Wednesday, November 4, 2009

CKHS SPLOST III Reno - "It Will Happen"



Back in April, the Cross Keys HS community was told that the SPLOST III and DeKalb School of Technology-North move, site plans and schedule would be presented by DCSS in the June time frame. In July, Patricia Pope told the AJC that the community would see the plans by "mid-August." Last night, November 3, 2009 we got our look-see and our question and answer session in a public meeting in the school's media center (that's the library for oldsters like me).

Let's start off with the goods! Here are the four elevations shared at the meeting:







Building Addition - 4th wing
Art Classrooms - 4th wing


Main Office Enhancements
Corridor Upgrades
The only notable qualification on these images I should make is that the rendered floors leave a mis-impression that the original floors will be modified in some way - they will not.


The turn out was substantial with easily 100+ attendees crammed into the school's small library (literally standing room only this night). Faculty, parents, neighbors, local officials, and DCSS employees accounted for probably 80% of the audience and included friends of Cross Keys from outside our zone such as Ella Smith and Page Olson. The remaining 20% were current students!

The kids at CKHS did it again and took me off guard by their commitment and effort on behalf of their own school. How about that - the children are filling the gap in leadership in our community and school system! They had many great questions.

There were many touching moments during this 1 hour meeting that ran 2 hours. At the end of the meeting, there were still many hands in the air. Ms. Heckman, Area Assistant Superintendent, Region 1, did a great job trying to address the many questions and concerns while staying positive. Ms. Barbara Colman, described as "interim" construction chief, spoke directly, competently, and seemed very attentive to those present and their concerns. She also stayed quite a while afterward to answer individual questions.

While a lot of ground was covered, the majority of it had to do with the long history of neglect of Cross Keys HS. Everyone expressed delight with the planned improvements but it became very clear very early that the attendees felt the project will deliver far from what is hoped for and needed. This, of course, should be no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the overall situation. There was little in the way of revelations or "news."

That said, here are some random items worth noting:
  1. Ms. Colman did indicate that interior ADA requirements would be in scope and I also heard her say the tennis courts would be restored/replaced after the modular classrooms were removed.
  2. In a sidebar, there was agreement that DCSS Facilities could effectively encapsulate some of the fragmented asbestos tile that has been a concern of Jeff Bragg's (longtime CKHS faculty member) for some time without having to wait for the renovation plan to be executed.
  3. "The Long Summer non-Start" - The construction team has been on hold awaiting 12 permits. The only one remaining is the Land Disturbance Permit which they are expecting any day.
  4. Evergreen Construction has apparently done some work for Gwinnet Co. schools with some success and this is their first project for DeKalb Co. - there was much in the way of high expectations for quality and speed set by Ms. Colman and Evergreen.
  5. The team is now talking aggressively again about being finished by next school year if things go well - that was a surprise but, of course, not a commitment.
  6. Steve Donahue was present and immediately responsive to complaints about the conditions in the trailers. He stayed afterward and took down specific trailer numbers for action.
  7. Jeff Bragg made the striking point that much of the items being discussed at the meeting were first discussed when the current CKHS seniors were in the 4th grade.
  8. Don McChesney did a great job of summing up the situation with SPLOST overall and the failures of the past at Cross Keys HS and around the County.

I did not plan to record any of the meeting but once I sensed some very moving things being said, I fired up the mobile phone camera. So, even though they are poor quality, here are what I consider a few interesting excerpts from the Q&A. I will also post an update here with a long, uninterrupted segment of the Q&A later that includes some of the student interactions. I will answer any questions folks have to the best of my recollection if there are any specific ones you have in mind post it in comments.

During the SPLOST III public meeting on the topic of planned renovations at Cross Keys HS, a mother of a member of the girls soccer team expresses concern about the security and condition of the athletic field and whether this will be addressed in the plans. (first half in Spanish so wait for translation and answer in English)



Mr. Albert Martin, a life-long area resident and former substitute teacher and campus coordinator for Cross Keys, asks why Air Quality and Mold corrective action has to wait for the renovation while it has been a known issue for at least 3 years (see still photo at very bottom of this post). The answer is delivered by Ms Beth Heckman, Area Assistant Superintendent - Region 1. Ms. Heckman also asks to recognize the students and parents present.



