District also cancels all school programs and activities, even Super Bowl-related events, in anticipation of unsafe conditions caused by latest winter storm.
As much as we value every single day of education, the
safety and security of all our students and staff at Atlanta Public Schools remain
among our top priorities. So when the latest winter storm threatened to drop
snow and icy conditions in metro Atlanta, we acted with an abundance of
caution. Schools will be closed on Tuesday, Jan. 29.
Our decision aligns with city and state officials’ decisions to close their offices because of the potential for snow and ice on the roadways. Additionally, all after school programs and activities and community meetings have been cancelled. These include Super Bowl-related events scheduled with our schools and students on Tuesday.
As forecasts show better weather through the rest of the week, we anticipate welcoming our students and staff back to APS on Wednesday, Jan. 30. But we will keep our families, teachers and staff informed should we need to close additional days.
Although we will be closed, I have an assignment for our students: Take home books and other materials so you can work on homework and reading assignments while you are home. Parents, please make sure they do their work!
For APS charter schools, parents, caregivers and
employees are encouraged to contact their schools director for scheduling
APS closely monitors the weather conditions in
coordination with the National Weather Service, city and state officials and
other metro Atlanta school districts. We encourage everyone to exercise caution
when traveling throughout the metro area tomorrow.
As inclement weather approaches, my team works
extremely hard to inform parents of our decisions as far in advance as
possible. We have a set of protocols in place to notify families, staff,
and our community of everything we know about the conditions and forecasts.
Remember when we are making any decisions on inclement
weather, the safety of our staff is a key priority.
As we enter into this season of wintry weather, I’d
like to remind our students, families, staff and others about the APS protocol
for inclement weather.
You can expect updates on winter weather in a variety
of APS channels. We diligently update our website, our social media channels as
well as stay in close contact with our schools. You can feel confident to
contact your school first if you have questions about weather-related issues.
It is my goal to make sure our principals are updated with the latest
information regarding our inclement weather decisions.
Now is also a great time to make sure your contact information is updated. Our main way to contact parents is through our campus portal. Here you can update your phone number, email and communication preferences. Access the campus portal here.
Every year, I update the community on our procedures, and you can read about our process in detail in prior blog posts here and here. You can get a good overview of our decision-making process there.
Again, we continue to monitor the weather and will
report as soon as possible on any updates. Please be safe tomorrow, and we will
see our beautiful students and staff back in school again soon.
Before we began our Journey of Transformation, Atlanta Public Schools (APS) was a school district afflicted with chronic under-performance in our schools. The district was in desperate need of a comprehensive, long-term plan designed to provide remedies that addressed past issues while at the same time creating new opportunities to remove barriers for the future.
Nearly three years ago, the Atlanta Board of
Education approved the APS Turnaround Strategy
that built upon our mission to graduate more children ready for college and
career. This strategy implemented such interventions as tutoring, math and
reading specialists, school model changes and recruitment of turnaround leaders
As part of that strategy, we put our deepest
investments into some of our lowest performing schools and collaborated with
The 2017-2018 school year marked our second
full year of turnaround, and we have been evaluating the work and receiving
feedback from our principals and independent researchers to make real-time
adjustments to the strategy. Having passed the second year of turnaround, I
wanted to provide an update of some of the results.
In summary, the results have been mixed,
especially those from a recent evaluation from the independent research group
Mathematica Policy Research, but there are promising early signs that our
investments are making a difference.
As we review, let’s consider the most positive recent news of the APS Turnaround Strategy. First, all 17 APS turnaround schools receiving targeted or partnership support have improved over the past two years. As shown in our most recent Georgia Milestones report from the state, all of these schools decreased the percent of beginning learners, with six showing double-digit decreases.
In another important indicator – the College and Career Ready Performance Index of CCRPI
– 13 of the 17 targeted and partnership schools have increased their CCRPI
percentile rank after two full years of implementation. (A newly redesigned
CCRPI makes comparisons difficult, but the percentile rank among Georgia
schools allows us to continue making direct comparisons.)
