Box 6, Folder 1, Document 15

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Box 6, Folder 1, Document 15

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A PROGRESS REPORT
to the
LEGISLATIVE DELEGATION FROM DEKALB AND FULTON COUNTIES
by the
LOCAL EDUCATION COMMISSION OF
ATLANTA AND FULTON COUNTY
November, 1966
�Tentative
THE LOCAL EDUCATION COMMISSION OF
ATLANTA AND FULTON COUNTY
Purpose
This document reports progress made by the Atlanta and Fulton
County Education Commission in developing detailed plans for creating
a new school district to take the place of the Atlanta and Fulton
County districts as instructed by the General Assembly of Geor~ia when
it extended the life of the Commission in 1966.
The document consists
of decisions and plans which the Commission has made for creating a
single school district, an outline of remaining tasks of the Commiss i on, provisions which have been made for completion of these tasks,
a statement of budget needs , and a time schedule.
Background
Ref erence to the previous work of the Commission is nece s sar y
f or the purpos e of under stand i ng proper ly thi s repor t.
The commission
was created by an ac t of the Gener a l As sembly adopted by t he 1964 s ession which gave the Commi ss ion r espons i bility "to study the desirability and feasibility of combining the s chool sys t ems of Fulton County
and the City of Atlanta 9 including the portion thereof lying in
DeKalb County ; to provide that said Commission may draft a plan or
plans for the combining of such school systems and submit same to
members of the General Assembly from Fulton and DeKalb Counties. "
�The tasks assigned to the Commission turned out to be difficult
and complex requiring studies involving law, economics, public finance,
school costs 9 population analysis, school personnel, welfare provisions,
school district structure, educational needs, existing educational programs, and curriculum development.
These studies analyze current
status and project probable future developments. · The studies provided
the information required by the Commission to execute its assignment.
The first report of the Cotmnission ; an interim one , was released
in January of 1965.
It briefly reviewed the substantial history of
local concern for how education should be organized in the AtlantaFulton County area as reported in various studies, some essentially
educational in nature while others dealt broadly with problems and
issues faced by the growing Atlanta metropolitan area.
The major con-
tribution of this report was the careful identification , description ,
and analysis of advantages and disadvantages of a single school dist rict i rt place of the Atlanta and Fulton County districts.
The report
poi nt ed out the dif ficulties to be overcome in creating a s ingle d i st r i ct .
I t also de scribed the proposed single district and s uggested
a t enta tive budget for completing the assignment of the Commission .
In Februa ry of 1966 , t he Commis s i on r e leased a report entitled,
"District Reorganization f or Better Schools in Atl anta and Fulton
County."
Building on the int erim report summarized above, this docu-
ment inquired into the effect on educational programs of transition to
a single district, the effects on financing education and listed a
number of important questions concerning the proposed district for
which answers were provided.
With the background thus developed , the
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�r.
Conunission was in position to reach a decision on whether or not it
should recommend a single school district .
The decision of the Commission was that a single district should
be created to take the place of the present Atlanta and Fulton County
districts.
It found that the consolidation of the Atlanta and Fulton
County districts was less desirable than dissolving them and creating
a new district in their stead inasmuch as the disadvantages of neither
district would need to be perpetuated, wpile the advantages of each
could be retained.
The report included seventeen other recommendations
which defined required legal steps to be taken in creating a single
district , described how the new district should be organized, and suggested financial provisions.
The report then defined t wenty-nine
transition tasks to be undertaken concerning primarily school programs
of the present districts.
A Public Inf ormation Services Program was
suggested to help achieve broad public understandin~ of the proposed
new distr i ct.
The report ended with an analysis of recent develop-
ments of significance to the school district reorganization issue.
The repor t was presented to the Legislative Delegati on of DeKalb
and Ful ton count i es befor e it was released .
The Delegat i on accepted
t he r eport and requested additiona l information on current and proj ected s chool r evenues fo r t he At l anta and Fulton Ccunty School districts , a f urther analys is and comparison of expend iture patterns of
the two districts, a projection of s chool revenue and expenditure
patterns for the two districts, and comparisons of projected revenue
patterns and expenditure patterns of the two dis tricts with the proposed single district.
