Friday, August 28, 2009

Uneven Allocation? Let's Pay Attention to the Money Trail

I am not pleased with many parts of the DeKalb school system, but am optimistic that we (residents of DeKalb) can reverse what has happened in the past few years.

A majority of the problems with DeKalb Schools is the allocation of resources. So I have several questions we all need to ponder upon.

However, first a brief story: My sixth grade child is having a hard time adjusting to middle school. The primary problem is his lack of organizational skills and it appears that these skills have impacted his grades. My wife and I asked him this weekend what he needs to be better organized? So he came up with a laundry list of items. The total cost of his list was less than two tanks of gas so we provided him with everything on his list along with an ultimatum to get his grades back up.

I believe that Dr. Lewis, not unlike my child, realizes that there is a problem. However, unlike my child he cannot just cash in his allowance to fix the problem. Dr. Lewis stated he knew the problem by making 2009 the year of Raising the Bar and Making a Difference, but if we cannot give him the tools, there is very little he or any Superintendent will be able to accomplish.

So here are my questions:

1) Is the DCSS (DeKalb County School System) getting every dollar it is entitled to from local, state, and federal taxes along with outside foundations?

2) Is DCSS using that money as efficiently as possible?

3) If the money that DCSS receives is not enough to properly teach our children, what are they doing to raise more money?

4) How much does it cost to properly teach a child in DeKalb compared to the rest of GA?

Before anyone gets two quick to respond do not forget the following:

It does cost more to teach a student in an inner city and here are two primary reasons:

a. Variable cost, primarily the cost for the teacher, as most teachers would rather live and teach in the suburbs we need to understand that a premium of 20-30% will need to be added to have them teach inside the perimeter.

b. Fixed cost, primarily the cost of a building, is higher for DeKalb. If a School board wanted to obtain 20 acres for a school in North Georgia they would just do it for about $5,000 per acre, in DeKalb that cost could be as much as $500,000 per acre or 10,000% more.

My final point is to make sure we the residents of DeKalb speak-up loudly and clearly about the following:

a) We should not be considered part of a national or state average when it comes to cost. We need to be compared to other inner cities across the nation. All other data should be considered invalid.

b) Demand that at our meetings that we get more per student for reasons above.

c) Demand that we get even more per student to make up for lost ground again for the same reasons.

d) Do not tolerate waste and fraud, but also understand that certain things do cost more because of where we live.

e) If we have money allocated for the schools, then it should go to the schools.

f) In the end if we need to raise more money, then we need to raise more money.

A city is just a group of people living, learning and working together. It is the School Board's responsibility to manage the learning part of that puzzle and it is our role as citizens to make sure the School Board has the tools to do their job.

Mike Swahn


Anonymous said...

Good Questions Mike. I would like to add one of my own and perhaps others who are more knowledgable can answer.

DeKalb gets tons and tons of Title I money. It always has and got more this year because the initial stimulus money was only for Title I and IDEA programs. But I also have heard that DeKalb is so awash in Title I funds that it returns funds each year. I have friends who have taught in both Title I and non-Title I schools and they say the resources in Title I schools are incredible.

I also understand that Title I money only goes to Title I designated schools. If a student from one of those schools utilizes NCLB or school choice and transfers to a non-Title I school such as Lakeside or Chamblee, the money does not move with the student. For example, 38% of Chamblee students qualify for free or reduced lunches, yet Chamblee does not get a cent of Title I money.

Is there a way to have the Title I money follow the students rather than stay at schools that are now under-enrolled?

In general, are there better ways to use the Title I money rather than spending millions on consultants (i.e. America's Choice)? I am not convinced that just hiring consultants and buying supplemental materials is the best use of the funds. The teachers are so overburdened with layers upon layers of paperwork and testing that they do not have time to "teach." Can Title I and other supplemental funds be used to hire more teachers or parapros to deliver instruction to struggling students or take over the administrative work?

Cerebration said...

"Is there a way to have the Title I money follow the students rather than stay at schools that are now under-enrolled?"

Yes, as far as I know, you can bring Title 1 funds into non-Title 1 schools by transferring so many low income students into a school that it tips the scale (60%? - I don't know the threshold) to now call the receiving school Title 1 also.

Anonymous said...

There is more than enough money in the DCSS budget. But what is missing is leadership with foresight, leadership that doesn't tolerate one penny of waste, and leadership that doesn't tolerate underperformance.

Cerebration said...

This is from the DCSS superintendent's web page -

The total budget for the General Operations of the District for FY2010 is $851.1 million. It represents an overall decrease of 4.8% or $43.0 million from the originally approved current FY2009 budget for operations. The decrease in the budget is due to significant reductions in state revenue from the QBE formula. Net QBE revenue to be received by DeKalb County School System will be less in the fiscal year 2010 than it was in the fiscal year 2009. The 2009 net QBE revenue was less than the fiscal year 2008 net revenue.

The expenditures for other individual fund types included in the system-wide consolidated budget amount to an additional $275.8 million. This is an increase of $10.9 million or 3.78%. The budgeted increases largely are in the Capital Outlay projected expenditures for the 2010 fiscal year. The funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as stimulus funds, are not included in this budget.

In FY2010, slightly more than $43 million in reductions are planned from the FY2010 budget. The decrease in the General Operations budget comes directly from a decrease in General Operations salaries and benefits. For the upcoming General Operations budget, approximately 89.1% of the total planned expenditures come in the form of salaries and benefits. The planned percentage of salaries and benefits in FY2010 is a full 2.5% lower than the 91.6% in budgeted salaries and benefits in fiscal year 2009. The 2.5% decrease in the ratio of salaries and benefits to total expenditures is a result of reducing General Operations salaries and benefits by 5.5% and increasing the non-salaries and benefits expenditures by 1.7%. Neither a cost-of-living-adjustment increase nor a step increase is recommended for employees in the 2010 fiscal year. The fiscal year 2010 budget builds upon the Board-approved Comprehensive Restructure Plan (CRP) during the fiscal year 2009, developed to address mid-year state funding reductions. The General Operations budget carries forward the reductions from the CRP and adds to them. The CRP reduces costs by $25.7 million over a two-year period and reduces central office and part-time staff by 127 employees.

