FCS Board Bulletin for March 22, 2024

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    March 22, 2024


    The Fulton County Board of Education (FCBOE) met on Thursday, March 21, 2024, for its regularly scheduled Board meeting at the South Learning Center.  The full agenda is available online. All items approved are available via BoardDocs. Meetings are streamed live on the district’s homepage. Recordings will be available within 48 hours.

    Superintendent’s Report
    Dr. Mike Looney began his report by expressing his gratitude to the CTAE department for organizing an excellent CTAE Student of the Year banquet on March 19. This special event was hosted at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and featured student leaders from every high school across the district. Dr. Looney also personally thanked Board Services employee Lihn Rabe on her retirement after 30 years of service to the district. FCS will be celebrating Graduation Coach Appreciation Week from March 25-29, honoring the district’s graduation coaches for ensuring the successful transition of all students from elementary to middle school, middle to high school, and high school to post-secondary education or the workforce.

    Twice each month, the superintendent hosts a show called “Let’s Talk Schools,” which covers important and timely topics related to the district and highlights the achievements of our outstanding students and staff. The show is usually taped in the North Learning Center, but on March 11, for the first time, it aired live from Riverwood International Charter School where Dr. Looney was joined by district experts for a roundtable discussion about the impact of artificial intelligence on education and how the district is addressing this issue. The episode, as well as all episodes from the past three seasons, can be found on the News section of our website.

    Budget Update
    As Board members continued the formal process for reviewing budget data, Chief Financial Officer Marvin Dereef kicked off a series of presentations covering all funds except the General Fund and Capital Programs, called Budget Markup #1. Presenters covered funding related to various programs including Bridge to Success, pre-kindergarten, Services for Exceptional Children, school nutrition, and retirement services/pension, reviewing their proposed FY25 budgets and discussing highlights and challenges from this past year.

    Executive Director of Budget and Grant Services Tracy Watson began the presentation summarizing FY25 revenue sources, indicating that special revenue is forecasted to be $325.3 million, including a General Fund contribution of $195.5 million.

    Next, Director of Retirement Services Charles Robinson shared that the FCS Employees’ Pension Fund increased its funding level from 92% to 93.5% while decreasing administrative expenses associated with the operation of the plan.

    Then, Executive Director of School Nutrition Alyssia Wright presented new information about meal pricing for the 2024-25 school year, proposing a student meal increase of .15 cents for lunch and .10 cents for breakfast. The last student lunch meal increase was in 2018 and the last student breakfast meal increase was in 2019. If approved, meal prices for elementary students will be $1.20 for breakfast and $2.60 for lunch, and $1.35 for breakfast and $2.85 for lunch for middle and high schoolers. With this increase, Fulton County Schools (FCS) meal prices will remain lower than most of the other metro Atlanta districts. The school nutrition department remains committed to providing high-quality meals and introducing new menu items to align with current trends. A recent collaboration with Hunter Cattle, a local farm, exemplifies this commitment by introducing grass-fed beef to our menus, made possible through the Local Food for Schools grant. Ms. Wright also highlighted the opportunity for growth and advancement within the school nutrition program to fill available manager positions with qualified staff.

    Speaking next, Director of Federal Programs Catherine Harper shared many highlights from her department, including the fact that four schools have now exited the Targeted Support and Intervention (TSI) list. FCS continues to create high-quality professional learning for parent liaisons to ensure successful parent engagement programs focusing on building authentic and meaningful partnerships with parents. “Family Matters,” a district-wide celebration of National Family Engagement Month, was held in November at two locations across FCS where families from all schools came together for an evening of learning fun ways to engage with their children.

    Pam Weiser, Early Childhood Department coordinator, next highlighted department initiatives including the expansion of the Pre-K program for the 2024-2025 school year. With the additional opening of seven new classrooms, five of which are in new sites, the program is proud to now offer 94 classrooms in 51 elementary schools.

    Afterwards, Director of Federal Programs Montreal Bell provided a comprehensive overview of the proposed plan to transition Bridge to Success initiatives using general funds. She also detailed the allocation of remaining ESSER III funds, a part of what is commonly known as the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act. Fulton’s original portion of the ARP grant award was $168.9 million and provided funding for personnel, literacy, dropout prevention, virtual expansion, mobile learning, enhanced experiences, summer school, extended learning, leadership development, student safety and business continuity. Though ESSER funding has provided the district with the ability to transform instruction for students, staff, and families, spending for ESSER must conclude on or before September 30, 2024. However, due to the successful implementation of the Bridge to Success plan and positive student outcomes, Ms. Bell expects the recommended plan to sustain this work and help the district continue its trajectory of success.

    Concluding the presentation, Tris Gilland, executive director of Services for Exceptional Children, highlighted some of the tireless work the department is doing to ensure students with disabilities continue to have access to learning. Specifically, Ms. Gilland spotlighted the work of their transition services team, who held two successful fairs to connect families with a wide range of transition resources to support post-secondary success. The team has also partnered with the Human Resources division to create a valuable student training program. This program, called Next STEP (Shaping Tomorrow’s Employment Professionals), strategically places students in departments matching their career interests. It includes a tailored on-the-job training component designed to enhance their skills and experiences. In addition to Next STEP, approximately 25 students have participated in FCS’ Learning Independence for Future Employment (LIFE) program this school year, which supports students in a work environment as they gain the necessary post-secondary skills to prepare for meaningful employment post high school.

    The next budget presentation is scheduled for Tuesday, April 16 with public hearings held in May. The Board’s final budget adoption vote is scheduled for June. See the full presentation here.

    New Hires & Promotions
    The following individual was approved for a new position at the board meeting:

    • Shalun Matthews | Director, S.A.F.E. Centers

    2023-24 Community Meetings with Board Members 
    Each member of the FBOE sponsors a monthly meeting open to all members of the community. The sessions provide an opportunity for direct contact with community members and give Board members a chance to listen to local issues and concerns. Click here to see the meeting schedules of all Board members. 

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