D-4 Nancy Meister (I)

Contact Information

Email – nmeister@atlanta.k12.ga.us

Phone – 404-861-1595

Nancy Meister Website

Background

As a residential real estate agent, she understands and appreciates the importance of great neighborhood schools, their impact on attracting new businesses to our city and their contribution to the overall sustainable growth of the metro area.

Some of Meister’s community activities include: president, North Atlanta Parents of Public Schools (2006-2009); founding member, North Atlanta High School Foundation (2006); PTA president, North Atlanta High School (2007-2008); PTA president, Sutton Middle School (2004-2006); member, Northern Corridor Task Force(2003); participant, Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk, Seattle, WA, (2007) and San Francisco (2008).

As a member of the Atlanta Board of Realtors, Meister is currently a residential real estate agent with Beacham and Company. Prior to joining Beacham, she worked in the Buckhead office of Harry Norman Realtors.A native of Massachusetts, Meister earned a B.S. in marketing management from Bentley College in Waltham, Mass. She moved from Boston to San Francisco, and to Atlanta in 1987. Meister and her husband, Steve, have lived in Buckhead for 23 years and have raised two sons: Matthew, a Georgia Tech student, and Andrew, a junior at North Atlanta High School.

Education Priorities

Early childhood education is the driver for success… We must empower individual school leadership and teachers, financially and programmatically, to develop the best approach for their individual communities.

Graduation rates will improve if Principals have the autonomy to spend resources, engage with community outreach programs and have the ability to hire the number of support staff (counselors and social workers) that fits their needs. 

Position on Revenues and Taxes

FY14 Property TaxesMillage 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 – Meister has taken a strong position against the sale of the AIS property at this time – RFS]

Position on Deficit Spending and General Fund Reserves

“My pledge to you is to work collaboratively with my colleagues on the Board to develop policies and approve balanced budgets which enhance the teaching and learning experience in all Atlanta Public Schools.” [emphasis added]

[Note – Meister voted AGAINST the FY14 budget – RFS]  Those who voted against the budget said even more teachers should have been added, and they were worried that too much money — $26.6 million — was being drained from the school district’s savings account to cover expenses. “I still think it allows too much leeway for schools that are already overcrowded to get up to a number that’s uncomfortable,” said board member Nancy Meister. [Note – subsequently, the reported deficit was revised to $24.9 million – RFS]

Position on Allocation of Resources

Whether the issue is budget, graduation rate or early childhood education, it is my view that our children deserve a system that provides autonomy to its leadership. School based management and budgeting takes decision-making and spending away from the central office, allowing resources to be directed and appropriately applied by the one who knows the needs of the schools best, the Principal.

Reduction in Central Administration CostFrustrated 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. Meister voted AGAINST passage of the budget – RFS]

Position on Class Size Waivers and Average Class Size

The two board members who voted against the budget, Nancy Meister and Cecily Harsch-Kinnane, wanted a greater effort from Superintendent Erroll Davis’ administration to shrink large classes, which in some schools exceed state limits. “In my opinion, there’s been a complete disregard of what the board wants to get to,” Meister said.

[During FY14 budget discussions] board members Nancy Meister and Cecily Harsch-Kinnane said the school district should explore spending money to shrink classes, especially in schools where they’re especially oversized.

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.

Budgets that are the responsibility of the individual school, allow Principals the flexibility to appropriate resources to areas of need. … It would be advantageous for the Board to adopt and implement policies that move the system toward a budgeting process that is school based.

Position on Overcapacity Issues and School Closings

Position on Board’s Oversight

Responsibilities Position on Charter Schools

Funds Withheld from Charter Schools LitigationAtlanta’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 ExpansionThe 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.

Atlanta Classical Academy Charter Petition:

Reporter Newspapers District 4 Board of Education member Nancy Meister made the motion recommending approval of the charter school.

AJCAtlanta’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.

Position on Other Issues that Have Financial Implications

Nearly $150 million Cost of new North Atlanta High SchoolBelcher tried to get an APS representative to defend the cost, but no administrators or board members agreed to speak with him.

Meister Issues Letter on NAHS Issue – Summary Points:

  1. Capacity in the northern cluster has skyrocketed … This facility can accommodate 2400 students, a number that is projected in the coming years. This is 750 students more than the reported 1650.
  2. … many sites from limited inventory were considered in the process. Most were not suitable … [the IBM site cost] roughly $977,093 per acre. Other sites within the district … averaged $1,365.2M per acre.
  3. At 507,093 sq. ft., the new NAHS is roughly 30% larger than the next largest APS high school, Mays HS at 339,758 sq. ft.
  4. [A] look at project expenditures across the district at constant dollar (base year 2013), the cost per square foot at NAHS is $180.23, BEST Academy is $212.47, Carver HS is $185.42, Therrell HS is $181.78 and CS King Academy is $181.12.
  5. While the total cost of this project is more than others, it is the result of the overall square footage being significantly higher.
  6. [the project is subject to] the Davis Bacon Act which requires contractors to pay “prevailing wages”, as determined by the [Federal] Secretary of Labor. This … represents roughly a 16% increase in Atlanta. The labor costs on this project are simply higher.

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