Box 6, Folder 2, Document 5

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Box 6, Folder 2, Document 5

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Tentative
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ONE DISTRICT FOR ATLANTA AND FULTON COUNTY SCHOOI..5?
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Studie~ of public education in the Atlanta and Fulton County school districts have been underway most of the time since the early years following the
close of World War II.
The continuous and rapid growth of the Atlanta metro-
politan area and the character of this growth have focused attention on problems
and issues many of which strongly influence the public schools.
The desire of
citizens to provide educational programs of high quality has stimulated constant concern for the satisfactory resolution of these problems and issues.
The quest for better schools is a thread which runs through all of the various
special studies of education during this period.
Some of the studies were authorized by one or both of the local school
boards, while others were authorized by the General Assembly of the State of
Georgia.
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The latest of those initiated by the General Assembly was authorized
1963. It created a Local Education Commission composed of nineteen citizens
from the two school districts.
The Legislature empowered the Commission 11 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 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."
This Commission can profit from previous studies by taking into account
their findings and conclusions as they relate to consolidation.
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BRIEF REVIEW OF PREVIOUS STUDIES
The question of whether or not the Atlanta and Fulton County school districts should be combined into a single district has been debated for a good
many years.
The Local Government Commission of Fulton County gave considerable
attention to the consolidation issue in a report of its studies which was issued
in 1950.
The Commission did not recommend merger of the two school systems be-
cause of (1) the "huge cost that would be involved in raising the county system
up to city salary and kindergarten standards", (2) the "vast physical job involved in consolidation."
However, the Local Government Commission did not set forth educational
reasons as a justification for not recommending consolidation.
The report stated
that its proposals should not stand in the path of ultimate unification of the
two school districts and expressed the view that it would be easier to effect
ccnsolidation after changes had been made which minimized the differences in
the two school systems.
The Commission f urther expressed the view that combin-
ing of the schools would be made easier "if in the meantime the tri-ci ties and
the rural areas would assume a larger share of their school costs."
However, the Commission did recommend certain changes which have had a
profound effect on education in the Atlant a-Fulton County school districts.
The report, known as the Plan of Improvement, recommended greatly enlarging the
city limits of Atlanta and the consolidation of certain city and county services.
This plan, as later put into effect by the General Assembly, resulted in the
transfer of about
40 Fulton
County schools and nearly half of the school en-
rollment in the County district to the school district of Atlanta.
Furthennore,
72 per cent of the taxable wealth to support schools in the County district was
included in the annexation.
These changes took place in 1952.
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Even though the two separate school districts remained in reality, a substantial step toward consolidation took place because of the reduction in the
number of schools and in enrollment in the Fulton County district and the subsequent increase in the Atlanta district.
Unfortunately, severe financial
problems were created in what was left of the Fulton County school district
because of the l arge proportion of taxable wealth to support schools which was
· transferred into the city district.
The financial woes of the Fulton County
schools have increased steadily since that time.
The General Assembly of Georgia created a Local Education Commission of
Atlanta and Fulton County in 1958 to make a study of their educational systems
and to draft a plan or plans for their improvement, submitting the plan or plans
to the members of the General Assembly from Fulton and DeKalb counties.
Act stated that
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The
such study shall give f ull consideration to the position of
such systems within the total educational syst em of the State of Georgia, and
t he plan or plans shall include any changes i n political and administrative
and fis cal structure of either or both of such systems which t he Commission
deems desirable and feasible. 11
Thus, concern for consoli dation appears in
this legislation and in t he assignment of dut ies to t he Commis sion.
This Commission first gave at tention to the legal problems which would be
involved in consolidation.
Mr. G. Stanley J oslin, Professor of Law at Emory
Universi ty, was commissioned t o study the legal considerations which woul d be
necessary if consolidation were undertaken.
Mr . Jos l i n prepared a mem9randum
for the Commission on t hese matter s .
The memorandum emphas ized an important t echnical distinct ion between merger
and consolidation, thus indicating two distinct ways in which unification might
be achieved.
Merger would involve one system becoming a part of the other,
thus taking on all the powers and limitations inherent in the system which absorbed it.
