“We had a great year with lots of academic and athletic successes,” he said. “I’m proud of the progress we made, but we have a lot of work to do. We’re one of the highest achieving school districts in metro Atlanta, but a lot of the schools in south [Fulton] are still lagging behind other schools.”
Avossa said one answer may be to partner with churches.
“Part of that was to engage the faith community,” he said. “We had our second summit. It was to bring in the faith community to understand the challenges and how they can fill in the gaps with study time, mentoring, tutoring after school and volunteers during school.”
The schools also stepped up.
“We opened an individual virtual lab in each high school for kids who were struggling. We’ll also roll out more opportunities for summer school and after school for credit recovery,” Avossa said. “We know that’s a weakness and we want to get back on track.”
But outdated technology was a needs-improvement area for the system before the school year began.
“We’ve made progress in this area,” Avossa said. “The biggest is in infrastructure. By December we’ll have invested $50 million in infrastructure, making sure our kids have access to high-speed and high-quality Internet. We refreshed all of our old computers. We replaced over 10,000 computers this year.”
The coming year will send the teachers back to class.
“Next year we’ll train our teachers on using the technology. It’s not just about buying gadgets. It’s how they’re being used,” Avossa said.
Training will include how to use a new $5 million software package that goes online next month, replacing an outmoded application for tracking grades.
“We wanted to see where technology has come in the past six years,” Debbie Jaffe, the system’s data integration and utilization director, said last year when the school board approved the purchase.
State-of-the-art technology is already in place in the system’s newest schools.
“At Banneker High School we opened a brand-new building. We had a great first year. We opened on time and in budget,” Avossa said. “It’s our prototype. We opened a new one in north [Fulton] at Cambridge with the same design.”