Don McChesney Addresses Community Concerns (full text below - sound is hard to follow)




Text of Mr. McChesney comments: "Folks, I'm so old I remember when this school was new. And I remember when it was the show-place of DeKalb County. And I would like to get it started on its way again.

And I've heard what people have said; I hear your skepticism. You heard a lots of the problems of the past - the given schedules that haven't occurred. And I understand why you don't believe much of what we say.

The only thing I can say right now is: it's going to happen. It is going to happen. And these folks that ... there are eight other Board members besides me that ask these questions. And we've asked these questions of these folks here. We want to see you get a quality building here. And it is going to happen.

Evergreen has a very good reputation and I know of them in other Counties. What you've done some work in Gwinnett County and so forth and I'm very familiar with that.

To re-hash the past and all the failures will only make us spin our wheels. We can't reclaim that. It is done; it's gone and it wasn't a good story. But we're at a new place now. And I think if you start and look at what's going to happen at this new place, you will be pleased with what happens.

Now to address one other thing and this is what I telling Kim all the time we talk. And Mr. Moseley mentioned this tonight. Everybody wants so much. We have $2 billion dollars worth of needs in the County; $500 million of money to do it.

That means you get 25%. That's what all the schools get. They're going to get 25% ... [obscured by background noise]

Down the line I hope there will be further improvements but I think you're going to like what you get here. It's going to happen soon as soon as the County, not the DeKalb County Schools, but the County building permits people give us permission to go it is going to happen. And you'll actually see mortar, bricks, and dirt and things happen. And when that happens I think it will make it happen.

And if it doesn't happen, there are those of us on the Board that are going to be asking asking these people why it didn't happen. Because remember now, as a politician, I finally I have to answer to you. And you're going to ask well why didn't you get this done. Well, we're going to ask those same questions.

And I know these folks are very dedicated to what needs to be done here. And please please give them the chance now to do this. And try to get past as much as you can because, like I said, it is not going to help where we are now. This is going to happen and I think you are going to like it." -Don McChesney, BoE District 2

Supplemental Photo
Mold of unknown source has been growing in CKHS classrooms for years. This shot is in a room that has not had flooding from rain or condensation but is on a hall that has had sewage backups. There is no known source for moisture in the rooms that may be feeding the mold.

41 comments:

Cerebration said...

"That means you get 25%. That's what all the schools get. They're going to get 25% ..."

I call BS on that. Look at Arabia. Look at Tucker. Look at McNair. Look at Columbia. Look at SW DeKalb. Look at the new Dunwoody ES. Look at Towers. These projects are 100% PLUS. I would say that these schools have usurped the funding to the point that schools like Cross Keys only get 10-15% of their needs met - not even 25%.

Brand new beautiful Arabia, ironically out in the middle of nowhere, Egypt, is only serving 1000 students - and I would even challenge them to provide an accounting of exactly where those students are coming from.

Don (bless his heart) hasn't been involved in DCSS until less than a year ago when he took on his board position. He has never had a child in the system and he taught in Gwinnett for the last 20 years or so. He is just toeing the party line - repeating the talking points. He just doesn't know the truth. In fact, I've even heard him wonder out loud if it's even "worth it" to invest in Cross Keys, since we may lose so many students when the developers come in.

Sorry Don - you can't ask people to sweep the past under the rug. Deal with it. Acknowledge it. Get angry about it and defend the schools in your zone - or let somebody else have your board seat who will.

Anonymous said...

Celebration, I have to agree that Don Mc. has not supported the Cross Keys community at all.I call BS on that. Look at Arabia. Look at Tucker. Look at McNair. Look at Columbia. Look at SW DeKalb. Look at the new Dunwoody ES. Look at Towers. These projects are 100% PLUS. I would say that these schools have usurped the funding to the point that schools like Cross Keys only get 10-15% of their needs met - not even 25%.

Brand new beautiful Arabia, ironically out in the middle of nowhere, Egypt, is only serving 1000 students - and I would even challenge them to provide an accounting of exactly where those students are coming from.

Could this be a racial issue? Are some children being left behind regarding equal facilities?

Sorry Don - you can't ask people to sweep the past under the rug. Deal with it. Acknowledge it. Get angry about it and defend the schools in your zone - or let somebody else have your board seat who will.