Consolidation means a completely new school system which would be
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created from the present Atlanta and Fulton County districts.
would cease to exist when the new district crune into being.
These districts
The newly-created
district would be new in every respect, including provisions for a board of education, school truces, debt limitations, administrative officials, and operational
procedures. Mr. Joslin stated that the new system could be constituted in a way
that would permit the addition of other :.;chool systems or parts of such systems
when ·and if the citizens affected so desi red.
No major legal difficulties need be involved in consolidating the t wo
systems according to Mr. Joslin.
He r ecommended that if a decision is made to
combine the two systems, consolidation would be better than merger.
If merger
were to be decided upon, fewer legal difficulties would be involved if the city
system joined the county system rather than if the county system joined the ci ty
system.
The Commission then tUined its attention to other aspects of the consolidation i ssue .
Considerable r esearch was conducted to deter mine the economic and
financial advantages and disadvant ages of unifying the t wo dist ricts.
The
Commission becrune greatl y interested in the educational implicat i ons of consolidation.
Thereafter, it viewed consoli dation primaril y in terms of opportuni-
ties which could be provided for improving education in the met ropolitan area.
After a careful study of the advant ages and disadvantages of consolidation,
the Commission decided that "consolidat i on is neither desirable nor practi cable
at this t ime . 11
I t went on to st ate that "consolidation will be much more feas-
ible , in our judgment, if and when (a ) the two separat e syst ems have adopted
s:iJnilar policies with respect t o kindergartens, (b) t eacher pay scales of the
two systems are either ident ical or at l east much closer together than at present,
( c ) citizens of the Fulton County school district have voted to eliminate the
Homestead Exemption for school operating true purposes, and (d) the Atlanta-Fulton
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County area has successfully passed through the impending school desegregation
crisis. 11 Stated another way, the Commission found itself favorably disposed
toward consolidation but did not believe the time was right for the transition
which would be required.
It stated that mere consolidation of the two school
districts~~ would be neither good nor bad.
The values of such a move lie
in whether or not better schools could be provided for the metropolitan area
than could be provided by two separate systems, and as economically.
However, the Commission did not. drop the idea of improving schools in the
metropolitan area by means of improved organizational arrangements.
It concluded
that a number of the advantages of consolidating the school systems could be
achieved through the creation of machinery for joint action and for the development of joint programs by the Atlanta and Fulton County boards of education.
Separate and independent action of the two boards on matters involving common
interests lack the strength of joint action and would be less economical in cost.
The search for ways to improve schools convinced the Commission that continuous
research and experimentation were necessary if the improvement program it recommended was to be successfully executed.
Furthermore, the demands on education
are such that continuous research and experimentation are essential for a
school program which is suf'ficiently up-to-date to meet current needs.
These
are examples of undertakings which would be more productive if engaged in j ointly
by the school systems rather than if each system developed its own separate
programs.
To achieve these purposes, the Metropolitan School Development Council was
created as a separate entity to serve both school systems and to be controlled
jointly by them.
The Council is the instrument through which many recommenda-
tions of the Local Education Commission have been achieved in full or in part.
Its success is a demonstration of the ability and willingness of the two boards
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of education and their professional employees to work cooperatively for better
schools.
The Council was viewed initially as a poss1ble intermediate step
toward eventual consolidation.
This assumption is supported by the success of
the Council.
The financial position of the Fulton County Board of Education rapidly deteriorated following the annexation program .of greater Atlanta which was completed in 1952.
After annexation was complete, only 28 per cent of the former
taxable wealth remained for the education of Fulton County public school students,
while the number of students remaining was
nexation.
50 per cent of the total prior to an-
School population in the County continued to increase at the rate of
about 7 per cent each year, thus creating capital outlay problems as well as
the necessity of increasing operational budgets.
By 1963-64, the Board of Edu-
cation found it necessary to reduce school support because there was no longer
tax leeway for increasing the school budget.
All bonding capacity for building
p"rposes had been utilized, also. · This dire situation prompted the Fulton County
Boa=d of Education to appoint a Study Commission of ten citizens of the County
to find ways and recommend ways to the Board for alleviating the financial crisis
whfoh gripped the schools.
