Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Another Board Meeting Report - As I Saw It

I have been staying home and watching the board meetings on my big screen tv with a glass of wine these days. You see, this way I don’t have to muffle my screams.

Once again, I was disappointed in last night's board meeting. Frankly, I think the “citizen comments” have become – oh what was the phrase that Bob Mosley used to describe parents – oh yeah, “Background Noise.”

The citizen comments are a joke. No one is listening. Talk to the hand. No one cares. La la la. Ms. Jackson and her children and several parents from DESA have pleaded for over a year not to move their school. No one even pretends to pay attention to them anymore. One mom said that she was returning to ask for the same thing she had requested over a year ago – recess in elementary schools and a better quality of student life. Representatives from the Organization of DeKalb Educators continue to speak up for teachers -- against the taking back of STEP increases, high insurance costs and now misuse of stimulus money – but our school board continues to stick to their decisions regardless of how those affected feel about them.

Case in point – the Military Academy. Several community members once again spoke out against the academy, however, word has it that this is pretty much a “done deal”. A deal that was completed in record time and behind a cloak of secrecy. Why would any leader insist on forging ahead with a plan that is so controversial? A plan that not only uses an imbalance of funding per student (people were batting around a $32 million figure for some reason) but actually offends some people. One woman, who has researched the Academy and has come to possess email conversations about the deal through the Open Records Act, told the crowd that despite Dr. Lewis’ statement that he never heard about the idea until February 6, 2009, there were emails recounting a meeting between the military and the school system as far back as September, 2008. And on February 6, 2009, the Pentagon approved the “partnership” – looking forward to recruiting African-American and Hispanic youth. That’s what she said – for real. Now, who’s telling the truth and who’s lying? I’d like to know.

My apathy came to a peak at the very last comment of the evening, made by Jay Cunningham. I’ve always suspected that no one in south DeKalb much cares about the schools up north here as far as auditoriums or the bad conditions and that just maybe our projects will remain in "design limbo" while their favorite projects get built - elsewhere. In fact, at the Board meeting last night, Jay Cunningham apologized for his recent quote in the "Crossroads" news. In it, he said it was "righting a wrong" to finally start building an auditorium for SW DeKalb, the only school without one! Then he said he stands corrected after getting many phone calls - and that he was wrong - Cedar Grove doesn't have one either! And we need to get that fixed - "sooner rather than later"... No mention of Lakeside, Cross Keys, Dunwoody, or Chamblee!!! He had an opportunity to point out that ALL high schools will eventually get an auditorium as planned with SPLOST 3. He had an opportunity to promote a countywide perspective by pointing out that Lakeside, Cross Keys, Dunwoody and Chamblee don't have auditoriums and that these schools have been on the SPLOST list for auditoriums for over two years. He could have shared that Cross Keys' renovation was second on the SPLOST 3 list of priorities – even ahead of the new Tucker HS, which is nearly completed - yet no dirt has been turned at Cross Keys and the High School of Technology is scheduled to merge with them in August.

I used to think that Jay was the one board rep who looked at things from a countywide perspective – silly me.


Kim Gokce said...

Thanks for the information (and editorial) - I intended to record the meeting for review later but failed to do so.

Perhaps we should all meet at local sports pub to watch the next one. :) Can you imagine the fight for the remote?

I don't know quite how to react to the "Marine" academy - on one hand, I like bold action and leadership in the face of criticism. On the other hand, I hate the "smoke-filled room" deal making that seems to go on.

At the end of the day, I think we are stuck with this ongoing frustration since the structure of the BoE is inescapably political in nature.

Somewhere buried in this blogs comments, I previously joked about making it a requirement that BoE members NOT live in DeKalb County. I'm not sure that is funny anymore ...

Cerebration said...

Hey - not a bad idea, Kim. There is still a big push at the State level to enact some laws to manage and control school boards. Something must get passed next time - this is getting out of hand.

Cerebration said...

