Sunday, March 15, 2009

USMC Academy - A Good Idea but Perhaps in the Wrong Place


Our Cross Keys thread has been leading a double life. We began a discussion there about the chosen location at Heritage Center for a new US Marine Academy that has generated so much discussion that it now requires its own thread. Heritage Center is a small elementary school off Briarcliff Road between Clairmont and Shallowford, within walking distance of Lakeside HS.

Here are some of the statements that have been received via email or posted on the subject thus far -

I'm all for the new Marine Academy High School, however, I think the chosen location is poor. The Heritage Center is currently a special needs school and was originally built as an elementary school. I'm unsure if it even has lockers or a gymnasium. Beyond that - the school is only a half mile from Lakeside, (not exactly near North Druid Hills as described by Dr. Lewis) down a quiet neighborhood side street.

Since the Marine school is a high school, slated to serve 650 students and 50-75 staff at full capacity, it will cause a huge traffic stress on Briarcliff Rd as well as Heritage Street- since everyone will have to either drive or ride a school "hub" bus or MARTA. There's already lots of school congestion due to student drivers, busses and carpools to Lakeside - the roads cannot handle another 100+ cars in the morning.

A better idea is -- use the soon to be empty Open Campus for the Marines and sell the Heritage property to the county - it's next door to a small (school system owned) park that is currently very highly used with little parking space. The county has the money in the bank to buy up land for parks - and so far - there's been virtually none purchased in our district. Then use the proceeds to renovate the Open Campus for the Marines.

There was $490,000 allocated to the Heritage school in the Nov 06 CIP, but I don't see what it's for or if it's been completed. This money could be returned to the general fund along with profit from the sale of the property.

Or - how about the Willam Bradley Bryant Center (WBBC) for the military academy? Aren't they moving the offices from there to the Mt. Industrial Center? WBBC is easily accessible - right off I-285 at Lawrenceville HWY. Plus - they have lots of parking and a large field.

I believe it's time to take a serious inventory of all of the buildings and properties the school system (taxpayers) owns. By assessing realistically, the conditions of buildings vs the market value of the land we could make better plans for the future as far as re-purposing and redistricting goes. It would certainly help the brainstorming process.


Anonymous said... The old Chamblee MS campus was originally an elementary school and "renovated" to temporarily house a middle school. That facility could in no way accomodate a high school. There is not even enough parking spots to handle the number of school buses that are parked there each day.

Anonymous said... Not to hijack this thread, but it is important for the citizens of DeKalb to understand the following about this Institute:

It is being placed in an area with difficult access. North Druid Hill traffic is horrific and transportation will be horrible. The Board needs a public discussion of why this school is being placed into another school as an academy.
The question all taxpayers (remember the Pentagon is picking up the tab for a big part of this program) should be asking is will the most interested students be able to get there.

The principal's position has now been posted. This school will have no more than 200 students yet the principal's salary will be in the same range of every other DCSS principal. Keep in mind, that at this school, there will be a Commandant who handles everything but instruction. We should all watch to see how many assistant principals this school will have.


Ella Smith said... I see the property on North Druid Hills by Adams as a better place for the Military Academy. There will be plenty of room to grow and also the old gym which is now the Jim Cherry Center could be turned back into a gymnasium.

Any other ideas or options for a location for the military school?

220 comments:

1 – 200 of 220   Newer›   Newest»
Cerebration said...

For comparison - here is a description of the USMC Academy in Texas

The Marine Military Academy is a 142-acre campus, located in South Texas. The campus is almost a self-contained community with academic facilities, housing, dining, medical support, recreational and athletic facilities and its own maintenance section. A number of key staff and faculty members along with all drill instructors and their families live on campus. In addition to it's academic buildings the campus includes an obstacle course, a high ropes challenge course, circuit course, mud course, confidence course, paint ball course, a rappelling tower, rock climbing wall, speed-march reaction course, and facilities for football, track, swimming, basketball, baseball, boxing, soccer, and tennis. The original full-sized Iwo Jima Monument created by noted sculptor Felix de Weldon is on campus.

http://www.mma-tx.org/MMA/facilities/the_campus.htm

Cerebration said...

On more issue. Dr. Lewis stated several times that a requirement for admission is to have completed Algebra 1 in 8th grade. I hope he doesn't need reminding that he and Gloria Talley have changed the entire math curriculum and Algebra 1 will no longer be offered in 8th grade - it will now be simply MATH 8 or something like that.

Ella Smith said...

The Intergrated Adv. Math I is equivalent to Alg. I but it does have some Geometry in it. Math II has more Geometry but still a great deal of Alg. from what I understand of the new math curriculum. So the students would have to have Intergrated Adv.Math I in order to get into the Military Institute.

On the other side of this Heritage is so close to Lakeside that it could be part of Lakeside High School. A school can have separate buildings in different places and still be a school. This would allow the Lakeside High School Marine Institute to use the facilities (gym) and the students can actually participate in sports programs at Lakeside. I see this as the likely situation. Of course this is just a thought. These students would have to be a part of a high school to participate in extra-curricular activities.

Cerebration said...

Oh Brother. That's all Lakeside needs -- more students using the facilities.

That said, as I checked into Heritage, I can only find that there are about 40 students who attend there in total... I'm assuming they can be absorbed into other centers - and save the system a lot of money on staffing... the principal at Heritage alone takes home $98,852.00 - add to that 2 nurses, 2 nursing assistants, a media specialist, cafeteria workers, maintenance and janitorial staff, a music teacher, a lead teacher, 8 teachers, 15 paras.

Then add recreational, physical, occupational, speech and vision therapists and a psychologist (all who whom most likely are shared with other schools.) Along with building upkeep and maintenance - how much are we spending per child???

I realize they are high needs children but oh my goodness - this must be costing us at least $30,000 per child when it's all added up.

I'm hoping the plan is to disburse these students among other centers like Coralwood in order to bring down costs.

Anonymous said...

The USMC Academy a fantastic idea, in an idiotic location. It needs to be moved.

How about having it on the grounds of Sequoyah Middle School? Or maybe near Cross Keys?

Seriously, if you don't know Sequoyah Middle site, go to there and walk around back and the side. It's massive and poorly
utilized, typical of the Sam Moss Center administration.

There is a huge amount of space, enough for more than four full sized soccer fields. Yet the fields are in poor shape. The facilities old and not maintenanced properly. But we all know DCSS Central Office and Sam Moss do not value maintenance and operations at the schools in the Buford Highway area.

The county has this crazy weird rule about not allowing any non-DCSS games at its school owned fields. They do allow some youth sports associations to practice at its facilities.

Well, go to Sequoyah Middle on a weekend in the late spring, summer and fall, and there is full blown Latino soccer league playing on the fields, even charging admission.

Either the Sequoyah principal and staff know this, and are openly violating county policy, or they don't know and care what in the heck is going on at their own facility on weekends. So no one from DCSS Sam Moss ever checks facilities over the weekend, even thouse every facility is worth millions of taxpayer dollars?

Same thing has been going on at Henderson Middle, where the principal allows men's adult flag football games to be played there on weekends, in clear violation of DCSS policy.

Either way, the fields at Sequoyah and Henderson are being ripped to shreads for non-DCSS activities. Same happens at Chamblee High on weekends, when adult soccer players take over the field.

Again, there is a ton of room for the USMC Academy somewhere on the grounds of Sequoyah Middle. Make it happen, Paul Womack.

Anonymous said...

Ok guys, it is time to write your board members and get a clear understanding of why this location?

Is this temporary (ie until they find a better place)? Or is the plan to make this permanent?

Actually, I happen to think that this program needs to be housed on a high school campus... one that needs the positive influence that this program can bring.

Cerebration said...

Aside from the Marine Academy discussion - this topic has brought to light some of the massive waste and bloat in DCSS. First we have a principal, media specialist, janitorial and cafeteria staff along with all of the utilities and upkeep on a school (Heritage) for 40 children. If we combined those 40 students in with one of two other fully operating special needs schools - we could save several hundred thousand dollars a year. PLUS we could sell the property to the county and expand the tiny little park next door. Millions!

Obviously, we have MANY other buildings that are under-used or not used at all - either sitting empty (Chamblee Middle) or being leased to lucky people for $1 a year. WHAT IS GOING ON? All we hear about is budget cuts -- the need for Homestead Grant money and the "Austerity Cuts" -- but no one is taking the time to inventory what we ARE doing and the property we DO own and figuring out how we can scale back spending!

Anonymous said...

Cere is right, we need the FULL list of every DCSS facility, including every single one sitting empty, or being leased to lucky people for $1 a year, with an explanation why is the heck the BOE allowed a $1 per year lease, when it's begging for more revenue...despite Crawford Lewis and Marucs Turk refusing to make any significant DCSS Central Office cuts.

Maybe psc can help acquire the list.

Cerebration said...

Here's the latest intended school closings --

Resolution for Phasing Out Select Facilities

Rationale
The current facilities used for Open Campus High School, DeKalb School of the Arts and Hooper Alexander Elementary School will be vacated at the end of this current school year. In order to remove these facilities from the inventory that is used by the Georgia Department of Education, these facilities must be phased out. Therefore, this request is to no longer use these facilities for K-12 usage, thereby having them removed from our inventory.

Details
This resolution will remove the following schools from our K-12 inventory; these facilities will no longer be used for FTE reporting purposes:

*Open Campus High School Code 644-0775
*DeKalb School of the Arts Code 644-0400
*Hooper Alexander Elementary School Code 644-0150

Contacts
Ms. Patricia A. Pope, Chief Operations Officer, 678.676.1331

Quick Summary / Abstract
Presented by: Ms. Patricia A. Pope, Chief Operations Officer

Requested Action
It is recommended that the Board approve a resolution to phase-out the current facilities used for Open Campus High School, DeKalb School of the Arts and Hooper Alexander Elementary School. These facilities will no longer be used as K-12 facilities.

Goals
Goal #4-To ensure fiscal responsibility in order to maintain safe and healthy learning environments

Ella Smith said...

I am concerned as to what will happen to the property on N. Druid Hills if it is phased out. This appears to be a way to sale the property. I really do not want that to happen. Adams is used by several of the local schools as their home field. I would like to see this property used.

Cerebration said...

I'll add a small list that I'm aware of as far as vacant buildings or soon to be vacant buildings that DCSS owns go -- Please add more if you are aware of them.

Former Chamblee Middle School (Shallowford ES) on Shallowford Rd at Chamblee Dunwoody in Dunwoody. This building is a former ES with a SPLOST 1 gym and a practice field.

Soon - the William Bradley Bryant Center (admin offices) on Lawrenceville HWY at I-285. It's been up for debate as to whether DCSS owns or leases this property.

Also - soon the A/B buildings on North Decatur Road that houses the Administrative offices (Superintendent, etc.)

Everything at Druid Hills Road as mentioned -- soon to be empty - DeKalb School of the Arts - Open Campus & Jim Cherry Center. I don't know what the plans are for the former Kittredge, now International School.

Hooper Alexander Elementary. The DESA is being dragged screaming and kicking from this building (at least the Jackson family is).

Actually - Towers HS has 320 available seats - AND a new gym and new auditorium. Sounds like they could easily absorb the military academy - or more importantly - they actually NEED the students.

Anonymous said...

"The State is going to condemn the property the school owns at ND Hills Rd," according to a comment posted today by Cerebration at GoDeKalb.com. Cerebration, explain please since this is not making sense. Ella Smith is advocating for locating the Military Academy on North Druid Hills Road, Make some sense of this comment for other readers and bloggers.

Cerebration said...

That's what I've been told by parents at DSA. They say that's one of the reasons they are moving out. It didn't seem to be a big secret. I think the property would make a great military academy but I think it's far too valuable and the board has been salivating over it since they met Sembler.

Ask Gene Walker to make a statement about it. He should know since he sits on both sides of the fence - as a rep for the school system and on the DeKalb development authority - promoting development. He would probably know the most of any board member about that property.

Anonymous said...

NCLB Community Meeting next MONDAY (3/23) at 6:30 p.m. at Peachtree Middle School. Bob Moseley from DCSS will be there to answer questions from the community about NCLB School Choice for the next academic year.

This doesn't have anything to do with the USMC Academy but lots to do with school overcrowding, selection of receiving schools, allocation of Title I resources, etc.

Ella Smith said...

The property on North Druid Hills is in just as good of shape as Lakeside is right now and I do not see anyone condemning Lakeside.

If this property is condemned it will be a political move by Dekalb County. Many of them got money from Sembler to run their campaign. I guess he has bought this property with donations to campaigns. I sure hope this is not the case.

Dan Bridges said...

I live very close to Heritage Center. As a veteran, I support the concept of a Marine Academy but Heritage Center doesn't seem to make much sense. It has 40 parking spaces. I have spoken with Paul Womack and he told me that all students will be bused in. As a high school, I find this hard to believe. He also told me that there are plans for a new building, but I don't know where. And there are no plans to change McDaniel Park.

themommy said...

Actually, I was under the distinct impression there would be no busing at all.

A new building... you have got to be kidding me. Our students across the county are housed in really inadequate spaces and buildings and we are going to build a new school for this program? (Not to mention that we have at least 3 high schools that are significantly under enrolled.)

Cerebration said...

Towers currently has 1,044 students in a building with a capacity of 1365. It has an auditorium, a track, a gym, plenty of parking and full size lockers - everything is high school sized, not elementary. They already have a principal and cafeteria and janitorial staff as well.

They are centrally located and have 321 seats available. I would think the Military Academy could be a school within a school at Towers very easily.

Cerebration said...

Or - better yet - -how about Arabia???

Cerebration said...

So are they saying that these students will use the new - Hub bus service to get to school? These are teenagers - I think we may have to assume that at least some of them will drive. But if they do take the hub to Lakeside, they could walk about a half mile to Heritage.

I don't think it's possible to send busses around to individually pick up these kids when Lewis just took it away from all the magnet kids - there would be mutiny.

themommy said...

Unless the Feds (military) pays for it....

Cerebration said...

Thoughts on an alternate location for the military academy -- There's Tilson ES, and Terry Mill. The soon to be vacated DSA would actually be perfect, but word on the street is that they are planning to condemn the property.

That said, I think the best choice could be the old Shallowford ES/former Chamblee MS. It's easily accessible (it's on a main road, not in a quiet neighborhood), and has a gym and a field for practice and PE. It does need some remodeling - but if we sold some other properties we hold in our portfolio, but don't use, we could generate the necessary funds. Also - I would assume that Heritage needs some attention also (they have those little kiddie toilets you know - I'm not sure the marines will appreciate those).

Additionally, I am concerned that the school system thinks the military academy will use the park next to the school for drills. There's very little open outdoor space on the school property and now I'm being told that the school system is planning to build more buildings on the property. Spend that money at the former Chamblee MS site...it's been sitting empty for over two years.

Cerebration said...

Sequoyah is a good idea - there are only 824 students currently using this building that has a capacity for 1062. Plus - lots of space. Perhaps the middle school students could be moved to a different facility as the military academy program grows?

This space issue is important because now I'm told that they plan to build more buildings for the academy on that tiny little Heritage plot. There won't be ANY outdoor area left there if this happens. And - the need for more space at Heritage proves that perhaps they should just start out with a building that's large enough.

Unless of course - they are planning to build space for the students to LIVE there like they do at the facility in TX... that's a different story.

Cerebration said...

A Response from Paul Womack --

Yes, the superintendent has chosen Heritage as the location for the Marine corp high school. The first year it will only have 150 students, a rising 9th grade and the following year we will add another 9th grade and at 10 grade and the following year a rising 11th grade and on to the 4th year with a senior class.

This school was chosen by the superintendent because it was closing this year and was in his opinion the best location for this school. The BOE voted 9 - 0 in favor of this school and all believe it to be a golden opportunity for and outstanding educational experience.

I do not understand the statement that it is a stealth tactic against our neighborhood. You have always had a school at that location, now it has only 47 students, but will be restored to a fully functional school. All students will be bussed in not the 300 - 400 cars being stated in the community.

Should you wish to speak with me please call me

404 325-5821.

Paul Womack

Anonymous said...

If it wasn't "stealth" then why the secret vote on the location? They did vote on the school, but I don't remember a vote on the location. When on earth did they vote in this location? And since the vote was 9-0, that means that our own rep, Paul Womack supports the location, even though his constituents don't and were circumvented in the decision-making process. Nice representation Womack!

Also, this is a high school, do you really think these kids are going to ride a school bus?

