During the 2021-2022 school year, the District emerged from pandemic-related shutdowns. Kids returned to classrooms, bolstered by additional mental health supports and interventions for learning recovery. DCSD also designated ESSER/CARES funding for technology, facility upgrades, and staff bonuses. Much of the school year focused on creating a new normal, with gradual loosening of COVID protocols. Following the advice of the medical advisory board and the CDC, the District discontinued its mask mandate, offered vaccinations for families, and reopened schools to visitors. By the end of the year, schools celebrated with proms, promotion ceremonies, and attendance at arts/sports events.
The 2022-2023 school year will continue on the trajectory of recovery, with students receiving increased academic and mental health support. The FY23 budget includes salary step increases for teachers, cost of living adjustments, and hourly rate increases to at least $15 per hour. The District is also hiring more counselors, social workers, school psychologists, nurses, and interpreters. $50 million has been set aside for deferred maintenance on buildings, along with continued SPLOST and ESSER spending to address facility issues. School safety is a priority with funds earmarked for more school resource officers and campus supervisors.
I frequently receive questions regarding two topics for which I do not yet have definitive answers. One is regarding the search for a new superintendent. As you may recall, in April, the previous superintendent was terminated by a subset of the Board of Education, and an interim was put in place. I expect the Board to begin the process of searching for a permanent superintendent in the coming months. Similarly, stakeholders wonder what is happening with the District’s Comprehensive Master Plan (CMP). This plan was called into question by Board members (sparked by the Druid Hills modernization) and it is unclear how the CMP priorities (many focused on overcrowding and new construction) will be funded, along with current facility priorities such a systems replacements in existing buildings. These questions may be resolved when the Board receives the ESPLOST VI project list in the coming weeks.
With the launch of the next school year approaching, the District is focused on Day 1: a teacher in every classroom, technology upgrades, functioning HVACs, clean buildings, and staff excited to welcome kids back. The Board is working with Interim Superintendent Tinsley to identify District-wide priorities to move DCSD forward this fall. The Tucker Cluster Council is also moving forward and is a model for other clusters. The new co-chairs are planning for the upcoming year and Tucker cluster principals will continue to share successes, concerns, and strategies with the group. As always, I love working with the Tucker cluster and I can’t wait to see what the next school year has in store for our Tucker students.