This is from the DCSS website Construction projects section –

The following high schools have been selected in the Capital Improvement Plan to receive Auditorium/Fine Arts Additions:
Druid Hills

So far, Druid Hills has seen some renovation. No other dirt has been turned. In addition, Cross Keys, which was on the SPLOST 3 list as the first priority after completing unfinished SPLOST 2 projects, remains untouched. In addition, plans are still in the works to move the High School of Technology North into the same crumbling, horrible Cross Keys building. Ain't no way that a total reno can get the place ready by August. Ironically, some dirt actually has been turned at Cross Keys. However, once the dirt was turned, everyone packed up and left! Now, it's a crumbling building with a bunch of turned dirt all around.

Is this equitable??? Why make a priority list if you won't stick to the priorities?!!

Anonymous said...

In fairness to Jay, the schools you listed are all slated to get auditoriums in SPLOST 3. SW DeKalb had a fortune spent on it when Pritchett was in charge so it wasn't slated to get much this time. However, the projects at SW DeKalb were badly botched and so no auditorium was ever built.

There seemed to be board consensus that every high school needs to have an auditorium.

As to Ms. Jackson, she and her children have become background noise. She has a marginal understanding of system issues and often gets the facts wrong. It isn't that she doesn't want DESA moved, it is that she wants a multi-million dollar school built for elementary students who have an interest in the arts. While that is lovely, I want every child in DCSS to have working toilets, adequate lighting, walls that aren't peeling, etc, etc etc. Has money always been well spent? Absolutely not.

Cerebration said...

Yes, I know - I'm sorry if that wasn't clear in my post - I'll try to fix it. It's just that they've been "promised" for over two years - but none has been built. Yes, we have some preliminary designs, etc. But it's all looking like a pacifier to me.

The way Jay phrased his comment made it sound as if everyone else HAS an auditorium. I think it's imperative that he talk honestly about how horrible some of the schools in the north really are - but he won't. He feeds off of the north/south divide just as much as his other elected peers. I was very disappointed that he missed an opportunity to bring truth to the table.

And yeah, I know what the Jacksons want - and I completely disagree. But they are there - harping - month after month - thus the joke. The comments are not heard and the board shouldn't even pretend that they are listening.

Cerebration said...

Don't get me wrong - I quite like Jay. I am just disappointed that he plays into the north/south divide. It's difficult to convince people in south DK that things aren't all rosy in the schools in the north - and I think that if he told them the truth - he would lose credibility- they wouldn't believe him.- so he won't go there. But - consequently, he has lost credibility with me. Can't have it both ways. Either tell the truth all of the time or face the consequence - mistrust.

pscexb said...

I simply wanted to 'piggyback' on the comment made by Anon @ 4:03. Jay got 'beat up' by the Cedar Grove advocates. I don't know how many of you have seen that school but they are also in desperate need of love. Some of that community kiddingly suggested adding 'McNair' to their name in hopes of getting some attention from their board member... :)

Obviously what Jay meant originally was that SW DeKalb was the only HS without an auditorium or plans for one. How Cedar Grove slipped by is a legitimate question. How did that statement go unchallenged? Given that the board approved an auditorium for SW DeKalb with the additional revenues from SPLOST 3, will there be an initiative to 'find' an additional 10 million for a Cedar Grove auditorium?

BTW, as mentioned in an earlier blog, the SWD project goes at the end of the existing SPLOST list. The additional monies allocated for Cross Keys and Lakeside will be appropriated at the time of the existing projects for those schools.

I saw the board meeting last night also. There is so much 'misinformation' with respect to DESA put out by their advocates. Ironically, one of the board actions last night was to officially close Hooper Alexander at the end of this school year, thus making their speeches moot. They also had their mandatory hearing this past fall also. I will say, it would have been nice if they could have moved into Forrest Hills (around the corner from Avondale HS) however that is the 'planned' site of the single gender school.

