Wednesday, March 10, 2010

School Closings and Transparency

(Thank you to arroz for the valuable input)

School closings; always a traumatic issue, anywhere in the country. DCSS is facing its biggest budget gap ever, and school closings are rightfully on the table. Unfortunately, because of the weak leadership of the BOE, the South DeKalb vs. North DeKalb debate has again reared its ugly head. Our county commission (and Vernon Jones when CEO) also allowed all too often for many debates on budget to become more South DeKalb vs. North DeKalb nonsense.

Well, it's back.

What is incredibly aggravating is that members of the Citizens Planning Task Force, appointed by DCSS Board of Education members, have fanned the flames.

School closings are about cold hard data. That's it. It's not about "social justice". It's not about "breaking up a community". If the enrollment numbers just aren't there, we are no longer in the position to keep open a school because of politics.

One of the main reasons why schools like Sky Haven, Gresham Park, Kelley Lake, Toney, Meadowview, Midway and Peachcrest are being considered for closing is because they are in areas that have been decimated by the foreclosure crisis. If the students aren't there, they aren't there. Period. A school can be closed and rented out to a small business, and then re-opened later if the student population comes back.

Proposed school closures divide DeKalb

But listen to Citizens Planning Task Force members:
Task force member Bruce McMillian:
"I’m not going to let this panel be a scapegoat or whatever you want to call it for these tough decisions.
The pocket that has been targeted by the school system is an area that, I feel, is an area of least resistance. The affluent areas in the county, the ones with the higher tax base, none of those are being targeted.”

Task force member Darrell Jennings Sr.:
Said he plans to look at the enrollment of all 83 elementary schools before making any decision. The choice should be made based on how the closures will impact the community in terms of social justice, economic development and property values, he said.
“I just object to all these schools being closed in my backyard,” he said. “They gave us a list of 23 schools and 19 of those schools are in south DeKalb.”

Thank you Bruce McMillian and Darrell Jennings Sr. for miserably failing as task force members, and stooping to baseless allegations, instead of carefully and maturely focusing on the task at hand.

Luckily, we have some reason from Task Force member Tracie Scott:
“If we’re going to disrupt people’s communities, I think we need to be able to say this is going to be better for your child.”

Yes, there has to be a strong case made to the public to close any school, and the BOE and task force has to be very open with its reasoning. But...THIS IS NOT ABOUT GEOGRAPHY OR RACE, THIS IS NOT ABOUT SOUTH DEKALB VS. NORTH DEKALB. It's about an $88 million (or more) budget gap. As much as I advocate for massive cuts to the Central Office, MIS, instructional coaches, the school police department, contracting out services, selling surplus properties (if DCSS even has a list of all its properties), these cuts alone aren't going to get it done. The smallest schools need to be shuttered.

I am very, very curious to see if our Bord of Education members will be strong, or if they will cave into false emotion, especially Zepora Roberts, Gene Walker and Sarah Copelin-Wood. Let's hear your take on an issue that should be rational and objective, not emotional and subjective.

252 comments:

1 – 200 of 252   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

Race may not be correct word but, these decisions are not based on data alone.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, the Board is considering closing 10 to 12 schools, instead of just the 4 originally proposed. Here's the link to the AJC article: http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/dekalb-could-close-up-360267.html

arroznegro said...

You do realize that phrases like "the Race Card" stop the conversation.
I have not seen the hard criteria for the selection of these schools, but, if it was strictly analytical, there would be no need to "choose" schools, it would be #1 thru #4. We don't know who selected the seven schools. As the Task Force member stated, they should have been allowed to make the decisions.
If there was more transparency, the question of race would be off the table.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that the 2 apparent criteria are "enrollment" (which is pretty hard and fast--how many kids are enrolled in the school today?)-- and "growth projections" which seem to be something that can be manipulated.

Anonymous said...

The school board should make the decision based on the committee report and DCSS staff reccomendations.

Anonymous said...

There is information available about enrollment data and other information used to create this lists of candidate schools. Most of the information can be found on DCSS website, click on the CPTF link on the left side and most of the data from previous meetings has already been posted (not sure when the info from last night will be there).

As I see it, the list of candidate schools and the two scenarios presented last night for closure are largely data driven, although I'm unclear how Midway elementary got pushed up for closure when there are smaller schools out there. Dan Drake and his office have worked toward transparency in this effort. It is the (understandably) emotional response of the community that is complicating what should absolutely be done completely by the numbers.

I wish they had taken the school names off the data before presenting the scenarios to the CPTF so that the information could be evaluated without so much drama. They never even DISCUSSED the scenarios presented last night. The only thing accomplished in that meeting was setting the next meeting date. To be honest, I don't know how such a committee could possibly do the work assigned to them in that setting. They couldn't hear or see each other clearly, and the audience certainly didn't keep quiet. This process is doomed as long as the emotional takes priority over the data analysis.

jane said...

It seems the choices may be based mostly on data, but also on what area are least likely to complain NOT RACE. For instance it seems there would be NO cost increse anywhere to close Kittredge and send those children back to their home schools. That would be THE BIGGEST SAVINGS.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to see that data is driving any of the decisions.
If you look at current and projected enrollment and capacity there are a lot of schools that have less students and more available capacity than the 7 mentioned so far.
Has the Committee or Board stated the exact criteria they are using when looking at what schools to close?
Seems they would have determined this first and then looked to see what schools fit.
Of course I may have just missed them, so if anyone has them please post.

Anonymous said...

arroznegro,

One of the problems is that DCSS is not run like a business for the purpose of educating children. DCSS is an uncontrollable government agency that seems more like a jobs program and will siphon as much taxpayer money as we will let them for as long as we let them. Failing schools is not my idea of success.

Based on what I see career educators rarely make sound business decisions nor do they make very good board members. The longer it takes the taxpayers and parents of students in DeKalb County to realize this and act accordingly, the longer it will take to streamline this recalcitrant government agency into the fine educating machine it should be. There needs to be drastic changes in all levels of DCSS administration.

We need to formulate a game plan for positive county wide change and make it happen.

Cerebration said...

Well, add this to the pile of push-back regarding every single proposed cut. I am getting very cynical and thinking that the ONLY cuts will be made in the classroom and to the teachers.

Paul Womack had it correct when he said that we cannot protect our individual turfs. We cannot pay for special or extra programs at the expense of ordinary classrooms. We cannot maintain buildings that are under-populated due to the cost and loss of state reimbursement. We cannot continue to offer free transportation all over the county. And we cannot afford the bloated administration we have in our system. Yes, DeKalb county school system has become a bloated government bureaucratic jobs programs. But no one has the guts to tell their friend, relative or whomever that their high dollar job is no longer affordable to the taxpayer.

Haven't you all heard? The February tax collections at the state level were nearly 10% below projections? And the projections are what gave us the $88 million deficit. The government is not some magical pot of money to pull from - it's money that comes from taxpayers - many, MANY of whom no longer have a job or a home.

Anonymous said...

Schools that look like they should not be on the list are being affected/included because they are in a cluster with other schools ranking high on the list. You can't pick one under-utilized school in the midst of other schools (regardless of north/south/central region) unless there are other neighboring schools that can accept those students. They do not want to bus kids b/c of closure - they are looking to neighboring schools to accept the burden. I have kids at one of the schools on the list of 25, and, as much as I want to save my school, I was horrified to see Midway on the list given that they accepted students from a school closed last year. No way should kids who were moved last year be asked to move again. That type of consideration has to be made, which unfortunately opens the door for more subjective arguments.

Anonymous said...

I think it is important to realize that you can't necessarily close the 4 smallest schools (and I admittedly haven't studied the list) because they are probably clustered next to each other. You can consolidate them but some have to stay open.

Twenty to 30 years ago, a bunch of schools in North and Central DeKalb were closed. Growth is cyclical.

Anonymous said...

It does seem likely that at least some school will close, which begs the question--what do they plan to do with these buildings? Let them rot, as they have done with Forest Hills? Or offer them at reasonable lease terms (cost AND length of lease) to potential renters?
Al

Cerebration said...

Oh, we have a whole list of rotting buildings - and have been asking DCSS to provide a list of all it's properties for a long time - to no avail. I'm told they might not even know themselves!

At any rate - we have Forrest Hills, The entire Druid Hills complex (except Adams and the International school - formerly Kittredge), the former Shallowford ES (also formerly Chamblee MS after that) closed - after building a gymnasium, little Heritage ES, --- anyone care to add to this list of crumbling, old, neglected buildings contributing to blight in the county?

Anonymous said...

There will be basic maintenance on closed buildings, but they will not be sold until the real estate market improves.

Probably another reason why South DeKalb is taking the hit is because their schools are so geographically close to each other. They can close a school and send kids to a nearby school that is truly nearby. The schools are just not that spread out.

M G said...

Tilson ES
Hooper Alexander ES

Anonymous said...

DCSS can rent a building without selling it. A few of the charters, among others, would love to rent a closed school--if a reasonable rent and length of lease were on the table.

themommy said...

Any reports yet from today's budget committee meeting?

Anonymous said...

We shda closed or consolidated every school under 500 when we were flush. It would have been hard then because it is political. Now it is necessity.

fedupindcss said...

The biggest problem with this whole process is the committee itself. Why are they there? Do any of those people possess skills in demography, statistics, or education? Why did we pay a demographer to issue a report? Why do we pay high salaries to people at central office? Why do we elect board members? This should have been done completely by data, with consolidation to one school (much as was done in north Dekalb in the 1980s--see the closing/repurposing of Heritage, Margaret Harris, Coralwood, Rehoboth, Tucker, etc., etc.). The committee is a redundancy that just allows this to be drawn out.

Anonymous said...

Fedup

I expect that any member of the committee will tell you that they didn't ask to be appointed. Right now, I expect that they are really wishing that they had declined.

The real question is why other systems can make decisions that are unpopular with parents and still follow through.

In DeKalb, the backing down is predictable and expected. Gather a few parents in red shirts and a program is restored.

Dr. Lewis and the BOE are leaders. Plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

I don't know the long history too well, so please indulge this question--could it be that these schools were not closed earlier, while othere were, because it would have been called a racist act at that time--and now DCSS is making a choice it avoided some years ago?

Just asking . . .

Anonymous said...

I agree, the assessment of schools to determine which to operate and which to consolidate should have been made by the high paid Central Office Staff and various alternatives should have been presented to the Board.
On top of that Dr. Lewis takes a vacation so he does not have to make the tough choices. Choices he has always avoided and now we find the mess we are in.

Cerebration said...

Again, I gotta ask, what about the trial that was supposed to start in March? No one seems concerned about that.

Cerebration said...

BTW - here is the link to the Citizen's Planning Task Force ...

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/public/CPTF/

And here is a list of the poor souls who are suffering the rule of life, "no good deed goes unpunished".

Citizen’s Planning Task Force Members
Task Force Member Appointed By
Lynn Deutsch, Dunwoody Redovian, District 1
Shawn Jett, Atlanta Redovian, District 1
Faye Andresen, Atlanta McChesney, District 2
Don Broussard, Atlanta McChesney, District 2
George Maddox, Decatur Copelin-Wood, District 3
Darrell Jennings, Decatur Copelin-Wood, District 3
Bob Chambers, Atlanta Womack, District 4
Brian Dewey, Stone Mountain Womack, District 4
Charles Hill, Decatur Cunningham, District 5
Thad Mayfield, Lithonia Cunningham, District 5
Ann Maywether, Stone Mountain Bowen, District 6
Marcia Coward, Lithonia Bowen, District 6
Sam Tillman, Decatur Roberts, District 7
Sandy Purkett, Decatur Roberts, District 7
Frank Jackson, Lithonia Walker, District 8
Bruce McMillian, Decatur Walker, District 8
Tracie Scott, Stone Mountain Speaks, District 9
Stephanie Smith, Stone Mountain Speaks, District 9
Ernest Brown, Lithonia Dr Lewis, Superintendent
Mellie O'Keefe, Dunwoody Dr Lewis, Superintendent

Cerebration said...

