Bridge To Success Presentations to the FCS Board of Education

  • FCS staff members will make monthly presentations to the Board of Education about the progress of the Bridge To Success. Summaries of those presentations will be posted here along with links to the Powerpoint files and recordings of the video. 


June 15, 2023

  • Montreal Bell, director of Federal Programs - CARES/ARP, provided an update on the FCS Bridge to Success plan in which she discussed numerous accomplishments for 2022-2023, which include the Summer Learning program and finishing the plans to open five In-School Academies in South Fulton. The 2022-2023 school year also welcomed the return to in-person field trips through the Cultural Kaleidoscope program and kicked off the continued work with high dosage/small group tutoring. FCS also welcomed and celebrated the opening of three Student and Family Engagement (S.A.F.E.) Centers and the arrival of two bus simulators for driver training and accuracy. In addition to having every major priority started and on schedule, FCS continues to be proud of the ongoing professional development investments in staff through Literacy Training, Leadership Development, Virtual Learning Certification, and CTAE (Career, Technical and Agricultural Education) training.

    Please visit the Bridge to Success website for more information. Feedback and questions can be submitted to ARP_ESSER@fultonschools.org.


April 20, 2023

  • Director of Federal Programs Montreal Bell provided the Board with a program management update for the district’s Bridge to Success plan, a three-year comprehensive effort to help students recover from learning loss resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The presentation included additional details about the information required for the Georgia Department of Education's (GDOE) six-month review and the Year Three performance report.

    About 200 survey responses from school and district staff members, parents/guardians, students, and community members were collected during the review process. Survey results showed increased support for current Bridge to Success plan priorities, with Every Child Reads and FOCUS programs ranked as the top two most important initiatives.

    Please visit the Bridge to Success website for more information. Feedback and questions can be submitted to ARP_ESSER@fultonschools.org.


February 23, 2023

  • Director of Federal Programs Montreal Bell provided a monthly update on the district’s Bridge to Success plan, a three-year comprehensive plan and transformational investment to help students recover from learning loss resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure student achievement, growth, and success. In addition to providing information about the multiple opportunities for students to extend learning at our schools, Ms. Bell said the Summer Learning Program will be offered this year to students in grades 3-12. Details can be found on the summer learning website along with the link to register beginning on March 1.

    Ms. Bell also discussed Every Child Reads and the Expanded Programs initiative, which provide students in grades K-12 with innovative learning opportunities including Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) expansion, enhanced learning experiences, dropout prevention strategies, virtual learning expansion, and mobile learning opportunities. Other projects coming out of the Bridge to Success plan include a Middle School Career Expo on February 25 at North Springs High School, the expansion of digital course options and the grand openings of three S.A.F.E. Centers.

    As a condition of receiving American Rescue Plan (ARP) ESSER funds, school districts and the state must participate in the six-month review process. Fulton’s six-month review period is March 2023. To comply with this requirement, stakeholders will be asked to provide feedback using a survey that will be conducted March 13-27. This information will be posted on the FCS website.

    Please visit the Bridge to Success website for more information. Feedback and questions can be submitted to ARP_ESSER@fultonschools.org.


January 19, 2023

  • Director of Federal Programs Montreal Bell provided a monthly update on the district’s Bridge to Success plan, a three-year comprehensive plan and transformational investment to help students recover from learning loss resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure student achievement, growth, and success. The update focused on reviewing the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds and providing an overview of the plan’s current initiatives.

    Ms. Bell also reviewed American Rescue Plan (ARP) requirements in which the district developed plans to address learning loss and a safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services plan. The many initiatives making up the district’s strategy to address these key components include Every Child Reads, Textbook Adoption, Expanded Programs, Business Continuity, and Leadership Development and FOCUS. Most recently added to the Bridge to Success Plan last year, is the new Student Safety Initiative. This initiative aims to help school staff and administrators build capacity and restoratively improve school climate and culture through positive behavior interventions and supports, and fair discipline processes and procedures.

    Please visit the Bridge to Success website for more information. Feedback and questions can be submitted to ARP_ESSER@fultonschools.org.

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October 20, 2022

  • Deputy Academics Officer Dr. Gyimah Whitaker and Montreal Bell, director of Federal Programs, co-presented an update on the Bridge to Success plan, Fulton's three-year comprehensive plan and transformational investment to mitigate the disruption of COVID-19. Dr. Whitaker specifically discussed the dropout prevention program called In-School Academies, which came to fruition while staff were exploring how to design an intervention to address chronic absenteeism and prevent students from dropping out. Beginning in November 2019, staff examined the district's existing approaches to the challenges students faced and the practices which could increase the rate of graduation for students with complex needs who remain enrolled at their home school. The result was the creation of the In-School Academy innovation.