Anonymous said...

Don't confuse SPOLST project funds with with CIP funds.

Dekalbparent said...

I can't say that DHHS received 25% of what it needed, but it was not 100% by any means.

The capacity of the school AFTER the addition is SMALLER than the number of current students, the forecast for 2010-11 and the forecast for 2016-17. The school will NEVER be big enough.

The science classrooms (replacing 3 science rooms that have not been renovated since 1940 at the latest) may not hold an entire class.

The art rooms will still be in the basement, one having no windows.

The mold problems and the rat infestation are still there, with no plans for abatement.

The roof, which was supposed to be completely repaired this past summer, still has enough leaks that trash cans are placed in the halls most days that there is any rain.

The media center's tall windows used to let in an adequate amount of light. The new addition is attached to the front of half the building, so there are now no windows letting in outside light to the media center. The overhead lights are all there is.

There are also now no exterior windows in the cafeteria. It is now dark AND still institutional green.

The auditorium (at least there is one) is not large enough to seat the entire student body.

There is no field (except for practice, and no tennis courts.
Supplies, furniture and electronics went missing over the summer, and they will not be replaced.

I know I sound like I'm whining, and I am grateful that DHHS got the addition, but it's another example of inequities. Also, perhaps a cautionary tale - those of you who are looking to renos on your local schools need to watch carefully and keep being vocal.

Cerebration said...

"Don't confuse SPOLST project funds with with CIP funds."

They are the same thing. The CIP is just the "plan" and money was 'fronted' before SPLOST money could be collected so that we could get going on the projects. It all comes from the same penny tax.

From the DCSS website:

A Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) has been developed and approved by the Board of Education in order to maintain healthy and safe learning environments for the students of the DeKalb County School System. The CIP outlines the most pressing facility needs.

The CIP is aligned with Board/Superintendent Goals, the Facility Needs Assessment and the Demographic Study. The plan is educationally sound, philosophically based, and fiscally responsible.

To that end, the focus of the plan directly addresses the High Schools That Work principle and the commitment to learning environments that are healthy and safe. The CIP could only be accomplished through a renewal of the SPLOST tax referendum.

The Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) will touch every facility, school and center in the DeKalb County School System. The main areas of focus for the CIP are as follows:

Retirement of existing Certificate of Participation (COPs) financial debt.

Completion of deferred SPLOST II work.

Major roofing, HVAC, code & life safety improvements.

High school improvements.

Career technology, fine arts, & classroom additions.

Renovations of classrooms from floor to ceiling.

Technology upgrades to all facilities.

Transportation additions of new buses to replace aging vehicles.

Cerebration said...

So far - nothing has actually been done at Lakeside except replacing the ancient HVAC, after it literally failed - leaving students taking final exams in 95 degree heat. The boiler was also replaced after it burst, spewing hundreds and hundreds of gallons of steaming hot water into the hallways, causing a flood.

Also - nothing has actually been done at Cross Keys.

Nothing has actually been done at Chamblee.

Nothing has actually been done at Dunwoody.

(Except to say that there are some very pretty drawings to look at.)

You heard the tale of Druid Hills.

Oh - but Tucker is going to be a showplace. Of course, Tucker is ironically, 75% African-American - the highest percentage in north/central DeKalb. I find that very interesting - especially since we have board members who now admit that they "see color".

themommy said...

The projects for SPLOST III were defined long before the current board was in place.

The real issue in DeKalb is that we have built "star" schools wihout also renovating those that needed it. The reality, until perhaps this SPLOST, is that unlike Fulton, we couldn't afford to do both. Fulton, until the recent economic slump, has been able to pay for certain land purchases and renovations from operating funds meaning that SPLOST dollars were used for other things. Fulton is a much richer (based on property values) county with higher taxes than DeKalb and fewer students.

DeKalb has spent very little of SPLOST money on renovations and this remains a problem. We should all realize now that we need no more new schools for a very long time. Remaining funds from SPLOST III should be targeted for renovations and renovations alone.

Anonymous said...

I find it incredibly sad that the only reason why Crawford lewis, the BOE and Sam Moss staff have even addressed Cross keys for the first time in years is because one single person said "Enough. It is time to do the right thing."

If it weren't for Kim Gokce, Cross Keys would have gone a few more years being ignored. It already has arguably the worst facilities of an high school in metro Atlanta.

