Katie Howard

Position: District 1

Opposition: Running unopposed


Katie Howard, an Atlanta native and current APS parent, is running unopposed for re-election. She was first elected in 2021 with 72.7% of the vote. Howard serves as the chief of staff and senior policy advisor for Atlanta City Councilmember Jason Dozier. She is deeply involved in her twin daughters’ school and has served as PTA/PTSA president.

Background & Experience

  • B.A., Political Science and Urban Studies, Furman

Howard previously worked for Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook and prior to that for the City of Atlanta Municipal Clerk’s Office.

Campaign finance

June 30 disclosure

  • Total cash on hand: $13,681.07
  • Largest contributors:
    • Paul Boykin
  • Notes: Howard listed $17,960.40 in in-kind contributions since taking office.

Policy Stances

  • Focused on closing the academic gap between white and Black students
  • Aims to ensure every child is reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade
  • Advocates for a balanced approach to school funding, mindful of taxpayer impact

Candidate Interview

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

I am an Atlanta native and a very proud APS graduate. I grew up in Virginia-Highland/Morningside during the 1980s-1990s and attended Morningside and C.W. Hill elementary schools, Inman Middle School and then Grady High School. I was fortunate to attend schools that were Title I and served a diverse population racially and socio-economically. Attending in-town schools in Atlanta then with a cross-section of kids and interacting with students from other schools had a huge influence on me as a person and taught me how to build relationships with anyone from any background and always value their perspective and journey.

I also have a deep love for our city and every APS school and community within it, as well as southern Hip-Hop music, because I graduated from Grady in 1996. Experiencing what I did during those formative years with a mother who had been a social worker in APS as well as a dedicated volunteer, instilled in me the importance of being truly invested in our local public schools, that everyone wants the best for their child, and that we all have a role to play when it comes to supporting a strong educational experience for all our kids, which led me to run and serve on the Board.

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.

I’ve been a very active school volunteer since the day my kids started Pre-K at Parkside Elementary School having served as PTA president and GO Team member there as well as PTSA President at King Middle School. I always worked during that time to bring our community together around our Maynard Jackson Cluster schools and helped start initiatives like the “Commit to King” Fall Festival, which celebrated and supported our schools that feed into King Middle.

I currently serve on the Board of Education as the District 1 Representative and Chair the Board’s Audit Committee, and I am a member of the Board Development Committee. I was also just appointed as the board representative to the Atlanta College and Career board. Additionally, I’m a part of a year-long Student Outcomes Focused Governance implementation cohort with the Council of the Great Cities Schools. Last but not least, one of my favorite volunteer opportunities is as a “Big Sister” to a “Little Brother” with Big Sisters Big Brothers at King Middle.

I currently serve on the Board of Education as the District 1 Representative and Chair the Board’s Audit Committee, and I am a member of the Board Development Committee. I was also just appointed as the board representative to the Atlanta College and Career board. Additionally, I’m a part of a year-long Student Outcomes Focused Governance implementation cohort with the Council of the Great Cities Schools. Last but not least, one of my favorite volunteer opportunities is as a “Big Sister” to a “Little Brother” with Big Sisters Big Brothers at King Middle.

Why should voters support your candidacy for the Atlanta School Board?

During my tenure on the Board of Education I have worked hard to focus on improving student outcomes by digging into our Student Outcomes Focused Governance framework. This means monitoring progress on our Goals and Guardrails so that we fully understand the realities for our students in order to provide them with what they need to learn and develop to their fullest potential and be prepared for life after graduation.

In order to do this work, I’ve engaged with the community- both in and outside of my district- to hear their experience- especially that of students- and used that information combined with our progress monitoring to hold our Superintendent and district accountable, with the support needed, to do the work to improve student outcomes. I’m very honest that there is a lot of work to be done and it will require change, but I hope my work ethic and commitment to doing what is right for students is self-evident and that people feel confident I will continue to work hard in my second term on the board.

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?

While no board of education should allow an environment that leads to frequent Superintendent turnover, a board must hold a Superintendent accountable for making bold changes that lead to long-term, meaningful student growth and better outcomes. It is hugely important that the Board of Education make clear their willingness to do the work necessary to improve student outcomes based on our needs and resources reflected in our Goals- and support a Superintendent whose job it is to set and implement the strategies to achieve the Goals, within the perimeters set by our Guardrails.

This is a relationship that requires trust and clear expectations and support, and the board to act as a unit, which also requires the input of different perspectives. By doing this and holding a Superintendent accountable with the necessary supports, we will have an increase in overall district stability and an improvement in student outcomes.

