Monday, February 8, 2010

The Laundry List

No heat in my child's DCSS school today. We've heard the countless stories of DCSS schools with leaking roofs, mold in the HVAC system, deplorable rest rooms, etc. Please list your school facilities issues below.

This is not a post to whine and throw stones. A well run school system first has strong academics that trump every other priority, then, a plethora of strong, experienced teachers, and thirdly, safe, well maintained, health school facilities. An end result of all of the poor spending, waste, bloat, nepostism, and huge non-classroom related personnel hiring by the Lewis administration is that our schools are not maintained at a high level, and that is simply unacceptable. It's great to have a beautiful, LEED certified new Arabia Mountain High School. But it's not great to have schools that are at the opposite end of the spectrum from Arabia Mt., schools, schools that are literally falling apart, like Cross Keys, that have the worst rest rooms in the state, Lakeside. It severely affects morale when schools have roof leaks and other major facility issues, and your rest rooms are too disgusting to use. It affects absenteeism, staff and student productivity and even standardized test scores. This major, critical issue does not seem to resonate with our current Board of Ed. List your school's issues below, and let the Board of Ed know they have a duty to reverse the course of our school facilities.


Anonymous said...

Good post. Yes, the rest rooms at Lakeside are that bad. Our friends children at Lakeside tell us there are many students there who refuse to use them. Ask any doctor and they say that is terrible for your health to wait all day. Dr. Tom Keating, a worldwide expert on school rest rooms who lives here in DeKalb, reached out to DCSS, and Crawford banned him.

Anonymous said...

If you walk around the whole Cross Keys campus, the entire back section, it's amazing how large of a space it is, and how much potential it has. It is also amazing that it has received almost no attention from Sam Moss. The athletic fields are especially miserable. Luckily Kim Gocke stepped up and pressured Sam Moss to clean up the homeless encampment back there, which was a health hazard. Kin also led a great cleanup day with volunteers from the Rubbermaid Corporation.
But if he didn't make a racket, the homeless encampment would still be there, with durg paraphenelia, feces, etc. This is a high school campus. How does a situation like that occur with no one from Sam Moss knowing what is going on on one of their own properties?

Anonymous said...

I was talking w/ my neighbor last night whose daughter plays on the Henderson basketball team. They just played a game at Sequoyah and she said everyone was absolutely mortified by the condition of the building. She said DCSS should be ashamed by the 3rd world conditions of the building. The water fountains in the gym lobby didn't work and the roof in the gym was leaking during the game so they had a student with an umbrella standing under it and drying the gym floor constantly throughout the game.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:22 is right. I always read on this blog about how bad Cross Keys and Lakeside are, but if you walk the entire building inside, and the entire grounds outside, Sequoyah is in terrible, terrible condition. It is sad because it is a large piece of property with much potetntial. The problem is it's heavy latino population, and the parents are not vocal or organized. You switch the parents of Sahamore Hill Elem or Oak grove Elem there, and conditions at Sequoyah would start changing the next day. There is no way the two BOE members who represent Sequoyah have walked inside and outside of that building for years, but there is no way they would tolerate the conditions there if they have. Would love to see BOE Chair Tom Bowen visit Sequoyah, because the conditions of it refect directly on the BOE. Clearly, the Superintendent and Sam Moss staff don't care.

Anonymous said...

Ir's DCSS policy that outside groups can rent school fields for practices but not for official games. I go running on the track at Sequoyah, and there are adult and youth soccer leagues that have games there on weekends all the time in the spring, summer and fall. They drive onto the field, leave beer bottles and trash everywhere. You would think that the massive 180 person DeKalb school police dept. would occassionally have someone work a weekend and check school facilities. But they sure aren't checking Sequoyah. I have seen thousands of beer bottles on the property over the years. Mentioned it to the then principal years ago, and he just shrugged.

Anonymous said...

I've lived in DeKalb a long time, and it's sad, but Cross Keys used to be one of the nicest schools in the county. I'm not sure why it's been allowed to fall into its present condition. I do know the demographics in the sending school zone changed as Buford Highway changed, and many of the residents in the area starting sending their children to the many private schools around there. Buford Highway was all apartments with partying singles in the 70's and 80's. It was actually the "hip" place to live in metro Atlanta.

When I drive by Cross Keys and Lakeside now, they haven't changed one bit in 30 years. They were nice back then, and everyone was proud of them, but they both really, really need major renovations.

Anonymous said...

This has been going on for so many years. Perhaps DeKalb should look into outsourcing some of these functions (repair and maintenance, security, heating and air, etc.).

Outsourcing is not a panacea for al our problems, but if the contractor doesn't get the job done, you can get a new one who will.

I used to work for BellSouth, and we were in a building off I85 up near Clairmont. The restrooms were not quite as clean as they should be (pristine compared to Lakeside apparently, but not to our satisfaction).

We complained to our boss, and within the month they were sparkling. I asked my boss what happened, and he said the manager of the building got a new subcontractor who would do the job right.