Thanks to Kim, at least it's on the "radar".

Cerebration said...

True that, Anon! Also - just making sure that you all know that when you simply click a photo, you will be taken to a larger version to see it better.

greenie said...

Thanks for writing this up, Kim. great job - I wish i were as quick as you,
And Cere, I agree - when he said that funding vs. needs meets only 25% of needs, I was thinking ... but those needs are spread out over decades, AND, last spring, Pat Pope said we were well ahead of income projections for SPLOST III. However, if we have to contract out all the management to high priced third party consultant firms, we'll have an even bigger shortfall!
It looks like the cost for Colman is close to $20K/month - that certainly exceeds Pope's salary. But it's all the others that get to ride the gravy train that I wonder about.... didn't DCSS already have ppl in place to do those jobs? colman has been project manager on at least two other renos under SPLOST II - apparently while she was employed by Parsons (even tho she had a DCSS desk and e-mail). Does that mean we always subcontract out so much? No wonder there is no money left for actual construction

Kim Gokce said...

@Anon: ' ... one single person said "Enough. It is time to do the right thing."'

I am happy to serve the community but I can't take credit - there is a large group of folks that are quietly advocating on behalf of these deserving kids and their families. I myself would not necessarily be on this issue except for the watchful eye of a neighbor who sent me photographs of the vagrancy problem. I just happen to be the neighborhood civic contact who he sent them too.

Also, the local Interactive Community Police Officer, J. Fritz, invited me to participate in their Operation Urban Camper that now infamous day early this year. Mr. Moseley and Don McChesney both "toured" the site of the vagrancy and trespassing. I blogged about it on Community Radar and Cerebration picked up the story. It was only after readers online found out about the state of the grounds that things started happening.

I have a group of six deeply dedicated individuals who have committed their time and talent to help in these efforts going forward. You will be hearing from us soon!

So, no, not one person alone. It has been a cumulative and joint effort for sure. I just happen to be the one foolish enough to go in front of a video camera or put my name and reputation on the line for Cross Keys; which I am happy to do.

I was at a Junior Achievement event with their ninth graders today at AT&T - trust me, I am happy to help them. These freshman will have a very different sense of pride in their school and themselves than those that entered four years ago. The instruction is the same and the faculty is still the same dedicated bunch and the kids are phenomenal.

The difference now and in the future is a few of us are bringing opportunities to this school they've never had before and the kids over time will slowly rid themselves of the inferiority complex that has permeated their predecessors. At this meeting, a couple of the kids talked specifically about their experience going to other DCSS schools over the summer and being amazed at the contrast.

Too often we get lost in the debate about who has the nicest or worst facilities - all I really want for these young people is too believe they are equal and worthy because they are.

Anonymous said...

Hey is Tom Bowen Black. I always wondered, not that it makes a difference for I like him and his professional mannerism.

Anonymous said...

"Too often we get lost in the debate about who has the nicest or worst facilities"

We do get lost in it, because there is such an incredible disparity between facilities.

There are reasons why Gwinnett, despite some very real issues, is still successful despite arguably growing faster over a ten-fifteen year period than any other school system in U.S. history.

One reason is there BOE was too busy to get overly involved with mundane day to day silliness. They were focused to focus on planning and long term issues.

Another is one that saved them millions of dollars: they are two site plans for elementary schools, two for middle's, and two for high schools. Architects freaked out, because a system adding the most new schools in U.S. history didn't need architects. Yes, there were and are some minor changes here and there.

We have the perfect model here in DeKalb: Arabia Mountain High School. It will save a huge amount of dollars with its utilities savings. There will be less staff and student absenteeism.

Ever new high school, and even middle schools, and even renovations, should be in the same exact model of Arabia Mt. High.
If not, then Arabia Mt. High was a one-shot PR deal, living proof that the Crawford Lewis administration is all about shallow displays, and not really committed to doing the right thing long term.

Cerebration said...

"Focused on planning and long-term issues." Imagine!

BTW - I was told that Tucker is supposed to be almost exactly like Arabia.

Dekalbparent said...

This is sad. It makes me want to cry or scream - don't know which.

The Media Specialists at DHHS are doing fund raising (on their own) to get money for furniture, equipment and books.