    In-School Academies are intensive targeted programs which offer: 1) credit recovery, 2) full-course completion, 3) work-based learning, and/or 4) targeted interventions. This multi-pronged approach allows students to receive the offering best suited for their situation, learn at their own pace, and do so within schedules that can accommodate work or other needs. Early data shows this approach is successfully meeting the needs of our students. Among the many highlights Academics is monitoring, data shows unique environments can serve two profiles of students - the student who wants to accelerate on the path towards graduation, and the student who wants to regain the opportunity to graduate on time with his or her peers. While the focus on dropout prevention is at the heart of this administration, Dr. Whitaker believes In-School Academies will assist us in regaining that pre-COVID traction, decreasing the number of student dropouts, and increasing our graduation rates even more.

    Ms. Bell's presentation focused on additional program updates, including priorities that were addressed with federal funding from the American Rescue Plan. A survey of community members, parents, and school and district-based staff posted on the FCS website in September indicated stakeholders' priorities are: 1) safe environments for face-to-face instruction, 2) recover from learning disruption, 3) establish transformative approaches to literacy instruction, 4) develop leaders through high quality professional development, 5) expand existing program options for students, staff and parents, and 6) ensure district operations. This feedback will be used to determine if changes need to be made moving forward.

    Please visit fultonschools.org/bridgetosuccess to learn more about the Bridge to Success plan and stay abreast of program updates. Additionally, stakeholders are encouraged to provide feedback regarding the Bridge to Success by emailing ARP_ESSER@fultonschools.org.


September 22, 2022

  • Chief Academic Officer Cliff Jones and Director of Federal Programs Montreal Bell co-presented an update on the Bridge to Success plan specifically related to “Summer Learning 2022,” a four-week session held at 33 sites across the district. The program served 9,295 face-to-face students and 5,827 Fulton Virtual students.

    New this past year, the district employed a targeted invitation process for students based on their Georgia Milestones performance. This past summer saw the largest summer school enrollment in the district’s history at 15,122 students, increasing in part by expanding the program to serve students in grades 1-12. Jones indicated there has been a substantial increase in students attending summer school seeking face-to-face summer support. Ninety-eight percent of elementary school students passed one or more of their summer school courses. Seventy-nine percent of middle school students passed one or more summer school courses, and high school students earned an additional 4,575 credits, resulting in an additional 68 summer graduates. Summer Learning key curriculum pieces targeted literacy and numeracy support for our students.

    During Ms. Bell’s presentation, she encouraged stakeholders and the public to provide input and feedback on the use of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding. The public can provide their feedback on Fulton’s plans by taking the survey here. The survey will remain open until Monday, September 26.

    Ms. Bell also encouraged stakeholders to continue to visit the Bridge to Success website to learn more about initiatives happening in schools and in the district. Her team has been working with the Budget and Accounting teams to prepare completion reports for both ESSER I and ESSER II funds. Stakeholders can provide feedback regarding the Bridge to Success by emailing ARP_ESSER@fultonschools.org.


August 18, 2022

  • Director of Federal Programs Montreal Bell provided the Board with an update on the FCS Bridge to Success plan, a three-year comprehensive plan to help students recover from learning loss resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan is funded by the federal government’s American Rescue Plan and other Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. Ms. Bell outlined the work that is well underway in schools.

    • Students have new ELA resources aligned to the Science of Reading. LETRS Training (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) remains an integral part of learning and a variety of programs continue to provide students with learning experiences that support more opportunities for hands-on learning in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and the arts.
    • The FOCUS plan supported students in summer school and will continue to provide high dosage, small tutoring in all schools beginning in the fall. Additional curriculum resources such as the parent hub and literacy videos have been added to support families and teachers with instruction.
    • The Professional Learning and Leadership Development (PLLD) team has a robust Aspiring Leaders program that supports the growth of district staff that will lead Fulton into the future.
    • Schools and administrative buildings have used funds to support health and wellness initiatives.
    • One-time retention supplements have been provided to staff.
    • In the coming months, the Student Support team will develop its plans for student safety and define its goals based on school needs.

     


June 16, 2022

  • Montreal Bell, Director of Federal Programs, CARES/ARP (American Rescue Plan), gave the monthly Bridge to Success update, reviewing some of the major highlights, which include providing district leadership staff and schools the training needed to support literacy instruction, expanding the virtual learning platform for students, offering a K-2 virtual option for students in grades K-2, implementing literacy training for district and school leaders, and purchasing new ELA textbooks.