Beyond state accountability systems and the
Georgia Milestones, we wanted additional and independent evaluations of our
turnaround so that we could optimize our investments in this work. Thanks to
the support of a philanthropic partner, the strategy is being evaluated over a
The external evaluation conducted by
Mathematica assesses implementation, impact on participating student and adult
behaviors, and the overall effectiveness of the strategy on the district.
Mathematica’s evaluations have been
informative and insightful. We are using their findings to inform our ongoing
efforts to improve school and student outcomes and allow us to make changes in
After completing our second full year of the
transformation strategy, Mathematica recently delivered its second impact
study, which is available on our School Turnaround page along with the Year One
We will present the study during the next work
session of the Atlanta Board of Education at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 4, at
the Center for Learning and Leadership. I encourage the APS community and the
public to attend the meeting or view it at https://livestream.com/k12aps.
In the meantime, we continue to unpack the
recent findings from Mathematica. From the report, their key highlights are:
While our Turnaround Strategy efforts are producing improvements in math performance in targeted schools, Mathematica did not find evidence of statistically significant impacts of school-wide targeted support on other student outcomes.
Evaluators found little evidence that support from math and reading specialists had an impact on academic outcomes.
They also found no evidence that support from Communities in School improved student suspensions, attendance or academic achievement.
Finally, our partnership schools are also producing improvements in math performance, but other effects were mixed, varying by outcome and by partner organization.
We are pleased that the Turnaround Strategy
has led to marked improvements in math performance. Mathematica noted that the
limited impacts with other core subjects is a consistent result among other
schools engaged in turnaround. In comparing our findings with national research
and turnaround trends, they wrote:
“Despite the limited impacts of targeted
supports overall, the second-year impact on math achievement is a promising
sign, as many turnaround efforts fail to produce any measurable positive
impacts in a comparable or even longer period. When impacts are detected,
positive impacts tend to be larger in math than reading, so those measured for
targeted school supports follow the trends of turnaround efforts elsewhere.”
So that offers encouragement and support for
In regards to Mathematica finding little
evidence of how our specialists impacted academic performance, we found from
the implementation phase of their study that specialists worked with students
not on their rosters and also provided curricular resources used in their small
groups to teachers for classroom use. Additionally, schools reported the
specialists supported teachers’ professional learning by modeling lessons and
leading professional development sessions.
So it is possible that these activities could
have improved student performances in both the targeted group of students and
the match comparison group, causing the impacts of the specialists to be
As part of the report, Mathematica suggested
that we do a better job in capturing data to better understand which supports
are most effective.
In regards to our partnership with Community
in Schools (CIS), the evaluators again said the results are consistent with
other recent research studies and may be partly explained by implementation
Feedback leading up to the implementation
phase of the study released in June 2018 indicated the CIS site coordinators
half-time presence as the main challenge to their effectiveness. In
response to this feedback targeted tier schools were each assigned a full-time
CIS site coordinator for the 2018-19 school year.
CIS is just one wraparound support provided to
targeted tier schools. Each targeted tier school is also afforded an
additional wraparound position that supports students’ non-academic
Among its recommendations, they suggested that
as turnaround schools show improvement, the district should plan how to extend
or redirect turnaround supports so the school system can affect lasting change.
Looking ahead to the 2019-2020 school year, we want to work in a smart,
intentional fashion to how we can phase schools out of support when they show
positive progress and how we add supports should other schools be designated as
turnaround school eligible by the state.
As we move forward through the third year of
School Turnaround in APS, I will continue to provide updates on our ongoing
efforts to give every student in Atlanta Public Schools the educational
opportunities that lead to college, careers and choice-filled lives.