This is because the (wood)shelving for the offices and equipment room were demolished or taken during construction this past summer, and books (that were carefully packed and stored at the end of the school year) were lost and destroyed during the construction.

There is very little money in the budget for furniture and books, so they are selling candy and thinking up other ways to pay for what the Media Center lost.

Again, a cautionary tale.

Anonymous said...

DeKalbParent - Not all of the article in the Druid Hills school newspaper was true, although much of it was. I volunteer in the Media Center and I have been there this semester. I found that the article had some inaccuracies - student reporters are just learning their craft.

First of all, it is true that the students are enjoying the new furniture in the library, particularly the reading area. The Media Specialists are also happy that they have more shelving.

However, the statement that books were destroyed is not accurate. The boxes that the books were packed in were very jumbled and perhaps stacked too high, so the Media Specialists had to work very hard to unpack and sort them, and had to do it mostly by themselves, but none were destroyed. The Media Center ordered new books and new encyclopedia volumes, but they were not replacements for lost books.

I think it is also true that both electrical and plumbing problems (both of which had been problems for years, where there were plumbing leaks quite close to electrical wiring) were not scheduled to be addressed in the renovation plans, and they discovered that they HAD to be fixed, which delayed the progress, but they were fixed.

It is true that the circulation desk was taken out, but it was replaced with a new one. There is a problem in that there are no electrical connections to the circulation desk, so they are having to use extension cords, which isn’t really great, but I think a request to correct that has been submitted. No knowing when it will be acted on…

It is also true that the shelving in the equipment room was taken out and was not replaced, and it needs to be, and it is also true that the Media Specialists’ offices had a lot of good shelving removed, and it was not replaced. I don’t know what the plans for replacement are.

The Media Specialists ARE selling candy and snacks after school to raise funds, but this form of fund raising has been done in prior years, too, to pay for things not covered by the budget. As a library lover, I would love to see a larger budget for all our DCSS Media Centers, but until then, I guess creative fund raising is the best way to go.

Anonymous said...

http://www.atlantaunfiltered.com/2009/11/16/dekalb-construction-probe-complicates-multimillion-suit-on-cost-overruns/

"DeKalb construction probe complicates multimillion-$$ suit on cost overruns"
November 16, 2009

DeKalb County schools’ multimillion-dollar damage suit over construction cost overruns may be undermined by a criminal probe of school contracts.

The school district has been locked in a court struggle nearing epic proportions since it suspended its construction management firm, Heery/Mitchell, in 2006. What began with the contractor’s claim for roughly $500,000 for unpaid invoices has escalated to the point that DeKalb, in a counterclaim, seeks damages of up to $125 million for mismanagement. The file for the court case is more than five feet thick.

Now, DeKalb prosecutors are investigating possible wrongdoing by school employees involving construction contracts after Heery/Mitchell was canned. Agents last month seized school records for six projects from the office of the new in-house construction manager, chief operating officer Pat Pope.

Cost overruns at five of those projects, Heery/Mitchell noted, are a part of DeKalb’s claim of mismanagement. These include: Columbia and Arabia Mountain high schools, McNair and Henderson Mill Elementary schools and the Mountain Industrial Center.

DeKalb claims Heery/Mitchell allowed millions of dollars in payments for construction change orders that it should have flagged as unnecessary; the construction manager says school officials were ultimately responsible.

Heery/Mitchell claims its dismissal was just a pretext to place the projects under a new construction manager. In court papers filed last week, its lawyers said ”it was terminated pretextually by the School District to facilitate fraudulent activity in the same projects Heery/Mitchell had been managing.”

“… a key component of Heery/Mitchell’s defense is that its termination as SPLOST II program manager was pretextual, in that the School District’s actions to remove Heery/Mitchell from involvement in the selection, deployment, and coordination of architects and contractors and to facilitate the ascension of a DCSD employee now under criminal investigation over her role in discharging Heery/Mitchell’s former duties …”

DeKalb County prosecutors served search warrants Oct. 13 at Pope’s office and at the home and business of her husband, Anthony Vincent Pope, an architect who has designed a number of DeKalb schools.

