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Fulton County Schools Receives GBSA Leading Edge Award

GSBA Leading Edge Award

Fulton County Schools has been recognized with the "Leading Edge Award" for the advances made through its charter district status, particularly in the areas of governance, leadership and accountability.

Presented by the Georgia School Board Association (GBSA), the award recognizes innovative and out-of-the-box practices by governance teams and school districts. It also highlights school districts that are leading the way in ensuring students are competitive in an ever-changing global market.

Fulton's school board members and Superintendent Mike Looney were formally recognized for the award at GSBA's annual conference in December.

Leading Edge Award "Receiving the Leading Edge Award is a major boon for Fulton County Schools and especially our Board of Education," said Dr. Looney. "Our School Board had the foresight to think about how the charter district's flexibility could help our schools find even greater levels of success. Education is not one-size-fits-all, and our school communities are very diverse throughout Fulton County, so it is important to support flexibility wherever we can."

In 2012, Fulton County Schools became Georgia's largest charter district as well as one of the nation's largest exercising that model. As a charter district, local schools have the flexibility to allocate resources in a targeted manner to better support student achievement. The model also supports curriculum innovation, such as how students receive instruction and how technology can be leveraged in the classroom. Financial flexibility also occurs through the way resources within each local school are allocated and through waivers from some state-mandated spending requirements.

The Fulton County Board of Education adopted policy to support giving schools more autonomy so they can drive local decision-making to meet the individualized needs of their school communities. Examples include the process for schools to seek waivers to some state or district requirements that may impede their progress, called "Requests for Flexibility." Additionally, the charter district policy established local School Governance Councils in every school. The councils are responsible for setting the strategic vision of the school, assisting with the selection of school principals when there is a vacancy, approving annual school budgets, and serving as a communications liaison for the broader school community.

While the school district supports local autonomy, it has also established a guiding framework through its Strategic Plan 2022. The five-year strategic plan is based on four pillars – Student Achievement, People and Culture, Community Collaboration, and Fiscal Responsibility – and includes specific targets and outcomes to reach. Schools also implement their own strategic plan modeled after the district's plan, and follow the same four pillars. However, each school and their school governance council is given autonomy to choose their outcomes, initiatives, and critical actions. These plans are voted on by the local school governance councils and serve as the guidebook for the schools short- and long-term work.

To be considered for the Leading Edge Award, applicants were instructed to select one of eight key impact areas of the Georgia Vision Project, a campaign that promotes public education and encourages engagement about educational issues. The categories were: Early Learning and Student Success; Teaching and Learning; Teaching and Learning Resources; Human and Organizational Capital; Governance, Leadership and Accountability; Culture, Climate and Organizational Efficacy; Financial Resources; and Communications and Messaging. Fulton County Schools submitted its application under the Governance, Leadership and Accountability category.

For more information on GSBA's Leading Edge Award click here.