And here's the link to the VERY timely minutes from their meeting, just yesterday - impressive!

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/public/cptf/files/CPTF%20Minutes%20Final.pdf

M G said...

Cere,

I think those are the minutes from the Feb 9 meeting.

Anonymous said...

Anon5:29,

For many years, DCSS was under a court order, related to school desegregation, that kept them from doing anything -- or at least that is what former Super. Halford and the school board back then would have you believe. (The reality was that they could have gone to a judge and asked to build a new school or redistrict, they just choose not to.)

(Johnny Brown came in and was certainly going to shutter small schools. He had some political missteps in the beginning and never got that far.)

I actually think that inertia is the reason these schools have remained open. DeKalb closed school for the first time in decades two years ago. Dr. Lewis, who has never liked criticism very much, did not weather the process well and vowed to never do it again.

That is a shame -- most school systems with 100K students and lots of school constantly tinker with lines.

Last year, the state gave out a bunch of stimulus money to be used for school construction. DeKalb wasn't eligible because we have so many empty seats. Cold hard data analysis by the state said we needed no new buildings. Fill the seats you have -- their analysis doesn't care where the seats are in relation to the students. This illuminated the idea that further school closures were probably necessary.

Then came this economic crisis. No way to ignore the dollars lost either in operations (because the state fully funds at around 450) or the construction dollars lost.

themommy said...

Opps, I wrote that piece above.

Sorry for the confusion.

Anonymous said...

Cere, Per the online docket, currently pending is DCSS's "MOTION FOR A SPECIAL TRIAL SETTING." I'm not sure how this motion affects the trial date. Judge Seeliger presently has no calendars posted.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Terry Morris on that committee, too?

Way too many folks who ought not be on there, imo. Can't they get someone with young kids?

Anonymous said...

Terry Morris is not on this committee. I believe she is on the SPLOST oversight committee, though I might be wrong about that.

Cerebration said...

oh, thanks, M G. Nevermind! I pulled an Emily Litella.

Cerebration said...

Thanks for the trial "update", Anon 6:37 PM. Sigh!

Ella Smith said...

My son came home indicated that all the teachers at Lakeside are very upset about having to teach 6 out of 7 classes next year verses 5 out of 7 that they all want to leave. I was talking to my Lead Teacher today about this in Fulton and he said, Ella where do they think they will go that they will find the grass greener. Currently in this economy the grass is not going to be greener in teaching anywhere. No teachers in any counties will be off 2 periods a day. The block schedule will probable be a thing of the past because school systems just cannot afford it any longer.

Things are getting really bad for teachers in Georgia right now. The state just approved that we can be furloughed up to 10 days next year and part of this can be class time. This is a sad time for public education in Georgia.

Anonymous said...

Today, Robert Moseley made it clear that he doesn't believe any cuts should be made to the high achievers magnet programs or the arts' magnet programs. He refused to acknowledge that the programs could exist without all their extras. It is ok to cut everything but this -- from the staff's perspective. They are willing to close schools (savings from closing 4 schools are about the same as the annual cost of high achievers magnet programs), eliminate other programs (a student cried about DECA today), and overload our teachers, but they are not about to cut this "special" programs.

So, if you think this is unfair, it is time to let the Board know. Put it in your subject line, make sure you cc Robert Moseley ROBERT_MOSELEY@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us
and Ms. Tyson.

The links for Ms. Tyson and the Board are on the front page.

Anonymous said...

Teachers should not be talking about this in the halls within ear shot of children or with the children. This is not being professional.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 8:07 Regarding the magnet cuts, from past meetings, I have gotten the impression that Mr. Womack, Mr. Redovian, and Mr. McChesney are in favor of program cuts, including magnets. If anyone is going to write Mr. Moseley, they should also include these three board members to let them know how you feel.

Anonymous said...

@ Ella 7:57 pm

How shortsighted to think that teachers are trapped now so the DCSS administration can do whatever they want to them.

What dedicated parent wants disgruntled teachers teaching their child? When you are angry, do you think you give the best of yourself to your child?

I don't think parents want "crowd control" for their children. That will kill public education faster than anything else.

When the economy gets better, teachers will move on. Unfortunately, most students have no place else to go.

Anonymous said...

There will always be someone looking for a quality teacher, so don't think that teachers aren't looking. They aren't locked into a job like previous years and resumes are being sent out for teachers who do not like the direction that DeKalb is taking.

Anonymous said...

High school kids are not small children.

They know that healthy parents have whoopie time just "thinking" teachers may balk at poor working conditions.

Do you want your children to just take it from the man without questioning? Do you want your children to become adults who work for free?

Anonymous said...

I went to the meeting last night and agree that these comments were poorly placed. The data were presented and have been available for quite some time on the website. I am confused about why people want children in schools that are not full. Many of these schools appear to be substantially under-enrolled. It was clearly stated that not only is it the cost of keeping the building open but also the state monies that are lost through state funding formulas that are reducing the monies the county is receiving from the state. How is this not hard data. While we may not know to the dollar, it seems clear that this should be a consideration.

Someone above stated that we should not be busing students all over the county. It is my understanding that this is not occurring. If your child is transferred (through whatever program), you must provide transportation. Is this not correct?

Weren't they also considering the physical condition of the buildings themselves? This seems reasonable to me, both as a parent and a taxpayer. Why would we want building in good shape to go unused while buildings in need of substantial repairs are continued, with substantial repairs needed.

On the other hand, children and families from schools already closed should also be a part of the consideration.

themommy said...

Children will not be sent across the county if schools are closed. Schools will be consolidated into nearby schools.

Fear mongering at its best.

Anonymous said...

Teachers should be using their time at school to teach and not discuss the current climate of the schools or their dislike for their employer with the children. This is one reason why our schools are under performing.

I am a teacher and want to be respected. Discussing the current climate of the district and my dislike for what is going on is not professional. Teachers want professional pay, than they need to act the part.

Anonymous said...

To some this may seem irrelevant now, but it plays huge. For so many years during and after the era of the court order, DeKalb schools in one way or another continued to educationally discriminate against children in the southern part of the county. I was there and I know. I am a product of DeKalb schools and my three sons went to DeKalb schools. The discrimination I speak of was not overt, and thus can't be absorbed in a blog's nano-second context. I do not suggest that such discrimination takes place today, but -- past or present -- it is an overarching factor in today's news. It is why it seems incredible to some of us that "the race card" came out of nowhere in the discussion of school closings.

This would be a great time to stick with the facts, but when you combine past prejudices and present-day circumstances, it's not the easiest thing to do. In effect, the inertia of the BOE has come to haunt us because we now need to make hard decisions.

What are the facts? There are definitely under-enrolled schools. That's a hard fact based on enrollment numbers when the State says it'll ante up for a schoolhouse with "X" number of students but no more. There are definitely schools where "capacity" is not met. What is "capacity"? Oh -- that's something DeKalb Schools gets to decide. Now it gets murky. There are definitely schools which should have been closed long ago. Why weren't they? See the paragraph above. There are definitely school zones which will see cyclical neighborhood population shifts, and for that reason the district may need to hang on to shuttered school buildings, because it's really more difficult to buy property than renovate and re-open property if you're a school system. But you may not be able to appreciate that fact because of the prior inertia and downright foolishness and awful rhetoric from public officials, elected or hired.

Finally -- in my opinion, this is one time that the Board of Education could have and SHOULD have exercised its will without forming a task force. These are difficult decisions fraught with emotion which lay citizens shouldn't have to be subjected to with dubious data handed over by a dubious administration. That's the board's job. I well remember the comment of a former DeKalb school board member: the one thing a board member doesn't want to do is close schools in an election year.

So we're here today with The Perfect Storm: Sins of the Past, a Budget Crisis and Lack of Leadership. The only thing we can do is stay focused -- and many of us are doing a great job. No one is allowed to easily label something a race card and dismiss it as such, because there really was a race card and it played badly for many. Conversely, no one is allowed to hang on to ghosts of the past to prevent closure of schools clearly qualified for closure. Finally, no one in the administration is allowed to let the community divide and then claim it can do nothing. South, North, Black, White, Native, Transplant, Educated Activist or Kool-Aid Drinker, Fernbank proponent or not, this is just not allowed.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone noticed that since Clayton County elected a new BOE and got a new superintendent we haven't heard a peep out of that county in the news?

And BTW a greater percentage of Clayton county schools made AYP last year than DeKalb.

Maybe we should get a new BOE and superintendent.

Anonymous said...

What percentage of the overall DCSS budget is 88 million?

Anonymous said...

Reading between the lines, I sense that the area residents are saying close 1 or 2 schools and combine the students into another school in the same general area.

Assuming(wrongly perhaps)that DCSS expect these schools on list not to make AYP this year or in the near future, DCSS may wish to scatter these students further afield to delay the onset of failing AYP.

Eventually DCSS and all other public school system, charter or otherwise, will run out of trickery to avoid certain and fatal AYP collapse.

Anonymous said...

Oh we respect you, Anon 9:15! We just don't want to pay you.

If respect will feed you, warm you in winter, and cool you in summer--we have the job for you.

While your pay is retrograding, relish the increased respect you gain by teaching 200 high school freshmen from 8:00AM to 3:30PM with 50 minutes to grade papers, answer emails, call parents, and wait for copier while providing after school tutorials for the kids who fell asleep, skipped school, or were busy talking.

Cerebration said...

I find it curious that so much attention and fighting is occurring over the possible closing and merging of 4 schools which apparently will only end up "saving" the system about $500,000 per school (not sure if transportation costs to the new school are figured in.) It really can't be the whole picture. What is really going on with that man behind the curtain? We need to pay careful attention.

Cerebration said...

I'm fascinated by the deep, hurtful racial story of DeKalb County schools. I grew up in a small farming town in Ohio with only one black family in our school (one Jewish one too) but lots of Hispanics (maybe that's why I fight for Cross Keys so hard). But I never witnessed the racial discrimination and horrors of the south. I have never in my life even seen separate restrooms, drinking fountains, buses or lunchrooms. I learned about the racial tensions in the south in school - I just never really grasped the hurt behind it all. It's very real and very, very sad, and still very raw. Although I don't think this round of school closings is racially motivated, I have seen many other initiatives in DeKalb that certainly appear that way to me. I can truly understand the mistrust of the African-Americans in this county - even though the official school leadership is actually African-American.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Anonymous Mar 10th, 8:07PM

I see you are still at it. If you repeat something often enough, people will actually begin to believe it. They won’t verify it, they’ll just accept it as truth and act on it.

To everyone with the inclination, look at the article “The March 5th Board Meeting” and scroll down to Anonymous March 9th, 6:35am – then look at the response posted March 10th, 12:00am.

Kim Gokce said...

@Cerebration re: "hurtful racial story of DeKalb County schools"

This cannot be underestimated. My own experience in Fulton County during those years are painful memories - lots of tension, mistrust, and violence in my high school. I was afraid to board the bus most days.

As hard as it is to imagine how things were then in today's context, I am under no illusion that there is no longer mistrust and outright bigotry in all of our communities.

However, I think today's DCSS is much more about good, old-fashioned power and politics. Whether your community is "whiter" or "browner," you had better have money, organized advocacy, and relationships with power if you want your school to survive. The south DeKalb parents with schools on the "short list" will find that the heel squashing them hurts just as much whether the foot wearing it is black or white.