I had been a teacher in DeKalb County and was used to putting up with dirty bathrooms ad infinitum so I was completely amazed that just like that - the bathrooms were clean! I know that's a tiny example, but businesses do this all the time and many governmental institutions are moving this way as well.

Anonymous said...

The county can no longer continue to provide door to door transportation service, especially since millions of dollars are spent on transportation each year (bus driver salaries, fleet maintenance, fuel costs, etc). While changes in the transportation policy will affect millions of DeKalb County students and families, efforts should be made to revisit transportation in lieu of making cuts to instruction.


• Provide full service transportation to K-6 grade only.
• Students residing on MARTA routes can ride MARTA (outsource portion of transportation). Resulting in reduced fleet maintenance, transportation staff, etc.
• K-7-12 on bus route will receive monthly MARTA pass from school transportation office.
• Miscellaneous students not on direct bus route will travel to pick-up locations to access transportation.
• Smaller fleet can be retained to cover after school activities, field trips, etc.


Cerebration said...

Does anyone know if the "hub" system has saved us any money?

Anonymous said...

At least one chemistry classroom at Chamblee High School does not have Bunsen burners, so the kids cannot do experiments. Apparently, there was a gas leak some years ago but instead of fixing the leak, the gas was simply turned off. This, of course, directly affects the students' learning.

Anonymous said...

Magnet transportation was cut, but not totally. (There are 40 students a day now riding across the highway to be dropped of at Peachtree Middle school from KMS.)

The hub system saved some money, but DCSS is still spending over 2 million dollars a year on magnet/choice transportation. Dr. Lewis told the board on Friday that he doesn't think he is "up" for another battle like the last one. In other words, he knows he shouldn't be spending the money this way, he just can't fight the fight.

Anonymous said...

The City of Atlanta School System has some of the issues we are facing here. They have a large number of highly paid administrators, with Superintendent Beverly Hall significantly increasing the number of administrators during her tenure. They have had some serious large contract issues, including major criminal fraud with the federal technology grants.

But one area where Atlanta Public Schools has shined is with school renovation. They have many more older schools than we do in DeKalb.

Inman Middle School and Booker T. Washington High School were both built in 1924. They could have been torn down and built anew. But APS renovated both with SPLOST money, and they are truly beautiful, well functioning school buildings. APS has other great school buildings like Morningside that were renovated in an excellent manner.

Even with all the issues it faces, APS used their SPLOST money to renovate schools, and did so in a timely manner at a high standard, without a hundred negative newspaper stories and a COO now under criminal investigation from a superintendent's claims.

I don't know why school renovation and construction is so hodge podge in DeKalb. Arabia Mountain High is awesome, but nearby Southwest DeKalb High was renovated a few years back, and still needs major work. Renovation was supposed to cost $9 million, but ended up costing $21 million. We have too many schools well past needed renovation, like Cross Keys and Sequoyah, but the politics of the Board of Ed and the questionable competency of the Superintendent and Sam Moss staff enable pitiful conditions at too many of our schools. Our schoolchildren deserve better.

Anonymous said...

By the way, the state sets the rules for local school transportation and provides some (not enough) reimbursement of costs.

DeKalb is getting ready to close/consolidate schools. Transportation will be essential as neighborhoods become further from their schools.

Anonymous said...

DeKalb has more schools than any other system in Georgia even though it is not the largest (Gwinnett Co. for example has almost 160,000 to our 99,000). Schools need to be consolidated. Of course, there will need to be renovation in the schools these students are going to as their schools close. I certainly hope we get our construction mess straightened out before this happens. That's a bigger worry than the transportation issue.

Anonymous said...

"he isn't up for it"
Is this really the statement that our county superintendent gave when asked about two million dollars that could be saved?!!!
Specifically, parents make CHOICES to send their children to magnet schools. How do those who are enduring cuts to local services have no choice about providing monies to transport children all over the county to schools that they have opted to attend rather than CHOOSING to go to a local school.
This sounds like a tired man who is not willing to take a hard look at the system and make some tough decisions. Sooner or later, being everyone's friend will catch up with you
Cut magnet transportation CLew. It is time to begin to do the right things for DCSS. Usually the hard thing to do is the right thing to do.....

Anonymous said...

Huntley Hills has 2 adult restrooms for teacher and para use (approximately 85 adults). Sometimes I run out of time standing in line and have to wait. Can I send my medical bills to the BOE for health problems directly due these unacceptalble conditions?

Anonymous said...

That's a very pertinent post by Anon 4:36. DCSS is a billion dollar operation, but many times its the most simple things that make a big difference in morale and productivity. 2 rest rooms from 85 adults? C'mon now.

Anonymous said...

It is frightening that HH has 85 employees when there are under 500 students there.

Just saying...

Anonymous said...

A DCSS employee for every 5.88 students...It's the DeKalb Way.

Anonymous said...

@5:28... To calculate "The DeKalb Way" let's not forget to add the non school based employees (Tally's army, lean & mean Security, Super's cabinet, Sam Moss staff etc) to the ratio. It'd probably be cheaper just to shut down the DeKalb School System and give every child their own in-home full time teacher.