Cerebration said...

A very cogent letter by a concerned and virtually helpless neighbor -

March 22, 2009

Paul Womack
District Representative

Dr. Crawford Lewis
Superintendent, Dekalb County School System

Dear Mr. Womack and Dr. Lewis,

I am writing to express deep concern and my opposition over the choice of location for the USMC Military Academy High School on Heritage Drive. My family lives at 2187 Heritage Drive, which is adjacent to the proposed location of the school. We oppose the location of the school due to traffic, safety, and parking concerns. Also, better land use planning provides that intense education uses, like a high school, should be located along a major arterial road, not side roads located within quiet residential communities.

As a resident on Heritage Drive, I witness the traffic daily to and from the Heritage School which currently operates with minimal occupancy. The cars and busses have trouble passing each other along Heritage Drive. It is often difficult even to get out of my driveway in the morning or when school is dismissed. Adding a 650 student high school would only exacerbate this situation.

There are no major arteries leading to the school. The area along Briarcliff Road from south of Heritage Drive up to Shallowford Drive has bumper to bumper traffic in the morning and at dismissal time from Lakeside High School. Heritage Drive is a small neighborhood road that cannot handle 200 - 400 cars during high traffic times. The only way to get to the school is to access it from either Heritage Drive or Briarwillow Drive. Both streets are inadequate for the number of cars and buses necessary for the proposed school. Accordingly, a better location for the school would be along a major artery. A perfect example of this is Lakeside High School which is located along Briarcliff Road.

A safety issue also exists as we have two young boys (ages 8 and 5) and many other elementary school aged children live on Heritage Drive. The increase of traffic, especially teenage drivers driving themselves to and from school, could pose a significant risk to the safety of the children. The presence of so many high school age children will also adversely affect the playground next to the school which is used by a large number of our neighborhood families.

There is no parking near the Heritage School. Where will all of the teachers, administrators and students park? The existing parking lot is inadequate to serve that size of the student population. The result would be that street parking would be utilized. Given that Hertiage Drive is a two lane side road and there are no parking signs on one side of the street, the street parking would further worsen the traffic and safety concerns highlighted above.

How was the decision made to choose the Heritage School for the purpose of the proposed new school? Did the Board of Education obtain a feasibility study as to whether the facilities met the need of the proposed school? Was a parking study completed? Was the opinion of a traffic engineer obtained to determine the effect on the neighborhood? If not, wouldn’t it be prudent to obtain these reports and opinions prior to committing precious funds? A high school will have much more intense use than an elementary school would, especially when the site has been used for 47 students and now must accommodate as many as 650 students in the next four years.

In summary using the Heritage School for the USMC Military Academy High School would adversely and unreasonably affect the traffic, safety and parking situation along Heritage Drive. Furthermore, I do not believe that you are fairly representing our neighborhood since there have been no solicitations for our input. It is difficult to find information about this topic, yet plans seem to already be very much underway. Other uses for the Heritage School property could be to alleviate the over crowding of the Oak Grove Elementary School and to create an annex for the Kindergarten and First Grade students. Please reconsider the location for this initiative and find an alternative location for the USMC Military Academy High School.

Sincerely,
Name Withheld

themommy said...

What busing?

The shuttle system?

Cerebration said...

This is the motion the Board voted on - there is no mention of a location --

Requested Action
It is recommended that the DeKalb County Board of Education (“Board”) approve the request for the Superintendent to establish the first military institute once an agreement is reached with the United States Marine Corps which is acceptable to the Board. This would be the first school of this type in the state of Georgia.

Motion by: __________ Seconded by: ___________ Vote: ___________

themommy said...

From Today's AJC...

DeKalb rushes OK of military school

Predators are stalking our school campuses in DeKalb, and school superintendent Crawford Lewis, along with Brad Bryant, a member of the State Board of Education, has opened the front door to them. They have gone behind taxpayers backs to do it and are partnering with the United States Marine Corps in what they’ve named the “DeKalb Marine Corps Institute.”

The new high school will be governed by a principal and a Marine commandant. This nefarious act has been accomplished without our consent. The institute will open early in August with a ninth grade class.

At the February board meeting, the school system agreed that it would take a look at such a partnership and at the March meeting it was approved —- record passage in a system that usually takes six months deliberating placing a new book in school libraries. Parents and grandparents, the war industry is trying to snooker us again right here at home, and they’re trying desperately to take over our schools. We cannot for one minute let them do that.

JEREMIAH BURKE

Burke is public information liaison for Georgia Veterans Alliance.

Cerebration said...

Actually, here's the whole thing -- looks like you may need to contact Frankie Callaway or Gloria Talley

Rationale
The program would link directly to the DeKalb County School District's (“School District”) Strategic Plan and to the Board’s and Superintendent's goals in that it maximizes students' social and academic potential and prepares them for a global society.

Summary
The School District is negotiating with the United States Marine Corps to establish a partnership which would create an immersive small community learning system that seamlessly incorporates all facets of academically- sound educational principles for ninth, through and including, twelfth graders.

This focused initiative will leverage and synergize resources from federal and state governments, including, but not limited to, the Department of Defense, as well as, the private sector and the School District.

Contacts
Dr. Frankie Callaway, Deputy Superintendent, School Administration, 678.676.0671
Ms. Gloria Talley, Deputy Superintendent, Curriculum & Instruction, 678.676.0731

Quick Summary / Abstract
Presented by: Dr. Frankie Callaway, Deputy Superintendent, School Administration and Ms. Gloria Talley, Deputy Superintendent, Curriculum & Instruction

Requested Action
It is recommended that the DeKalb County Board of Education (“Board”) approve the request for the Superintendent to establish the first military institute once an agreement is reached with the United States Marine Corps which is acceptable to the Board. This would be the first school of this type in the state of Georgia.

Motion by: __________ Seconded by: ___________ Vote: ___________

Implementation Date
8/10/2009

Anonymous said...

I do not think the board has thought this one all the way through and they just needs people like us to force them to think.

The DeKalb School Board has behavior has been unacceptable over the past with pushing a new budget on the night before the election, eliminating buses (which was suppose to go through on 1/1), and know this action. It is time for them to go.

jodynroy said...

I agree w/ the military academy for a lot of reasons. First of all, USMC foots a lot of the bill - and the program supposedly works.
It's targeting at-risk kids (who are not likely to have cars to drive themselves to school - or they might not reach their destination every day!) and this is a cost-effective way for DCSS to get them educated instead of losing them.
That being said, I think the letter about the traffic problems doesn't scratch the surface of why the Heritage campus won't work. Mr. Womack, I'm really surprised you see it as a viable option when Jim Cherry Center/DSA/Briarcliff HS is about to be vacant right down the road.
Everyone says that campus is in bad shape, but Cross Keys is much worse, and as someone else said, it's on par with Lakeside. But it's CENTRAL, it's got fields, it's next door to a stadium, and, as proven with Open campus - students can get themselves there w/out cars! (school or marta busses). Also, it's built for big students - bathrooms, gym, hallways, lockers, fields - are all to size for a HS
Sequoyah also sounds like a good option, but it's that much farther for kids coming from S and E DeKalb.
And regarding the principals who ignore the local community's use of the fields - I see how it builds community. Young adults, especially primarily immigrant populations, need a healthy way to come together, and if they couldnt do it in sports, what would they be doing? i think it strengthens local communities and makes them more in touch with schools, as I'm sure most principals who allow such usage will tell you.

Cerebration said...

I agree JodynRoy. Public schools are public property. My hometown built a fabulous new high school with an indoor running track that the community is free to use at any time - even during school hours. All you have to do is sign in with an ID and wear a sticker. After all - who paid for it?

Cerebration said...

Oh boy. We have an article written by Kristina Torres focusing on the outrage of a few people over the concept of the academy. I think most of us here would agree with the concept, correct? We just have a serious problem with the choice of location.

http://www.ajc.com/travel/content/metro/dekalb/stories/2009/03/23/marines_school.html

No Duh said...

Torres article and the letter to the editor yesterday are very interesting.

Having a marketing background, I have to agree with the letter to the editor that the Marines are definitely using this as a potential recruitment tool. And why shouldn't they? It's just another way to spend taxpayer money -- and it's a win/win for the military and the school system.

This Heritage location really does sound like a VERY bad idea. Did the BOE members even go out there and look around? Did Womack?

Again, from a marketing perspective, you would think the Marines would salivate over the Open Campus/DSA/Kittredge properties because they sit right on one of the busiest roads in Atlanta! A big-ass sign in front "Marine Academy" -- you couldn't ask for better advertising.

And being the one who always points out the elephant in the room, I noted that the Heritage Drive letter writer decorously left out one more thing that makes putting the Marine Academy in a neighborhood a bad idea.

The students whose parents send them to this school "lack the discipline" needed for college. This school will be an academic bootcamp! You will no longer have to send your bad-behaving (but perfectly capable) kid to a privately owned wilderness camp for delinquents!

I don't think I'd want that in my neighborhood either.

This concept is simply not conducive to a neighborhood setting. It needs to be easily accessible, strategically located for maximum exposure and as far from a neighorhood as possible.

Who is the Marine representative assigned to this project (who's the Marine contact)? Someone needs to explain to him/her that DCSS is not offering them the best solution for their "joint" deal.

This is SO strange. It seems like such a no-brainer.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Name me a school that is not in a neighborhood. Also, I'm pretty sure with the Marines in charge, it will be a pretty safe environment for that neighborhood, eh?

Cerebration said...

There are several schools that could be available that are not tucked away in a neighborhood. The entire complex on ND Hills, the Wm Bradley Bryant Center on Lawrenceville Hwy, the former Chamblee MS (Shallowford ES) in Dunwoody all come to mind. These are all on accessible roads.

I can't describe how tiny this school is - and how tucked away within a neighborhood it is - and how congested Briarcliff Rd already is in the morning.

Beyond that - there is no gymnasium and very little outdoor space, as well as not enough parking for staff at this school.

It's in NO WAY an issue regarding the actual students who will attend there or the community's sense of security. The safety concerns are due to the increased traffic on this neighborhood street due to busses and staff autos as well as 650 students. This is one of those old-fashioned elementary schools that were built in the middle of a neighborhood so that young children could walk to school from their homes. It's tiny and it's inappropriate for this use. They're already saying they will be adding buildings - I'm not sure where, unless they start hacking down every tree within range.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Cere, the old Chamblee Middle School property was also built as a elementary school. There are several neighborhoods that are located in the back and on the side of this property. These neighborhoods raised their voices when DCSS decided to use this property as a school bus parking lot. The issue with traffic would be just as bad on Chamblee-Dunwoody and its feeder streets, let me assure you. It was a nightmare when Chamblee MS was located at this property, trying to get in and around Chamblee-Dunwoody in the a.m. and p.m.

No Duh said...

When I say "far away from a neighborhood" I mean not tucked directly in one (like Heritage is). The current Open Campus/DSA/Kittredge comes to mind.

Safe because "the marines are in charge"? One Marine -- a commandant. Probably retired!

Don't get me wrong. I love the idea of the school. There couldn't be a better fit than putting educational experts with discipline experts. And the Marines are famous for taking wayward kids and turning them into responsible adults.

Every school in DCSS has students who need more discipline. And, one would hope that any student attending this academy would have AGREED to be there. But, you never know. Personally, if my home were next door to the Marine Academy, I'd probably be getting all NIMBYy.

Logistically, Heritage is clearly inadequate. Philosophically, it is to each his own.

West said...

The Heritage School site is 9.79 acres - 70% of which is either park or woods. The site only has 40 parking spaces, and is located on an undivided neighborhood road, and will require an additional "multi-purpose building" to house 650 students.

The Open Campus site on North Druid Hills Rd is 31 acres, has a significant amount of parking, a stadium, baseball field, is large enough for 650+ students, and is located on a 5 lane major thoroughfare.

Dunwoody Mom said...

It would be interesting to hear the board's reasoning for putting the facility at Heritage, but, as with most everything else, that explanation would probably not be forthcoming.

Dunwoody Mom said...

My guess is that DCSS is holding onto all of the N. Druid Hills properties until the economy picks up and they sell it Sembler - just a guess.

Anonymous said...

The real issue with this location is whether or not this area makes sense from a need perspective. Where are the students going to come from.

No Duh, as I understand it, there will be multiple military types in the building. I think it will be a very controlled environment. Military schools generally are very structured places.

No Duh said...

Maybe they should just put a few Marines in all our high schools! :)

Cerebration said...

For those of you who have never addressed the Board of Education before, I will include the "how to" here. Just know that they only allow 20 speakers to address the Board at each meeting and each speaker is only allowed 3 minutes - which they keep track of with a giant digital timer on the wall.

I would recommend that the neighborhood address your concerns - at least 3 people should speak in order to make an impact.

To sign up for a slot at the next Board meeting (on April 13 at the district offices on 3770 North Decatur Road Decatur, Georgia 30032 - Double check on this location as they often change venues for meetings) - send an email to Dr. Lewis' (DCSS School Superintendent) secretary, MARGARET C. FRANCOIS at

MARGARET_C_FRANCOIS@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us
or call her at 678-676-0790.

To write an email to Paul Womack, send it here
HPWOMACK@aol.com

To send an email to Dr. Lewis, send it here
crawford_lewis@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

Be respectful, but state your case with emphasis. I don't think people can get it through their heads how tucked away and tiny this school is. It doesn't have the standard "multi purpose building" that elementary schools got with SPLOST 1. It only has 40 parking spaces. And the road leading to it is a narrow neighborhood street.

Cerebration said...

ps - don't wait to sign up for a slot - the slots fill up quickly - even though the meeting isn't until April 13 - try to sign up now.

Cerebration said...

You make an interesting point, Anonymous. I wonder if anyone did a marketing survey to assess the interest in this program. I wonder if they'll get the numbers to sign up that they're looking for.

Maybe it's that old - if we build it they will come - theory.

Cerebration said...

I'll bet if you did a survey for real - regarding what parents and students WANT for high schools - you would find a huge endorsement of vocational/technical programs as well as some kind of dual enrollment/flexible program.

But then - since when does our administration ask what the people want?

decatur mom from the AJC said...

The huge outcry that will kill this project willcome from the fact that Dekalb County and Paul Womack are planning to drop this high school of 650 students in the middle of a quiet neighborhood. This is not a small neighborhood school. This is a high school of kids driving and getting bused in. Typically located on a major street or intersection. There will be no walking or carpool here! How would you like 800 new trips through your neighborhood a day by teenagers. The adjacent homes & streets will be devistated. There was no discussion with the community nor have there been any traffic studies. A petition to remove Paul Womack from office needs to be started. I have never heard someone elected to the Board of Education steering a project that will ruin a neighborhood to his own area. I sincerly doubt the Lakeside area will provide many students to this school, so why put it here?
So the next argument could be the county needs to do something with the space? With Oak Grove ES loaded with trailors, maybe the Oak Grove Pre-k,K & 1st grade could go into this school?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, what I think you might hear from a large amount of parents in DeKalb is that they want a safe high school where discipline is under control.

Cerebration said...

I'm wondering about this Algebra 1 requirement. (Actually since we will no longer be offering Algebra 1 in 8th grade, I will assume Dr. Lewis meant some kind of Math 1 equivalent.)

Anyway - don't we have a BIG problem with students being able to pass Algebra 1 in 8th grade? Does anyone have the actual percentage of failure rate in that course? Didn't Dr. Lewis say this school was targeting "underserved" students? Are these students passing the required Algebra?

I wonder just how many applicants they are going to have. I wonder if I could apply to be the principal - sounds like a cakewalk of a job.

Cerebration said...

With Oak Grove ES loaded with trailors, maybe the Oak Grove Pre-k,K & 1st grade could go into this school?

That's what I always heard was the plan. Guess our little ones got bumped.

themommy said...

The requirement is actually the passage of Math 8 or Math 1. I got clarification on that a while ago, I forgot to share it here.

I dislike this location for lots of reasons.

Hey, how about redistricting some of Oak Grove into Hawthorne! Yes, I said it (actually wrote it!)

Anonymous said...

I advise my neighbors not to automatically accept that a military academy high school education will benefit any group of students. I could find no research establishing any benefit of such an education. Keep in mind that many new drug designs seem logical and "should obviously work", but most fail miserably, and do much more harm than good. It is possible that the drop out rate at the Marine Military Academy would be much higher than for a regular high school.

