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.