Five years ago, the state required every school district to choose an official model for how it operates and establish a new contract with the State of Georgia. After many, many months of intense research, community engagement and planning, the Atlanta Board of Education on July 1, 2016, voted to become a charter system operating model district.
With this new model, Atlanta Public Schools received approval for a new contract – or charter – with the state in 2016 that gave APS flexibility and autonomy along with increased accountability for student achievement.
That new contract gave us the kickstart and the lift to make some significant design recommendations that seriously changed the narrative for our system to become one of flexibility, collaboration, innovation and engagement with a focus on students and schools.
It was hard work that evolved to include a Student Success Funding model that has pushed more dollars to where children learn and teachers teach. We have cluster planning that highlights instructional programming with a signature theme of IB, STEM or College and Career Prep across schools within a cluster. And, of course, we have our GO Teams with parents, educators and community members who really get on board to help with school-based decision-making.
Today, we were recognized for our leadership in developing this new operating model.
The Charter System Foundation, which gave APS the award along with a $10,000 check to do more, includes many Georgia school districts from the smallest rural district to larger districts like APS. Each district sought flexibility under state mandates with a commitment to meet higher performance goals. APS was also up for Charter System of the Year but lost to Dublin City Schools.
The work has been challenging, but we are seeing progress! Thank you, Executive Director Dan Weber and the Foundation’s Board of Directors for your support through this process of transformation! Many thanks for this group effort goes to the Board and my colleagues in Strategy and Change, Federal Programs, Schools and Academics, Budget Services and in our schools and across the district. Check out the video for more details about our charter system!