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FCS Community Update for October 1, 2021

FCS Community Update

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September 30 Post-Meeting Update

The Fulton County School Board met on Thursday, September 30, 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. Summaries of Board actions can be found here and Board policy updates can be found here.

Superintendent’s Report

FCS Dual Enrollment Partnership with Auburn University
Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney announced Fulton County School’s first out-of-state dual enrollment partnership with Auburn University. The partnership will officially receive students in the fall of 2022. Students who are accepted will pay Auburn First Resident fees (in-state) and applicants can receive a fee waiver based on financial hardship. Students who successfully complete a course will receive academic credit towards high school and up to 24 credit post-secondary hours. Auburn faculty will deliver online courses as part of their Auburn First curriculum. FCS has agreed to maintain two “Urban Learning Centers” to house Auburn resources. One location is in Alpharetta, where city leadership was instrumental in bringing this partnership together, and the other location will be in the southern part of the county. More information will be made available in December.

Conley Hills Replacement School
Chief Operations Officer Noel Maloof presented three options to replace Conley Hills Elementary School, which was constructed in 1953 and was scheduled for replacement in Capital Plan 2022. The options included replacing the building on the current site, finding an alternate site, or reconfiguring and renovating Paul D. West Middle School to a K-8 that would include the Conley Hills Elementary replacement school. He explained the reasons why the current site is not useable for rebuilding and is not adaptable to meet facility needs. The second option is a tract of improved property located at Ben Hill Road, East Point, on which a prototype K-5 elementary replacement school would be constructed. The third option is the existing Paul D. West Middle School site. As this site must continue to service middle school students, a new K-8 academic, design and facility model is required if this site was selected by the Board. Chief Academic Officer Cliff Jones then shared research on the benefits of K-8, detailing five specific attributes translating to higher academic performance. Dr. Looney also spoke directly to the Board, recommending transitioning Paul D. West to a K-8 school. After Board discussion, they chose to move forward with Option 2, providing a replacement K-5 elementary school for Conley Hills. The motioned carried in favor 5-2. See the full presentation here.

COVID Update
Chief Talent Officer Ron Wade presented an update on the district’s COVID-19 management efforts. He began by outlining that data extracted from the most recent Fulton County Board of Health (FCBOH) Epidemiology report indicates a 14-day downward trend in positive COVID cases in Fulton County. He then discussed the district’s Mitigation Matrix for rising case levels. Case levels are reported according to municipal boundaries within Fulton County and can be found in the weekly FCBOH Epidemiology Report. For more information, please visit our website.

Additionally, Wade explained that FCBOH has partnered with FCS on a pilot program to distribute COVID-19 At-Home Test Kits to FCS students/families. One thousand test kits have already been shipped to FCS. The tests must be requested by a parent. There are a limited amount of tests, which are first come first serve. Finally, he announced FCBOH is currently taking appointments for the COVID-19 Booster Shot for qualifying residents via their website.

Upcoming Vaccination Events
FCS, in partnership with Fulton County, FCBOH and CORE, will host its next vaccination events on October 9th at Tri-Cities and Creekside High Schools and October 16th at Westlake and Banneker High Schools. Gift cards in the amount of $50 will be given to the first 250 people vaccinated at each location. Pre-register at FCSvax.coreresponse.org. Walk-in appointments are also available. More than 280 people were vaccinated at the previous two events.

Bridge Plan Update
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. Click here to see the full presentation.

Safety in our Schools
Dr. Looney addressed recent safety concerns in some schools within the district. Although FCS anticipated safety issues could manifest themselves as we transitioned back from remote learning during COVID, the number and severity of some of these issues has been more than anticipated. One of those issues came from a social media-inspired challenge, where students were encouraged to damage school property, and others have manifested as security concerns. Thanks to the diligence of the district’s police department, we have apprehended students in the most severe cases and will stay committed to providing safe schools for all students and staff. Looney recognized it will take our entire school community to come together to make sure students come to school safely.

New TAD Application Form
The Board approved the final application form to evaluate formal Tax Allocation District (TAD) submission requests from Fulton County municipalities. Tax allocation districts are an economic development tool cities use to fund new development by reducing the burden on taxpayers. When a TAD is established in Fulton County, the district can decide if it will participate. Participation means contributing any new taxes generated by the new development back into the TAD to pay off the debt. The Board will continue its thoughtful and cautious financial stewardship while evaluating whether to participate in any TAD requests. Municipalities may review and update their applications as early as October 31, 2021. Submitted applications will be scheduled for evaluation by the FCS internal TAD team during the month of November and presented to the Board for approval during the December 2021 Board meeting. TAD applications submitted after October 2021 will be reviewed on an ongoing (monthly) basis. Applicants must submit applications to the Superintendent or designee at least six months in advance of the requested approval date in the form prescribed by the district. Click here for the TAD application worksheet. Click here for a TAD application.

Budget Services Department Wins International Award
Fulton County Schools (FCS) has been honored with the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) for its Annual Budget for the fiscal year beginning July 01, 2020. To receive this award, a governmental unit must satisfy nationally recognized guidelines of 14 mandatory and rigorous criteria for effective budget presentation. Under the leadership of Budget Services Executive Director Tracy Watson, this is the twelfth consecutive year that FCS has won this award, which represents GFOA’s highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

Publix Donation
Thank you to Publix Super Markets for their generous donation of $98,980 in Publix gift cards to help support our schools. The gift cards are the result of their annual "Tools for Back to School" community outreach program with proceeds from each store going back into the local community. Every school in the district will receive a set amount of $20 gift cards to help students in need.

Sesquicentennial Video
The sixth installment in our sesquicentennial video series reflects on the dramatic changes in the way students learn over the last century and a half. Whether its geography or journalism, physics or fine arts, the many subjects studied by the students of Fulton County today could not even have been imagined by students long ago. Click here to see the video.

October 2nd is National Custodial Recognition Day
Custodial workers are often the first to enter and the last to leave our schools and facilities. Not only do they do their daily cleaning work, but many also play a key role in our student days. They help to make students want to come to school from simple hellos to the high fives they get and give to students daily. Thank you to our custodians who play a vital role in the health, welfare, and education of students in FCS.

Capital Plan 2027 Community Meetings
Next Tuesday (Oct. 5) and Thursday (Oct. 7), Fulton County Schools will host four community engagement meetings to share information about the projects in Capital Plan 2027 and proposed funding options, such as ESPLOST (one-penny sales tax for education).

Two virtual meetings are set from Noon to 1:00 p.m. (lunch-and-learn atmosphere) and two are in the evening (6-7 p.m.) for those who want an in-person learning experience. More information about these meetings and Capital Plan 2027 is posted at www.fultonschools.org/ESPLOST.