Welcome back from your MLK holiday
weekend! I hope you continue to be inspired by Dr. King’s commitment to social
justice and the sacrifices he made to pave the way for many of us and inspire
us to dedicate our lives to the service of others and in creating a “Beloved
Through his teachings of love in action,
Dr. King has given us six steps to social and interpersonal change as
articulated by the King Center here in Atlanta (I
shared these on my previous blog), and one of those steps is direct action.
developments regarding the federal shutdown over the past month, you cannot
help but feel empathy for the more than 800,000 federal employees who have
missed one paycheck and are on the verge of missing another one.
heart goes out to my colleagues wondering if they can make their mortgage and
rent payments this month or even continue putting food on the table without
dipping deep into savings or scurrying for short-term loans.
our Human Resources team led by Skye Duckett, Chief Human Resources Officer, and
our Deputy General Counsel, Laurance Warco, looked at the effect of the
shutdown on our own employees, we found that among our more than 6,000
full-time and 1,500 part-time colleagues, as many as 500 would be directly
impacted by the shutdown through the employment of their spouse, partner or
household member in a federal agency that is closed due to the partial
district with a mission that starts “with a caring culture,” I knew APS had to
assist. I met with our HR team and got the ball rolling but that made it become
with Atlanta Partners for Education, we announced today a new district
initiative that identifies ways in which we can help our own. I encourage
everyone to find a way to assist.
have set a goal to raise $25,000 for the Atlanta Partners for Education to
assist employees with necessities during this time. Employees, community
members and partners can join me and make a tax-deductible donation to APS’
crowd funding campaign through Go
Fund Me. The total amount collected will be distributed through
Atlanta Partners for Education to eligible employees.
are other resources available to employees and ways the community can assist,
Consider setting up Meal Train accounts for
employees whose families are impacted by the shutdown.
Drop off food items to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
Families in need may visit the website where there is a list of Atlanta
area resources and support.
resources such as the Georgia Power Foundation, which recently announced a
$50,000 donation to St. Vincent de Paul Georgia, a faith-based nonprofit, to
help provide support to furloughed and unpaid federal workers and contractors
in the state. Through the fund, impacted families can ask for assistance by
submitting a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our charge is to
live the APS mission every day, and so a “caring culture” starts with us. Thank
you for all that you do to help our deserving colleagues affected by the
shutdown bridge the gap between their paychecks.
commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on MLK Day, I want to take
this opportunity to share with you how I will celebrate his life and
For me, it’s
deeply rooted in Dr. King’s commitment to social justice and
the sacrifices he made to pave the way for many of
us and inspire us to dedicate our lives to the service of
others and in creating a “Beloved Community.”
teachings of love in action, Dr. King has given us six steps to
social and interpersonal change as articulated by the King Center here in
Gathering — To understand and articulate an issue, problem
or injustice facing a person, community, or institution you must do
2. Education — It is
essential to inform others, including your opposition, about your issue. This minimizes
misunderstandings and gains you support and sympathy.
Commitment — Daily check and affirm your faith in the philosophy and
methods of nonviolence.
4. Discussion/Negotiation —
Using grace, humor and intelligence, confront the other party with a list of
injustices and a plan for addressing and resolving these injustices.
5. Direct Action — These are
actions taken when the opponent is unwilling to enter into, or remain in,
6. Reconciliation —
Nonviolence seeks friendship and understanding with the opponent. Nonviolence
does not seek to defeat the opponent.
These steps continue to
motivate me in all levels of my work.
In the spirit of
Dr. King’s message of nonviolence, a growing movement dedicated to the
social and emotional learning (SEL), and the academic
well-being of children is reshaping learning and changing lives — and the
foundation of education — across America.
In fact, as a
Commissioner for this national movement, I was honored to attend and
participate in the final meeting and national release recently of the
final report of the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional,
and Academic Development titled From a Nation at Risk
to a Nation at Hope. At the meeting, the
commission shared this culminating report on how to improve American public
education. It is an impressive report that thoroughly addresses how we can
better serve our young people based on brain science and whole child
a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope asserts that our nation
is at a turning point, understanding that social, emotional, and cognitive
development underpins children’s academic learning. This breakthrough of
understanding how people learn is fueling a growing movement to educate
children as whole people, with social and emotional as well as academic needs.