For more - go to

Mike Swahn said...

I find the following statement very distributing.

“The planned percentage of salaries and benefits in FY2010 is a full 2.5% lower than the 91.6% in budgeted salaries and benefits in fiscal year 2009.”

To respond back to Anonymous…How do you expect to maintain quality people with foresight if you are not going to give them a raise or have more cut backs?

Would you “Anonymous” with your foresight work in the same place knowing that in two years you would get lest pay? I know that I would not.

Cerebration said...

Mike, no worries. The teachers in DeKalb are paid very well. Sadly, they were denied a step increase this year as well as 401k matching contributions, but every school system is making cuts. Mainly those cuts come from the state cuts to systems (it's where we get most of our money.)

I would strongly encourage you to click on Mr. Potato Head to read the in-depth report by Ella and Kim here at the blog to see how much more top-heavy DeKalb is than other systems. (DeKalb spends nearly 25% on Admin compared to Fulton's 10%)

Beyond that - we spend $9896.29 per pupil in total compared to $9747.13 in Fulton.

The amount of money is not the issue. The allocation of the money is the issue.

Here are some more examples of increases in costs while enrollment decreases under Lewis' leadership --

More Costs Data --

Instruction - Salaries & Benefits

2004-05 - $449,731,945
2005/06 - $483,326,883
2006/07 - $534,554,082
2007/08 - $550,015,882 (budget)
2008/09 - $553,745,090 (approved budget)

Instructional Staff Services

2004/05 - $14,991,512
2005/06 - $16,258,660
2006/07 - $18,259,790
2007/08 - $17,811,750 (budget)
2008/09 - $17,819,373 (approved budget)

School Administration

2004/05 - $53,520,750
2005/06 - $56,705,573
2006/07 - $62,384,553
2007/08 - $64,385,241 (budget)
2008/09 - $70,198,544 (approved budget)

Enrollment (Decreases)

2005/06 - 102,330
2006/07 - 101,853
2007/08 - 100,526
2008/09 - 99,893
2009/10 - 97,800

Ella Smith said...

The big problem is the QBE formula and the tax money paid by Dekalb County citizens to educate OUR CHILDREN which goes into a pot to educate children in rural and poorer school districts. I have a problem with this when Gwinnett county got approximately 17 million dollars of this money and we lost about that much.

I pay my property taxes for the children in Dekalb. I pay more property taxes to live here because my house cost more inside the perimeter. But, then my taxes are used for other counties where property is not as expensive to buy to build schools etc. Something is not right about this whole process.

Anonymous said...

1.DeKalb is a suburb more than urban--most of DeKalb is outside the Perimeter-- affordable South DeKalb.

2.Where the living costs get a little dicey are where the schools are good--and those schools have no trouble attracting teachers at today's pay scale.

3. Private schools hhave no trouble attrcting teachers--and they recieve 10% less pay.

Gee--are you seeing a pattern here?
It's not suburbs vs urban--its you have to pay teachers more where the schools suck and they need bodyguards.

Ella Smith said...

Annonymous, you are correct in the point that teachers do leave certain schools.

However, the property around the metro area is still more valuable than property in a rural area so we still pull in more tax money which is fair as it cost more to live to build schools and teachers pay scales are much higher due to the cost of living. But, due to our higher tax base we are considered a rich county. The metro area schools(Fulton, Cobb, and Dekalb) are hurting financially due to the formula to even out the playing field. I feel strongly this is not fair to the children of this area as these citizens pay this money for their schools. I would like to see a lawsuit to take this on. This is the money we pay for our schools due to the property value of our homes. It cost more to educate students in these areas verses rural areas.

It is my understanding from my last leadership class that Title I amd Title II (NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND) are currently being pooled to schools.

Mike Swahn said...


Thank you for the informaiton.

The cost per child of $9896.29 per pupil vs $9747.13 in Fulton, is a difference of 1.5%. For statistical purposes these are equal amounts.

The fact that DeKalb spends nearly 25% on Admin compared to Fulton's 10%. Really has me concerned, and we need to find out why.

From the informaiton provided it seems that we are short changing our kids by 15% of the $9896 or $1,474. If this is correct we should all find this unacceaptable. We all need to see justifcation on why that money is not reaching the schools.

If we have some large propery debt or other item that sways this cost then it needs to be properly noted, and our top line needs to be increased to reflect this extra cost, so that the proper amount reaches each school.

If this extra cost is pure overhead then it is time for new management.

Thank you for keeping me informed.

Mike Swahn

Anonymous said...

Private schools hhave no trouble attrcting teachers--and they recieve 10% less pay.

That's because the standard for teaching in a private school are not as high as in a public school. Private school teachers do not have to be certified in the area in which they teach. Basically, you could have a English major teaching Math as is the case in a particular private school in North Fulton. Private school teachers do not have continuing - education requirements.

Anonymous said...

"Private schools hhave no trouble attrcting teachers--and they recieve 10% less pay."

As an educator, many teachers would rather work for a private school because many private schools (but not all) have smaller and more responsive administrative staffs. Private school administrators actually back up their teachers when there are problem students & parents. Many private schools operate in a much more professional manner than the mess that is DCSS. Don't even get me started about eSIS and the incompetence of the Bradley Bryant Center IT Dept. staff.

Cerebration said...

I have to agree. We have a serious disconnect between teachers and staff and admin. The system is far too large and unwieldy. And once people get to the level of principal, it seems their new and only goal is to please the admin so that they can get a big promotion or a transfer with a bonus - and retire with a nicer package. If we simply valued principals and made them and teachers our most treasured assets, encouraging cooperation, we would see better performance.