    Looking ahead to 2023, Ms. Bell detailed information about the use of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, which include transitioning activities that align to literacy and learning recovery and prioritizing plans for needs beyond ESSER funding. See the full presentation here.

    Prior to Ms. Bell's update, Amy Barger, Assistant Superintendent of Learning and Teaching, highlighted the progress made to ensure every child in the district can read. The Board demonstrated their commitment to this effort by approving over $6 million of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to provide the LETRS (Language Essentials for Teaching Reading and Spelling) program to teachers, school leaders, and district leaders. Through LETRS, the district is collectively learning how students learn to read and the evidence-based practices that will ensure 95% of students read on or above grade level. By the end of May, 76% of LETRS participants were on track with their learning.

    Ms. Barger updated the Board on how many district and school leaders have already participated in the LETRS program and thanked the Board for their significant acknowledgement of the hard work and personal time learning leaders dedicated this school year, which included receiving a completion stipend.

     


May 12, 2022

  • Director of Federal Programs Montreal Bell reported the Bridge to Success team met three important deadlines and milestones this past month, including hitting state and federal reporting requirements regarding expenditures related to the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund. Click here to read more about the Bridge to Success plan.

     


April 21, 2022

  • A monthly update on the Bridge to Success plan, the district’s comprehensive strategy to utilize the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP), Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) funds, was presented by Director of Federal Programs, CARES/ARP Montreal Bell. Ms. Bell included information about the work done to help students recover from learning loss and initiatives happening in schools and throughout the district.

    Extended Learning, After School Enrichment and High Dosage Small Group tutoring programs are winding down for the 2022 school year. Ms. Bell presented preliminary data indicating how many students participated in each of these programs. She also updated the Board on a variety of other Bridge to Success programs, including Every Child Reads and Expanded Programs.

    Summer School registration will continue through May 26. Late registration is also available at the summer learning sites on June 6 & 7. The face-to-face session will take place in 36 schools June 8 through July 8 (Elementary School from 7:40 a.m.-11:40 a.m., Middle School from 8:20 a.m.-12:20 p.m., High School from 8:55 a.m.-1:20 p.m.). Fulton Virtual will take place June 1-July 13 with late registration taking place June 1-6 online. Breakfast, lunch and transportation will be provided at all in-person locations. For more information, visit the FCS Summer School website.

    Finally, Ms. Bell discussed findings from the Bridge to Success survey initiated at the beginning of the year. Stakeholders indicated the number one goal of the plan should be focused on helping students recover from learning disruption caused by COVID-19. More information, including monthly financial reports, are available on the FCS Bridge to Success website.

     


  • March 17, 2022

    Director of Federal Programs, CARES/ARP Montreal Bell provided an overview of the projected FY23 budget for ESSER funding for Fulton County Schools. Fulton County Schools has branded the support from this funding as the Bridge to Success plan. It details the district’s response to support areas with the greatest need and the academic and non-academic components that were impacted by COVID-19. Although all ESSER funds were not highlighted in the presentation, additional funds were received to support various CTAE Programs, Special Education, School Nursing, LEA Bonuses and Residential Treatment Centers in Fulton County.

     


     

    February 17, 2022

    Deputy Chief Academic Officer Dr. Gyimah Whitaker presented information on the Summer Learning Programming for 2022. Last year’s Summer Learning was our largest summer school to date, serving more than 20,000 students. Dr. Whitaker discussed findings from Gibson Consulting Group, who worked with staff to conduct a program evaluation, reviewing their recommendations for program improvement, and outlining several action steps. This year, for the first time, the district is trying a limited requirement for summer school based on students’ Milestone performance, targeting students in most academic need. There will be 37 Summer Learning sites with half-day programming from June 8 - July 8. Registration will begin via our website from March 1 - May 26. Students in grades 3, 5 and 8 who do not pass the Georgia Milestones will be required to attend unless their parents sign an opt-out. Additionally, FCS will offer Fulton Virtual classes for students who desire to accelerate as well as those who need to recover from a class in a competency-based or flexible model June 1-July 13. Dr. Whitaker also included details about each academic program by level. Click here to for more about the academic programs.

    The second half of the update, presented by Director of Federal Programs, CARES/ARP Montreal Bell, included information about the six-month review process and items that will be added to Fulton’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) application. The revised ARP application will include the request to fund a new initiative for the remainder of FY22 and in FY23 in Safety and Security. The focus of this initiative will request funding to develop a comprehensive plan to support schools needing help with managing challenging behaviors. Details of the plan are forthcoming, but the funding for this initiative will include personnel and training to support schools that need strategies with managing challenging behavior. Click here to see the full presentation.

