Box 6, Folder 1, Document 9

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Box 6, Folder 1, Document 9

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ATLANTA-FULTON COUNTY EDUCATION COMMISSION

PROVISIONS FOR CREATING AN ATLANTA-FULTON

COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT

The General Assembly of Georgia at the request of its representatives
from Fulton and DeKalb counties created a Local Education Coumission in 1964
and charged the Commission with responsibility:

To study the desirability and feasibility of combining the

school systems of Fulton County and the City of Atlanta, includ-

ing the portion thereof lying in DeKalb County; to provide that

said Commission may draft a plan or plans for the combining of

such school systems and submit same to members of the General

Assembly from Fulton and DeKalb Counties.

The Commission was appointed and conducted the requested study, releasing
its report in February, 1966. The report recommended the dissolution of the
Atlanta and Fulton County School Districts and the creation of a new district
in their stead. A plan for creating the proposed new district was included
in the report which outlined the steps necessary for carrying out this recom
mendation.

The report of the Conmission was accepted by the legislative delegation
representing Fulton and DeKalb counties. After due deliberation of the
recommendations, the legislative group secured approval for continuation of
the Commission and requested it to carry out the steps which it had defined
as being necessary for dissolving the present school districts and creating
the proposed new district.

This memorandum outlines the tasks involved in creating the proposed
new district and suggests how these steps may be executed. Five distinct but

related tasks are essential in carrying out this latest charge to the

Commission. They are:
1. Legal work which is necessary in order to dissolve the two present
districts and to create the proposed new district.

2. Educational planning necessary to assure orderly and effective
transition from the present two districts to the proposed single
district.

3. Suggestion on the initial role of the new board of education.

4. A program for developing public understanding of the proposed new
district and the reasons which support its creation.

5. Allocations of responsibility for getting done the necessary tasks.

Fach of the five steps is outlined briefly in the following pages. The

assumption is made that the plans for the proposed district and the charac-
teristics of the district included in the 1966 report of the Commission are

acceptable. They are, therefore, reported in this document where appropriate.
LEGAL WORK

Substantial legal tasks must be undertaken and completed in order to
establish the proposed new school district. It is not possible to define
with certainty all of these tasks at present because there is no existing
overview of legislation and court decisions affecting the present Fulton
County and Atlanta School Districts although major task areas can be defined.
These follow:

1. Compile and analyze the legislation and court decisions which

currently affect the Atlanta and fulton County School Districts.
Since this has never been done, there is no way of knowing at
present the precise dimensions of this task.

2. Prepare the legislation which must be adopted in order to abolish

the Atlanta and Fulton County School Districts. Until the necessary


3.

Se

research has been completed, there is no way of knowing just what
this step involves. Whether a single piece of. legislation general
in nature will suffice or whether specific measures repealing sep-
arate iaws relating to such subjects as taxation, bonding capacity,
and so forth, are required remains to be seen.
Provide for meeting present and future unfilfilled legal and moral
commitments of the Atlanta and Fulton County School Districts.
Indebtedness, outstanding bonds, retirement provisions and tenure
rights are examples of such commitments. Current welfare provisions
for personnel may be continued or provisions can be made in new
legislation to protect earned rights of present personnel through
incorporation in any new welfare provisions which might be created
for the school district. Establishing eligibility of the new school
district for state funds is an illustration of another type of pro=
tection, as is assurance that current salary levels will not suffer
in the transition.
Arrange for the transfer of properties of present school districts
to the proposed new district.
Prepare a constitutional amendment for creating the new school dis-
trict. This is an essential step under Georgia law. The amendment
should be expressed in general terms insofar as feasible, leaving as
many of the specific provisions concerning the district as possible
to be taken care of outside the framework of constitutional mandates.
The amendment would necessarily specify the boundaries of the
district, define its basic structure, and outline its powers. Such
would be done within the limitations of other constitutional pro=-

visions affecting schools and school districts. For example, the
amendment would have to be consistent with the constitutional
definition of the State's responsibility for public schools.

Legal provisions to banade either by constitutional amend-
ment or statutory acts include creation of a board of education of
seven members elected at large for terms of six years, one from each
of seven subdivisions of the district of approximately the same
number of persons. The amendment or enabling legislation should
prescribe how the subdivisions are to be formed and how they are
to be redivided as population changes dictate. Provisions should
be made for the initial board to be elected as follows: three
members to serve the full six-year term, two members to serve four=-
year terms, and two members to serve two-year terms. Thereafter,
the board members would be elected as existing terms of members ex-
pire. Vacancies should be filled by appointment of the board until
the next election at which time unexpired terms will be filled by
the voters.