The Commissi on projected school enrollments, capital outlay needs, and
operational budget needs for the Fulton County schools through the 1972-73
school year, assuming that schools of at least present quality were to be maintained.
Eleven different possibilities of financing the schools were considered,
all of which proved to be inadequate, if taken singly.
It recommended a combina-
tion of alternatives for financing the schools of Fulton County, but it expressed
grave concern for the future and recommended that the "study of what would be involved in merging the Fulton County and Atlanta school districts should be continued with a view to effecting such a merger when it is feasible."
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All of these· studies gave serious attention to consolidation and without
exception th0y concluded that the directions toward which the two school systems
should move lead to consolidation.
As stated in one of the reports, the question
seemed to be not whether there should be consolidation, but rather when should
consolidation be effected.
DIMINISIIDJG BARRIERS
In the meantime, certain of the barriers to combining the t wo school districts which were identified earlier have been either overcome or minimized.
The State Minimum Foundation Program has been modified in ways which will not
require a .financial sacrifice in state aid should the two districts be united,
as would have been t he case earlier.
The only loss would be the state alloca-
tion for the salary of one superintendent, about $6,700, and there may be gains
which would offset this loss, depending on the kind of new district to be created .
The level of financial expenditures of the t wo districts has been brought
cl oser · together, although troublesome differences r emain.
Questions concerning
kindergartens are perhaps t he most difficult.
The trends in school desegregat i on appear to be clearl y established. Whil e
citizens generally seem to accept desegregation as a reality, pr oblems which
accompany the actual integrat i on of schools a.re prof oundly complex and their
solutions a.re unclear.
However, whether one or two school districts exist in
Fulton County may be viewed as largely immaterial with reference to desegregation.
Perhaps the most important change is the growth of the two systems toward
the same basic assumptions concerning education and the increase in productive
cooperative efforts between the two systems.
This is progress toward the kind
of unity which is essential to physical consolidation.
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NEW Il1PERATIVES
Meanwhile, other transitions of great importance have been taking place.
Foremost among these is the widespread recognition that the provision of education of increasingly high quality is an essential requirement of all districts
if its people are to remain in the mainst ream. of modern civilization.
Neither
the schools of yesterday nor the schools of today will be adequate for tomorrow.
Cultural transitions are taking place ~ta rate of speed which quickly render
obsolete much of current education.
Intensive efforts to find the best ways of
providing the needed education are underway in many school districts.
The
national government is keenly aware of these needs as is evidenced by its increasing support of education at all levels.
Education is now recognized as the
only effective way of eliminating poverty, achieving worthy personal objectives,
and developing more satisfactory communities, states, and nations.
The continued rapid growth of the Atlanta metropolitan area is another major
f or ce which deepl y i nfluences the schools and how they should be organized.
A
population of three mill i on people i s pr ojected for the area by t he year 2000.
The basic structure of l ocal gover nment in t he area has thus f ar been relati vely
unaffected by this growth, except f or t he annexation program completed in 1952.
These units of government, including t hose f or schools, become increasingly
archaic as the metropolitan area continues its growth and development .
A major aspect of urbanization is the fact that as size increases so does
cultural diversity.
This complexity of interests and abilities necessarily in-
creases interdependence because a metropolitan area permits many kinds of specialization which are supplementary to each other and when taken together constitute
the entire area.
the whole.
Hence, the status of a given unit in such a complex affects
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This is why no part of a metropolitan area can afford a second-rate school
system.
Therefore, the present fiscal condition of the -Fulton County school
district is a concern of the entire metropolitan area and not simply of the
Fulton County school district alone. As pointed out above, a major imperative
is the inability of the present Fulton County school district to sustain an adequate progr am of education.
Since nothing has been done to alleviate the crisis
in school finance underscored in the 1963 study, this imperative becomes more
compelling.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD SCHOOL DISTRICT
Before taking a closer look at the question of consolidation, a brief discussion of school districts and their proper functions may be in or der.
The American concept of public education includes provisions for substantial
control of schools by local communities.
The local school district, a creature
of the state, was invented to enable people s erved by the schools to have a
voi ce in their purpose and government.
dist ricts in America.