Right now there is far too much fear, intimidation and finger-pointing to get anything positive done. I blame this new paranoia on testing.

Cerebration said...

Case in point -- here's a fine example of why principals keep their mouths shut and go along to get along...

From the AJC blog -

Another one bites the dust. North Oconee principal canned
5:31 pm August 31, 2009, by mdowney

Would a superintendent fire a perfectly good high school principal — who was raising student achievement — because he complained to a newspaper about his school’s athletic facilities?

That appears to be the case in Oconee County where Superintendent John Jackson fired North Oconee High School Principal John Osborne Friday for insubordination and willful neglect of his duties because he complained in the Athens Banner-Herald about his school’s lack of athletic facilities.

In an interview, Osborne commented to the newspaper that the sports facilities at his school were not up to those at rival Oconee County High. The principal may have been impolitic. His public griping may have even been a attempt to strong arm the school board into pumping more money into his facilities, but does his transgression merit dismissal?

Mike Swahn said...

Hold your horses:

One of the first things I said was to make sure we are comparing apples to apples. Fulton county schools are exclusively suburb schools which purposely excludes the City of Atlanta.

Deklalb is 50/50 inner city, and I would argue becuase of density it may be more city schools than not.

So when comapring school budgets use the the Atlanta School, or the Decatur district which have budgets of

Atlanta $13,710 ($2791 Gen Admin/$580 School Admin)

Decatur $13,443 ($760 Gen Admin/$1157 School Admin)

DeKalb $9896. ($480 Gen Admin/$663 School Admin)

So with these facts it looks like we are working with a budget that is 40% underfunded. At that size deficet it is no wonder our schools are falling apart.

Cerebration said...

Don't you love statistics? You can look at them from so many angles.

Curious, Mike, what areas of DeKalb are you calling "inner city"? Lithonia? Chamblee? Dunwoody? Have you been to SW DeKalb? It's pretty rural out there.

Anonymous said...

MIke, Mike, Mike

The most dense area of DeKalb is the city of Stone Mountain. I would hardly call that urban--in the sense that Midtown or Buckhead is "urban".
Density is a lousy way to equate school zones anyway. All of the "dense" areas inside the Perimeter are gentrifying--basically no kids.

This is a suburban county, operates like a suburban county--and as cerebration mentions--is rural in some areas.

Anonymous said...

BUT DCSS has a student population that is somewhere around 64% free and reduced lunch. If there are 100K students, this is about 64K students. City of Atlanta is 76% free and reduced lunch but they only have about 50K students, so about 35K that qualify for free and reduced.

I happen to think that many of the students in DCSS are fairly urban in their lifestyles (very, very dense multi-family housing) and mobility patterns. They are very mobile.

Cerebration said...

I think Dr Lewis would concur. I've heard him compare DCSS to a more urban system. Even though technically, we are not really a city, but we do have a few smallish cities in our system. (Decatur has its own school system, but DCSS provides Decatur with many special services for a fee.)

Anonymous said...

The free and reduced lunch numbers for DCSS would be lower if the school system actually made parents prove need. Plus, many receiving FRL aren't even county residents, but DCSS is the worst school system in the state for making families actually prove residency. We are paying to educate a few thousand of students who do not live in our county. But Crawford Lewis and Marcu Turk know the higher the FRL numbers, the more Title 1 money they receive from the Feds.

Ella Smith said...

What is happening from what I hear is many of the inner city students are being pushed out toward Dekalb County. The city of Atlanta has started upgrading in many areas. Many housing and old apartment complexes are being torn down and many are being forced to move.

When the olympics came back in 96 many of the inner city housing developments were closed down in the Atlanta area and big apartment complexes were bought and the families were moved to Dekalb. This happened back in 96.

Lakeside High School got it share of these students in 1996,

Dunwoody Mom said...

Houston County gets it.

Houston County's school superintendent says a crackdown is planned on the use of false addresses that allow students to enroll in the county's schools.

Superintendent David Carpenter has sent an e-mail to school
board members says the county board of education will team with the district attorney's office to deal with the problem.

School board member Fred Wilson says the school district will
give parents at least a week for students to return to their
designated schools.

Anonymous said...

"The free and reduced lunch numbers for DCSS would be lower if the school system actually made parents prove need. Plus, many receiving FRL aren't even county residents, but DCSS is the worst school system in the state for making families actually prove residency. We are paying to educate a few thousand of students who do not live in our county. But Crawford Lewis and Marcu Turk know the higher the FRL numbers, the more Title 1 money they receive from the Feds."

Actually the number of free and reduced lunch students is under reported. Free and reduced lunch certification rquires parents to sign a form specifying family income. High school students return fewer forms than do elementary students. In many cases students identified as free and reduced drop off the rolls as they leave elementary or middle school.63.74% (GADOE says 66%) of the students have returned forms indicating elgibility for free and reduced lunch. As an example the middle schools in the McNair cluster have and 89% free and reduced luch rate, McNair High only has 78%.

If Dr. Lewis purposely over reported Title I he would be in jail already. I don't believe that we should imply that he is a crook. We might not always agree with him but he is basically a good person who cares about students.

Finally prlease remember when you compare fFulton to DeKalb, Fulton is 42% black-DeKalb 75%

Fulton is 37% Free and reduced lunch-DeKalb is 64% or 66% depending on whether you take the DeKlab fast facts or the GADOE figures. More Title I students and schools means a higher expenditure per student often for remediation.

Anonymous said...

Wrong: Fulton County is 45% black and DeKalb County is 54% black.

And wrong again: "More Title I students and schools means a higher expenditure per student often for remediation."

It's supposed to be used for remediation but that is not the case in DeKalb. It's used for a 100 different things, while it is supposed to be mainly used for remediation. Ask any longtime DCSS insider, and they'll give you the scoop on the Central Office's addiction to Title 1 funds.

Cerebration said...

Actually, DCSS received somewhere around $34 million in Title 1 funds last year, which they actually had to return several million as unused...