Springboard is another concept that Mr. Lewis has heavily invested in, without a shred of independent research to support its efficacy, This extensive and expensive program, also aimed at closing the education gap, consumes a substantial portion of class time. It seems to be despised by all Henderson and Kittridge teachers and students.

I would really like to see educational decisions based on solid research.

Anonymous said...

Springboard is going away next year, I have heard.

The Military Institute will use the state curriculum. What will be different is the structure and level of discipline of the school. One of my best friends attended ) a private military school for several years and he said it changed his life. He didn't enter the military but before the school he was headed down a very bad path. He graduated high school, went to college, earned a graduate degree and is very successful.

There are some awesome private schools in ATL that are so structured that they border on Military School. Having visited many of these schools, I have often thought that there are so many students who could benefit from the structure, rewards and consequences and high expectations of these schools. If nothing else, this is going to be a small high school which, by itself, has benefits.

Are these schools good fits for every students? Absolutely not. For the right kid though, they can work miracles.

West said...

We don't need any research to determine if USMC style discipline can be beneficial to the education of a group of students - this is common sense.

There are almost 100,000 children in the DCSS and there are 650 kids out there whose lives could be changed for the better by being a part of the MCJROTC Program.

Dr. Lewis and the BOE are to be commended for engaging the USMC into this joint venture. The issue with the program is the location and limiting it to 650 students.

The school should be located in a traditional high school setting - not in an old elementary school on a residential road.

Dunwoody Mom said...

It just seems common sense to put a high school in an actual high school facility. If you discount the N. Druid Hills facility, because I really do believe it will be sold once the economy turns around, what other HS facilities are available? Are there high schools that can be consolidated and one of the buildings used for this new academy?

themommy said...

Apparently the city of Chicago has several of these schools.

http://chicagomilitaryacademy.org/index.jsp?rn=2945076

This is a quote from an interview about the schools in Chicago

The demand continues to grow for the military academies. Last year, there were 7,500 applicants for 700 freshmen seats. As a result, a new Air Force military academy has been approved to open in 2009.

These programs all do seem to be stand alone -- which means that DCSS probably has to have an empty building to put them in. It doesn't have to be Heritage.

Cerebration said...

Interesting Chicago site. Great rules -- I think our principals should just copy and paste the whole list and change the word cadets to students.

http://chicagomilitaryacademy.org/policies.jsp?rn=8720239

Drill Hall
The drill hall is to be used for drill practice and other related school activities. Food and beverages are prohibited in the hall.
(Heritage won't have this hall - which is essentially a gym.)

All you subs out there -- you'll like this one -

Classroom with a Guest Teacher
There will be occasions when the regular teacher will be absent. During those times, the school will provide cadets with a guest teacher. The ranking Cadet/Class Leader is responsible for assisting the guest teacher with preliminary classroom procedures. Cadets must respect the guest teacher, follow directions that are given by the guest teacher, maintain self -discipline, and cooperate with the guest teacher.


Also - Merits/Demerits - good idea - we even had those in Catholic school. I buffed my share of pews. Much better than detention. Think how clean the grounds would be if we made students pick up outside for demerits. No more parent work days!

Cerebration said...

I mean really, why limit this kind of thinking to a military academy?

A CADET WILL NOT LIE, CHEAT, OR STEAL, OR TOLERATE THOSE WHO DO.


At Chicago Military Academy-Bronzeville, cadets learn and live a code of conduct that will serve them well during their time at the Academy and long after they have graduated. It is simple, and it should govern everything cadets do on and off campus. It is self-explanatory. Violating it could lead to disciplinary action or dismissal from Chicago Military Academy-Bronzeville.

Cadet Creed

I am an Army JROTC cadet. I will always conduct myself to bring credit to my family, country, school, and the corps of cadets.

I am loyal and patriotic. I am the future of the United States of America.

I do not lie, cheat, or steal and will always be accountable for my actions and deeds.

I will always practice good citizenship and patriotism.

I will work hard to improve my mind and strengthen my body.

I will seek the mantle of leadership and stand prepared to uphold the Constitution and the American way of life.

May God grant me the strength to always live by this creed.

Five General Orders

Be at the right place, at the right time, with the right materials.

Follow the orders of the faculty, staff, and cadet leaders appointed over me.

Refrain from loud and boisterous behavior.

Engage in no public display of affection.

Remain in uniform at all times.

Dunwoody Mom said...

DCSS does have a "Code of Conduct" 27 page document parents and students have to sign each year. It is a pretty inclusive document. In fact, students are given a test on this document. I've often wondered why the expense on printing and handing these out as it does not seem DCSS even backs up its own rules.

Anonymous said...

What about locating this at DCSS's Bryant Technology Center on Lawrenceville Highway? There is a huge amount of space behind the school for drills, phys. ed., etc.

West said...

The Bryant Technology Center is located at 2652 Lawrenceville Hwy on 10.241 acres of land. Lawrenceville Highway and I285 is an ideal location logistically. Is the center currently in use?

Cerebration said...

I recall a conversation here about that property - and I think someone said that the school system doesn't actually own it - they lease the land. But - that shouldn't matter - I think that could be a great choice - that or the former Briarcliff HS/Open Campus/DSA/Jim Cherry etc...

Dunwoody Mom said...

Yes, I believe it is currently in use. Does anyone know if it was formerly a high school? Why not move the Technology Center into Heritage and the USMC school here?

Cerebration said...

The WBBC is closing (it currently houses some administrative offices and DOLA - maybe that's where the "technology" comes in) - all offices are being moved to the "Memorial Drive" property (the former American Fare property the system purchased a number of years ago.) I'm not sure what the plans are for this building after the move. It's a great location - a new bridge and ramps are being built for better access to I-285. Emory has purchased the old hospital over there and has converted it to a surgical center. It's very accessible to Tucker and South DK. Could be a good choice.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Well, here's a soon-to-be empty property that sounds like a better alternative than Heritage.

BOE, what are you waiting for?

West said...

2652 Lawrenceville Highway is owned by The DeKalb Board of Education. It is a former elementary school.

Cerebration said...

Thanks for the info, West. We hadn't ever resolved that issue here before. I do think this could be a good alternative. If you agree, send Dr. Lewis an email and suggest it. I don't think he and the Board have considered it yet, but I could be wrong.

crawford_lewis@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

Dunwoody Mom said...

If it's an older school, it may not have a gym, but that should not be a factor. Those gymnasiums can be put up in a matter of weeks.

West said...

Sent this a few minutes ago:

Dr. Lewis and DeKalb Board of Education,

A group of us would like to ask what the plans for the Bryant Technology Center located at 2652 Lawrenceville Highway are? Logistically this location is an ideal location for the Marine Corps Institute. Locating the school at the intersection of Lawrenceville Highway and I-285 instead of Heritage Dr would reduce transportation expenses by a minimum of $150,000 per year or $4,500,000 over a 30 year period of time. Also, locating the school at the Lawrenceville Highway site instead of on a neighborhood street will reduce safety risks and reduce the impact on the greenspace since more of the property is already developed.

Thanks,

Cerebration said...

Yes - and there's actually room for a gym (and an outdoor practice field) on this property - unlike Heritage. And - there's a ton of available parking for teachers and staff and the students who choose to drive.

Cerebration said...

Good letter West. Now is the time to help the board figure out a more appropriate location. They are getting a lot of grief from anti-military people for implementing this program. I want them to know that our beef is simply regarding the location.

Heritage - too small, too isolated, only 40 parking spaces, no gym, too much congestion already on Briarcliff Rd. Plus - we need that space for Oak Grove overflow. Oak Grove is getting really over populated.

West said...

It isn't the board that is making the decision on the location - it is the Superintendent, Dr. Lewis, and his staff. It is imperative that he hear from as many people as possible:

crawford_lewis@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

Anonymous said...

Lots of comments online for the AJC article on this at: http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/dekalb/stories/2009/03/23/marines_school.html

We need all those people to come and post here on DCSW!!!

West said...

Dr. Freeman needs to hear from us as well. Below is a letter I sent to Dr. Freeman.

timothy_w_freeman@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

Dr. Freeman,

It is my understanding that you are the Associate Superintendent of The DeKalb County School System and the person responsible for public safety. I am writing to you to express my concern with the selection of the Heritage School as the future site of the DeKalb Marine Corps Institute. I have copied below an email sent to Dr. Lewis that contains some of my concerns related to locating the High School in a school designed to be a neighborhood elementary school. I have yet to hear back from Dr. Lewis, but I would appreciate it if you could take the time to review my concerns and share your thoughts concerning how public safety is taken into consideration when making these type of decisions.

Sincerely,

fedupindcss said...

Sorry to come late to this game...

1) I may be in the minority here, but I question why we need a free-standing ROTC school, with a separate principal and teachers. Why not expand a program at an existing, underpopulated high school in the county? These principals don't come cheap.

2) I know Womack has been telling people that he proposed the academy but that he did not want it at Heritage. I think that is hogwash. My theory is that he proposed it and demanded that it be put in his district, since it was his baby. Looking at the schools in his district, there is precious little place to go. Open Campus/Kittredge is in Dist. 2, and they will never take what is out of Brad Bryant Center now, because it is the site of too many cushy admin jobs. Plus, it too backs up on a park used by people with small kids.
Womack is just covering himself now that he is getting major pushback. Welcome back to the Board, Paul!

Dunwoody Mom said...

I believe the USMC Academy is a fine idea. For a while, we on this blog, have been advocating that DCSS "think out of the box" with regards to our children's education - and I think this academy is one step toward that goal.

West said...

Fedupindcss - Paul Womack is a fine man committed to the education of our children. The board approved the concept; Crawford Lewis and his staff are selecting the location.

I think we will all be better served if we keep this this blog focused on sharing creative ideas for influencing the decision making process and potential alternate solutions rather than "theories" about motives.

fedupindcss said...

I have no problem with thinking outside the box, and for too long DCSS has not. That said, systems in financial trouble do not have that luxury. When we are cutting staff and implementing hiring freezes in existing basic programs, it makes no sense to add new programs that may not be cost effective. When existing schools are crumbling from disrepair, I do not see how creating a new program in a school that will have to be renovated to handle it makes sense fiscally. These folks are educators, yes, but they are also stewards of the tax dollars, and need to be brutal in brutal times.

Mr. Womack may be a fine man, but he is also a politician, and politicians do not like to be left in a position of blame when something goes wrong (see: Congress and AIG bonuses). My point is do not immediately believe that "the system" was responsible for the choice; I would imagine they would all blame each other in a circular firing squad.

West said...

fedupindcss - federal funds cover a portion of the cost of the instructors so if we can influence the location of the school to a more optimal location, then the net cost per student for the DeKalb tax payer will be reduced.

Anonymous said...

Here is a message I received tonight from Paul Womack. It is important that we have a great turnout for the meetings he notes and for the Board of Education meeting scheduled on April 13th at 6:00 PM in the J. David Williamson Board Room, located in Building A of the Robert R. Freeman Administrative Center, 3770 North Decatur Road, Decatur, GA 30032.


From: HPWOMACK@aol.com
Date: March 25, 2009 9:14:52 PM EDT
Subject: Re: USMC Military Academy Location

Thank you for your email.

The Heritage Center has been recommended to be relocated to Margaret Harris High School. If this recommendation is accepted and approved by the Board of Education, the Heritage Center will be closed.

The Board voted at the February meeting to move forward with the DeKalb Marine Corps Institute. Since that time, we have been working to finalize the Memo of Agreement between the Marine Corps and DeKalb County Schools. There is great concern as it relates to the location of the Institute. The Heritage Center is being considered as a possible location for this Institute, but has not been finalized.

Two Public Hearings are scheduled to discuss updates and additional school closings. The first Hearing will be held on Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 6:30 p.m. at the Heritage Center, 2225 Heritage Drive, Atlanta, 30345, and the second on Thursday, April 16, 2009, 6:30 p.m. at Elizabeth Andrews High School, 2415 North Druid Hills Rd., Atlanta, 30329.

I would encourage you to attend these Hearings and express your concerns. Please note that I am against the Marine Corps Institute being located at the Heritage Center.

Thank you.


Paul Womack

West said...

The DCSS is negotiating a binding agreement that once signed will lock in the location - this is confirmed by the USMC. Dr. Crawford Lewis is pushing to have this agreement signed in the next week. It is imperative that he receive as many phone calls, letters, emails, and requests for personal meetings as possible. He is is pushing to have this deal done before we are even given an opportunity to meet with the board and voice our opposition to the location. Here is his email address:
crawford_lewis@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

Dunwoody Mom said...

Perhaps the BOE should withhold their approval until a more appropriate site is found for this school?

Cerebration said...

I'm thinking they already approved it implicitly -

Requested Action
It is recommended that the DeKalb County Board of Education (“Board”) approve the request for the Superintendent to establish the first military institute once an agreement is reached with the United States Marine Corps which is acceptable to the Board. This would be the first school of this type in the state of Georgia.


And -- it looks like just before that vote they voted to take Open Campus off the table -- very sly!

This resolution will remove the following schools from our K-12 inventory; these facilities will no longer be used for FTE reporting purposes:

*Open Campus High School Code 644-0775
*DeKalb School of the Arts Code 644-0400
*Hooper Alexander Elementary School Code 644-0150


Votes were yes to both. First to close down Open Campus, etc - then to approve the Military Academy - giving carte blanche to Dr. Lewis manage the agreement. It does look as if there's a sliver of hope in that the wording states that the Board has to deem that agreement acceptable. That seems to be the only hope - however - Dr. Lewis has vast support on this current board and is seldom challenged. They just extended his contract until October, 2001 - basically behind closed doors.

Anonymous said...

Here is the part of his response I find disturbing: If he is really against it going into Heritage, there is no way DCSS would do it. As a general rule, if a Board member on any body (school board, county commission, Congress, etc.) doesn't want something in their district, it doesn't go there. So either he is a) really powerless and disliked on the Board, or b) lying.

Cerebration said...

Remember, it takes a majority vote on the Board to pass anything (at least 5 out of 9 votes.) So it's just not up to Paul Womack - you should be contacting all the board reps...

West said...

Heard that DCSS is now considering Clarkston High School in addition to Briarcliff/Open Campus. If you haven't heard about or seen Clarkston you should check out a satellite image of it - 618 N. Indian Creek Dr. Clarkston, GA 30021. It is logistically superior to all of the other sites that have been listed so far due to being located in a more central location within DeKalb and with excellent access to I-285 via Memorial Drive. The campus is 37.4 acres and is across the street from Georgia Perimeter College (76.24 acres) and Memorial Stadium (19.58 acres).

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=&sourceid=navclient-ff&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1B3GGGL_enUS261US261

Cerebration said...

There's also an "old" Clarkston HS - (older than the current one which is fairly old.) As far as I'm aware, it was leased to the Clarkston Community Center for something like 25 years and the community center has raised lots of money (maybe a million or two) to renovate the place) and it is used for recreation (the soccer fields), community meetings and classes.

That site would be suitable too I think...But I'm not certain about it's location and current use.

West said...

New AJC article link:

http://www.ajc.com/services/content/metro/dekalb/stories/2009/03/27/school_forum.html?cxtype=rss&cxsvc=7&cxcat=13

West said...

Letter to Dr. Lewis below - we deserve answers to these questions and he needs to continue to hear from us until the location is selected.

Dr. Lewis,

I appreciate your response. The value of transparency is something we hear a lot about these days and I am hoping that you share that value and will be willing to answer a few more specific questions before the meeting on the 14th:

1. Is it possible for the citizenry to get a copy of the agreement being negotiated with the USMC?
2. You state in your letter that "no decision has been made regarding the facility for this program." It is my understanding that you are negotiating a binding agreement with the USMC that, once signed, will effectively lock in the location. It is also my understanding that you are trying to have this agreement signed within the next week unless something has changed. Are you willing to commit to not sign the agreement until after the meeting on the 14th?
3. Can you please share with the citizenry the process for fact finding and analysis that leads to selecting a facility? The only variable that has been shared so far is that Heritage is an underutilized facility, but how do variables other than open space such as public safety, infrastructure, environmental concerns, and operating costs factor into the selection process?

As I stated in my original letter, I think the Marine Institute is an excellent idea. As a matter of fact a group of us representing over 300 families in our community met last night and the consensus was that this is the best idea in a generation. Our community genuinely wants to see this program be a success, but we believe locating the program at the Heritage facility will prevent the program from achieving it's full potential. One of the main reasons we have come to this conclusion is that we think there are other facilities with infrastructure more suitable for team building extra-curricular activities such as drill team, color guard, and other physical activities - even if the park is utilized.

