New APS Superintendent sworn in, has whirlwind first day - CBS46 News

New APS Superintendent sworn in, has whirlwind first day

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ATLANTA (CBS46) -

After just three hours of sleep, Meria Carstarphen couldn't wait any longer. Her first day as superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools was approaching, and her excitement was building.

According to Carstarphen, she took the time to pick her outfit for her first day with care, just as so many of us have the night before the first day of school.

It was a milestone in her life and that of the organization which she now oversees.

Even though she has been working with a transition team for a few months, getting up to speed on the many elements that make up APS, Monday would be the official start date of her contract. She was sworn in just after 2 p.m. in the school board's public meeting room.

The contract is for three years, the first of which will no doubt be used to implement many of the changes she wants to make to the school system. Controversy has shattered public trust of the institution, and it may take all of Carstarphen's contract to regain but a portion of it.

She's up for the challenge, though. According to Carstarphen, she is here for the children. They are her focus, she told reporters during a press conference Monday.

As giddy as Carstarphen was to be at work, she was pragmatic. She openly admits, the school system has problems that cannot be fixed overnight.

"One of the biggest things that I've seen is that we just don't have the [support] systems in place," said Carstarphen. "Those systems are very thin, if not nonexistent in some cases, so those will take time to rebuild."

For now, Carstarphen has the time she needs to start solving the problems. The school board spent a year looking for a new superintendent; Carstarphen was their only finalist.

School Board President Courtney English says, they have faith in Carstarphen but expect results.

"A kid can't get third grade back, and so while we are sensitive to that, it might take some time to turn it around. We're going to work every single day with that mindset," said English.

Meanwhile, Carstarphen's locomotive of change is about to leave the station, and she made one thing clear; school district employees need to get on board or get off the tracks.

"If they aren't up to making that transition, then they really don't have a place on the APS team anymore," said Carstarphen.

This total buy-in approach is exactly what English was hoping for.

"It's a no-nonsense style of leadership. I believe that, for far too long, this system has been plagued by adult issues, and we've got to move beyond that," said English.

Monday, Carstarphen began earning her $375,000 base salary. Her level of enthusiasm was high, her outlook optimistic, and in less than 12 hours, she had already set the ball rolling for change. Now English says, it's parents' turn to have a little faith.

"It's time to believe again," said English. "Simply put, it's time for folks to believe in the work of our principals, believe in the work of our teachers, believe in the work of our administrators. This is a very joyous and hopeful time for the Atlanta Public School system."

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