Lefty said...

Anon 5:04 - If free and reduced lunch is understated in DeKalb, then it's probably understated in other school systems too for the same reason.

Totalrenovering said...

Great article, really interesting. Thank you for the nice posting.

Anonymous said...

Wrong: Fulton County is 45% black and DeKalb County is 54% black.

DeKalb County may be 54 % black but DeKalb County schools are 75% black. Go to the system report card on the GADOE (the state department of education)web site. Did you purposely misunderstand?

Cerebration said...

That's true. The schools are about 75% African-American, and the county is much less so.

That's why I am adamant that if we built a nice school in the Cross Keys area, that even if we lost some students due to the new Symphony Park development (which is nowhere near breaking ground) - we would gain students from the area who currently attend private schools such as Pius and Marist. Many of these parents choose to send their children to private schools not so much because they love private schools, but because they will not ever send their children into a decrepit building such as Cross Keys. Dr. Lewis and Pat Pope wouldn't either - so it's not about race. Otherwise, the families in the area choose to move to another area with quality public schools instead - so the school system is actually making this area a less than desirable area to live for families. And that doesn't make sense - since the location is ITP and in the shadow of Buckhead. You should drive around to see the nice houses being built in the area.

The taxpayers of Brookhaven are getting abused by DCSS, IMO. They are certainly not getting their property taxes for schools spent in their district. We'll see how this $20 million promised renovation to Cross Keys goes. Hopefully, it's not just a fluff job. Hopefully it will be at the same level of beautiful construction that Pat Pope has brought to so many other schools.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Many of these parents choose to send their children to private schools not so much because they love private schools, but because they will not ever send their children into a decrepit building such as Cross Keys. Dr. Lewis and Pat Pope wouldn't either - so it's not about race.

I disagree somewhat here Cere. Peachtree Middle School is a gorgeous new building. It's opening has not made an impact on private vs public school at all. Unfortunately, in Dunwoody anyway, it is about race.

Cerebration said...

Maybe true in Dunwoody, I don't know, but from my interactions with the people in Brookhaven - they are completely disgusted by the condition of Cross Keys - it has been allowed to flounder for many, many years.

If I didn't know the students, teachers and staff (as I have come to know them), I wouldn't send my kids there either due to the condition of the facility. But now - I tell you in all honesty - some of the best people in DCSS work at Cross Keys. And the students are exemplary.

Kim Gokce said...

Somehow I missed this posting last month - great share!

In the comments, I don't see where anyone commented directly on Mike's point: "So with these facts it looks like we are working with a budget that is 40% underfunded. At that size deficet it is no wonder our schools are falling apart."

I think this is a defensible point. While we can hardly argue that the money in recent years has been spent wisely or equitably, I think there may be an argument about the level of funding overall.

The capital assessment of a couple of years ago identified $1+ in needs and we only funding half of that. While I'm the first to argue that the ratio of spending in the schoolhouse vs the central office may be out of balance, I also am beginning to believe are simply are not spending what is necessary for a "Premier" DeKalb School System.

Re: Race vs. Facilities

There are many families who will never send their Caucasian kid into a school where they will be a "minority." I have heard it said too many times to ignore it. All of this is anecdotal, though, so I am not sure whether it is the majority of white families or not.

Brookhaven, Chamblee, Doraville, and the unincorporated sections of DeKalb ITP North are very much private school territory. I believe there are more students enrolled in private schools between 400 North, 85 North, and 285 East than there are in public schools. Not sure what private schools Dunwoody parents are choosing but those inside the perimeter flock to Marist, St. Pius, St. Martin, OLA, IMH, and others. The fact that these school are very much dominated by a Caucasian demographic has to mean something. Chamblee HS is something like 30% split with Caucasian, African-American, and Latino with a balance mixed origins.

Dunwoody Mom said...

but those inside the perimeter flock to Marist, St. Pius, St. Martin, OLA, IMH, and others. The fact that these school are very much dominated by a Caucasian demographic has to mean something

Race - It's like the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about. Kudos to Jimmy Carter for starting, what I hope, will be a conversation about this in our country.

themommy said...

Many years ago there was a study that showed that when the Caucasian population drops below 40 percent, you can expect within a few years that there will no to few white students left.

There are only a handful of schools in Metro Atlanta that have managed to successfully hug that 40 percent figure. Almost all those schools are inside or abut 285.

Without the magnet program, Chamblee High would probably be 80 percent plus minority.

Cerebration said...

To add to your point, themommy, according to the 2008 US Census, DeKalb County is

40.2% white,
53.7% black,
10.4% Hispanic (some of these are also counted in the white number - the non-Hispanic white number is 31% - instead of 40.2%),
4.2% Asian and the rest 'other'.

However, DeKalb County Schools according to their own website are

Asian 3.3%;
Black 75%;
Hispanic 8.4%;
White 10.1%;
Other 2.5%

Cerebration said...

To break it down more, most of our schools are actually a majority African-American. The only schools that aren't are --