There are thousands of local school
These district s vary greatly in size and i n population.
They are easily classified into different t ypes accor ding t o the kinds of schools
they provide.
Much study of school di stricts by authorities suggests the f ollowing criteria for an adequate district :
1.
I t should have enough children to educate to enable schools to funetion
effectively and economically.
2..
It should be a reasonably complete social and economic unit.
3. It should have taxable wealth adequate t o provide healthy .local support.
4.
It should have adequate bonding power for needed and anticipated capital
outlay.
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5.
It should have tax leeway for both current operations and capital
outlay.
6. It should have reasonable fiscal independence.
These criteria were applied to the Fulton County school district in the
1963 study. It was found that the district could meet only the first criterion.
It, therefore, by no stretch of the imagination could be judged as an adequate
school district~
On the other hand, the Atlanta school district meets all of
these criteria to a reasonable degree.
Atlanta has already recognized a degree
of responsibility for the Fulton County school district by supporting al½ mill
countywide 'tax for support of Fulton County schools.
If the two districts were
combined, the single district would be a sound and adequate district, if established on the basis of proper legal provisions.
REASONS FOR CONSOLIDATION
The foregoing discussion traces the historical development of consolidation
as an issue and reviews the findings and recommendations of previous studies as
they bear on the question.
Current developments and trends are also identified
and interpreted in relation to their impact on the structure of education in the
Atlanta metropolitan area.
These facts point clearly toward a single school
district.
But the really persuasive reasons which should be considered in making a
decision a.re concerned with consolidation as an instrument for achieving better
educational programs for the metropolitan area, a more equitable support basis
for the schools, and the provision of structural and procedural arrangements
which will facilitate the economic use of personnel and financial resources in
the ongoing development of more adequate education, and finally with the provision and stimulation of the research and experimentation which a.re essential
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in the continuous improvement of education in the metropolitan area.
These
educational advantages to consolidation are listed and briefly discussed in the
following pages.
A Better School District
Will Be Provided
The discussion above concerning the proper functions of a school district
and the characteristics of a sound district clearly justify this conclusion.
Furthermore., sound principles of political science as they relate to units of
local government support this conclusion.
In addition., maintaining and foster-
ing good relationships with other units of local government would be enhanced by
a single district.
These factors are obviously related to the ease and conven-
ience of governing the local schools.
Educational Opportunities~~
Equalized~ Easily
The American dream has long stressed the right of every individual to secure
an education. We now believe that every individual has the right to an education
appropriate to his purposes., interests., abilities., and needs.
Equality of edu-
cational opportunity., therefore, does not mean the same education for all., but
it does mean the same level of quality for all insofar as is possible.
The
extreme diversity of cultural interests and socio-economic backgrounds which .
are found in the metropolitan area of Atlanta., and in a..~y other metropolitan
area, require a wide range of educational programs adapted to these basic differences in people.
The
current nationwide concern for providing more realistic
educational programs for children in slum areas is an indication of this kind
of need.
The Atlanta district is vastly heterogeneous in composition., while
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the Fulton-County .district is more homogeneous.
Combining the two would make it
possible to provide the variety of educational programs needed in a more economical and efficient manner.
The equalization of educational offerings in the present school districts of
Atlanta and Fulton County seems virtually impossible. A single district would
contribute much to making this a manageable taak· with minimum difficulties,
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and Needed Edupational 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 institu-
tions provide two yea.rs of academic ,-rork either for terminal purposes or for
transfer to a senior college.
They also usually offer programs in vocational-
technical education and in adult education.
It is increasingly clear that con-
tinuing -education is a must for the adult citizen of tomorrow.
Furthermore, the
kind of world in which we live requires increasing amounts of education..
A
recent Educational Policies Commission report takes the position that we must
provide two years of education beyond the high school at public expense for all
high school graduates.
Fulton County is not financially able to provide junior colleges.
It would
not be tha most economical plan for each district to provide its own junior col•
leges.
A program for the metropolitan area would provide the best means of meet-
ing this emerging educational need.
The two districts have already found it
profitable to cooperate in the provision of vocational education as reflected by
the new vocational school which is to serve both districts and provisions for a
second such institution.