Requested also was a comparison of current
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�educational programs of the two districts and the comparison of these
programs with those projected for the new district.
Finally, the
Delegation asked that the necessary steps for establishing and placing
in operation the proposed district be spelled out in a definite nattern
which would serve as a blueprint for transition.
A report issued in January of 1966 provided the requested information except for the actual transition blueprint.
The latter is the major
concern of this report.
The first phase of the work of the Commission for the present year
consisted of defining and outlining as specifically as possible the
various tasks which should be undertaken and completed in establishing
the proposed district.
Responsibilities for completing these tasks
were allocated and necessary authorizations were made accordingly.
Using this outline as a guide , the Commission has reached important
decisions and made substantial plans for creating the proposed new
school district.
These decisions and plans are presented in the re-
maining pages of this report.
Decisions and Plans
Once the Commission dec ided t o recommend a single district, it
then turned its attention to the tasks which would have to be completed in carrying out this recommendation.
These tasks may be cate-
gorized as follows:
1.
The legal work required to dissolve the p~esent districts
and to create the proposed new district.
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�2.
The educational planning necessary in order to assure
effective transition from the present districts to the
proposed new district.
3.
Suggestions on the election, terms of office of board
members, and initial role of the Board of Education for
the new district.
4.
A program for developing adequate public understanding of
the proposed new district and the reasons which support its
creation.
5.
Allocations of responsibilities for getting done the necessary tasks.
_L egal l-Jork
Mr. A. C. Latimer, Attorney for the Atlanta Board of Education,
and Mr. James P. Groton , Attorney for the Fulton County Board of Education, have been retained by the Commi.ssion to be responsible for the
necessary legal work .
The log:J.c of this decision is obvious since
their experience and present responsibil i ties will ser ve them well i n
t his undertaking .
Ext ensive r e s earch for t he purpose of identif ying, ana lyzing, and
clar ifying a voluminous body of legisla t i on of both general and l ocal
dimensions regarding educat ion in the Atl ant a and Fulton County s chool
districts is underway.
Relevant court dec isions are be ing subjected
to the same type of study.
There is no other way to ascertain the
requirements for dissolving the two pre s ent distri.cts.
When this has
been done , legislation will be prepared for dissolving the districts.
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Then , new legislation essential to establishing and maintaining the
proposed district will be prepared along with required constitutional
provisions.
Attorneys Latimer and Groton have prepared a detailed outline
of work which must be done before the new constitutional provisions
and legislation can be drafted.
This outline consists of fourteen
different subjects which are being considered separately.
The study
of each subject involves :
1.
identifying and analyzing existing laws and regulations
µertaining to the Atlanta and Fulton County school systems
which will have to be considered , amended , or repealed;
2.
determ:f.ning the legal problems which reQuire special attention , and
3.
establishing the end results to be accomplished by the new
legislation.
The fourteen subjects and a brief paragraph on progress achi eved
follow:
1.
Gener al powers. --Present statutes, regula tions, and cour t
decision s t o be considered , amended , or r epealed have been i dentif ied
as have problem ar eas t o be considered .
The new l egislat i on i s t o
cover powers general ly appropria te to school systems under the Georgia
Constitution and such other
powers as are required t o borrow, to
contract with other governmental bodies , to sue and be sued, to operate
school buses, to accept donations, bequests, and so forth, to operate
educational programs from kindergarten through college, including
vocational schools, relationships with adjoining school systems , and
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�to establish a new district that is a political subdivision of the
State.
2.
Local taxation for schools.--Present statutes, regulations ,
and court decisions to be considered , amended, or repealed have been
identified as have problem areas to be considered.
The new legislation
is to cover uniform property tax assessments throughout the district,
provide for elimination of homestead exemptions, establishment of
annual millage , tax levies , tax collections, and tax sources other
than the property tax .
3.
Revenues from sources other than local school tax.--Present
statutes , regulations, and court decisions to be considered, amended,
or repealed have been identified as well as problem areas to be considered.
The new legislation is to cover authorization of appropria-
tions from city and county governments , intangible taxes, transportation funds , and escheats.
4.
Power to increase --12.onded debt and assumption of bonded debt. --
Present statutes, regulations, and court decisions to be considered,
amended, or repealed have been identified.
to be dealt with have been defined.