In the report, we emphasize that helping students
develop skills like collaboration, empathy, and perseverance, requires systemic
change. It offers specific actions in research, practice, and policy to
fundamentally shift how we teach children, with the understanding that the
social, emotional, and cognitive dimensions of learning are mutually
reinforcing rather than distinct.
The research also outlines evidence that confirms that
supporting students’ social, emotional and academic development has a positive
impact on their attendance, test scores, success in college and careers, and
overall well-being. This approach also improves students’ feelings about school
and makes schools safer.
are the key action steps recommended in the report:
Set a clear vision that broadens the definition of student success to prioritize the whole child.
Transform learning settings so they are safe and supportive for all young people.
Change instruction to teach students social, emotional, and cognitive skills; embed these skills in academics and school-wide practices.
Build adult expertise in child development.
Align resources and leverage partners in the community to address the whole child.
Forge closer connections between research and practice to generate useful, actionable information for educators.
Nearly 100 organizations
have signed on in support of the report’s conclusions and recommendations as
part of an ever-widening coalition committed to advancing the work. Drawing on
input from more than 200 scientists, youth and parent groups, educators and
policymakers, the report seeks to accelerate and strengthen efforts in local
the school district of Dr. King, APS takes very seriously our role to not only
educate our students but to empower them to become part of an engaged
citizenry. Our students learn about Dr. King’s legacy throughout the school
year in lessons, activities, and events. From kindergarten through high school
and through our Social Studies, U.S. History, and Language Arts curricula, our
students explore not only the figures of the Civil Rights Movement, but they
also look at the social, political, and cultural factors that contributed to
APS is using SEL
to help our students better understand and manage their emotions, set and
achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and
maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions. As we prepare
our students for success in college and career, SEL is teaching the skills that
Dr. King embodied.
of the rich lessons we’ve all learned from Dr. King was about equity and the
equitable treatment of all mankind. That lesson hasn’t been lost on our Atlanta
Board of Education or on this APS administration. I am working with our Board of Education to
better understand the equity issues we face in APS and to respond to those
The Board’s Equity Task
Force has defined equity as
strategic decision-making, with the goal of remedying opportunity and learning
gaps, and creating a barrier-free environment, which enables all students to graduate ready for
college and career. The community’s voice on this issue is a critical part of
shaping the current definition and the future work on this issue that is
happening in real time.
As part of developing an
equity policy for APS, we’re seeking to understand, disrupt, and dismantle
patterns and structures of institutional bias that create disparities and
perpetuate achievement gaps among students.
On Friday, I attended
Governor Kemp’s first proclamation ceremony which he issued in honor of Dr.
King’s legacy. Dr. Bernice King, the youngest child of Dr. King, accepted the
proclamation on behalf of the King family. In it, Governor Kemp reminds us that
Dr. King was a man of great principle, who advocated peaceful social change
throughout his life.
states in part: Around the World, Georgia
shines as a beacon of opportunity for individuals from all walks of life. Our
international recognition is a source of tremendous pride, but Georgia’s
greatest treasure is her people; and certainly, no Georgian is more worthy of
recognition and celebration than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Day is truly a day of service designed to empower us, strengthen our
communities, and encourage us to create solutions to our social problems. It’s
the time to shine a spotlight on service as a powerful force that bridges
economic and social divides – today and throughout the year.
plan on grabbing a paintbrush, mentoring a young person, helping
clean up a public space, or, like me, starting or being part of a national
movement, you are helping take us from a nation at risk to a nation at hope,
while we celebrate and honor Dr. King’s legacy and move closer to his vision
of a “Beloved Community.”
New Year! I hope everyone is enjoying the last day of semester break and
getting ready for school to start in the morning!