There was also misinformation made by some with respect to 32 million dollars allocated for the Marine Academy. Some were mentioning the Title 1 money for that school which is incorrect. As Ms. Pope indicated, they will need to convert the bathrooms in Heritage for HS students, which should not cost that much. It remains to be seen which facility will host the academy in 2010-2011.

Cerebration said...

I understand your points, PSC, I'm just saying that you and I know these things - but people in S DK generally don't and generally hold on to the fantasy that we in the "north" get all the money - which is patently false. You say that one school is not up to par and their parents are very vocal - "beating up" on Jay. Well - multiply that by 4 or 5 schools around here - and board members who can't seem to get us anything - due to the misconceptions that have existed for years and years that there's a disparity.

There's plainly not - and I just wish that some of the reps of the schools in South DK would have the moxy to tell that to their constituents. But of course, they won't - not even Jay. The old beliefs will carry on. That's what made me so mad. He had the chance to paint a countywide picture and he chose not to.

And - praise the day that we don't have to listen to the drivel of Ms Jackson and her children complaining, complaining, complaining.... there's not enough wine for me to endure much more of it. But my point is - they are a sideshow - and the continue to harp on their one issue - times 3 - diluting everyone else's points.

Where does the $32 million come from? Title 1? I thought it 'wasn't" Title 1 -- is it or isn't it?

What about the emails - did they talk about it way back in September or was that lady "mistaken"?

Anonymous said...

Who was in charge of the SW DeKalb renovation that started out costing $9 million and ended up costing $21 million?
Robert L. Brown

We expect Gwen Keyes to do a thorough investigation of the Jaheem suicide?

What do they both have in common with Crawford Lewis?

All are fellow Leadership DeKalb Alumni. Leadership DeKalb alumni stick together, right or wrong.

Connect the dots at:

Cerebration said...

This is from another thread -- I found a Dallas blog with nothing good to say about Heery Construction --

They also posted this article from the AJC - which is not available at the AJC online - it's a broken link...so I thought I'd publish it here for posterity.

Audit raps schools in DeKalb
Building program oversight criticized
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 06/02/06

An independent audit released Thursday criticized both the DeKalb County school system and the management firm it contracted with for problems in the system's school construction program, including delays and probable overpayments for work.

The audit found no evidence of any fraud or theft, said Patrick A. McGeehin of the Maryland-based Rubino & McGeehin Consulting Group. He said the problems could be corrected.

The county school board commissioned the audit about four months ago in a move meant to reassure the public about the construction program. Board members plan to ask voters next March to renew — for the third time in a row — a special 1 percent sales tax that is paying for the construction program.

On Thursday, system officials said work began months ago to iron out obvious problems in the program, including bringing in new leadership with the hiring last fall of Patricia Pope, a construction industry veteran, to oversee it.

Other recommendations in the audit — including a better prioritized project list, more realistic cost estimates, revisions in contract language, and up-to-date, concise status reports on projects — are already being addressed, Pope said. The system also cut ties with Heery/Mitchell, the management firm, in April.

DeKalb officials also announced two audit-related hires:

• The powerhouse law firm King & Spalding will see what costs the school system might be able to recover from "any and everybody involved with our program," schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis said.

• The public relations firm Jackson Spalding will help get information out about the audit and what the system will do to address its findings, Lewis said. Auditors had criticized DeKalb's communications efforts related to its construction program.

"Some of the information was somewhat of a disappointment," county school board Chairwoman Cassandra Anderson-Littlejohn said. "But much of what is in the forensic audit was what we know."

The audit did not give any figures on possible overpayments.

Among the major findings:

• Heery/Mitchell did not live up to its contractual obligations. Auditors said they could find no comprehensive, regularly updated program schedule or any documented evidence that the firm analyzed the need for or price of change orders. Required monthly reports "were not consistently prepared."

• DeKalb officials were late in voicing questions and concerns, and they aggravated the problems in the program by making a career educator — someone with no construction experience — their point person. That educator recently retired.