======== Elementary Schools =========

Ashford Park (18% black, 31% white, 38% Hispanic. 6.6% Asian)
Austin (8% black, 70% white, 3.5% Hispanic. 15% Asian)
Briar Vista (29% black, 18% white, 32% Hispanic. 12.2% Asian)
Briarlake (17.4% black, 59.8% white, 9.8% Hispanic. 6.7% Asian)
Brockett (43% black, 26.7% white, 13.9% Hispanic. 8.7% Asian)
Chesnut (29.8% black, 43.3% white, 9.4% Hispanic. 8.2% Asian)
Dresden (7.8% black, 1% white, 88.2% Hispanic. 2.7% Asian)
Evansdale (23.7% black, 49.3% white, 8.4% Hispanic. 12.5% Asian)
Fernbank (14.9% black, 62.3% white, 0.7% Hispanic. 15.9% Asian)
Hawthorne (31% black, 37.7% white, 21.6% Hispanic. 3.3% Asian)
Henderson Mill (30.58% black, 28.9% white, 25.3% Hispanic. 11% Asian)
Hightower (12.5% black, 3.3% white, 76.6% Hispanic. 5.0% Asian)
Huntley Hills (29.9% black, 21.4% white, 25.8% Hispanic. 15.1% Asian)
Kingsley (22.3% black, 41.3% white, 24.8% Hispanic. 6.7% Asian)
Kittredge Magnet (34.4% black, 47.4% white, 1.7% Hispanic. 11.3% Asian)
Laurel Ridge (24% black, 41% white, 14.2% Hispanic. 11.1% Asian)
Livsey (19.2% black, 61% white, 6.8% Hispanic. 8.2% Asian)
Montclair (11.2% black, 1.5% white, 85.4% Hispanic. 1.6% Asian)
Montgomery (15.8% black, 72.2% white, 2.9% Hispanic. 4.2% Asian)
Oak Grove (10.8% black, 74.5% white, 3.4% Hispanic. 7.7% Asian)
Oakcliff Theme (11.9% black, 2.4% white, 67.9% Hispanic. 15% Asian)
Pleasantdale (29.6% black, 2.0% white, 61.2% Hispanic. 2.4% Asian)
Cary Reynolds (7.7% black, 3.2% white, 70.5% Hispanic. 15.9% Asian)
Sagamore HIlls (22.3% black, 38.5% white, 22.3% Hispanic. 9.8% Asian)
Vanderlyn (4.4% black, 75% white, 2.4% Hispanic. 14.8% Asian)
Woodward (4.4% black, 1.0% white, 93.3% Hispanic. 0.9% Asian)

====== Middle Schools =======

Henderson MS (33.2% black, 36.5% white, 18.3% Hispanic. 7% Asian)
Peachtree MS (22% black, 46.3% white, 20.4% Hispanic. 7.7% Asian)
Sequoyah MS (17.2% black, 2.5% white, 69.8% Hispanic. 8.9% Asian)

======= High Schools ========

Cross Keys (14% black, 2.7% white, 69.7% Hispanic. 12.5% Asian)
Dunwoody (36.5% black, 41.1% white, 13.9% Hispanic. 5.7% Asian)
Lakeside (35% black, 41% white, 12.3% Hispanic. 68.3% Asian)


All of the rest of DeKalb's 145 or so schools are a majority African-American according to the data I downloaded from the DCSS Forecasting & Planning Dept - dated Sept 16, 2008.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom,

Kudos to Jimmy Carter? I'm infuriated by his ASSUMPTION that those who oppose Obama do so because of his race. What evidence does Carter have that the outburst was rooted in racism?

We must be very careful in assigning motivations to people's actions, whether it's in politics or in the DCSS.

Cerebration said...

Our county is 40% white, but the schools are only 10% white. Private schools have flourished here. There's a reason for that and I think it really could be due to a racial prejudice, I'm sorry to say.

Anonymous said...

In 1969, the DeKalb County School System published a map showing "White Elementary Schools", "White High Schools", "Negro Elementary Schools", and "Negro High Schools."

Anyone who worked for or had children in the system back then will no doubt remember it. And if you were around in the 1950s, you will certainly remember "White" and "Colored" water fountains, "Colored Shall Move To The Rear Of The Bus" signs on Atlanta Transit System busses, and "Colored Entrance" signs on some businesses.

Given our past, I think we've made enormous progress.

Anonymous said...


What portion of households with children in grades k-12 are white? Dekalb was "settled" in the 70's and was majority white at the time. Now, those original residents are older and are being replaced by a more diverse population.

I bet that the school-aged population is not even close to 40% white.

I think many people on this blog are too quick to point to racism when parents remove their child from a school. I think it typically has less to do with racism and more to do with the quality of the education recieved -- either perceived or real. And, some parents just seem to have more money than they know what to do with.

Anonymous said...

"White persons not Hispanic" in Dekalb is only 30% according to

Dunwoody Mom said...

I think many people on this blog are too quick to point to racism when parents remove their child from a school.

So, when a parent tells you they are putting their children in private school because the Dunwoody Schools are too diverse is not racism? Then what is it?

Anonymous said...

I live in Dunwoody and nobody has ever told me that they were putting their children in private schools because the public schools are too diverse.

I have been told that they believe that their child will receive a better education in a private school than the public school...or that they prefer a church-based education for their child....or that they believe that home-schooling is superior to public schooling...or that their child has special needs that are not being met by the public school.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I live in Dunwoody and nobody has ever told me that they were putting their children in private schools because the public schools are too diverse.

I live in Dunwoody and I have been told that - several times. I've also "overheard" those same sentiments at the Murphy Candler ballfields.

Cerebration said...

While I completely disagree with what Jimmy Carter said, (as does Obama) I do know that this county has experienced a racially-motivated white exodus. This has been going on for many years, really beginning in 1970 when the school system was 93% white and 6.64% black. The whites began a steady flight which picked up speed in the 1980s where the white population dropped from 66% in 1980 all the way down to 32% in 1990. (This is the during the last time Paul Womack was a member of the board and the focus was heavily on pleasing the continuing demands of the Supreme Court. He can tell you the whole history of that decision and what it did to the attitudes of whites over the 26 or years it ruled the school system.)

Cerebration said...

Really, according to the enrollment numbers, the 80s saw nearly half of the whites leave (66% down to 36%) and the 90s saw almost 2/3 of the remaining whites leave. (From 31.75% down to 12%)

Anon - You are seriously saying that this was due to "a better education in a private school than the public school...or that they prefer a church-based education for their child....or that they believe that home-schooling is superior to public schooling...or that their child has special needs that are not being met by the public school."


Cerebration said...

As far as the number of white "families" in DeKalb, all I know is my street and my neighborhood. On my street there are 9 school-aged children. Only 3 of them attend public schools. In my area, this decreases even more after elementary school - many move to private school around 4th or 5th grade - to escape public middle school.

