New Year, New TAD Deal

Happy 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 Our intervention in the bond validation proceedings in the Westside TAD will now be withdrawn.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the resolution and IGA by the City and APS, APS’ intervention in the bond validation proceedings in the Gulch would be withdrawn from the courts.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 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. 

For 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.

While 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.

The 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 2038.
  • 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 million.

So, that’s the skinny!

BUT, if you want to get schooled on TADs – and more! – keep reading below:

Tax Allocation Districts and why they should matter to you! 

What’s a TAD?

A 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 development.

The long and short of it is that a TAD is intended to spark development in areas of the City that would otherwise remain undeveloped.

From Where Does the $$ Come?

You 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.

In What TADs is APS Currently Participating?

Atlanta Public School started participating in TADs in 1999 under the leadership of prior Boards and Administrations. We currently participate in five TADs: 

APS TADsInception Close Date APS Contribution
Through 6/30/2018
Atlantic Station 19992024$113,719,979
Perry Bolton20022041$20,871,475

Since 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.

Granted, 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.

Enjoy a Safe, Warm, & Relaxing Semester Break!

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!

Reflections of 2018

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!

Graduation Rates

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!

CCRPI Scores

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.

APyeS! Awards

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!

Volunteer Drives

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 you!

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 work!

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.

Winter Weather Overview: APS to Delay Start Times by Two Hours on Tuesday, Dec. 11

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. 

As always, stay safe and warm.

46 APS Schools Beat the Odds

APS Exceeds the State; APS is Second Among Large Metro Districts

This information is hot off the press, and I’m so pleased to be sharing it with you!

According to new analysis just out today from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA), 46 APS schools, or 52 percent of our schools, “Beat the Odds!” Based on the calculations released by the state, APS has the second-highest percentage of schools that Beat the Odds when compared to other metro-area districts. In addition — wait for it — APS beat the overall state rate, which came in at 32 percent!

Beat the Odds Percentages for State and Metro-Area School Districts:

Gwinnett County Public Schools 56%
Atlanta Public Schools 52%
State of Georgia 32%
Fulton County Schools 29%
Clayton County Public Schools 29%
DeKalb County Schools 25%
Cobb County School District 14%

I share with you all the time how proud I am of our students, our teachers, our principals and other school leaders and staff for the new gains they continue to make. We are striving toward excellence and we continue to be on a Journey of Transformation. We’re stepping forward toward new gains each day and are excited about the traction we’re making.

I want to highlight our 46 schools that Beat the Odds and give a special shout out to each school principal for a job well done!

APS Schools that Beat the Odds School Principal
Barack and Michelle Obama Academy Robin Christian
Beecher Hills Elementary School Crystal Jones
Benteen Elementary School Andew Lovett
Boyd Elementary School Joi Kilpatrick
Brandon Elementary School Jay Bland
Brown Middle School Tiauna Crooms
Burgess-Peterson Academy David White
Carver Early College Marcene
Centennial Academy Tequila Lamar
Charles R. Drew Charter School Gregory
Leaphart /
Peter McKnight
Charles R. Drew Charter School Elementary Academy Monishae O’Neill
Cleveland Avenue Elementary School Anyee’ Payne
Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership
Dobbs Elementary School Charnita West
Fickett Elementary School Benita Grant
Finch Elementary Forrestella
F.L. Stanton Elementary School Phyllis Earls
Henry W. Grady High School Betsy Bockman
Hollis Innovation Academy Diamond Ford
Hope-Hill Elementary School Maureen
Kimberly Elementary School Joseph L. Salley
Kindezi Old 4th Ward Rajvee Bhalakia
KIPP Atlanta Collegiate Academy Chanika Perry
KIPP STRIVE Academy Kim Karacalidis
KIPP STRIVE Primary LaKeesha
KIPP WAYS Academy (5-8) Nathaniel
Long Middle School Lisa Hill
Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School Paul Brown
Mary Lin Elementary School Sharyn Briscoe
Maynard H. Jackson High School Adam Danser
Miles Intermediate Elementary School Thalise Perry
Morningside Elementary School Audrey Sofianos
Parkside Elementary School Timmy Foster
Perkerson Elementary School Tony Ford
Peyton Forest Elementary School Cynthia Gunner
Ralph J. Bunche Middle School Octavius Harris
Samuel M. Inman Middle School Kevin Maxwell
Sarah Smith Elementary School Emily Boatright
South Atlanta High School Patricia Ford
Sutton Middle School Gail Johnson
Sylvan Hills Middle School Artesza Portee
The Kindezi Schools (Kindezi West) Hyla Penn
Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy Yolanda Weems
Warren T. Jackson Elementary School Brent McBride
Wesley International Academy Donald Mason/
Westside Atlanta Charter School Delana Reeves