Dr. Lewis, let's take the time to do this right. I would rather see us do it right than fast. We owe it to our children in DeKalb.

Respectfully,

Cerebration said...

Letter from Dr. Lewis

March 26, 2009

Dear Taxpayers and other Concerned Citizens:

Thank you for your expressions concerning the proposed DeKalb Marine Corps Institute. We have received numerous calls, emails and letters voicing sentiments concerning the opening of a school of this type. As Superintendent of DeKalb County Schools, it is my responsibility to respond to your inquiries, allegations and inaccuracies. The communication we have received in my office fall into three categories: letters of support, communication expressing fears of this being a recruiting strategy for the military, and community queries from the Heritage community. I shall address each of these separately.

1. Letters of support - In DeKalb, we find ourselves wrestling with the complexities of an original phrase I shall use - urban inertia. As you are aware inertia is a physics term that refers to force. We as educators must work against the forces that attempt to rob our student population from graduating and subsequently moving on to becoming contributing citizens. We battle poverty, absentee parents and lack of proper role models. The proposed DeKalb Marine Corps Institute is a creative means to offer an already successful model for supporting our youth. We currently house JROTC in 19 or 22 of our high schools. The Institute is a mirror of what we have been operating in the DeKalb County School System for decades.

2. Fears of Recruitment - We respect the sentiments of those who see this as an anti-peace action. We do not wish to defend this program's value as being anywhere along the pro-military/pro-peace continuum. We are educators looking for a proven way to lessen the distractions that keep our students from graduating at an acceptable rate.*

3. Questions from the Heritage community - No decision has been made regarding the facility for this program. There will be a public hearing to discuss the closing of Heritage Center at the Center, April 14, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.

I respect all opinions regarding this endeavor, and seek to respond openly and honestly to the citizenry. My goal like yours is to contribute to a higher quality of life for your family and others in DeKalb like mine.

Sincerely,
Crawford Lewis, Ph.D.

*Our grad rate four years ago was 62.8% and today it is 75.3% in DeKalb.

Cerebration said...

Newton's first law of motion states that "An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force." Objects tend to "keep on doing what they're doing." In fact, it is the natural tendency of objects to resist changes in their state of motion. This tendency to resist changes in their state of motion is described as inertia.

Inertia: the resistance an object has to a change in its state of motion.

This usually describes the sluggish, bloated DeKalb County school system bureaucracy - not our students and community. So good for the board for trying to enact some energy upon themselves. Lean and mean would serve the system best, IMO. Divide the system into 6 or 5 smaller districts - give the Area Superintendents more autonomy and see how much more easily we can enact BIG changes within EVERY school - quickly. Then the overall system - led by the Superintendent can serve to progressively assess what is working the best - and try new programs such as this - offered countywide.

Great idea - the Marine Corps Academy - but a choice of location that will not ensure its success.

Cerebration said...

So - to recap alternate locations that we have presented here --

The Open Campus location (old Briarcliff HS)
The old Clarkston HS
The old Chamblee MS (Shallowford ES) - has a gym
The now closed Hooper Alexander ES
Sequoyah Middle School
As a program within Towers HS (320 seats open)
As a program within Stephenson HS (262 seats open)
As a program within Arabia HS (lots of seats available here right now)
Combined with Destiny Charter
Or use one of the other empty elementary schools -
like Tilson ES or Terry Mill

Cerebration said...

One more factoid - from the Dept of Planning

Heritage built in 1968, 35,132SF, 10.5 acres, 18 rooms, 396 - design capacity.

So we've been told that the school was built for 700 - but the county's planning dept has it listed as only designed for 396.

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/~planning/PDFs/inventory.pdf

Anonymous said...

"to recap alternate locations that we have presented here --"

Bryant Technology Center on Lawrenceville Highway

Lefty said...

Sign this ipetition:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/HeritageSchool/index.html

West said...

Dr. Lewis and members of the BOE continue to repeat that the Heritage school has capacity for 700 students. Here are some facts that everyone should know in the event this is brought up in any discussions or correspondence that any of you may have with them:



1. According to the official DeKalb County Schools Facility Inventory fact sheet the designed capacity is actually 396 ELEMENTARY students.
2. There are 22 schools in DeKalb County with designed capacity between 600 to 700 students. The average square footage of these facilities is 68,107 sq ft. Heritage is 35,132 sq ft - Heritage is literally 1/2 the size of the average size school designed for 600 to 700 ELEMENTARY students.
3. At 35,132 square feet, Heritage is smaller than any elementary, middle, or high school in use by the DeKalb county school system.
4. I personally went to the school and counted the rooms for myself to verify that the official DeKalb County Schools Facility Inventory fact sheet is correct – it is. The school has 18 rooms; 700 divided by 18 is 38.89. I am not a school administrator but I can tell you this - 39 desks won't even fit in those little elementary school classrooms.
5. Oak Grove has 20,534 more square feet than Heritage - 60% larger. Oak Grove has 30 classrooms - 66% more than Heritage. Oak Grove has 623 elementary students, yet they still need 6 trailers.
6. Lakeside has 1,450 students – twice as many as the 700 student capacity that Dr. Lewis and the BOE claim that Heritage has. Lakeside has 164,666 square feet - 4.7 times larger than Heritage
7. Lakeside has 63 rooms plus 21 trailers, yes 21 trailers – for a total of 84 rooms or 4.7 times more than Heritage.
8. The MCJROTC Institute is slated to have 650 high school students. To get Heritage to a comparable square footage per student as Lakeside, Heritage would need to be 108,630 square feet – that is a 73,498 square foot addition or basically a facility 3 times the size of the one there now – evidently high school students are bigger than elementary school students (go figure).



One other fact everyone should know. Dr.Lewis and the BOE have both stated that there are no plans at this time to put a parking lot where Charles McDaniel Park currently is. When I went to Lakeside there were no trailers and there was a house where the lower parking lot is – there weren’t any plans for those at that time either.

Cerebration said...

Actually, Lakeside has a capacity of 1386 and they currently have around 1700 students - many from out of the district - thus the 21 trailers on the now unusable tennis courts.

But the rest of the data is exactly correct. I went over to the school and counted classrooms too. The only way this property would be large enough is to add a gymnasium and parking. The only place to build is behind the school on a small green area or at the park. The enrollment currently is 40 special needs children - the Military Academy would require a full staff to serve a projected 650 students - I would assume that would be more staff than currently employed there and would require more than 40 spaces. That's also assuming that no students drive to school.

West said...

Capacity is 1,386, but the Lakeside webpage says enrollment is 1,450:

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/schools/high/lakeside/

I don't doubt that it is 1,700 though. I went back behind there today and it is a mess - they must care about cleaning up the information on the webpage as much as cleaning up the grounds.

Cerebration said...

Sorry to take this thread off topic - but here are the enrollment stats from the principal for this year at Lakeside - the total has dropped to 1685 from a high of just over 1700 in August.

9th grade
From Henderson 246 - (in district most likely)
NCLB 78
Special Perm 12
New to Lakeside 245 --- FROM WHERE?
Total 581 (58% out of district most likely)

10th grade
NCLB 32
Special Perm 13
New to Lakeside 93 --- FROM WHERE?
Returning 322 - - (in district most likely)
Total 460 (30% out of district most likely)

11th grade
NCLB 12
Special Perm 14
New to Lakeside 38 --- FROM WHERE?
Returning 242 - (in district most likely)
Total 306 (21% out of district most likely)

12th grade
NCLB 26
Special Perm 26
New to Lakeside 24 --- FROM WHERE?
Returning 286 - (in district most likely)
Total 338 (22% out of district most likely)

Our high school is getting an abundance of transfers and mysterious "new to Lakeside" designated students... without whom we would not need trailers. Just my opinion though.

No Duh said...

Cerebration, did the Superindentent write that letter to this blog, or was it sent to you from an individual blogger?

I commend him for beginning the very hard task of eradicating rumors (or attempting to). I do think he is trying to be more "transparent" -- and clearly, when the issue isn't personnel related, he should and can be more open and communicative. Good for him.

He called "urban inertia" an "original phrase" -- don't know if he coined it, but it's pretty descriptive. He better defines it as "We battle poverty, absentee parents and lack of proper role models."

Cerebration, you said inertia "usually describes the sluggish, bloated DeKalb County school system bureaucracy - not our students and community." True that.

But, you have to admit there is plenty of inertia to go around. I'm actually proud of the Superintendent for being willing to point at a root cause (out of the system's control,BTW) and come up with a possible solution (Marine academy to take place of poor parenting).

And, with a Board that at least talks a good game so far, perhaps the BOE's newfound "ertia" will include counciling their constituents (urban or suburban) on the need for parental involvement, insisting the system create an Office of Latin American Affairs with "field" offices staffed with spanish speaking staff of Hispanic descent, forcing SPLOST dollars to be spent logically, eliminating administrative transfers, identifying and removing out-of-county students and insisting on a budget that includes deep cuts in central office staff.

No Duh said...

BTW, McChesney and Redovian promised we'd see Board Policy language on Admin Transfers a couple of months ago. Is it really easier to start a whole new school concept (Marine Academy) than for the BOE at agree that admin transfers are killing our schools?

Cerebration said...

The letter was sent to me by a blogger, but it addressed the community at large, so I figured we should all read it and so I posted it.

I guess my inertia comment wasn't clear. Dr. Lewis commented that the board is fighting "urban inertia" - my observation is that the board itself is inert. Inertia is not a force - it's the tendency to stay motionless or resist change - requiring an outside for to make the inert object move. This Marine Academy is something I see as them enacting a "force" upon themselves - thus getting them to move on it. They are moving - and moving quickly on this (maybe the Marines are the outside force). I just think that the location is not the best choice - for the community or for the students who will greatly benefit from the Academy and the Marines.

You made my point -- the way they are dealing with the transfer issue is in their usual "inert" way...

Anonymous said...

As far as doing away with administrative transfer, can you imagine Elaine Boyer's reaction if her girls had to leave Lakeside and go to Tucker?

Cerebration said...

She would be the tip of the iceberg. But hey - we're so nice here at Lakeside, we'll set up 21 trailers so that we can accommodate everyone.

There are many other issues that require our attention, so don't let this Marine Academy detract all of your attention - we still need to reduce the influx at Lakeside and work to fix the buildings. Same for Cross Keys and Chamblee. All three of these buildings are in as bad or worse shape than the old Briarcliff HS - which apparently is ok for our kids - but not for the marines.

I'm tired of the capacity argument. This is getting weird. Board reps and Dr. Lewis are insisting that Heritage holds 700 students. It doesn't - and their own planning & forecasting department tells us so. Yet - when anyone points it out to them - they act as if that person is "disagreeing" with them.

They're not disagreeing!!! They're pointing out the facts. Facts are stubborn things. (John Adams)

Again - here's the link - to the data - Heritage is on page 4.

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/~planning/PDFs/inventory.pdf

West said...

By my count Lakeside has a staff of 149 counting admin, teachers,cafeteria, custodians, etc...that puts them roughly a 10 to 1 ratio of students to staff. Does anyone know if this is average? If so, Heritage has 40 parking spaces now and will need to add a minimum of 25 for the staff alone to support 650 students, plus I would guess another minimum of 10 for visitors. There goes the park.

West said...

Here is a link for a website dedicated to information specific to the MCJROTC Institute location selection process.

http://www.citizensforsuccess.org/

We will continue to utilize this blog for posting ideas, information, and questions, but thought there should be a site listing pertinent information related to Heritage, upcoming events, and specific action items we are requesting the communities assistance with.

Please visit, become a member, and invite others to visit.

Cerebration said...

Great website and great petition -- I found this comment at the petition - it was so clever, I just had to post it here:

I am supportive of the second proposal which the county is considering which is the muslim school for peace studies.

Cerebration said...

Kidding aside - I do have to wonder how this has gotten so ridiculous and out of control. First - how on EARTH has the school board managed to approve a school such as this and pretty much seal it as a done deal in under 3 months?

And - no matter how often our local board reps, McChesney and Womack are shown the data that the school only holds 396 - with only 18 rooms - from the school system's very own planning department - they still choose to be remain at odds with the community and stand firmly to their wrong idea that the school holds 700 students. What is wrong with these two?

Why is it that when the community finds out about something and brings their concerns to the people who made the decisions, we are treated as if we are simply being disagreeable -- or we are misinformed, "inaccurate" -- or somehow at fault?

Cerebration said...

Let's simplify the math for everyone. Heritage has 18 classrooms. The average number of elementary students per class used by the planning dept in DK is 22.

Therefore -

18 classrooms X 22 students per classroom = 396 total students

Right now, this building of 18 classrooms is being used for special ed classrooms, which can only be from 4-8 or 10 per class for an absolute max of about 180 special needs students. Even so, there are less than 40 total special needs students in the building right now. But it was BUILT as a regular elementary school with a capacity of 396 regular ed elementary students.

Now - if you want to cram 25 high school students in each of these small classrooms, you could squeeze in 450. And then these 6', 150# students will also be thrilled to share the tiny little potties in between classes - all 20 or 30 of them. And then they can bend waaaay over to get a drink from the tiny little fountains on their way back to class. Of course - that still leaves the little issue of - where exactly will they change out for PE? But then again - where exactly will they have PE?

West said...

Had my 4th grader skip his math homework tonight so I could take him and put some of what he has been learning at Oak Grove to work. We went and measured Heritage so we could calculate the square footage. By our calculations the school is 33,667. The DeKalb Inventory has it listed at 35,132. I will concede that the inventory fact sheet is right and we are wrong. Maybe we can get Dr. Lewis and the Board to do the same thing. One thing is for sure - it doesn't have the capacity for 700 students.

Anonymous said...

Discipline to do what? Get in line, think in line--or else. How about teaching independent thought, independence...
This just in...

"If you supported Bob Barr and Ron Paul...this just in--it's be a wahile before it hits Vanilla (Mainstream) news:

A government agency has issued a suggestion that you may be part of a "militia movement" and that we may become terrorists.

Why are we the target of such suspicion?

Because of our independent thinking, liberty-minded activism in the 2008 election? That's right, a government report concludes that we could be in some secret plot to subvert our government with violence. No, this isn't an April Fool's joke. Here's the story.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has spent $254 million between 2004 and 2007 funding state-based "Fusion Centers." Although they were formed to help local and regional law enforcement communicate better and develop crime-fighting strategies, at least one has stepped way out of bounds.

Recently, the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC), one of those federally funded Fusion Centers, released a report on "The Modern Militia Movement." In it, they revealed a process for identifying potential terrorists. Their model includes political activism on behalf of Bob Barr and his political campaign among other!

That's right, if you supported Barr or Ron Paul, or certain others, you are the target of their suspicion.

This is totally absurd.

West said...

The DeKalb County Code requirement for a 650 student high school is a MINIMUM of 26 acres of land – if you are a private school. The DeKalb County School System is exempt from code requirements.

Here are the code requirements for private institutions:
Sec. 27-769. Private elementary, middle and high school.
The minimum lot size for private elementary, middle and high school for which an application for special land use permit is filed, shall be as follows:

(a) Elementary school: Five (5) acres plus one (1) additional acre for each one hundred (100) students based on the design capacity of the school.
(b) Middle school: Twelve (12) acres plus one (1) additional acre for each one hundred (100) students based on the design capacity of the school.
(c) High school: Twenty (20) acres plus one (1) additional acre for each one hundred (100) students based on the design capacity of the school.
(Ord. No. 99-11, Pt. 1, 4-13-99)

The Heritage Center & Charles McDaniel Park site totals 9.79 acres of land. The Board of Education is telling us that “there are no plans to do anything with Charles McDaniel Park at this time.” The park is approximately ½ of the land, so we are being asked to believe that the MCJROTC Institute will operate successfully on 18.83% of the MINIMUM amount of land normally required for a High School.

For more information concerning the future home of the Marine Corp. JROTC Institute please visit our website - www.citizensforsuccess.org.

If you agree that the MCJROTC Institute is a good idea for DeKalb County, but the Heritage Center is the wrong location, then please sign our petition -
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/HeritageSchool/

Anonymous said...

http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/dekalb/stories/2009/04/02/dekalb_military_school.html

Post a comment if you can!

Cerebration said...

Here we come to save the day!! Isn't that what the marines and Brad Bryant feel they are doing? I don't have a problem with the program idea, I simply think it should be properly evaluated and market tested to see if it is a viable possibility.