Anonymous said...

Sorry--must be anon for this one:
When Lakeside (which, contrary to the assumption within its own community, is not majority white) got a black principal, numerous people said that this was an insidious plot because black principals are only there to support black students. One future PTA officer said there was no way the Lakeside community could handle having a black principal (the "Lakeside community" meaning the white folks). When, subsequently, Lakeside got a black API and a black front office secretary, a present PTA officer complained about the "blackification" of the front office.

These comments came from parents with school age children, not older residents. These were people in positions of leadership in the school community. And, sadly, they were all backed up by the actions of many, many others. It got ugly. Some of it was folded into the perception that the "black" or south Dekalb schools get treated better re: SPLOST, but some of it was just old fashioned racism. It must be added that almost all of the people who said this kind of stuff and acted out accordingly were native southerners. The northern and western transplants were just nonplussed by it all.

However, a lot of people in the Lakeside area who send their kids to private school do it because they are sick and tired of dealing with poor teaching, poor curriculum, and a crappy building. Oddly, the people who make racist comments stay put at the school.

Anonymous said...

Anon - You are seriously saying that this was due to "a better education in a private school than the public school...or that they prefer a church-based education for their child....or that they believe that home-schooling is superior to public schooling...or that their child has special needs that are not being met by the public school."

I stand by my statement. I have seriously never heard anyone say that they were leaving the public school system due to diversity.

BTW, my street has 12 families with school aged children. Of those, two families send their kids to Jewish schools and one attends a school for children with special needs. The rest attend public school. Nobody in the neighborhood has left to go private after elementary.....and this is in Dunwoody.

Maybe you should move to my neighborhood, Dunwoody Mom.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I stand by my statement. I have seriously never heard anyone say that they were leaving the public school system due to diversity.

That's fine and I will stand by my statement.

Cerebration said...

I think you meant to direct that last comment to me - as I was the one who said that half of my neighborhood goes private.

I guess we're talking apples and oranges. I'm sure there are people who choose other schools for the reasons you stated (especially in Dunwoody) - but my point was to white flight over the course of many years. You really can't deny it I'm afraid.

Plus, I really do believe that now that we have heavy black leadership, our schools that are perceived as "white" have not received anywhere near their fair share of the SPLOST funding. Multiply that inequity for Hispanics.

Dunwoody Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cerebration said...

Actually, the fact is, what Obama was saying at the time - that illegal aliens won't be able to get on the proposed healthcare plans, was in fact not true. I think Wilson just yelled out in frustration -- and Obama's race had nothing to do with it.

Dunwoody Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dunwoody Mom said...

I deleted my political comments as they do not belong on this board. My apologies.

Anonymous said...

The overwhelming number of DCSS administrators are African-American. Unintentionally, they have absolutely focused on South DeKalb schools. It is what it is. The condition of north and central located schools like Lakeside, Sequoyah and Cross Keys would have never ever been allowed to occur in South DeKalb. There are a multitude of reasons why these schools were allowed to fall into complete disrepair. It's time to make sure every school meets a set of standards...high standards.

I don't give a darn about what color administrators, staff, teachers and school children are. I just want to see schools that are well maintained, schools that are renovated or torn down when they are due, and education programs spent on equitably trhoughout the system.

P.S. And cut the damn administrative Central Office bloat!!!!

Dekalbparent said...

Warning: I may go on for a bit.

I debated posting this anon, but I won't. This is me...

Is the issue racism, or is it a perception of unfairness?

Jeff Rader's emails and postings have confirmed my observation that north and central DeKalb missed out on funding it should have received during the previous county administration. It is hard to see announcements of parks and senior citizen and youth programs that are available in the south part of the county and then see what there is around here.

Sadly, this causes hard feelings.

I also believe that with the change in administration, this has stopped. Although I'm certainly not lovin' everything the Ellis administration does, there is a perception of fairness now, and I'm satisfied.

When it comes to DCSS, this assumption of unfairness is also present. Look at the comparisons we keep seeing in this blog between the new schools in the south end of the county, with the beautiful facilities and mustang statues and the decrepit and aged facilities in the north end.

Is it racism or resentment - a perception that the areas of the county assumed to be "white" will get shorted?

I see festering hurts on both ends of the county - we seem to work against one another. It's surely not helping the county.

We have major cultural differences in this county (and I don't mean just black and white - we have way more cultures than that), and we are letting our hurt feelings keep us from trying to understand each other.

There were two school board members absent from the ELPC meeting - Ms. Copeland-Wood and Ms. Roberts. I know Ms. Roberts has not been well, and Ms. Copeland-Woods may have had other commitments, but their absence was noted, and probably assumptions were made.

My student has friends of many backgrounds. I see kids hanging out in mixed groups at the school all the time. Yet, her [white] friend was threatened in the cafeteria the other day for sitting on the "black side". He had done so because he doesn't usually eat in the cafeteria and he went to sit with a friend.

Where does this come from?


Cerebration said...

First, I had a chuckle over your comment that you weren't going to post anonymously but as yourself, dekalbparent - which is what made me laugh because I have no idea who you are even as dekalbparent! Isn't blogging funny? Our online identities actually take on a persona at some point. There's a great article here to be written by someone, somewhere.

Anyway - I agree with what you say - and sadly, I think that our racial issues in this country have become more pronounced instead of getting better and that makes me really sad. What to do? I have no idea... discussing the race issue never seems to get anywhere so I've concluded that "dialogue" doesn't work. Any other ideas?

Dekalbparent said...

Cere - You're right about anonymous vs dekalbparent. LOL....

The only thing that has worked for me is when I have worked, played, been on a project, chatted along a hiking trail with someone of a different color and/or background.

You know how it works: you chit chat about harmless subjects. Then you chit chat about mutual interests. Then you bring a little of the personal into it ("my kid drives me nuts when..." or "I can't seem to keep the squirrels off my tomatoes" or "I seem to forget stuff so much these days").

