Jul 31, 2023 - Education

Atlanta Public Schools confront teacher burnout as new year begins

Illustration of a pattern of beer school buses.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Students and teachers in Atlanta Public Schools head back to the classroom Tuesday for the start of the 2023-24 school year.

Driving the news: About 50,000 students are expected to show up on the first day, the district said.

  • APS has 3,031 certified teaching spots and as of late last week, 14 vacancies, Chief Human Resources Officer Nicole Lawson told Axios.

The big picture: APS said it continues to work on helping educators and employees cope with the demands of their jobs. Last year, district leadership worked with its teacher advisory council to determine how to eliminate "this phenomenon of teacher burnout," Lawson told Axios.

  • Some teachers have said their jobs didn’t offer a work-life balance, and some reported putting in 12-hour days to keep up.

What's happening: To help educators manage the workload, Lawson said the district has added more planning time to schedules, increased counseling support through its partnership with Emory University and embedded wellness days within the school calendar.

  • This district is trying to "ensure that everyone in the organization understands that being well is a priority, and then eventually our students will have better outcomes because of it," Lawson told Axios.

What we're watching: The new Virginia Highland Elementary School opens this year in the former Inman Middle School building.

  • Benteen Elementary School students will move back into a newly-renovated facility outfitted with new security vestibules.
  • The district has trained more than 15 APS officers as part of its expanding Gang Resistance Education and Training program.
  • Three new police K-9s – Aaron, Taki and Tom – have also been brought on to detect weapons and bombs.

Zoom out: Other metro Atlanta districts going back to school Tuesday include Cherokee, City Schools of Decatur and Cobb.

  • Clayton, Gwinnett, Henry and Marietta students go back on Wednesday.
  • Fayette and Forsyth students resume classes on Thursday.
  • Fulton and DeKalb county schools return next Monday.

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