To me though, it reeks of another "hot new bonfire" of an idea that everyone is racing over to pay attention to - while dropping everything else they were working on. There's too much haphazard, unfocused, unbridled, untested decision-making going on in DeKalb. How could this program get blasted through in such a short time? I predict we'll soon add this to the graveyard of programs haphazardly and wildly aimed at improving graduation rates that spend an imbalance of funding on a few, creating a lack of funds for regular education, which in turn will create a need for more "programs" to address new problems stemming from inattention to the here and the now. It's a cycle - and it's vicious.

So, do we have enough "programs" for at-risk students now? Let's see, we have Open Campus, Early College Academy, the Alternative High School, "Destiny Academy of Excellence" Charter School, Operation Graduation, Graduation Coaches, 9th Grade Academies - and now the Military is going to give it a go.

Has anyone ever done a study to see exactly why these kids are not successful in high school? Could it be that high school is boring?!! How about offering a fantastic, vocational/tech high school where students can go to school and actually feel like they are being treated as if they have maturity and potential to succeed - and become excited to learn a usable skill?!! Let's conduct a survey and ASK students what appeals to them - what would hold their attention?

Cerebration said...

A much better idea! We already HAVE the perfect place for the marine academy! It is a totally separate building - brand new - with it's own kitchen, brand new state-of-the-art science labs and is designed for high schoolers. This building could serve the marine corps academy as a separate school within a school - offering the marine academy students their own space, with access to a gym, track, tennis courts, etc. Plus the marine academy could recruit heavily from this very school and/or serve as great examples to the rest of the student body. Read on --

I researched a bit about Stephenson HS. It seems that they have enjoyed a massive addition for their ninth grade academy. With a capacity published as 2058 and an enrollment of 1893, Stephenson has 165 available seats - and the largest campus in DeKalb at 241,181 sf.

Interestingly, according to the contractor, Moody Construction's website, Stephenson's brand new 9th grade academy is 42,000 sf - about 7,000 sf larger than Heritage Elementary school - the planned location of the military academy. Read the description - from Moody's website (where I learned more about DeKalb school construction than I did at DK schools website.)

http://www.cdmoodyconstruction.com/complete_projects/education.html

The Stephenson High School ninth grade academy is the largest freestanding addition to the DeKalb County School System. The school’s addition is two stories with a brick exterior to match the other buildings on the high school campus. Thirty-five classrooms include six state-of-the-art science labs, wallmounted closed circuit televisions, and five administrative offices. The satellite kitchen has two serving lines, warmer-cooler units, and a spacious dining hall with an outside patio and separate generator and environmental controls.

Not only that - Moody has a a very well-written statement about the importance of maintaining our schools - A school is a statement ofbelief in a positive future and an investment in a better life for our children.

Cerebration said...

According to the planning data's info - Stephenson has plenty of space -- along with a totally brand new, separate building with its own cafeteria!

A military academy within an existing HS is the only fiscally responsible way to go!

Here are the enrollment numbers

Stephenson HS
494 freshmen, 358 sophomores, 386 juniors, 339 seniors = 1,691 total (Capacity is 2200 - leaving 509 Available Seats!!!)

Towers has room as well -
272 freshmen, 199 sophomores, 178 juniors, 177 seniors = 919 total (Capacity is 1430 - leaving 511 Available Seats!!!)

Moving the military academy would also reduce our tax penalties for having unfilled seats -- fiscal responsibility - isn't that a goal?!!

Cerebration said...

In case you're wondering --

Lakeside has 1,651 - with capacity for 1,386

265 OVER Capacity -- due to transfers

Cerebration said...

REMiNDER: Meeting Tuesday Eve at 6:30 PM at Heritage School on Heritage Drive to discuss the Marine Academy.

Below is an email from the community with questions for Dr. Lewis and the Board --

Dr. Lewis,

Our community is looking forward to our meeting with you on Tuesday the 14th. We have organized into a group called Citizens for Success. We currently have 458 people that have signed a petition in support of the MCJROTC Institute in DeKalb County, but against locating the 650 student high school on a narrow residential road in The Heritage Center. In an effort to ensure the meeting is orderly and informative we thought it best to provide you with some of the questions and suggestions in advance so that you and your staff can answer before or during the meeting. Please find our questions and suggestions below:

Agreement Between DCSS & USMC

Has the agreement been signed?
Does the agreement lock in the future site of the MCJROTC Institute?
Is Heritage still being considered as a potential site for the MCJROTC Institute?
What other sites are being considered?
Has a market study to evaluate potential interest been conducted?
Since legislation (HB 251) passed stating that students from area counties can attend nearby systems will students from other counties be allowed to attend the MCJROTC institute? If so, will bus service be provided? (The law states that they must provide their own transportation.) The deadline for providing the transfer availability is July 1 - is there a plan to accommodate intra-district transfers and how will it effect this school?

Safety

Heritage Center is located 6/10 of a mile from Lakeside High School in a residential neighborhood on Heritage Dr. The residential roads that feed into the school have steep grades and sharp curves. Heritage is the only road in the entire neighborhood that has a sidewalk. Commuting administrative staff and students arriving from the south on Briarcliff will avoid backups on Heritage by accessing the school from Fisher Trail, Chrysler, Abby, Oakawana, and Briarwillow. There are bus stops for elementary, middle, and high school students on all of these roads, which have no sidewalks and Echo Ridge Recreation club is located less than 1,000 feet from the school.
Has the risk of adding through traffic to these residential roads at the same time as the children are walking to and from their bus stop and recreation club been evaluated?
Are the officials making the decision aware of the fact that 2 high school students died in a car accident less than 1,000 feet from the Heritage Center in one of the many sharp curves?
Has a traffic study been conducted to estimate the additional through traffic on these residential roads?
Has a traffic study been conducted to determine if traffic control devices such as a traffic light at the intersection of Heritage and Briarcliff will be necessary?
Has consideration been given to the fact that the school system will have to provide hub buses to transport all of these students from the Lakeside hub to Heritage (less than 1 mile) during already congested school hours?
Has consideration been given to the fact that Oak Grove ES, less than 1/2 mile away from Lakeside, with a student population of over 600 and a similar start time, already causes much congestion on the cross street, Oak Grove Road?
Has consideration been given to the fact that Briarlake ES is just over 1 mile away and the congestion at Briarlake and Briarcliff (1 block from Lakeside) is already backed up past Shallowford Rd in the mornings and afternoons?

Current Heritage Infrastructure

According to the DeKalb County Facility Inventory, DeKalb Tax Records, and the emergency evacuation map posted at the back door, the site has 35,132 square feet, 18 classrooms, 40 parking spaces, and is located on 9.79 acres. Originally there was some confusion concerning the current capacity of the site. Evidently there was some misinformation that lead to the belief that the design capacity was adjusted from 700 down to 396 when the school was converted from an elementary school to a special education center.
Has this information been validated?
Are there any material variances from this information?
Future Heritage Infrastructure Requirements
A minimum of 70,000 square feet is necessary, but the general guideline for a senior high school is 160 square feet per student, which equates to 104,000 square feet for a 650 student high school. Also, a minimum of 100 additional parking spaces will be necessary for a 650 student high school.
Where on the property will the additional square footage be added?
How many additional classrooms will be added?
Where will a new gymnasium be built?
Where will the new parking lot be located?
According to the Marine Corps JROTC website, color guard and drill are basic aspects of MCJROTC training. Where will the drill field be located if a parking lot is located on the current site of Charles McDaniel Park?
Will students be allowed to drive themselves to school?
What is the estimated cost of building the additional space and parking lot?
How does the cost of building the additional space and parking lot compare to renovating alternate locations that already have sufficient space and parking?
Who will pay for the additions and improvements? Will it come from the SPLOST 3 budget? If so, will this compromise or jump ahead of other projects that have been waiting for years?

DeKalb County Code

DeKalb County Code 27-769 contains the minimum requirements for private schools in DeKalb County. The code requires a minimum of 26 acres for a 650 student private high school. The Heritage site is 9.79 acres.
Why isn't this code being used as a guideline for the minimum requirements of the MCJROTC Institute?

Environmental Concerns

The only space large enough for the additional parking spaces is the current location of Charles McDaniel Park, which is within the Intermediate Regional Floodplain (I.R.F). There are 2 creeks located within 100 feet of the park - these creeks feed the north branch of Peachtree Creek. Adding almost 1 acre of impervious surface within the floodplain will increase storm water runoff, which will result in erosion and increase the risk of flooding.

The areas along the feeder creeks and the north branch of Peachtree Creek already experience flooding during heavy rain. It is impossible to know the impact of adding 1 acre of impervious surface without a hydrological study.
Has a hydrological study been conducted?
Will the county commit to conducting a hydrological study?
Will the county commit in writing to not pave or build any structures in the flood plain?
Alternate School System Uses for the Heritage School
There are trailers behind all of the elementary schools in the immediate area. Heritage could be used as it was originally designed to be used - as a neighborhood elementary school to provide relief to over-crowding at Oak Grove.
The facility could be used as an early childhood education center and/or Pre-K for area schools.
Alternate Private Use
The facility could be leased to a private entity to be used within the scope of its original designed use - an elementary school. Benefits of this arrangement:
A triple net lease would provide the system with additional revenue.
A triple net lease would eliminate taxes, insurance, and maintenance expenses.
Increased cash flow could be used to fund more efficient schools.
Leasing the facility allows DCSS to maintain ownership for potential future use if necessary.
An affordable private school or public charter school may relieve pressure on the overcrowded surrounding schools.

Alternate Public Use

DeKalb County Parks Bond and Greenspace Program
County has promised district two $7.8MM in funding for parks and greenspace.
Charles McDanel Park or entire site could be sold.
Capital from sale could fund other projects.
Selling the property would release it from the stock of in-service buildings.

State Funding

It is our understanding that one of the variables in the calculation that determines school district funding by the State is the % of underutilized space.
Is the DCSS penalized in this funding calculation due to an abundance of underutilized space?
Wouldn't using underutilized or empty space cure this funding penalty?
DCSS currently has over 4,000 empty high school seats according to DCSS attendance records and the design capacity listed on the inventory fact sheet. Why would we consider adding on to Heritage to accommodate 650 students before utilizing current inventory?

Potential Alternate Locations

The following sites were mentioned by DCSS staff or suggested by members of the community. All of these sites are larger and have more acreage than Heritage.
Briarcliff/Open Campus HS
Clarkston HS
Bryant Technology Center
Shallowford ES/Former Chamblee MS
International School/Former Kittredge ES
A/B Buildings on N. Decatur Rd.
Hooper ES
The free-standing 9th grade academy at Stephenson HS
Avondale HS (Move DSA in with Lakeside after renovations and disburse current Avondale students among other area schools.)

As we have said all along, you and the BOE are to be commended for bringing this innovative concept to DeKalb. We look forward to your answers to these questions and discussing solutions to ensure the success of the MCJROTC Institute in DeKalb.

No Duh said...

Hello All:

Just two comments. The BOE meeting tomorrow evening is at 6:00 p.m. (not 6:30). If you're late, you'll miss the usual suspects who are scheduled to speak -- including the Jackson 5 (I mean 3). And, you won't be able to find a seat because the DCSS employees will be filling up half of them.

In today's ever-shrinking AJC, I noted that the new Shuler Hensley Awards for musical high school theatre will be awarded Tuesday. Up for "best overall production" are: Alpharetta High (Guys and Dolls), Atlanta International School (Into the Woods), Holy Innocents' Episcopal School (Anything Goes), and Pebblebrook High (Footloose).

What? No DSA? Maybe they'll win in the "biggest waste of money" category.

Cerebration said...

Wow - Holy Innocents!? What's up with that, DSA? Couldn't agree more on the waste of money theory.

So -- to recap meetings for this week --

MONDAY - is the Board of Education meeting at 6:00 - (not 6:30 - I'll fix my calendar)

TUES, APRIL 14 @ 6:30 PM, Community Meeting at Heritage School Re: Marine Academy Location

THURS, APRIL 16 @ 5:30 PM, Parent Advisory Council at William Bradley Bryant Center featuring Ron Ramsey re: legislation and Ramona Tyson re: new eSIS Parent Portal

then RACE over to North Druid Hills Road for --

THURS, APRIL 16 @ 6:30 PM, Community Meeting at Elizabeth Andrews HS (Open Campus) Re: Marine Academy Location

Dunwoody Mom said...

Come on now, just because DSA is not up for a "top" award does not in any way demean this school and its students accomplishments. This school has some of the highest test scores in the county/state. No need for these comments. Let's stick to constructive comments and ideas.

Cerebration said...

Sorry - I can be tough on DSA - but they have the highest test scores simply because they require high test scores and an audition for admission. Plus - the spending per student is off the chart with the SPLOST 3 move. $10 million to relocate 289 students and renovate a special space for them is ridiculous. And it's not a "if you build it they will come" initiative. This school has been in operation for years and has barely grown an inch. Plus - wouldn't you think the community would be privy to all of the good shows and arts programs going on in the building? They don't produce any better arts programs than Lakeside or many other high schools. These awards to other schools prove that this money is being squandered.

$10 million divided by 289 = $34,602.00 (and that's just for the move) Let's not forget the cost of operating the school with the low student teacher ratio on a day to day basis - while so many other schools are suffering over-crowded classrooms and trailer life.

I'm sorry - this school soaks up far more than it's fair share of resources. Make it a magnet within Lakeside or some other school and open it up to encourage more creativity. Not all creative types are straight A students - and unless and until they too receive the arts education they deserve, I will continue to proclaim DSA and elite experiment that isn't proving successful.

I kid you not - Lakeside puts on better musicals - and they have no auditorium and are led by a parent volunteer. Also, Lakeside's band and orchestra concerts are impressive - even though they perform on the floor of the gym and have very little practice space along with very old equipment.

Cerebration said...

BTW - I predict the same sort of future for the military academy. The school system is planning for 650 students to take to this program when fully implemented. I predict 150. They haven't done even a cursory market survey. The fact that they have to sport a military haircut alone will turn off lots of kids.

DCSS just get these "great ideas" in their heads - and commit piles of money to implementing them - while never testing the waters first. Our biggest problem right now is over-crowding at some schools and large numbers of empty seats at others. There's an imbalance. How will these two schools - with all of the associated resources committed to them address the imbalance issue? I'm afraid the military academy will only serve to create more empty seats in the already cavernous schools such as Stephenson, McNair, Towers and Miller Grove. (Add the Arabia factor and we're going to hear that "giant sucking sound" Ross Perot told us about.)

Anonymous said...

Doug Denton, dcbewdd@yahoo.com, is a Supervisor with the DeKalb County Soil & Water Conservation District. Someone needs to talk to him about the flood plain and run-off issues at Heritage. There's no way the Soil & Water Conservation District would allow a prking lot in that flood plain.

Open+Transparent said...

" And, you won't be able to find a seat because the DCSS employees will be filling up half of them."


It is absolutely intentional on Crawford Lewis' part to have public BOE meetings in that tiny room, and then have DCSS employees take up half the seats.

A super without an ounce of decency, dignity and customer service awareness would not allow any DCSS staff to take up seats that should be for the public.

What a joke that a meeting as incredibly important as the monthly BOE meeting is in a small rom with limited public seating.

No Duh said...

Sorry DunMom, can't agree -- at least on the Arts theme for a magnet school. Yes, the arts are immensely necessary in ALL schools. Yes, the school play is a tremendous opportunity to learn and grow (I'm a former high school Thespian, myself). But, a separate school? No way.

There are myriad private companies that teach acting, music and dance in the ATL area.

I finely figured out why DCSS board members grimace whenever a citizen comments on "applying the 'Kittredge model' to all the schools." WE CAN'T AFFORD IT (not screaming at you DunMom). Of course the Kittredge/DSA model works -- they are abundantly staffed and abundantly funded and abundantly catered to by DCSS. Yet, I dare someone to prove Kittredge kids are any smarter or DSA students any more "talented" than thousands of other students in our system.

Where should DCSS stop when it comes to "speciality" schools? Our son is very interested in (and pretty talented in) baseball. Should DCSS have a special school for him to pursue his dreams?

No! He does this IN ADDITION to school. It is an OUTSIDE ACTIVITY -- for which our family pays OUR MONEY to allow him to pursue his dreams!! If he makes the middle school team then this will still be an OUTSIDE ACTIVITY. And if our daughter snags a role in the school play -- she's pretty talented, too :) -- then this will be an OUTSIDE ACTIVITY.

