Box 6, Folder 1, Document 22

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of the
Local Education Commission
Atlanta and Fulton County
~- L. Bardin, Chairman
Thomas M. Miller
Otis M. Jackson, Vice Chairman
Mrs. A. L. Ritter
W. Kenneth Stringer, Secretary
Wallace H. Stewart
Dr. R. H. Brisbane
William M. Teem, III
J. H. Cawthon
Fred J. Turner
Dr. Rufus E. Clement
James White, Jr.
Dr. James L. Miller, Jr.
Dr. John W. Letson
Dr. Paul D. West
Oby T. Brewer, Jr.
W. L. Robinson
Earl Landers
Alan Kiepper
Dr . Tr uman Pierce , Coordinator
Dr. Curtis Henson, Recording Secretary
The present generation is witnessing a revolution in education.
Underlying causes of this revolution include social and economic changes
of unparalleled speed and magnitude,- the development of an increasingly
complex society and a rapidly accelerating accumulation of useful knowledge.
The necessity for all persons to secure more education of higher quality
than ever before and to continue the quest for learning throughout life
becomes more apparent with each passing year.
No useful role for the
uneducated remains and the cost of ignorance is more than society can
Major characteristics of the educational revolution follow:
enrolling children in school at an earlier age, extending the upper limits
of formal schooling, providing education programs adapted to the cultural
background of the student in order to equalize educational opportunity, an
enormous increase in the kinds and amounts of instructional materials , in
school use of a larger number and variety of specialists, technological advances which enhance the effectiveness of teaching, improvement in organization
for teaching and improvement in the quality of teaching .
Fast growing
sions of modern school systems include junior colleges, vocational-technical
schools, early childhood education progr ams and adult education programs.
Additions and improvements in schools are increasing greatly the cost
of education.
Upward trends in cost will continue into the indefinite future
if schools are to meet the demands placed upon them by the public .
�The revolution in education places a premium on wise, long-range planning by school districts.
Because of population growth and diversity of
educational need, metropolitan areas pose difficult educational problems which
require much study.
Careful, long-range plans for educational advancement
are essential in these districts, as in others, if schools are not to suffer
in the future.
School personnel, members of boards of education and other
citizens in the Atlanta and Fulton County school districts are well aware of
these conditions and are giving thought to the future advancement of education
in the area.
Such planning for the f uture was given official status by the General
Assembly of Georgia in 1964 when it created the Local Education Commission
of Atlanta and Fulton County.
The Corrnnission was authorized,
To study the desirability and feasibility of combining
the school systems of Fulton County and the City of Atlanta,
including the portion thereof lying in DeKalb County; to provide that said Corrnnission 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 by the General Assembly to the Corrnnission were
complex and formidable.
After considerable study, the Corrnnission adopted a
plan which, if followed, would enable the Commission to discharge its responsibilities.
This plan was revised from time to time as the study progressed
and as modifications which would improve the study were identified.
The .work
of the Corrnnission consisted of completing the steps described below.
A review of previous studies which gave attention to the same
problems the Corrnnission was ask~d t o study.
A study of social, economic and educational trends in the met r opolitan area of Atlanta.
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A study of developing educational needs and programs.
A study of the Atlanta and Fulton County schools with particular
attention to finance.
An analysis of the educational reasons which support the creation
of a single school district .
An analysis of the disadvantages of a single school district.
The identification and description of steps which would be
necessary to create a single school district.
Tasks which would have to be completed in effecting a transition
from the present districts to a single district.
Deciding on whether to recommend a single district.
Throughout the entire course of the study the overriding concern of the
Commission was to reach the decision that would serve the best interests of
those who are to be educated in the Atlanta and Fulton County school districts.
The deliberations of the Commission and the information considered in
these deliberations, relevant to the purposes of the study, are sununarized
briefly in the following pages.
The char~e of the General Assembly to the Commission springs from a
background which spans years of citizen concern for good schools in the
Atlanta metropolitan area .
During these years, several special studies
of the metropolitan area have paid attention to the schools and their problems of advancement.
The Local Government Commission of Fulton County recommended in 1950 a
Greater Atlanta Development Pr ogram.
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The report of the Commission included
�reference to the schools and the possibility of merging the Atlanta and
Fulton County school districts.
The report took the position that, ultimately,
merger was desirable, but not ·at that time because of differences in expenditure levels and in school programs of the two districts.
The General Assembly created a Local Education Connnission in 1958 to
study the two school systems and to submit a plan or plans for their improvement to members of the General Assembly from Fulton and DeKalb Counties.
This Connnission also sttrlied the question of merging the two school systems
and concluded that while this would be desirable in the future, it was
neither desirable nor practicable at that time.
The Connnission recommended
the creation of a Metropolitan School Development Council which would make
it possible to achieve some of the advantages of consolidation.
The proposed
council was established and has become an effective instrument for carrying
out joint programs of the two school systems.