Update 1/7/19 at 6:10 p.m: I am pleased that the Atlanta City Council joined the Atlanta Board of Education today in unanimously approving the intergovernmental agreement regarding Atlanta Public Schools’ (APS) contribution to tax allocation districts (TADs). This agreement creates the most comprehensive reform of TADs in the decades-long history of APS’ participation. Our intervention in the bond validation proceedings in the Westside TAD will now be withdrawn.
Update 1/7/19: Atlanta School Board Approves IGA with the City of Atlanta on Tax Allocation Districts
The Atlanta Board of Education today approved an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the City of Atlanta and a resolution related to the Westside Tax Allocation District (TAD) that would create the most comprehensive reform of TADs in the decades-long history Atlanta Public Schools (APS) has been involved in them. Upon ratification and acceptance of the resolution and IGA by the City and APS, APS’ intervention in the bond validation proceedings in the Gulch would be withdrawn from the courts.
The IGA also would reduce APS’ exposure in the Gulch from $1.56 billion to $1.38 billion, distributes the impact of the APS increment more evenly over the lives of the TADs, limits exposure of the APS tax digest to be no more than 10% of collectable digest in any given year (based on current assumptions) and relieves immediate pressure on the APS budget. The agreement also provides a net gain of between $130 million and $180 million to APS over the life of the TADs.
I want to thank members of the Atlanta Board of Education for their unanimous vote in passing today’s IGA and resolution with the City of Atlanta, providing APS with a more predictable, manageable and sustainable way of contributing to and supporting economic development in the City, while balancing the interests of our 52,000 students, 6,000 employees and 158,000 taxpayers.
In addition, this agreement caps our financial contributions in future TADs and sparks economic development in four TADs on the Southside, where so many of our students and employees live.
I want to thank everyone who has worked tirelessly on this issue for over a year, both at APS and at the City of Atlanta, for helping us get to this point. I especially want to thank our legal team and our Chief Financial Officer, Lisa Bracken. Today’s important step could not have happened without the leadership of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the City’s legal team on this issue for their commitment to working with us and reaching an agreement.
January 6, 2019 — I wanted to share an important update with you regarding tax allocation districts (TADs) and their fiscal impact on APS. Over the past month, in collaboration with the City, we have worked to find alignment around APS’ longstanding concerns related to all tax allocation district agreements in which APS participates. Here is where we are with our discussions with the City of Atlanta (City): we do have an agreement between the two administrations. However, the agreement is not done until both the Board of Education (BOE) and City Council approve. The final version of the administration’s recommendation to the BOE can be found on Board Docs at http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=B8532Z74B5ED. While the timing of the public posting is shorter than we would all prefer, and for that I apologize. The timeline was driven by court-imposed deadlines that were outside of APS’ and my control.
context, APS has long been a supporter of economic development for our
communities since before my time as Superintendent. We are the largest
contributor to five of the ten TADs in the City (Eastside, Atlantic Station,
BeltLine, Perry Bolton, and Westside). Since 1999, APS has invested $434
million in those projects. We estimate that we will continue to contribute an
additional $1.2 billion more over the life of those five TADs.
you may hear varying perspectives on the value of the agreement (including some
folks who are using outdated and inaccurate information or just making up
stuff…SMH!), please understand that our District has its own internal goals – smoothing the
impact of TADs, relieving pressure points and windfalls/shortfalls, positioning
ourselves better to weather an economic downturn – which are supported by financial analysis
reflected in the terms of the agreement. The District worked to achieve
predictable, foreseeable, and time-bound use of its increment in TADs, which
was a driver behind negotiations allowing APS to more strategically participate
in existing and any new TADs. This is a key step toward APS continuing to
support the City’s redevelopment initiatives while balancing the interest of
economic development with the District’s educational mission and
responsibilities to our 52,000 students, 6,000 employees and 158,000 taxpayers.
APS administration will be presenting both a resolution and intergovernmental
agreement to the BOE for recommended action this Monday, January 7 at 9:30 a.m.