Problem areas which have
New legislation is to cover power
to levy property tax, millage limitation , restrictions on retirement
of debt , assumption of county school debts , and assumption of city
school debt s.
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�5.
Repealer.--Present statutes , regulations , and court decisions
to be considered , amended, or repealed have been identified,
areas to be considered have been defined.
Problem
The new legislation is to
repeal or amend the Fulton County one and one-half mill constitutional
amendment and Fulton County constitutional amendments on millage limitation, bonded debt limitation, and pensions.
6.
!1ethod of adoption.--Questions to be considered include
whether or not a single constitutional amendment will suffice or if
multiple amendments will be required; provision for courses of action
if multiple amendments are required and some are adopted while others
are not,·, whether the amendment(s) is to be general or local, what vote
is required, who is eligible to vote, and how the ballot should be
worded.
7.
Succession ~o school property and contract rights.--Present
statutes, regulations, and court decisions to be considered, amended,
or repealed have been identified .
been defined .
Problem areas to be considered have
New legislation is to cover .the transfer of county
s chool properties to the new distr ict and the transfer of city pr oper t i es to the new dis tr ict.
8.
Assumpt i on of l i abilities and cont r a ct obl iga tions . --Present
sta tutes, regul ations , and court deci sions t o be con s i dered . amended,
or repealed have been ident i fied .
It ha s been a scertained that no
notable problem areas exist under this subject .
New legislation to
be passed is to cover debts other than bonds , obligations, liabilities.
and State School Building Authority lease payments.
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�9.
Personnel.--Present statutes, regulations, and court decisions
to be considered, amended, or repealed have been identified.
It has been
determined that no notable problem areas exist under this subject.
New
legislation is to cover contracts, pay scales , tenure, and fringe benefits.
10.
Boundaries of the new district.--Present statutes, regulations,
and court decisions to be considered , amended, or repealed have been
identified.
It has been ascertained that· no notable problem areas
exist under this subject.
The new legislation is to provide that all
of Fulton County and the part of Atlanta which is in DeKalb County are
to be included in the new district.
Provision for the addition of new
territory and other schools is to be included.
11.
Board of Education.--The present statutes, regulations, and
court decisions to be considered, amended , or repealed have been identified.
Problem areas to be considered have been defined.
The new legis-
lation is to cover composition of the Board , eligibility for Board
membership , term of office , election districts , powers, duties, responsibilities, compensation, and changes in composition and s i ze of election
distr icts .
Provision is to be made for terms of office of init i al boar d
members.
12 .
Superintendent of schools. --Present statutes, r egulat ions , and
court decisions to be con s i dered , amended , or r epealed have been identified.
It has been e s tabli shed t hat no notabl e problem ar eas exist under
this subject .
New legisl ation i s t o cover criteria of e ligibility, pro-
vide for appointment by the Board , determine the term of office, and
enumerate powers , duties, and responsibilities.
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�13.
Transitiong_rovisions. --New legislation is to provide for an
interim board of education to consist of the Atlanta and Fulton County
boards, interim administration provisions, and an effective date for the
new district to become operative.
The legislation is to prescribe a
schedule of steps to be taken if the constitutional amendment(s) is
adopted.
14.
Pensions.--Present statutes, regulations, and court decisions
to be considered, amended, or repealed have been identified.
areas which must be considered have been defined.
Problem
New legislation is
to prescribe for either a new pension system or membership in the
State teachers' retirement system s merging of the county school pension system into the new system, transition of city school employees
from the city general pension system, and authority to receive contributions for pension funds from city and county governments.
Educational Planning Necessarv to Assure
Orderly and Effective Transition from
the Present Two Districts to the
Proposed Single District
The transition from two districts to one is to be as orderly and
systematic as is possible without interruption or dislocation of educational programs and personnel (student s professional, and other).
To achieve this purpose requires a great amount of planning involving
the development and approval of new policies and procedures.
Major
areas of decision and policy development have been defined as outlined
below.
It should be noted that much of this planning is to be expressed
in the legal framework of the proposed 11-ew district, some of which is
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reflected in the legal work as reported above.