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Adequate 0,irricula
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Special
Student Groups Can Be Provided
The variety of curricula required to meet the diverse edu,ca.tjooaJ. needs referred to abov.e means special -educational offerings for -small groups of selected
students.
Reference is made to groups o! children with serious physical handi-
caps, 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
the entire metropolitan area rather than if the two present school districts offer
duplicate programs.
Furthermore, the educational quality of offerings can be more
readily improved in a unified district.
Certain Educational Programs and Services
~ ~ Provided ~
Satisfactorily
The richness and depth of both t eaching and l earning are being enhanced by
new discoveries concerning human growth and development .
The cont ributions of
science to the effectiveness of teaching and learning processes is increasing at
a r apid r ate.
Integrating into curricula the accelerating flow of new and use-
ful subject matt er which the modern school program must offer if it is to remain
effective is an i ncr easingly difficult problem.
The modern school must be st affed by prof essional personnel who keep
up with
these continuing developments that affect their pr oductivity. Systemwide continuous career development programs for personnel have become a necessity.
This
is one type of educational service which can be provided better on a metropolitanwide basis rather than in terms of the present separate districts.
The develop-
ment and use of various learning resources and the appropriate utilaation of
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technological advances in teaching can be stimulated and fostered better t hrough
a single school district.
Required Improvements in Educational Quality
~~Achieved~ Readily
The search f or 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.
Improvements in financing schools in
administrative and supervisory services, and in the scope and variety of educational offerings can be justified only in terms of their educational impor t.
The concept of a metropolitan area which is basi c to the considerations of this
paper demand an educational program for the Atlanta metropolitan area and not a
seri es of separate and structurally unrelated programs.
The s earch f or educational quality is now both universal and continuous .
The pursuit of quality is compl ex in that i t i s concerned with everything that
has a bearing on t he educational programs offered by a school district.
The
unification of such efforts would certainly strengthen t he opportunities and
resources for enrichment of educational offerings.
Comprehensive, Long-Range Planning
Can Be More Effective
The increasing magni t ude of educational r esponsi bi lity has been st ressed.
The quantitative aspects of t his problem will cont inue t o increase.
Project ions
which have been made through the next several years show no letdown in the rate
of population growth.
The indicated increase in the educational load calls for
the most intelligent planning of which the people responsible are capable.
�Since this growth ignores school district lines, adequate planning for new enrollment must also ignore these lines insofar as actualities permit.
Compre-
hensive, long-range planning cannot be satisfactory if it is segmented on the
basis of school district lines which have no con.st.ruct.ive significance in the
context of the metropolitan area as a whole.
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More Effective Solutions to Common
Educational Problems Are Possible
Educational problems are not confined to areas marked off by school district
lines, as has b~en emphasized. Some educational problems are unique to certain
types of districts, a.sis true of Fulton County and Atlanta.
But many such
problems are common to the districts of a.n area, state, region, or nation.
which are common seem to be on the increase.
Those
The school district which embraces
as nearly a self-sufficient socio-economic unit as is possible provides the best
structural framework for the consideration of educational problems.
Solutions
t o these pr oblems should not be restricted by artificial district lines which
i gnore t he facts of life.
A unified district would provide for a more construc-
t ive approach to problem solution than does the present dual appr oach.
This is
all the more important since most of the educational problems to be faced are
common to the two dist ricts .
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Effective Research Programs Can
Be St imulat ed and Executed
As good schools have become more central to per sonal and community advancement, the place of research in education has become more apparent.
Sound analyses
of existing programs, the identif'ication and description of strengths and weaknesses, and the determination of grounds for change require research.
Planning
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ahead so that there will be adequate classrooms and teachers for the children
in school at the beginning of a given year rests back on sound research.
School
systems without strong research programs cannot achieve their maximum effectiveness.
The complexity of a metropolitan area and the interrelationship of roles
of its different segments require comprehensive research programs based on trends
and needs of the entire area rat.her than of subdistricts which are separate school
districts.
Furthermore., economy and wise management dictate the metropolitan-wide
approach to research.
Needed Experimentation~ Educational
Invention~ Be Achieved~ Readily
Major advances in our society depend heavily on invention and experimentation .