• The entire construction program should have been re-evaluated once it became clear original cost estimates were too low. "This would, in all probability, have avoided much of the continuing controversy," auditors said. They noted that board members approved more than $610 million worth of projects, even as revenue for the program from the sales tax was projected to be less than $500 million.

• Neither the management firm nor DeKalb officials systematically reviewed whether they were owed money back for problems and delays that may have been caused by contractors or architects. Examples cited by auditors include delays and rising renovation costs at Southwest DeKalb High School, which have riled parents and students.

"I know that they know they messed up," said Tracy McMeen, Southwest's PTA president. Work at the school is ongoing. "I still feel we're not doing everything we can."

Heery/Mitchell, a joint venture of Heery International and E.R. Mitchell and Co., had not been provided a copy of the audit Thursday, but Gregory Peirce, a senior vice president for Heery, said the firm feels "pretty strongly" that it did what DeKalb asked it to do and that it took its directions from the school board.

The firm had worked in DeKalb County since the start of the construction program in 1997. Since then, the system has addressed nearly $1 billion in building needs during the past decade. Officials estimate they currently have about $800 million worth to go.

© 2006 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Anonymous said...

What the article doesn't report, is that there were a small group of parents and community members constantly questioning Pritchett's ability to do the job. The board members choose to ignore their constituents' pleas and observations, even when made by professionals in the construction area.

Heery isn't innocent in this either though.

Whether the lawsuit has been a good investment will only be discovered if and when this gets to court -- and it won't be pretty. We can expect the Heery lawyers to dwell on the incompetence of Pritchett and the Board.

Given all this, could this type of thing happen under the current Board (forget that Pope is there to try and keep them from making the same mistakes, but pretent that someone with skills like Pritchett is in charge instead.)

At the meeting on Monday night, there were 25 plus items on the agenda. In total, I bet not 12 questions/comments were made by Board Members and if you take out the America's Choice Discussion, I bet it was less than 6. I am sure much is being discussed through email (illegal under Open Meetings by the way) and much of what was on the agenda was dribble but still -- for example, DATE (a start up charter school in DeKalb) is moving to a bigger facility. Given how start up charters struggle financially in GA, you think that one of the board members might have asked if the system had varified that they could pay before approving the amendment to their charter.

No Duh said...

They don't ask questions for three reasons, as I see it.

The first was just mentioned by Anon: "I am sure much is being discussed through email (illegal under Open Meetings by the way).."

The second: Watch these BOE members during the one hour citizen comment section. The usual suspects aren't listening at all -- they are reading the material just put before them. That material is all the real information and supporting documents about the agenda items (all the stuff that is NOT put on the online agenda or printed agenda for the rest of us to see). Even Evelyn Wood couldn't read it all in an hour, much less think about it enough to formulate a question about it.

The third reason. Most do not have the intellectual ability to understand it.

Cerebration said...

I forgot to mention one very interesting point that Jim Redovian kept asking about. There's a lot of excitement now due to the approval to implement the "America's Choice" program in schools. This is only going to be implemented in Title 1 schools, however, using the ARRA stimulus funds. After much excited promotion about how wonderful and effective this program is, Redovian asked, "Since it's such a great program, can we implement it in all schools? After all, there are many Title 1 students in non-Title 1 schools - however the Title 1 money doesn't follow them. And after all, our non-Title 1 students would benefit from such a great program too, wouldn't they?" (Hmmm - could it be that this is not equitable to implement a promising program only for a select group?)

Dr. Lewis' response - and I'm quoting him here on this blog today so that we can follow-up - was "Absolutely, we can offer this program to non-Title 1 schools". Jay C asked if we could at least offer the same training to the non-Title 1 principals and teachers -- again - "Yes!"...

Plan to follow-up on this one.

Cerebration said...