In these decisions about closings, enrollment data may nominate candidates for closure but it will be politics that spares or kills those nominated.

Regarding closings on the "north" DeKalb ledger in recent past - I know of at least 3 ESes closed in the 80s/90s just in Cross Keys HS attendance ... Jim Cherry ES, Brookhaven ES, and Skyland ES. Ashford Park ES barely escaped the noose 3 years ago with enrollment down as low as 315 at that time.

Back to the data questions - I once saw somewhere data about the annual cost per pupil at each school. Has anyone seen this type of data for the current analysis?

I would be very interested to see this data included in decision-making.

Anonymous said...

The Budget committee talked lots about school closings today and the role of the Citizen's Task Force. They also discussed the details of the teacher furloughs and the program cuts. And on Monday, they put racism totally on the table - hard to believe all the things they said. The meeting notes are on the DeKalb Parent Site.

Anonymous said...

At the elementary level, schools in the community are much better for children. Why not consider a school with less than 400 students share support and administrative staff; if they are not going to consolidate neighboring schools? Many of the schools with less than 400 students have a lower student teacher ratio than schools with over 600. The task force, with all of the budget cuts necessary, should be looking into what is best for students and teachers. Teachers in the trenches everyday are real concerned that they are going to be asked to do more, with more students, with less pay and less resources.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Schools were closed in N. DeKalb during the 80's and 90's when the population of this area "matured". In the Chamblee district, there was Sexton Woods Elementary, which later housed special ed students and then was torn down to make room for CMS and just 3 years ago Nancy Creek Elementary, whose students were split between Huntley Hills and Montgomery. In the Dunwoody cluster, Shallowford Elementary , which became the home of CMS for a time and the old Dunwoody Elementary, which was sold to DeKalb County, were shuttered. Kingsley Elementary was rumored at one time to be closed due to low enrollment, but hopefully will be utilized as part of redistricting the Dunwoody ES cluster.

I am sure there are more I just don't recall, but the point is, that communities "grow up" and the student population declines, thus the necessity for closing schools. Then, if all goes right, those communities grow younger as the older population moves on and the next generation moves in, and thus the schools will re-open.

themommy said...

One thing to keep in mind is that the elementary schools on the closure list are larger in terms of square footage and classrooms than those built 20 years later.

It is my understanding that in the 1960s and 1970s, the then BOE, when building new schools to accommodate population growth, didn't take into consideration that the buildings would need to last more than one generation. These are among the worst constructed, most difficult to maintain and SMALLEST buildings in DeKalb.

DCSS needs a long term plan to figure out what to do about these buildings that can't hold 450 students.

Dunwoody Mom said...

From Mosely:

Moseley – We recommend to leave High achievers and performing arts alone, because they are the highest parent and student interest schools.

What a disingenuous statement. Also, who cares if they have high parent and student interest? They take money AWAY from the remainder of students in the county. AH, I want to scream right now.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post from ajc:

Here is a list of student enrollment per the dekalb.k12.ga.us website (click on school and centers on the left side of the home page, locate the school alphabetically).
There are some schools with relatively equal or lower student enrollment in North DeKalb when compared to the schools being considered for closure in South DeKalb. These North DeKalb schools have predominately White students. Why are these schools in North DeKalb not being considered?? This does not “quack” like racism??
North DeKalb elementary schools with relatively equal or lower student enrollment:
1. Laurel Ridge (Decatur)-347 students
2. Ashford Park (Atlanta)- 380 students
3. Briar Vista (Atlanta)- 391 students
4. Midvale (Tucker)- 397 students
5. Kingsley (Dunwoody)- 400 students
6. Hawthorne (Atlanta)- 425 students
7. Briarlake (Lavista Rd Area)-430 students
South DeKalb schools being considered for closure:
1. Gresham Park- 292 students
2. Sky Haven-300 students
3. Peachcrest- 350 students (there is 1 North DeKalb school with lower student enrollment)
4. Meadowview- 365 students (there is 1 North DeKalb school with lower student enrollment)
5. Kelley Lake- 412 students (there are 5 North DeKalb schools with lower student enrollment than Kelley Lake)
6. Toney -470 students (there are at least 7 North DeKalb schools with lower student enrollment than Toney)
7. Midway Montessori- 505 students (there are at least 7 North DeKalb schools with lower student enrollment than Midway and all of the Montessori’s in North DeKalb were removed from the list. This South DeKalb Montessori was the only exception still slated for closure)

Anonymous said...

The figures in the AJC are wrong and since when does Tucker and Decatur qualify as N. DeKalb?

Anonymous said...

DeKalb School of the Arts was the only DeKalb school to receive the Blue Ribbon award last year.

Anonymous said...

DeKalb School of the Arts was the only DeKalb school to receive the Blue Ribbon award last year

Congratulations! However, many, many DeKalb schools have received this award.

Anonymous said...

DeKalb School of the Arts gets to hand select its students, kick out behavior problems and has 28 teachers for 300 students.

DSA has 4 language arts teachers for 300 students. Next year, the teachers at Chamblee and Lakeside will be teaching 150-180 students EACH. How is this fair.

Anonymous said...

You cannot just compare student enrollment to determine school closure. A previous poster listed many schools with enrollment similar to those being considered for closure and asked why they were not being considered.
In many cases the students in these schools would have no where to go.
For example, they listed Briar Lake and Hawthorne. These schools are adjacent to each other and there is not the unused capacity in either of these schools or even the others nearby that could handle the displaced students.
They included Kingsley also. It is a Charter School and again there is no place for the displaced students to go.
In addition, as mentioned in another post, many schools in the Dunwoody area were closed years ago due to low enrollment. It was not about race then and it is not about race now.
It is about what the County can afford to operate.
When schools are closed, the students move with their friends and teachers to other schools. We need to realize the kids adapt and grow through all this. We should too.

Cerebration said...

And in other school district news --

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Facing potential bankruptcy, the board that governs the once flush-with-cash Kansas City school district is taking the unusual and contentious step of shuttering almost half its schools.
Administrators say the closures are necessary to keep the district from plowing through what little is left of the $2 billion it received as part of a groundbreaking desegregation case. The Kansas City school board narrowly approved the plan to close 29 out of 61 schools Wednesday night at a meeting packed with angry parents. The schools will close before the fall.


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_closing_schools

Anonymous said...

Could be worse:

Kansas City School Board Closes 26 Schools

On Wednesday night, the Kansas City school board voted 5-4 to close 26 schools in the district in an effort to avoid bankruptcy. "The school closings will cut the number of district buildings by more than 40 percent and underpin [Superintendent John] Covington's drive to cut $50 million from the shrunken district's budget," the Kansas City Star reported. "The plan will leave the district operating 33 schools." The plan also calls for the district to sell off its headquarters. To consolidate all of the students in the region, many of the high schools in the area will absorb middle school kids and other similar schools will pack into fewer buildings: Three Montessori schools will become two, for example.

Anonymous said...

Kingsley is a no-go. The Dunwoody cluster is already way over capacity, so there would be nowhere for them to go.

No Duh said...

Ahhh, the stand-alone magnets and the love/hate relationship we have with them....

Kittredge needs to go. I understand that DCSS sees this school as the Golden Goose. The school they always trot out to people outside of DCSS as somehow representative of all DCSS schools. It's at the top of every list. However, it's the Barry Bonds of DCSS. It should always have an asterisk next to it.

And yet, Kittredge does not even house/teach the best and the brightest in DCSS. We should not have separate "High Achievers" schools. We should have "truly gifted" schools. You know the students I'm talking about. Don't act like you don't know! I'm talking about students who should have to be recommended by teachers to attend a school for the true brainiacs. I'm talking IQs out the wazzoo. And it should only be at the high school level so these kids can get the socializing skills they need through middle school and then the specialized teaching they need to keep them engaged and fruitful. Kittredge is a JOKE!!

At first, I was going to defend DSA as a place that the truly artsy kids need to learn and grow their creative talents. Then, I went on the DSA tour to check out this phenom of a school. Cool place. Educates students well, I guess. Turns out, if your kid isn't a singer or dancer, they still have to take classes in singing and dancing. If your kid isn't interested in graphic design, etc. they still have to rotate through classes in these disciplines. But, the kicker for me. The thing that said "Hey, wait a minute. Why is this school truly NECESSARY?!" Drum roll please...

85 to 90 percent of the DSA students also employ private arts teachers/coaches! So, DSA is merely augmenting what these kids' parents are already willing to pay for!!

We can no longer afford these feathers in our cap. We have got to spend our money for basic clothing for all our schools. If we become flush again, we can always start these schools back up. Meanwhile, none of these students (Kittredge or DSA) will be deprived of anything by returning to their home schools.

Anonymous said...

No Duh

Please email the above to the Board.

I just came from an elementary school which is looking at, best case scenario, having art part time next year or possibly not even having it all.

As it stands today, the DCSS administration is refusing to make changes to the points allocated to the arts and high achievers magnet programs.

Kim Gokce said...

No Duh: "... it's the Barry Bonds of DCSS. It should always have an asterisk next to it."

Now that! That is funny. Thank you and have a good morning!

When I see the Chamblee cluster's "High Achievers" community in my mind's eye, I see the emergence of a Bismark-class battle ship bristling with political fire power in a tiny pond - seems ridiculous in the current climate but that is what I see ... and DCSS is not the Royal Navy!

For me, the High Achievers program is classic "last man in" syndrome in action. Everyone would love for their child to have the learning opportunities and teaching resources at these schools and if we find ourselves in the lucky few there, we'll defend it to the death. From the outside looking in, all we see is injustice.

Sad, really ...

Anonymous said...

It looks like it may take a lawsuit to get DCSS to get the message with regards to the Magnet schools and their inequities.

Cerebration said...

Thanks to the DeKalb Parent website once again for taking and publishing copius notes on yesterday's budget committee meeting.

Reading through - here are some impressions I formed:

Walker has no interest in making cuts to anything. He thinks we should just raise taxes to pay for it all.

Cunningham asks good questions - keep up the questioning Jay.

McChesney seems to be the best prepared. He not only reads all of the board materials beforehand, he reads and researches school systems elsewhere and shares what he finds with the rest of the board.

Womack continually tries to impress on the audience the dire circumstances we are in - some may see his comments as dismissive, but I actually think this may be what people need to hear.

I find Ramona Tyson as pretty direct and matter of fact. I like her no-nonsense answers and the way she jumps in to warn them when they have wrong thinking. She seems smart, detail-oriented and unafraid of politics.

Outsourcing may not actually save money in their minds. They don't have real numbers to crunch on this though. And they aren't factoring in pension costs that I can tell.

They are getting more keen about PR. For instance, as DK Parent stated, "Ongoing theme of meeting was starting to refer to “closings” as “reconsolidations.”

And, personally, I think this committee to close (consolidate) schools has a bit too much power. I don't see why we have given them so much of this task. Moseley and Tyson say they have given the committee a "charge". That's a bit disturbing. I don't know why the people who make the high dollar salaries in the high level jobs already in the system can't make these decisions. There's no way that citizens - who mostly work at their own full time jobs - can voluntarily devote the necessary time required to make a reliable decision. Don't get me wrong - I think citizen oversight is important - I'm just concerned that this group has been given carte blanche.

Overall, they don't appear to be taking a scalpel to each department. For instance, they decided the police force is worth it. They look at departments as wholesale budget items, when in fact, they could reduce costs just about everywhere.

http://dekalbparent.wordpress.com/meetings/march10th/

Dunwoody Mom said...

