Bulletin Board

City Schools of Decatur Board of Education - May 2022

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Bulletin Board Newsletter

The BOE meeting recap newsletter is shared after each regularly scheduled monthly meeting. The May Board of Education meeting was held on May 10. You can access the recording here.

City Schools of Decatur Board of Education

Big picture

(left to right)

Mr. James Herndon, Vice Chair

Dr. Carmen Sulton, Board Member

Mrs. Jana Johnson-Davis, Chair

Dr. Maggie Fehrman, Superintendent

Ms. Tasha White, Board Member

Mr. Hans Utz, Board Member

Budget Hearing

The Board held a public hearing on the final version of the fiscal year 2023 budget. The presentation given by Lonita Broome, Chief Financial Officer, can be heard here. The Board voted on the final budget later in the meeting.

Chair's Report

We have a lot of celebrations happening in the district, and it is my pleasure to recognize our excellent students and staff.

Teacher Appreciation Week was May 2-6

Thank you, teachers.

Three simple words that carry so much meaning. These words are not said often enough, and the Board would like to take this opportunity to say loud and proud, thank you, teachers!

The Board appreciates everything you do, and we know that CSD employees are what make this district truly special. Your compassion, empathy, knowledge, and passion are remarkable.

Thank you for your commitment to our students.

National Principal’s Day

May 1 was National Principal’s Day. City Schools of Decatur is fortunate to have a team of highly qualified and dedicated principals leading our schools. Thank you, principals, for all of your hard work, long hours, and most importantly, your dedication to ensuring all students in your schools are safe, seen, and successful.

Best Communities for Music Education Award

We received exciting news recently that City Schools of Decatur has received the Best Communities for Music Education Award from the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation! This is a tremendous honor and a testament to the hard work of the music educators and students in our district.

Thank you to our music educators, students, parents, and supporters who make CSD a special place for music education.

DHS Student Teo Lara Named a Georgia Scholar

DHS student, Teo Lara, was recently recognized as one of the 216 graduating seniors from across Georgia as 2022 Georgia Scholars by the Georgia Department of Education.

Georgia Scholars are students who carried exemplary course loads during their four years of high school, performed excellently in all courses, successfully participated in interscholastic events at their schools and in their communities, and assumed leadership roles in extracurricular activities sponsored by their schools. Way to go, Teo!

Poetry Slam Winners

On April 13, I had the honor of serving as a judge at Renfroe’s 15th Annual Stacey “Mama” Daniel Poetry Slam. Congratulations to the winners:

3rd Place - Abigail Lancaster

2nd Place - Na'Miah Howard

1st Place- For first place, there was a tie Nia Batra & Gabrielle Domengeaux

Shout out to Dr. Dawn Bolton on another phenomenal event and the way she continues to honor the late Renfroe teacher and founder of the poetry slam, Stacey Daniel.

Media Specialist Ashley Long Receives AASL Frances Henne Award

Talley Street Upper Elementary Media Specialist Ashley Long received the American Association of School Librarians’ Frances Henne Award. The “award recognizes a school librarian with five years or less experience who demonstrates leadership qualities with students, teachers, and administrators.” Congratulations, Ashley!

Congratulations Oakhurst Principal Tanisha Frazier

At the Georgia State University Honors Ceremony, Oakhurst Principal Tanisha Frazier was recently awarded the "Outstanding Doctor of Education Student Award" from the Educational Policy Studies Department. Way to go, Tanisha!

Decatur Career Academy Earned College and Career Academy Certification from the Technical College System of Georgia

Please congratulate the Decatur Career Academy (DCA) stakeholders as they have earned College and Career Academy Certification via the Technical College System of Georgia.

Full College and Career Academy (CCA) Certification is the term used when an established College and Career Academy has fully implemented the CCA model and met the Certification Standards and Assurances. Congratulations to all of the DCA teachers, students, and stakeholders!

Congratulations to Shannon Stewart!

Shannon Stewart, the FAVE Instructional Coach, has been selected to serve as the City Schools of Decatur representative for the GaDOE ELA Standards Review Teacher Working Committee. She begins her committee work in May 2022. Congratulations, Shannon, who was also my classmate in the Piedmont University Specialist degree cohort! We are all so proud of you!

Westchester and Glennwood Author Visit

Glennwood, Westchester, and the Decatur Virtual Academy (K-5) students welcomed former first daughters Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush for a virtual author visit on April 12. The twin sisters debuted their newest children's book, The Superpower Sisterhood.