Anonymous said...

Not only does Huntley Hills not have enough bathrooms for faculty and students, it also routinely does not have working heat or air conditioning. The school went weeks during the August and September heat without air conditioning. The school also goes without heat for weeks at a time. The system is so poorly maintained that it is almost a guarantee that there will not be heat/air on a Monday because they shut down the system for the weekend and then it cannot re-fire without a repair from the service center.
(BTW- Before everyone jumps on the student-teacher ratio...HH has closer to 60-70 employees and houses many special education classes where there may be 3-5 adults for 6-8 kids.)

Anonymous said...

I know there are poor conditions (HVAC, bathroms, etc) at many schools. Let's list the specifics here. Right now the way the system works it's up to principals to fight for repairs for their schools. This needs to change. We know board members read this site...perhaps if we do make a "laundry list" of all the problems for everyone to see the powers that be can see that relying on principals to report problems is not a good system.

Anonymous said...

At Huntley Hills there are SPID classes (severe and profound), preschool special education and special education Kindergarten. Yes that does change the student:teacher ratio. For anyone who has ever worked a day in one of those classrooms, those numbers a 100% justified. If you have not worked in one of those settings, please don't judge the numbers. Those children have severe medical problems and learning/behavior problems that require (by law), at times, one on one support.

Anonymous said...

Folks, you should be outraged. The BOE just approved $597,000 in additional projects for the Mountain Industrial Center. Apparently, over $300,000 is for additional lighting and sound equipment for the auditorium. Ms. Barbara Colman explained that when the fancy new auditorium was built out it was wired and built to support TV broadcasting. However, the change order would add upgraded lighting so portable auxiliary lighting (which the County owns) does not have to be used.
Jim Redovian was the ONLY Board member to vote against this proposal. He stated that there are other more pressing projects that the SPLOST money should be spent on. He said that in light of today's financial climate he could not spend $300,000 for the Board to look better on TV.

The rest of the board is completely tone death.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the BOE has found an expenditure they don't like except: the idea of every school should have:
1. Clean and safe facilities
2. Competent and well compensated teachers
3. Low pupil-teacher ratio

The 3 items that make a difference for our kids.

Anonymous said...

This is very upsetting. DCSS is in big trouble and the people in charge are fools. They do not care about the children. How can we stop this needless spending?

That money could have fixed the roof at my school and a few others, I am sure. Not to mention the numerous other projects that would make schools better for the kids.

We are here for the kids. Everyone in DCSS has their jobs because of the kids. Why aren't they our priority?

themommy said...

Does anyone know when 2 minutes isn't 2 minutes? Apparently, at the DCSS Board Meeting!

Board member comments are suppose to be 2 minutes each. Oh my, some of them go on and on!

Anonymous said...

I work at an elementary school that has had ongoing HVAC problems for over 7 years. The heat and air conditioning run out of control. Students in some classrooms in August had to wear winter coats because of the uncontrolled AC. In winter the only way for the library and some other room to have bearable temperatures from the heat running at full blast is to open windows when it was freezing outside. This is a gross waste of energy and resources. Nothing ever seems to get fixed properly and no one ever seems to care.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:16, what school are you referring to?

Anonymous said...

Look at the budget for the Mountain Industrial ...look at the # of TV's they purchased and the price for each........
I don't know about you , but when my home budget runs tight , I don't

Cerebration said...

Not to mention - you should see the "new" tv's they brought in to the classrooms at Cross Keys - so that the kids could watch Channel 1 news... they look like those big old dinosaurs from the 80s. I have no idea what warehouse they had them stored in.

Why is it that the admin gets new monitors and an actual SCHOOL gets old junk from the 80s???

Anonymous said...

"Why is it that the admin gets new monitors and an actual SCHOOL gets old junk from the 80s???"

Because for this administration, the Superintendent makes it a priority to fufill every whim and desire of his fellow administrators, while ignoring conditions in our schools. It is no accident that the fancy new workout facility is next to the new admin headquarters. There is no way C Lew would have built it in or next to a school.

And someone tell me why we are paying money to upkeep Heritage? It's an old facility in the back part of a quiet residential neighborhood. Just give it to the county for a park, and we'll save six figures in annual upkeep.

Cerebration said...

I couldn't agree more on the Heritage Park issue... our district (2) has had far, far, FAR less money spent on parkland than any other district... and we are all paying the extra tax for the park bond too!

Anonymous said...

In reference to the post about Huntley Hills restroom situation:
Before the bottom level of DSA was opened there were 4 (for a few weeks 3 because one broke) toilets for all the females in the school, including the faculty. That was almost 200 females sharing 4 toilets for over 6 weeks.

Anonymous said...

Parents of DeKalb County expect so little of DeKalb Schools. We have grown to think that it's okay that our children will be educated in the bleakest of circumstances. The DeKalb administration has lost their focus on our students.

Cerebration said...

Exactly. Is there a way to sue for misuse of public funds? I'm talking SPLOST and school property tax. There are egregious errors in spending decisions in our school system. The taxpayers of DeKalb have been snookered. Our system has never made AYP. That alone should be cause enough to replace the leadership.