    Finally, the district has posted a survey on its website to allow stakeholders the opportunity to provide input on the Bridge to Success plan and share any other valuable information regarding the use of the federal funds. The survey link will remain active until February 25.

     


     

    January 20, 2022

    Deputy Chief Academic Officer Dr. Gyimah Whitaker informed the Board of a proposal to redesign our SAFE Center at Banneker High School. The SAFE Center represents the consolidation of school services and community partnerships. It is designed to eliminate academic, social, and emotional barriers that impede students’ ability to maximize their full potential. Based upon the learning from Banneker’s SAFE Center and new guidance from key partners, FCS will also expand the SAFE Center Model to North Springs and Tri-Cities High Schools, opening August 2022. The SAFE Centers will bring attention to all aspects of child development while creating strong school, family and community ties.

    Another priority of the Bridge to Success plan is to establish transformative approaches to literacy instruction. Utilizing additional federal funds, the district and school leaders have begun learning the skills needed to teach the five essential pillars of reading (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension), plus writing, spelling, and oral language though the training program LETRS, Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling. Kindergarten through fifth grade teachers have begun their LETRS training journey and received resources to support this professional learning. Additional training will continue until all K-5 teachers complete training in January 2024.

     


     

    December 16, 2021

    Director of Federal Programs, CARES/ARP Montreal Bell delivered a presentation about the FCS Bridge to Success website. Bell also discussed expectations for the next six months, including the review process required for the American Rescue Plan in Fulton and for the state. The district will also begin moving forward with the other initiatives outlined in the Bridge to Success Plan.

     


     

    November 18, 2021

    Director of Federal Programs, CARES/ARP Montreal Bell provided an update on the Building the Bridge to Success plan, a multi-year plan using several federal funding sources to help address COVID-19 learning disruption and ensure the safety of students, staff, and families. Extended learning programs are well underway at almost all FCS elementary, middle and high schools and plans for Summer School 2022 officially started this week. Instructional paraprofessionals are supporting high dosage and small group tutoring in elementary schools. Many schools have partnered with tutoring companies to provide academic support to students that need it. As staff learns about the Science of Reading, research continues on the ‘Every Child Reads’ initiative. Plans are underway to expand programs to add innovative, research-based learning options for students in various learning formats including a mobile learning bus, expanding virtual learning opportunities, and expanding CTAE and high school graduation options for students. Looking ahead, the FCS Bridge to Success website for the public and employees is expected to launch shortly.

     


     

    October 21, 2021

    Deputy Chief Academic Officer Dr. Gyimah Whitaker updated the Board on the district’s FOCUS Plan. FOCUS is our answer to COVID learning disruption that addresses the impact on student achievement through an equitable lens. She introduced three principals to provide examples of how they are using the data to improve student outcomes. Asa Hilliard Elementary School Principal Maureen Lilly explained how the school is using this data to focus on learning acceleration and curriculum mapping. Sandtown Middle School Principal Latoya Miley discussed the school’s current instructional actions and how it has responded to critical questions centered on improvement of instructional and learning outcomes. Additionally, Dr. Ethel Lett, principal of Tri-Cities High School, shared strategies being used at the school to address the impact of the last 18 months on student achievement, noting they continue to see academic progress by building strong relationships with students and providing just-in-time supports.

     


     

    September 30, 2021

    Montreal Bell, director, Federal Programs - CARES/ARP, provided an update on the FCS Bridge Plan, the district’s strategy for addressing the learning gap created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Bell shared data focused on the efforts that are being made to prioritize safe environments for face-to-face instruction, utilize the FCS Focus plan to recover from learning disruption, and ensure continuity of district operations.

    As a part of the FOCUS plan initiatives, the district provided face masks to schools for students and adults to begin the school year. Schools are making plans to provide targeted academic support for students in extended learning and high dosage and small group tutoring that will begin in October. Tutoring support is provided to students when they are on assigned remote learning and funds have been set aside to hire two new cluster nurses to provide additional support to Student Health Services. Updates from the American Rescue Plan include the start of the vocabulary program to middle and high schools. The Bridge Plan approval included our Remote Learning programming in K-2.

    Additionally, Bell discussed the completed milestones of the program, which include a grant agreement and an approved budget from Georgia Department of Education (GADOE), and their new Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund Budget dashboard, which shows how CARES funds are being spent statewide. Next steps include allocating the additional ARP funds and developing communication and branding for the Bridge to Success initiatives. To provide feedback regarding the Bridge to Success, email ARP_ESSER@fultonschools.org.