Another item -- Lewis asked for some personnel changes and these were approved -

Mosely was (promoted?) to Deputy Chief of Operations
Tyson was (promoted?) to something.... missed that
Bouie was (promoted?) to Assoc Super of Instruction
Felicia Mitchell was (promoted?) to Assoc Super of Support Svcs

and this 'lateral' move:

Alice Thompson to Chief of Staff

as well as unfreezing these jobs:

Director of Internal Audits
Director of Plant Services
Director of Planning

The Board approved accepting the findings of personnel matter 0901 - anyone know what that is?

Cerebration said...

BTW - the America's Choice program is being funded by an $862,000 Perkins Grant and will replace Springboard in Title 1 schools. Gloria Talley will monitor it's success & progress. After the grant is used up (2 years) then, the Title 1 (or ARRA) funds will be used.

pscexb said...

Regarding the requested personnel changes....

The gist of this is for Dr. Lewis to have fewer 'direct' reports to he can concentrate more on strategic issues rather than management ones. Dr. Lewis requested 3 direct reports:

Mr. Moseley (School Operations)
Ms. Tyson (Business Operations)
Ms. Pope (Chief Operating Officer)

I 'believe' Instruction would fall under Moseley and functions such as Finance would fall under Tyson.

As I understood, Dr. Mitchell and Thompson are essentially 'switching' jobs. Dr. Mitchell is currently Chief of Staff and Dr. Thompson is over Student Assignment.

We won't hear anything about the personnel matter due to privacy laws. I believe it was discussed in executive session.

themommy said...

Not true -- they can't discuss individual personnel issues publicly, but they certainly can discuss (and should have) why promotions (does that equal raises) into positions that don't currently exist. Remember, you can discuss a position without discussing a person.

Additionally, they vote to unfreeze three positions which were frozen last year (director of planning, director of plant operations and something else) without a word of explanation to taxpayers about why we can afford this when so much has been cut.

Anonymous said...

Mosely was (promoted?) to Deputy Chief of Operations
Tyson was (promoted?) to something.... missed that
Bouie was (promoted?) to Assoc Super of Instruction
Felicia Mitchell was (promoted?) to Assoc Super of Support Svcs

Are they getting raises too???

pscexb said...

Let's take a step back for a moment. The organizational changes are what's being proposed to the board at this time. More than likely, they will be approved at the next meeting. I'm not sure if compensation has been discussed yet however it is reasonable the board members will do so.

Of the proposed changes, it looks as though Ms. Tyson is the only one that would be 'promoted'. There 'may' be additional compensation considered for an increased span of control. Again, that is something board members would consider.

Open+Transparent said...

pscexb, they are already highly compensated for their positions in a system with a shrinking enrollment and a bloated Central Office. Lewis complains about the lack of funding, they are no STEP increases, etc., etc.

An increase in pay for any of them would be flat out unseemly.

Cerebration said...

Well - Let's follow up on these salaries -- Below are their current job descriptions and current pay. We'll just keep tabs on them in the future.


Bob Moseley (Dpt Ast Super) $151,563.70
Ramona Tyson (Dpt Ast Super) $131,104.82
Wendolyn Norris-Bouie (Dpt Ast Super) $131,104.82
Felicia Mitchell (Dpt Ast Super) $123,594.82
Alice Thompson (DeputyAssoc/Ast Super) $118,673.12

Anonymous said...

CONFUSION AND MISINFORMATION-How did we get the figure 32 million?

DeKalb County Schools is getting 33.1 million dollars in Title I stimulus money to be used for each of the 93 Title I schools in the system. You will remember that Title I schools have a predominance of low income students that qualify for free and reduced lunch.

Somehow someone confused the Title I appropriation with the Marine school costs and that was quoted various times at the board meeting by various speakers. The Marine School will in all probability be a title I school simply because over 61% of DeKalb County Students meet the Title I definition. In any case the Marin School will not cost anything close to 32 million dollars.

I am not taking a position on the Marine School-but someone needs to get their facts straight.

I think making your child read your comments each month at a public meeting is child abuse. No one listens because these people are wasting our time.

pscexb said...

