Peter Aman, Atlanta COO

Atlanta’s chief operating officer says the school board needs to resolve its disputes over control, which have put the city’s high schools in danger of losing their accreditation.

“We believe we will lose accreditation if we don’t fix this,” COO Peter Aman told members of the North Buckhead Civic Association gathered on March 22 at St. James United Methodist Church for the association’s 39th annual meeting. “We believe SACS [the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools] is deadly serious. They have done it to other districts. They will do it to us.”

Atlanta’s city government has no control over Atlanta Public Schools (APS), which are operated by a separate elected board and funded through a separate tax apparatus. But, according to published media reports, Mayor Kasim Reed, Aman’s boss, recently suggested that he might seek the power to appoint some board members.

In January, SACS, which accredits APS’ high schools, cited six issues with the system and gave the board until Sept. 30 to fix the problems or lose accreditation. SACS’ findings resulted from an investigation of infighting among board members and turnover of board leadership.

Board members have said they will meet SACS’ deadline.

Aman called the board skirmishes and the cheating scandal that continues to rock the lower grades of the system “appalling.”

“It’s a disastrous situation,” he said.

He said it could prove difficult to correct the situation in the school system “when the board that runs it is as tangled up in its underwear as this one is.”

Aman also discussed the city’s budget, saying the city had increased its reserve fund balance from $7 million to $56 million during Reed’s term as mayor. “We are on our way to $70 million in the reserve account by July,” he said.