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Excerpts – Courtney English is the youngest board member on the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) Board of Education. Elected in 2009 at 24 years old, Courtney is the youngest person to be elected citywide in any capacity in the city of Atlanta’s history.
Prior to his election, Courtney was a founding teacher at BEST Academy, the first all male school in the city of Atlanta and actually taught 7th grade social studies in the same room he took 7th grade social studies as a student.
Outside the boardroom, Courtney has worked as a strategy and development consultant for various non- profit organizations focused on education and has led the Morehouse College pre-freshman summer program which is designed to prepare African-American males for college.
Courtney is a native Atlantan, a proud graduate of Frederick Douglass High school. He is a graduate of Morehouse College, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. This May, Courtney is set to graduate from Columbia University’s Teachers College with a Masters of Arts in Organizational Psychology.
Position on Revenues and Taxes
FY14 Property Taxes – Millage rates will remain unchanged in the 2013-2014 school year, but property taxes are projected to increase by 1.2 percent. The Atlanta Board of Education voted June 17 for its property tax rate within the city to stay at 21.64 mills, with a 0.1 mill for bond payments.
AIS Property Sale – Atlanta’s school system is reconsidering whether to sell Buckhead property to Atlanta International School that the private school currently leases. … Board of Education Chairman Reuben McDaniel said Tuesday that the sale is complicated by high property values in the area and potential future needs of the school system. [Note – English has not taken a public position on the sale at this time – RFS]
Position on Deficit Spending and General Fund Reserves
FY14 Budget – The Atlanta Board of Education voted 6-3 to pass the $595 million spending plan for the 2013-2014 school year... The school board decided against making another $1.3 million in personnel cuts because tax collections have come in about $1.5 million higher than projections, McDaniel said. [Note – English voted FOR the FY14 budget that includes $24.9 million of deficit spending – RFS]
FY13 Budget – The Atlanta Board of Education unanimously approved (9-0) the school system’s fiscal 2013 budget of $574.70 million. [Note – the approved budget included deficit spending of $18.4 million – RFS]
Position on Allocation of Resources
Reduction in Central Administration Cost – Frustrated Atlanta school board members met Wednesday and called for a bloated central office to start shedding unproductive administrators so that more money can go toward reducing class sizes. In a school district with the highest administration costs in Georgia, parents and board members want to direct more money to students in the proposed budget for the next school year. Board Chairman Reuben McDaniel asked the administration to identify 18 non-teacher positions — worth about $1.5 million — that can be cut, especially if those workers are not doing their jobs. [Note – the BOE never further addressed the $1.5 million in cuts and they were not included in the final budget passed. English voted FOR passage of the budget – RFS]
Position on Class Size Waivers and Average Class Size
[During FY14 budget discussions] But quality teachers — not smaller class sizes — are what make the biggest difference academically, said board member Courtney English. “The research is crystal clear. The most important factor for student achievement in the classroom is having an effective teacher,” he said.
Position on the Budget Process
Frustrated Atlanta school board members met Wednesday and called for a bloated central office to start shedding unproductive administrators so that more money can go toward reducing class sizes. In a school district with the highest administration costs in Georgia, parents and board members want to direct more money to students in the proposed budget for the next school year.
Position on Overcapacity Issues and School Closings
Position on Board’s Oversight Responsibilities
Position on Charter Schools
Atlanta Classical Academy Charter Petition: AJC – Atlanta’s school board unanimously approved a new charter school Monday, overriding the superintendent’s recommendation against starting new charters. Board of Education members gave the go-ahead for Atlanta Classical Academy, a K-8 charter school in Buckhead, to launch in the 2014-2015 school year.
Funds Withheld from Charter Schools Litigation – Atlanta’s charter schools are increasing class sizes, reducing staff and trimming budgets because nearly $3 million is being withheld from them in a legal dispute with the city school district. One judge has ruled the charters should have the money. Because Atlanta Public Schools appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court, the money is tied up until the case, which involves APS’ pension cost, is decided. The state’s highest court may not rule until next spring, meaning the charters have to do without until then even if they ultimately prevail. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Wendy Shoob ruled in December in favor of the charter schools, whose lawyers argued that their employees don’t benefit from the pension system and their funding can’t be altered. [Note – BOE voted unanimously to appeal Judge Shoob’s decision – RFS]
Drew Carter High School Expansion – The Atlanta school board approved a proposal to allow Drew Charter to build a $55 million high school and add about 400 students in kindergarten through the eighth grade.
Position on Other Issues that Have Financial Implications
Nearly $150 million Cost of new North Atlanta High School – Belcher tried to get an APS representative to defend the cost, but no administrators or board members agreed to speak with him.