Anon @ 11:40, you beat me to the punch. Thanks for clearing that up. I watched the board meeting this morning out of curiosity where the number came from. Ms. Jackson mentioned the 32 million then tied it to the Military Academy. She inferred the district 'found' this money hence other uninformed advocates for DESA included this in their comments.

As I mentioned earlier based on a comment from Ms. Pope, the primary structural changes needed for Heritage will be with restrooms.

For those interested in the LaGuardia Arts school mentioned by one speaker, it has an interesting history. How it 'came to be' is especially interesting. You can read about it at:


Cerebration said...

FAME! - Oh well great. Thanks psc. Now I have the song stuck in my head...

Thanks to all for clearing up the $32 million. Several people mentioned it at the meeting. Maybe someone could send them to the blog to read your comments.

We certainly try to keep this place factual.

No Duh said...

I'm thinking the ladies who did the open records search were batting that 32 mill number around after the Heritage "community" meeting with Dr. Lewis. I may have mentioned that in my post way back when, but I know I said it came from the ladies I talked to after that meeting.

Anonymous said...

What kind of salaries should the executives of a corporation that manages one billion dollars in expenditures each year? Would someone making under $100,000 be an able and experienced manager for this large corporation?

DeKalb County Schools will spend $851,100,000 dollars next year on operations. It will invest another $ 275,800,000 on capital improvements. This totals over $1,126,900,000 or just over one billion dollars. The bulk of the operations budget is for salaries (89.1%) and 80% of the budget is directed to instruction and school level expenditures. Unlike the administrative staff of most corporations this size, they do not get bonuses, they lose their jobs if they don’t balance the budget, and they certainly are subject to much more public scrutiny.

The board of this billion dollar business is elected and requires no qualifications that would pertain to running such a large operation. In fact, unlike students or teachers, board members don’t even have to take a test to qualify (Perhaps they should have to take the high school graduation test as the students do or the Praxis as the teachers do).

The system owns and operates over 1000 school buses. It manages a construction budget of 275 million dollars. It employs just over 13,800 people. It serves over 15,000,000 meals a year.

It’s an economic engine for DeKalb County. It faces some interesting challenges. Over 61% of its students qualify for free and reduced lunch. It has 93 Title I schools. State funding cuts over the past years total over 123 million dollars. The school tax rate has not increased for 10 years.

Per pupil expenditures are $8,187.

Interestingly enough, it cost somewhere between $14,000 and $18,000 per year per prison inmate in Georgia (It is $16,528 per inmate the DeKalb County Jail). I wonder if we spent more now on the kids, would we have to spend less later on prisoners?

Cerebration said...

Sadly, the Heritage "community" meeting with Dr. Lewis was supposed to address the concerns of the parents and teachers of the 3-11 year old special needs students who are being vacated from the building and sent to house with other special needs students to age 21.

Boy did that meeting get off track. I feel really badly for those parents and teachers. Their concerns were not remotely addressed, as Dr. Lewis and crew allowed it to become a "Military Academy" meeting. Two separate meetings should have been planned.

Has anyone actually noticed what occurred there? We have now gone back to the 1940's where we plan to send all of our special needs students (these are children with very high needs) to the SAME BUILDING for their WHOLE LIVES. Slipped right by because of the Marine brouhaha.

Cerebration said...

ps - - great data, anonymous!! I really dig your post - come back and add more anytime!

Cerebration said...

Another example of waste (IMO) -

DSA - 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.

$10 million divided by 289 = $34,602.00 (and that's just for the move and upgrades to their part of the building.) 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, no art, little music, crumbling buildings and trailer life.

The budget for the Cross Keys renovation - which will effect over 1000 students (after the HSTN merges) - has been reported to be between $11 million and $16 million. Is this equitable?

fedupindcss said...

Anon 12:37--

Most elected positions have very little in the way of requirements (e.g. POTUS only has to be 35 and a native-born American). That is to allow for anyone who feels involved enough to run to run.

