Friday, April 2, 2010

Yeah Task Force!!!

You go Task Force!  I couldn't be more proud of this group!  As citizens, they agreed to dig deeply into an assignment that is not for the faint of heart–recommending which schools to close.  Apparently they realized that they had volunteered to do the dirty work of the board and Crawford Lewis (well, now Ms. Tyson).  And in the end, they basically said, "Do this yourselves."

The AJC is reporting that "After four hours of arguing, accusations of racism and one member storming out, the Citizens Planning Task Force voted Thursday night that no school should close."

The DeKalb school board appointed the task force to review data and recommend the closure of four elementary schools at the end of the school year. The closings, which had to be approved by the board, were needed to help offset an anticipated $115 million deficit, board members said.

Instead, the task force took several votes Thursday night and decided to give the job to the school board.

“We’re considering closing schools in areas that involve very high-risk students, students from high-risk situations, single parents, some living with grandparents and a lot on free lunch programs,” task force member Charles Hill said. “I don’t feel right. I’m not comfortable with that. It just don’t feel right in my heart.”

While the majority of the 20 task force members said they wanted no schools closed, they also decided to send the board the list of 10 schools that were under consideration.

“If any board member has forced any citizen to do their work in hurting our children and to hide behind our task force, that person is unfit to serve on our school board,” task force member Bruce McMillian said. “Here board, you decide which four schools should close.”

There's more:

Last month, board member H. Paul Womack said as many as a dozen schools need to be closed over the next two years to save money and get rid of empty seats. State funding formulas favor schools with at least 450 students.

“If you all can’t do it, this committee will make the recommendation,” Womack said to the task force last month. “We’ve tried to be transparent by involving citizens of DeKalb County.”

Task force member Don Broussard agreed. He and one or two other members spent Thursday night encouraging the task force to close the four schools. At one point, he stormed off.

“I want to thank the task force for making the last two months a colossal waste of time,” he said after the vote.

Fun? Not.

=========

For More: Maureen Downey at the AJC Get Schooled blog has an excellent blog post on the subject.

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Board needs to take leadership and decide which schools to close. Period.

Kim Gokce said...

"We" wanted community input and boy we got it! The trouble is, the "community" has a completely different mission than the "leadership." So, it is sort of a waste of time because the leadership is going to do what it intended from the start. This effort was simply an attempt to build consensus and gain legitimacy - nice try, no cigar.

Our leaders need to "grow some" and get on with the business of managing the transformation of our physical plant and attendance area optimization - we can no longer afford all these shenanigans.

Anonymous said...

9:03, this board take leadership?? Isn't that like saying the Easter Bunny is real? Guess we'll find out on Sunday. :)

Platos Republic said...

My heart goes out to those on the volunteer committee, but they all knew the purpose of the committee when they volunteered, did they not? The calls of racism were bogus, as is usually the case. Someone needs to separate facts and emotions and make decisions on closing schools.

Cerebration said...

Spot on, as usual, Kim!

Anonymous said...

Awesome. Just awesome. Throw it back in the board's face.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone hear about the emergency board meeting yesterday? No? It was on one of the news websites.

Cerebration said...

From the AJC blog -

One of the strongest critics was task force member Dr. Charles Hill, who said that the school board could find other ways to save money besides closing schools. “There really should be a task force about how they are spending money down there. You’ve got 58 people down there at the school board making over $100,000. You’ve got secretaries making over $100,000,” he said.


Right on Dr. Hill!

The Teacher said...

Despite the sort of "nyah-nyah-let's see them do it themselves" satisfaction in handing over school-cutting responsibility to the Board, I don't see what the community gains by backing away. Decisions that impact people are best left to the people themselves, period. Now any decision the Board makes will be cast as "forced down the community's throat"--I can see the outrage coming--more accusations of racism, South-County neglect, etc. But what about outrage at the Task Force's dereliction of its responsibilities? I feel let down by their refusal to carry a difficult, but democratic, process to its conclusion. If a group of citizens couldn't rise above individual concerns to make some unpopular decisions, it just proves how very, very hard the situation is. But impossible? I don't think so. Closing some small schools is not denying children an education: in many cases, bigger schools have more resources, better teachers, and richer opportunities. I trusted the Task Force to influence the outcome in the best way for the community in the real world, not in the fantasy world we all wish we lived in. Maintaining a seige mentality will not get DCSS out of this deep hole. Working together might, at least, pull us to the top so we can peer over the rim. What precedent does this set for the Board or Administration taking community input seriously?

Anonymous said...

Charles Hill is absolutely correct. If there is a citizens task force, they should be looking into how the school system can save tens of millions of dollars not the two millions projected in closing 4 schools.

Ms. Tyson and the BOE wanted to deflect criticism and blame from the BOE and give legitimacy to this controversy. I suspect once the Citizen Task force got into their work, they realized that the big dollars to be saved are not in closing schools, but in the admin and support area.

As harry Truman was fond of saying, "The buck stops here".

Anonymous said...

Here is the key point:
"Closing some small schools is not denying children an education: in many cases, bigger schools have more resources, better teachers, and richer opportunities."

No one wants to have a school close or for kids to be redistricted but it simply has to happen from time to time. The decision needs to be make objectively and not emotionally.

Cerebration said...

In theory, that's true, Teacher. However, this task force was not trustful of the data they were given and felt incredible pressure to make a fast decision. They apparently just didn't feel right about it. I respect that. It's very hard, once given this kind of power, to drop your ego at the door and humbly state, "I don't think I can make the best decision here." That's humility - something this world doesn't see enough of.