These programs include the
Juvenile Court School, Educational Broadcasting, Public Information Services
and In-Service Education.
The Fulton County Board of Education appointed a study commission in
1963 to seek ways to overcome the financial crisis in which the Fulton County
Schools found themselves because of a City of Atlanta annexation program.
The annexation program was recommended by the Local Government Connnission in
1950 and was carried out in the early fifties.
As a result of this program,
72 percent of the taxable wealth of the Fulton County School District and
nearly 50 per cent of its s tudents were annexed by Atlanta.
The repor t of
this Connnission also took the position that the school districts should undert ake merger when fea sible and recommended t hat steps be taken to determine
what would be invol ved in bringing about a singl e district.
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�All studies, since 1950, which have concerned themselves with education
in Atlanta and Fulton County have given serious consideration to the creation
of a single school district in place of the two existing districts.
studies have taken the position that consolidation should be undertaken when
The two districts, meanwhile, have grown closer together in levels
of financial support and in educational programs.
Furthermore, there has
been a marked increase in the number of cooperative undertakings in pursuit
of connnon interests.
However, differences remain which would have to be
reconciled if a single district is created.
Major advantages of a single district over the two present districts
number fifteen.
These advantages are concerned with the basic structure for
education, adequately financing the schools, equalizing educational opportunities,
and improving the quality of education.
Actually, all concerns of the study
focus on the improvement of the schools.
There follows a statement of each
advantage and a brief discussion of its meaning.
Better School District
Will Be Provided
Adequate criteria for determining the soundness of a school district
have been developed by educational authorities.
These criteria are con-
cerned with such things as a sufficient number of children in the district
in order to make possible rea sonable educational effectiveness and cost
economy, adequacy of the district as a unit of local government, availability of an adequate local tax base, adequate bonding capacity, reasonable
tax leeway and some degree of fiscal independence .
When these criteria are
applied to the present districts of Atlanta and Fulton County, neither is
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�revealed as a satisfactory district.
six criteria:
Fulton County meets only one · of the
the number of children to be educated.
bonding capacity.
Atlanta lacks adequate
If the two districts were combined, the resultant district
would be more adequate, primarily because of fiscal resource, than is either
when considered separately.
Educational Opportunities Can Be
Equalized Morg Easily
The right of every indivi dual to secure an education is inherent in a
The modern definition of this right is that every individual
must secure an education appropriate to his purposes, interests, abilities
and needs.
Equality of educational opportunity, therefore, does not mean
the same education for all, but it does mean the same level of quality for
all insofar as this is possible.
The extreme diversity of cultural in-
terests and backgrounds which are found in the metropolitan area of Atlanta,
and i n any other metropolitan area, require a wide range of educational
programs adapted to these basic differences in people.
The current nation-
wide interest in providing more realistic educati onal programs for children
in slum areas is an indication of concern for this kind of need .
The Atlanta
district is heterogeneous in composition while the Fulton County district is
more homogeneous.
Combining the two would make it possible to provide in a
more economical and efficient manner the variety of educational programs
which are needed.
The equalization of educational opportunities in Atlanta and Fulton
County is virtually impossible under the present district organization.
single district would contribute much to making this a manageable task with
minimum difficulties.
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�N.ew and N.e eded Educational Programs
Could Be Provided More Economically
Neither school district has yet provided post-secondary education programs for which there is great need.
Perhaps the fastest growing trend in
American education is the development of comprehensive junior colleges.
These institutions provide two years of academic work either for terminal
purposes or for transfer to a senior college.
They also usually offer pro-
grams in vocational-technical education and in adult education.
It is in-
creasingly clear that continuing education is a must for the adult citizen
of tomorrow.
of education.
The kind of world in which we live requires increasing amounts
A recent Educational Policies Commission report takes the
position that two years of education beyond the high school should be provided
at public expense for all high school graduates.
Fulton County is not financially able to provide junior colleges under
its present tax structure.
It would not represent the best economy for each
district to provide its own junior colleges.
A program to serve the metro-
politan area would provide the best means of meeting this growing educational
The two districts have already found it profitable to cooperate in the
provision of vocational and technical education as shown by a new vocationaltechnical school which is to serve both districts.
Plans are in the making
for construction of a second institution of this type.
More Adequate Curricula for Special
Student Groups Can Be Provided
The variety of curricula needed to meet the diverse educational needs
referred to above requires special education programs for small groups of
selected students .
These programs serv~ children with serious physical
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�handicaps, those suffering from severe mental retardation, children with
extreme emotional difficulties, the exceptionally bright, and those with
unusual talents.
Since such programs are needed for only small numbers of
children, they can be provided more economically if the student population
to be served is drawn from both the Atlanta and Fulton County districts
rather than for each school district to offer its own programs.
the educational quality of offerings can be improved more readily in a unified
Certain Educational Programs and Services
Can Be Pi·ovided More Satisfactorily
The richness and depth of both teaching and learning are being enhanced
by new discoveries concerning human growth and development.