Certain other aspects
of planning and policy are not necessary for the legal framework, some
of which appropriately wait until a decision is reached on whether or
not the proposed district is to be established.
If voters reject the
new district~ this planning will not be necessary ; if they approve, there
will be time to complete such planning before the new district becomes
operatiye .
The areas for policy and procedure development and achieve-
ments under each area are listed below.
Minor repetition occurs because
of the need to give direction to the legal work already described.
District organization and administration.--The new district is to
include all of Fulton County and that part of Atlanta which lies in
DeKalb County.
The district is to have a board of education of nine
members elected at large by the qualified voters of the district in a
non-partisan election for terms of six years, one from each of nine
subdivisions pf the district of approximately the same number of persons.
The legislation is to prescribe how the subdivisions are to be
formed and how they are to be re-divided as population changes require.
Three members of the initial board shall serve full six-year terms,
three members shall serve four-year terms~ and three members shall
serve two-year terms as determined by the Fulton County Grand Jury.
Thereafter , board members are to be elected for six-year terms in
regular school board elections as existing terms of members expire.
Vacancies i n board membership are to be filled by appointment of the
board until the next regular school board election at which time unexpired terms will be filled by the voter s.
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�In the event the constitutional amendment(s) is approved , the
Atlanta and Fulton County School District board members are to serve
as the board of education for the new district until the new board is
elected aad can take office.
Board members are to be paid $300 per month with the chairman being
paid an additional $50 per month.
Provision for transition.--If the proposed new district is approved by the electorate , a transiti on committee is to be established
immediately by the Atlanta and Fulton County School District boards
acting as a single board upon the joint recommendation of the superintendents of the t wo districts.
Thi s committee is to be responsible for
the many plans and procedures concerned with education programs which
a smooth transition will require.
The committee is to include the two
superintendents of schools ~ the chairman of each board of education ,
t he fiscal officers of each school system, t he assistant super i ntendent
for i nstruction of ea ch school system and such other individua ls as
may seem appropriate.
The transitiou plans worked out by t his com-
mit t ee are t o be approved by t he boar ds of educa t i on .
If the s ingle school d i str i c t i s appr oved , the t wo school systems
are t o continue a s at pr e s ent for t he balance of the school year in
which approval occurs and an additional calendar year in order to allow
time for completion of needed t ransition plans.
The board of education for the new distri.c t, if approved, is to be
elected as soon as possible after approval and should formally organize
itself without delay and proceed at once with the selection of a superintendent of schools.
The superintendent is to be employed and is to
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�begin his work as far in advance of the creation of the new school
district as is possible.
The superintendent of schools.--The superintendent is to be appointed by the board of education and given such powers a s are necessary to act as the chief executive officer of the school district.
His term of office, compensation, and other benefits shall be established by the board of education.
Financial provisions.--The proposed new district is to be fiscally
independent.
While major local support is to come from the property
tax, provision is to be made for local support from other forms of
taxation.
Bonding capacity of the new school district is to be 10 per cent
of the assessed valuation of taxable property.
The homestead exemption in Fulton County is to be abolished.
Assessments of property for school tax purposes is to be uniform
and in accordance with legal provisions.
Legal provisions and policies of the new school district are to
permit full utilization of financial support from state, federal, and
other sources.
Dr. R. L. Johns of the University of Florida has been employed to
recommend provisions for financing the proposed new school district
and to develop guides and procedures for purchasing and financial
accounting and for preparation of the annual school budget.
is now working on this assignment.
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Dr. Johns
�Personnel . --Dr . Will ard S. Elsbree, Teachers College, Columbia
University , ha.s been employed to develop salary schedules for professional and other personnel of the proposed school district, a retirement system or systems 1 policies regarding tenure , sick leave 1 vacation ,
leaves of absence for professional growth and others as needed, develop
a system of personnel records for professional and other personnel, and
propose a method of combining the two central office staffs.
Dr. Els-
bree is working on this asaignment.
Curriculum. - -It is necessary to determine the va rious curricula to
be offered by the proposed school district , develop policies for selection and distribution of instructional materials , recommend policies
regarding expans ion of s chool programs with special r eference t o
junior colleges , vocational and technical education, and adult educat i on, determine the special professional -personnel to be provi ded such
a s school l i brarians , schl)ol psychologi sts , couns elors, and reading
s pec ial ists, develop plans for kindergartens for schools now in the
Fulton County District and make recommendat ions concer n ing teacher l oads,
including pupil-t eacher ratio .