I also want to recognize Deputy Superintendent David Jernigan and the entire Schools and Academics team, especially our Associate Superintendents Dr. Danielle Battle, Yolonda Brown, Dr. Emily Massey, Dr. Dan Sims, and Tommy Usher; our Chief Accountability and Information Officer Bill Caritj and his team, including Michael LaMont and the Data Information Group for providing us with a full analysis of these results.

As we work toward achieving improved results, we must continue to look at our schools’ overall academic performance holistically. We can’t and don’t look at just one indicator or another to measure progress. We have to look at all of it.

Beating the Odds is just one piece of information we use to analyze school performance,and it serves as a complement to this year’s CCRPI data that came out in October of this year (click here for my blog post on that). But, it also shows us that there are measurable academic gains happening across our school system.

Now, to give you a broader perspective on the Beat the Odds analysis, here’s a little more background and more information that explains this year’s calculation and why it can’t be compared to previous years:

  • The Beat the Odds calculation represents whether a school’s performance on the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) was higher than schools with similar characteristics across the state. Due to changes in the Beating the Odds calculation and changes in CCRPI, this year’s analysis is not comparable to previous years.
  • The new calculation for this year includes variables that are outside of a school’s control, such as school size, percent directly certified, percent English language learners, percent of students with disabilities, percent of students in each race (excluding Native American), school churn rate, whether a school is defined as non-traditional and the school type.

Also, in previous years, schools were designated as “Beat the Odds” or “Did Not Beat the Odds,” but the new calculation this year has separated “Did Not Beat the Odds” into two tiers — Within the Expected Range and Below the Expected Range.With this new framework, in addition to the 46 APS schools that Beat the Odds,26 were classified as “Within the Expected Range” and 16 were classified as“Below the Expected Range.” This means a total of 72 APS schools, or more than 80%, either Beat the Odds or performed Within the Expected Range.

You can learn more about this year’s Beat the Odds analysis on the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement’s website at

Thank you for being engaged in the work of APS and for supporting our efforts to prepare all of our students for the choice-filled lives they deserve!

APS Students Showcase Their Talents in Winter Card Contest

Softly they fall, where do they go?  

Cover the ground, without a sound

(Gentle snowflakes)

Fall from the sky, before your eyes

(It’s so thrilling)

Blankets of white, brighten the night

                          Lyrics from the song Purple Snowflakes , Marvin Gaye

It’s so thrilling to share with you the winners of our 2018 Winter Card contest! The student winners and their families will be recognized at our upcoming Board of Education meeting on Monday, December 3 at 6 p.m. at the Center for Learning and Leadership (CLL) at 130 Trinity Avenue SW. And, the winning designs along with several of the entries are on display in the lobby of CLL from now through the end of the calendar year.

We had over 200 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 (Yay!).

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. The Winter Card contest is open to all APS students and the entries are judged blindly, without knowledge of student names, student grade levels, teacher names, or schools. We evaluate the designs using multiple criteria,including overall concept, execution, and integration of the APS brand.

Needless to say, there is beauty in every one of the designs submitted and it was hard to pick just a few winners, especially when every one of our students is a winner in my book. After reviewing all of the cards multiple times, we identified first, second and third place winners, and we selected a fourth card that deserved honorable mention this year.

Drum roll, please! Here are the winners of our 2018 Winter Card contest!

First place goes to Raylen Smith, a 12th grader at South Atlanta High School for this beautiful winter rendition. 

Second place goes to Ben Aspinwall, a 10th grader at North Atlanta High School for this gorgeous globe.

Our third place winner actually goes to four Brandon Elementary School students who created a combined layout featuring a variety of owls. Those students are Addie Patton, a 3rd grader, Julia Burnette, a 5th grader, Milana Sukhinina, a 4th grader, and Jiaying Hou, a 5th grader.

Eve Harclerode, a 9th grader at North Atlanta won honorable mention this year for these lovely mugs.

These designs are amazing!

Now, for the most exciting part. We’ve printed a number of the winning winter cards to share with you — our families, staff and community members — in celebration of our students’ talents.

Because we’re not able to send a printed copy of these cards to everyone, I’m sharing them here with you, on my blog, for everyone to enjoy.