The contributions
of science to the effectiveness of teaching and learning processes are increasing at a rapid rate.
Integrating into curricula the accelerating flow of new
and useful subject matter which the modern school program must offer if it
is to remain effective is an increasingly difficult problem.
The modern school must be staffed by professional personnel who keep
up with these continuing developments that affect their productivity.
wide and continuous career development programs for personnel have become a
necessity .
This educational service can be provided better on a larger district
basis rather than in terms of the present separate districts.
The development
and use of various learning resources and the appropriate utili zation of
technological advance s in teaching can be stimulated and fostered better
thr ough a single school district.
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�Needed Improvements in Educational Quality
Can Be Achieved More Readily
The search for better schools is a common thread running through all
considerations involved in deciding the consolidation question.
Unless the
ultimate consequence of unifying the two school districts is a better quality
of education, there is little need to pursue the issue.
Changes in financing
schools, in administrative and supervisory services and in the scope and
variety of educational offerings can be justified only if they bring about
better education.
The educational advancement which is essential to sound
progres~ of the Atlanta metropolitan area requires a unified approach and
not a series of separate and structurally unrelated school programs.
The search for educational quality is now both universal and continuous.
The pursuit of quality is complex because it is concerned with everything
that has a bearing on educational programs offered by a school district.
The unification of efforts to improve quality would certainly maximize both
opportunities and resources for enrichment of educational offerings.
Comprehensive, Long-Range Planning
Can Be More Effective
The increasing magnitude of educational responsibility has been stressed
in earlier statements.
The quantitative demands as well as the qualitative
demands of this responsibility will continue to increase.
Projections which
have been made through the next several years show no letdown in the rate of
population growth in the Atlanta metropol itan area .
The indicated increase
in the educational load calls for the most intelligent planning of which the
people respensible are capable .
Since this growth ignores school district
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lines, · adequate planning for new enrollment also must ignore these lines
insofar as actualities permit.
Comprehensive, long-range planning cannot
be satisfactory if it is segmented on the basis of school district lines
which have no constructive significance in the context of the metropolitan
area as a whole.
For the same reasons long-range planning for improvement in the quality
of education can be more effective if done for a single district rather than
the present separate districts.
More Effective Solutions to Connnon
Educational Problems Are Possible
Educational problems are not confined to areas marked off by school
district lines.
Some educational problems are unique to certain types of
districts, as is true of Fulton County and Atlanta.
But many such problems
are connnon to the school districts of an area , state , region or nation.
problems which are common seem to be on t he increase.
The school district
which embraces as nearly a self-sufficient socio-economic unit as is possible
provides the best structural framework for t he consideration of educational
problems .
Solutions to thes e pr obl ems should not be restricted by ar ti-
f icial distr i ct l i ne s which ignore t he facts of l ife .
A uni fi ed district
would pr ovide for a mor e constructive approach to problem s oluti on than does
the present dual appr oach.
This is all the more important s ince most of t he
educational problems to be face d are common t o t he two districts.
More Effective Research Programs
Can Be Stimulated and Executed
As good schools have become more central t o personal and connnunity
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�advancement, the place of research in education has become more apparent.
Sound analyses of existing programs, the identificat~on and description of
strengths and weaknesses, and the determination of grounds for change require
Planning ahead to be sure there will be adequate classrooms and
teachers for the children in school at the beginning of a given year rests
on research.
School systems without strong _research programs cannot achieve
their maximum effectiveness.
The complexity of a metropolitan area and the
interrelationships of roles of its _different segments require comprehensive
research programs based on trends and needs of the entire area rather than
of sub-units such as separate school districts.
Furthermore, economy and
wise management dictate a metropolitan-wide approach to research.
Needed Experimentation and Educational
Invention Can Be Achieved More Readily
Major advances in our society depend heavily on invention and experimentation.
This fact is well recognized in the world of science and tech-
The role of invention and experimentation in the improvement of
social institutions such as schools is equally important.
Schools, like
the communities in which they exist, must change as society changes.
curriculum materials should be developed and tested on experimental bases.
New knowledge of human growth and development should be applied to teaching
and learning on experimental bases.
New teaching procedures and methods
should be tested through tryout and evaluation.
Heavy reliance upon invention and experimentation are crucial to needed
educational advancement.
There is no need for the school systems within
Fulton County to engage in separate programs of this nature .
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The interests
�of both districts can be served better by unified programs, to say nothing
of economies which could be effected.
More Extensive Use of Selected Educational
Facilities and Learning Resources Is Possible
Centers for acquiring, creating, distriputing and servicing curriculum
materials such as publications, filmstrips, video tapes, films and the
necessary equipment for appropriate ~se of these materials are becoming common.
The creation of teaching materials for local use and on the basis of needs
unique to the local situation is an important function of these centers.
use of television in teaching and in professional development programs is
The needed facilities for extensive television programs in the
metropolitan area can be centered easily in one location.
