The Atlanta school board voted unanimously today to hire Meria Carstarphen from Austin, Texas, to lead the city’s struggling public school system.
Carstarphen, 44, will be paid a base salary of $375,000, along with a $1,200 per month auto allowance and $800 per month expense allowance. Her contract doesn’t include any performance bonuses.
Her first day on the job will be July 7, and she received a three-year contract.
She will be responsible for educating 50,000 students, raising graduation rates that hover at 59 percent and repairing the image of a school system still tainted by the stigma of a standardized test cheating scandal.
“It’s time to bring the pride back to this school system … to face head-on those tough challenges we know are in front of us,” Carstarphen said after the 9-0 vote to hire her.
She received a standing ovation from the audience after the vote.
She warned the public school staff and community about the difficulty of their task.
“People, I’m just being straight up about it, you’re going to work harder than you’ve ever worked before,” she said.
Carstarphen said she’ll try to track down students who were affected by the school system’s cheating scandal — something that hasn’t been done so far. Instead, Atlanta Public Schools expanded tutoring and remediation opportunities for all students.
Carstarphen, who has been Austin’s superintendent for five years, will take over for Atlanta Superintendent Erroll Davis. Davis plans to retire this summer after guiding Atlanta Public Schools for three years.
She oversee a school system with about 7,000 employees and a $595 million general budget – larger than the city of Atlanta government’s $539 million budget.
“This moment represents a time for the city to believe again,” said school board Chairman Courtney English. “We’ve been through a dark time, and that time is over.”
The school board announced Carstarphen was its sole finalist March 27 following a yearlong search.
Davis made $258,837 in 2013, and Carstarphen earned $283,412 in Austin.