Ella Smith said...

The bathroom situation for teachers is the same in many old Dekalb County Schools. As a teacher who had Kidney and bladder issues who could not wait I used the students' bathrooms all the time and still do at my school. I figure, if these bathrooms are good enough for the students to use they are good enough for me also. However, I totally understand the frustration of lack of bathroom. This is going to be the issue in older school. You have to just use students' bathrooms.

I think the Splots money spent on Mountain In. is shameful. This should be money spent on our children. However, Dekalb alway makes sure a high percent of all the money they they can is spent on administration one way or another. The Mountain In. location will also be used by board members as their home.

I think this sents the wrong message. Our administration offices should be the last to look nice. Our childrens' classrooms should alway be Dekalb's first priority.

Anonymous said...

I think you will find that many of the poor conditions in the schools today are due to the fact that years ago, the County leadership strayed from the recommendations of a professional engineering firm that establish a county-wide list of the most critical deferred maintenance needs. Folks that "knew" better decided to divide dollars by area and then let the areas decide what to do. This led to decisions like replacing perfectly good middle schools at the expense of needed classroom additions and bathroom repairs at the elementary and high schools.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Ella! It is shameful to renovate office space at in these tight times. The arrogance to build a wellness center that is really only a perk for a few employees while we can't keep our copiers running!

Dekalbparent said...

I am going to report waht I heard at the BOE meeting. Draw your own conclusions.
When Redovian said he could not vote to "spend over $300,000 to upgrade the lighting at Mtn Ind when there were more pressing needs", Walker replied that the money was looking to the future. He said if we don't plan for the best technology, we are wasting money. Lewis then said "if we don't put in this new lighting, we might as well close down PDS24."

Anonymous said...

Lewis then said "if we don't put in this new lighting, we might as well close down PDS24."

I am sick and tired of having a superintendent who is so amazingly petty and short-sighted. PDS24 is his baby, and he wants $300,000 for lighting and he gets $300,000 for lighting from the pushover BOE. He doesn't care that copiers in most of our schools break down every other day or that teachers have computers from the late 90's.

Crawford Lewis, you are an embarassment. I can't wait until the five new Board of Ed members elected this fall force you to retire.

Cerebration said...

I don't understand what was wrong with the lighting they had - I had no trouble seeing them on the tele. (They did have an audio problem recently, but I think that was just a technical difficulty.)

Dekalbparent said...

Here's what I wanna know - if the original lighting they contracted for in the Board Room (this is the new one at Mt Ind) was not adequate, why did they not catch that? Why is this a $300,000 additional change order? Or is it (as Redovian suggested) just vanity?

The other half of that change order (about $200,00) is to pave the parking lot to make it "safe". When asked why the paving was not in the original contract, Ms. Colman said that DCSS was indeed aware of the the poor state of the lot at the time the contract was made, but they did not include the paving in it. She did not state why...

Another change order that was approved was $56,570 for an elevator to the mezzanine area at the Mtn Ind Center (does an elevator really cost that much, or is the money also for demolition to already finished construction to add an elevator?). This elevator is required by ADA regs, and it will serve only the admin building, not the school areas. Again, the question is why was this not in the original contract? DCSS is doing so much renovation, that they are well aware of the ADA requirements. How could this just slip somebody's mind? Is there no contract review before signing?

These questions and the otheres that we bloggers are bringing up are the ones I want the BOE to be asking.

Anonymous said...

Dekalbparent has touched an issue where Lewis and our Board of Ed hasa wasted millions: Change Orders!

They present to the public a figure for a renovation or new construction, but they know they'll spend much more via change orders. Like when the BOE approved $9 million to renovate Southwest DeKalb. But it wound up costing taxpayers $21 million when all was said and down.

Bait and switch. Lewis and the BOE are masters at it.

Cerebration said...

Cross Keys has students who use wheelchairs but the school does not have an elevator. They have one of those giant cage-like boxes that supposedly lift students up the stairs, however, it no longer works. No, students who use wheelchairs at Cross Keys (and until very recently, Lakeside and I'm sure other schools) have to go outside around the building on the cracked sidewalk and back in another door - even in the rain.

I am very angry at this administration for spending such exorbitant amounts of money on their own facilities when we have actual students who have very high needs and for whom taxpayers thought they were paying the penny SPLOST tax.

Anonymous said...

I would rather my taxpayer dollars go for elevators for students in wheelchairs than for new and improved lighting for the BOE at Mtn. Ind.

Dekalbparent said...

Cere - the students at ANY school in DCSS who are being forced to go around the building should be filing a discrimination complaint with the Federal Office of Civil Rights. The Georgia Advocacy Office (404-885-1234 or 800-537-2329) can tell them how to do it.

ADA requires that an elevator / lift be installed in any building that is undergoing substantial renovation. CKHS is certainly doing that. They may figure they are getting around it by the fact that there is a lift there, but the fact that it is broken throuws them right into non-compliance.

Dekalbparent said...