Mr. Walker - taxes are not going to be raised. Please accept that fact and get on board with the business of trying to reduce the DCSS budget in a manner that least affects our children. Please.

And Mr. Mosley, that includes the High Achiever Magnet programs.

Anonymous said...

Again I was tremendously disappointed that in all the questions, not one Board member asked about more cuts in the Central Office. Guess they have to keep friends and family employed.
Also, it appears that Ms Tyson said Board must aim for at least $100 million in reductions, but be ready to have to go to $115 million.

Anonymous said...

Cere said "they don't appear to be taking a scalpel to each department."

So here's a VERY simplistic suggestion: ALL non-classroom departments cut by 3X% (5X%?), all classroom departments (by which I mean direct weekly contact with students is involved) cut by X%. Let's just run the numbers on something that simple, see what we get, and then let the departments themselves work out what gets cut with such a scheme.

Al

Anonymous said...

Reading the BOE minutes, it seems cutting, consolidating and outsourcing support personnel is off the table.

Since there are 7,590 support personnel (not Central Offic employees), they clearly outnumber the 7,031 teacher positions. After they cut teacher positions, this imbalance will be even worse.

Very frustrating - every time someone mentioned a support position like the canine unit or SROs or maintenance, one BOE member or another would say we can't do with these people or that and Ms. Tyson says beware of outsourcing.

Yet the BOE members think nothing of reducing teaching positions like teachers are the real problem here - and teachers are the employees not needed - very bizarre.

The BOE had a discussion on hiring cheaper 3 year experience teachers versus teachers with more experience - the goal being to put the cheapest bodies in the classroom.

McChesney said class size increases are the most practical situation. He says he taught 40 to a classroom. Does anyone know how old McChesney is? I started teaching in Georgia in 1971, and the maximum class size in Georgia schools was 35 for high school.

Have these BOE members even looked at class sizes in relation to student achievement. That's the one thing I didn't hear at all while reading the BOE minutes - student achievement - and it's the only thing parents/taxpayers care about.

http://dekalbparent.wordpress.com/meetings/march10th/

Anonymous said...

Now here is an example of a truly great magnet school - Stuyvesant High School in NYC - a model that all public school systems should strive for. Many of you would probably label it as inherently unfair, as the school does not come close to serving every single qualified, high achieving kid in NYC. Admission decisions are determined by standardized tests and only the most select are admitted. Kids in the system spend years preparing in hopes that they will be admitted.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuyvesant_High_School

Anonymous said...

"one thing I didn't hear at all while reading the BOE minutes - student achievement - and it's the only thing parents/taxpayers care about."

And that's what it has come down to since Dr. Lewis some time ago was clear that his top priority was job preservation. The BOE and the Central Office do not have the same priority as taxpayers and parents: students' education.

Plain and simple, the only way to get the BOE to focus on education is to get a new BOE. We can argue magnets, FSC, Montessori all we want but what this comes down to is voting the bums out.

Al

Anonymous said...

A cautionary word on outsourcing: The Federal government spent the past 8 years outsourcing all kinds of support services. Now, they are realizing that 1)outsourcing and its associated overhead actually may cost more, and 2)contract employees, since they aren't allowed legally to be supervised by government employees, may be less accountable for their day to day work. So... the movement now is to hire lots of these folks back into government positions.

Square Peg said...

Bloggers keep talking about magnet inequities, but nobody has responded to Anon March 10, 10:13 PM, who refers to a post on the March 5 Board meeting thread which argues that the cost of high achievers magnet schools is not out of line with other schools.

I am not sure how to read the FY2009-2010 budget, but it says that Kittredge gets an extra 8 magnet points on top of the 31 regular education points it would be allotted through the normal formula. That's 25% more funding than the school would normally have had, even considering the number of gifted students (who are included in the 31 points). Would someone who really knows how to read the budget worksheets please verify or correct this figure?

And no, I do not want to tear down what is good; I would rather make it more available. I truly hope that Anon is correct that there isn't really a funding inequity, because that would mean DCSS could open more magnet schools to serve all who qualify. But if there is a funding inequity, maybe some of the German, band, and orchestra could be trimmed a bit as nonessential. (Our local elementary, like most, has no foreign language, band, or orchestra.) Kittredge would still be terrific because the concentration of high achievers allows the school to focus on high achievers' needs rather than on CRCT prep.

Square Peg said...

Just to be clear - it looks like the 317 gifted students at Kittredge are already accounted for in the 31 points because they're counted at a student-to-teacher ratio of 14:1, unlike their "nongifted" classmates (25:1). Kittredge gets its 8 extra magnet points (25% more funding) on top of whatever its gifted students qualify for.

SongCue said...

A bit of a diversion, but still what we want:
When it comes down to it, we want wonderful and engaged teachers at every school. I download the NPR Program "Talk of the Nation" to my Ipod every day (WABE doesn't carry it). Yesterday's program had a GREAT story about effective teachers. It's worth the listen--and it's short. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124532654

Anonymous said...

I'm told the Kittredge/Chamblee German program generates the highest AP German scores in the country, so that's an essential component of the program.

While a valuable discuss should be held about the threshold for admission to Kittredge/Chamblee (or its south county counterpart) it should noted that only a handful of kids are not already identified as gifted. The overwhelming majority are gifted.

Anonymous said...

I'm told the Kittredge/Chamblee German program generates the highest AP German scores in the country, so that's an essential component of the program.

Really? German is an essential component? There are 8 languages besides English that are more commonly spoken, including Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Urdu and Russian. Several of these are on the State Department list of "critical languages." It is absolutely ridiculous that Kittredge teaches German rather than Spanish (which would be useful right here in Atlanta) or a critical language such as Chinese, Urdu or Arabic.

While studying a foreign language is worthwhile, we ought to concentrate our efforts on areas of greater need than German. (I spent 6 years studying German and NEVER had the need to use it during my career as a scientist. I did once flirt with a bartender in Dusseldorf, but that really doesn't merit 6 years of study.)

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I just have to apologize for bursting out laughing about the comment about the German program at Kittredge/Chamblee.

Square Peg said...

Songcue, here is a link to the NY Times Magazine article it refers to on effective teachers. Found it yesterday while looking at The Big Apple's link to a different article on the charter schools thread. The article is fascinating.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/magazine/07Teachers-t.html?pagewanted=1&em

We could try to calculate the total cost of magnet German per student who actually stays with the program long enough in high school to take it at the AP level. I'd MUCH rather talk about techniques effective teachers use. Building better teachers is something we can all get behind.

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

auf Wiedersehen. I promise never to post again. This place is just too full of non-constructive nonsense.

SongCue said...

Amen, Square Peg!

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 12:00 pm
"A cautionary word on outsourcing: The Federal government spent the past 8 years outsourcing all kinds of support services. ......So... the movement now is to hire lots of these folks back into government positions."

My husband is a 40 CDC veteran. At CDC a tremendous amount of support has been outsourced - custodial, most Information Technology, the cafeteria, etc.

In an era of budget cuts to CDC, outsourcing enabled this organization to keep the level of scientists and medical doctors they needed.

Oursourcing at CDC relieved them of the obligation to provide those expensive government benefits to a large number of employees.

It was either outsourcing or not filling many scientist and MD positions. After all, what would CDC be without scientists and MDS? Could CDC fulfill their medical mission with more Information Technology workers, custodians and cafeteria workers and less scientists and MDs?

The BOE meeting notes indicate they are very ambivalent on outsourcing. Maybe they need to look at the departments other government organizations have outsourced.

Cerebration said...

PLAN TO ATTEND:

the next Budget Committee Mtg will be next Thursday, 3/18 at 10:30

Anonymous said...

"Ms. Tyson says beware of outsourcing"

IT is the first thing to outsource, as many cities in the state have done.

HOWEVER, Tyson built up DCSS MIS to a massive amount of staffers and a huge budget, despite its horrendous customer service to teachers.

Outsourcing IT and any other DCSS function would bit a hit to Tyson's reputation. She ain't gonna let it happen. Even though it's clearly needed.

And the BOE is clueless to the benefits of outsourcing when it comes to pension and benefits savings.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:41 --

DSA does not have 4 ELA teachers - there are the equivialant of three for the 300 students. Two of the teachers in that department also teach arts courses for half of the schedule.

And, though the DSA program is for students who apply, they've tried to expand the program several times to double the number of students that attend. DeKalb county shuffles that program around just like every other school.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Actually, the auditors at the company I work for will not allow IT functions to be outsourced.

Anonymous said...

All of the pointing fingers at schools on this blog makes me so furious. Pitting the schools and families against each other makes it easier to keep people from fighting the right people.

If you want to blame someone for the mess in DeKalb County, look towards Building B. Period.

Anonymous said...

I work for a large organization that has contracted out IT, and it's been fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Outsourcing does not always save money. Contractor are paid more in salary and many of the ocntracting companies charge up to !00% in overhead/indirects. Many of my IT friends who are contractor in government agencies have stayed on contracts when offered government position because they make lots more take-home money on the contract.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I am glad it's worked for your company, but as I stated, but our auditors will not allow the company to outsource IT. In fact, while the company outsourced very little, we were required by our auditors to bring everything in-house for security purposes.

Anonymous said...

1) When you outsource, you're not paying pension and health insurance benefits for retirees 10,20,30 years after they retire.

2) Not every function can be outsourced. But if you outsource something that's very competitive like IT or grounds maintenance, there are scores of businesses out there to drive down costs.

3) Keep outsourced contracts renewed on an annual basis. There has never been a better business climate for a school system to outsource than there is right now.

Anonymous said...

auditors can be wrong

Dunwoody Mom said...

Doesn't matter if they are right or wrong - what they say goes.

Anonymous said...

While I understand that closures must occur to help with the budget, I feel that Midway Elementary is being targeted. There are many schools, north and south, (1 is even in the same cluster as Midway) that never even made it on to the initial list of 25 that C.Lewis created. At the meeting, the county gave all of the criteria used to come up with the 2 closure scenarios. They talked about having less than 450 students, Midway has more than 500. They talked about improvement to building, Midway just got a $.5 million roof. They talked about the number of students impacted. Midway just received students from 2 years ago from Forrest Hills. Those students will experience another closure and move further from their home. They then ranked the "prime" candidates for closure. They highlighted 7 of those schools as the ones included in closure scenarios. Schools number 1,2,3,4,5, and 7 were highlighted. The last was number 11, Midway. C.Lewis has been trying to get rid of Montessori in general for a while now. I think this is all an underhanded way of doing that. But all Midway students, traditional and Montessori will suffer because of it.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to add that even if Midway is left open, they want to then redistrict to move students out of the school. The simplest plan would be to close a school and split those students between 2 other schools so that those schools operate close to capacity. But Midway would lose kids next year, I guess so that the county could then say they are under-utilized again. I feel targeted.

Ella Smith said...

I understand the frustration of the teachers at Lakeside. If I was there I also would be frustrated going from 5/7 classes. However, in Fulton we have been teaching 6/7 classes for a long time now. School systems cannot afford to give teachers two planning periods like this. I agree it is nice.

I think this was happening because of the block schedule. Block schedule is also very expensive and does not produce results and needs to go to a more economic teaching plan that can produce results.

Again I understand it is tougher we do it in Fulton every day. But this is just the way it is everywhere now. The teachers at Lakeside have been very lucky and blessed. I understand how frustrating this must be. But in reality there is no county in Ga that they can probable go to that they will have it easier unless they go to a private school and in a private school they will normally take a big cut in pay.

Many times the grass smells greener but it really is not. They had a great situation and probable will never have it this good again.

