Board Bulletin for September 14, 2022
The Fulton County School Board met on Tuesday, September 13, for its regularly scheduled Board meeting at the North Learning Center. The following are highlights of some of the more highly discussed topics, with the full agenda available online. Other topics discussed or approved are available via BoardDocs. Summaries of Board actions can be found here and Board policy updates can be found here.
Board Member Gail Dean Announces Retirement
During Board comments, District 3 representative Gail Dean announced her retirement after 22 years of serving on the Fulton County Board of Education. Ms. Dean thanked her fellow Board members, community, school and district staff, and students for their work together. She also recognized many accomplishments by the district during her tenure. Her retirement will be effective October 31, 2022.
Fulton County local law (Ga. L. 1984, p. 3591) and Board policies ABCC and ABCE provide the process for filling a Board vacancy. In the case of Ms. Dean’s seat, the remaining members of the Board will appoint a qualified resident of District 3 to serve the remainder of the unexpired term. The term ends December 31, 2024, with the nonpartisan election currently planned for spring of 2024. This process is open to all qualified and interested persons. Parties interested in applying for the position are encouraged to do so and may find more information here.
The district thanks Ms. Dean for her dedicated service to Fulton County Schools and wishes her well in her retirement.
K-8 STEAM Academy Update
Chief Academic Officer Cliff Jones and Chief Operations Officer Noel Maloof gave an update on the K-8 STEAM Academy proposal. They also announced that Palmetto Elementary School is being recommended as the first FCS school where the model will be implemented. The entire presentation can be viewed here.
Over the past six months, the district facilitated a combination of face-to-face and virtual meetings with parents and staff to share research, information, and academic and social benefits of the model. Feedback was collected at the meetings, and district leaders also met with city leaders and other community organizations. Based on the district’s studies and community feedback, Palmetto Elementary School is being recommended as the first K-8 STEAM Academy.
The concept received a favorable response from the Palmetto community and surrounding municipalities, while the school’s current facility as a former high school campus made it an ideal candidate for a K-8 conversion. By placing a K-8 STEAM Academy at Palmetto, the school district also will be able to reduce the amount of student movement at nearby Bear Creek Middle School, which would lessen the need for a larger redistricting effort in the Bear Creek attendance zone.
At this time, the district is not making a recommendation regarding the K-8 STEAM model at Camp Creek Middle School, Haynes Bridge Middle School or Holcomb Bridge Middle School. While positive responses were received from these communities, district leaders want to continue engagement and gather additional feedback. For more information, visit www.fultonschools.org/k8.
School Safety and Security
Superintendent Mike Looney asked the Fulton County Schools Safety Advisory Committee to reconvene to identify current school safety issues and address what has happened since the previous work of the 2018 School Safety Committee. Director of Campus Safety and Security Paul Hildreth presented the safety committee’s findings, and the multiple steps FCS is taking for the overall safety of the district, saying he is confident the district will continue to lead the way with safety and security in both capacity and capabilities.
The School Safety Advisory Committee is a representation of a cross-section of subject matter experts, including local municipality first responders, Fulton County Emergency Management, district staff and school leaders. Also, each Board member personally recommended a community member to serve on the committee. The committee was charged with taking an all-hazards approach to safety and security. This process involved the identification of potential issues with suggestions on ways to approach the issues, like purchasing school safety resources. Click here to see the full list of findings.
Purchase of School Safety Resources
The Board is considering the purchase of safety technology that can read the license plates of cars entering school campuses. Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPR) capture computer-readable images of license plates, allowing law enforcement agencies to compare plate numbers against those of stolen cars or cars driven by people suspected of being involved in criminal activities.
The Board also received information about purchasing door alarms for the exterior doors of each school in the district. When doors are propped open or do not fully close, an audible alarm will alert school safety staff so the doors can be secured to prevent intruders or unauthorized visitors. Information on the purchase and replacement of FCS Police and safety vehicles also was received so that safety staff can increase their ability to patrol schools and provide emergency responses. These safety items are slated for approval at the Board’s September 22 meeting.
Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
All district schools are focusing this month on Suicide Awareness and Prevention. The Office of Student Support recognized National Suicide Prevention Week (September 4-10) during an annual week-long campaign to inform FCS middle schools and high schools about suicide prevention and the warning signs of suicide. This year’s yellow ribbon campaign is “Stay Connected” and A. C. T. (Acknowledge, Care, Tell) and will continue during the remainder of the month. For more information about the FCS Yellow Ribbon campaign click here. Students experiencing anxiety, stress, or suicidal thoughts can receive assistance by anonymously texting their unique school code after dialing the Text4Help hotline: 1-844-201-9946. The community is also encouraged to use the district’s anonymous SHARE tip line (See It. Hear It. And Report It Every Time).
Upcoming Redistricting Meetings
The first redistricting meeting for September (Round One) was held at Alpharetta High School on September 12, with the second meeting planned for Langston Hughes High School on September 14 at 6 p.m. Round One meetings focus on explaining the redistricting process and sharing the Board's criteria used to create new attendance zone boundaries. Participants are divided into small groups to provide input that is related to the School Board-approved redistricting criteria. Round Two and Round Three meetings, where draft attendance zone maps will be shared for the first time, are planned for October dates and can be found here. Information also is posted at www.fultonschools.org/redistricting.
Proposed Revisions to the 2023-24 and 2024-25 Instructional Calendar
The Board discussed parameters to guide the Superintendent and staff in the development of the FCS instructional calendar for the next two years. The Board provided feedback and will review the proposed revisions and are expected to take action on the parameters at the September 22, Board meeting.
The following is the list of the proposed calendar parameters:
- School year should not begin prior to August 1
- Students’ last day of school should be prior to the Memorial Day holiday
- Should include a full week at the Thanksgiving holiday for staff and students
- Spring Break should be the first full week in April following the first Sunday in April to align with metro districts
- Should include two full weeks for staff and students at the winter holiday break in December
- First semester should conclude prior to the winter holiday break in December
- Should include at least one teacher workday each semester (approximately midway through the semester)
- Should provide opportunities for job-embedded professional development
- Aspire to balance semesters
- Aim for 180 instructional days during the year
- Provide as many full weeks of instruction as possible
- Incorporate opportunities for remote learning for students
- Utilize remote learning days for state or national elections
Chief Financial Officer Marvin Dereef presented an update on the district's finances which he said remain strong. During his presentation, he recapped the unaudited FY2022 financials and noted the financial audit begins in two weeks. According to the presentation, the district has met its target for revenue budget. District reserves are at a strong level to mitigate any possible future economic challenges. He also highlighted awards and financial management accomplishments the district received in FY2022 and noted FCS maintains a Triple A rating from Moody’s Credit Agency. See the full presentation here.
Mr. Dereef also updated the Board on the district’s use of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding. As of June 30, 2022, FCS has met the September 30, 2022, deadline for spending its allotment of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding, totaling $18.3 million. Mr. Dereef noted the district is also in a good position for spending Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES II) funds, part of a package of emergency assistance approved by Congress in 2020 in response to COVID-19. Of the $75 million allotted to FCS, the district has spent $37 million with intentions to spend the remaining funds by September 2024. A major portion of this funding source is related to the district's FOCUS plan. Additionally, Mr. Dereef reported student activity funds for FY22 are trending toward pre-Covid levels with annual revenue of $15.7 million. See the full presentation here.
New Hires & Promotions
The following individuals were approved for new positions at the September 13 meeting:
Eric D. Hollinhead, Ed.D. | Deputy Chief Talent Officer
Melanie Conley | Director of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
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