It is not necessary to duplicate the facilities and resources mentioned
above in different school districts serving the same metropolitan area.
single center can provide a constant flow of materials far richer and more
comprehensive than would be possible if available financial support is used
to provide centers in the separate districts.
Equity and Balance in Financial Effort
and Support Can Be Achieved
An axiom of educational finance, which is accepted universally, is
that wealth should be taxed where it is in order to educate children where
they are .
The most glaring deficiency in the structure of public education
in the Atlanta area violates this axiom.
is the City of Atlanta.
The center for commerce and industry
·C ontributions of most Fulton County citizens to
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�the economy of the metropolitan area are made largely in the City of Atlanta
where they do their work.
This wealth enriches Atlanta primarily, although
earnings paid to the individual may be spent wherever he chooses.
The City
already recognizes these facts of the economy of the area by helping to support schools in the Fulton County District through al½ mill countywide
property tax.
The industrial wealth of the metropolitan area which is a
major source of school revenue lies largely within the City of Atlanta.
No equitable system of financ~al support and effort is possible which
does not take into account these economic facts.
A single tax program for
the metropolitan area with the revenues distributed according to educational
need is the only available satisfactory answer to the problems of providing
adequate support for the schools.
This is Atlanta's problem as well as
Fulton County's problem because of the highly complex interdependence of
the economy of the two districts.
A single school district would be the
most simple and prudent way to achieve the goal of equity and balance in
financial effort and support.
Greater Financial Stability is Possible
The disadvantages of heavy reliance on the property tax for the support
of schools are well known.
The primary advantage is that revenues from
property taxes fluctuate less than do revenues from more sensitive barometers
of economic health.
Desirable stability in the financial structure of a ·
school system in the final analysis is related to the soundness of the
economy of the district and the fairness of its system of taxation .
better balanced the tax program, the more stable the financial base of the
The more complete the area served by the school district is as an
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�economic unit in its own right, the more stable will be the local tax base
for schools.
It is obvious that combining the Atlanta and Fulton County districts
into a single school system would provide a far sounder economic base for
year-to-year stability in school support.
Economies Are Possible
Consolidation cannot be justi~ied solely as an economy measure, if
this is defined as an actual reduction in expenditures.
Any plan for inrrnediate
unification of the Atlanta and Fulton County School Districts would cost more
than the sum of the current budgets of the two systems because, assuming that
the same quality of education is to be provided in the entire district,
costs would need to be equalized upward instead of downward.
some financial economies are possible because of the elimination of duplicate
programs and services which can be handled better through a single system.
In this connection, special reference is made to experimentation, invention,
research, certain district-wide programs and services, specialized curricula
for small student groups and others enumerated earlier.
These programs
could be provided at higher quality levels and at a lower unit cost on a
unified basis than would be possible in dual programs.
However, the greatest economic gain to be derived from consolidation
would be in the creation of opportunities to purchase more with the edu- _
cational dollar rather than in the utilization of fewer dollars.
This kind
of economy is of much greater importance than is the mere saving of money.
One good test of a school district is not how little money it spends , but how much
education it buys for its exvenditures .
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�New Educational Developments
Can Be Better Accommodated
As shown earlier, the revolution in education which is underway is
composed of both problems and opportunities.
A large school district is
in better position than a small district to stay abreast of such developments because of its more complex and varied interacting elements.
Problems and needs often fall into sharper focus in a large district
where the dynamics of change appear to express themselves with greater vigor.
Opportunities for new developments in education to be put into practice
prevail to a greater degree in the large district.
Many resources not for-
merly available to improve schools are now being made available.
The major
source of this new support is the Federal Government through numerous pieces
of legislation.
It is much easier to take full advantage of the funds thus
made available if a single district is created.
The complexities of govern-
ment relations to education are rapidly increasing.
It would be more satis-
factory to handle these relationships for the Atlanta and Fulton County Schools
through a single agency than through two agencies.
The above identification and description of advantages of a single
school district ar e predicated on certain as sumptions concerning the propos ed new dis t rict .
Among these a ssumpt i ons ar e the f ollowing:
An adequate legal base for the new district wi ll be pr ovided .
An a dministra tive structure which will make pos s i ble the necessary
leadership for educational advancement in the metropolitan ar ea
will be created.
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An adequate plan for financing the new school district will be
Emphasis on continuously improving educational quality and
extending educational services will be ·continued.
Consolidation as such is of no value.
It is valuable only as it results
in educational advancement, improve~ educational opportunities for children,
youth and adults; however, it will not guarantee such advancement.
The Commission was as much interested in identifying and analyzing the
disadvantages of one school district as it was in identifying and analyzing
the advantages.
Without the weighing of advantages and disadvantages against
each other, no objective way of making a decision was open to the Commission.
Major concern was with both real and possible educational disadvantages of a
single district rather than with problems and issues which would have to be
faced if the two present districts are dissolved and a new one is created in
their stead.