I do not want the teachers frustrated. However, I do not think the grass is greener anywhere else. This is all I was indicating. I think the grass was about as green as it was going to get with two planning periods. That just does not happen. When the superintendent found out that the teachers at Lakeside and the other schools in high school had two planning periods like this he really got very upset as he really did not understand why this was occuring now I heard. Apparently this happened before he became supeintendent and he was not aware of it.

Anonymous said...

Not to drum up the rumor mill, but teacher told me that contracts for HS teachers will state that they will teach 6 periods instead of 5.

Just a rumor, but could be legit.

As as HS teacher, it doesnt make me happy, but I am just glad to have a job.

Anonymous said...

Maybe DeKalb will get smart and scrap the 4x4 block scheduling. I know the schools, teachers, and many parents love it, but there is no proof that it leads to better outcomes of any sort. At our school, it has wrecked the band and orchestra programs. And because newspaper and yearbook are classes (why these need to be classes, I don't know), block has made it impossible for most of the more motivated kids who are trying to take full schedules of the highest level classes, to be part of the publication staffs (needless to say, the quality of the publications has suffered tremendously, too).
Has anyone seen any date from DCSS demonstrating improved outcomes due to block scheduling?

Anonymous said...

DCSS has put so much of its budget into salaries for admin and support (these two areas constitute 56% of our personnel) that little is left over for the employees who teach our kids. Our teacher base is shrinking while our admin and support base is growing by leaps and bounds.

Look at the Fast Facts page on the DCSS website. These numbers were put together 2 years ago, and the DCSS website was never updated. (still isn't). See for yourself:
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/about/fastfacts.html

2008:
Teachers were 7,350 in number and admin and support were 6,492.

Now DCSS has put together a new FAQ factsheet. See for yourself:
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/superintendent/files/3C2819BD7CDE4BA6B8BE01FC4A39343C.pdf

2010:
Teachers number 7,031 and admin and support number 8,828

Parents wonder where where their schools and teachers are going. Well, now you know.

Anonymous said...

DCSS admin and support is growing by leaps and bounds while teachers are shrinking.

Look at the scorecard:

2008:
Teachers: 7,350
Admin and support: 6,492

2010:
Teachers: 7,031
Admin and support: 8,828

Source for 2008 figures:
DCSS website page that hasn't been updated in 2 years - please see for yourself:
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/about/fastfacts.html

Source for 2010 figures:
DCSS website page - FAQ page published this March, 2010 - please see for yourself:
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/superintendent/files/3C2819BD7CDE4BA6B8BE01FC4A39343C.pdf

And parents wonder where their teachers and schools are going?

Cerebration said...

Brilliant Anon! Way to put two and two together. The growth in bureaucracy is astounding under Lewis.

"DCSS admin and support is growing by leaps and bounds while teachers are shrinking."

That's called "Government".

Anonymous said...

If Chamblee and Lakeside go to teaching 6 out of 7 periods, at least 30 teachers will be laid off. And you guys are okay with that?

Anonymous said...

I am okay with layoffs if they keep educational levels at the same level or better. There are many teachers all over the country teaching 6 and 7 periods a day.

People keep forgetting that we're 100 million dollars in the hole. People and things have got to go.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8:03 pm

No. But teachers are an endangered species in DCSS. There are fewer and fewer of them.

That's why people move to Forsyth or if they can afford it to Decatur. Neither of those systems are jobs machine for support and admin personnel.

I'm sure good teachers are scrambling to get out of DeKalb - very similar to what happened in APS.

I think at this point that DeKalb has to get to the point that Clayton was 2 years ago - where SACS yanked their accreditation until a new BOE was elected and a new superintendent was hired. Since then, we haven't heard a thing in the news about Clayton County, and they surpassed DCSS in schools that made AYP this past year.

DCSS is like a substance abuser - they have to hit rock bottom before they can recover.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8:11 pm

You've got to be kidding. Keep educational levels at the same levels with less teachers. Not going to happen. Can we say "crowd control"?

Anonymous said...

Lakeside teachers are angry about moving to 6/7 because it is not equitable. Block schedule teachers will still get 90 minutes of planning a day and will have <100 students-- and will make the same amount of money as the unlucky teachers at 7-period day schools.

Fulton County is the exception in the metro area if it truly requires teachers to teach 6 full, regular-ed classes during the day. Other systems that require 6/7, or 6/8, have a sixth class that is a "tutorial" period, not a complete academic class that requires grading.

Lakeside teachers with any sense know that finding greener pastures these days will be a long shot. I expect that most will stay. However, Lakeside parents should be prepared for a drastic reduction in extracurricular activities. There aren't going to be nearly so many teachers who will be willing to sponsor clubs and sports when they have 5 hours less a week to do 10 hours more work.

Anonymous said...

Most schools that have done the block scheduling have stopped years ago, not sure why DeKalb continues to do something that other places in the country have tried and failed. It's not good for the kids at all and teachers need to be trained on how to make it work effectively.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8:11 pm

Then why not cut admin and support. At 8,828 they represent 56% of our personnel. Maybe they could teach our kids and raise their educational level.

Anonymous said...

Hello?

8,828 admin and support personnel versus 7,031 teachers - you do the math.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:11-- "There are many teachers all over the country teaching 6 and 7 periods a day."

Maybe so, but if they're doing that in a state where teachers are allowed to form a union, they're teaching smaller classes. Union states typically cap a teacher's maximum student load at 150.

But we ain't got none of them teacher unions down here-- that's how come our learnin's so good.

Anonymous said...

If the administration requires 7 period schools to teach 6 periods, I am OK with this if and only if all high schools in DeKalb are on the 7 period block. It would be unfair to balance the budget on the shoulders of a few schools. And this should include MLK, Tucker and Dunwoody since they were not going to be on the block next year anyway.

If DCSS cannot move all high schools to 7 period schedule by August then they should announce this change for the following school year and finally be done with the block. No exceptions for any school. It is a failure.

Anonymous said...

Outsourcing IT, while initially looking good, comes with some dangers.

1. The company that gets contracted will do whatever they can to make more money for themselves. They won't be in it "for the children". They will push brand new $2000 computers that aren't *necessary*.

2. The company will have more than one customer. Hence, DCSS will NOT always be a top priority.

3. The company could very well have a "call center" and we all know where those are located. More American jobs lost. Also, those call centers are staffed with non-technical personnel that will simply take you through a 3 hour Choose Your Own Adventure script.

4. The company will not be held accountable when the amount of support needed by DCSS is overwhelming and cannot be met. What would DCSS do then? Keep going to different companies?

If it's strictly money you're looking at, then it might be cheaper. Otherwise, not so much.

Anonymous said...

In other places, the education levels of the children and the school system is what is most important. This is not the case here. Keeping friends and family in jobs is what seems to be the most important job of DCSS.

Class size for teachers all over the district are high, not just high school. Class size has a smaller percentage of education quality. Teachers' training and support has a larger percentage of the quality of education children receive. Student expectations and discipline also play a significant roll in quality education. School conditions are another part in a education quality.

Teachers unions do not raise the education levels of schools elsewhere. Focus on student learning, student needs, and education quality are the reason public schools elsewhere are significantly better than Georgia. DCSS is not focused on providing the children with a quality education, until DCSS changes its focus on the kids and not providing jobs for people it's never going to get better.

Raising taxes is not the answer, and is not going to make the economy better. It could lead to many more foreclosures, which will lead to even lower tax revenue.

Dekalbparent said...

It looks to me as if the magnet programs that they are talking about eliminating (Evandsdale - magnet enrollment 140, Clifton - magnet enrollment 160, Columbia Middle - magnet enrollment 300, and Columbia High School - magnet enrollment 400) are 75% in the south end of the county. Since magnet transportation won't be available, where are these presumably academically-oriented students to go?

This doesn't seem to faze the same Building B people who are very concerned about Kittredge and DSA, (BTW the point about trying to expand DSA is well-made; the school wants to offer it to more kids, but the county has made it next to impossible for them. I do not have a kid there, so I think I am unbiased).

I would bet that many of the kids in the magnets that will lose their points would qualify for High Achievers - how about expanding those programs and letting these kids in? How about dropping the all-out effort to declare every KMS kid gifted and expand the classes some (you are allowed to do this if a certain number of kids in the class are not classified as gifted) - maybe to 21, 22 or 23? How about taking some of the magnet points away from KMS and sacrificing the three "extra" teachers who provide "enrichment" (to kids already labeled gifted who have only 17 in a class - the regular schools have a couple of hours a week of "enrichment" for the GIFTED kids)?

What is DCSS spending for upkeep/maintenance of Nancy Creek and Wadsworth, both of which are under-enrolled by at least 150-200 and won't get any bigger?

I am not a "hater" - I just think that there needs to be some real thinking going on, rather than a knee-jerk reaction that some programs are sacred. I think there is pretty high "parent engagement" at more places than a couple of magnets - do we mean, perhaps, "parent vocalization"? The Montessori parents are making an effort to make their programs cost-neutral - are the High Achievers parents doing anything like that?

Anonymous said...

Magnet Mayhem - Disappointing and Predictable for Bob Moseley ( Shame on you Mr Moseley ); I predict that he anticipates more grief from those that would lose magnet benefits than those who never got the benefits..

Let's be real - Teasing out the budget is not easy for plenty of reasons. I hope people are not gullible enough to think that magnets are on the same lines as a regular school. Come on parents - Let Bob and the Board know that the " have nots" can have a voice as well. !

Anonymous said...

Teachers:

Parents are ok with:
Teachers: 7,031
Admin and support: 8,828

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 9:17 pm

I would rather see outsourcing than 32+ children per class. I'm not sure about outsourcing, but I am sure that my child will not get a great education packed into a classroom with 30+ other kids.

Cerebration said...

9:19 PM, you have a lot of criticisms of our ideas, but no ideas yourself. Do you have a solution to a $100 million deficit? Do you think that sending several hundred more people to the unemployment line isn't going to hurt the economy but raising property taxes will?

BTW -- in Forsyth County, they have some kind of modified 7 period day - the students don't attend core classes for the most part on Wednesdays - they have some kind of learning labs instead, while teachers spend the time in prep for the other 4 days of class or meeting with students/parents/etc.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:17 PM:
1. The company that gets contracted will do whatever they can to make more money for themselves. They won't be in it "for the children". They will push brand new $2000 computers that aren't *necessary*.

-Ummm...schol systems get the best prices possible new new equipment. And when you outsource IT, you are under no obligation to purchase any hardware from the vendor.


2. The company will have more than one customer. Hence, DCSS will NOT always be a top priority.

-Ummm...if they want to continue to gain school systems as clients, the service will be there, just as the IT vendors for cities bus their buts, because they need the references to score more cities as clients.

3. The company could very well have a "call center" and we all know where those are located. More American jobs lost. Also, those call centers are staffed with non-technical personnel that will simply take you through a 3 hour Choose Your Own Adventure script.

-Ummm...My outsourced IT vendor's call center is all the way North Carolina. They seems pretty darn technical to me.

4. The company will not be held accountable when the amount of support needed by DCSS is overwhelming and cannot be met. What would DCSS do then? Keep going to different companies?

-Ya might have a valid point here, because MIS under Ramona Tyson and Tony Hunter has screwed up IT so bad, it might be impossible for the most competent vendor to bring it back from the brink.

But I tll 'ya, customer sevices can only improve 200% under a vendor as opposed to DCSS MIS.

Anonymous said...

Just ask any teacher what kind of service they have gotten with DeKalb Schools technology center, and you will see why outsourcing is a great idea. Not that Ms. Tyson will ever let this happen, but maybe with a new BOE we'll get some results.

$20,000,000 in salary and benefits a year for MIS personnel yearly.