@Anon 1:47.
Funny, I was discussing these change orders with my spouse last night, and my spouse said that my father-in-law, who worked for the Department of Defense, used to complain of the same thing. Dad said that the contractors would submit bids that they knew did not cover everything just to get the contract, and then, after a decent interval, submit the change orders to get more $$.

Apparently a time-honored tradition. It's just that DCSS is not as big as the DOD, and they have LOTS of employees, so there is no excuse for the bids not being closely examined and every omission questioned.

Cerebration said...

I stand corrected. I bumped into Kim and he told me that the new "lifts" are in at Cross Keys. (They are not elevators, since this is not a 2 story building, more of a split-level building.)

Anonymous said...

Did you know the person who runs PDS24, Philandra Guilroy gets paid over 120,000k per year? The annual salary of a Production Manager at a local commercial TV station is $75,000. What's wrong here? Philandra is the daughter of the former Board Chair, Edwards, I can't think of her first name. Also, Philandra's husband, he is in charge of transportation, he makes the same salary. So one family makes over 200k a year and neither one of them work in a class room! Brilliant!

Crawford Lewis' Friends and Family plan! If you know Crawford, its a good bet they work for the administration and THEY get a handsome salary to boot. ENOUGH!

Anonymous said...

Since the board's architects are well recognized and well paid, BOE members should scream anytime there is a change order required to meet ADA or fire marshal compliance. I'm no construction pro, but this reeks of bid rigging, doesn't it?

Why does the board just sit there and approve these things? The conspiracy theory grows...

Anonymous said...

I just looked at the state website that posts salaries, I misspoke in the previous comment, the Guilroy's make 115k each per year each. Still over 230k for the teo bread winners in that family. Crawford Lewis' Friends and Family plan!

Anonymous said...

If you throw in pension and benefits for the Guillory's, that's another $40,000. I wonder if David and/or Philandra get a DCSS vehicle.

I would LOVE to see a list of which DCSS employees get a take home vehicle.

Anonymous said...

yes David Guillory's does get a car. He made it to the top over night.He has never been a teacher or principal, just walk in the door and made it to the top. Must be nice. They got rid of people so he could have that job, they new to much and mama wanted them out.

Anonymous said...

There is absolutely no justification for David Guillory having a DCSS vehicle.

Anonymous said...

Does the open records act allow the taxpayers to see the qualifications that the Guilloroys have for their respective jobs?

Cerebration said...

Nope. Those are personnel files. They are protected. (And that's a good thing - we wouldn't want the whole world viewing OUR personnel files, would we?)

But then again, it never hurts to simply ask them!

Anonymous said...

RE: Lighting for the PDS 24 tv studio - "the money was looking to the future. He said if we don't plan for the best technology, we are wasting money. OK, Mr. Technology, have you ever heard of a webcam? Does the Board know that folks can actually watch shows and even live video on the internet?Run the news feed off the DCSS website. We'd rather NOT see you in high resolution.

RE: No elevators, crappy bathrooms, mold, etc. - there are no advocates for Chamblee HS that I see. One year, the handicap lift was stuck in the middle of a stairwell for DAYS, crowding students changing classes into a bottleneck, probably a fire hazard. Also this building was originally built in the 1920's.

Anonymous said...

What is the state website that posts salaries other than teachers?

Cerebration said...

The website below lists all salaries for everyone employed by the state in any capacity.

Anonymous said...

Frances Edward is very powerful, very. Or at least she was.

Even before her election to the school board and after as well.

Originally, her daughter was to have the top job, but when word got out, there was such a hue and cry (her press releases were terrible), that she was "demoted." However, her salary wasn't.

The truth is that Julie Rhames' position is probably a waste as well. Dr. Lewis doesn't listen and having a head of PR is probably not necessary.

Anonymous said...

In addition to the seats that are up this year, please post whether you are interested in beginning recall procedures for the even-numbered district BOE members. The Georgia Constitution and OCGA provide recall of local elected officials. We would have 45 days to collect the signatures of 30% of the registered and eligible voters from the 2008 general. The more pressure we bring to bear on all of them, the better results we hopefully will get.

Anonymous said...

The part about the Mountain Industrial change order that really got me was when someone asked Coleman if the new lighting was necessary to televise Board meetings, and she said no. She said that the extra lighting would be better but they could continue to use the auxiliary lighting that the county already owns and uses on a regular basis. I was watching this on TV and the lighting and reception were fine for a community broadcast. It was only later that Lewis started acting like a petulant child "if you don't give me the new lighting I will take my cameras and go home." It was downright embarrassing.

My nephew works for a commercial lighting company and said if they just need extra lighting he could install professional lighting for a fraction of $300,000. And he installs lighting in places like civil centers and arenas.

Anonymous said...

Go to this state of Georgia link to see all DeKalb School salaries:

1. Click on Organizations
2. Click on Local Boards of Education
3. Use the drop down menu at the bottom of the page (to the right of Organizations) to select DeKalb County Board of Education
4. Click the Search button at the bottom of the page

The salaries will display for all DeKalb County Schools. If you want to export to an Excel file:

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Export Options: CVS

A CVS file will open. You can then data sort, filter, etc.