However, the latter problems and issues are also important and
they were studied extensively.
this report.
They are reviewed in a subsequent section of
Possible disadvantages of the larger district are presented nex t.
Difficulties in Providing School
Programs Needed Because of
Differences in Attendance Areas
The capacity of schools to make adaptations which take into proper
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�account the educational needs of their neighborhoods is related to the size
of districts.
Considerable uniformity of educationa~ programs in the
various attendance centers within districts has been traditional.
of the range of socio-economic conditions which exist in metropolitan areas
a greater variety of educational needs is present in metropolitan school
Thus, greater variations are required in school programs than
are needed in smaller more homogeneous districts.
Current efforts to develop
more realistic school programs for _children in slum areas of cities is an
example of the need for different kinds of progr ams according to community
A reasonable degree of control must be vested in the local
school community if these variations in educational needs are to be met.
Neighborhood control generates local responsibility, interest and initiative which are essential to good schools.
Unhealthy Reliance £ill Bureaucracy
Wher e at least some degree of local control is not pre sent , decisions
are necessarily removed from the local scene.
Instead of the healthy exer -
cise of community responsibility for schools , directives from a centr al
of f i ce removed fr om the community may t ake the place of l ocal initiati ve .
Thus, bureaucratic controls may grow up whi ch inevitably stress unif ormity
and discourage the community autonomy whi ch has been one of the major strengths
of public education in Ameri ca.
There is evidence to show that the larg~r
the district t he greater the likelihood that a ut hority over the neighborhood
school will be central ized in administrative offices which are usually too
far removed from the local school to be responsive to local interests and
needs .
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�Inadequate Invention and Experimentation
Historically, many very large school districts have been notably
lacking in educational invention and experimentation.
Some of the major
current educational ills of our country are found in the slums of large
city districts where until recently little effort has been made to develop
school programs which would serve these areas realistically.
Innovation is
difficult in situations which do not encourage the exercise of individuality.
Uniformity and invention are not compatible.
Excessive use of rules, reg-
and directives inhibit creativity.
Problems unique to large school districts in metropolitan areas have
been the subject of much study in recent years.
Experiments with new methods
and procedures for utilizing the interests and abilities of citizens in
neighborhood school centers have been successful.
At present, the nature
of educational needs of the culturally deprived and the curriculum materials
and teaching procedures which are adapted to their backgrounds are subjects
of important research and experimentation.
The Elementary and Secondary Edu-
cation Act of 1965 provides more than one billion dollars to improve education
programs for socially disadvantaged children.
Current trends are pointing
to ways of stimulating innovation and experimentation in all school districts.
Poor Conununication
The difficulties of maintaining satisfactory channels of conununication
increase with the size of a school district.
The threads which hold a school
system together become tenuous as the district grows larger.
Greater depend-
ence must be placed on formal and impersonal means of conununication in large
Opportunities for misunderstanding and conflicting opi ni ons are
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�greater where personal and informal contacts are missing.
Too Much Centralized Decision Making
The disadvantages of bigness in utilizing democratic participation in
reaching decisions stems partly from the lack of an adequate structure for
such participation and partly from the slowness of action characteristic of
large units of government.
The fact that both the soundness of decisions
and an adequate understanding of thejr meanings are enhanced by participation in their making is of great importance in education because of the
nature of teaching and learning.
It has been difficult for large school districts to avoid making many
decisions in central offices which might be made more satisfactorily in
local attendance areas.
Loss of Personal Identity
Many studies have shown that a close relationship exists between the
productivity of a person and the degree to which he feels himself to be an
integral part of the enterprise which provides his employment.
The more he
is made to feel that he is but a mere cog in a machine, the more he acts
as though this were true.
There is no substitute for warm personal re-
lationships in achieving satisfaction and success in one's work.
The kind
of environment which encourages such relationships is very hard to maintain
where large numbers of persons are involved.
The Atlanta and Fulton County school districts, if combined , would be
about eleventh in size among all districts in America .
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In 1964- 65, the
�total regular day school enrollment in the two districts was 150,218 plus
special schools and adult programs.
This is about one~sixth the enrollment
in New York City which has more than one million pupils and enrolls more
pupils than any other district in the Nation.
Both the Atlanta and Fulton
County districts have reached already the size of school systems which
have suffered from the ills described above. -Therefore, if the proper safeguards are observed in the creation and establishment of the new district,
combining the school districts would. scarcely create problems of bigness
beyond those which already exist.
Just as creating a single school district would not guarantee the
educational advantages discussed in this document, neither would the ills
described inevitably follow.
Knowing the disadvantages to avoid should be
sufficient forewarning to assure the provision of an adequate legal base
for the new district, satisfactory administrative leadership and sufficient
financial support.
After carefully balancing against each other the educational advantages
and disadvantages of one district in place of the two existing districts,
the Commission then defined and examined the steps which would have to be
taken in order to create a single school district for Fulton County and the
tasks which would have to be completed in the transition .