Then you realize you're a person talking to another person. Just another person. Like me.

Shayna said...

I'm from the North. I belong to a minority religion. The history of "my people" includes a ton of discrimination, hatred and slaughter over centuries. During the Leo Frank days, the gentle folk of Georgia were faster to blame the Jew than the black janitor who actually committed the crime. It's hard to watch the on-going dynamic that, to me, is a continuation of the Civil War, that ended decades ago. It's time to accept that it ended. Bad things happened. Whites in Georgia did bad things to Blacks in Georgia. They were wrong. Many people living in Atlanta and in DeKalb, today, however, who pay taxes and who have kids who are (and were) in this school system had absolutely nothing to do with how others were treated in the system 20 years ago. Some of us were kids at the time. Others were in other countries. It's time to move forward and stop trying to redress these wrongs by this percieving punishment of one by the other. One of the most beautiful aspects of my kids' elemenatry school was the vast diversity spread across any given assembly, kids speaking in sign, all of whom knew each other and cared for each other -- it was an exceptional community. It's not a community when folks bus in and bus out across the county at will. It's not a community when you have a school, like LHS, which gets hundreds of transfer students, or kids who are there whose parents aren't truthful about where they reside. You cant' then know and tell the other parents what's going on with their kids, in that village it really does take to raise kids these days, and they can't tell you if your kid is doing something, right, wrong or dangerous (remember that LHS lost a kid to heroine a few years ago and all the kids knew she was doing it -- she was in my seniors class) -- you've lost that community when they're driving an hour in each direction to get to school and everyone doesn't know each other any more. It's got nothing to do with race. We can not move forward as a comunity, as a school system or as a city with this incessesent focus on what happened in the past. We have got to become the "city to busy to hate" again and move into the 21st century -- just as the survivors of the Holocaust were able to leave those camps and still make a life for themselves.

Kim Gokce said...

Sorry, long post ... Posters have shared some very personal views on this very sensitive subject so I'm going to do the same.

Race in America is one of my favorite and most frustrating topics. As a native born Georgian who is 1/2 Turk, who grew up as a minority "white" kid in first a predominately Cuban pre-K and Kindergarten, then in a virtually 100% "black" elementary, then in a fractious, even violent, busing situation during the late 70's in South Fulton, and finally in a virtually all white senior high in Cobb Co., ... whew ... I have to say, sadly, I do think racism is alive and well in 2009 and does affect our public system in DeKalb.

Regarding white "flight" from DeKalb and current Caucasian families decisions about public schools vs private schools, I am 100% certain that demographics play at least a significant role in decision-making, if not the decisive role for far too many families.

Because I'm basically a fool but one that people trust, I have very frank conversations with folks from all walks of life on a regular basis. There is no doubt in my mind that the "average" Caucasian adult with children is uncomfortable with their child being in the minority in social situations, including school. Our current enrollments pretty much tell the story. Black American families don't seem much better at it, either, based on enrollments.

To my way of thinking, my little old, much-maligned Cross Keys may be the only truly "integrated" school in DeKalb. While there is a dominate "Hispanic" group recently above 65% of enrollment, this belies the fact that the Hispanic demo is made up of blacks, whites, mixed-race (black-white-native peoples of Central and South America), and Carribean Islanders. There is 10%+ "Asian" which includes Chinese, Korean, Indian, Malaysian, Cambodian, Pakistani, etc., etc.. There is another 10% "African-American" that includes nearly as many young people from African nations as it does "American" blacks. There are virtually no "whites" and a balance of every race and national origin you can think of ... real diversity without a doubt!

While it is not Kismet, from what I've seen these kids are the most tolerant and accepting of each other of any student body anywhere in or out of DeKalb. It is really something incredible to experience first hand.

If you have 10 minutes and want to see what true diversity and tolerance looks like [minus the Black vs White American issue :)], view these tributes made by students for the classes of 2007 and 2009. Would that all of our kids got along like these:

Memories Fade - CKHS 2007 Slideshow

Graduation Video - CKHS 2009

Anonymous said...

kim -- Thanks so much for your post. I haven't yet had a chance to view the link but I expect to cry while watching. All of our posts about LHS really reflect adult views. My experience is that LHS and HMS are also some of the most integrated and diverse schools in the County for the same reasons you describe about CKHS -- other than there is also a critical mass of white kids. The white population at HMS and LHS does not go over 40% though. My point for this post, however, is that, in my experience, none, make that absolutely none, of these issues, seem to be at all reflected in the kids -- the kids seem to be perfectly and honestly, color blind. Unfortunately, I can not say that about all of the adults who are teaching them. There are, of course, some teachers who are incredible and they could care less what color their students are but there are others who, unfortunately, seem to care (this applies to both white and black teachers).

On a different note, the black population of south DeKalb doesn't seem to "count" Hispanics and Asians as minorities for diversity purposes. Whites, on the other hand, put Hispanics and Asians into the "minority" pool. This is one of the differences in point of view -- to South DeKalb, north DeKalb is "all white" because of this classification system and in North DeKalb, we're 10% white because of how the white population does the classifying -- interesting?

themommy said...

In the desegregation settlement that DCSS reached, there were only blacks and non-blacks. Why does this matter? Because spaces for the Majority to Minority program were determined using the percentage of non-blacks. So, parents (who should have done better research) would show up at school board meetings to complain that they had used M to M to get their kids out of their S DeKalb neighborhood school and ended up being the only english speaking child in the class or in classes with few to no white faces. While DCSS satisfied the court case, the mentality of many in the system is still the same -- black or not black.

Dekalbparent said...

After reading Shayna's post, I thought some more. Yes, it is about the village. The village is in-district kids as well as the kids who have a commitment of some sort to the school - on a team, in the band, came there in 9th grade b/c the parents were determined to get what they felt the child needs (I have had conversations w/parents of admin transfers who have rearranged their lives to make sure their kid gets an education to prepare for the best future). These are the parents I see there for conferences, PTA meetings, picking the kids up at 9pm after an activity or study group. I presume that LHS or Dunwoody would see the same thing.