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

Our next Superintendent must know and understand our Student Outcomes Focused Governance work and our Goals around literacy, numeracy, and college and career preparedness and have the energy and experience necessary to implement bold and meaningful change that will lead to improved outcomes for all APS students.

This will also require a willingness to acknowledge, assess, and tackle the realities for our students, including the impacts of poverty, trauma, mental health needs, violence, social media, and all the other factors that our youth are facing today and that create barriers to them learning and developing to their fullest potential.

They will have to know the City of Atlanta and be willing to go out and engage with all our communities and students, especially the ones that can be the hardest to reach. Supporting and knowing our hard working APS administrators, staff, educators and all those serving our students every school day (and beyond) is critically important as well.

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?

Our strategic plan needs to be updated in conjunction and consideration of our Goals and Guardrails- that represent the vision and values of the community-and set our priorities focused on improving student outcomes. The Goals and Guardrails have a 5-year span, which ends in 2026.

While I think overall we’re on the right track, we need to use the opportunity in updating our strategic plan and Goals to really focus in our how we support the students who are continuing to struggle. This requires a deep, dive needs assessment of the district to determine what is keeping many of our students from learning to their fullest potential, how we remove barriers and implement evidence based strategies and necessary actions to address their needs that we closely align and prioritize with our budget. All of this can be laid out in our strategic plan and further narrowed in focus through the updating of our Goals.

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

Going back to the deep dive needs assessment, we need to look closely at what our valuable educators, staff, and administrators do and align that closely with our needs. By doing that, we’ll have an even better understanding of how we can shift, innovate, and change in order to better serve students, which will also lead to beneficial changes in how educators serve students. I think taking these types of actions will help retain some of our best talent and attract more who are looking for districts that are focused on doing things differently based on students’ needs.

This requires a strategy- the job of the Superintendent- and requires the Board to align the budget with fully supporting any necessary shifts to achieve. There are additional actions I think the district could take as well, like supporting APS employees who want to live in the city through partnerships to create affordable housing that would prioritize APS employees.

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?

Absolutely. This all goes back to the deep dive needs assessment as well. We have tremendous Special Education educators and others who know the work and our students extremely well and are making a difference. The issue is where we still have gaps between the students who need some of the most experienced or strongest educators and specialists in this field but do not have access to them due to there not being enough of those people or based on their distance from where certain programs are located.

Along the lines of special needs are our neuro-divergent students who learn in wonderfully different and unique ways and we have a lot of work to do in order to pivot and meet their needs. Oftentimes it’s not the money but a matter of consolidating programming so that you’re strongest people are with the students who need them the most based on their needs. All this requires knowing what those needs are- which also includes educating families on identifying signs of different ways of learning and APS’ resources- and making sure we have strong and sustainable Special Education programming that is easily accessible for all students who need those services.

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?

Goal 1 set by the Board for the district is on improving literacy proficiency for Grades 3-8. We’ve set this Goal- although our percentages for our targets need to be re-set- it’s still our priority and policy that we focus on improving literacy for this population of students so that they have a solid foundation and are prepared for high school. What we’re seeing through progress monitoring of this Goal is that even with some growth, which is to be celebrated, the same population of students are continuing to struggle with reading on grade level. I believe that in order to address this large gap and get these students reading on grade level, we need to narrow our focus on this group of students- which also means updating Goal 1. Through the implementation of strategies-job of the Superintendent- and work that would come from this, we’d also see positive impacts for all students in literacy.

Identify three ways the Atlanta School Board can better involve youth, parents and caretakers in the Board’s decision-making process?
  1. The Board needs to go out collectively into the community on a regular basis and share the work we’re doing, listen, and receive feedback. I’m excited about our refreshed Community Engagement Plan that includes four quadrant based community meetings for all of us to attend to share our Student Outcomes Focused Governance work and includes the Superintendent and team as well as resources and information.
  2. Board members need to be out in their communities engaging with all stakeholders and listening to the realities for students and families.
  3. The Board needs to take the feedback from all these engagement opportunities and use the information in our decisions around Board policies, updating our Goals and Guardrails, and in holding the Superintendent accountable with appropriate support.
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? 

I think we’re fortunate to have a healthy tax base in the city of Atlanta and as stewards of the public tax dollar we need to use it wisely, efficiently, and effectively. I think the APS budget has gotten to a significant point and is not tightly aligned with our greatest needs and resources. I appreciate the actions that have been taken to increase the homestead exemption and am open to ideas through APS that would provide additional relief beyond what’s available for low, fixed-income seniors and lower-income residents. I think it’s common knowledge that commercial property owners are not paying their fair share of property taxes compared to residential homeowners.