The Atlanta Public Schools announced that a Special Legislative meeting will be held today at 5:15 p.m. to consider – and likely approve – a resolution to establish a transition team for the new superintendent Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen who will officially start on July 7th.
The meeting will be held at the High Museum of Art Hill Auditorium at 1280 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30309. The Special Legislative meeting will follow the Board training sessions that were held yesterday and today at the High Museum.
The AJC reports that (see here),
The Atlanta school board plans to approve a resolution Tuesday that would allow Carstarphen to recruit a transition team and begin readying the school system for her official arrival July 7
[Board Chair Courtney] English said Monday he intends to raise between $500,000 and $1 million from business and philanthropic organizations to compensate Carstarphen and her transition team.
Carstarphen would be able to begin working immediately after the resolution is approved.
First, let me say that it is a good thing to establish a transition team now. It will allow Carstarphen to spend the next nine weeks getting up to speed on the status of APS and to identify and begin making changes to how APS operates.
However, I am a bit disconcerted by the funding mechanism. Why is it necessary to raise funds from business and other organizations to establish the transition effort?
Let’s look at a brief history of prior offers of funding. Last year private donors offered to fund the search effort for the new superintendent. The Board (while it had a different composition) declined. Then Mayor Reed announced that certain donors had offered to supplement the new superintendent’s salary with up to $300 thousand per year (see here). The Board seems to have declined that offer as well.
In both instances, I believe the Board did the right thing and refused to accept contributions from outside sources that might have ‘strings’ attached. It is also important to note that, as a routine matter, APS accepts donations for many different reasons – but they always are for specific educational purposes.
So what is different now?
In my view – nothing has changed. Establishing a transition team is perfectly sensible – and it is a school administrative expense that the Board should pay for out of operating funds. Additionally, if paid directly by APS, then the activities of the transition plan will remain transparent to the community. However, private funding could result in a process that is not so transparent.
If $1 million can be raised – wonderful – but put it towards improving educational outcomes.
The history of outside influence on APS is checkered enough and one small part of restoring faith in APS requires that they maintain their independence from external groups.
There is absolutely no reason to start off Carstarphen’s tenure with a ‘cloud’ of external influence on the horizon.
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