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.