If approved, the new resolution would supersede the resolution approved by the BOE
on December 7, 2018. The new resolution removes any conflicting portions from
the last resolution related to the Westside Tax Allocation District bond
validation proceedings. Upon ratification and acceptance of the resolution and
IGA by the City and APS, APS’ intervention in the bond validation proceedings
would be withdrawn from the courts.
The following are key points in the IGA settlement agreement:
APS will ratify APS’ participation in the Westside TAD through
City will reimburse APS for capital expenditures that APS made in
the Westside TAD and make additional payment in lieu of taxes (PILOTS) to APS
as follows: $10 million in 2019, $1.25 million in years 2020-2023, and
50% of APS’ increment (after debt service and certain capped fees) from 2024
until the TAD closes in 2038.
City will pay off bonds on the Eastside TAD in 2019 and then
make annual PILOTS of APS’ portion of increment through the remaining life of
the Eastside TAD. The Eastside TAD will remain open.
In 2020, APS will start participating in the City’s four Corridor
TADS for 30 years. APS’ contribution to those TADs is capped. The four
TADS are Campbellton Road TAD, Hollowell/M.L. King TAD, Metropolitan Parkway
TAD and the Stadium TAD.
City will not issue any new bonds or authorize any new projects in
the Atlantic Station TAD, so that the Atlantic Station TAD debt can be fully
paid as soon as possible.
The IGAs for the Beltline and Perry Bolton remain in place, and
City agrees to fulfill its obligations under those IGAs.
If a TAD does not close on the agreed date, then City will use all
legally available sources to pay APS 100% of its education tax increment
starting the year after the TAD was supposed to have closed.
These new negotiations yield a net positive impact of around $130
-$180 million but more importantly distributes the impact of the APS increment
more evenly over the lives of the TADs, limits the exposure of the APS Tax
digest to be no more than 10% of collectible digest in any given year based on
current assumptions, and relieves immediate pressure on the APS budget by $10
that’s the skinny!
if you want to get schooled on TADs – and more! – keep reading below:
Allocation Districts and why they should matter to you!
TAD is a geographic region that is economically depressed, underdeveloped or
blighted and would not be developed but for the designation of a TAD. That
designation allows developers to build on the property through debt or bonds
that are then paid off by the property taxes generated from that new
development. Put simply, instead of being distributed to our school district,
the City of Atlanta and Fulton County, the future tax revenues generated within
the new TAD development are used to pay off the debt or bonds for that
long and short of it is that a TAD is intended to spark development in areas of
the City that would otherwise remain undeveloped.
Where Does the $$ Come?
guessed it! Tax revenues! When a TAD is established, APS, the City and Fulton
County can each decide if that entity will participate by contributing any new
taxes generated from the new development back into the TAD to pay off the debt
and redevelopment costs. When all debt and costs are paid, APS, the City and Fulton
County begin receiving those tax revenues again.
What TADs is APS Currently Participating?
Public School started participating in TADs in 1999 under the leadership of
prior Boards and Administrations. We currently participate in five TADs:
APS Contribution Through 6/30/2018
1999, APS has contributed approximately $434 million in educational taxes for
re-development in Atlanta, making APS the largest investor in these TADs at
52%. If the TADs we participate in continue to operate without any additional
redevelopment projects or bond issuance and each TAD ends when it supposed to,
then APS will contribute another $1.2 billion toward those TADs. If you add the
$434 million we’ve already contributed to the anticipated $1.2 billion, that’s
a total of $1.6 billion of educational taxes we have contributed toward
re-development in this city.
if, and when these TADs end, APS is supposed to get the benefit of higher tax
values from those TADs. That hasn’t happened yet. We are hopeful that the
proposed new agreement puts the District on a better course to achieve
predictable, foreseeable, and time-bound use of our increment in TADs, which
was a driver behind negotiations allowing APS to more strategically participate
in existing and any new TADs.
It’s hard to believe that the semester break and the New Year is already here! It’s time for us to take a break, relax and spend time with family and friends to rejuvenate! I’ll see all students back on Monday, January 7, 2019!