Neither set of
undertakings appeared to be faced by insurmountable barriers ; hence , the
Commission was free to make its decision on strictly educational grounds .
The evidence before the Commission scarcely permitted a recommendation
other than the creation of one school district for all of Fulton County.
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�This is the reconnnendation.
The Atlanta and Fulton County school districts
should be dissolved, not merged .
An entirely new district should be created .
In this way none of the limitations of the present districts need be preserved and the advantages of both can be combined in the new district.
Furthermore, desirable features of a school district not currently present
in either Atlanta or Fulton County can be incorporated in the new di st rict.
The foregoing presentat ion outli nes some of the steps taken by t he
Commission in reaching a decision on the question of merger.
Having de-
cided that, in its opinion, the educational programs needed by the children,
youth and adults of Atlanta and Fulton County can be provided better by a
single district, the Commission turned to a study of the actual steps
which would be necessary to achieve merger.
The legislati on creating the Connni ssion, in addit ion to directing the
To study the desirabi lity and fea sibility of combining . . .
(the Atlanta and Fulton County School Systems), stated that the Commission
may draft a pl an or plans f or the combining of such school systems . 11
The decision on whether there will be a s ingl e di st r ict will be made
by the voters of the present districts.
Hence , i f the member s of the General
Ass embly from Atlanta and Fult on County accept the Commis sion's reconnnendation,
thei r next s tep would be to dr aw up a nd submit f or passage necessary legislation for holding a referendum on the issue.
Since the voters ar e enti tled t o a ll informati on that can be provided
in order for them to make the best decision, legislation authorizing the
referendum should also spell out the essential characteristics of the pro-
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�posed new district.
The Commission reconnnends that this legislation include
the following:
A definition of the necessary legal basis for dissolving the
present districts and creating the new district.
A description of organizational, administrative and tax structures
of the new district.
Provisions ior safeguarding present commitments and obligations
of the two existing districts.
The date on which the new district would come into being.
Provision for setting up the machinery required to make the
transition from the two present districts.
Should the majority of votes cast in the referendum in each of the two
existing districts favor the single district, the proposed school district
would then be created in accordance with the specifications of the legislation. : (It is assumed that voters in each district would be required to
approve the single district before it can be created.)
The transition from two school districts to one school district is
complex and requires careful planning~
to be resolved can be foreseen.
Problems and issues which will have
Their exact nature will depend to some
extent on the specific provisions made for dissolving the present district
and creating a new district.
But the following questions may be anticipated,
and satisfactory answers to them are possible at this time.
Since merger of the Atlanta and Fulton County school districts has
been discussed from time to time during the past twenty years , opinions
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�already have been formed on both sides of the issue.
It may be assumed,
however, that the vast majority of citizens have had ~o opportunity to
become properly informed on the basic facts needed in order to reach a
wise decision.
Much public discussion of the facts concerning the present
districts and the proposed new district is essential to reaching a sound
These facts should be made available to all citizens.
questions will be asked and properly so.
possible answers to these questions,
Citizens are entitled to the best
It is, of course, impossible to foresee
just what all of these questions will be, but it is safe to assume the following
will be of interest.
Answers to these questions are given in light of known
What Would the New District be Like?
The Atlanta district consists of 128,395 square miles of which 8.420
miles lie in DeKalb County.
The Fulton County School District includes
420 square miles of territory.
Therefore, the two districts, if combined,
would make a single district of 548,395 square miles of which 539.975 square
miles would be in Fulton County proper.
The proposed district would have had a total population of 632,600 on
April 1, 1964, including 126,400 in the present Fulton County district and
506,200 in Atlanta, of whom 43,900 were in DeKalb County.
On October 1,
1964, the total school enrollment for the regular day program, including*
kindergartens, would have been about 142,000 pupils .
Professional personnel
in the new district would have numbered nearly 5,500 individuals, and other
school employees just under 3,000 persons.
There would have been 170 elementary schools, 35 high schools and
two night high schools in the district.
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The schools are now located as
118 elementary and 24 high schools in Atlanta, 52 elementary and
11 high schools in the Fulton County district.
The school budget for 1965-66 would have been slightly under 61,500,000
dollars, with expenditures equalized by raising Fulton County School
District expenditures up to current Atlanta levels, including the provision
for kindergartens.
The 1965-66 budget for the Atlanta schools is $46,713,124.92;
the Fulton County school budget for the same year is $13,891,184, making a
total of $60,604,308.92.
The school tax digest for the 1965-66 school year is $1,448,147,960
at present assessments.
This is divided as follows:
$167,691,000 in the
Fulton County district and $1,280,456,960 in the City of Atlanta.
What Will be the Name of the New District?
The Atlanta-Fulton County School District is an appropriate name.
Enabling legislation would specify the name of the district.
What Would Happen to the Properties
of the Two Present Districts?