Get my drift?

Dunwoody Mom said...

I agree with you no duh - absolutely about the "speciality" schools - I just didn't want the academic accomplishments of the DSA students to be diminished. I have railed for years about the Magnet schools - especially at the Middle/High School level - there is no need for them. There is a "gifted" path at every middle school and high school - there does not need to be a separate middle school and high school for "gifted" students from all over the county, i.e. Chamblee.

Anonymous said...

It wil be very interesting to see what DCSS does with this and the location. After all in order to get appointed to West Point or any other military college, do you not have to have team sports letters. You did when I was young. That means they would need teams and a place to have games.
It should be centrally located to be fair to all students.
I have a neighbor kid in the 8th grade, he had told me last year he would like to join an ROTC program. So when I heard about this, I told him. I also asked if he was good at math and he said he's better than most in his classes. He came back two days later and said his counselor knew nothing about it. This was two weeks ago. This kid is a U.S. born citizen who's parents are illeagal. His Dad was deported last year, so the program would be great for him. His mother would like for him to go to just about any high school but his slated Cross Keys. My take on this is there are gangs or violence. I don't have school aged kids so I have no information. But I did find this board and thought that if he's unable to go to the Marine school, at this late of date, is there anything else? Surely someone out there can give me advice to pass along to his Mother.
The boy makes very good grades and is a respectable young man, so helping with advice seems like the right thing to do for someone.

Anonymous said...

He can apply to any school he chooses as a minority. As long as he is transferring to a school where the majority is other than Hispanic, which would be about any. How about the new Arabia HS, way down in SW DeKalb. He'd have to take a hub bus (2 buses) but it's an incredible new school and they're looking for students to apply. Apply online, the deadline keeps getting extended. And if they tell him no, just sue for discrimination.

Anonymous said...

As an option, Lakeside has a great Jr ROTC program.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Anonymous, you are incorrect - he cannot apply to any school he wishes due to his minority status. There are charter schools he can apply to. But, he must be accepted and provide his own transportation.

Anonymous said...

I think the deadline was April 3 to apply for a charter school.
That's another reason that I told him about to Marine Academy.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Yes, you are correct that April
3rd was the deadline, but then again we know how strict (NOT) DCSS is about deadlines.

pscexb said...

Great turnout tonite at Heritage for the meeting. By law, this meeting was required as the school is about to be repurposed. Without question, many in attendance wanted to express their opinions about the planned Marine school at this site.

A few key points to that came up:

1) According to Dr. Lewis, the plan is to house the Marine program at this site for one year. While the student cap will be 150 students, he indicated he did not expect that many students during the first year.

2) The preferred site for this program was the old Briarcliff HS. Dr. Lewis indicated it would require an investment of over 9 million dollars to get it up to speed. It also did not have a cafeteria. Of the remaining available properties in DCSS, Heritage was in the best shape. Understandably, the restrooms will need to be refitted for HS students.

3) The Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) is still being reviewed by the attorneys. It will have language that the program will be at Heritage for one year.

4) 5-7 sites are being considered to host the program after the first year. After an evaluation of each of the sites, it is hoped that a recomendation will be made by December 2009.

It should be pointed out that Heritage currently houses 46 special needs students and has a design capacity of 396. Margaret Harris houses 51 students and has a design capacity of 484.

Cerebration said...

Administrators admitted that no market study was conducted to assess interest in a military academy.

They also stated that no students would be allowed to attend from other counties via the new state law allowing intra-county transfers. Policy for that states that each county must write it's own policy regarding these transfers by July 1. We'll see what they put in writing.

When asked if the move after one year would be put in writing - Dr. Lewis back pedaled by saying that the lawyers are writing the agreement, not him.

He also promised that they will never disturb the park - stating the he actually knew Charlie Daniel.

Bookmark this blog and check back on these promises in three years.

pscexb said...

Sorry to hear that you've been without power for a while. Hope you did not lose much food.

I understand that the MoA will be made public. If the terms of the MoA are violated, the community has cause for action. Given that 5-7 alternate sites have been identified for year 2 of the program, at this time we have to take things at face value.

Also recall that the MoA required a stand alone facility at this time. The 'school within a school' concept would make sense and perhaps that may be one of the consideration for year 2.

If the Marines did not use this school, it probably would be deactivated like Open Campus and Hooper Alexander. They would not reopen it as an elementary school as there are not enough students in that area to do so.

We should all be able to agree on this. DCSS has an excess of of seats. The seats are not necessarily where the need for them exists. Up to 150 Freshman will tentatively attend this school next year. That will have a ripple affect on capacity at several schools. Who knows, we may very well have discussions about closing a high school next year. If so, this will be very interesting.....

Cerebration said...

I am just tired of the topic in general -- so to start again, I deleted all my very hostile comments.

Let's just say - psc, you believe Dr. Lewis' promises - and I don't.

themommy said...

Cere,

The school choice bill that passed ended up not allowing transfers between school systems. Tell me, that you were tired last night and you mistyped...

"They also stated that no students would be allowed to attend from other counties via the new state law allowing intra-county transfers. Policy for that states that each county must write it's own policy regarding these transfers by July 1. We'll see what they put in writing."

Yes, the system has to have a policy written by July 1st but that is for transfers within its own borders.

pscexb said...

There were some legitimate questions about the last person that commented, Sgt. David Erwin. Found out he works at Parkview HS though he indicated he was a DeKalb resident.

Fox 5 broadcast link including Sgt. Erwin.

http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/dpp/news/Military_High_School_Proposed_in_DeKalb_041409

GCPS Board Meeting Summary for January 8, 2009 mentioning Sgt. Erwin

http://www.gwinnett.k12.ga.us/__85256846007F7522.nsf/0/B158D1D1F16EB791852575390049C0AD?Open&Highlight=0,erwin

No Duh said...

About Heritage being a temporary solution, I believe Dr. Lewis, as well. His timeline as to when the balling started rolling on the Marine school is questionable.

A couple ladies from the neighborhood went down to DeKalb and requested thru open records the Marine's documents on the subject. They copied more than 130 pages from the files, including start up figures stated as over $4 Million (not just the $1 million that's been mentioned by DCSS). DCSS says the Marines are picking up the start-up costs.

Their research also indicates that the Marines have been in contact with DCSS since this past summer (not only since Feb. 3 as stated by Dr. Lewis). Maybe it didn't get to Dr. Lewis until Feb. 3 but, again, I didn't see the research these ladies were holding.

The crowd was NIMBYs, pacifists, die-hard Marines/military and a few parents of children attending Heritage -- who unfortunately didn't get heard among all the bluster from the other attendees.

The news at 11 p.m. said two men had to be seperated by a police officer at the meeting when their argument got physical -- I didn't see that. Saw Paul Womack vehemently arguing with another man, but doubt this was what the news was referring to.

Anonymous said...

About Heritage being a temporary solution, I believe Dr. Lewis should be a temporary solution!

Cerebration said...

Yes - I was quite tired due to living in the "dark" for 2 days -- but the question was asked about the Intra-County transfers and the answer was stated as no. The school board does have to write a policy by July 1 - but it's only regarding transfers within the district. (Which is why the answer to anon's question was that the student in his question will most likely have many choices for transferring.)

Aside from that - I find it interesting that Dr. Lewis is now stating that the Heritage school was only planned to be used for one year. I'm happy to hear it - but it definitely was not ever sold as a one year plan before. Otherwise, why all the defense of the capacity? Why the hard sell that the building can hold 650? Why not just tell neighbors - no worries - we only need the building for a year.

_______

To quote -- Paul Womack's email to the community sent March 25, 2009

Thank you for your email.

The Heritage Center has been recommended to be relocated to Margaret Harris High School. If this recommendation is accepted and approved by the Board of Education, the Heritage Center will be closed.

The Board voted at the February meeting to move forward with the DeKalb Marine Corps Institute. Since that time, we have been working to finalize the Memo of Agreement between the Marine Corps and DeKalb County Schools. There is great concern as it relates to the location of the Institute. The Heritage Center is being considered as a possible location for this Institute, but has not been finalized.

Two Public Hearings are scheduled to discuss updates and additional school closings. The first Hearing will be held on Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 6:30 p.m. at the Heritage Center, 2225 Heritage Drive, Atlanta, 30345, and the second on Thursday, April 16, 2009, 6:30 p.m. at Elizabeth Andrews High School, 2415 North Druid Hills Rd., Atlanta, 30329.

I would encourage you to attend these Hearings and express your concerns. Please note that I am against the Marine Corps Institute being located at the Heritage Center.

Thank you.

Paul Womack
*** Also check out the letter from Womack posted above at March 23, 2009 12:02 PM in which he states the following --

Yes, the superintendent has chosen Heritage as the location for the Marine corp high school. The first year it will only have 150 students, a rising 9th grade and the following year we will add another 9th grade and at 10 grade and the following year a rising 11th grade and on to the 4th year with a senior class.

This school was chosen by the superintendent because it was closing this year and was in his opinion the best location for this school. The BOE voted 9 - 0 in favor of this school and all believe it to be a golden opportunity for and outstanding educational experience.

I do not understand the statement that it is a stealth tactic against our neighborhood. You have always had a school at that location, now it has only 47 students, but will be restored to a fully functional school. All students will be bussed in not the 300 - 400 cars being stated in the community.

Should you wish to speak with me please call me

404 325-5821.

Paul Womack
________

And here's a quote froo Dr Lewis' letter to the community is posted above at March 27, 2009 11:08 PM - in which there is no mention to the Heritage community that the school was only needed for one year --

3. Questions from the Heritage community - No decision has been made regarding the facility for this program. There will be a public hearing to discuss the closing of Heritage Center at the Center, April 14, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.

I respect all opinions regarding this endeavor, and seek to respond openly and honestly to the citizenry. My goal like yours is to contribute to a higher quality of life for your family and others in DeKalb like mine.

Sincerely,
Crawford Lewis, Ph.D.
------

Truthfully - I don't care that they're backpedaling if it keeps them from cramming a military academy into a tiny elementary school built for 396. If this is how they choose to handle it to save face - rather than let the community know that they were wrong - then so be it. I cut the articl from the AJC today - Kristina Torres (who Lewis also blamed for spreading misinformation) quoted the promise of one year in the headline.

So - all in all -- good going. Zero years would be best - but one year with under 100 students looks like the final plan for Lewis.

Cerebration said...

psc - don't even get me started on that guy who "commented" last - those were the posts I had to delete. Race-baiting and name-calling are the lowest, meanest - most "unmarine" way to handle any issue. I don't for one minute believe this guy is a true marine.

Cerebration said...

Here's an excellent question submitted by a guy from my row at the meeting.

"As an act of good faith, since you have promised never to disturb the park, and thus have no use for the land otherwise, would you be willing to transfer ownership of Charles McDaniel Park to DeKalb County as a way to ensure it's life as a park in perpetuity?"--------

I think a move like this would serve as a positive gesture of goodwill and an act of the newfound collaboration with the county we keep hearing about. After all - it's simply a transfer of property from one taxpayer fund to another.

pscexb said...

I'll agree with you Cere, Sgt. Erwin could have left out some of the 'colorful' commentaries in order to get his points across.

I also agree with the comment regarding the park and will take it a step further. When the Marines move out of Heritage, tear it down and convert it to green space. This helps the school system by eliminating excess seats while providing a benefit to the community. If the district needs another school in that area, they could build on that site.

Cerebration said...

Love that idea, psc -- that little tiny school isn't much good to anyone in this new millennium. The only thing you could maybe use it for could be offices - diagnostics and such. The place only has 40 parking spaces.

Cerebration said...

if you would like to voice your opinions at the AJC click here

http://www.ajc.com/services/content/metro/dekalb/stories/2009/04/14/marine_corps_high_school.html

Cerebration said...

Neighbors fear more traffic near Marine Corps high schoolBy KRISTINA TORRES
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Putting a military high school on a former elementary school campus would be temporary, the DeKalb County schools superintendent said Tuesday, even as residents complained the site was too small and would increase traffic on already congested streets.

Superintendent Crawford Lewis told 150 people packed into a public hearing that Georgia’s first public military high school would only spend one school year at the Heritage Center off Briarcliff Road in North DeKalb.

After that, the proposed DeKalb Marine Corps Institute would move to a yet-to-be-determined permanent location.

Some people complained the school was a recruitment ploy by the military. But many said they lived in the neighborhood and worried about more buses on narrow residential roads and having a smaller-than-average campus stuffed with students it was not designed for.

West Hutchison said Lewis would probably “get a lot of support for the community if we could actually commit to one year in writing.”

“I’m not here to express anything but support for the Marines,” Hutchison said. “My concern is simply the location.”

DeKalb officials are in the final stages of talks with the Marines to open the school in August. It will eventually enroll 650 students and have both a principal and a commandant. Lewis said he expected no more than 150 students when the school opens with just a freshman class.

The hearing Tuesday was at the Heritage Center, a former elementary school that currently houses students with special needs who next year will merge with another program.

Find this article at:
http://www.ajc.com/services/content/metro/dekalb/stories/2009/04/14/marine_corps_high_school.html

Anonymous said...

This is a response to No Duh and Dunwoody Mom's comments yesterday that gifted programs in the neighborhood schools make the Chamblee middle and high magnet programs unnecessary. Dekalb's magnet program is very divisive, and that divide runs right through my own heart because one of my "gifted" teens is in it and the other isn't.

The need is not for the magnet program itself, but for the attitude of its staff. At Chamblee High, magnet students are encouraged to aim as high as possible. At our local high school, which is one of Dekalb's best-regarded, lots of obstacles discourage bright students from doing things that are considered normal at Chamblee. Instead, what is normal is spending lots of energy dealing with an institution whose vision is limited to meeting the minimum requirements.

Unlike No Duh's son's baseball, not every talent can be pursued as an outside activity. Most math competitions are done through school teams. The most important US math competition is the AMC, an inexpensive test taken at school. Over a hundred Chamblee High students participate, but most Dekalb high schools don't offer it. If your school's math department isn't aware of the AMC - or if they're unwilling to administer it to you, as is the case with our local school - you are cut off from the gateway to Georgia's all-star math team (ARML) as well as from a ladder of competitions that culminates in the International Math Olympiad. Without AMC scores, you also lose a standard way to demonstrate outstanding math talent to colleges like MIT and Caltech.

Cerebration said...

Another new law that provides alternatives to those who may not want or qualify for the Military Academy

HB 149, Jones – 46 High School students in grades 11 and 12 may attend Georgia public colleges to which they are accepted, if enrolled in public school during the 10th grade, and take Department of Education approved courses to meet their high school graduation requirements. The hours earned will not be counted against a student’s HOPE scholarship. Tuitions and fees will be paid by the state through QBE funding, if money appropriated, or the amount the high school would have received, whichever is less. The high school will receive $200/student for administrative costs, deducted from the amount sent the college. The author testified that the student is required to take the High School Graduation Tests and all relevant End Of Course Tests but is eligible for extra curricular activities. This language is not reflected in the bill. Reflects recommendations of the Tough Choices:Tough Times study committee. Minnesota has had such a program for about 10 years. Serves lots of kids at risk of dropping out who graduate from high school in higher numbers than other students with similar characteristics. The amount allocated for books was revisited after a few years, as the need in higher education was greater than that allotted in high school.

Cerebration said...

And - the most recent clarification on HB 251

HB 251, Morgan – 39 Permits a student to go to any public school within a school district if space permits, effective the 2009-10 school year. Allows the student to continue to schools into which the chosen school feeds until the student graduates. Local board of education members and local school superintendents may not have relatives employed in the district in managerial or administrative positions. PTA has no objection to school choice among public schools. The interdistrict choice option attached by the Senate was removed. Among some knowledgeable legislators, there is some concern that the version passed in the House was different from the one passed in the Senate. The governor will be asked to VETO this bill if credible evidence of different versions of the bill is presented. Parents may still exercise interdistrict choice if the district accepts the student and the parent provides transportation and pays any required tuition which represents the local taxes raised for students who reside in the school district..


All available here
http://www.ciclt.net/sn/new/n_detail.aspx?ClientCode=gapta&N_Id=400455

Cerebration said...

I post these alternatives, because the Marine Corps Academy may not be suitable for as many as we may think. Dr. Lewis pointed out several times that this program is for Title 1 students who are in advanced math (passed Math 1 in 8th grade.)

Cerebration said...

