Monday, February 16, 2009

Do You Feel That the DeKalb County School Board Has Too Many Members?

On February 10, 2009 at the DeKalb County Legislature Hearing, where only part of the Legislature members attended, School Board member Zepora Roberts spoke to the delegation and stated she disapproved of State Bill-84 that may limit the number of DeKalb County School Board Members to seven verses nine members. She stated, “This decision should be left up to the county and should not be decided by the state.” She stated also that, “she represents 43, 000 citizens in her district and that they deserved representation.”  Zepora Roberts does represent the new District 7 for the DeKalb Board of Education. Ms. Roberts’s term will end in 2010.

As stated in SECTION 3 of the SB 84-Local Board of Education; election; revised provision:

1) Each local board of education shall have no more than seven members provided by local Act.

(2) This subsection shall not apply a local board of education whose board size exceeds seven members as provided by local constitutional amendment or federal court order or pursuant to a local law in effect prior to July 1, 2009; provided, however, that if the local law of any such local board of education is amended to revise the number of members on such board, paragraph (1) of this subsection shall apply.

Does the DeKalb County School Board have too many school board members? Would it be more functional with five districts like the DeKalb County Commission and two at-large districts? Would it be better with just seven districts and no at-large districts? Is Zepora right and should a decision like this be left up to the county?

I feel the at-large districts are very important districts as these two school board members represent a larger section of the county and see a bigger picture than just the needs of certain areas of DeKalb. Because I feel the at-large district are important, I would like to see two of the smaller districts done away with and I would like to see the at-large districts stay as they currently are.  

What do you think?

32 comments:

Ella said...

I in no way would like anything negative said about Zepora Roberts. This was not the reason for this post. I feel strongly she does represent district 7 extremely well. The reason for this post is to discuss if we truely do have too many school board members and if seven members would be a better number than nine members.

Also how do you feel about the at-large districts verses the smaller districts that just represent one area verse the at-large district representing half the school district? Which districts are more effective? When two districts should be cut?

I have a feeling that we will be districted more like the county commissioners which has two at large districts and five individual districts for representation.

Please keep this post clean and do not cut down board members that you would like to see go as this is not the reason for this post.

Lefty said...

Perhaps if there were only 5 "area" board members, they would too be more apt to look at the big picture for all of their constituents.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Zepora represents those students and families in her district very well (even if it comes at the expense of students and families in other parts of the county).

Ella said...

This may be true. What is your feeling "Lefty" about the at-large districts?

I do think that the 7 districts cause a great deal of individual interests on the school board. I do see the current at-large district representative (at least one of them)seeing the situation from a broader prospective and may be able to represent the school board interests better. (As long as they are not on other boards which may cause a conflict of interest)

On another note school board candidates should not be on other county boards which might be a conflict. I am disappointed in our commissioners except Commissioner Raider.

Ella said...

Anonymous, apparently it would be nice if all the school board representative had fought equally for their area as Zepora has for her district.

My intent in posting this was not to cut down any school board members. I respect each one of them. I listened closely to what Zepora said and she has given her 43,000 citizens in her district extremely good representation. Zepora spends a great deal of her time daily going to school events. She is an extremely involved school board member and cares deeply about what happens to every child in the Dekalb County School System. I do request again that everyone keep their comments appropriate and not attack any school board members. You can disagree with decisions each of them make but just to be mean spirited does not help anyone, and it does not serve the main purpose this site was started.

No Duh said...

It will always be a political process, but I think our BOE members should be appointed. The voters in DeKalb are too disengaged from the voting process. I'd venture to say 98% of voters don't have a clue who they voted for -- they just marked the box of the "incumbent" or the box with the name that appealed to them or the name they remember from their neighbor's yard sign.

Therefore, our BOE members are being elected on luck -- IMO -- whether they are qualified or not.

So the question is "who selects the BOE?" -- how about the Teachers of the Year from the most recent year. Just a thought.

Cerebration said...

That reminds me of this story -

A university professor set an examination question in which he asked what is the difference between ignorance and apathy. The professor had to give an A+ to a student who answered: I don't know and I don't care.
- Richard Pratt, Pacific Computer Weekly, 20 July 1990


I don't know - and I don't care how MANY board members there should be -- there could be 50 as long as they all work as a TEAM for the good of the entire system and allocate resources according to priorities of need as well as investigate methods to help our schools stay ahead in this new world of 21st Century Learners. Things are different - very different now - and we need leaders who understand that and will investigate and implement changes that will move us FORWARD in preparing ALL of our children to be life-long learners.

Ella said...