This fact is well recognized in the world of science and technology.
The role of
invention and experimentation in the improvement of social institutions such as
t he schools is equally critical. Schools like the world in which they exist
must change as their clientele changes . New cuITiculum materials must be developed
and t ested on experiment al bases. New knowledge of human gr owth and development
must be appl i ed t o teaching and l earning on experiment al bases. New teaching procedures and methods must be t ested 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 the metropolitan area to engage
in separate programs of this nature.
The interests of both can be served .better
by unified programs., to say nothing of economies which could be effected.
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More Extensive Use of Selected Educational
Facilities and Lea.zning Resources Are Possible
Centers for acquiring, creating, distributing, and servicing curriculum
materials, filmstrips, video tapes, films, and the necessary equipment for appropriate use 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.
The use of television in teaching
and in professional development programs is increasing.
The needed facilities
for extensive television programs in the metropolitan area can be centered easily
in one location.
It would be foolish to duplicate the above in different school districts
serving the same metropolitan area.
A single center can provide a constant flow
of materials far richer and more comprehensive than would be possible with duplicate facilities in the separate dist ricts.
Equity and Balance of Financial Eff ort
and Support Can Be Achieved
An axiom of educational finance which is accepted universally is that wealth
should be taxed where it is i n or der t o educate children where they are.
The most
glaring deficiency in the structure of p1;_b lic education in the Atlanta area violates this axiom.
The center f or commerce and industry is the City of Atlanta.
Contributions of most Fulton County citizens to 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 the earnings paid to the individual
may be spent wherever he chooses.
The contribution of the city to support of
s chools in the Fulton County district is al½ mill property tax.
The industrial
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wealth of the metropolitan area which is a major source of school revenue lies
largely within the City of Atlanta.
No equitable system of financial support and effort is possible which does
not take into account these economic facts.
A single tax program for schools
in the metropolitan area with the revenues distributed according to educational
need is the only satisfactory answer to t he financial dilemma of the Fulton
County schools.
This is Atlanta 1 s problem as well as Fulton County 1 s problem
because of the previously stressed interdependence of the metr opolitan area.
A s ingle school district would be the most simple and prudent way to achieve
this goal.
It should be pointed ouG that a new tax plan would be needed, for
Atlanta is approaching the situation of Fulton County under its present tax
system.
Greater Financial Stability is Possible
The disadvant ages of heavy r eliance on the property t ax f or the suppor t of
schools are well known .
The primary advantage is that revenues from property
taxes fluctuat e l ess than do r evenues f r om more s ensit i ve baromet ers of economic
health.
Desirable stability in the financial structure of a school system in
the final analysis is related to the s oundness of the economy and the fairness
of the system of taxation.
The better balanced the t ax pr ogram, the more stable
the financial base of the schools.
The more complet e the economic district or
area served by the school district as an economy in its oi-m right, the more
stable the local tax base for schools.
It goes without saying 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.
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Economies are Possible
Consolidation cannot be justified as an economy measure, if this means an
actual reduction in expenditures.
Any plan for immediate unification of the
t wo districts would really cost more than the sum of the current budgets of the
t wo systems because cost s would be equaliz.ed upward instead of downward, assuming
the same quality of education is to be provided in the entire district.
Neverthe-
less~ some financial economies are poqsible because of the elimination of duplicate programs and services which can be handled better through single systems.
In this connection, special reference is made to experimentation and invention,
research, certain district- wide programs and services, specialized curricula for
small student groups , and others enumerated in the listing above.
These programs
could be pr ovided at higher quality levels on a unified basis at a lower unit
cost than would be possible in dual pr ograms.
However, t he gr eatest economic gain to consolidation would be in the creation
of opportuni ties to purchase more with the educational dollar rather t han i n the
utilization of f ewer educational dollars.
This kind of economy i s certainly t o
be sought and is of much greater :importance t han t he mer e saving of money .
A
good test of a s chool district is not how little money i t spends, but how much
education it buys for its expenditures.