The book was released on April 19. This amazing opportunity for our students was brought to us by Little Shop of Stories in Decatur. We are so grateful for their continued partnership with City Schools of Decatur because together, we are growing GREAT readers!

Shuler Awards

Congratulations to the Advanced Musical Theater Ensemble at Decatur High School, who were nominated for Best Overall Production at the 14th annual Shuler Awards, which recognize excellence in Musical Theater in Georgia. They were one of only six schools given this honor. Great job, DHS!

Young Georgia Author State Winner

Molly Davis, a 6th grade Renfroe Middle School student, is the state Young Georgia Author first place sixth-grade winner for her work titled Up in the Air. Congratulations, Molly!

RMS Young Ladies of Excellence (YLOE) Symposium

On April 22, I had the pleasure of participating in Renfroe’s Young Ladies of Excellence Career Symposium. The symposium was an opportunity for YLOE members to engage with women of color in various career fields. YLOE symposium included a judge, anesthesiologist, entrepreneur, former teacher, lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force, and a business analyst. Thanks, Ms. Glenn, Mrs. Shields, Ms. Singleton, and Mrs. Q, for making this happen.

Congratulations Terra Smiley

DHS Teacher, Terra Smiley, has been selected to attend Georgia’s 2022 Work-based Learning Top Gun Training in June. This specialized training represents “the best of the best” based on their FY21 Annual Reports and recommendation from their CTAE director. Congratulations Terra!

DHS Architectural Drawing and Design

Decatur Career Academy students participated in this year's High School Design Competition (HSDC), sponsored by the Atlanta Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The competition focused on a design prompt to which individuals or groups created a solution using their creativity and architectural knowledge. Career Academy students Aiden Beasley, Asha Foley, Mikka Wolff, Sam Coblin, and Jackson Lee were recognized with awards.

School Lunch Hero Day

May 6th was School Lunch Hero Day, and we think our school nutrition staff are heroes! Thank you for all of the healthy and delicious meals you prepare for students and staff each day.

Bulldog Sports Wrap Up Successful Spring

Spring has been a wildly successful season for Decatur Sports at RMS and DHS. Our teams competed and qualified for the GHSA State Tournament in Baseball, Golf, Lacrosse, Tennis, Track & Field, and Soccer. We are proud of our student-athletes who continue to impress in competition and in the classroom. Thank you to all of our coaches who dedicate their time and energy to providing positive experiences for our student-athletes and their families. Shout out to our Girls’ Soccer program, whose terrific season ended last week. The Bulldogs faced neighborhood rival Midtown Knights in the Final Four of the GHSA State Tournament. The game ended with a final score of 0-2. And thank you to fans for showing up and supporting the teams! Great job, Bulldogs!

While most sports have wrapped up, we are excited to have the continued opportunity to celebrate our DHS Baseball and Track & Field programs. Good luck, Bulldog Baseball and Track & Field!

Annual DHS Poetry Slam Sees Incredible Talent

The Annual Decatur High School Poetry Slam exhibited the many talents of our artists and poets here at Decatur High School. Thank you to DEF for once again sponsoring this event. Special thanks to DHS student Kayla Evans, who organized the event with guidance from Dr. Bolton at RMS.

Second Runner-Up: Seven Baker

First Runner-Up: Amani Saleem

Winner: Nashon Smith

DHS Final Concert of 2022: Thank you, Mr. Ehrlich

Our Decatur High School Concert Band had their final performance of the year. As usual, the night was filled with elegant music played by our talented students and led by Band Director Tyler Ehrlich. The concert marked Mr. Ehrlich’s final performance with our DHS Band. We appreciate all he has done over the past two years to elevate our Marching Band and Concert Band to new heights.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s South Atlantic Regional Conference

Last but not least, Mayor Patti Garrett asked me to attend the public meeting for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s South Atlantic Regional Conference in her absence. It was an honor to represent the City of Decatur and the CSD School Board.

Board Spotlights

College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center

College Heights shared their work to celebrate and teach diversity, inclusion, and equity in their preschool programs.

Fifth Avenue Upper Elementary School

F.AVE's presentation highlighted their work under each of the three pillars of the district's improvement plan: Positive School Culture and Climate, Advancing Equity, and Accelerating Student Learning.

Equity Good Troublemaker Award

Building-level winners of CSD’s inaugural Good Equity Troublemaker Awards were recognized during the meeting spotlight. In addition, the District winners were also announced and recognized as Good Equity Troublemakers of the Year. The award honors those in CSD who get in "good trouble" - people who, like John Lewis, never hesitate to speak up, speak out, and contribute to the District through their work, risk-taking, and sacrifice in the name of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI).