No Duh, very interesting thought except a teacher in the Dekalb County School System is not eligible to be on the school board currently or does it look like they will be eligible in the future. I agree a teacher who teaches in the school system would have a great deal to offer but they will never happen.

As someone who has run twice for district 2 school board position I would agree with you about your comments in the past but lately citizens appear to be doing a great deal more research on their candidates. The Nov. election was very close for several of the candidates. I received 41% of the vote in Nov. and Don and Marshall received about 28% a piece with Don having a few more votes. In the run-off many voters chose not to come back out and I lost the election. In saying this I do believe changing the school board election from July to November did make it much more of an important race and more people are paying attention.

I noticed that most of the candidates in the race were extremely qualified particularily in district 2, 4, and 8. I think more citizens are concerned about who they elect as their school board candidate and I think that is a great thing.

Even if the school board members are appointed to the position it would be politicians appointing the school board members so I am not so sure that would help.

I do think we may have too many school board members which makes it more difficult for all the school board members to work together. I do not think it is a bad idea to limit the school board members size to 7, but what positions would be cut out. Would the at-large district go or two of the "area" district go?

themommy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lefty said...

In my mind, the 5 "area" members are akin to legislative representatives and the 2 at-large members are like senators. The never-ending challenge for legislators anywhere is giving their local constituents what they want and keeping their eye on the big picture.

Ella said...

Lefty, do you think the current 9 school board members are too many school board members and are you in favor of 5 verses 9 school board members?

Ella said...

Lefty, I meant 7 verses 9.

Ella said...

Lefty, I mean 7 verses 5. It is one of those days.

As someone who is disabled it is always one of those days.

Lefty said...

I agree that the board would be more productive if there were fewer members. That would be 5 area members and 2 at-large.

Ella said...

It appears this is the direction the legislative leaders are going. I have also heard some indicate that the At-Large districts could go but I do not see this happening. I see the area district being like the commissioner's districts which would make sense.

No Duh said...

Ella, I was being a tad facetious, I meant that the Teachers of the Year should be the ones who DECIDE the BOE members, not become the BOE members. I know it would never happen, but wouldn't it be great if people who truly understand what the school system needs could pick our BOE members.

I have to disagree about voter engagement. I believe the apathy for who is a person's BOE member is pervasive. Moving it to Nov. just gave more people a chance to randomly check a box -- hence the nearly even split (leading to run offs, which lead to mostly older retirees voting, BTW -- a statistical fact) across the county in the BOE races.

Ella said...

I do think a larger portion of the population than just retired individuals voted in November, but I totally agree than in December the majority of the individuals who went out and voted were retired individuals. This is the reason every new board member is a retired citizen. Now in saying this I do not think their is anything wrong with retired citizens being on the school board but currently the majority of the citizens on the school board are retired and do not think this is a true representation of the Dekalb County Community.

I do agree that some voters just pick someone to vote for but I do think many voters did their homework this time. I was shocked at how many people that I ran into while campaigning that knew a great deal about me already.

No Duh, I do not always pick up things like this. I am sorry. I thought you truely meant that a Teacher of The Year should be a school board member. WE CAN LAUGH AT ME TOGETHER ON THIS ONE. I take everything so literally. That is just how GOD made me. I accept it and laugh at myself from time to time.

No Duh said...

The worst thing about email/blogging is the lack of intonation. And when one is as sarcastic as I am -- it can (and does) often create miscommunication. Ahhh, will I ever change?...

Kim->CommunityRadar.com said...

"My observation is that whenever one person is found adequate to the
discharge of a duty... it is worse executed by two persons, and
scarcely done at all if three or more are employed therein." -George Washington

@GW: You rock old man!

Yes, fewer please! For that matter, how about we make it a requirement that they DO NOT reside in the County at all. Local representation? Heck, we're not running a government here folks! Trying to run the education board and system as a govt IS THE PROBLEM!

We should do everything we can to take "local" interest out of public education and make the students and their success the ONLY interest.

call me a dreamer - just call me!

Kim->CommunityRadar.com said...

In re-reading this post this AM, I realize that I may not have communicated my point very well. Let me take another stab at it ...

Do we really need someone from Lakeside or Cross Keys to tell DCSS that the school plant is woefully maintained?

It is my opinion that if DCSS needs someone from my district or needs "my" Board member to tell them this - the battle is already lost.

Nothing short of dereliction of duty bordering on civil negligence could have led to the current state of some of our schools ... and this WITH local representation. So, my point is that there is something more fundamentally wrong at DCSS than a lack of balance among districts' representation.

We can't expect every parent to keep track of and address every individual school's need in each area. We should DEMAND that DCSS do so.

