Atlanta Public School’s names Robert Morales as new CFO

May 30, 2015

Robert Morales

Robert Morales (credit FCS)

The Atlanta Public School’s named Robert Morales as the new Chief Financial Officer for the District. Mr. Morales currently serves as the CFO for the Fulton County Schools. Upon the ratification of his appointment by the Board of Education he will join APS on July 1.

Per his LinkedIn profile, Morales has served as CFO for the Fulton County Schools since 2009. The Fulton County District has a student population of over 93 thousand, over 12,000 employees and 100+ schools and facilities. As a comparison, APS has approximately 50 thousand students and 7 thousand employees.

Morales has a long history in public education and has served as CFO for the Cobb County School District, for the District of Columbia and for the Greenville County Schools in South Carolina. In addition, he worked at the Georgia School Superintendents Association and as Director of State Budgeting and Finance for the House Ways and Means Committee in South Carolina.

During his tenure at Fulton County, the District began its conversion to a charter system operating model and his experience will be very beneficial to APS as it now begins its transition to the charter system over the next several years.

As Superintendent Carstarphen leads the transformation of APS, I believe Morales will have a very significant impact. Over the course of the last several years I have often looked to how Morales presented budgetary and other financial information at Fulton County and used many of his presentations as a model of how it should be done. As an example, over the last several years, APS has presented budgetary information on a few PowerPoint slides and then, only one Fund at a time. In comparison, Fulton County has presented a consolidated Funds budget at the beginning of their budget process and provided extensive detail at the same time (see the initial budget book for FY16 here). If he brings this process to APS, it will be a welcome and important improvement.

In addition, Morales has led a financial team that appears to value cost effectiveness in schools operations. Per the GA Department of Education (see here), in FY14 Fulton County spent approximately $9.5 thousand per student. While this amount is higher than the average of $7.8 thousand per student for other surrounding Districts (Cobb, Gwinnett, DeKalb and Clayton), it is well below the $13.5 thousand APS expenditure per student.

Mr. Morales – your history of presenting extensive financial information and managing efficient operations will be a great asset to APS – welcome aboard!

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APS files lawsuit to get back deeds for school properties

May 1, 2015

[Correction – Title corrected – the suit is not specifically against the City, although they are the only logical respondent that could lay a claim for the deeds.]

Creative Loafing reports,

The Atlanta Board of Education has filed a lawsuit to claim the deeds for four former APS schools that have remained vacant for years. According to the legal filing, the city’s education board wants a judge to help APS obtain the titles for George Adair School in Adair Park, Arkwright Elementary School in Venetian Hills, Milton Avenue Elementary in Chosewood Park, and Rosalie Wright Elementary School in Florida Heights. With no resolution in sight following an ongoing disagreement with the city, APS wants a judge to “clear the cloud” from the titles, giving system officials full control of the future of those properties. 

According to the March 26 filing, which seeks to “establish title against all the world,” the city should have transferred over all contracts, orders, leases, and bonds to the Atlanta Board of Education as part of the city’s charter adopted in 1973. That shift in responsibility also should have included the ownership of all properties the city had acquired to provide a public education to Atlanta children when it oversaw the school system. Since that time, the lawsuit says, the city’s education board has paid millions in costs associated with the upkeep of those four vacant schools.

The properties noted above have remained vacant for years and APS designated the properties as “surplus” and put them up for sale. A number of offers have been received, but without the deeds the sales cannot go through. APS requested the deeds in February – which in the past have been routinely provided by the City – but Mayor Reed refused to turn them over and indicated that the deeds were part of the Beltline negotiations.

Creative Loafing attached a copy of the lawsuit to its report and it can be seen here.

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