Tt will also be necessary to make provisions for a referendum
to determine whether or not the amendment is to be approved (approval
of voters of both districts is thought to be necessary).

Provisions should be made in the event the constitutional amend
ment is approved for the board members of the Atlanta and Fulton
County Districts to serve as the board of education for the new dis=
trict until the new board is elected and can take office. A schedule
should be worked out, if needed, for shifting to the seven-man board

elected as herein prescribed.
7.

Board members should serve without compensation, receiving
pay only for necessary expenses incurred in carrying out their
duties as members of the Board of Education

The proposed new district should consist of the present Atlanta
District, including the part which is in DeKalb County, and the
present Fulton County District.

A fundamental task is providing for a sound fiscal base for the
proposed school district. Establishing eligibility for State funds,
establishing eligibility for Federal funds, and providing for sound
local support are necessary considerations. The school board should
be authorized to determine the property tax for supporting the school
system, as the Atlanta School Board does at present. Furthermore, a
uniform property assessment plan for the entire district should be
adopted and homestead exemptions eliminated. Sources of local school
support in addition to the property tax should be found.

If the proposed new school district is approved by the voters, a
transition conmittee should be established immediately te work out

the many plans and details essential to an orderly transition from
two districts to one. The transition committee should include the

two superintendents of schools, the chairman of each board of educa=
tion, the fiscal officer of each school system, the assistant superin-
tendent for instruction of each school system, and such other indi-
viduals as may seem appropriate. This committee should be responsible
for the detailed transition plan to be approved by each board of
education.

If the single school district is approved, the two present school

systems should continue as at present for the balance of the school
year in which approval occurs and an additional full year in order
to allow time for completion of needed transition plans.

8. The board of education for the new district should be elected as
soon as possible after the approval of the constitutional amendment
and should formally organize itself without delay and proceed at
once with the selection of a superintendent. A superintendent
should be employed and he should begin his work as far in advance
of the creation of the new school district as is possible.

9. Execute any other legal assignments which are appropriate in the
light of the analysis of pertinent legislation and court decisions
and necessary provisions to assure creation of a school district

conforming to recommendations of the Commission in its 1966 report.
EDUCATIONAL PLANNING

An enormous volume of work must be completed before the proposed school
district can go into operation. ilany policies must be decided upon and much
specific and detailed planning completed in order to assure the proper function—
ing of the new district. Major categories of policy development and needed
provisions for operational guides under each are listed below. As is true
of legal aspects described above, a precise definition of all of the steps
necessary in this stage of planning is not possible presently and must await

further exploration of current policies and practices of the two school systans.
Finance

1. Develop guides and procedures for making the annval school budget.

2. Develop plans and procedures for purchasing.


Bz

4.

Personnel

1.

Develop plans for necessary and appropriate financial accounting.

Develop a budget for the new school district.

Develop a system of personnel records for professional and other

school personnel.

Develop salary schedules for professional and other personnel.

Develop a retirement system or systems.

Develop policies concerning employment practices for both profes-
sional and non-professional personnel.

Develop policies regarding tenure, sick leave, vacations, leaves
of absence for professional growth, and others as needed.

Propose a method of combining the two central office staffs.

Develop a system of records for pupil accounting.

Make recommendations concerning the visiting teacher program.

Administrative Structures and Regulations

1.

Develop a plan for the internal organization and administration of
the new school district including appropriate policies and defini-
tions of responsibility.

Reach decisions on administrative and supervisory services to be
provided.

Develop policies regarding the size of schools.

Develop general school regulations such as length of the school day,

number of days in the school year, and designate holidays.
5. Develop a school calendar for the first year of the new system.

6. Recommend the future of the Metropolitan School Development
Council.

Curriculum

{:' Determine the curricula to be offered.

2. Develop plans for kindergartens in schools now in the Fulton County
District.

3. Develop policies for selection and distribution of instructional
materials,

4, Determine the special professional personnel to be provided such as
librarians, school psychologists, counselors, and reading special-
ists.

5. Ascertain the curriculum adjustments which are necessary in the
transition period and suggest how they are to be made.

6. Recommend policies regarding expansion of school programs with
special reference to junior collepen: vocational and technical
education, and adult education.

7. ake recommendations concerning teacher loads, including pupil-
teacher ratios.