The above i dentification and description of advantages t o consolidation
are predicated on certain assumptions concerning the new s chool district.
these assumptions are the following :
~mong
an adequate legal base for the new district
will be provided; an administrative structure which will make possible the necessary leadership for educational advancement in the metropolitan area will be
created; an adequate plan for financing the new school district will be adopted,
and emphasis on continuously improving educational quality and extending educational services will be continuedo
Consolidation as such is of no value.
It
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is valuable only as it results in educational advancement , but i t will not
guarantee such advancement.
EDUCATIONAL DISADVANTAGES OF CONSOLIDATION
Educational reasons why consolidation is not desirable must be viewed against
the backdrop of advantages.
It will then be possible to weigh the two sets of
reasons and detennine the course of action which offers the most promise for educational advancement in the metropolitan area.
It will be noted that reference
is made to educational disadvantages rather than to other disadvantages or
handicaps .which might have to be faced in effecting consolidation.
A careful study of the educational problems which might result from consoli~
dation indicates that such problems are related primarily to the factor of size
of the district.
Some of these problems are discussed below.
Difficulties~ Maintaining ~
Contr ol
The capacity of schools to make needed adaptations which t alce i nto proper
account t he educational needs of their neighborhoods is related to the size of
dist rict s.
Considerable uniformity of educational programs ,n t bin districts
has been traditional.
As a rule, the l arger districts off er a gr eater variety
of educational needs which r equire much variation in of ferings .
uniformity particularly undesirable in t hese di strict s .
This makes
Current efforts to
devel op more realistic school programs f or chil dren in slum areas of cities
is an example of the need f or differ ent kinds of pr ograms according to community backgrounds .
A r easonable degr ee of contr ol mus t be vest ed in the local
school community if these variations in educati onal needs are to be met.
Neigh-
borhood control gener ates local r esponsibi l ity, inter est and initiative which are
essential to good schools.
�21
Unhealthy Reliance on Bureaucracy
Where local control is missing, decisions are removed from the local scene .
Instead of the healthy exercise of community responsibility for schools , directives from the central office take the place of local initiative.
Thus , bureau-
cratic controls a,row up which inevitably stress uniformity and discourage the
community autonomy which has been one of the great strengths of public education
in America.
There is evidence to show that the larger the district the more ·
dependence is placed on unhealthy contr ol f r om central offices which are f ar
removed from the people.
Inadequate Invention and Experimentation
Many very large school districts have been notably l acking i n educati onal
invention and experimentation.
Some of the major current educational ill s of
our country are in the slums of large city distr icts wher e unt il r ecentl y littl e
effor t was made to creat e and t ry out school programs which would s erve these
areas more r ealist ically .
Innovation is difficult in situati ons which do not en-
courage the exercise of i ndivi dualit y .
patible.
Uni f ormity and invention are not com-
Excessive use of rules , regulations, and directives inhibit creativity.
Poor Communication
The diff i culties of maintaini ng s atisfacto ry channels of communicati on increase with the size of a school dist rict.
The threads which hold a school system
t ogether become tenuous as the di str i ct grows l arger.
Greater dependence must be
placed on formal and impersonal means of communicat ion in large districts.
Oppor-
tunities for misunderstanding and conflicting opinions are greater where personal
and informal contacts are missing.
�22
- - ----- ---- --Too Much Centralized Decision Making
-
The disadvantage of bigness in utilizing democratic participation in reaching decisions stems partly from the lack of an adequate structure to permit 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 their meanings are enhanced by participation in their
making is of great importance in effective teaching.
~£!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 maintaining warm and personal relation-
srips in achieving satisfaction and success in one's work.
This kind of environ-
ment 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.
In 1963- 64, the total
school enrollment in the two districts was 157,140, about one- sixth the enrollment in New York City which has more thar one million pupi:s and enrolls more
pupils than any other district in the Nation.
Both the Atlanta and Fulton County
districts have already reached the size of school systems which have suffered
from the ills described above.
Therefore, combi-:.t..ing the school districts would
scarcely create problems of bigness beyond those which already exist, if the
proper safeguards a.re observed in the creation and establishment of the new
district.
�23
Just as creating a single school district would not guarantee the educational
advantages discussed in this paper, 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.
DIFFICULTIES IN ACHIEVING CONSOLIDATION
Transitions in political and civil structures are painful and tedious at
best.
