2023 APS ELECTION

Raynard Johnson

Position: District 5

Incumbent: Erika Mitchell

Biography

Raynard Johnson is a digital media and IT consultant with over four decades of experience in software development. He has run for the Atlanta School Board seat twice before, losing both times. Johnson is a lifelong resident of southwest Atlanta and has been actively involved in various community organizations.

Background & Experience

  • Bachelor's of Science degree from Boston College

Campaign finance

Johnson has not yet filed a campaign disclosure. He did, however, file an intent to receive campaign contributions.

  • Total cash on hand: TBD
  • Largest contributors:
    • TBD
  • Notes: Johnson has also not filed a personal financial disclosure.

Policy Stances

  • Advocates for free after-school tutoring programs for APS K-12 scholars
  • Wants to leverage eSPLOST tax dollars to provide job opportunities for APS vocational education students
  • Aims to remove traumatic barriers that impede learning
  • Advocates for investment in early childhood learning

Candidate Interview

Where did you grow up and how has your personal background influenced your perspective on public education?

As a native Atlantan, raised in Southwest Atlanta (Beecher Hills, Mays neighborhoods), graduate of APS Southwest Atlanta High, graduate of Boston College's School of Management (Computer Science), with over 40 years of experience in Project Management / Process Improvement), from the perspective of Atlanta Independent School System view as a “Public Good” requiring constant, iterative systemic process improvement as a “System,” inside the bubble of a city with the highest income immobility and income inequality in the country, APS School Board must engage in policy initiatives that address socioeconomic factors that affect its students lives outside the classroom.

We want to know about your involvement in the community. Please list any volunteer or mentorship activities, professional boards you sit on, and community organizations that you’re affiliated with.
  • Member (past): APS Turnaround Strategy Advisory Committee - Mays Cluster
  • Board Member (past) - Restorative Justice Board - Atlanta Municipal Court
  • Member (past): Fulton County District Attorney Anti-Gang Youth Violence Task Force
  • Member (past): Atlanta Police Department (Zone 4) Citizens Advisory Board
Why should voters support your candidacy for the APS School Board?

As your next Atlanta Board of Education - District 5 representative, I will:

  1. Fight every day to provide free after-school literacy tutoring programs for APS K-12 students.
  2. Fight to leverage eSPLOST tax dollars to provide job opportunities for APS vocational education students.
  3. Fight every day to break down and remove traumatic barriers that impede learning.
  4. Fight to invest in Early Childhood Education.
The Atlanta School Board did not renew the contract for former school superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring and hired Dr. Danielle Battle as the interim superintendent on Aug. 7, 2023, while they conduct a national search. 

Why do you think there's so much superintendent turnover at APS — and what do you think can be done to address it?

You would need to ask the current APS School Board members who have a part of the hiring and firing of the last two APS superintendents as to why there's so much superintendent turnover at APS. Electing non incumbent candidates for APS School Board is what can be done to address superintendent turnover at APS.

What qualifications and qualities do you believe are essential for the next superintendent?

Qualifications and qualities I believe are essential for the next superintendent would be someone who has demonstrated prior experience engaged as a system practitioner using iterative, process improvement practices in improving educational outcomes in an urban environment.

APS is in the third year of a five-year strategic plan that ends in 2025. What are your thoughts on how that plan is going, and what would you do differently? What should the next five year plan address?

My thoughts on how the five-year strategic plan that ends in 2025 is going based on its third year of implementation, is not good. Only 31% of APS students are proficient in reading by the 8th grade. Only 25% of APS students are proficient in math by the 8th grade. About 18-20% of APS students are mobile (in and out of multiple schools in one school year). A $1.7B budget with 60% of each dollar going to the central office and 40% of each dollar spent on the classroom.

The next five year plan should address free after-school tutoring (literacy) programs utilizing local college students majoring in education, leveraging eSPLOST tax dollars to provide job opportunities for APS vocational education students, investing in early childhood learning, and removing traumatic barriers that impede learning.

The next five year plan should also address APS students with a valid student ID riding MARTA free.

The next five-year plan should also address homeowners 65 years or older not paying the educational portion of their property taxes, similar to homeowners in DeKalb County, in order to give financial relief to grandparents raising school-aged grandchildren in APS.

How should the District best address the understaffing and retention of teachers and staff?

The District should best address the understaffing and retention for teachers and staff by addressing the culture of intimidation that still permeates APS (HR) from the time of the cheating scandal.

More than 5,000 APS students have a disability or special needs. What can the school district do to better serve those students, especially when it comes to allocating resources to schools?

The school district can increase the allocation of wrap-around services to schools, with Key Performance Indicators, in order to better serve APS students that have a disability or special needs.

Only about one-third of APS students are at or above the proficient level for reading and math with reports saying that COVID learning loss is still a factor. How can the District ensure children meet or exceed the reading and writing standards?

The District can ensure children meet or exceed the reading and writing standards, by providing free after-school tutoring (literacy) programs, utilizing local college students majoring in education, at City of Atlanta Recreation Centers, Boys and Girls Clubs, YM(W)CA.

Identify three ways the Atlanta School Board can better involve youth, parents and caretakers in the Board's decision-making process?

One way the Atlanta School Board can better involve youth, parents and caretakers in the Board's decision-making process is by offering quarterly townhall meetings with the administration.

Is the APS property tax burden too high for most Atlanta residents? Do you think commercial property owners are paying their fair share of APS property taxes? 

Commercial property owners are not paying their fair share of APS property taxes because the APS School Board and the Atlanta City Council have abated millions of dollars for 30 years taxes on commercial developments, i.e., “The Gulch”.