DeKalb reveals details about controversial military school
By KRISTINA TORRES
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Residents on Tuesday gave DeKalb County school officials an earful about a new military public high school but, for the first time, they also got to hear directly from Superintendent Crawford Lewis about his plans.

The DeKalb Marine Corps Institute is scheduled to start classes in August at the Heritage Center off Briarcliff Road in North DeKalb. Lewis said the new school will move to another location for its second year of operation, although that site has not yet been identified.

Lewis shared some details about the school, including:

• Lewis said state education officials put the system in touch with the U.S. Marines, which is a partner in the school, and that both sides first met to talk about it on Feb. 4. Talks moved quickly; the two sides appear to be just steps from a final agreement.

• The school’s principal will be Thadeous Dixon, who Lewis introduced for the first time Tuesday. The school is also supposed to have a commandant, who Lewis did not identify by name but said was a 32-year veteran of the Marines.

• The school will hold classes on a year-round schedule, with longer breaks during the year to balance time off from classes.

• It will also feature what educators call “looping:” teachers stay with the same students or class for more than one year. In this case, Lewis indicated it would be for all four years of school. The concept is believed to increase retention, as teachers learn students’ habits and abilities and can more quickly address their needs.

• Lewis initially hoped to put the school on the old Briarcliff High School campus, a nearby property on North Druid Hills Road that a year ago was subject to a controversial bid by developer Sembler Co. for a $1 billion mixed-use project. The problem? The site has a host of issues, including asbestos and HVAC problems and no working cafeteria. Minimum cost to renovate it on a temporary basis is estimated at $9 million — and as much as $34 million to make it usable permanently. The system doesn’t have that kind of money available for such a project right now.

• Lewis is considering five to seven other locations as the school’s permanent home, but the process will take several months as officials essentially audit each one to figure out how compatible it would be — and how much renovations may cost if needed.

Cerebration said...

Note to Sgt. Erwin -- We are not a white community who is afraid of who might move in to our neighborhood in North DeKalb. Using data from Myron Orfield Institute of Race & Poverty (IRP) at the University of Minnesota Law School this is the definition of a "white" community:

Predominantly White
<10% black & <10% Hispanic

Quite the contrary, we fit in this category:
Predominantly Black
>50% black & <10% Hispanic

Or maybe even this one:
Black and Hispanic
>10% black & >10% Hispanic
& < 40% white

Check the U.S. Census if you don't believe me.

No Duh said...

LOL, I just saw my own typo in my 9:01 a.m. post. Well, DeKalb county residents do feel screwed sometimes! :)

Cere, your ability to remember every post, find it and reference is amazing. If I get your reposts of correspondence from Womack and Lewis then we have...

The two faces of Paul Womack:
March 25
"Please note that I am against the Marine Corps Institute being located at the Heritage Center."

March 23 (by my calendar that's BEFORE March 25)
"The BOE voted 9 - 0 in favor of this school and all believe it to be a golden opportunity for and outstanding educational experience."

So, he had already voted for the Heritage location before he sent a letter to his constituents saying he was against it.

Is it the old "I voted for it before I was against it"?

Either Womack is hopelessly confused what he's voting on during the BOE meetings or somebody has some 'splaining' to do.

God help us all if it's the former.

Anonymous said...

This is a follow up on Anonyomous' comment about DCSS magnet programs.

First, please note that the magnet high achiever (HA) programs do not require students to be classified as "gifted." While many students are both HA and gifted, this is an important distinction, especially at the elementary level.

Having had a child go through the program I agree that the HA magnet programs are valuable to the community. "IF" the school system truly instituted the Kittredge-Chamblee model in resident schools, the HA magnet program would be unnecessary. I lobbied for years trying to get the system to do this but it has never been done even in the schools that have a very high number of HA students (and parents) who would support and participate in the program.

The HA magnet schools set high expectations for the students, teachers and parents. They have a highly diverse student body. My complaint is that if DCSS is not going to truly implement a HA program in the resident schools then DCSS should expand the HA magnet program so more students can attend. Of course, the principals hate this because they claim there would be a "brain drain" on the local schools.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I'm a confused by the "Chamblee" model - please explain.

The Chamblee "model" is not a "gifted" model - it is a high-achievers model. As all other schools in DCSS, Chamblee has a "gifted" curriculum and a "high achievers" curriculum. A student may be in the magnet high-achievers program, but may not be in the gifted track.

The Gifted Programs are funded by the state and follow state guidelines with regards eligibility, class size and the requirement that all gifted teachers must be certified to teach gifted classes.

Anonymous said...

RE: I guess my comment was not well drafted. I was simply pointing out that the High achiever magnet schools are not "gifted" programs although many people refer to them as such. Some classes are taught and structured as gifted classes but not all - just like in the non-magnet schools. I would agree with the earlier Anonymous that the difference comes, in part, from having sufficient students and teachers who are motivated to do things like national math and science competitions and the school may offer more AP classes. If your child goes to McNair or Avondale these opportunities might not exist and the HA magnet program can make this possible for some students.

the Earlier Anonymous said...

Achieving high goals is made difficult in nonmagnet schools, even when there are sufficient numbers of high achieving students.

Example: When my child was at Chamblee Middle, acceleration was possible. Several students were permitted - even encouraged - to jump a year in German or math. At our local middle school, acceleration was a no-no. Not only that, but foreign language classes couldn't even be taken for granted. In 2007, parents had to fight when some HA children were arbitrarily
denied access to seventh grade beginning language classes.

Example: The change in the math curriculum gave last year's 8th graders an unusual opportunity to "accelerate" in math. Many at our local school jumped at the chance, even though staff from the high school discouraged them from doing so and even though the program was awkward. Chamblee students had long enjoyed a smooth path for real math acceleration, in which geometry, algebra 2, and precalculus were compressed into two courses.

Example: Chamblee students are encouraged to take AP World History to fulfil their 10th grade world history requirement. At our local high school, there is an AP European History class open to sophomores but no AP World History. Students who take AP Euro are required to take the non-AP world history class also. Again, the system throws up an obstacle to something magnet students consider normal, in this case, taking an AP class in 10th grade.

Students from schools with a small HA population need the magnet program so they can have access to opportunities. The rest of us don't need a magnet program as much as we need magnet attitudes in our local schools.

themommy said...

RE: Math Acceleration. It is now a smooth process offered at most middle schools. Students do need to be top of their class though and even in the magnet program, most won't be doing it.

It is always hard to be the first going through something. Fulton and Cobb, because they have such a larger percentage of high achieving students, recognized the need for flexibility early on and asked for it from the state and received it in relation to math. DCSS' focus is really on the kids who struggle, as they make up the majority of the school system's students. The math challenge/change caught the system off guard the first year, but they seem to have a handle on it now.

My complaint is that if you don't offer a course in high school, no one will take it. Dunwoody offers AP World for example in 10th grade. But I wish they would offer an AP course or two in 9th grade. With the first large group of students who did accelerated math at Peachtree now finishing 8th grade, Dunwoody will have to expand its math offerings as they age.

It is interesting that we keep referring to schools that don't have the offerings. In Los Angeles, access to the magnet programs is heavily weighted towards students who come from low income neighborhoods and low performing schools. Students have to meet any academic qualifications, but then points are added on to their priority number based on their home school situation.

I also think that some DCSS schools focus way to much on athletics and this includes the families of high achievers. Make just as big of a deal about academic awards and participaton and things might start to change.

Dunwoody Mom said...

themommy, I agree with respect to your comment on 9th Grade AP classes. My child took the Accelerated Math course second semester in 8th grade and did quite well, but we elected to put her back on the "normal" gifted track for high school and her Math course was a "breeze" for her - she probably did need more of a challenge in Math this year. This is something I think DCSS should look at - some time of AP Math course in 9th grade for those who took the Accelerated Math in 8th grade, but chose not to continue on in HS.

Dunwoody Mom said...

And yes, yes, yes, there is too much focus on athletics!!! It certainly has its place in a high school setting, but there is far too much emphasis placed on it.

No Duh said...

Maybe I'm just not understanding how it all works (our kids aren't in high school yet), but instead of piling tons of teachers into small "HA schools" like Kittredge and the school within a school at Chamblee, wouldn't it be much more cost effective to offer the same AP classes in all the same grades in all the High Schools -- even HSs with low HA numbers?

Yes, you'd have to have the teachers to teach the courses, and yes, you'd have to build on it through the years -- not all the classes will be chock full right away.

I suspect that many parents in the schools that currently don't have a lot (or any) AP offerings don't know what they're missing. They may not understand the importance of AP classes (with regard to college admissions, etc.).

I truly believe that "if you build it, they will come." Particularly if you build in the neighborhood schools -- and not way out at Arabia Mountain.

So now that DCSS has set the "if you build it, they will come" precedent(with Arabia Mountain and Marine Academy), let's push for equivalency for AP classes in HSs.

And let's face it people. After elementary school it really doesn't make a lot of difference if your child tested as "gifted" or not. In fact, I haven't seen where it makes any difference at all in middle school.

Dunwoody Mom said...

When I met with my child's guidance counselor a few weeks ago to set out her diploma path, I was surprised to learn the number of AP courses that are available to the students. My assumption is that it was just AP History, AP Math, AP Science, etc. As the counselor pointed out, colleges do tend to love those AP courses. Does anyone know who decides what AP classes are taught at each school?

the Earlier Anonymous said...

Chamblee High isn't piled with "tons of teachers." My child's magnet English class has 32 students; I don't happen to know about other classes. I don't see that the school is any better equipped than our local high school, nor is the building nicer. What I do see is that Chamblee's mix of available classes is aimed toward high achieving students. And that students are told "yes" instead of "no," and that academic achievement is honored.

Dunwoody Mom said...

What type of a "mix of available" classes are you referring to?

Anonymous said...

Some classes that are taught at Chamblee but not Lakeside:

AP World History - world history is required, so it might as well be AP

AP Physics C - the C level is required for physics transfer credit at Georgia Tech. Magnet students often take AP Physics B as their junior year physics class, then follow it with the C class their senior year.

Multivariate calculus, taken after AP Calculus BC - Themommy talked about the need to expand math offerings as the new accelerated crop ages. I don't see it happening outside of Chamblee. The plan is for nonmagnet accelerated students to take AP Statistics as their senior year math class. (Chamblee accelerated math students take AP Stat in 10th grade.) Georgia Tech offers advanced calculus classes to some high schools through distance learning; I wish Dekalb would pursue this.

No Duh said...

Ahhhh. Back to my earlier argument that magnet schools should be focused on skills that are not readily available as classic outside activities (singing, dancing, acting).

There should be no "high achievers" magnets. That is too broad a category and encompasses too many students. But, a magnet MATH school (sounds like Chamblee HS is already one)would make perfect sense. Unfortunately, the Chamblee magnet is the place to which only Kittredge kids can matriculate (unless a rare opening becomes available). Surely not all of that pocket of Kittredge kids are taking all those AP math classes.

Magnets shouldn't be available until the high school level. Only then can you declare a student is really showing a predilection toward math or science or technology or mechanics or english. Make the magnets specific to careers or specialties -- not "High Achievers," what kind of classification is that?! Give entry exams -- you fail, you stay where you are. NO EXCEPTIONS!

Dunwoody Mom said...

Actually, all schools will follow the same Math track.

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/files/ED27D25CC8724AD3915C0AE3F08FC90F.pdf

concerned said...

No Duh,

At Peachtree Middle School gifted tracking is extremely important. There is a world of difference in peer groups and education.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I'm not sure if this is correct as I was told this bit of information by another parent, but I believe you have to qualify as "gifted" in order to take AP classes?

Anonymous said...

No Duh nailed it - Chamblee High is effectively a math (and German) magnet school, but you wouldn't know it from the selection process. And Dunwoody Mom - even if Chamblee loses the multivariate class, the math programs still won't be equivalent across schools. Competitions provide an incredibly valuable way to develop the math thinking of bright students, but running an active math team is not a priority for Dekalb schools or teachers. Does Dunwoody have a math team? I haven't seen them at tournaments.

pscexb said...

I thought I'd add my two cents to this very interesting conversation going on. Some of you touched on why we have Magnets, to provide a centralized school/program for qualified participants.

School staffing is allocated based on 'points' which also goes back to the mix of students at a particular school. If there are a few 'high achiever' students at that school, it can be hard to 'justify' staffing a high achiever track/teacher for that school.

I met a woman that was frustrated her daughter could not take a particular AP class at her home school. I empathized with the principal who could not justify the 'point' for a small number of students. Distance learning was an option however we all will agree face to face instruction is best.

When Dr. Brown was here, he analyzed the AP offerings across schools and saw the disparities. He informed schools that offered a handful that they need to offer more then encourage students to take them. The rationale was from a variety of studies, they showed that exposure to AP classes in HSs factored into eventual success in college. Were there some students in AP classes that probably should not be there? Probably so, but there were also probably more that benefited from the exposure.

FWIW, I knew of a few South DeKalb schools that had math teams and participated in the MathCounts competition. Unfortunately much of this comes down to supply and demand.

If anyone is looking for another scholarship opportunity, you may want to investigate Debate teams. I did not realize how many scholarships are available for Debate. It is also considered a sport under GHSA. APS has a debate league that is partially subsidized (Emory may have something to do with it). Wonder if DeKalb could do the same for its schools?

Dunwoody Mom said...

You're wrong about Chamblee being a "Math magnet" - I know, I'm a Chamblee grad and keep up with things over that way.

Oh, and I do not know if Dunwoody HS has a Math Team or not. But if competitions are your thing (they don't particularly impress me),
Peachtree MS won the DCSS Academic Bowl this year!!!

Dunwoody Mom said...

I've heard the same thing about Debate teams - now there's a skill.

I also have heard good things about the Mock Trial competitions. I have a friend whose niece was able to get the attention of Duke University (and receive a partial scholarship) due to her abilities in this area.

Cerebration said...

no - you do not have to be gifted in order to take an AP class. I think you can start taking them your sophomore year.

Cerebration said...

I've been thinking about this marine academy and the meeting the other night, and in hindsight, I find that all of this arguing over the military school has blinded us all to the harrowing fact that some very high needs special education students are being treated very badly, IMO. The decision that effectively was made (and what the meeting was SUPPOSED to be about) was that the school system has decided to move the students from Heritage (who are 3 -12 year olds) in with a HIGH SCHOOL consisting of students with special needs ranging in age from 13-22.

Now I ask you - in reality - doesn't this sound heartless? Doesn't it sound like "warehousing" instead of providing an enriching educational experience? Truthfully - would YOU like it if you were told that your child was going to attend school in the SAME BUILDING their entire life after completing "Babies Can't Wait"? There isn't even a special needs playground for toddlers on site. In my opinion, there MUST be some IDEA law being broken here. I certainly hope that if that is the case, some friendly attorney takes on the task of representing the needs of these who are not being heard.

In fact, Mr. Mosely suddenly declared the "marine" from Gwinnett County the last speaker of the meeting - EVEN THOUGH there were Heritage parents still waiting in line for a turn to be heard. C'mon Dr. Lewis and crew - there are less than 50 kids in this program - don't you think you could have sat down at a lunch meeting with these parents and acted as if you cared? I'm beyond appalled. I believe the Military School has sadly served as a smokescreen to some of the worst discrimination I've ever seen.

The following is a comment that was on one of the AJC stories about the Heritage school meeting:

By Concerned Citizen
Apr 15, 2009 10:25 PM

The meeting last night was "supposed" to be about Heritage Closing and the students merging with Margaret-Harris. This was the agenda sent to the parents, staff and community. It was not supposed to be a discussion about the Marine academy for the community to protest and the superintendent to endorse. However, that is what it turned into with the media and the community ready for the show.

The poor parents of the students with special needs are already underrepresented and no one really paid any attention to them last night. Two of them had a chance to briefly speak and the others in line never even got a chance to talk. Hopefully someone in the county will make some time for these parents. They have a right to be heard.

Half the turn out on the right hand side of the cafeteria was staff from both schools who came for answers about the merger. This merger is not as simple as shoving students from one school to the other. However, that seems to be what is going to occur. No plan in place, only six weeks left of school and no one seemed to care last night.

Also, there was someone from the neighborhood who had the nerve to call the students at Heritage and Margaret-Harris (retarded) during a conversation which was overheard. This was disgusting to hear. It makes me very sad that the main issue for discussion was not the forefront and that no one seems to respect or care about these students. God forbid some of the community members ever have a child with special needs like the children currently served at these schools. The story last night would have been very different.

