Changes at APS as new superintendent Meria Carstarphen takes over

Monday marks first day for new APS superintendent

New Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen officially started work as the district’s new leader Monday.

She faces a host of challenges including raising graduation rates that hover at 59 percent, repairing the image of a school system still tainted by the stigma of a standardized test-cheating scandal and getting the district's often inefficient bureaucracy to work better for schools. School starts in one month and some Atlanta parents, residents and staff are impatient to see evidence of change under a new administration.

Carstarphen says she’s already begun making changes to how the district operates.

  • An emphasis on attendance: The district will be pushing out the message that attendance for students and staff from Day 1 is essential, she said.
  • New principals: Atlanta has about 20 this year, many of them selected with Carstarphen's input. Carstarphen says she's already changed the principal selection process to include more staff input and plans to further tweak it with the goal of recruiting top principals as early as the fall.
  • High school structure: She has started to examine where the district should move further away from a redesign that split Atlanta high schools into individual academies. This year, the three theme-based academies at Therrell will be united under a single principal.
  • Central office: Carstarphen has begun reorganizing APS' central office to make the district's expensive bureaucracy do a better job of supporting schools. She says she plans to create a "sea change" in the district's culture to put children first.

“I do think people understand that,” she said. “And if they aren’t up to making that transition they really don’t have a place on the APS team anymore.”

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