First Day of School Brings New Faces, Renovations, Safety and Tech Upgrades and More

The 2019-2020 school year starts on August 12 for thousands of children enrolled in Fulton County Schools (FCS). The new year brings lots of new changes.

New Faces

This will mark the first full year with new Dr. Mike Looney, the newly named superintendent, at the helm of the district. Since his arrival, he’s taken steps to get to know South Fulton’s leaders and parents. He’s met with Mayor William “Bill” Edwards, the Mayor’s Task Force on Education and members of the South Fulton Parents for Education. He also hosted breakfast for local media, including the City of South Fulton Observer, and held office hours for parents at the South Fulton Learning Center.

New changes in leadership at Fulton County schools have resulted in several new principals in and around South Fulton. They include: Latrina Coxton (Love T. Nolan Elementary); Estella Cook (Oakley Elementary); Marissa Wilson (Randolph Elementary); LaToya Miley (Sandtown Middle); Charles Chester (Langston Hughes High); and Shateena Love (Tri-Cities High).

New Look, New Feel

Several schools in the county are debuting new media centers, including Camp Creek and Paul D. West Middle. The updates were funded by SPLOST dollars generated by a one-penny education sales tax. The media centers were gutted and reimagined to align with how today’s students work together, study and interact socially. 

As each student is now issued a mobile device, a ‘genius bar’-like station has been added to the circulation desk where students can seek technical support. Visitors will still find books on the media center’s shelves, but the racks are smaller as large collections like encyclopedias that are quickly outdated are now gone. More room is dedicated to collaborative spaces with soft and moveable furniture groupings conducive to teamwork. Interactive whiteboards and wall-mounted interactive screens are placed throughout the space, and small break-out rooms allow students to work together or study independently.

Sports fans will notice that turf and track replacements took place at Tri-Cities High due to the natural lifespan of the existing materials coming to an end. Turf replacements also took place at Banneker High.

New Efforts to Keep Students Safe

Fulton County Schools’ emergency operations center will now be manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week by live personnel. Additional staff has been added to the team to increase monitoring. And cameras are being upgraded in every school over five phases.

16 new officers have joined the school district’s police department. All officers have received grant-funded training on adolescent mental health challenges.

Also funded by grant dollars, all Fulton County schools and facilities are undergoing a comprehensive, site-specific safety and security assessment. Results will not be shared publicly but will be formalized and returned to school leadership this winter.

This school year, several “Students First, Safety First” education campaigns will focus on awareness and education for vaping and e-cigarettes as well as sexting and social media.

New Technology

Fulton County Schools is now using Infinite Campus. The Campus Parent and Campus Student components of Infinite Campus are replacing Home Access Center and the Student Access Center that were used in FCS’ former student information system, eSchoolPlus. Over the summer, district and school teams migrated all student records to the new system, but parents must create new accounts to access the Campus Parent portal and mobile app. Once signed up, parents can receive school announcements and view their child’s grades, attendance, assignments and class schedule.

FCS is also launching a new version of its mobile app, and this will be the first full year that the “Here Comes the Bus” app will be available for parents to track their student’s school bus using GPS technology.

New Calendar Dates

The new school year calendar is available on the FCS website. School Board President Linda Bryant and School Board Member Kimberly Dove will host a joint community meeting at Camp Creek Middle School on August 16. The next board meeting will take place at the South Learning Center (4025 Flat Shoals Road) on August 22.

The first football games of the season will kick off on August 23. Creekside will play Westlake at home starting at 7:30 p.m. Langston Hughes will take on Dutchtown and Banneker will take on Lovejoy at away games.

Photo: Langston Hughes High School welcomes a new principal and several new teachers for the 2019-2020 school year. (Photo Credit: AJ Armstrong, @Armstrong_LHHS)