“Every year brings new challenges and new opportunity for growth,” said Robert Avossa, Fulton’s superintendent.
He said he would give the school system a “solid B” on its performance for the year.
“We’ve had a good year,” Avossa said. “One of the things I’m really proud of is we’ve done a lot of work to reduce suspensions.”
The increasing graduation rate across the district is also a high point for Avossa, who said Fulton has surpassed Gwinnett County’s graduation rate and is only a half-point behind Cobb County’s rate.
Specifically focusing on north Fulton schools, he said the number of National Merit scholars is a highlight of scholastic achievement. Twenty-two north Fulton high school seniors have been awarded National Merit scholarships this year in the first two out of four rounds of announcements. The final two rounds of winners will be announced May 28 and July 14.
Discussing challenges, Avossa said population growth is one of the issues specifically facing north Fulton schools.
“We’ve started to see the economy pick up and housing beginning to pick up,” he said.
The system is tracking the growth to monitor if student enrollment will surpass predicted levels, Avossa said.
Atlanta’s superintendent, Erroll Davis, is retiring at the end of the school year and said he considers the past months of 2014 to be among the best of his three-year tenure, which began in July 2011.
“We had a [school] board transition [this year],” he said. “Six out of the nine board members are new. They are young, energetic [and] enthusiastic. They’re fun to work with. They truly do focus on children, which is very pleasant. They have not yet been beaten down with the politics of education, so that’s refreshing.”
The district will also be led by a new superintendent starting in 2014-15 — Meria Carstarphen, who previously headed the Austin, Texas, district.
“She certainly knows what’s she’s doing,” Davis said. “She has been successful. I hope she’ll be as successful or more successful here.”
He said the biggest challenge of the school year was strategically planning for the district with limited resources and demanding constituencies, which Davis admitted was not unique to just this year or this school system. Though multiple metro Atlanta districts received criticism after the “Snow Jam” event in late January that left some students stranded in buses or at schools, Davis does not consider that to have been the year’s major challenge.
“That was a one-, two-day event,” he said. “Operational issues are not your biggest challenges. They come, they go [and] you learn from them.”