Thursday, January 21, 2010

Run for Cover? I plan to fight for both the Students and the fine Teachers of DeKalb County.

Reposted with permission from John Heneghan's Dunwoody blog.

I was going to post (a simple piece about an exhibit at Spruill Arts Center called "Run for Cover") but the name of the exhibit in relationship to the DeKalb County School System news coming out, just touched me on so many levels.

Like all governmental budgets that depend on property taxes the DeKalb County School System is facing financial crisis, yet we have school board members already saying publicly that they are in favor of tax increases along with cuts in teacher pay vs deep cuts in administrative overhead.

DeKalb County pre-kindergarten classes, magnet schools and art courses will be slashed and teachers will likely see another pay cut to offset a $56 million deficit in the school system. The only other option is to raise property taxes, DeKalb Superintendent Crawford Lewis said Wednesday. Either way, students, teachers and administrators will feel the pinch next year.

The AJC also quotes board member, Eugene Walker who suggested the board raise property taxes 2 mills, which would raise the taxes of a $200,000 homeowner’s tax bill by about $135 more a year.

I read a comment on the DeKalb County School Watch Blog where a resident matter of factly stated that his decision had been made, that he is now going to move out of DeKalb vs. put up with the degradation of the school system, paying higher taxes that he can not afford, for it to be wasted on administrative bloat.

I don't know about you but as a father of three children in the DeKalb County School System, I truely respect my children's teachers, they work hard and are dedicated to the education of my children, sometimes it seems in spite of the obstacles placed upon them by the current administration. Unlike that person who is ready to move out of DeKalb, we the residents of DeKalb County need to stay and fight for quality education for our children and support the teachers who educate them.

I refuse to do differently and if you feel the same I would ask you stay engaged in the process, stay educated on what is happening in DeKalb and be ready to fill the auditorium of Peachtree Charter Middle School on Monday March 1st for the DeKalb County School Board work session where budget alternatives will most likely be discussed.


Thanks, John. This post is very well said. Folks, I also encourage you to read John's post on your property tax bill. Click here.

This post has a clickable link (when you click the words 'stay engaged' near the end of the post) that will generate an email ready to go to the board. Add your own comments and send it off. He's way more technical than me, and since I don't know how to make that work go to John's blog and click away.


Just Sayin' .... said...

I honestly don't know how we will ever convince this cast of characters to do the right thing. Their track records, individually and collectively, give me no hope they will EVER do ANYTHING that's in the best interest of the STUDENTS or TEACHERS in DeKalb County.

I hope and pray they prove me wrong. But there are no fact and no evidence to support those hopes and prayers. None.

Anonymous said...

Thank you John Heneghan for making it easy to e-mail all the BOE at one time. I have to say, if one day a state representative or state senator writes legislation that allows Dunwoody to start a charter school system, go ahead and run with it. DCSS is broken and bloated. Things will not change for years without an entirely new Board of Ed, superintendent and upper management.

I'm hoping a state representative or state senator writes legislation that cuts DCSS into two or three districts. DCSS is too big, too bloated, too wasted, too nepotism heavy, too broken.

Realtors are talking about DCSS, saying that all the problems with DCSS sure don't make selling homes any easier.

Anonymous said...

Cerebration said...

I would like to clarify one thing. There has been a whole lot of press about Dr. Lewis voluntarily taking a pay cut last year. This could very well be true, however, according to the website, this is what Lewis took home last year -

$287,991.63 (Salary) $9,452.75 (Expenses)

Ouch! That cut must have really hurt.

Anonymous said...

Ouch, our county gov't is not much better than DCSS!

A DeKalb County commissioner has four outstanding warrants for writing bad checks in Gwinnett County.
DeKalb Police learned about the warrants for Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton’s arrest on Wednesday night when she was involved in a crash on LaVista Road, according to police report.

However, she was not arrested.

In January 2008, Gwinnett County sheriff’s deputies took out four warrants for Sutton on charges of deposit account fraud, Gwinnett Major Mike Powell said.

Court records show Sutton also had previous problems with bad checks. In 1996, she pleaded no contest in Gwinnett to writing bad checks to West Building Supply in Stone Mountain.

Cerebration said...

uh oh - wasn't she one of the cast of characters who were going to run against Hank Johnson? Vernon Jones is supposedly going to toss his hat in the ring too.

