The Atlanta Public School Board of Education reconsidered their previous decision to not approve the +5 class waiver issue and today, in a specially called meeting voted to approve the waiver as originally presented.
[Updated] Board members Byron Amos (who made the motion to accept the waiver) and Eshe’ Collins changed their previous votes and voted in favor of the +5 waiver. Board member Lee – who did not vote in the original consideration of the matter – voted for the waiver. Grant, Westmoreland, Esteves and English maintained their previous positions and voted for the waiver.
The Board members voting against the +5 waiver were Meister and Briscoe-Brown.
[Added] There was no discussion on the issue prior to the vote and per the WSBTV report, the meeting lasted a total of 2 minutes. WSBTV also reported,
“The decision does not increase the class size automatically,” said Dr. Meria Carstarphen, superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools. “It just gives some flexibility as we go into our planning to say if we want to change that number we can, over time.”
Many parents say they felt they were left out of the loop.
“It feels sneaky. I don’t think it was done with the best interests in mind,” said parent Kristian Schwartz. Schwartz attended the meeting with his two daughters, and says he was shocked by what happened.
[Added] While Carstarphen’s comment appears to leave the door open to fund schools at a lower class size level, it is likely that unless the Board provides the administration budget guidance to use smaller class for developing the budget, the initial budget will be based upon the +5 waiver that was passed.
In my view, this was an opportunity lost and a decision that was made without a full and thoughtful discussion on the matter in the context of developing the next years budget.