Existing systems cling to life tenaciously and carry with them the strong
support of tradition and custom.
Creating a new school district is simple com-
pared to abolishing existing districts.
Basic difficulties fall into three classes:
standings, and operational.
legal, attitudes and under-
There may be numerous variations in each type of
difficulty in a particular situation where consolidation is undertaken.
Legal difficulties inhere in the necessity for making changes within the
limits of legal freedom to dissolve a given district and to create the necessary
legislation for establishing and setting into operation the new district.
This
problem is one which members of the legal profession must solve with the aid of
the General Assembly of the State in passing the legislation which has been determined as being necessary.
The handicap of conflicting attitudes and understandings is probably the
most difficult to overcome.
The question of consolidation must be resolved by
the electorate, in the final analysis.
Any move to consolidate will be inter-
preted in many different ways by citizens who already hold varying points of
view on the issue.
Any plan advanced to effect consolidation will be subjected
to abuse without understanding by interests who think their purposes will be
served best by maintaining the status quo.
Consolidation will be viewed as a
�•
scarcely know the difference after consolidation is achieved.
Children~
attending the same schools, which will be operated essentially as before and
~
taught by the same teachers.
Overcoming handicaps of this nature depends largely on the widespread dis- ,.
seminatioh of ad.equate information and the stimulation of discussion and examination of relevant facts.
One of the great strengths of our democracy rests in the
fact that people when properly informed on problems and issues will make wise
decisions.
Therefore, major tasks, if consolidation is undertaken, will be the
--
planning and carrying out of public information programs and arranging __for public,.___
. ._ _____
·---.
discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed plan.
The third difficulty is creation and implementation of needed operational
plans and procedures for the new school system.
The responsibility for this phase
of consolidation necessarily lies with the prof essional staf~ of the school system
and t he boa.rd of education.
The function of t he board of education will be t o
provide adequate pol i ci es f or bringing the new dist rict into full bl oom and continuing its operat i on on a sound basi s .
The professional staff will have many
separate but related tasks to undert ake in effecting a smoothly functioning new
\
district where two separate districts existed before.
While the two districts have drawn closer together in recent years and
have worked cooperatively on numerous projects and programs, there are still
differences in operational patterns and policies of the two school systems:
Some differences a.re in pension systems, retirement provisions, leave provisions,
sick leave policies, employment practices, salary schedules, pupil-teacher ratios
and, as pointed out earlier, differences in educational programs and services.
The new district would have ·to develop new policies on these and many other
matters.
These policies would have to be put in.to practice before the
\
\ ',
�consolidation move is completed and a success.
This constitutes a -tremendous-
professional job for the staff and requires ..infinite patience and careful
planning.
None of these difficulties are insurmountable. Good will, good judgment,
an<;l hard work are the essential ingredients of success,
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE NEW DISTRICT
The Atlanta district consists of 128.395 miles of which B. 420 miles lie in
DeKalb County.
territory.
The Fulton County school district includes 420 square miles of
Therefore, the two districts, if consolidated~ -would make a single
district of 548.395 square miles of which 539.975 square miles would be in
Fulton County proper.
The new district would have had a population of 632,600 an April 11 1964,
of whom 126,400 were in Fulton County and 506,200 in Atlanta, including 43,900
who live :in DeKalb County. School enrollment for the f all of' 1964 would be about
145,000 pupils.
Professional personnel in the <lis-trict would number nearly
5,500 individuals. Other s chool employees would add up to just under 3,000 persons,
The district would contain 170 elementary schools and 35 high schools, plus
two night high schools.
The elementary schools are now located as follows,
118
in Atlanta, and 52 in Fulton County. Of the regular high schools, 24 are in
Atlanta and 11 in Fulton County.
The school budget would be nearly 60 million dollars per year, based on
bringing expenditure levels of the present Fulton County School District up to
current Atlanta levels, including the provisions of kindergarten.
The school tax digest would be $1,355,500,000.
as follows:
This is currently divided
$151,500,000 in the Fulton County district and $1,203,500,000 in
the City of Atlanta.
'.IMP:jp
September 29, 1964

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