FCS Board Bulletin for March 15, 2023
The Fulton County School Board of Education met on Tuesday, March 14, for its regularly scheduled Board meeting at the North Learning Center. 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.
Superintendent Mike Looney began his report by recognizing that March 13-17 is School Board Appreciation Week and thanked the Board for the many good things happening in the district as a direct result of Fulton school boards, past and present. He also thanked the thousands of employees who make the district run every single day, noting their impressive dedication and particularly acknowledging those who work for Services for Exceptional Children and the district’s social workers for their important, tireless work.
Dr. Looney reported the Centegix wearable badge crisis alert system is now in all schools and administrative buildings and is undergoing operational tests. He noted the system was completely installed before this month’s passing of Alyssa’s Law by the Georgia Senate, a bill requiring local education agencies to implement a mobile panic alert system.
Looney also noted during the first semester, Fulton County Schools Police hosted Gang Resistance Education And Training (GREAT) programs at five elementary schools with more than 125 students successfully completing the course. GREAT focuses on conflict resolution and building community.
Deputy Chief Operations Officer Yngrid Huff provided an update on enrollment projections. She discussed enrollment trends, compared actuals to enrollment predictions, shared housing and demographic data, and provided implications of these data elements in the form of the long-range enrollment projections.
For the 2022-23 school year, the district enrolled 89,722 students, a decline in enrollment totals. As larger graduating classes are exiting the district and smaller kindergarten classes are entering, a natural decline has occurred and will continue to occur. In addition to reviewing Fulton new home closings, other factors potentially impacting enrollment are families choosing other educational alternatives.
Fulton Academy of Virtual Excellence (FAVE) was the school most impacted by enrollment projections. While the online school’s enrollment totals were well below expectations, it appears many of these students re-enrolled in their FCS home schools. Ms. Huff also noted neighboring districts’ enrollment as a comparison, with only a limited number experiencing population growth and most other metro districts declining at a rate similar to Fulton.
Enrollment forecasting shows districtwide enrollment trends have returned to pre-pandemic patterns. While total enrollment is expected to continually decline, the rate of decline is far less substantial than originally predicted. For the 2023-24 school year, the district is expecting a similar trend in enrollment, with a projected decrease of 77 students to reach a district total of 89,646. See the full Enrollment Projections presentation here.
FY2024 Budget Forecasted Revenue Projections
Chief Financial Officer Marvin Dereef’s presentation of the preliminary General Fund revenue forecast highlighted the Board’s strong financial stewardship while sharing the district’s fiscal condition leading into the FY2024 budget process. Mr. Dereef is projecting a 3% growth in the tax digest for initial planning purposes. He expects a rise in the local fair share, which is the amount required for local school districts to pay toward state revenues, and this would reduce the Quality Basic Education (QBE) earnings from state funding back to the district. Also, there will be an increase in the State Health Benefit Plan employer contribution rate, which increases expenditures. Mr. Dereef stated throughout the presentation the projections are not final until after the State of Georgia finalizes its FY2024 budget and the Fulton County Tax Commissioner provides additional tax digest information. As of now, Fulton County Schools is forecasting $1.2 billion in General Fund revenue. See the full presentation here.
i-Ready Program Evaluation Report
i-Ready is an online program for reading and mathematics that helps teachers determine students’ needs, personalize their learning, and monitor progress throughout the school year. FCS Department of Program Evaluation Analyst Amanda Swerdlow, who led the i-Ready impact evaluation in collaboration with Georgia State University’s Metro Atlanta Policy Lab for Education (MAPLE), discussed the findings and recommendations of the i-Ready program evaluation. This evaluation focused on four areas: usage, teacher-assigned lessons, Georgia Milestones correlation, and stretch growth. Fulton students are meeting the software’s recommendations for time and amount of use, which is weekly for 30 to 45 minutes and lessons lasting 15 to 25 minutes.
The evaluation also looked at the impact of increasing the number of lesson minutes beyond this recommendation and found that this only benefits the phonics domain. Teacher-assigned lessons are most impactful in the measurement and data and high-frequency work domains. The third evaluation question asked about the correlation between Georgia Milestones and i-Ready diagnostic scores, which were investigated before COVID-19 and again found the scores to be strongly correlated. The highest correlation is when both fall and winter i-Ready scores are used. The data suggests that students with disabilities, English learners, and economically disadvantaged students are less likely to meet stretch growth in math and reading. Across racial and ethnic groups, Hispanic and Black students are less likely to meet stretch growth targets than other racial groups in math and reading, according to the data.
Chief Academic Officer Clifford Jones concluded the presentation with information about adjustments being made to the program, some of which include supporting teachers in reducing their reliance on i-Ready as a primary instructional tool and exploring more intervention strategies for students who are not performing at grade level. See the full presentation here. The research brief for this evaluation is posted here on the FCS website.
2023 AP Honor Schools
Chief Academic Officer Jones proudly acknowledged 17 schools who received recognition by the Georgia Department of Education as Advanced Placement (AP) Honor Schools for 2023. Mr. Jones added that participation in AP exams was higher in 2022 than in previous years. Congratulations to Alpharetta High School, Banneker High School, Cambridge High School, Centennial High School, Chattahoochee High School, Creekside High School, Hapeville Career Academy, Innovation Academy, Johns Creek High School, Langston Hughes High School, Milton High School, North Springs High School, Northview High School, Riverwood International Charter School, Roswell High School, Tri-Cities High School and Westlake High School. See the full list of recognitions here.
Board Community Meetings
Each Fulton County Board of Education member sponsors a monthly meeting open to the public. These meetings provide an opportunity for community members to have direct conversations with their elected Board representative about local issues and concerns. Find your Board member and view the Community Meeting Calendar.
Let’s Talk Schools
Check out our twice-monthly series, Let’s Talk Schools!, hosted by Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney, as he chats about all things FCS. This episode features the district's nationally recognized Fine and Performing Arts programs which offer amazing opportunities to our talented students.
Find out what is going on at Fulton County Schools. Be sure to check out the special News section of the school district’s website for the latest and greatest FCS happenings.
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