Cerebration said...

It looks like the Board has time to think about teacher's contracts -

Delaying Teacher Contracts
By Ashlie M. Wilson
Updated: 1 hour ago

ATLANTA — The Georgia State Senate yesterday gave final passage to a bill that gives school districts until May to contract with their teachers.

Senator Dan Weber (R- Dunwoody) says that House Bill 906 is a matter of local flexibility to help systems get through the recession.

Weber told his fellow senators, “This date that is in this bill is a compromise date, trying to honor the concerns of the teachers but also the needs of our school boards. It would allow an additional month for three years.”

But even for a three-year period, Senator Vincent Fort (D- Atlanta) says he opposes the measure. He believes it places an undue burden on the state’s educators.

“Educators have told us it would be a hardship on their families not to know for that extra month” says Fort.

He likened the one-month delay to being held in limbo. In the end, Fort was one of 11 senators who voted against House Bill 906.

The measure passed by a vote of 35-11 and now heads to Governor Sonny Perdue.

Kim Gokce said...

Cere: "Don McChesney"

I've commented often about how Don always seems to do his homework. I'm glad to hear he still seems to be committed to doing it. I don't have to agree with my Board members on every decision but I sure do want to respect them and see them prepared!

Re: "Beware of Outsourcing" ...

Beware of empire builders. Beware of office politics. Beware of employees. Beware of complacency. Beware of corruption. Beware of bloat. Beware of nepotism.

There are many things to beware of in running organizations. Outsourcing some IT functions is no more or less scary than others.

All the Fortune 500 clients I have guided on these issues usually end up with better products, services, and support from contracted vendors when this option is deemed a fit for a function - it doesn't have to be all or nothing.

The bottom line on IT staffing is that it is all about overhead and variable cost vs fixed costs ...

You can drop contract resources on demand. You can tell them to cut hours to 30hr / wk. You can tell them there's no work for 3 months when there's no work. You can tell them to work 80 hours when it's necessary. This optimization for staffing has been proven to be most cost/service level effective over and over again for 30+ years in corporate environments. And, yes, there are a lot of us available right now if DCSS wants to make the call! :)

Regarding Magnets, the rumor I'm hearing is that the ones that will be kept (and that is certainly High Acievers) will be expected to make due with standard funding and no extra points. We'll see ...

M G said...

The board voted last Friday to issue contracts on March 19th for next year.

I seriously doubt DCSS would ever wait until May or even April to issue contracts. Last year, they were issued in Feb (I think it was the 12th.) The trend has been issuing contracts earlier and earlier each year. I recall being asked in November one year if I intended to return for the following year.

Anonymous said...

http://www.ajc.com/news/cobb-schools-face-job-363825.html

Cobb schools face job losses, program cuts

Anonymous said...

After reading some of the conversation concerning IT outsourcing, I have to sit back and ask what is best for the kids.

Teachers being able to teach and do their other functions quickly and easily.

eSIS: no need to discuss this.
electronic whiteboards: did those dry erase markers just not cost enough?
webwasher: let's block EVERYTHING in attempt to keep kids off porn, when google images gets right through.
micro management: never good for anybody.

CTSSes: MIS makes them look bad.

Outsource the MIS management, core network, and PC hardware. CTSSes don't make much, and already know their schools.

Is there anything else I should be considering? I'm open to ideas.

Open + Transparent said...

The sad thing about this BOE is that they believe every single word from the management. After many of us e-mailed the BOE about looking at the school police dept., now the BOE says we have a fine school police dept. Because staff told them so. Heck, even my fav Ernest Brown stated in the AJC that he supports Crawford (?).

We have incredible IT professionals in the metro area, like Kim Gokce. I'd love to see a blue ribbon panel of people like Kim G, professors from Emory, Tech, GA State, GA Perimeter, area IT business people, etc., take a close look at DCSS MIS, and give the BOE an honest view of the good, bad and ugly, what is efficient and what's inefficient, and if outsourcing makes sense.

I'd like the same done with the DCSS school police dept., but not with our county sheriff or public safety director on the panel. They have enough problems and aren't really anywhere near best in class. But there are others around, like Eddie Moody, Lou Archengeli, some college professors, retired FBI and state police, etc. I believe the DCSS school police is way overstaffed at 180 people, and there are no metrics to measure its effectiveness.

Money is tight beyond belief now with DCSS. Every single thing should be on the table, like a 10% pay cut for all upper management!

Dunwoody Mom said...

Those of you who advocate so much for a reduction in the school police formce, do you have any idea, really, the problem with gangs in our schools? I don't think you do, or else I would not continue to see this kind of push with regards to the police issue. The safety of our children is not something I am willing to go cheap on - sorry.

Anonymous said...

WE don't know what positions are in that 180ish list. I would guess that at least a few are from the police department.

Could DeKalb every get away with this publically? In Fulton, when announcing their cuts, they said that the N. Fulton high schools would have one police person (I can't remember the position) while the S. Fulton high schools will have two. Can you imagine the outcry in DeKalb? It shows you where the power base lies in Fulton County.

One of the things that I find really bothersome is the fact that DCSS is paying overtime to the detectives who are the canine unit to take home the dogs. So these detectives are making about 104K each.

I am not a labor lawyer but would it be possible to convert these to salaried positions that included the keeping of the dogs? (Food is donated and upkeep etc is handled in a separate line item.)

I am very skeptical that we need 5 dogs. I don't live in fear, though. At the budget committee, Womack said something like, if they find one gun. Well, if they find one gun, they have probably missed a bunch.

Then Moseley said the elementary school children love to see the dogs during red ribbon week.

Ok, really?

Anonymous said...

I have told my Board member, and I would hope you do would also do, that it is time for Dr. Lewis to come out of hiding and deal with the mess he and his leadership team have made. A true leader does not run from their responsiblities.

Dunwoody Mom said...

We publically scream and yell when our county officials try and reduce police and fire services, but yet, when it comes to our children's safety, it's just another line item to cut? I don't understand.

Anonymous said...

I was in a school where a Detective with a police dog was housed. We rarely ever saw him! The word was that we "shared" him with surrounding schools. The students didn't know who the man was- it was actually comical. I can also count the number of times he used them in the school for sweeps.

Anonymous said...

DeKalb Parent @ 9:22

I agree 100% that the solution is not to eliminate the successful programs that serve our top students and that serve parents and students who want a very challenging academic program. Given the poor academic performance of our schools, DCSS should be looking for cost effective ways to increase the number of programs for high achieving students, both stand alone and programs incorporated in the resident schools.

And I firmly feel that the magnet programs can be offered without any significant extra cost. For example, it is the DCSS administration that has required German in the KMS high achiever program beginning in 4th or 5th grade, not the parents. Eliminate daily foreign language class until 7th grade. Eliminate all choice transportation. Make class sizes in the elementary high achiever program equal to non magnet programs.

But elimination of the programs is not the correct response. Not a single metro school system is considering closing magnet or other academically challenging programs. Heck, APS has accused Riverwood (Fulton county magnet) of recruiting high achieving students! Read AJC Get Schooled article.

Anonymous said...

@ MG 11:38... it is my understanding that the only folks receiving contracts are teachers and school house personnel. Everyone in central office will have to wait until April or May. This is very unfair to have folks on pins and needles. Not everyone in CO falls in to the "over 100k" slary range and cannot afford to be jobless! These folks range from security to secretaries and others.In the mean time they must pack and move everything on N Decatur to MIC!

To be "fair"- the 156 schold be identified and informed so that they can be proactive about providing for their families.

Anonymous said...

For example, it is the DCSS administration that has required German in the KMS high achiever program beginning in 4th or 5th grade, not the parents.

Incorrect.

Eliminate daily foreign language class until 7th grade.

Foreign language is offered in 7th and 8th - which earns the student 1 unit toward their HS foreign language requirement, which I feel is important.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Why does Kittredge have 3 German teachers for 300 students when some schools have no foreign language in their schools?

Anonymous said...

@Anon 8:03:
Agree completely that it is time to release the names of the 154+ jobs to be eliminated under the Central Office. And it would be nice for the employees to get the news directly instead of over a blog. The general tone of this blog is that the 154+ CO jobs are all a bunch of useless bureaucrats, collecting large checks and looking forward to a nice pension. Not true- there are losts of folks in CO who work hard, day after day, all for the betterment of the education of children. Many of these folks do not make large salaries.

themommy said...

Dunwoody Mom

I think the issue is the size of the force, not whether we should have one or not.

It is undoubtedly a money pit. For example, when my youngest children started school, if a middle or high school needed to stay open late, the principal would just adjust the hours of the security staff. (In other words, someone would start the day later so their 8 hours could cover the later closing.)

This no longer seems to happen. So, overtime is a huge issue.

Board Members asked the Ramona Tyson to make the department more efficient. She just nodded. I wonder if anything will change.

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

Kittredge German Teacher #1 makes %$75,000
Kittredge German Teacher #2 makes $69,000
Kittredge German Teacher #3 makes $48,000
The Art teacher (which most elementary schools do not have) makes $83,000....

Anonymous said...

The way to enhance all schools is to promote equality of existing ( and decreasing ) resources. Simply put - magnet environments pull resources from local schools in a number of ways. These have been outlined here and other places over and over. I am very surprised that the ax looms over montessoris and they have voiced willingess to cut back on dollars above their fair share. The magnets, not so much. Somehow, they know that they are safe. And this is verified by the clueless comment by Bob Moseley at the recent budget meeting that we should keep magnets because the parents are so involved. Please.

That alone should infuriate parents in the so called " regular" schools who give hours and dollars happily and willingly to support their neighborhood schools. That type of statement clearly illustrates who is in a position of power when it comes to magnets.

Magnet parents scream to high heavens when you think about touching the program. Or even, their right to over 2 million in county dollars to transport children out of their home areas to a school attended by " choice " The Super and BOE are afraid of the negative pub and nothing happens.

I am not a " magnet hater", and don't tell me that I want to get rid of what is working..... I just want more schools to work and this is not promoted by the diversion to a very small number of students.

I have yet to hear an argument that would convince me ( parent of a child in a regular school ) that it is an equitable situation. It wasn't a highly debated area until this budget crisis, but should have been.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I find it ironic that Robert Moseley quotes parental involvement as a reason for keeping magnets - parents who he refers to as "background noise".

I had better see the funding levels for the Magnet program brought in line with the regular schools or this parent will be making noise and it won't be in the "background" Mr. Moseley.

Cerebration said...

I'm quite worried. I don't see much movement toward making these cuts except off the backs of teachers and students. Yes, some staff at central office will be cut (154 is a small percentage actually) and I don't think they've announced them yet, because they aren't certain who they will be. But look at Fulton - they are laying off 1000 people! The increase in class size will certainly squeeze teachers out of jobs as well.

No one wants to cut anywhere. Everyone spends a huge amount of time defending every department, when in fact, most likely every department has some area that can be trimmed. I'm certain that the central office staff all work hard, but why do we have so many more support people (this includes all support - in the schoolhouse, etc) than we do actual teachers? I'm sorry, but I just believe that support staff should be trimmed before teachers and before we ask students to double up.

And as far as security - we have 42 middle and high schools. Even if each of those were assigned 3 officers, that totals only 126. Four is getting a bit ridiculous - I hope we don't feel that we need to assign that many per school. Correct me if I'm wrong, but elementary schools don't have police officers in house walking around. We can trim this department and still protect our students in the schoolhouse. Plus, DeKalb police have a gang task force - I hope they are working closely with the schools. I've heard that our Alternative school keeps DeKalb County police quite busy.