As 2018 comes to a close and we reach the halfway point of another amazing school year in APS, I want to share how grateful and inspired I am to be working with such an amazing team of professionals all focused on one important goal: preparing every one of our students to graduate ready for college and career. I want to send a special thank you to our 6,000 APS employees who are committed to our educational mission and are working hard every day to achieve it.
To kick off the start of our winter break, please enjoy this video medley featuring the winners of the 2018 Superintendent’s Winter Card Contest!
In reflecting on the year so far, here are a few of my favorite and amazing moments!
“Day One. Be There.” Campaign
We kicked off the year strong on August 1, 2018, with our “Day One. Be There.” campaign. Like thousands of our students, that morning, my team and I boarded one of our school buses with excitement and anticipation for a long but wonderful day ahead! As part of our Day One tradition, we visited students, teachers, administrators, support staff and the community from around the District to report on Back-to-School happenings. We could not have done it without each of you. Thank you for a fantastic Day One!
APS achieved its highest graduation rate ever this year at 79.9 percent (79.93 to be exact)! In addition, our graduation rate increased by 20.8 percentage points since 2014 and this year’s rate represents a 2.9 percentage point gain over last year. WOO-HOO!
State of the District
APS ROCKS! Hundreds of our students rocked the stage at this year’s State of the District concert on Friday, October 5 at the Walden Athletic Complex. We shared our “essentials playlist”, which included our A-sides, featured hits, and B-sides (whomp whomp), along with chart-topping student performances from this year’s tour stop on our Journey of Transformation. We also celebrated the grand opening of the Walden Athletic Complex with a special ribbon-cutting event.
ACT/SAT Participation on the Rise
The number of APS students taking the ACT and SAT continues to increase. Keep up the good work!
The newly redesigned CCRPI scores came out this year, and 34 APS
schools scored above 70. Of that number, 14 schools achieved an overall score
at or above 80 and five achieved an overall score above 90! APS earned a score
of 73.4 out of 100 with the average CCRPI score for the state being 76.6.
We celebrated some of our rock stars at our annual APyeS! Awards. These awards recognize and honor the excellence in our teachers, education leaders and partners who are driving change through our transformation and making it possible for our students to succeed. Congrats, again, to all our winners!
I was delighted to host our inaugural all staff #MeriaMeetUp event on APS Xchange powered by Workplace by Facebook on November 6! It was a live, interactive chat about a number of timely topics, including a recap of the State of the District, an important budget update, and other topics raised by staff. Thank you for participating, and I look forward to doing more of these in the coming months!
Beat the Odds
The “Beat the Odds” results came out early this month and 46 APS Schools (or 52% of our schools) “Beat the Odds” according to the analysis from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. In addition, APS exceeded the State and we were second among large metro-Atlanta districts. Good job, team!
Being Prepared for Inclement Weather
Inclement weather and other unexpected issues can sometimes disrupt school operations. I want to send a shout out to our Operations team who worked diligently this year through the impacts of natural disasters like hurricanes Michael and Florence and through the impact of the most recent boil water advisory. Thank you for lessening the disruptive impacts of these events!
Volunteering and giving back to the community is so important, and
I’m thankful to all of you who have played a pivotal role in supporting our
schools and community by volunteering through TutorMate, Junior Achievement
Discovery Center, the American Red Cross, and the Empty Stocking Fund. Thank
Superintendent’s Winter Card Contest
Over 200 of our APS students showcased their talents in our 2018 Superintendent’s Winter Card Contest! We had students from elementary school through high school submit winter card designs for this year’s competition from every cluster in APS (Carver, Douglass, Grady, Jackson, Mays, North Atlanta, South Atlanta, Therrell, and Washington). Plus, students from Crim Open Campus, BEST Academy, and Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy submitted as well.