Attorneys for Heery/Mitchell are scheduled to question Pope on Wednesday about the investigation. This time, Heery/Mitchell wants to hear what Pope knows about the criminal investigation by DeKalb District Attorney Gwen Keyes-Fleming. The lawyers are also pressing for copies of records seized at Ms. Pope’s office.

DeKalb’s lawyers opposed the request to depose Pope, noting that Heery/Mitchell had questioned her three times previously. But DeKalb Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger ruled in July that a deposition focusing on the DA’s investigation was OK.

Last month, Pope was relieved of her duties overseeing DeKalb’s school construction program and moved to another school office five miles away to pursue unspecified projects. School board Chairman Thomas Bowen described the move as an appropriate precautionary step while the investigation is pending.

The Heery/Mitchell lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial in March 2010.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Kudos to another Cross Keys student:

Cross Keys junior Leonel Ayala became just the second Cross Keys runner to win a cross country individual state title after posting a time of 16:22.44 to capture the Class AA championship at Carrollton on Saturday.

Ayala won by 2.29 seconds over Jordon’s Ian Edwards to give Cross Keys its first cross country individual title since Bobby McLeer captured the Class AA title in 1967.

Kim Gokce said...

Thanks for mentioning this, DunwoodyMom. I had the pleasure of meeting Ayala last week. When I mentioned his accomplishment to one of my ICP contacts at DKPD, Offc. Josh Fritz, he suggested we sponsor Ayala for the 1/2 Marathon on Thanksgiving Day - so we are!

42 Year Drought Ended By 2 Seconds - A New State Champion

As with all things at CKHS, the families are resource challenged and the faculty tries to fill the gaps. The amount of money the coach has put out-of-pocket to help her kids is not insignificant. Leonel is 1st class all the way - courteous, mature, and he maintains a 3.2 GPA. A few times this year, he ran from Doraville to school for training. On Thanksgiving, he'll run from Clairmont Road to Turner Field with at least 5 of his teammates. A great team-building opportunity for this junior and his fellow runners.

Join us if you can - $1 contributions are welcome! If you don't help, I'm going to have to sell my son's toys to raise the $260 remaining :)

Kim Gokce said...

I have to share this with you guys - I was in the media center this week (library) and noticed something really disgusting. A black mold coating all the HVAC vents so thick I thought it was paint.

You can see it in the background of the first video in this post - the one where the latina mom is asking about security for the athletic field and the girls soccer team.

Look up in the first few seconds and notice the row of "black" vents on the wall near the ceiling ... these are actually white colored vents that are completely blotted out due to a heavy black mold of some kind.

The air in this room stings your eyes as soon as you walk into it. Air quality problem? No problem!

Anonymous said...

I think that many Dekalb schools have air quality issues, because the HVAC has been poorly maintained.

Anonymous said...

Kim, if there is visible mold, there is a major problem. The school's entire HVAC system needs a complete and thorough inspection immediately (and by someone unaffiliated with DCSS).

THE SAM MOSS CENTER IS COMPLETELY INCOMPETENT WHEN IT COMES TO MAINTAINING HVAC SYSTEMS IN OUR SCHOOLS. Crawford Lewis and Sam Moss staff could care less about air quality in our children's schools. Enough is enough!!

Anonymous said...

Call the DeKalb Health Department and file a complaint. Many parents have used this to at least get DCSS to fix the problem.

I do want to add a wrinkle to this discussion -- part of the problem in DCSS was (and may continue to be) principals who don't have their acts together enough to even write work orders.

Several years ago, a group of parents at one school (that was falling apart) made a big enough stink that they were able to examine the school's work orders. The omissions were horrifying and this was a principal the community considered good.

Across DCSS, I believe there are principals who just want to stay under the radar -- call no attention to themselves or their school and thus things like building work orders and sometimes even discipline fall by the wayside.

I get that DCSS may not have the skilled labor that it needs, but as a system we need to hold everyone accountable in the process.

Anonymous said...

Kim, to really get the ball rolling, a teacher of staff member needs to contact the Feds and file an OSHA complaint. That would bring down the thunder on Sam Moss staff.

Anon 5:58, you make some good points, but building issues aren't the principal's fault. Principals should have an undergraduate degree in a subject matter, and a masters in education administration. Thye have no background in facilities management, and really shouldn't.

It is solely the responsibility of Sam Moss administrators to make sure every DCSS facility is regulary inspected, by both Sam Moss staff and by outside inspectors.

