Families and staff at about a dozen Atlanta elementary schools can expect significant changes in the coming years as the district aims to avoid state takeovers, school district leaders said Monday.
About half of Atlanta’s 80 schools are at high risk of being eligible for state takeover if voters next year approve Gov. Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School District constitutional amendment — though it’s unlikely more than a few schools would be subject to takeover immediately.
The amendment would allow control of low-performing schools to be shifted to a state-appointed superintendent, meaning decisions about how students are taught and how local tax dollars are spent would no longer be solely up to locally elected officials.
The changes coming to Atlanta schools are the result of a two-month planning process led by business consulting company Boston Consulting Group. They will mostly effect elementary schools that feed into Carver and Douglass high schools.
Among the changes this year: more reading tutoring, extra class time in some schools and hiring more teachers who specialize in teaching reading and math. Other schools will also see changes as district leaders try to improve academics across Atlanta.
Those aren’t exactly new ideas, Deputy Superintendent David Jernigan told the school board. But this time, “Whatever we do we know we must do well,” he said.
District leaders are also considering consolidating schools or bringing in a nonprofit charter school operator to take over one or more schools. That arrangement, and other changes, could start to go into effect next school year.
“I am here about quality education for our kids. And that should be our priority out of the box,” Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said.
Advocacy organization Rise Up Georgia and State Sen. Vincent Fort will hold an “emergency town hall meeting” Thursday to discuss the state takeover proposal and the recent alleged theft of about $600,000 from an Atlanta charter school.
“It is an astonishing example of what happens when schools are privatized and there is little oversight. That is why we must not allow the state takeover of our schools,” Fort said.