This information shows how much of DeKalb County Schools budget is going to Support and Administrative salaries rather than the employees who work with our children.

Anonymous said...

How much money is allocated for PDS 24 TV?

Joseph Phillips who runs the DeKalb PDS 24, makes $ 100644.57 plus benefits. There are many employees in this department.

What is the annual cost of this department?

Can this department show they directly contribute to DeKalb County student achievement?

Now the BOe is asking for $300,000 in lighting so they can look better on PDS 24. They would look better if they were worried about our students.

I remember when the BOE approved the budget for this department many years and millions of dollars ago. I remember thinking, "How does this benefit students?" In better economic times, maybe it didn't matter to anyone. Today it does.

Anonymous said...

I am interested in the recall of DeKalb BOE members. Please give us the particulars. There are many blogs about DeKalb Schools. You should post this on those blogs. I'll be glad to get signatures.

Anonymous said...

Dekalb has 99,000 students and 223 employees who make over $100,000 a year. Forsyth County has 50,000 students and only 56 employees who make over $100,000 a year. Forsyth has incredible technology for their students, great test scores, and clean and safe facilities. Their pupil teacher ratio is better than DeKalb and their teacher pay is on par with us.

That leads me to believe that our top heavy administrative salaries are putting DeKalb's schools at the bottom of the barrel.

We have 4 times the administrators paid over $100,000 a year as contrasted to Forsyth yet only 2 times as many students. We are so much lower than Forsyth in all measures. Don't tell me it's our kids. We're investing our money in administration and support - not in teachers and students.

Anonymous said...

I would support a recall for the DCSS board of education members. Just post when and where to go to sign a petition.

Anonymous said...

Will someone explain why they can't solve the problem at MLK? That has been going own forever and those students and teachers should not have to work under those conditions. With that top heavy staff at sam moss that can't solve this. Maybe they need to hire a company that can find out the problem. But that is what happens when you have people that have back yard training. I can assure you if that was a problem in the central office it would have been taken care of asap.

Anonymous said...

More intolerable waste & bloat at DCSS. PDS 24 has a huge overall budget if you look at all staff costs and equipment. And the content is very, very poor.

What did decatur schols do to get not just meetings online but to have high quality content? They contracted out with a local website, The website covers all meetings and produces high quality video stories. The website makes money from ad's, and its partnership with the school system generates high traffic. They do all this for just a small fraction of what DCSS spends on PDS 24. Julie Rhame should know better: She's on the Decatur school board. And she's very, very, very good as a school board member.

But Crawford Lewis would never go for something like this, even if it saves a lot of money while producing better quality content. because he ikes to be able to hand out jobs. He knows he has Frances Edwards, who still carries a lot of weight with many older voters on the south side, because C lew has her daughter running PDS 24, even though she had no background in it, and her son-in-law david running DCSS Transportation, who has no experience in that either.

Compare PDS 24 to this:

We are failing as taxpayers and parents that we allow DCSS to operate so poorly. There is a small school system in our own county that is 100x more productive and efficent. But we vote in the same clowns for BOE every year. Zepora? Copelin-Wood? Womack for a second time around? Double-dipper Gene Walker, who was pushed out as a state legislator by his own politcal party?


Dekalbparent said...

the complex procedures for
undertaking a recall are outlined in O.C.G.A. § 21-4-1 through 21-4-21.
Anyone involving himself or herself in a recall election would do well to study these statutes in
great detail.

The relevant legislation requires at least one of the following grounds for calling a recall election:
* an act of malfeasance or misconduct while in office,
* violation of the oath of office,
* failure to perform duties prescribed by law, or
* willfully misusing, converting, or misappropriating, without authority, public property or public funds entrusted to or associated with the elective office to which the official has been elected or appointed.

Signature requirement

The number of valid signatures required for a recall election is 15 percent of the number of persons that voted in the last preceding election for the office of incumbent being recalled.
Circulating the recall petition

Circulation of the recall petition must be completed within 90 days after registration.
Contact information

Georgia State Elections Division
1104 West Tower, 2 MLK, Jr. Dr.
Atlanta, GA 30334-1530
Phone: 404.656.2871

I just got done reading the relevant sections of O.C.G.A. It would be very tricky to establish grounds for recall. I found a couple of Ga Supreme Court cases where recall efforts were dismissed because, in the court's opinion, the petitioners did not establish proof that the elected official failed to perform the duties of office.

Not that I am unwilling to discuss this...

Count me "IN" said...

It'd be tough to satisfy the "grounds" required to initiate the recall. (And we'd surely face a judicial challenge.)

Our best shot would be the third one: "failure to perform duties prescribed by law". The other three require evidence of "intent". And that's nearly impossible to establish.

If we can establish that "Not showing up to meetings" is a "failure to perform duties prescribed by law" it'll be a slam dunk on some of the current board members.

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't know if you could get someone for not showing up at meetings. They could be not feeling well, etc.

That said,I'm willing to sign any petition that gets any of the current BOE out of office.

