issues early in her administration. I would suggest that her historical performance on these issues is completely in-line with the campaign promises made by the Board.

It is time to move on and give the new superintendent the flexibility to quickly begin reshaping an administration that has been unresponsive and self-serving at best.

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7 Responses to Updates to Atlanta Public School Board of Education meeting today – (1) Combine Coan and King Middle Schools into Coan – then renovate King; (2) Y15 Budget taken off agenda

  1. H.A. Hurley says:

    What is the purpose of a total renovation of King MS costing $MMs and the school is significantly under attended? The enrollment for King MS surely will not increase to fill the entire building, unless mass rezoning is projected.
    King MS is an older building, but it is not necessarily one that warrants $M of taxpayer dollars. $M are flying out of the doors of APS. Remember, NAHS? SMS?
    Wait until the new Classic Charter school expands. They took about 450 kids with 900 on the waiting list. There will be more and more charters.
    We can always house charters in underattended APS buildings. Let’s hope Atlanta does not go the way NYC did…charters can move into public schools, utilize that school and PAY ABSOLUTELY NO RENT! ForProfit charters! We must watch the national corporate trend of privatization. It will only accelerate.

  2. PSMOM says:

    If the budget is approved what happens to schools that are losing teachers in the budget that you suggest the board approve. They should just give up those teachers while waiting for the new superintendent to weigh in? Unacceptable.

    • Thanks for the comment – a couple of key points in response. Hiring of teachers and principals for next year cannot start until the budget is passed. This was a major problem last year when the budget was not passed until late June and many great teachers that would have considered Atlanta had already committed to other positions. The issue of changing teacher allocations has come up several times – the way to resolve this is by contacting Deputy Superintendent Karen Waldon with your concerns – I know that this has triggered a review in several instances in which the allocation process was mistaken due to some technical math issues.

      Also, my suggestion was to pass the budget with a moratorium on a specified amount of spending (none related to teachers) that could not be committed until the arrival of Carstarphen. This would provide her the flexibility to add teachers if needed. And one last point – the classroom sizes cannot exceed the State max plus any approved waiver (which is still pending approval by the BOE). During the leveling process last year, additional teachers – over budgeted numbers – were added.

      At this point, the published school staffing is very much in draft form and is based on a mathematical model for budget purposes only. The next step is for principals to review and assess the adequacy of the initial set of teacher and other resources. They then can work with the administration to make appropriate changes as needed.

      • PSMOM says:

        The outgoing principal at Brandon Elementary has already been told her teacher allocation for next year and it provides for 6 less homeroom teachers. Brandon is already at state maximum so losing these 6 teachers would put class sizes at the plus 5 levels meaning 33 kids in 4th and 5th grade. Brandon does not have title one funding to “buy” additional teachers like some schools do. So the budget may be a high level exercise but losing 6 teachers is real. It does not appear to be a math problem (although I know that has happened in the past).

      • BOE member Meister asked Waldon about this specific example and Waldon said she would look into it. I will see Meister today and ask her about it and see if there is any resolution. Thanks. Bob

  3. PSMOM says:

    Thanks for your dedication to the coverage of APS and your viewpoint. I really appreciate it.

  4. Me says:

    King should not be closed please change your mind and keep king open

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