It was so inspiring to look at the world through our students’
eyes and take in the vast array of creativity reflected in their artwork. Great
Other Amazing Moments
What a great first half of the school year! I will certainly miss all of our wonderful students, teachers, and staff over the semester break, but I’ll be back tweeting and blogging again in the New Year on Monday, January 7, 2019. I can’t wait to connect with you then.
We are delaying the start of school tomorrow by two hours due to the threat of severe temperatures in the Atlanta Metro Area. The state and most metro school districts will also be delayed. The cold and rainy weather descended upon Atlanta this week with the possibility of freezing rain, sleet, and the dreaded black ice.
Atlanta Public Schools has been closely monitoring the weather conditions in coordination with the National Weather Service, city and state officials and other Metro Atlanta school districts. Due to the forecast for temperatures to fall below freezing early Tuesday morning and the potential for black ice, and in alignment with the Governor’s Office, APS made the decision to delay opening schools by two hours tomorrow as follows (Schools that have alternative bell schedules should adhere to the two-hour delay):
Elementary Schools will open at 10 a.m.
Middle Schools will open at 11:05 a.m.
High Schools will open at 10:30 a.m.
Transportation pick up times will be delayed two hours from normal pick up schedules. All dismissal times will remain the same. APS Facilities staff should report at 9a.m. APS District administrative offices are also on a two-hour delay and APS employees should report two hours later than their normal reporting time. For APS charter schools, parents, caregivers and employees should contact their schools directly for scheduling information.
We will continue to monitor the forecast and we encourage everyone to exercise caution when traveling throughout the metro area tomorrow.
The forecast predicts better weather throughout the rest of the week.
I know how frustrating it can be to delay the start of school and the impacts of bad weather on you and your family, especially when little ones need to walk to bus stops, you have to get to work, and the day is disrupted.
This is the main reason why Atlanta Public Schools works extremely hard to inform parents of our decisions as far in advance as possible. We have a set of protocols in place to notify families, staff, and our community of everything we know about the conditions and forecasts.
Remember when we are making any decisions on inclement weather, the safety of our staff is a key priority.
As we enter into this season of wintry weather, I’d like to remind our students,families, staff and others about the APS protocol for inclement weather.
You can expect updates on winter weather in a variety of APS channels. We diligently update our website, our social media channels as well as stay in close contact with our schools. You can feel confident to contact your school first if you have questions about weather-related issues. It is my goal to make sure our principals are updated with the latest information regarding our inclement weather decisions.
Now is also a great time to make sure your contact information is updated. Our main way to contact parents is through our campus portal. Here you can update your phone number, email, and communication preferences. Access the campus portal here.
Every year, I update the community on our procedures and you can read about our process in detail in prior blog posts here. You can get a good overview of our decision making process there.
In a nutshell, this is how it works….When severe weather is predicted, our team begins monitoring the weather. We are in close contact with the National Weather Service, Atlanta Fulton County Emergency Management, and Georgia Emergency Management. This coordination helps us make the best decisions for our students’ safety. Updates regarding the conditions are provided to the Core Weather Team.
The APS Core Weather Team includes representatives from APS Operations, Transportation,Safety & Security, Facilities Services, Communications, Curriculum and Instruction, Nutrition and Information Technology departments. This team will discuss the implications of the severe weather. I make calls and am in contact with area superintendents. Our team joins conference calls with the city and the Atlanta-Fulton Emergency Management Agency and others. After all of this information is taken into account, we make a decision and move forward with communicating.
It is always my goal to go through this process as soon as we learn of impending inclement weather. In the end, the superintendent makes the final call as to whether schools close for inclement weather. At APS we always try our very best to coordinate with outside agencies so that our decisions are not in vacuum and are in alignment with other districts and government offices.
It seems like a couple of weeks ago we were still having 70 degree days. The winter weather seems to have arrived. As we move into the winter, we are committed to keeping families informed in a timely manner.
Also,very soon, we will be sending out information about the APS Weather Wise Program, which is a new digital learning platform for students during inclement weather days. Stay tuned! This information will be coming out before our break.