Yes, a principal and school staff should report issues such as visible mold immediately. But for there to be visible mold, there's been a problem for months. DCSS has four full timers for HVAC alone. That is more than enough to inspect and maintain 140+ facilities.

But they can't get the job done, and haven't for years. It's time to contract out HVAC, roof maintenance, athletic field maintenance, grounds maintenance, etc. It's not money. There are plenty of bureaucrats at Sam Moss making sweet salaries, there are plenty of staff members.

The Sam Moss Center lacks competent management and they consistently fail with maintainance and operations. It's time for a change.

Anonymous said...

You would have thought that with the bad press last year about mold and mildew in three DCSS school HVAC systems, and leaky roofs throughout the system, that it would have been the top priority of the Sam Moss Center administration and staff.

But they did nothing. I'm sick and tired of their lack of performance, and the Board of Education not giving a darn about aging facilities. The BOE clearly needs a facilities committee. Just keep Zepora and Copelin-Wood off it.

And you know what? Even newer schools like Arabia Mountain will have problems sooner than later with roofing, HVAC, grounds, etc., because there is absolutely no preventative maintenance plans for DCSS facilities. If there was a leak at DCSS Central Office, it would be fixed in two seconds. Mold coming out of vents at Cross Keys High? Not even a blip on the Sam Moss radar.

Anonymous said...

The principal is a key part of maintaining the school building. Really well maintained school buildings (ie - Henderson Middle) have an awesome team of custodians that work w/ the principal to follow-up in a timely manner on incomplete work orders. Kim, you need to speak w/ the principal to see if work orders for the mold problem/repairs were submitted by the plant engineer (head custodian) if so, there will be a record of it. I recommend you start w/ the principal and/or plant eng., if they can produce evidence of requesting this repair numerous times and it hasn't been done then it's time to start making calls.

Cerebration said...

Call me a cynic -- but I just plain don't believe a word any of them says - not Lewis, not Pope, not McChesney, not the new lady -- nobody. In fact, I call BS on every single one of their feeble excuses.

Here' the latest from the Brookhaven Reporter

Setbacks, mishaps

Cross Keys' renovation plans, which at one point called for a completely new school, have been part of the county's Capital Improvement Plan for years.

But numerous setbacks and mishaps have left the community frustrated and disbelieving: construction for a new HVAC system was abruptly halted when the contractor walked off the job; two architects and a construction firm quit; and construction scheduled to start in June is still in limbo.

Not only have these problems lowered expectations, they have cut into the $20 million allocated for the current renovation and merger.

"When Cross Keys first went on the list for renovation, our seniors were in fourth grade," said Social Studies teacher Jeff Bragg, who has advocated for the school improvements and asbestos abatement for years. "Sadly, they're not going to get to enjoy the progress. We expected to come back in August and have so much done, yet hardly anything has been done. What has been the delay?"

Permits, answered Colman. In spite of the fact that the CIP office requests dozens of building and disturbance permits each year, the permits for Cross Keys construction have, ironically, been delayed for a variety of reasons. One last permit stands in the way of construction, she added. ...

"I hear the skepticism," DCSS board member Don McChesney said, as discussion digressed from current plans to old frustrations. "This time it's going to happen. You'll actually see mortar, bricks and dirt. I think you're going to like it."


To read the entire article, visit Officials say Cross Keys school work will get done

Cerebration said...

The last report I heard on the budget claimed the system has over $100 million in the bank - collecting interest. I'm no lawyer, but I think there's a law that if you collect taxes from the people for a certain purpose, then you have to spend the money as promised...within a legal time frame.

However, the ridiculously dysfunctional DCSS is completely incapable of handling this much money with any equity or stewardship. No more. I will personally lead the charge to defeat any SPLOST IV that they have the audacity to propose.

Dekalbparent said...

The permitting process slowed down the construction on DHHS, too. At least one time it was halted completely. Fire Marshal inspections have also brought halts.

I am not familiar with the processes to get permits and pass Fire Marshal inspections, but I would think that it is something that can be planned for, and the requirements to get permits/pass inspections would be cut and dried.Is this another area that could be improved?

Unless DeKalb County makes it not cut and dried. This is possible, I suppose.

Cerebration said...