The fact that this has not happened in some time is what has created localized outrage. Perhaps I'll be glad I have a dedicated District #2 rep if Mr. McChensey turns our area clusters into a shining example of modern public education. But isn't this too much to ask of an individual Board member?

Therein lies the problem - whether there is 7 or 9 or any other number of members, the entire Board and leadership of DCSS has failed our district and the whole lot must be held accountable to make sure the next generation of DCSS children are better served.

And let's not let DCSS leadership tell us they don't have the budget to do the job. It is their job to ensure that we do have the budget to do the plant maintenance that is needed. We the voters of DeKalb have given DCSS everything they told us they needed.

As I've ranted elsewhere, I want to see the entire administration and BOE in sack cloth and ashes before I ever see another school reach the condition of Lakeside or Cross Keys.

Wow, I am bitter ...

Cerebration said...

I'm so glad to have you here at the blog, Kim. I've felt the same frustration for several years and can't seem to find a way to make a difference. Our current leadership uses the management system of putting out the wildest wildfires first and foremost. (Fires usually burning to to their own actions or inaction.) Attention is only given to squeaky wheels or Board reps who are very tight with the Superintendent.

It's pretty damn futile. A discrimination lawsuit may be the only thing they will respond to.

Anonymous said...

Kim's got a point. Everyone, please walk through and around Lakeside and Cross Keys (especially the rest rooms). It's unfathomable to have a school as fantastic as the new Arabia Mountain High School in the same system as schools in the condition of Lakeside and Cross Keys.


Not to criticize Zepora, but she would never allow a school in her district to reach the condition that Lakeside and Cross Keys are in now.

Cerebration said...

Chamblee is pretty awful too -- I would suggest that we form groups and ask for tours - say get 3 or 4 people together and make a day of it - and then report back...

Dunwoody Mom said...

I've been in Chamblee recently - reunion event. It does not even come close to Lakeside or Cross Keys.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom-
My child is at Chamblee. You obviously did not visit the bathrooms or rodent infested locker rooms, vintage science labs, see the gross leaking pool or moldy classrooms. I was told that the school lost two fabulous science teachers because they could no longer teach in the building due to chronic mold allergies.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I have been at Chamblee many times. It is my high school alma mater. I have visited the bathrooms off the gym and the pool. Again, they were no where near the shape that the Lakeside bathrooms and gyms are. You are aware that the current Chamblee High School building was built after Cross Keys, Lakeside and Dunwoody?

Cerebration said...

Anyone who can make this should -- they are holding tours of Lakeside (for parents of private school kids - but it's certainly open to all) -

Monday, FEB 23 at 1 PM....

Here's your chance!! Take the tour - make SURE you ask to see the art room, the computer lab, the science lab, the locker rooms, the pool, the band and orchestra rooms and the home ec room (or whatever it's called now.) Don't just settle for the official tour.

Cerebration said...

Dr. Lewis once told me that Chamblee was even worse than Lakeside - was that supposed to make me feel better?

So - this recall thing -- does it have to be the voters in the district of the person in office or can people from another district demand a recall???

Ella said...

I am sure that DCSS is losing science teachers to other school systems. I will be honest as someone who teaches daily in the science department at North Springs that they have a super situation with their labs, equipment, and supplies verses what I saw as a science teacher/IRR at Lakeside. I guess this is what really does upset me most. I still feel too much money is spent on personnel which does not have direct contact with students. (Maintance) (Central Office Personnel) (Printers) (Everyone apparently has a secretary) (Personnel itself has too many employees from my observation compared to other county school systems)

You are correct Anonymous. Zepora or Sara would be complaining until something was done if their district schools looked like Chamblee, Cross Keys, Lakeside, or Druid Hills. We can disagree with them but I do think we need to respect them for their compassion for their district.

Again, I remember talking to Zepora before she was a school board member. She was at every school board meeting and sincerely cared about the children of Dekalb County. I really do not think that has changed. I know she would like to see Lakeside, Cross Keys, Druid Hills, and Chamblee have better facilities! I am sure all the school board members would like to see all the schools updated.

Dunwoody Mom said...

What would make me feel better is to see a BOE member actually ask a question, offer improvement suggestions, etc., about schools outside of their own district. Now, that would show me they really care.

Maybe it has happened, but I don't recall seeing it.

Ella Smith said...

DunwoodyMom, I would love to see the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Recalls are limited to the voters in the district of the elected official. Not sure how many signatures (what percentage) are needed to effect the recall, but once the recall is approved it takes a 51% majority (of those who vote in the recall) to establish a special election.