Clairemont parent, Mr. Garry Lowe, shared remarks on behalf of the John R. Lewis Legacy Institute. Mr. Lowe commended the winners for being a part of the institute’s mission of getting into good and necessary trouble and for standing up for what is right, fair, and just.

Good Equity Troublemaker of the Year District Winners:

Karen Newton-Scott

Chanell Huff-Cox

Candace Jones-Boynton

Building-Level Winners:

Chanell Huff-Cox, Clairemont Elementary School

Dr. Lillie Huddleston, Wilson School Support Center

Amelia Copp, Glennwood Elementary School

Sala T. Pickney, Westchester Elementary School

Candace Jones-Boynton, College Heights ECLC

Alexis Glenn, Renfroe Middle School

Michelle Block and Jatoria Brown, Talley Street Elementary School

Karen Newton-Scott, Fifth Avenue Elementary School

Charee Waugh, Fifth Avenue Elementary School

Cassandra Black, Decatur High School

Honorable Mention:

Oakhurst Lower Elementary PTA DEI Committee

Items that our Troublemaker(s) of the year will receive are:

  • Plaque/award statue

  • $1000 toward an equity-themed conference/training of their choice or toward expanding their equity work in their school or building

  • A feature in the District newsletter and Equity website

  • A speaking tour of the District to share the news of their work

A special thank you goes out to the community volunteers who served as judges.

Ms. Renee Madison - City of Decatur

Dr. Regine Jackson - Agnes Scott University

Mr. Garry Lowe - The John R. Lewis Legacy Institute

Board Consent Agenda Items

The Board unanimously approved all consent items:

Personnel Report

School Nutrition

Financial Reports


Spanish Program Evaluation [DISCUSSION]

Graham Pereira, District World Language Lead, reported on the World language Review completed in the 2021-2022 school year.

This evaluation was designed to achieve the following:

  • Develop a clear, coherent program overview, including

    • Program goals and objectives

    • Indicators of success

  • Describe the program attributes

    • Elementary Level

    • Secondary Level

  • Review current research and practices

  • Review Curriculum and Instruction

    • Identify grade-level standards and outcomes (benchmarks at each grade level)

    • Develop common units, resources, and assessments

  • Identify professional learning goals and opportunities

  • Make programmatic recommendations moving forward

District Audit Report from Mauldin and Jenkins [DISCUSSION]

The District has again engaged the firm of Mauldin & Jenkins, LLC to perform the annual audit. The audit was conducted in accordance with the generally accepted governmental accounting standards, and an unmodified opinion (i.e., "clean opinion") was expressed on our financial statements.

The use of a third party or independent auditor ensures a full review on an annual basis. The Finance Department then utilizes the information learned from the audit, much like schools use their improvement plans and various assessments, to chart a course for improvement over the rest of the year.

During the fiscal year 2021 audit, the District once again received no adverse findings. Two items noted as "management points" or management recommendations brought forth in the audit serve to enhance the quality and clarity of the financial information presented.

Policy Monitoring Reports [Information]

The May school monthly data report was on the agenda for information. The monthly data reports from principals are provided to support school improvement plans that take a systemic approach to improve student achievement and school quality. These reports present a graphic summary of important school data to allow the Board easy access to important metrics that the school is measuring to determine how the district and the school are doing on meeting district and school goals. The reports will be updated monthly and posted on the Board of Education agenda to provide all stakeholders with up-to-date information on how the school is progressing in meeting its goals.

State of Departments - Information Services and Finance [INFORMATION]

Each department at the Wilson Center will share a State of the Department report for the Board’s consideration. This month the Information Services and Finance Departments shared their reports.

Fiscal Year 2023 Final Budget Approval [ACTION]

The Board unanimously approved the final version of the Fiscal Year 2023 budget that Chief Financial Officer Lonita Broome presented during the public hearing prior to the meeting.

FY 2023 Highlights:

  • Increased funding for Instruction and Pupil Services

  • Increased counseling staff

  • Millage rate maintained

  • Increased Fund Balance

  • Step and pay increases for all eligible staff

  • Increased Equity Personnel

Budget Background

The Fiscal Year 2023 annual budget was developed in accordance with Georgia law and the requirements of the Georgia State Board of Education.

General Fund Revenues

General Fund Revenues are budgeted at approximately $85.2 million. The budget assumes a millage rate of 21.00, which is no increase from the current FY2022 millage rate. Please note that the tax digest numbers have not been received from the Tax Assessor's office, and the tentative millage rate is based on Georgia State University's study of property value in the city of Decatur. The Tax Digest is scheduled to be received by the District on or before mid-May, and based on the assessed values, the final millage rate will be approved.