Work in this area has not gone beyond
definiti on of what is to be undertaken .
Pupi ls . --A sys t em of records for pupil accounting is t o be developed for the proposed di strict and recommenda tions concerning the visit i ng
teacher program .
These t asks are yet t o be undertaken .
Serv ices . --Decisions a re to be made on the kind s and amounts of
services to be prov ided by the school district in areas such as transportation, food and health.
How these are to be provided is to be
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�suggested.
The number and kinds of nonprofessional personnel to be
employed by the new school district such as secretaries, lunchroom
workers, and custodians is to be determined.
Plans for storing and
handling textbooks and other instructional supplies are to be worked
out also.
This is another area of planning which, except for definition and
direc~ion, can await a decision on the fate of the proposed district.
Maintenance and operation.--Policies are to be developed regarding
kinds, numbers, types, and levels of competence needed by personnel in
maintenance and operation ; policies and procedures concerning maintenance and operation programs : policies and procedures concerning
work assignments and responsibilities.
These policies and procedures can await development until the
fate of the proposed district has been established.
Initial Role of the Proposed
New Board of Education
Early responsibilities of the new board of education have been
touched on in the section above.
The new board is to be elected as
soon as possible and is to begin functioning as a board immediately
thereafter.
As indicated previouslys its early major responsibility
will be the selection of a school superintendent for the new district.
When this has been done, the superintendent is to assume responsibility
for recommending the many policies and procedures which must be worked
out before the new district becomes operational.
The transition com-
mittee referred to earlier will have done much preliminary work along
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�these lines and will undoubtedly recommend to the superintendent many
of the needed policies.
Developing Public Understanding
of the Proposed New District
A well-informed public is essential to reaching a wise decision on
the school district issue.
Therefore, a systematic, comprehensive,
carefully coordinated program to develop and distribute among all citizens adequate information on the district reorganization plan and the
reasons which support it is needed.
The Commission report which develops
the arguments for and against a single school district should be made
available to citizens and its contents widely publicized.
Mass media
of communication are to be employed to assist in developing inter.est
and public understanding .
Newspaper coverage is to be widely employed.
Both radio and television are to be used extensively.
Arguments for
and a gainst the proposed district should be presented through these
media .
Pres entations to civic clubs , parent-teacher associations , and
other formal groups are to be stimulated.
Many informed citizens are
to be employed in this program, citizens repr esenting all walks of life .
A committee of leaders in communi ty affairs is to be charged with responsibility f or organizing and coordinating this program.
The com-
mit tee is t o be appoi nted by the boards of education upon r ecommendation
of t he superintendent s of schools .
Remaining Tasks
The major unfinished task is completion of the necess ary legal work.
While a great deal of this has already been done , the needed legislation
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�remains to be drafted.
This cannot be done until the extensive research
on existing statutes, regulations 9 and court decisions bas been completed
and questions arising therefrom have been answered.
Roughly one year is needed for finishing this task.
The work in finance which Dr. R. L. Johns is doing should be completed within six months .
· Retirement provisions, tenure 9 sick leave, leaves of absence,
salary schedules 1 personnel records 5 and a plan for combining the two
central office staffs being developed by Dr. Willard Elsbree should be
I
completed within six months.
Curriculum studies, developing pupil accounting provisions , deciding on transportation , food , health , and other services to be provided.
and provisions for maintenance and operation need not progress much beyond the present planning stages until it is known whether or not the
proposed district is to be created .
As indicated above, the machinery
for discharing these steps has been def ined and can be put in mot i on on
s hor t no tice .
Budget
To be deve loped.
Motivating Assumpt i on of the Commission
The first decis ion of the Commission was that the sole criterion
by which it would determine its recommendation on the issue of school
district organization in Atlanta and Fulton County is what will best
serve the educational welfare of those to be educated in Atlanta and
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�Fulton County?
Adhering to this fundamental guide has provided a
source of confidence to the Commission.
TMP ~jp
December 2 , 1966
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