Dr. Lewis and his "upper management" (as they like to refer to themselves) have not been fiscally responsible.

Anonymous said...

Start writing your BOE members.
91% of DeKalb Schools budget goes to salaries. Other metro systems spend around 85% of their budget in salaries. This 6% of DeKalb's $900,000,000 budget represents $54,000,000 annually.

We do not have a better teacher pupil ratio, nor do we pay our teachers more than other systems. In addition, we have less science and technology equipment than other systems. Therefore the difference must be in administrative and support compensation and cost.

Lewis is proposing to reduce teacher pay and increase pupil teacher ratio to save $56,000,000.

We must cut, consolidate and outsource in the administrative and support end before we decrease our teachers' pay and pack more of our children into every classroom.

Go to the web address below to ajc article (paragraph 6) which states that in 2008 the BOE asked Lewis to cut the 91% of salary budget cost to 87% (still sitting at 91% in 2010):

Paulding County (26,000 students) spends somewhat over 85% of it's budget on salaries. Go to the web address below to the Paulding Sentinnel article (paragraph 12):

Fulton County (90,000 students) spends 85% of it's budget on salaries. Go to the webs address below (paragraph 8) to read Fulton Superintendent Loe's statement:

Salaries make up 80% of the overall state of Georgia education budget. See website below (paragraph 10):

Anonymous said...

Right now DCSS principals are listing to an update of the current budget status. Anyone have any insights to provide us with now that the shortfall is predicted to be $88 million?

Anonymous said...

Writing your BOE members; showing up at meetings; writing over and over again about Lewis's fraud and malfeasance ... none of this is going to do any good. For some reason, Lewis and his cronies feel untouchable. The BOE members don't care because if they did they would have acted by now.

So, instead of meetings and letters and repetitive griping, we must prioritize what has to be done:
1. decide to get rid of the BOE by a recall or by building a strong campaign that will assure they are not re-elected.
2. get rid of Lewis and his cronies by holding them criminally responsible for malfeasance and fraud -- and turn them over to the judicial system.
Then we must act, swiftly and decisively.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 4:45 pm

1. Get DeKalb's salary cost down from 91% of our total budget to 85% like other metro systems by decreasing support and admin positions. Cuts, consolidation and outsourcing in the admin and support section should be first and foremost. The extra 6% in our admin and support expense costs us $54,000,000 annually.

2. Ask parents, teachers, and other employees for budget trimming suggestions. It's amazing how much waste parents, teachers and general employees see that can be eliminated.

3. Address closing magnet and theme school programs as well as Fernbank Science Center (I know everyone loves Fernbank, but it costs millions a year to operate, and each child in the county maybe gets there once a year - not enough to impact their education). If the magnet and/or theme school does not pay for itself - for example via additional gifted funds, then it should be closed.

4. Address programs such as America's Choice, graduation coaches, Wellness Center, DOLA (could the state's Georgia Virtual do it better?), Family Technology Resource Centers, etc. as possible expense reduction centers.

5. Furlough days for teachers. This would be the a LAST resort measure after the above has been done, but one that may be necessary. By enacting all of the above, perhaps DeKalb can keep this to a minimum.

DeKalb's administration likes to think the "frills" they can advertise on their website makes the difference for parents. In reality, very few parents see an advantage in those "frills". What matters to them is that their child is in a classroom all day with a manageable number of other learners and a caring, competent teacher(s). Parents want attention for their child. They do not want their child in a classroom with a stressed out teacher and 32 other students.

Another common misconception is that Title 1 funds are "free" money, and any program that is funded with Title 1 (e.g. "Hollywood" trip) doesn't really count in our general budget. DeKalb receives tens of millions annually in Title 1 funds. There is a great latitude in how you spend Title 1 funds. The bulk of Title 1 funding decisions need to moved from the Central Office to the local schoolhouse so that decisions for our lowest income and most educationally vulnerable students can be made by the people who directly meet their needs.

Anonymous said...

My family loves the Fernbank Science Center, but it should be a 501c3 affiliated with the school system, but not dependent on the school system for funding.

The Callanwolde Arts Center has a similar relationship with the county. Callanwolde has to generate a good chunk of revenue and isn't on county welfare.

Crawford Lewis is incapable of making any tough decision. What a joker.

Dekalbparent said...

Anon5:55 - Great Idea!

I also love Fernbank - they are doing all kinds of things (forest preservation, gardening and farming demonstration site, coordinating school garden education projects and school water conservation) that many people don't even know about. In addition, other school districts use Fernbank and have to pay to do so.

All the more reason to make it a 501c3 to protect it from the whims of DCSS administration who clearly doesn't have a CLUE as to its current value and what it could become!

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 5:32
Very good overview. Excellent point about the "frills" of DCSS that do not touch the majority of the 100,000 students served.
And, I must completely agree that parents just want a reasonably sized classroom with competent staff. The specialty programs are oh so nice but fall into that group of frills and jeopardize the ability of the majority to get the basics . A reasonably sized classroom with competent staff.
Transportation for specialty schools is another area but if you eliminate those, the problem solves itself.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 5:13 is dead on.