Properties of the two districts would become the property of the new
These assets belong to the people and are simply held for the
people by the present districts.
The new district would hold them in the
same way, and their value would be unaffected by the transfer .
and equipment would serve the same people they now serve and in the same
ways .
Children would attend the school they now attend and would be taught
by the same teachers .
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�What Would Happen to Debts of
the Present Districts?
Debts of the Atlanta district amount to $41,894,556, and
for the Fulton County district, $18,100,444.
These are bonded debts
incurred primarily for the construction and equipment of needed school
Provisions have been made already for retirement of these debts .
These provisions would be as binding if there is a single district as they
are at present.
What Would Happen to the Teachers,. Principal s,
and Other Employees of the Present Districts?
All of these individuals would retain their present positions.
only exception would be among administrative personnel on the district-wide
Some reassignment would be necessary but no one would be assigned
to a posi tion of lesser rank than he now holds , with the exception that only
one superintendent would be needed.
What Would Happen to Salaries of Employees ?
No one would take a cut i n salary.
In f act, those teachers now in t he
Fulton County schools would receive a small salary increase since the
Atlant a salary s chedule i s slightly better than the Fult on County schedule.
Two salary schedul es would be untenable, as would be any reduction in salaries of present employees.
What Would Happen to the Present
Teacher Retirement Systems?
Each of the existing retirement systems would be retained for those
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�who are now members as each system has provided a bind~ng contract to its
No teacher could possibly lose in retirement benefits because of
a single district.
Some way should be found to provide a sound retirement
system for the proposed district with each new employee enrolling in this
Perhaps the present State system could serve this purpose.
What Would Happen to the
Tenure of Teachers?
The proposed new district would not affect earned tenure of teachers
in either of the present two school districts.
All teachers would carry
with them into the new district all of the years of service and all of the
benefits of tenure which they have earned.
What Would Happen to Positions Held !2y:
Teachers in the Present Districts?
Teachers would continue their work in the same schools, in
the same capacity, in the same school communities and with the same colleagues.
Would the Singl·e District Cost Less Money?
While various economies could be effected in a single district
resulting in some savings fov the particular services rendered, the overall
cost would be higher than the combined cost of the two present districts
because the single system would provide for the e~tire district those programs and services which are now provided by only one of the districts.
For example, the new district would provide kindergartens for all schools
as are provided in the present Atlanta district .
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Provisions for pupil
�transportation would have to be uniform throughout the new district.
the Fulton County policy of transporting pupils who live one and one-half
miles or more from school or from public transportation which is provided
at a student rate were adopted for the new district, no additional cost
would be necessary.
Adding kindergartens to present Fulton County schools
would cost approximately $400,000 per year.
Capital outlay needs would be
$1½ million for the construction of 60 classrooms for kindergartens.
How Would ---the New
District be Financed?
One of the major reasons for creating a single district is to provide
a more equitable tax base for education.
In view of the fact that Fulton
County has reached the maximum tax rate for schools under present provisions
and Atlanta is approaching fiscal difficulties because of the present tax
structure, the new district would be timely in making it possible to work
out -a more reasonable plan for f i nanci ng education in both Atlanta and
Fulton County.
A tax structure which differs from that of either present
district should be sought.
The goal sought by the new tax program would be
to di stri bute among the people of the entire county the cost of education
on a fair basis.
A single district would make possible taxing the wealth
where it is and applying it to educati onal need where it exists - - a longt erm guide to f inanci ng schools.
A major source of school support should be f ound to take some of t he
' burden f r om the pr oper ty tax and to equalize responsibi lity for support.
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Would School Taxes Paid .£Y the Average
Individual Be More or Less
Than at Present?
An answer to this question is not possible without knowing the tax
structure of the new district.
However, it is safe to assume that the
av~rage tax payer will be taxed more fairly in view of one of the main advantages of creating one district.
A single tax system for education in
the entire country would certainly be fairer than either of the present
These systems leave much to be desired.
in particular is cumbersome and inequitable.
The Fulton County plan
Atlanta is now paying part of
the educational bill for Fulton County as a result of annexing 72 per cent
of the taxable wealth in the Fulton County School District and almost
50 per cent of the students.
Should a tax be levied to broaden the base of support, the tax bill
the property owner could be reduced.
Wouldn't~ Single District Be of
Greater Benefit to the Fulton County
District Than to Atlanta?
Perhaps initially as Fulton County's school finance problems currently
are more severe than those of Atlanta because of the city annexation program
of the last decade.
But, that which is Atlanta and that which is Fulton
County as defined by existing boundaries is unrealistic.
The economic life
of the two is so interwoven that existing boundaries simply make no sense
at all as taxing units.
The two districts are now taxing themselves at
r elatively the same rate in terms of real effort .
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Partly because of the
tax structure, Fulton County schools are in truuble fiscally.
not far behind in this respect .
Atlanta is
Hence, both districts stand to gain from
a single district if a sound tax structure is created.
Can't~ School District Become Too Large?
