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FCS Community Update for May 14, 2021
May 13 Post-Meeting Update
The Fulton County School Board met on Thursday, May 13, for its regularly scheduled Board Meeting at the South 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.
Superintendent Mike Looney began his remarks by announcing the Georgia Department of Education has approved the FCS application to renew its status as a charter school district for five years. He also discussed the district’s response to the revised CDC guidance on COVID-related precautions for fully vaccinated people. He said since last August, we have had a cautious and measured approach to reopening schools to face-to-face instruction. On Monday, May 17, FCS will take the next step in our most recently announced policy change by allowing elementary schools students to remove masks while engaged in outdoor activities. FCS will continue to work with our state and county public health agencies to review our guidance on masks and determine, what, if any changes will need to be made going forward.
FCS Bridge Plan
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. See the full presentation here.
Grading and Reporting System Proposed Policy Change
The Board approved revisions to Policy IHA: Grading and Reporting that will revert the majority of practices to pre-COVID norms along with standardizations in a few key areas. For the 2021-22 school year, the following additions have been made: standardized grading categories, standardized recovery policy, standardized reporting timelines, and added additional notifications for failing seniors. The Board also extended the review and revision of the district’s existing grading policy. Staff will continue to facilitate conversations with the Board, school leaders, teachers, parents, and students about different elements of the grading policy during fall 2021. The goal is to adopt a new policy in December 2021, begin communications and training for staff, parents, and students from January-July 2022, and implement the new policy in August 2022.
In addition to the grading policy modifications, changes were also incorporated into supplementary policies. BoardDocs has more detailed information on these changes. A full mark-up copy of the revised policy is available here, as well as individual grading summary pages for Elementary, Middle, and High School.
Director of Career, Technical and Agricultural Education Dustin Davis-Austin presented an update on the current state of CTAE. His presentation included a closer look at our middle school programs and gave an update on the CTAE Engage Course as well as the YouScience inventory in grades 6, 8 and 10. Davis highlighted some of our signature programs and schools, including our award-winning JROTC program. He concluded his presentation with an outlook on the future of the program, focusing on four key areas. These include increasing and supporting Computer Science programs throughout the district, providing state-of-the-art labs for hands-on student experiences, working with middle schools to increase and improve credit-bearing CTAE course offerings, and continuing to work with businesses, the local community, and economic development partners to ensure that we have the best pathways available to students at our middle and high schools.
The Board gave approval to the FY 2022 Tentative Budget as proposed by the Superintendent, which focuses on adequate funding for education in Fulton County that provides an investment in students and the community. This includes the significant categories of salary schedules, School Allotment Guidelines, a tentative millage rate for Maintenance and Operations, and a five-year capital program budget.
Updated changes from the Superintendent’s previous recommendation made on April 15 include the State of Georgia increasing the Quality Basic Education (QBE) funds by $16 million. While an improvement, it still leaves a gap in full funding for the state formula. The budget now assumes an $8 million increase in instructional reserve funding and, in addition to these two general fund changes, includes increasing the Special Revenue Fund revenue and expenditures slightly to allow for additional staffing revisions. It also keeps $4 million reserved in fund balance for Risk Management.
Breakdown of the FY 2022 Tentative Budget:
|School Nutrition Fund:||$43,668,746|
|Special Revenue Fund:||$55,615,635|
|Capital Program Fund:||$372,754,872|
|Student Activity Fund:||$15,848,908|
The total appropriation amount for all funds is $1,621,765,475. Adoption of the 2021-2022 final budget by the Board is scheduled for June 8. Adoption of the millage rate is expected in July.
Sesquicentennial Video Series
This year, Fulton County Schools is celebrating its sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary. To mark this occasion the Communications team, together with the FCS Teaching Museums, is creating a series of videos chronicling our rich and storied history. Chief Communications Officer Brian Noyes shared the fourth video in this series, which takes us back to the first one-room schoolhouse and chronicles a timeline of innovation showcasing how our schools and facilities helped shape our communities over the past 150 years.
Meningococcal Vaccine Requirement
Effective July 1, 2021, children 16 years of age and older, who are entering the 11th grade (including new entrants), must have received one booster dose of the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4), unless their initial dose was administered on or after their 16th birthday. Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial illness that affects the brain and the spinal cord. More information from the Georgia Department of Public Health can be found here.
School Summer Construction
School is never out of session in Fulton County. When students and staff move out for summer vacation, construction and maintenance crews move in to perform the thousands of projects needed to get ready for the next academic year. Those 10 weeks of summer allow workers to repair worn and damaged floors, paint walls, replace HVACs, pave parking lots, and tackle items that are difficult to finish when students and staff are inside a school. During this time, schools receive interior and exterior facelifts, health and safety upgrades, security enhancements, and other improvements funded by the one-penny education sales tax, SPLOST. Read more…