FCS Board Bulletin for February 8, 2023
The Fulton County School Board of Education met on Tuesday, February 7, 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 this week, February 6-10, as National School Counseling Week and thanked FCS school counselors for their dedication and commitment to helping our students be successful. This week is also Severe Weather Preparedness Week. FCS is hosting several activities across the district focusing on weather preparedness topics.
Dr. Looney updated the Board on the installation of the Centegix crisis alert system, a wearable badge that empowers staff to call for help in any kind of emergency. The system has been installed in three pilot schools and will be installed and tested in all remaining schools across the district over the next month. He ended his safety report with information about Governor Brian Kemp's proposed midyear budget adjustment, which included $50,000 in safety grant money for every school in the district.
State of the FCS Charter System
Freddie Benschine, school governance & flexibility coordinator, shared the 2023 Fulton County Schools State of the Charter System. FCS was instated as a charter system in 2012 and was officially renewed for a 5-year term in 2021. As the largest charter system in Georgia, Fulton is a model for shared governance throughout the state in part due to our specialized opportunities for council member development as well as the processes put in place related to funding and policy waivers.
Each year since 2012, Fulton has received $4.5 million from the state for its status as a charter system. In FCS, these funds are equally distributed to School Governance Councils (SGC) to support local school initiatives and innovative practices. This year, in addition to the oversight governance councils are traditionally afforded over charter dollars and annual budget approvals, the district allotted $2.2 million to schools for the purpose of supporting safety and security initiatives in their buildings.
Mr. Benschine concluded his presentation by describing a variety of state-wide accolades and recognitions Fulton received last year for its work as a Charter system. See the full presentation here.
Candidate Declaration is Open for School Governance Elections
SGC elections are officially underway as the declaration period for parents and teachers opened on February 1. This year, approximately 250 seats will be available for stakeholders interested in leading strategic initiatives, as they work to support their schools to achieve goals aimed at improving academic performance, enhancing community relationships, and creating a welcoming environment for staff members. The declaration window will remain open until March 24 with voting to take place in April. Individuals interested in declaring candidacy or learning more about SGC elections should visit the charter system website.
Chief Financial Officer Marvin Dereef presented a financial update, discussing the general fund, school nutrition fund, property tax, Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) receipts, and the student activity fund. As of December 2022, the district has received 73 percent of the budgeted general revenue, with 52 percent of expenditures expensed. School nutrition revenue is in good shape with $22.8 million and expenditures of $22.6 million. FCS has received 92.6 percent of the property taxes budgeted, which is an increase over last year. Additionally, six months into the Capitol 2027 plan, SPLOST revenue forecast projections are strong. At $9.9. million, the student activity fund for FY 2023 is rebounding from the pandemic years. Finally, the district is trending well on spending ARP (American Rescue Plan) dollars for the Bridge to Success plan.
Mr. Dereef also presented an annual update on the district’s TAD (Tax Allocation District) participation progress. TAD is an economic development tool used by the local government where proceeds are used to build public infrastructure. School boards must give formal permission to the tax commissioner for their share to be included in the TAD. The Board adopted and updated the TAD policy in April 2021 requiring all applicants to submit in a standardized format that contains scoring criteria. If requirements are met, FCS will approve the project(s). FCS participates in two active projects in College Park and parts of the City of East Point. The East Point TAD for redeveloping Camp Creek Parkway is being dissolved by East Point.
Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling, (LETRS 3) Third Edition
Chief Academic Officer Clifford Jones presented an item up for a vote at the next Board meeting that reflects the district’s ongoing literacy transformation, which is being accomplished through a staggered two-year training cycle for Pre-K through grade 12 teachers, school leadership, and central office staff. Based on the Science of Reading, the LETRS program ensures teachers and school leaders understand the five essential pillars of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension, plus writing, spelling, and oral language. It also ensures teachers are skilled in implementing related instructional routines and activities to serve our students. The Science of Reading is not taught in most teacher preparation programs, so the district must provide this knowledge and training. This transformational change will become self-sustaining through an FCS cohort of LETRS subject matter experts who are also being trained under this contract. This will be the third year of the initiative, which will be funded by federal ARP dollars. The vendor-led training will be completed in May 2024, and the program will then be maintained by FCS facilitators.
New Hires and Promotions
The following individuals were approved for new positions at the February 7 meeting:
- Garrett Abelkop | Director, Human Resources
- Margaret Antwi | Director, Human Resources
- Tiffany Hutchens | Director, Human Resources
- Maureen Lilly | Director, Human Resources
Board Community Meetings
Each member of the Fulton County Board of Education sponsors a monthly meeting that is 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.
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