I guess it's about cohesiveness of the community. Kim sees it at CKHS, despite the diversity. LHS and DHHS not so much because of the mix of kids.

fedupindcss said...

The anon post above about LHS seems to indicate all racial issues are about adults. This is probably the case, since a lot of these people remember the "good old days" when LHS was the best high school in the state and, gee, was almost all white. I am sure they have made a correlation in that regard.

The kids don't seem to have any real problems. They have their friends, whoever they are, based less on race and more on what classes they have and what activities they participate in. That said, because of the way classes are set up, there is likely de facto segregation within the school (and Chamblee, Tucker, DHHS, etc.). It is likely most AP classes at those schools are majority white, general not so much. Sports too; football is majority black, swimming and cross country majority white. Even Miss Lakeside is pretty darned white (not sure about Mr. Tucker, though!).

Anonymous said...

I give Lakeside teachers and students a ton of credit for having strong academics, while the actual building is a dump. I could not believe how poor the facilities are when I walked the building. The rest rooms should be condemned. Millions upon million spent on fancy new high schools while older high schools such as Lakeside and Cross Keys sit in a disgraceful condition.

Shayna Steinfeld said...

I've mentioned this before -- I've been very impressed by Judge Glenda Hatchett when I've heard her speak. On the first occassion, she spoke about being a first grader in segregated City of Atlanta schools and living in one of the projects. She had both of her parents, and described them as very loving. Her mother worked as a teacher during the day and her dad as a janitor at night. She described some perfectly deplorable conditions in the school house reflecting pretty improper treatment by one race by the other. She did the description without any negativity. She went on to comment about the elder "mothers" of her Church giving her a handkerchief when she went off to Mount Holyoke in the 60s. She described how proud they were of her, how they had absolutely no idea what Mt. Holyoke was, how great a school it was and where it was going to lead: to Emory law, in-house counsel at Delta Airlines, a juvenile Court judgeship and to her own tv show. All they knew at the time was that she was off to college and they were proud of her and she knew that they were then looking out for her, were always looking out for her and would continue to look out for her and the handkerchief was representative of that.

Recently, I had a mamogram. The Black tech who conducted it and I were talking politics (I know I shouldn't...) and she commented about her upbringing in the Islands and how as a fairly young mother she brought her kids up in one of the Borroughs of Manhattan. In both of these places there were people--neighbors-- the community - the villiage- who the children knew would report (a/k/a "tattle") on you if you were found on a street on which you didn't belong or were seen at at time you weren't supposed to be seen.

These are the types of anecdotes that portray what I mean by "we need the community" available in which to raise all of our children -- where everyone can know everyone else and we are all looking over each others shoulders and are looking out for each other's kids because this is the way, perhaps, we can keep them "on the straight and narrow" because then they will know that their parents have eyes in the back of their heads and there will then be absoultely no doubt that there are adults in their lives who care about them.

This is why, I believe, it does not work to have schools where multitudes of kids are being transfered and transported for miles and miles and hours across the city. That community and that ability to help each other raise our kids is compromised.

Anonymous said...

First let me say that I am not from the south and read the last couple days posts on this topic with great interest. I live on the fringes of Druid Hills and would say that a fair amount of students (but by no way a significant amount) in the DHHS area attend private schools. These sare usally Paideia, Pace, Woodward, Weber or Catholic schools. However, I know many of the parents and I do not think most went to private school due to racism.

Many in our community moved here from out of state for the CDC, Emory, VA or for technology jobs. They are pretty much appalled at the lack of a truly advanced curriculum in the middle and high schools and have experienced a few pretty poor teachers.

When they see more and more students who are either ELL or economically disadvantaged attending the schools, they feel that the school will have to devote more of its scarce resources to these students rather than to the students who excel. The NCLB law shines the light on these students and (rightfully) they cannot be ignored. Yet the parents fear that DCSS has failed to simultaneously support programs for the top students and has dumbed down curricula.

So to answer a much earlier question about why white students leave the DCSS schools, I do not feel that racism is the root cause. It is because parents perceive that their childred will receive a much better education in private schools.

Dekalbparent said...

@Anon 5:45

Although I understand and to a large extent agree with the reasoning you presented, I need to speak up for the public high schools. Although there are a lot of things I don't like, including the amount of attention the schools need to devote to fulfill the requirements of NCLB, for a bright and motivated student, the public high schools offer good opportunities.

I can only speak for myself, but we went through a great deal of debate as to whether to send our student to Druid Hills or to a private school. She was in private school for middle school, and it was the right choice.

We chose to send her to DHHS because of the International Baccalaureate program, the AP offerings, and the students we knew who would be attending. These students are not her "crowd" (by her choice), but they have high aspirations, are quite motivated and provide her with a spur to succeed.

We also reasoned that if we did not have to pay private school tuition for high school, we would have a chance to put money aside for college. We borrowed significantly to send her to middle school, and we knew four more years would leave her with fewer college options. At the same time, we were prepared to move her to private school if we thought it necessary. It was never necessary.

My daughter and I were recently discussing whether the higher number of students going to Ivy League colleges from private schools meant the private schools were superior. She wondered if it might instead be economic. Students who go to private schools often come from families with the means to send them to Ivy League schools. Even when they don't come from such families, the smaller graduating class size may allow the counselors to direct them to scholarship opportunities more frequently. (I think the fact that public high school counselors ARE overworked, and this IS a disadvantage to public schools.) I believe there are many public school graduates who are accepted to prestigious colleges but cannot afford to attend...

All that said, I sure do wish that some of our high schools had decent facilities - I betcha a bunch that if public schools could afford the science labs and interactive boards the private schools have, they would not have as much difficulty getting science and math graduates to teach there.