Probably so.
The answer depends upon whether size is permitted to
foster unhealthy bureaucracy.
districts in the Nation.
Atlanta is already one of the largest school
The new district would occupy about the same position
among large districts that Atlanta now occupies.
Are There Examples of Similar
New Districts?
One of the latest to be created is the Nashville-Davidson County
School District.
All units of local government were merged in this instance.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, is another fairly recent example of the same kind of change.
Others could be mentioned.
No failures
of such mergers are known at present.
Is There~ Trend in Metropolitan
Government to Larger Units ,
Including Larger School Districts?
There are some indications of such a t rend , pr obably because of a
growing recognition of the need to streamline metropolitan goverrlments and
minimize overlapping and duplication.
No doubt , many additional questions will be asked concerning the proposed new district.
Obj ective answers should be provided insofar as it is
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�possible to do so.
It is hoped that every citizen will familiarize himself
with the facts concerning schools in the present districts and the arguments
for and against creating a single district.
If the voters approve a single district proposal, the time table defined in the enabling legislation would be set in motion.
Much work would
have to be done to effect the transition.
The autonomy which local school districts in Georgia are free to exercise is considerable.
The Atlanta and Fulton County school districts have
freely exercised this autonomy.
Being entirely separate districts, they
have developed their own policies, procedures and operational patterns.
While many similarities exist in these matters, there are also differences.
Creation of a new district would require careful attention to such guides
and practices.
Changes which are necessary must not work injustices on
school personnel or reflect unwisely on educational programs.
Careful and
tedious study are required which will result in the development of policies,
procedures and operational patterns needed by the proposed new district and
which may or may not exist currently in either of the present districts.
Some of the several aspects of this problem are listed below with types
of needed action indicated.
Additions to this list are likely to be necessary
in the event a single district is created .
Development of a system of personnel records for professional and
other school personnel .
Development of a system of records for pupil accounting.
Development of necessary guides and procedures fior budgeting .
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Development of purchasing plans and procedures.
Development of plans for appropriate financial accounting.
Development of a salary schedule for professional and other
Development of a retirement system, or systems.
Development of policies concerning· employment practices, professional and other.
Development of policies regarding sick leave, vacations, leaves
of absence, professional growth, etc.
Development of policies regarding size of schools.
Development of general school regulations such as length of
the school day, number of days in the school year and holidays.
Development of a school calendar.
Reach decisions on the school program having to do with kindergartens, special education, vocational education and other
program areas.
Reach decisions on pupil-teacher ratios to be established and
Reach decisions on services to be provided by the school district,
such as food, transportation and health.
Reach decisions on instructional materials and supplies which are
to be provided.
Reach decisions on special professional personnel to be provided
such as librarians, school psychologists, counselors and reading
specialists .
18 .
Reach decisions on administrative and supervisory services to
be provided.
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Reach decisions on non-professianal personnel to be provided,
such as lunch room workers, custodians and secretaries.
Determine the curriculum adjustments which are necessary and
suggest how they are to be made.
Recommend policies regarding expansion of school programs with
special reference to junior college education,
vocational and
technical education and adult education.
Propose a method of combining the two central office staffs.
Propose a plan for the internal organization and administration
of the new school district, answering such questions as:
there be area superintendents? Will there be junior high schools?
How many grades will be in the elementary schools?
Recommend the future of the Metropolitan School Development Council.
Will it have served its purpose if the new school district is
If not, should it be extended to include the entire
metropolitan area?
Reconlmend plans for handling textbooks and instructional supplies.
Make recommendations concerning teaching loads.
Make recommendations concerning the visiting teacher program.
Make recommendations concerning organizations which exist in the
respective school districts, such as Parent- Teacher Associations,
local teacher associations and the various student organization~ .
Make a budget for the new school district.
This document begins with a paragraph which states that a revolution
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�in education is underway because of swiftly moving cultural changes of
profound impact on all areas of civil~zation.
During the course of this
study several developments occurred which have major bearings on the recommendation for one school district to serve Fulton County.
Among these
developments are the following:
Mounting sentiment for a new Atlanta annexation program.
such move could only aggravate further the already s·erious financial
problems of the Fultorr County schools under the present district
A statewide educational study has been completed which strongly
recommends fewer, more efficient, school districts for the State.
While main emphasis is on districts of sufficient enrollment to
provide economically the wide range of educational programs and
services needed, the basic concern is with sound districts.
The Federal Government has passed an education support bill for
elementary and secondary schools.
This seems to signal a new and
far stronger role of the National Governemnt in education for the
Other Federal legislation which influences schools supports
this conclusion.
The impact of this changing role on school dis-
trict organization is not clear at this time.
But present indi-
cations point clearly to the importance of strengthening local
school districts.
The proposed new Constitution for the State of Georgia, if passed,
will encourage the consolidation of school districts and will make
it easier for consolidation to be achieved.
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Fulton County
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Fulton County
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