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FCS Community Update for September 9, 2020

 

September 8 Board Meeting Update

The Fulton County School Board met on Tuesday, September 8, for their regularly scheduled Work Session. A complete list of agenda items discussed during the work session is available via BoardDocs, a website that makes the school board agenda and all supporting documents available online.

Included in this update is a return to face-to-face instruction target date of October 14 and the introduction of a K-8 School Model being considered for Hapeville and Conley Hills elementary schools. Also shared was an update on fall sports, an “Educational Specifications” presentation for new construction, an update of the closing matrix and a financial status report for the district. Additional information regarding these topics follows.

Work session topics included an update on Educational Specifications which shared revisions for elementary, middle and high schools.  Also included was a presentation of the proposed K-8 school model by Chief Academic Officer (CAO) Cliff Jones and Chief Operations Officer (COO) Patrick Burke.

The proposed K-8 model allows students to remain in the same learning environment from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.  Districts who have used the model indicated a decrease in social distractions, additional leadership opportunities for students rather than switching to a new environment with new teachers, and deeper and more familiar relationships with the school and community. Our district has studied three urban districts in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Milwaukee and has a history of K-8 management with our charter schools since 2005.

Research has indicated that students in the K-8 model academically outperform students who transition to middle school, particularly in math.  Research also indicates reductions in discipline referrals, increased attendance among students, the stability of role models and a better culture and climate for students, parents and the community.

COO Burke shared that the K-8 option is currently planned for strategic implementation rather than districtwide.  Currently, two schools are proposed for transition to the model:  Hapeville Elementary and Conley Hills Elementary schools.  Hapeville was recently renovated and was formerly a high school which will permit ease of retrofit adaptations.  Conley Hills, which is in poor condition and was slated for replacement, would be housed at a renovated Paul West Middle School which currently has excess middle school capacity.  This project is slated for action in October with construction contracts awarded in March and a summer construction start date.  Both schools would open in August of 2022.  Click here to see the presentation.

 

Board Matters

Board members shared student, staff and school highlights and recognitions and expressed excitement for the start of Phase 1 face-to-face learning.

 

Superintendent’s Report

Superintendent Looney shared that the Georgia testing waiver was not approved by the U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.  Dr. Looney also provided a list of District policies waived due to the pandemic which will remain in effect during virtual learning.  Additionally, he expressed gratitude to teachers, leaders, parents and everyone who made the first day of face-to-face learning successful.

Dr. Looney invited Athletic Director Steve Craft to share an update regarding fall sports and the resumption of athletic games during September.  Notably, in-person audience attendance will be limited, attendees are required to wear masks and have temperatures checked prior to entering venues, tickets will be available digitally, concessions will be open with prepackaged foods only, and social distancing will be observed.  Click here to see the presentation.

Superintendent Looney shared revisions to the FCS Reopening Matrix provided that coronavirus case data shows continued improvement in Fulton County.  The district is preparing to omit Phase 2 and continue to Phase 3 implementation on September 21 – which is full day face-to-face learning for 25% of the student population per school.  Phase 4, which is 50% of students in schools, will occur on October 5, provided that progress continues; and fulltime face-to-face instruction will occur on October 14.  As previously mentioned, low incidence special education students will return to school on an accelerated timeline which means these students will return to fulltime face-to-face learning on October 5.  All of the phases remain optional, but families will need to make a decision regarding returning to local schools or continuing universal remote learning.  Additional information will be shared with families soon.

Dr. Looney also shared an updated closing matrix available here.

Preliminary results of parent responses to the Universal Remote Learning survey were also shared during the work session.  Currently, more than 10,000 parents have responded.  The surveys will close this Friday and parents are encouraged to share their feedback.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Marvin Dereef shared a financial update which included an improved capital programs/SPLOST increase of $130 million which will allow the district to bring forth projects delayed or postponed by the financial impact of the pandemic.  While this amount is still lower than pre-pandemic projections, it is an improvement of the numbers shared in June.  CFO Dereef also shared unaudited financials which indicate that the district is currently at 100.13% of revenue budget collections which translates to more revenue than anticipated for year-end.

 

Universal Remote Learning Survey

Please be sure to share your feedback about our Universal Remote Learning (URL) platform.  We want to know how things are going for you and your student (s) and have developed this survey about your URL experience.  Responses are anonymous but your feedback is vital as we continue moving forward during this school year.  The survey response deadline is this Friday, September 11.

 

Census Deadline September 30

The U.S. Census is preparing to close at the end of this month, which means September 30 is the deadline to respond on behalf of your household – that is, if you have not already done so. The online process takes only a few minutes and is very straightforward.

Why is the Census so important? Federal, state and local funds, as well as how geographic districts are drawn for elected offices, are determined by population. As communities grow or become smaller, knowing the size of the population becomes important for planning the future. This affects the funding for public schools and the resources received for special education, classroom technology, teacher training, after-school programs, school lunch assistance, and more. Funding for other community resources, such as healthcare, law enforcement and social agencies also is impacted by Census data.

Fulton County Schools has a special webpage at www.fultonschools.org/Census2020 that may answer general questions you have about the Census and our school system’s involvement. If you have not yet responded to the Census, there is no better time than now. Be counted!