The marine academy may be a good idea or bad idea depending on your personal ideology but Heritage is a bad location for it. Before they move the special needs program from Heritage, they need to look at other alternatives and find an alternative home for the Marine academy.

Cerebration said...

We need to follow up with DeKalb school system to ensure that these funds are being properly spent on the students for whom they are intended - students with disabilities. DeKalb is looking forward to receiving millions of these dollars.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), frequently referred to as the Recovery Act or stimulus bill.

The ARRA spends $787 billion to revive the nation's economy and make investments in the future. Included in the ARRA is $115 billion to support education initiatives. Of that, local school districts are receiving one-time federal appropriation of $12.2 billion in support of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which includes:

$11.3 billion for IDEA Part B Grants to states for school aged students
$400 million for IDEA Part B Section 619 for preschool children
$500 million for IDEA Part C Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities Program
According to the U.S. Department of Education (USED), these funds:

"will provide an unprecedented opportunity for states, LEAs, and EIS programs to implement innovative strategies to improve outcomes for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities while stimulating the economy."

(Source: USED Guidance, April 2009)

The USED released half of the IDEA ARRA funds on April 1, 2009, sending the following amounts to states for quick distribution to local school districts:

$5.650 billion for IDEA Part B Grants to states for school aged students
$200 million for IDEA Part B Section 619 for preschool children
$250 million for IDEA Part C Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities Program
The balance of the IDEA ARRA funds will be released in September 2009. Local school districts must spend all IDEA ARRA funds by September 30, 2011. The ARRA funds for education are in addition to the normal annual federal appropriates (discussed below) to support education programs in the nation's school. Use of all ARRA funds must be reported separately through a process outlined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

To access ongoing information and resources regarding all of the education funds in the ARRA, visit the USED website.
http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/leg/recovery/index.html

Dunwoody Mom said...

cere, it seems our special needs students tend to get the raw end of the deal, a la the Cross Keys community. I have a friend with a special needs child in DCSS and she has been shuffled to at least 3 different schools in her short school life. Change is hard for anyone, but especially for these children who get used to teachers and an environment and then have to start all over again the next school year.

btw, thanks for the info on the AP classes - I didn't think that sounded right.

pscexb said...

Minor amendment, I 'believe' there are AP classes ninth graders can take. I seem to recall that there may be an AP Geography class for those students.

Regarding your comment about the Heritage meeting, I believe in hindsight Mr. Moseley could have asked that those wishing to speak about the merger of Heritage and Margaret Harris go first, then all others after them. How something like that go over with the crowd that evening, I'm not sure but I agree we didn't hear concerns from those impacted by that move. I trust they can get another opportunity to meet with the administration.

You raised a point that is tough to rationalize, should we be logical in considering the space needs of the district or sensitive with respect to the instructional needs of the special needs population. I don't know what Margaret Harris looks like but just looking at the capacity numbers, one would 'think' the 41 students from Heritage could be easily accommodated without compromising their services.

No Duh said...

concerned, you wrote:
"At Peachtree Middle School gifted tracking is extremely important. There is a world of difference in peer groups and education."

Are you sure you are not confusing "gifted" with "high achievers"?

Students (usually or always in elementary school?) must be recommended by their teachers to be gifted tested. These are motivation, creativity, ability and one more area I can't remember tests given to the student by a certified gifted teacher. If the student passes three of the four areas they are then considered "gifted." And, in elementary school the child goes to Discovery with other gifted children.

High Achievers are defined as students who score above the 75 percentile on the Iowa test (have they raised it?) and meets or exceeds on the CRCT. If the student does that, they are considered a High Achiever.

Starting in third grade -- when kids start changing classes -- students are basically divided into three skill abilities: High Achievers (see criteria above), average students, and Skill Builders. The schools will never flat out tell you which group your child is in, but you can pretty much tell which classes are which if you know the abilities of your child's peers.

Many parents of children who make good grades, but don't "test well" are extremely frustrated when their child is put in the Average Student classes.

At HMS the only thing they are required to offer a "gifted" student is at least one gifted-certified teacher on the gifted child's team of teachers. If it's different for PMS that would be very interesting.

But, like elementary school, the classes are pretty much divided into HA, AS and SB. The gifted kids (usually, but not always also high achievers) can be in classes with all levels of achievers.

Beginning in middle school there is no more "Discovery" like elementary school where the gifted kids are taken away from the regular class for an hour or so about four times a week.

No Duh said...

BTW, gifted students earn a higher FTE, i.e. they make more money for the school. So, they are coveted by schools.

However, they can't just be "labeled" gifted, they must pass three out of four of the gifted tests.

Dunwoody Mom said...

no duh, things are a bit different at Peachtree. The "gifted" students, or Impact, as is the offical name, attend their core classes with others in the Impact program - there is no "mixing" of the teams.

Anonymous said...

If this blog is really, really going to make a difference, we need many more parents and teachers to know about it, and actually write posts.

Please spread the word to everyone you know. I've already heard some DCSS staff say it's the same people who post every time. Prove them wrong.

Cerebration said...

So what if it is the same people posting? It's a forum - there are lots of others who just come here to read and become informed. That said, it's so easy to post here - and we would welcome 100 more no problem.

As far as the terribly run meeting at Heritage - it's another example of the extremely poor communication that comes out of central office. Paul Womack offered this to the community in an email -

The Board voted at the February meeting to move forward with the DeKalb Marine Corps Institute. Since that time, we have been working to finalize the Memo of Agreement between the Marine Corps and DeKalb County Schools. There is great concern as it relates to the location of the Institute. The Heritage Center is being considered as a possible location for this Institute, but has not been finalized.

Two Public Hearings are scheduled to discuss updates and additional school closings. The first Hearing will be held on Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 6:30 p.m. at the Heritage Center, 2225 Heritage Drive, Atlanta, 30345, and the second on Thursday, April 16, 2009, 6:30 p.m. at Elizabeth Andrews High School, 2415 North Druid Hills Rd., Atlanta, 30329.

Dr Lewis told the community about the same meeting in an email - calling it a public hearing about the closing of the school but addressing it to the neighborhood as a meeting of interest.

However - when we arrived, we were explicitly told that this is a meeting solely about the closing of Heritage and it's impact on the students who must leave. But - that they would take comments about the military academy plans for the building. There was no person ordering the speakers, however the entire front row was full of members of Lewis' staff. There was a 2 minute clock and we were told they would limit comments to 1 hour. But no one gave out numbers or anything. How easy would it have been to ask the interested speakers if they were Heritage parents and give them early numbers and give the rest of the numbers out up to 30 and that's it. The sudden ending of the meeting which disallowed a Heritage parent to speak was beyond arrogant.

Dunwoody Mom said...

This blog, though not directly, has been referenced several times in AJC articles. Don't worry - it's been read.

Cerebration said...

It's funny. So far I'm hearing - "Oh, it's just the same people posting on that blog." and "I know who Cerebration is and she's just "Bi-Polar."

Gee - can't wait to see how they try to dismiss us next! Meantime - I'd better go take my meds...

Cerebration said...

BTW, psc, I drove by Margaret Harris HS, which looks like an old, former elementary school. You can too - it's off of North Druid Hills Road, practically across the street from Open Campus, etc. - down a street called Knob Hill. It didn't look like it was in nearly as good of shape as Heritage - in fact, it looked kind of creepy. Overall, I think merging these students from age 3 through 22 is a very bad idea.

DCSS administration has been negligent as far as I'm concerned, with regard to using the current, available spaces to the best of their ability. We have so many schools with hundreds of empty seats -

Stephenson is one. Stephenson also has a brand new, state of the art, 9th grade academy housed in it's own separate building on the property. It even has it's own cafeteria, offices and science labs. This would be perfect for the marine academy. Stephenson has 500 empty seats in the school - and could easily accommodate moving the 9th graders back in the main building.

Towers HS is another. Hundreds of empty seats. Plenty of outdoor space for drills.

Clarkston HS - plenty of space.

Forrest Hills ES - recently enjoyed a very expensive addition only to have the administration CLOSE the school. I believe they also have a gymnasium.

Avondale HS - Change of plans. Move DSA somewhere else (incorp into Lakeside - it's only 277 students) - redistrict the current 600 or so students to area schools and use Avondale for the academy.

Chamblee MS. Dunwoody folks would disagree - but it's a better choice than Heritage - and actually has more direct, easier accessibility as it's on a main road. It has a gym and a field. And lockers.

Why is it that we bloggers can come up with so many more viable alternatives when DK officials cannot? Why are they so bent on merging all of the high needs special ed children into one building for their entire school careers? Leave the youngest ones at Heritage. Treat them with respect.

pscexb said...

Went to the meeting at Open Campus/Elizabeth Andrews this evening. Much smaller crowd than Tuesday. Channel 2 was the only TV station there.

Someone asked about housing students from 3-22 under the same roof. The anticipated number of students for next school year for Margaret Harris is 81 for both programs. Assurances were given that there was more that enough space to accomodate all the students. The capacity of Margaret Harris was given as 418.


There were several advocacy groups that spoke against the Marine Academy. Most questioned the wisdom of having a military school in DeKalb County. A few neighborhood people spoke, one even asked that DCSS make repairs to the park as a sign of good will.

Say what you want, DCSS provided an opportunity for all voices to be heard, both for and mostly against the Marine Academy. I'm glad that had the right to express their opinions.

Cerebration said...

So, psc, was the point of the meeting to discuss the closing of the property? Did they discuss their plans for that property or did it become fully another military school debate?

Try as I might - I can only find ONE school (it's in NJ) that houses special education students from 3-22 in the same building. However, it's a very gorgeous, incredible building with the following characteristics -

Benefits of The Children's Center of Monmouth County

Largest day school in NJ

Quality programs

Excellent staff to student ratio that will never exceed 4:1

Year round pool facilities

Large, fully equipped gym

State of the art therapy rooms

School and community based recreation program

Varied selection of augmentative communication devices

Fully equipped prevocational program

Vocational opportunities including on site and off site job coaching

Orthopedic Clinic

Comprehensive mealtime management program

Currently developing project for a working farm
Sonoma County CA has a website chock full of info for their special education services -- we could take a lesson from them as well -

http://www.scoe.org/pub/htdocs/specialed.html

Kim Gokce said...

@Cere (and Anon): If a group of people are determined to ignore opinions that are not in line with their own, there is no way to force them to do otherwise.

The value in the public comment and in this type of forum here is that we can connect with others, leverage each others' knowledge, and partner where common cause is found. Any real advocacy requires a lot more work than commentary or criticism - these are only the beginning, not an end.

That said, DCSS would be foolish to dismiss what is shared on this blog. I can't speak for others on this blog but I know in my case there are many, many others in my community who share my perspective and concerns. They simply are too busy living their lives to be bothered to comment publicly. Mostly, they have given up on DCSS. DCSS should be eager to understand and win over anyone like us who still is paying attention and cares.

To dismiss this blog and its followers is to dismiss a legion of others who are silent.

Truly a fatal mistake in leadership if that is what is happening ...

pscexb said...

The primary objective of this meeting was to discuss the relocation of Open Campus and DSA. They opened the same was as Tuesday night, reviewing a PowerPoint of the consolidation plan, discussing the merger of Heritage and Margaret Harris, then the relocations. As with Tuesday night, the Marine Academy dominated the discussion. It should be noted that due to the small crowd, some people came to the mike up to 3 times within the hour of allocated time.

Dr. Lewis nor any board members were in attendance. Some of the protesters were disappointed to hear that.

FWIW, I also know quite a few people that read this website. Some are hesitant to post and some do so under 'Anonymous'. There are many perspectives shared and it is up to the reader to determine if they find value in the postings.

No Duh said...

"To dismiss this blog and its followers is to dismiss a legion of others who are silent."

Yep, this blog is like the roach you see in your kitchen -- you know there are a lot more that you can't see! :)

So DunMom, at PMS kids who are gifted (tested that way in elementary) go to Language Arts, Science, Social Studies and Math ONLY with other gifted students (no HAs, ASs or SBs in the class)? Wow.

Therefore, the teachers in all these subjects for these gifted classes have to be certified gifted.

How many classes of only gifted students are there in sixth grade?

If it were done that way at HMS I don't think we'd have enough gifted certified teachers to cover every gifted student in every subject. I mean, Evansdale alone sent probably 25 gifted students into sixth grade at HMS this year.

Hmmm, very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Jim Wooten, best friend of the disgraced Ralph Reed, and 4 ft 11 in. in high heels, is the AJC's conservative columnist. If you're not a hard-line right winger, he'll call 'ya a derogatory name in his column. Here's what he has to say today about anyone who dares question the location of the Marine Academy:

http://blogs.ajc.com/thinking-right/?cxntlid=nav_mtr_opn_thnkng_rght

"Congratulations to DeKalb School Superintendent Crawford Lewis and his board for starting the DeKalb Marine Corps Institute come August. To those who resist it on any basis other than the usual neighborhood NIMBY-ism, shame on you."

"Shame on you" for voicing an opinion??

Jim knows nothing about Heritage and how the new school will affect the neighborhood. But he still calls everybody out about it.

Feel free to e-mail Jimbo at jwooten@ajc.com.


P.S. If he knew about DCSS Central Office's bloated salaries and overstaffing, maybe he wouln't be so quick to give prop's to C Lew.

Cerebration said...

I noticed that too, Anon. I think Wooten needs some "educating" - let's take on that task bloggers.

Cerebration said...

Here's something to take note of --

Three pieces of legislation passed by the General Assembly are waiting to be signed into law by the Governor -- and they need your support to become law. One is -

"HB 555 would allow local charter schools to utilize unused facilities owned by the local school board without charge."

Seems that Heritage could be better utilized as a small charter school for elementary students -- we could use the space for that age group.

http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2009_10/sum/hb555.htm.
Oh - the other two?

HB 251 would allow students to transfer to another public school in their assigned public school system.

HB 100 would modify the Tuition Tax Credit Scholarship program to allow for the explicit continuation of scholarships from year to year, make the donation process more efficient, and allow all donors to receive a tax credit of up to 75% of their state income tax liability.

Please contact Governor Sonny Perdue and let him know that you support these bills and meaningful education reform in Georgia. Governor Perdue can be contacted at:

Governor Sonny Perdue
The Office of the Governor
State of Georgia
203 State Capitol
Atlanta, Georgia 30334

Phone: 404-656-1776
Fax: 404-657-7332
or go here to send an email -

http://gov.georgia.gov/00/gov/contact_us/0,2657,78006749_94820188,00.html

Cerebration said...

ps - let Sonny know how you feel either way about these bills - for or against. I just copied and pasted that last part and then noticed it supported all bills. I'm particularly interested in using small, available schools for charters for free (Heritage).

Now that's something we could actually use in our neighborhood - a small, charter elementary to relieve crowding at our area elementary schools.

Cerebration said...

Interesting tidbit I hadn't noticed before -- as I was perusing the DCSS salaries - I resorted by job descriptions and found the following people already work in DCSS with the title, "Military Science Teacher" - these people total $2,502,932.00 in salaries and spent $13,552.00 in travel expenses --

Some names MAY look familiar -

GILLIARD,TAMMY M
ADKINS,EUGENE
BALLARD,ANDREW D
BOHLES,WILLIE L
BORDEN,DONNIE R
DAVIS,WILLIAM G
DEAS,ROSEMAN L
ESPY,FREDERICK L
FERGUSON,JAMES A
FRAZIER,TIMOTHY C
GRAVES,THOMAS E
GREER,CHERYL K
GUILLORY,JOSEPH C
HAM,ROBERT E
HAWKINS,MONIQUE S
HILL,LUTHER
HORTON,TERRY L
INGRAM,JOE L
JENKINS,BARRY J
JOHNSON,EDWARD J
KEEN,RANDALL T
LATSON,DONALD C
LAUER,JOHN C
MACKSON,IRENE D
MARINEY,CLARENCE
MCADAMS,MARY E
MCDANIEL,JAMES C
MCFARLAND,ANTONIO L
MCNEAL,WILLIAM
MOODY,THOMAS R
PAULING,CALVIN B
REAVES,WILLIAM F
REESE,TRACY L
ROBINSON,DARRYL J
ROGER,JAMES E
ROSS,CARLTON B
SCOTT,GREGORY K
SIDER,SIDNEY L
SITERO,CHARLES M
STACKHOUSE,LENWOOD
STAFFORD,RAYMOND
THOMPSON,STEVEN L
TURNER,JAMES L
VANDERHEIDE,ANDREW

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