That's true - but they've never actually applied for anything until recently. Remember - Cross Keys was 2nd on the list of priorities for SPLOST 3 - just after completion of SPLOST 2 projects. Gee - they finished Arabia and are quite far along with Tucker - (which was beneath Cross Keys on the list) and everything else has come to a screeching halt. Lakeside, Chamblee, Dunwoody, and Cross Keys - all empty promises and a few nice drawings...but that's it folks. They are going to hold off and try to use these pretty empty promises to get us to vote for another SPLOST. Don't fall for it again.

Anonymous said...

The moldy floor in the picture was thoroughly cleaned with bleach and rewaxed on Monday. Mold was beginning to grow again by Thursday. Many of the rooms at Cross Keys are being cleaned to get rid of the mold, but it isn't going to last. The response when informed of the new growth from those in charge was lackluster. We have many teachers and students being diagnosed with upper respiratory issues, and they wonder why we are disillusioned.

Anonymous said...

I think it's time for Cross Keys families to sue the school system on the condition of the school.

Yes Crawford, your administration has broken down to the point where it has to take a lawsuit from parents to wake you and your lackeys up. You are an embarassment.

Cerebration said...

A lawsuit? Get in line...

Kim Gokce said...

Re: Lawsuit ... the problem I have with this strategy is that is takes money out of taxpayers pockets (that's us). It also take the attention from leadership that we'd all rather see on our kids and school houses. That is why it is so egregious that our system seems to attract suits like trailer parks attract tornadoes.

Based on recent BoE decisions about legal services, it seems to me that the BoE is prepared to lawyer-up at any time. Based on history, they are wise to be ready.

In regards to the ongoing problems with quality of plant services in support of Cross Keys, I wish I could report any detectable change for the better ... still waiting and watchful ...

Anonymous said...

There is no need for a lawsuit.

If there is an employee (or more than one) who has developed health problems because of the issues at CKHS, get it documented by a physician and then file a complaint with OSHA. http://www.osha.gov/

At the elementary school that was shuttered last year, I understand that it was actually the physician that notified OSHA because he/she was so horrified.

Keep in mind that DCSS has been know to simply lock a room's door rather than fix a problem if it can be isolated. However, it doesn't sound like this is an option for DCSS.

themommy said...

It doesn't sound like is an option for DCSS in the case of CKHS. (published to soon)

Anonymous said...

Kim G, I'm worried about you. You've put in so much time and energy into galvanizing the Cross Keys community. But as long as Crawford Lewis and his administration are in place, Cross Keys will never be properly renovated, and the grounds will never be properly utilized and maintained.
Hang in there. There are many people who support your effort at CK, but I don't see anything improving there unless there is a complete change of administration.

Cerebration said...

Um - Dr. Lewis -- question. In this letter to the editor of the Dunwoody Crier responding to Fran Millar - were you referring only to Dunwoody ES or to ALL schools in DeKalb. If it's ALL - then I think you owe Cross Keys a visit.

As superintendent, I along with staff, use the annual audit as a management tool to ensure adequate and necessary resources are available to equip students to achieve and excel. Staff and I also avail ourselves to the community on a regular basis in order to dialog, address concerns, and receive feedback from the greater community.

Letters To The Editor: Audit, elections
Tuesday, November 11, 2008 1:56 PM EST

Kim Gokce said...

Let the construction finally, at long last, begin ... the now legendary Land Use Disturbance Permit was issued by DeKalb County Planning Dept yesterday! Tomorrow, DCSS will sign in acknowledgment and there are no more hurdles to clear. A short 6 months from original plan. Merry Christmas!

Cerebration said...

Hurrah! We'll be taking pictures and reporting the progress here I'm sure! Looks like these new construction managers may have been just what we needed!

Kim Gokce said...

Well, while this is good news, the permit application was filed on 10/6. I am lead to believe by Planning at DeKalb Co. that 8 weeks is typical for this process. So, the question that lingers is why did it take 6 months to get in that queue (from April '09 public meeting)?

I realize it is a moot point but it is still bothersome that teachers were chased out of the 4th wing with great haste in May so we could wait 5 months for a new bid, new contract, new plan, and now authorization to proceed.

Hopefully, monitoring contractor progress at the site will be more fun and satisfying than monitoring the pre-construction process.