New APS superintendent officially starts work today

Today is Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen’s official first day on the job.

She replaces former superintendent Erroll Davis.

She’s scheduled to spend much of the day in meetings with district staff and other people.

Carstarphen, who previously worked as superintendent of the Austin, Texas, school district, has actually been working for the Atlanta school district since shortly after she was hired in April.

Carstarphen formed a "transition team" to help her prepare to lead the Atlanta schools. She hired new top district administrators, interviewed principals, and met with parents and district staff. That work was funded with about $260,000 in private donations.

As Atlanta superintendent, Carstarphen faces challenges including raising graduation rates that hover at 59 percent and repairing the image of a school system still tainted by the stigma of a standardized test-cheating scandal.

After the Atlanta school board formally voted in April to hire her, Carstarphen received a standing ovation from the audience. She warned school staff and the public then about the difficulty of the task ahead.

“People, I’m just being straight up about it, you’re going to work harder than you’ve ever worked before,” she said.