That said, I would drop this right in the lap of the citizens of the county. If they vote for unqualified people then they get what they deserve. They don't go to candidate forums, they don't read about them on ajc.com or GoDekalb, and the local news sure doesn't cover it. An uninformed electorate equals an uninformed Board.

Of course, GA has too many elected positions anyway, and by the time they get to the BOE candidates, they are pretty confused.

Anonymous said...

Moving 289 students seems odd but if you put them in the building with at least 161 other students suddenly you get more state money. Georgia does not provide per pupil money to small schools under 450 students. SO the DSA cost presently comes entirely from local funds with no state match. It's money well spent-DSA is a high preforming school as most arts magnets are in the USA. It even has very high scores in math and science. (Perhaps because the arts require discipline arts students work harder?)However, once you spent the money to move those 289 students to a school with a population over the minimum DeKalb County gains over $4000 per student or 289*4000=$1,156,000 per year in operational funding. Think of the capital money as an endowment that is producing 10% income per year.

By the way, I think the state is stupid not to subsidize smaller schools.

Molly said...

It's money well spent-DSA is a high preforming school as most arts magnets are in the USA. It even has very high scores in math and science. (Perhaps because the arts require discipline arts students work harder?)Perhaps it is because DSA is able to cream top students from other schools through the audition process. Students can't apply without submitting test scores and teacher recommendations. Middle school teachers have told me they can predict who will be admitted based not on artistic talent but on ITBS scores. In selecting between a group of students with equal artistic talent, DSA is free to pick those students who will help keep their test scores high.

Anonymous said...

DSA also asks students (or they feel pressured to leave.) They also often have absurdly small classes because the enrollment of the school is so small. In the meantime, next year there will be elementary schools in DeKalb with no art or music teachers -- that is the crime here.

Anonymous said...

I do not want to discuss how one of these women worked her way up the chain of command according to so many in the know in the school system. She was one of Dr. Halfords favorites. She was favorite to so many more in powerful situations also. She really is a hard worker and does deserve to be were she is today.

Cerebration said...

Actually, as much as the "Jackson 3" annoy me - I do have to wonder why the Board didn't consider her proposal to make Avondale a k-12 school of the arts. There aren't that many students currently attending Avondale - they could be disbursed to other schools. Then move DESA in with DSA and we wouldn't need the new space for DESA -- coulda maybe saved a buck...

Just a thought.

Anonymous said...


Just so you know. DSA is not alone. Magnet arts schools across the nation lead their systems in test scores. There is always the criticism that any magnet school siphons off test high achievers. This even extends to states that have state schools for science or art such as North Carolina.

If you decide to have schools that specialize in science, art or even being Marines, it is reasonable to set up a process designed to attract committed students. One crucial factor in the success of any school is how much the student wants to be there and how much education matters in their family.

We could just abolish all special programs and give everyone in every school the same thing, no matter what their needs, talents, or interests were. After all students are all the same, right?

Funding for teaching the arts is a crime. Since the state of Georgia has not bothered to adopt a curriculum in music and the high stakes tests focus on reading and math (and soon science Arts get short shrift in Georgia. Of course, every student should have competent arts instruction. We would like to produce well rounded, healthy, thoughtful citizens.

Cerebration said...

I completely agree, anonymous. Any magnet school that combines high achieving, like-minded students will see an exponential return. I do think it's a good thing. I have witnessed this at Kittredge and Chamblee - these students many times, would be marginalized at their home schools, but they thrive when schooled with their peers.

My point with DSA has always been that the funding is totally imbalanced. So many schools offer little or none of the arts, while DSA usurps an abundance. Their per student funding is off the charts - especially considering this new building.

For an analogy - how would people react if we had a math and science magnet high school for 285 students who had the best math and science teachers with classrooms of 12 or so - yet all other high schools had to cut back on math and science. Is that logical? Is it fair? I don't mind the existence of DSA - I just abhor the fact that they reap benefits that very few elsewhere in the system receive.