It was a stormy morning and the cathedral-like floor to ceiling windows at both ends of the Media Center created a dramatic atmosphere for what turned out to be some pretty strident comments from Dr. Lewis.
After the DCPC took care of its official business of electing new officers, Dr. Lewis took to the podium and proceeded to cover a broad range of topics. I did not plan to take formal notes but once I realized he was making what I considered surprising statements, I scribbled notes as quickly as I could and will offer them to this blog's readers even though they are sketchy at best.
Before starting to address a long list of planning, operations, and other school system business, Dr. Lewis shared his thoughts about the media coverage of the Jaheem Herrera case. After acknowledging the tragic nature of the boy's death, Dr. Lewis expressed great frustration with how the media has treated the subject and made it clear that much of the reporting has been inaccurate based on his knowledge of the circumstances of the case.
Specifically, he indicated that there is evidence that Jaheem, himself, was the offender in bullying cases DCSS is learning about. Though I wouldn't be surprised by anything that comes out of this sad story, I was very surprised by the strident statements made by Dr. Lewis. Apparently, the heat and distraction of this horrible story has really negatively affected the Superintendent. Whether he intended to or not, he came across as very angry at the media and very unsympathetic to the claims made by Ms. Bermudez.
Putting that sensational topic aside, he quickly ran through many other matters/comments of consequence. I was only able to jot down a word or phrase about each so forgive the skinny reporting:
1. Transportation Plan to be fully implemented in the coming year.
2. He wants to focus less on "choice" programs and reverse the emphasis in these areas recent Boards have been driving.
3. He would like to see an end to busing programs from "the doorstep."
4. He wants to focus performance efforts on high schools and characterized them as the "hard nut" to crack.
5. CIP will benefit from $59m returned from other projects canceled/deferred and unexpected savings on bids coming in.
6. $52m from stimulus will be directed to Title 1/IDA student over 2 years. He cautioned about what may happen when the money runs out.
7. 28 room addition is coming to Lakeside.
8. Redistricting, Attendance Lines changes, and consolidations are coming - get ready!
- He expects to get a draft plan from Pope & Moseley during May.
- He expects this plan to be read to the BoE in June.
- He expects community meetings/plan reviews in July/August.
- Changes implemented in 2010.
- He said "Dunwoody was safe"
- When asked if that included Montgomery/Chamblee, he directly said yes.
- When asked by yours truly if that included Cross Keys cluster as "safe," he did not directly answer which indicates to me that Cross Keys system will be the subject of changes.
9. Programs will be cut
- He mentioned Flat Shoals and another school by name saying they willl become traditional schools rather than year-round, for example.
- Spring Board to be eliminated everywhere (there was applause from many at this comment).
- 5 graduation coaches will be eliminted (Peachtree MS, Chamblee MS, Redan MS, Henderson MS, and I think he said Stephenson MS???)
11. "Crackdown" on dress code coming.
12. 10 buildings will be repurposed, leased or for sale very soon. By Jan 2010, buildings A and B will be unoccupied.
13. No planned improvements to athletic fields but he did say in response to question, "Something must be done about North DeKalb Field."
14. America's Choice is coming to 20 schools (with Redovian saying why not 40? All?)
There was some additional discussion on state funding and related matters but that pretty much wraps up my take-aways. Hope this helps those who couldn't attend or are not in these districts.
Kim Gokce, HillsDale Neighborhood, CommunityRadar.com