"So, instead of meetings and letters and repetitive griping, we must prioritize what has to be done:
1. decide to get rid of the BOE by a recall or by building a strong campaign that will assure they are not re-elected.
2. get rid of Lewis and his cronies by holding them criminally responsible for malfeasance and fraud -- and turn them over to the judicial system.
Then we must act, swiftly and decisively."

Time to act, people. Time to act.

Anonymous said...

I do not think we can sustain our current level of funding Fernbank Science Center.

Ten years ago when I was still teaching in DeKalb, one of the Fernbank Science Center instructors told me there was a instructor opening at Fernbank and suggested I apply. I wasn't even tempted because I really liked the students and the school I was in.

At that time, the Fernbank instructor said that many of the Fernbank instructors were able to pursue their own scientific research with Fernbank, funded by Fernbank. I also know a CDC researcher who applied to Fernbank (she didn't get the job by the way). She was also assured she could pursue her own research if she was hired.

Jim Cherry (DeKalb's super in the 1960s) launched Fernbank Science Center in 1967 with the intentions of creating a stellar education/research center that the wealthy county of DeKalb would fund. That lets you know how far back I go.

I think we need to look at the future of Fernbank Science Center. We need to consider if the money for Fernbank Science Center would be better spent funding science education in DeKalb's local schools.

Cerebration said...

Personally, I think the best use of our energy is to find and support some really good candidates for the school board seats that are expiring this year. A recall is a lot of effort - effort that I think I'd rather put toward helping put new people in place.

You all need to be ready to work hard and put your money where your keyboard is! Let's find the people first - encourage someone you know who may be a great school board rep.

Anonymous said...

Any chance of going after CL's license?

Anonymous said...

@ 6:30, excellent post.

IMO Fernbank Science needs to partner with its physically adjacent neighbor, the better funded and better managed Fernbank Museum. DCSS should just give it (Sci Center) to the museum and let them put together programs (free) to DeKalb Students and families.

The school district simply is incapable and clueless as how to use this resource.

Just ask yourselves: Are there still (2+) electronic microscopes owned by DCSS housed at the museum -- with DCSS paying rent for the space? How many DCSS students have ever taken advantage of these? Uh, none that I know of.

What ever happened to the Space Shuttle Simulator which Sci-Trek donated to DCSS when it (Sci-Trek) bellied up? Those who had field trips there can attest to how incredible the experience was -- a simulation of classmate astronauts in predicaments communicating with their counterparts at Mission Control on Earth, all doing math and logic problems to find the solution to the then-crisis. What has DCSS done with the equipment, props, and program -- absolutely nothing! Yet it was a draw nationwide for visitors to Sci-Trek. Shame on DCSS and its leadership! Give the whole kit-and-kiboodle to the museum, and let them put their know-how to benefit our kids.

Fernbank Science is just as you describe Anon. A research center -- and why does DCSS need to fund one instead of putting this resource (teachers) in front of kids? I dunno, ask Crawford and the BOE.

Any reasonable person can compare the gate traffic of the museum to that of the science center and see that the sci center is a joke. I say partner up with the museum, give DeKalb students free access, and give them an opportunity to learn something above and beyond looking at the shell of a hollowed out Apollo capsule, or a stuffed fox and piece of petrified wood.

Anonymous said...

I'm for a recall. If this site can't be the basis of it someone needs to start a new site. Now is the time let's get moving.

Cerebration said...

There's a place you can go to set up a petition. The people against the military academy did it and we posted the link here. If anyone takes on the task of setting up a recall petition, we will post the link here. Personally, I choose to spend what little extra energy I have trying to find some fresh new faces to serve on the board. We can replace 5 of them this November - that's a majority!

Shayna said...

I think it's important that folks really think about working towards a block (5 person majority) so one person isn't batting their heads against the wall trying to do the right thing. Remember Chip Franzoni? Anyone wonder why he resigned? Anyone wonder why his kids are at Wesminster?

Anonymous said...

Chip moved out of Dekalb County.

Anonymous said...

Right after her talked the school system into swapping the GPC land for the new Dunwoody ES rather than renovating the old Chamblee MS property.

Anonymous said...

Do you suppose the Governor, the State Superintendant of School, and various superintendants implicated in the alledged cheating via erasure scandal were aware of the cheating when they were lauding the effectiveness of their educational plan/vision as evidenced by the spectacular success of the 169 (?)suspected elementary schools?

The Governor, the State Superintendant of School, and various superintendants already took credit months ago in speeches and at conferences. They knew then what they knew now----like we knew about Sosa, Bonds, and Maguire.

Now, they are pointing fingers? At teachers? Good teachers are smart enough to remain teachers.

Schools continues to deliver higher than "real" graduation rates though DOLA, credit recovery, grade inflation, and maximum legal pressure on teachers to pass students.

In Georgia, all these programs like America's Choice might just be to better cover the actual improvement methods. The State caught erasures...they did not catch the "blank spaces that were filled" late at night.

Vox Noctae