I want to thank all of our talented students who participated in this year’s contest, and I also want to thank all of our art teachers throughout the District, especially the art teachers of the students who won — Tokie Taylor of South Atlanta, Kim Landers of North Atlanta, Jennie Dumont of Brandon Elementary School and Rachael Sturgess of North Atlanta.

A special thank you to Bill Goodman, our Director of Multimedia Design, Charlotte Napper, our Graphic Designer, and Dr. Sara Womack, our Fine and Performing Arts Coordinator, for spearheading this annual contest with me and for their guidance throughout the selection process.

Finally, for additional warming of your heart for the season…a special extra gift for you. I loved this one too! A’Milliyna Turner, a 4th grader at Usher-Collins Heights Elementary School designed it. Great job A’Milliyna, and a special thanks to her art teacher Carol Washburn!

Congratulations to all of our 2018 Winter Card contest winners on a job well done!

I Am So Thankful for My APS Family!


Gobble, gobble! It’s Thanksgiving!

In our fast-paced lives in public education, we often don’t get the chance to stop, reflect on and express how thankful we truly are for the many blessings in our lives. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, all of us in APS are taking the time this week to celebrate all for which we are grateful.

This week, as our schools are closed from November 19-24 (It’s back to school on Monday, November 26!) for the Thanksgiving break (gobble, gobble!), we are focused on creating new memories and cherishing existing ones with the people we love: our friends and family. The meaning of the word family can mean different things to different people, but it encompasses everyone around us, the people who bring joy and meaning to our lives and the people for which we do the same.

I am thankful to my APS family — our 6,000 colleagues who continue to show through their actions all year long that they truly do believe in our mission and, most importantly, in our kids. That means the world to me. I see in them every day an unwavering passion and commitment for the hard work of preparing our students for the choice-filled lives they deserve, and, for that, I am truly humbled and grateful.

Our APS family includes our amazing partners! I am so thankful for all of our partners who have embraced our Journey of Transformation and continue to propel our school district and our students forward toward success through their ongoing support. We recently celebrated our 2018 Districtwide Partner of the Year — Delta Airlines — at our APyeS! Awards earlier this month. Thank you Delta for the incredible commitment of support you’ve made to APS and our communities. You have been a stellar example of what a true partner is to APS. We appreciate the extraordinary leadership, time, and talent you continue to invest into our students, teachers and staff. You have proven your commitment, and, more importantly, you are making an indelible impact on the culture of our schools and in the lives of our students. To ALL of our partners, I say THANK YOU! Please know that we couldn’t do this work alone, and we need the support that you each give.

Striving every day to help APS become a high-performing school district where students love to learn, educators inspire, families engage and the community trusts the system is hard work. To my APS family, I say “rest up!” over the Thanksgiving break because there is so much more work ahead for us.

Once we return from this week’s break, remember that December 3 – January 11 marks the Universal Screener Winter Window for many of K-5, 6th-8th, and 9th and 10th grade students. In addition, December 21 will mark the end of the first semester (Yes, time really does fly!). But, no matter how fast time flies by, don’t forget to stop and take the time to reflect on that which you are grateful. And, despite what it may seem like, we all have something we can celebrate.

I am thankful for my APS family — that’s all of you, the wonderful people who believe in and are engaged in the work of this District. I know that by working together on this journey, we will arrive at a destination where every one of our 52,000 students are prepared to graduate APS ready to succeed in college and career.


For that, we can all be thankful.


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

APS Statement on TADs

Atlanta Public Schools (APS) has long been a supporter of economic development for our communities given that we are the largest contributor to five of the 10 tax allocation districts (TADs) in the City (Eastside, Atlantic Station, BeltLine, Perry Bolton, and Westside), having invested $434 million in those projects since 1999.  We will continue to contribute an additional estimated $1.2 billion more over the life of those five TADs.

APS has been consistent in communicating with City administration and officials our concerns about resolving open issues regarding those five TADs before we can consider participating in any new TADs or extending current ones. Our recent communication with City administration and officials reflects that position, in addition to questions we’ve raised about the Gulch proposal, including the timeline for the educational increment (which we worry might be extended beyond 2038 to pay redevelopment costs and supplemental award payments to the developer), the use of that increment, and bond guarantees. In the spirit of partnership, we have also shared proposed solutions to the questions we’ve raised.

We continue to work with the City to do what’s in the best interest of our 52,000 APS students, 6,000 employees, and 158,000 taxpayers.