FCS Board Bulletin for January 10, 2024
January 10, 2024
The Fulton County Board of Education (FCBOE) met on Tuesday, January 9, 2023, for its regularly scheduled work session meeting at the North Learning Center. The full agenda is available online. All items approved are available via BoardDocs. Meetings are streamed live on the Fulton County Schools (FCS) district homepage. Recordings will be available within 48 hours.
Dr. Mike Looney brought forth several topics during his Superintendent's Report relating to the safety of students in our schools. January 9 marked National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day which was established in 2014 to honor and show support for our nation's brave women and men who put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve their communities. Dr. Looney thanked our very own Fulton County Schools Police Department along with all our state, county, and city partner agencies for the tireless work they do to keep all students, staff, parents, and visitors to our campuses safe.
Additionally, Dr. Looney informed the Board that staff is bringing forward an important update to our Code of Conduct regarding the confiscation of vaping devices. Simply put, vaping is not allowed. If caught, staff will not return the vape nor the vape cartridge to the student. A parent may pick up the vape, not the cartridge, within 90 days. Detailed information on these actions can be found in the Student Code of Conduct.
Board Officer Elections Held
Each January, the Board holds elections for Board officers. The president's position is a two-year term, with District 6 representative, Ms. Kimberly Dove, starting the second year of her current term. At the meeting, Kristin McCabe, who represents District 5, was unanimously elected as Board vice president. The office is held for a one-year term.
Governor's Salary Supplement
Governor Brian Kemp's FY 2024 budget recommendation includes additional state funds for grants to the state's K-12 entities for $1,000 salary supplements to support the retention of educators and support staff. FCS is recommending a supplement that goes beyond the governor's recommendation and includes Pre-K. The administration and the Board feel it is important to include all FCS employees. Therefore, the administration is recommending a $1,000 one-time retention supplement for full-time employees, $500 for part-time employees, and $250 for substitutes who have worked at least 10 days up until December 15, 2023. Employees will receive this payment in their January 31, 2024 paychecks.
The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) has released the annual categories of needs improvement lists. FCS showed both gains and areas in need of improvement, according to Chief of Staff Cliff Jones, who praised the four schools that were removed from targeted assistance lists due to outstanding efforts by staff and students: Hamilton E. Holmes and Love T. Nolan elementary schools, Bear Creek Middle School, and Tri-Cities High School.
Categories include the Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI), Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI), and Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (ATSI) federal school identification lists based on the 2023 school year. Schools on the CSI list for academic achievement are College Park (Tier IV) and Conley Hills elementary schools; and there are three schools on the CSI list for graduation rate: Fulton Academy of Virtual Excellence (FAVE), and Independence and Skyview high schools. FCS has three schools on the ATSI list: Banneker High School and Brookview and Seaborn Lee elementary schools for the subgroup of students with disabilities. Staff has worked with schools and will continue to collaborate with them on the list to ensure progress is made. A full analysis of the results and a complete list of school changes can be found here.
State of the Charter System
Freddie Benschine, director of School Governance & Flexibility, shared the 2024 FCS State of the Charter System. Since 2012, FCS has been the largest Charter System in Georgia and has acted as a model for school and district-level flexibility. Fulton's process for shared governance emphasizes input from stakeholders and ensures School Governance Council (SGC) members have a voice in the education decisions made for Fulton County students.
The School Governance & Flexibility team has identified and is now capturing three metrics to ensure council efficacy and engagement on Fulton's Balanced Scorecard. This year, the team has also created Zone Efficacy Scorecards that provide up-to-date information related to current SGC performance levels.
Fulton County Schools offers SGC members a comprehensive development series. This year marked a return to in-person Cross Council meetings which allow members to interact directly with grade-level and feeder schools, hear success stories from other SGCs in the district, and learn from the School Governance & Flexibility facilitators.
Since its inception as a Charter System, Fulton has received a combined $50 million for its charter status. These funds are distributed equally among schools, with each receiving $44,390 in the 2022-2023 school year to support local initiatives and innovative practices.
Mr. Benschine concluded his presentation by providing an overview of Fulton's flexibility offerings and described a variety of state-wide accolades and recognitions Fulton received last year for its work as a Charter System. See the full presentation here.
State of Independent Charter Schools
The Fulton County Board of Education authorizes charter schools to provide high-quality, innovative, and standards-based opportunities for students and inform the replication of successful practices throughout the system, thus accelerating student learning districtwide. Director of Charter Schools Andrea Cooper Gatewood informed the Board of FCS charter schools' enrollment, academic and financial performance, reflecting on the charter school sector of seven autonomous charter schools serving almost 4,000 students.
Ms. Cooper Gatewood highlighted some key accomplishments. Content Mastery addresses whether students achieve at the level necessary to be prepared for the next grade, college, or career. Academically, she noted that two charter schools outperformed the district and the state in ELA and math content mastery. Further some charter schools' progress scores were greater than the state. Finally, all charter schools have completed an independent financial audit and received an unqualified opinion. The charter schools' sector as a whole reflects positive financial stability. Click here to see the full presentation.
2024 Redistricting and School Closure/Consolidation Plan for South Fulton Elementary Schools
School Board members received the superintendent's recommendation for redistricting several south Fulton elementary schools due to the construction of a replacement S.L. Lewis Elementary School. The Board also received a recommendation to close S.L. Lewis Elementary at the end of the current school year so construction can begin at the existing site.
During fall 2023, three public meetings collected redistricting input from parents and community members so FCS staff could create a proposal to balance enrollments among south Fulton elementary schools. The final proposal calls for approximately 39% of Mary M. Bethune Elementary School's current students to remain at Bethune, with the remaining students redistricted to Heritage Elementary School (42%) and Love T. Nolan Elementary School (19%). Board Policy AD ("School Attendance Zones") gives rising fifth graders who are redistricted the option to remain at their current school with parent-provided transportation.
As part of the redistricting and school closure/consolidation plan, all students from S.L. Lewis Elementary will move to Bethune Elementary for the 2024-2025 and 2025-2026 school years. The replacement S.L. Lewis Elementary is expected to open in August 2026, and at that time, all students housed at Bethune Elementary will move to the new building. Board Policy FDB ("School Closing and Consolidation") requires public hearings to be held before closing a school. Once determined, dates and times will be shared with the community.
The school Board is expected to vote on the redistricting and school closure/consolidation plan at its February 20 meeting. If approved, official redistricting notification will be sent via U.S. mail and email to impacted families in spring 2024.
2023-24 Community Meetings with Board Members
Each member of the Fulton County Board of Education 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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