     


     

    August 19, 2021

    Montreal Bell, director, Federal Programs - CARES/ARP, provided an update on the FCS Bridge Plan, the district's strategy for addressing the learning gap created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The three-year plan leverages funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), of which FCS received $168 million, to help schools recover from COVID-19. Combined with CARES I, CARES II and smaller related CARES grants, FCS will implement the multi-year program to address the impact of the pandemic on lost instruction and learning, and centers on ensuring the safety of students, staff, and families.

    Bell shared data about the district's summer school program, its largest ever, serving 17,287 students in June and July with 1,979 staff members. She also announced the GA Department of Education (GaDOE) has approved the first version of Fulton's American Rescue Plan application. The K-2 virtual expansion and the K-8 learning hub initiatives have been added to the ARP plan for state approval. FCS is still waiting for final budget approval from GaDOE for CARES II and ARP. The Board will continue to be updated on the Bridge Plan in the coming weeks. To provide feedback regarding the Bridge to Success, email ARP_ESSER@fultonschools.org.

     


     

    June 17, 2021

    Director of Federal Programs, CARES/ARP Montreal Bell updated the Board on the district’s Bridge project, a multi-year plan using multiple federal funding sources to help address COVID-19 learning disruption and ensure the safety of students, staff, and families. The project consists of five initiatives, including the ‘Every Child Reads’ program, textbook adoption, expanded program options, leadership development and business continuity. Several completed milestones were reviewed and upcoming project milestones were presented. District leaders will continue to provide monthly updates to the Board on the utilization of funds from the American Rescue Plan (APR) and their use in various programs. To provide feedback regarding the Bridge to Success, email ARP_ESSER@fultonschools.org.

     


     

    May 13, 2021

    Superintendent Looney and several cabinet members presented the FCS Bridge Plan, a multi-year plan using multiple federal funding sources to help address COVID-19 learning disruption and ensure the safety of students, staff, and families.

    Chief Financial Officer Marvin Dereef spoke of the budgetary breakdown of the Bridge Plan as it relates specifically to the $168 million from the American Rescue Plan. FCS is monitoring the changing state and federal conditions and regulations related to spending this money. Of note, 68% of the funds are being budgeted for academic programming, with over half the funds going to literacy.

    Chief Academic Officer Cliff Jones then spoke of the most recent data from our research partner at Georgia State, MAPLE, which covers January of 2020 to January 2021. He explained this data finds FCS students overall have made less progress in reading than in math. The district will utilize the FCS FOCUS plan to recover from the overall learning disruption.

    As a major plank of the FCS Bridge, the Every Child Reads Plan will intensify and realign our work with the most recent science and research, creating better outcomes for all our students at a time when they need it the most. This effort will specifically address and transform the district’s approach to literacy instruction through intense science of reading district and school professional development.

    An equally important part of the Bridge Plan is to expand existing successful programs which drive student readiness for college or career success. Among other areas, FCS is looking to further CTAE in middle school and even exploring elementary school expansion. Another facet of the plan is the development of a specific K8 academic program. The Bridge Plan also emphasizes developing leaders throughout the organization, improves and expands existing program options for students, staff, and parents, and ensures continuity of district operations.

     


     

    April 22, 2021

    During the pre-work session, Chief Academic Officer Cliff Jones, joined by seven FCS principals walked through the FOCUS project plan, a collaborative initiative founded on existing effective practices for academic recovery to address the impact of the pandemic on lost instruction and learning. Pre-work sessions allow staff to share preliminary reports with the Board for input before incorporating the information into a future presentation. Since Jones’ last presentation to the Board in February, seven cross-functional FOCUS groups have been working on students’ academic needs. Mr. Jones says research indicates results can be achieved by expanding the effective practices already available in the district.

    During his presentation, Mr. Jones unveiled the new FOCUS logo, which was selected from a competition facilitated by the FOCUS Parent Engagement team. The winning logo was chosen from the graphic arts and design program at Chattahoochee High School. He then outlined the budgetary scope of the FOCUS plan. The two-year, $45 million budget is sixty percent of the total Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief fund (ESSER), commonly referred to as Cares 2 funds. Click here for a breakdown of the budget.

    He also shared how the FOCUS team has created comprehensive plans which address the universal needs of all students while driving targeted resources and strategies to the students with greatest needs. The plan begins with two teams working on the flexible use of extended time. One team is dedicated to summer school, and one team is dedicated to extended time during the school year during and after the school day. The functions of the other work teams featured in the plan, including High Dosage Small Groups, Assessment Strategy Group, Curriculum Mapping, Parent Engagement and Parent Development, were also presented in detail.