The point is, we will have to trim nearly everywhere. People have to realize this - we're certainly not suggesting to delete entire departments when we identify areas we consider bloated.

Open + Transparent said...

Tell me, Dunwoody Mom, about your specific knowledge of crime issues in our schools, and how the effectiveness of the DCSS police department is measured? Please enlighten us.

Anonymous said...

I agree! Every program will have to sustain some level of reduction. You can maintain a security force but not at its current level.
I am also concerned as it did appear that when the Budget Committee was presented with whether to cut the security they seemed to take an "all or nothing" approach. They just cannot do business this way.
Magnets will have to take their share of the reductions also. All the suppposed "extra" points need to be eliminated, as well as, transportation. You cannot tell me they still will not provide high quality education to the students, especially when they will be retaining the low teacher/student ratio.
We must keep contacting our Board members. Mr Moseley and others can make recommendations, but the Board makes the decision and they must heard from us.
I suspect that when the final numbers are given to the County they will be looking to trim upwards of $115 million, so it will take everyone giving up something.
This certainly means thay MUST make more reductions in the Central Office than the 154 positions.
It is rather embarrassing that other Counties are going through the same difficulties but they seem to have leadership that knows how to manage.

Anonymous said...

Maybe crimes in schools in Dunwoody is a major issue, and that's how she's so knowledgeable. Lucky we don't have gang problems in my children's DCSS schools according to staff and principals. Who would have thought there are gangs in Dunwoody schools?

Anonymous said...

In these economic times, it is flat out unacceptable that DCSS canine police are making six figures. Contract it out with the DeKalb Police of Sheriff's dept. for a fraction of the cost.

How can we justify paying a school police office three times the salary of a new teacher?

A clear example of DCSS waste and bloat.

Anonymous said...

C'mon Ramona/Crawford, give us an explanation of why there are 180 school police staff members. 180??? Even if we had two in each middle school and two or three in each high school (Chamblee and Arabia do not need three police officers), that still doesn't justify a 180 person police department.

I'd love to see the numbers on how this department has grown over the past 15, 10, 5 years. When the money was flowing in, I'm guessing Crawford allowed/enabled more and more staff to be hired, just because. Every non-teacher he hired was another family to add to his power base.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, sorry to hear that there is a gang problem in Dunwoody schools. Is it at the high school and/or middle school? Have the school police made any ground in confronting the problem?
Times are tough when Dunwoody has a gang issue.

Anonymous said...

Is the brand new, well staffed Dunwoody Police Dept. helping the DCSS school police with the problems in Dunwoody schools? I sure hoe so Dunwoody was on a tear to not be in unincorporated DeKalb, and having their own police dept. was ther top reason why. The least the Dunwoody Police can do is help out the DCSS police with the crime problems Dunwoody Mom is referring to.

Anonymous said...

Kittredge -Equal? What do you think? - If this doesn't make you pick up the phone to call Moseley I don't know what will:

417 - total 4th,5th and 6th graders
8 - teachers for each grade

Do the Math - Average class 17

That is just a beginning of a luxury we can no longer afford in DCSS - from a financial standpoint or from a resource allocation standpoint. Not sure what the average salaries are for DCSS teachers but betcha, the average is higher. I certainly have no issue paying teachers well ! However, I anticipate a teacher would not be in a hurry to leave such an enriched environment. Thus, a really good teacher is bottlenecked and the county students lose out more on a distribution of resources.

Other comparisions - Perhaps some of the FOUR Kittredge musical instructors are shared with other schools. However, this salary expense is 243,203 for 417 students. Check out your own regular school and do the math.

Then tell me that we should allow DCSS Administration to make proper decisions for all of the students in Dekalb County. Obviously they need the input of the parents whose children sit in classrooms with 30 students and don't get music instruction every day.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to see some folks showing their biases toward some parts of the County related to the police force issue. I do not live in Dunwoody, but I would sure suggest we all (including me) stick to the issues that are critical.
In the case of the police force we must search for a more efficient way to do business. It, like a lot of other programs developed during Dr. Lewis's tenure have grown to excess and it is now time to find a better way to do business.
I am sure that both the DeKalb County Police, as well as, the Dunwoody Police would partner with the school system to provide the most efficient way to provide the safest environment possible.
For example, I have noticed that at many public meetings Dr. Lewis has a sizeable security presence. Maybe this can be more cost effectively done through the hiring of off-duty DeKalb officers.
Regardless, everything must be on the table. If not, some programs are going to suffer a disproportionate share of the cuts.

Cerebration said...

There certainly is gang activity - it's everywhere. Check out the latest from Gwinnett Co Schools

http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/localnews/headlines/87299677.html

SNELLVILLE — A home video of South Gwinnett High School students beating a classmate in a school bathroom as part of a gang ritual prompted five arrests this week, an official said Wednesday.

The students subjected a recruit to a “beat-in” — a rite-of-passage required for gang membership — by punching him multiple times in a men’s restroom, authorities said.
The beating, administered and filmed by Gangster Disciples associates, happened sometime late last semester — after Thanksgiving but before Christmas — at the Snellville school, according to arrest warrants.

It marks the second round of student arrests at South Gwinnett for alleged beat-ins this school year. Several changes in passing period and bathroom supervision have been made since the incidents, an official said.

The incident surfaced this week when a parent found a homemade video of the beating and reported it to school officials, said Gwinnett Public Schools spokesman Jorge Quintana.

Five teens were arrested on felony charges by school resource officers Tuesday. More arrests are expected, Quintana said.


I think a school like this should have 10 police officers patrolling until these kids get under control.

Lakeside apparently has a few issues as well. A recent "Climate Survey" revealed that 16% of students do not feel safe from gang activity. 18% do not feel safe from violence. 30% do not feel safe from bullying. Lakeside has several very visible police officers on campus, yet a large number of students still report feeling unsafe. I'll bet this is the same or worse at many other schools.

Cerebration said...

And, not to beat a dead horse, but why does the Fernbank Science Center have as many security officers as Lakeside - a school with over 1700 students crowded every day into a building built for 1350 - with over 20 trailers?

Cerebration said...

Community response to gangs

* Solicit help from the elderly as mentors in community programs.

* Offer affordable activities and improve recreation center offerings.

* Develop education and guidance programs for youth and adults in affected areas.

* Engage families in more responsible behaviors and involvement with their children.

* Let youth know that police and other officials are available for help, not just criticism.

* Build community support around schools at all events -- sports, arts and others.

Source: U.S. Attorney's Office gangs summit

Open + Transparent said...

C'mon Cere, you know better than that. yes, there are some metro area high schools that have gang and crime issues. Gwinnett as a county is actually facing a major influx of gang members. But that's not every high school. Parkview and Brookwood aren't facing the same gang issues as South Gwinnett. A well run school police department can move swiftly and issue officers when most needed. I will go out on a limb and state that the new Arabia Mountain High School doesn't have a gang issue.

We don't know if the DCSS school police department is well managed or efficient. We just know it has a huge number of staff. Would love to see it compared to the school departments at Gwinnett, Cobb, ATL and Fulton.

Sorry to say folks, when you're facing a $100 million dollar hole, everything should be on the table, with cuts to teachers adn the classroom last on the list, not first like Ramona Tyson and Crawford lewis are pushing.

Cerebration said...

Well, once again, my point was not well-stated. Yes, we have some gang issues - and this is where we should place the abundance of police. Staff as needed ... where needed. ie: (schools with known issues) Cut where not needed. (Fernbank security... central office posse... dogs... )

Anonymous said...

Why aren't we emailing our BOE members asking they to look at the support and admin to teacher ratios and how this bloat has changed over time? This is a serious question they need to answer.

If our BOE cuts teacher positions as much a they're talking about, we'll have less than 40% of our employees as teachers. That's pretty bleak for our kids.

"2008:
Teachers: 7,350
Admin and support: 6,492

2010:
Teachers: 7,031
Admin and support: 8,828

Source for 2008 figures:
DCSS website page that hasn't been updated in 2 years - please see for yourself:
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/about/fastfacts.html

Source for 2010 figures:
DCSS website page - FAQ page published this March, 2010 - please see for yourself:
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/superintendent/files/3C2819BD7CDE4BA6B8BE01FC4A39343C.pdf"

Square Peg said...

The Cobb County school sistrict has 106,000 students, similar to the size of DCSS.

Among the 15,211 employees are:
• 6,636 Classroom Teachers
• 1,672 Special Education Teachers
• 294 School Counselors
• 32 Graduation Coaches
• 44 School Social Workers
• 49 School Psychologists
• 133 Media Specialists
• 1,433 Paraprofessionals
• 143 School Nurses
• 383 School Administrators
• 1,168 Bus Drivers, Transportation
• 747 Maintenance, Operations
• 1,083 Cafeteria, Food Service
• 1,354 School Support & Other Staff
• 40 Public Safety Staff

http://www.cobbk12.org/aboutccsd/

Anonymous said...

So, looks like between 2008 and 2010, DeKalb added 2336 Admin and support employees. Any way to determine where/ in what departments, these staff were added?

2008:
Teachers: 7,350
Admin and support: 6,492

2010:
Teachers: 7,031
Admin and support: 8,828

Anonymous said...

Anyone know the total costs for operating the DCSS TV station? Seems like that should cut to zero (staff, operating costs, etc.) before ANY changes are made to programs or instruction.

Anonymous said...

The Cobb County school sistrict has 106,000 students, similar to the size of DCSS.
Among the 15,211 employees are:
• 40 Public Safety Staff


40!!!

Square Peg said...

Dekalb's 7,031 figure includes teachers and media specialists, according to the FAQ. I assume this number includes special ed teachers, since they aren't mentioned in the FAQ as other school-based employees. I get 8,441 for Cobb adding up classroom teachers, special education teachers, and media specialists.

Dekalb has 8,828 employees other than teachers and media specialists, where Cobb has 6,770.

Anonymous said...

@ Square Peg 11:14 am

Yes. You're right. Cobb is as bloated as DeKalb. Last year Cobb Co. Schools asked Gov. Perdue for a special dispensation to add additional students over and above the state's already expanded limit. A friend of mine teaches at Pope HS where they have one principal and 5 assistant principals. She says the rooms are overflowing with students.

It seems like very few systems are good at money management - exceptions being Decatur City Schools (I read where they have a budget surplus) and Forsyth. I don't think it's coincidental that Decatur City and Forsyth have less of their employees in support and admin positions and more of their employees in teaching positions.

Anonymous said...

@ Square Peg 12:11 pm

I stand corrected. I guess DeKalb wins the "bloat" contest.

Square Peg said...

I'm not sure I am comparing those categories correctly, though. 1,672 sounds like an awful lot of special ed teachers - what does Ella think? Could some other type of Cobb employee be classified as a special ed teacher?

Anonymous said...

Maybe the BOE needs to look at these figures before they cut teachers and close schools.

Fulton County
Number of Security personnel: 63
Total Salary: $3,941,026

Cobb County:
Number of Security personnel: 42
Total Salary: $1,875,202

Gwinnett County:Number of Security personnel: 47
Total Salary: $1,948,913

DeKalb County:
Number of Security personnel: 217
Total Salary :$9,859,889

(Source: Georgia Salary and Travel Audit
http://www.open.georgia.gov/sta/entryPoint.aud)

Truly amazing. Go to this the state site and check it out yourself.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Wow, some are a little catty and disrepctful with their remarks about the police issue. Did I say there were gangs in Dunwoody schools? No, I didn't and I don't know if there are, but I would bet there are.

However, I was speaking about DCSS as a whole - not my particular small part of it.

There is a report, which I have seen and am looking for which gives the breakdown, by school, if discipline issues, including crimes.

