Recap of June 19th Atlanta Public School Special Legislative meeting

The Atlanta Public School Board of Education held a Special Legislative meeting on June 19th. Four of the topics have already been covered – see property tax resolutions here, see teacher and other personnel raises here, see appointment of outside counsel as General Counsel here and see appointment of four new principals here. The balance of the meeting agenda was fairly routine, but for the record, the following are additional actions taken and announcements made.

Announcements and Presentations

  • Superintendent Davis indicated that current Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction Karen Waldon would continue serving the district even though she was slated to retire as of June 30th. As previously noted, incoming Superintendent Carstarphen has not yet hired two key positions – the Chief of Staff or the the top academic officer. Ms. Waldon will likely continue to serve until her successor is hired.
  • Davis announced that the Equity Audit had been completed and presented to the administration. Davis stated that the 1,400 page report would require an extensive review and assessment before any action was taken.
  • Deputy Superintendent of Operations Larry Hoskins provided an update on the planning for the renovation of the Brown Middle School. The design should be completed in early 2015 with completion of the renovation in January 2016.

The additional matters voted on generally fell into three categories, as follows:

Reaffirmation of Personnel Transition Plans Approved in Prior Meetings – the prior decisions had to be re-approved for technical reasons. See additional detail on these plans here.

  • Report No. 13/14-5131 Authorization to Reaffirm the Abolishment Positions within the Facilities Department and Execute a Transition Plan
  • Report No. 13/14-5132 Authorization to Reaffirm the Abolishment of Positions within the Information Technology Department and Execute a Transition Plan
  • Report No. 13/14-5133 Authorization to Reaffirm the Abolishment and Creation Positions within the Curriculum and Instruction Division and Execute a Transition Plan

Transfer of budgeted funds between various divisions and operating departments – all approved 9-0 – under Board policy, when the administration wants to transfer more than 5% or $1 million (whichever is less) between divisions, it must inform the Board and gain approval on the action.

  • Report No. 13/14-1167 Authorization to Transfer Funds for Coan and King Schools Merger
  • Report No. 13/14-1168 Authorization to Transfer Funds for Virtual Schools
  • Report No. 13/14-1169 Authorization to Transfer Funds for Telecom Expenses
  • Report No. 13/14-1170 Authorization to Transfer Funds for Atlanta Police Department

Comment – none of these transfers between departments are controversial nor do they have any budgetary impact on the divisions or departments that the funds are being transferred from. However, it was clear that Superintendent Davis is not happy with this policy and would like to see it removed as he considers it an unnecessary check on his operating authority and a burden on the administration. I think it is important to note that these four items are the first time in FY14 that the administration had to bring this type of transfer to the Boards attention. Given the substantial budgetary transfers that have occurred in prior years without the Board’s consent (see here), it would appear that the policy is working as it is intended to. There is no reason to eliminate this policy – although it could be amended to exclude any amounts until on a cumulative basis they rise above a certain threshold.

Approval of Vendor Contracts – both approved 9-0.

  • Report No. 13/14-1166 Authorization to Purchase Vendor Management Services from the State of Colorado Governor’s Office of Information Technology Master Task Order Contract Bid #RFP-001-JG-13 – The recommendation indicates that the contract is for $6 million, however, in fact the sub-vendor – Covendis Technologies – will not be paid anything by APS. Essentially, the vendor provides a portal to a large group of IT contractors which then bid on projects submitted by APS. The IT contractors pay a fee to Covendis for their inclusion in the competitive bidding process software. The $6 million shown in the recommendation would be the anticipated flow through to the winning IT contractors for services rendered.

Comment – this is actually a very good IT contractor management tool and CIO Tony Hunter has used this in prior positions. The competitive bidding process is enhanced and should result in savings to APS on IT projects.

  • Report No. 13/14-1171 Authorization to Enter into and Execute a Contract to Provide a Instructional Management System & Student Response System – $1.374 million – the system is designed to provide student assessments on line and then provide the ability to review assessments across broad categories.

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