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July 31, 2014                           

Dear Students and Families of Atlanta Public Schools,

We’re only a few days away from the first day of the 2014-15 academic year! We want to make sure you know that Monday, August 4 is not only the first day of school; it’s the first day of instruction. We’re relying on you to join the Atlanta Public SchoolsDay One: Be There campaign by attending school on the first day and every school day afterward. As we count down to August 4, please be aware of two important matters:

  1. Our back-to-school districtwide open houses
  2. Our around-the-clock effort to get schools and classrooms ready for Day One

Upcoming districtwide open houses and other back-to-school events

You’re invited to attend an open house at your local school on Friday, August 1. At the open house, you will be able to meet your principal and some of your child’s teachers, as well as learn about your school’s unique features and programs for students. Open house times are as follows:

  • High schools: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Middle schools: 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Elementary schools: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

In addition, on August 1 and August 2, school employees, members of the Atlanta Board of Education and community partners will host several back-to-school events throughout the city. For a complete list of events, please visit atlantapublicschools.us/dayone.

Status of our efforts to be Day One ready

To make sure our schools are Day One ready, we’ve identified close to 10,000 back-to-school tasks.

So far, we’ve completed nearly 70 percent—more than 7,700 tasks—compared to the 65 percent of tasks completed by this time last year. We’ve made progress, but we still have much more ground to cover. Professionals in our schools and offices have been working together every day, including weekends, to track and troubleshoot challenges as they arise. Listed below is the status of our work in the seven key areas that many parents and employees have brought to our attention:

Atlanta Public Schools

Day One Update – As of July 31, 2014

  1. Hiring New Teachers
  • We’ve hired 310 teachers who are new to the system.
  • As of today, out of our 3,200 teaching positions, 23 positions—under 1 percent—remain vacant. Principals want the best talent, so they continue to interview candidates for the open positions.
  • Our human resources department has updated its process for attracting qualified substitute teachers. Therefore, for positions that may remain unfilled, we will make sure a qualified substitute serves the classroom on a temporary basis.
  1. Hired New Principals
  • We’ve hired 22 school principals.
  • We’re pleased to report that we’ve filled all of our principal positions. In all, 81 principals serve in our schools.
  1. Inspected Buses, Practiced Bus Routes and Updating Bus Schedules
  • We believe in safety first and have completed more than 1,100 maintenance and repair orders, and passed more than 600 state-mandated safety inspections on our buses.
  • In an effort to reduce our environmental impact, we’ve added 13 new green diesel buses to our fleet, bringing our total number of green technology buses to 30 and the grand total number of buses in our fleet to more than 400.
  • We’re updating our bus route schedules. Earlier this week, all of our bus drivers practiced their updated routes and made any necessary adjustments. Students and parents will be able to view the schedules online or pick up a hard copy at the open house that will be held at every school on Friday, August 1.
  • We’re exploring enhancements to our parent notification system to allow families to be alerted when their child’s bus is late. This messaging feature will be activated later this school year.
  1. Creating Master Schedules for Students
  • This year, every registered elementary, middle and high school student will begin Day One with a schedule and homeroom assignment.
  • Students who register late may experience a slight delay in getting their final class assignments, yet all students will begin learning on the first day of school.
  1. Delivered School Building Supplies
  • We’ve supplied all schools with toiletries (bath tissue, paper towels and hand soap).
  1. Delivering Textbooks and Other Instructional Resources
  • Some classrooms will experience a delay in receiving textbooks, which are scheduled to arrive during the first quarter of the 2014-15 school year.
  • We want parents to know that across Atlanta Public Schools, our teachers are moving away from relying on textbooks, which become outdated quickly and may not align with the new Common Core Georgia Performance Standards. Instead, teachers are moving toward hard copies of state-approved educational materials and curriculum units that are newer, higher quality, more detailed and easier for students to take back and forth to school. Our teachers will use textbooks as supplemental—but not the main—resources.
  • To ensure that students have the information they need to complete homework and learning activities outside the classroom, teachers will provide worksheets, class notes, sample problems, websites and other instructional resources for students.
  1. Equipping Our School Campuses
  • We are working diligently to ensure that all of our schools have air conditioning on Day One.  As of today, we are aware that some schools have air conditioning units that have malfunctioned. In a few cases, the units can be repaired quickly; however, in other cases, repair delays may occur because we need to order and await the delivery of specialized mechanical parts. So that our schools are at a comfortable temperature for students and staff, teams have already been alerted to service the units or deploy spot coolers and dehumidifiers as soon as possible.
  • We’ve equipped all schools with the desks, chairs and other furniture our students and teachers need for instruction.
  • Landscaping for all schools will continue to occur over the next two weeks.

In the next few days, I will share another update with you. You have my commitment to be open and honest about where we stand in getting our schools ready for teaching and learning. We are working to make sure our schools are safe, supportive environments that nurture the greatness that exists in every child.

Day One: Be There. See you August 4!

Sincerely,

Meria J. Carstarphen