State funding austerity reduction is being fully restored for FY2023. State revenue has been decreased by approximately $778,000 in anticipation of a decrease in enrollment.

The FY 2023 budget is projected to use a minimum of $582,432 of Fund Balance to balance the budget.

General Fund Expenditures

The General Fund Expenditures are budgeted at approximately $85.7 million. Included in this budget are counselors, school administrative support, and upgrades to accommodate the needs of the Districts. In addition to personnel increases, step increases for all eligible employees are included in the budget. This budget also reflects an increase in the employer's portion of Teachers' Retirement (TRS) for all qualified employees from 19.81% to 19.98%. Additionally, this budget includes a reduction of 5% in most departmental operating expenditures.

Special Revenue Funds

Special Revenue Funds represent grant funding from state and federal sources. The budget is determined based on the current year's allotments and/or preliminary estimates from the grantor. For FY2023, the District is anticipating receiving funding for the following grants: Prekindergarten, Title I, Title IV-B, Federal Preschool, Vocational Education, and JROTC.

Capital Funds

The Capital Funds budget is projected to generate approximately $8.0 million from SPLOST VI revenue in FY 2023. This projection is based on an average collection of $666,6677 per month. The total expenditures budget is approximately $8 million. The budgeted expenditures are comprised of Professional Services, Communications, Software, Principal and Interest payments, and other SPLOST-approved projects.

$1,000,000 of the SPLOST FY2023 budget is allocated to building a running track inside Legacy Park (500 South Columbia, Decatur, GA) pending the completion of a mutually agreed upon memorandum of understanding between the City of Decatur and the City Schools of Decatur.

School Nutrition Funds

The School Nutrition Program has budgeted approximately $3 million in revenues and $3 million in expenditures. The School Nutrition Program will increase meal prices by .50, which will reduce the amount of funds needed from the General fund to supplement the School Nutrition Program.

Detailed preliminary information pertaining to the FY2022-2023 budget was shared with the Board of Education and the community on the following dates:

November 30, 2021

December 14, 2021

January 25, 2022

February 8, 2022

March 8, 2022

March 22, 2022

April 12, 2022

Additional budget presentations and information has been shared at various school leadership team meetings. In addition, community and stakeholder input was received and considered based on suggestions from the budget feedback link on the district’s website.

Tentative Adoption of Millage Rate [ACTION]

The Board unanimously approved the tentative millage rate of 21.00.

The District's resource for projecting the Fiscal Year 2023 property tax revenue was based on Georgia State University's study on the property value for the city of Decatur. Based on Georgia State University's projections, the current year millage rate of 21.00 is sufficient to provide the district with the revenue required to balance expenses and maintain a minimum fund balance of 4% as required by board policy 2.8(8). The proposed FY2023 millage rate is the same as the current FY2022 millage rate. Georgia State University's projections were completed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and do not take into consideration the rapid increase in housing demand. The city's tax digest is scheduled to be distributed in mid-May; at that time, the district will have a better understanding of the market value for the city of Decatur and be better able to project a more accurate millage rate.

We are recommending a balanced budget wherein projected expenditures do not exceed projected revenue. Estimated General Fund expenditures will exceed estimated revenue by $583,432. In order to balance the budget, the tentative millage rate will remain the same at 21.00

Approval of New Name for Renfroe Middle School [ACTION]

The Board unanimously approved Beacon Hill Middle School as the new name of the middle school.

In October 2021, the Board revised the school naming policy requiring the district to rename the middle school. Approximately 340 submissions were received from community members with suggested names for the middle school. The System Charter Leadership Team (SCLT) reviewed the submissions and selected three names for the Board to consider. The Board discussed the recommendations from the SCLT at the April 26 Board Work session. The three names considered by the Board were Beacon Middle School, Beacon Hill Middle School, and Trinity Middle School. The school's name will officially change for the 2022-2023 school year.

Board of Education Meeting Information

Next Board Meeting: Next Regular Board Meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 14, at 6:30 PM.

Link to Join Board Meeting: https://csdecatur.zoom.us/j/95614159391

Board Agenda(s): To access the CSD Board of Education meeting agenda(s), supporting documents, and meeting minutes, go to Simbli Solutions.

Public Comments: Click here for information on how to sign-up to speak at a CSD Board meeting.

Contacting Board Members: Letters and email are effective ways to make your views known. Email the entire Board at board@csdecatur.net. Click here to view board member bios and contact information.