Meet the Superintendent
June 1, 2012
Dear APS students, parents, employees, and supporters,
The last day of classes for most APS students was Tuesday, May 22 – a day that marked the end of the 2011-12 school year for the majority of our students. But, for APS educators and administrators, it was the beginning of an all too short two-month period when a lot of hard work needs to be accomplished prior to the start of the next school year in early August.
This past year witnessed many major accomplishments, which indicates to me that we are making progress in resolving our major issues and improving the educational product delivered to our students on a daily basis.
We completed the first major redistricting initiative in nearly a decade, which will also involve implementing enhancements to the learning environment that should result in escalated student achievement. A smaller number of school buildings will result in increased enrollment in some schools, meaning they will be eligible to receive assistant principals, guidance counselors, social workers, nurses and academic programs for which they were not eligible in the past when some were severely under-enrolled.
We are well along the road to resolving the repercussions of the 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) state investigation, with tribunal hearings scheduled through June. The number of educators still on administrative leave from this matter has been reduced by half since July 2011, when the state report was released. We are hoping to have all of these cases resolved by early next school year.
The Atlanta Board of Education has also effectively resolved its issues that for a time threatened the district’s high schools’ accreditation. The board’s governance issues and internal conflicts were resolved last year, after weekly meetings and positive actions that convinced the accrediting agency to lift the prior probation sanction placed on the district’s high school accreditation.
We are currently working to eliminate a projected $46 million gap in next year’s district budget, which we are accomplishing through cuts and for the first time in a number of years, a reduction in force. All major APS departments are reducing their budgets by 10 percent, except for the Curriculum & Instruction Division which is absorbing a 7 percent cut. Our goal is to minimize, to the extent possible, the impact on the teaching and learning environment in our schools. That division is also in the midst of a major reorganization, the goal of which is to provide a more effective and efficient management operation for the new cluster structure of our schools.
While the summer months are traditionally a time for long vacations at the shore, this is not the case for us. There is a lot we have to manage and implement prior to the start of the new school year. All of those issues that I have referred to in the past as ‘The Perfect Storm’ are being resolved through hard work and effective management. I have no doubt that challenges will continue to confront us as we advance our mission of educating today’s children for tomorrow’s world. But, I also have a growing faith and confidence in our ability as an organization to resolve these challenges, while continuing to deliver a quality education to our students.
Lastly, I witnessed the end result of our collective efforts in late May by attending all of our high school graduation ceremonies. The experiences were very inspiring, as I watched our graduates walk across the Atlanta Civic Center stage to receive their diplomas. Many are headed off to prestigious colleges and universities across the country, some with substantial scholarship support from major foundations and corporations. Others are going off to technical schools, the military and the workplace. I wish them all well, even as we turn our attention to the students coming behind them to make sure they are even better prepared than their predecessors.
Superintendent Erroll B. Davis, Jr.