Four warrants - and gee - they couldn't find her? And then she crashes and still they don't arrest her? If that were you or me, we'd have been in the slammer in 12 minutes.


Anonymous said...

Comm. Connie Stokes, former county CEO Vernon Jones are running against Hank Johnson, and possibly Comm. Lee May. The county commissioners and CEO have still not worked with the BOE to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to share facilities and programs. It's been a few years of back and forth haggling, with each side blaming the other. Not many adults on the BOE or county commission.

Anonymous said...

There are people at every school that have jobs that could be done away with. Every school needs to fill out a confidential survey so that this issue could be addressed.

Anonymous said...

Gwinnett county just raised the milleage 3 points at the end of last year. Those teachers will receive their increments.

Anonymous said...

OK, folks,

Sharon Sutton is a teacher BEFORE being a County Commissioner. She taught business classes at MLK High School before she got elected. They say she spent most of her class time with students sitting on her phone dealing with her campaign. She was given a cushy job with DOLA upon being elected. What does she do there?

The bounced checks? Well, that is a BIG violation of State Ethics Laws for teachers. If someone complained formally to the Professional Standards people, Sharon Sutton would be de-certified. Not wishing harm upon someone, but it would be nice to test Crawford's statements. If Sharon Sutton lost her job with DOLA, would they fill that position.

Ella Smith said...

Gwinnett County also got 17 million dollars because they are a poor county and Dekalb got at least that or more taken away because we are a rich county.

I believe Gwinnett County's millage rate is still much lower than Dekalb's, Fulton's, and Cobb's. Gwinnett's pay scale is lower than Dekalb's and Fulton's pay scale also. I found this out when I spent a year in Gwinnett.

Right now Dekalb does not need a tax increase in my opinion.

I agree that jobs could be cut at every school. I am all for Team Teaching in Special Education. I am a Special Education Teacher. However, I have been teaching a long time and many times Team teaching positions could be replaced with parapros who shadow students and provide notes, read tests and provide the accommodations many team teachers provide. In many cases money could be saved and services could continue to be given.

I know it is easy to bad mouth all the school board members. However, most of these school board members give a great deal of their time for not very much money. I strongly disagree with the School Board on the Super's raise due to the climate of the school. However, I do not have all the information that they have to make this decision. I respectfully disagree, but I respect all the hard work these individual put in.

I think that it is important that every citizen fight for the Students and the fine teachers of the Dekalb County School. However, I do feel allf of these board members feel they also are fighting for the students of Dekalb and we need to respectfully disagree with them. I agree a turn out at the March Board meeting would be a start to a good sign of support for both the students and the employees. We must not forget the auxillary staff. These staff are extremely important to the running of the Dekalb County School and these individuals also need the respect they deserve.

Anonymous said...

Last line of AJC article about check bouncing DeKalb commissioner:

"Sutton, of Stone Mountain, was elected in 2008 and serves on the commission's budget committee. She teaches business and career technology for DeKalb schools."

For crying out loud! This is a high school business teacher. I don't know if I can stand any more bad publicity. I am embarrased to admit that my children attend DeKalb public schools.

Wonder if Lewis will send all you teachers a memo about how you should support poor Ms. Sutton who can't balance a checkbook.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:32 Lewis will ask us to donate money. LOL

Anonymous said...

I know it is easy to bad mouth all the school board members. However, most of these school board members give a great deal of their time for not very much money.

Here, here, Ella! I don't know why anyone would choose to run for the school board. They make next to nothing, must attend lots of meetings all over this large county, and endure the abuse poured on them by their constituents. I sure wouldn't take their job!

Anonymous said...

Actually, given the number of their family employed in plum positions in DeKalb County Schools, it's easy to see why some of the BOE members like their positions. I think that's been brought up numerous times in this blog.

Let's suppose some of them don't have family employed by the school system. Are we to believe that their small remuneration and the criticism they receive is the reason we have such poor return on investment on 42% of our tax dollars (percent of tax dollars that goes to the educational system)?

Surely there are some competent mathematicians that would like to run for the school board. They just need to see that a system can't be efficient when you have 5,800 out of 13,285 employees who are not teachers. That is simple addition and subtraction.

Cerebration said...

The 42% is the portion of the state budget that goes for education. On top of that - 70% of your property tax bill goes to DeKalb schools.