APS ‘Turnaround’ Plan Brings Changes To Some Schools

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When students in the Atlanta Public Schools head back to class Wednesday, some will see big changes. Some schools will have new science and math programs, others will offer services like on-campus health clinics and tutoring. The changes are part of an ambitious “turnaround” plan aimed at boosting achievement in the district’s lowest-performing schools.

The plan was developed quickly, since voters will decide in November whether the state should take over schools with low achievement.

The tight timeline displeased some parents, who felt left out of the process. Nikita Maddox has a son at Thomasville Heights, which will be run by a nonprofit called Purpose Built starting this year. At a spring board meeting, Maddox said she felt her concerns and questions about the changes to her son’s school were ignored.

“I speak for a large group of parents when I say, ‘We feel like we have been disrespected by APS,’” she said.

In response, Atlanta Superintendent Meria Carstarphen promised better communication and more dialogue with communities. She’s been touting the plan this summer, and said the district couldn’t afford to take a “wait and see” approach.

“We believe that we need to take those steps to ensure that we maintain our local control of our schools, and also, most importantly, do a better job for kids,” she said. “That’s what this is about.”

If the takeover plan passes, 20 percent of APS schools could fall under state control. The public money that would normally go toward those schools would go to the state to run them.

A note of disclosure: WABE’s broadcast license is held by the Atlanta Board of Education.