Anonymous said...

"Did I say there were gangs in Dunwoody schools? No, I didn't and I don't know if there are, but I would bet there are."

Dunwoody Mom, you've been all over others for making misleading statements. If you don't know of gang problems in Dunwoody schools, then don't infer there are.

Open + Transparent said...

Great post Anon 12:18 PM.

Yes, the Forsyth school system is well known for having a very, very lean administration. They have made some very tough budget decisions over the years, and put all their resources into the classroom, not the administration. I've talked to officials there, and the job they have done is not appreciated by their county residents, but their residents are very clear that they will not tolerate any wasteful spending or being overstaffed.

The Forsyth school system really is a model for efficiency and productivity. You don't have to have hundreds of unnecessary non-teaching jobs. You can run a fine school system with decent test scores with a lean administration.

Anonymous said...

Of course, Forsyth County Schools, which barely existed 20 years ago, benefit from a soaring tax base, while our tax base has...issues.

Forsyth doesn't deal much with issues of diversity either. They simply don't have the range of students that DeKalb has, some of whom require our schools to add extra programs. However, their lean administration should be admired and emulated.

Anonymous said...

Let's not diminish what the Forsyth County School System has done. They are fairly new, so they don't have the layers and layers of bureaucracy and political favors that an older system like DeKalb has. But they do have their share of low income families, and a fast growing Hispanic population.

Being a new school system has its advantages. Would love to see our huge, massive, bloated school system divided into an East DeKalb and West DeKalb school systems!

Anonymous said...

"Forsyth County Schools, which barely existed 20 years ago, benefit from a soaring tax"


Whoa. Have you been there lately or know anyone who lives there? They have a bunch of uncompleted housing developments. They are all over that county. Developers overextended themselves in Forsyth in a major way.

Anonymous said...

PVC Farms

We have our fair share in DeKalb

Anonymous said...

Any Pat Pope news. She and C Lew are making $200,000k per year plus awesome benefits for not doing anything.

Anonymous said...

Another way to look at “too many security people”-if there is such a problem

DeKalb County:
Number of Security personnel: 217
Total Salary: $9,859,889

83 Elementary schools
20 Middle schools
22 High schools
18 Centers

5 more high schools than Cobb, 25 more elementary schools and five less middle schools

156 locations about one and one half security people for every location.

Fulton County
Number of Security personnel: 63
Total Salary: $3,941,026
Number of Schools-93
58 Elementary Schools, grades K-5 (Prekindergarten available in some schools)
19 Middle Schools, grades 6-8
16 High Schools, grades 9-12 (includes two open campus high schools)

Seven less high schools than DeKalb, one less middle school and 25 less elementary schools
Two thirds of a security person for every school or almost two for every high and middle school.


Cobb County: Number of Security personnel: 42
Total Salary: $1,875,202
• Total Number of Schools – 114
• Elementary Schools – 68
• Middle Schools - 25
• High Schools - 16
• Open Campus High School - 1
• Special Education Centers - 2
• Adult Education Center - 1
• Performance Learning Center - 1

Either there is no security except at middle and high schools (one each) or there is less than half a security person for every location.


Gwinnett County: Number of Security personnel: 47
Total Salary: $1,948,913
124 schools-sorry didn’t find a breakdown and too lazy to do one
One third of a security person for each school

Maybe we do not have too many people-maybe we have too many schools?

Anonymous said...

Yes. But we spend 5 times as much on security as Cobb. We don't have 5 times as many schools.

In addition, how many of our 82 elementary schools in DeKalb have security officers?

I thought it's only the middle and high schools.

Does anyone know if our elementary schools have security officers assigned to them?

A question for you elementary teachers. Do your schools have assigned security officers?

So where exactly are these 217 security security officers assigned?

Anonymous said...

And we have too many non-school buildings.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 2:54 pm

Amen. I wonder if we have one at the new Wellness Center? I'll bet we do.

I guess we have to have a lot of non-school buildings to house those 8,828 admin and support people. I guess that one reason we need to spend all that money for security.

Dekalbparent said...

KMS total salaries - $2,712,374. With benefits - $3,390,467. (Custodial staff and kitchen staff not included).

I don't know if the current model for High Achievers magnet could ever be brought cost-equal with other classes because of how they are structured.

There are limits on class size allowed for Gifted classes - this is why the High Achievers classes stay so small. It appears the way the class size is kept small for the entire school day is that the classes are all identified as Gifted Resource classes or Advanced Content classes, per state regulations.

Education Rule 160-4-2-.38 EDUCATION PROGRAM FOR GIFTED
STUDENTS.
http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/DMGetDocument.aspx/gifted_regulations.pdf?p=4BE1EECF99CD364EA5554055463F1FBB77B0B70FECF5942E12E123FE4810FFF53501CAAE8CB828386A1B54D8AFDA9790&Type=D

From State Board of Education Rules regarding class size
http://rules.sos.state.ga.us/docs/160/5/1/08.pdf

APPENDIX C
GIFTED AND ALTERNATIVE PROGRAMS
Class / Group Exception Plan Funding
Class Size
Maximum System
Average Class Size
1. GIFTED
(i) Elementary Resource (K-5) -
Funding Class Size: 12
Maximum System
Average Class Size: 17

(ii) Middle School Resource and
Advanced Content (6- 8)
Funding Class Size: 12
Maximum System
Average Class Size: 21

(iii) High School Resource and
Advance Content (9 -12)
Funding Class Size: 12
Maximum System
Average Class Size: 21

I don't know if these have changed - if someone else does, speak out

Seems to me that if the classes were mixed - identified gifted plus not-identified gifted (e.g. the highly motivated students who currently attend one of the other magnet programs), the class sizes could go up.

I'm sure it is possible to reduce the cost of the High Achievers magnets by not assigning all of the magnet points they are currently allotted.

We need to provide an appropriate education for our motivated academically-oriented children regardless of where they go to school. Are there delivery methods that would be more cost-effective?

(BTW, I also resent the implication that parents in "regular" schools are not as concerned and involved. There are parents at EVERY SINGLE school in the county that are there and involved. I know there are parents of magnet students that do not show up for PTA, conferences or anything else, so the blanket statement is ill-considered.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind, while we pay more to educate gifted kids (at Kittredge and traditional schools) with smaller class sizes, it is because the state sets the gifted class size limits lower and gives us more money for these kids.

themommy said...

But that money doesn't cover the extra points which are used for 3 enrichment teachers, 3 German teachers, 4 music teachers, 1 art teacher and 2 PE teachers. Thirteen "specials" teachers -- 8 extra magnet points. This means that KMS has 8 teacher positions being fully funded by DCSS.

Anonymous said...

Kittredge, as well as, other Magnets and Montessori should be looked at to maximize any savings possible, but I think it much more important for the Board to dig deep into the Central Office for more savings.
If you look at the proposed plans for cost reductions it is absolutely WRONG that even as the cuts go deeper they do find one additional penny in savings in the Central Office.
I suspect that this is because Dr. Lewis, working through Ms Tyson does not want to impact his buddies.
This is nonsense and the Board must demand at least doubly the Central Office reductions.
That is what I passed along to my Board member. Not sure they are listening but have to try.

Anonymous said...

@ Dekalbparent 3:12 pm

Gifted and non-Gifted students are in classes together at Kittredge. All Kittredge teachers are certified for gifted. The gifted delivery model you're referring to is not the model they use at Kittredge. You're probably thinking of the pullout resource model that most DeKalb regular schools have. The resource model has a class size limit of 17 although I read somewhere the state wants to increase that.

The Kittredge and other magnet class sizes can go up to whatever the school system allows. Most magnet programs have a cap on class size that is much much lower than regular schools.

That's one of the main attractions that magnet schools have (high achiever or not) for parents. When my son left his home school in the mid 90s for Kittredge he went from 30 in his 3rd grade class (they used to pack them in like sardines before the class reductions of the Barnes years) to 21 in his 4th grade Kittredge class. What a difference it made in individual attention for him!

Everyone knows that small class size is the single most advantageous thing you can do for students. Too bad DCSS is getting ready to reverse that in all the schools.

Class sizes at Kittredge have nothing to do with gifted. It's a DeKalb magnet regulations. The head of magnet programs is Pat Copeland. She used to teach at Kittredge. Why don't you email her and ask her. She talks to a lot of parents.

Anonymous said...

@ the mommy - thank you for the clarification - for those of us who question the inequalities of magnets - we are called " magnet haters " , we are accused of buying into the plot to divert attention from the county office overstaffing and we are basically accused of wanting to get rid of the magnet programs that are working so well

well duh - i anticipate all programs would be more effective if you " cherry picked " the students and poured in millions of dollars of additional resources

my beef is that this is at the expense of all of the other county students and nobody on the BOE or administratively seems to give a hoot -

Dekalbparent said...

Kinda deja vu

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/12/us/12schools.html?ref=us

Dekalbparent said...

Anon 3:54.

There are 417 students at KMS (Source: DCSS Central Office)

divided by 8 teachers per grade (this does not incluse any of the art, music, media center or CATS teachers), this is an average of 17.4 students per class.

If, as you report, "Gifted and non-Gifted students are in classes together at Kittredge." why are the class sizes held to 17-18 - same as the state maximum for gifted resource classes? Why are they not larger?

"The gifted delivery model you're referring to is not the model they use at Kittredge." What model are they using?

"All Kittredge teachers are certified for gifted." This does not make any difference in class size, although it is required to teach a gifted class. Several of my children's teachers were certified for gifted in elementary and high school, and their classes were still 33 (in ES and 35 (in HS).

I am not here to nit-pick about state regs and class sizes, but the above may be the stream of thought that is keeping DCSS from looking at flexibility in the high-profile magnets. We need to be thinking outside the box everywhere.

Anonymous said...

@ Dekalbparent 3:12 pm

Go to this web address and click on Approved Gifted Program Delivery Models. The Resource model with 17 gifted students per class is just one of many models. A county can even write their model and get it approved.

Anonymous said...

@ Dekalbparent 3:12 pm

Go to this web address and click on Approved Gifted Program Delivery Models. The Resource model with 17 gifted students per class is just one of many models. A county can even write their model and get it approved.

Anonymous said...

@ Dekalbparent 3:12 pm

Sorry I forgot to include the website:
http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/ci_iap_gifted.aspx?PageReq=ProDecision

Go to the above web address and click on Approved Gifted Program Delivery Models. The Resource model with 17 gifted students per class is just one of many models. A county can even write their model and get it approved.

Small class size at Kittredge and other magnets have nothing to do with gifted and everything to do with magnet regulations set by DeKalb.

Dekalbparent said...

Do you know where I can find the magnet regulations set by DeKalb? If DeKalb sets them, can DeKalb not alter them?

Again, I really don't want to focus on magnets - I want to make sure that no stone is left unturned when looking for ways to meet the deficit. I think that "well, this is how it's always been and things have been OK" is a dangerous trap - it's always been OK because we weren't in the world of hurt we are in now.

Anonymous said...

@ Dekalbparent

Pat Copeland is Director of Magnet/Theme School. Here is her email address:
PAT_COPELAND@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

I've heard many parents say she's very easy to talk to. If I had questions, I wouldn't hesitate to email or call her. She knows all the Magnet/Theme regulations for DeKalb and can probably give or send you a copy.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Ms Copeland knows all the regs because she is the keeper of the regs to maintain her dynasty.
Give her a call - If you are a magnet parent I am certain she will be lovely to you, if not, good luck.....
And @Dekalb Parent, you are absolutely correct - the dynasty has always been that way. And, if Mr Moseley and Ms Copeland get their way, not one itsy bitsy thing will get changed.

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