Services

1. Reach decisions on services to be provided by the school districts
such as transportation, food, and health services and how they
should be provided.

2. Determine the non-professional personnel to be provided such as
3.

lunchroom workers, custodians, and secretaries.
Recommend plans for storing and handling textbooks and other instruc-

tional supplies.

| Maintenance and Operation

1. -

3.

Other

l.

Develop policies regarding kinds, numbers, types, and levels of
competence needed by personnel in Maintenance and Operation.
Develop policies and procedures on the maintenance and operation
programs.

Develop policies and procedures concerning work assignments and

responsibilities of personnel.

Make recommendations concerning organizations which should exist in
the new school districts such as Parent-Teacher Associations, local

teachers associations, and the various student organizations.

INITIAL ROLE OF THE PROPOSED NEW BOARD OF EDUCATION

Just how specific a blueprint for transition should be is to a consider-

able extent a matter of definition. At one extreme is a plan which provides

only the basic legal provisions necessary for bringing the new district into

being.

At the other extreme is a plan which includes the multitude of basic

policies, operational procedures and allocations of responsibility essential

to the effective functioning of a school district,

The plan presented in this document embraces the first extreme and also

the second to the extent that the Commission accepts responsibility for the

essential educational planning which must precede the operational phase of a
new district. As already indicated, this planning consists largely of
developing recommended policies and procedures consistent with the basic
charter of the proposed new district as outlined above and decisions of the
. Commission with respect to the nature and quality of programs and services
it thinks the new district should provide. However, only that which is man=
dated by law will be binding on the new Board of Education.

In a sense, the Conmission is acting in these matters as an agent of a
school district which is yet to be created and what it proposes in the realm
of educational planning is for study and action by the new 3oard of Education

unless areas are involved where decisions have been made already.
PUBLIC UNDERSTANDING OF THE PROPOSED NEW DISTRICT

Since public schools are the business of the public, every opportunity
should be seized upon to help the public keep as fully informed as possible on
school problems, issues, needs, and the nature of good schools. A well informed
public is essential to successful decision making on educational policies and
plans. |

Therefore, a major task in considering the proposed basic shift in the
educational structure of Atlanta and Fulton County is developing and distribut-
ing among all citizens adequate information on the proposed change and the
reasons which lead to the proposal. The report of the Commission with its
treatment of both sides of the issue of a single school district should be
made available to all citizens and its contents should be widely publicized.
Therefore, if the proposed constitutional amendment is adopted and a referendum
is held, the referendum should be preceded by a systematic and well organized

public information program.
Mass media of communication should be employed to develop interest and
public understanding. Newspaper coverage should be stressed. Joth radio
and television should be used extensively. The pros and cons of the pro-

‘ posed district reorganization plan should be presented through all three
media. In addition, presentations to civic clubs, Parent-Teachers Associa-
tions, and other formal groups should be stimulated. Many informed citizens
should be used in this program. Among such citizens should be leaders fron
all walks of life, especially school leaders, including 30ard of Education
members. By the time the election is held, all citizens should be fully
informed on the issues at stake. In no other way is it possible to reach an

adequate decision on the school organization issue.
GETTING THE JOB DONE

It is the responsibility of the coordinator appointed by the Commission
to prepare and submit to the Commission the transition plan as outlined
above. An adequate plan requires bringing into play an array of specialized
competence beyond the ken of any single individual; therefore, extensive use
should be made of carefully selected consultants.

The legal work should be entrusted to Mr. Pete Latimer, Attorney for the
Atlanta Board of Education, and ir. James Groton, Attorney for the Fulton
County 3oard of Education.

Dr. R. L. Johns, University of Florida, or some one of comparable
stature in school finance, should be sucured as a consultant on all planning
involving finance, purchasing, and accounting.

Dr. Willard Elsbree, Emeritus Professor of Education, Teachers College,

Columbia University, or some other authority in personnel, should be secured
as a consultant on policies and procedures concerning all categories of
personnel. This assignment would include proposed salary schedules and wel-
fare provisions.

Curriculum authorities should be consulted as needed.

A committee of leading citizens should be appointed and given responsi-
bility for conducting an adequate public information program. The Comnission
should appoint this committee upon eotieandacton of personnel by the Atlanta
and Fulton County school superintendents and approval by the two boards of
education, Appropriate professional personnel should be available to the
committee.

Appropriate personnel from the two school systems should be involved in
the development of proposed policies and procedures, especially in information

and evalvation roles.

TMP: jp
8/12/66

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