Several members said the board was hiding behind the task force because it didn’t want to be held accountable for closing schools. The task force was created as political coverage, according to several task force members. ...

Several task force members noted that they came onto the task force thinking they had a 10-month timetable to propose new attendance lines. They didn’t know that they’d be asked to find at least four schools for possible closure and to do so in two months.

Cerebration said...

And, to answer your question, What precedent does this set for the Board or Administration taking community input seriously?"

Sadly, in all my years of dealing with DeKalb school boards and administrators, I've never actually seen them take community input seriously. It's usually just been done as a smokescreen or an appeasement. (Think Blue Ribbon Task Force, or SPLOST oversight)

That's why I am impressed with this committee. They seem to have been able to see that they were being used - as a way to gain buy-in for some unpopular action by the board.

The board will not gain the trust of the people unless and until they make the harsh cuts first to the administration. The ratio of admin to students is off the charts in DeKalb - as research by Maureen Downey at the AJC showed.

Dee Minus said...

"The ratio of admin to students is off the charts in DeKalb - as research by Maureen Downey at the AJC showed."

Cerebration... can you post a link to this? Thank you!

Anonymous said...

If they had asked for volunteers for a task force to evaluate bloat at the Central Office administrative and support positions, I bet they would have had people lining up in droves. And no one would have deferred their decision back to board.

Alas, I live in dream world so I guess it is a good thing I heading to Disneyworld soon where stories really can have a happy ending.

Platos Republic said...

Board tells Lewis to resign or retire, according to Channel 2 story

Cerebration said...

No way!! Way!!

Crawford Lewis Given Ultimatum

"Channel 2 Action News has learned of an ultimatum to DeKalb School Superintendent Crawford Lewis. Three sources familiar with the case said the school board has told Lewis to resign or retire soon."

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/23036298/detail.html

Cerebration said...

BTW - here's the link you asked about regarding Maureen's post at the AJC blog about bloat -

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2010/03/14/metro-systems-bloated-inefficient-and-unfocused/

"Why do Cobb and DeKalb have so many more employees per 1,000 pupils than Gwinnett?

Cobb has 144 employees per 1,000 pupils while DeKalb has 157 and Gwinnett has only 113. Put another way, DeKalb has 39 percent more employees per pupil than Gwinnett and Cobb has 27 percent more employees per pupil than Gwinnett."

Anonymous said...

Do you think the BOE offer Ms. Tyron, Dr. Lewis's pick, a contract. If they do, it's more of the same. Every budget Ms. Tyson has produced has protected personnel OUTSIDE the schoolhouse, and cut personnel INSIDE the schoolhouse.

The BOE boxed themselves into a corner listening to Dr. Lewis's recommendation and choosing Ms. Tyson who has little educational experience (2 years in the late 80s as a business ed teacher) and scant business experience (4 years as an Educational specialist with IBM in the early 90s).

Of course, her philosophy for running a school system aligns perfectly with Dr. Lewis. She was his right hand person for the last year, oversaw the Finance Department (Marcus Turk reported to her), and was his pick as Interim Superintendent.

Anonymous said...

Ms.Tyson is where she is today because of the cronyism of the DCSS. You are correct that she has few qualifications to run the school system and to know what is best for the education of our kids. She has seen her salary double in the last 5 or so years which not change in credentials. Only benefit to having CL gone will be that we don't have to pay his salary.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 2:11 pm

You're right. She was Dr. Lewis's choice. See this quote from Paul Womack, BOE member:

"Lewis recommended Tyson take over, Womack told the AJC"

AJC article:
http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/board-lewis-leave-helps-337323.html

Anonymous said...

Yes, Don, this committee was a colossal waste of time--as are all citizen committees in DCSS. If you knew more about the school system, you wouldn't have agreed to serve on this joke, except you wanted to raise your profile for your next election. And as usual, you stormed out of a meeting, too.

The BOE needs to take custody of this. These committees are a way for them to look like they are involving the electorate, and getting a scapegoat at the same time.

Anonymous said...

No one likes the thought of a school closing. But we are missing some information here. Some of these schools are within 2 miles of each other. All 4 of them (in McNair cluster) are way under utilized. It's unfortunate but it must happen. The board should have closed more 2 years ago and failed to act then. I waa at the task force meeting and heard racism complaints from audience and tf members alike. Only problem here is these folks will always believe this is a race thing.

Anonymous said...

If the parents of the schools that are to be closed saw significant cuts in the DCSS "bloat" the closing of their schools might be more palatable.

DCSS needs to cut its "jobs program", and then it can address additional ways to save that impact the schoolhouse. I'm all for shuttering schools that are underutilized, but this $2,000,000 "savings" distracted us from the real $155,000,000 elephant in the room - 155 employees to 1,000 students - by far the largest employee ratio in metro Atlanta while our students don't see any better pupil teacher ratio or lower class sizes.

Notice how Ms. Tyson and the BOE propose the most controversial ways to save money while they work their sleight of hand to protect as many admin and support jobs as they can. Perhaps they've overplayed that hand with this task force.

Why not cut Central Office and cut and outsource support personnel rather than decimate schoolhouse personnel and the classroom? I know that would not be controversial to parents/taxpayers. That's what parents/taxpayers want, and that's exactly what Ms. Tyson and the BOE are trying to avoid.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, the deficit is not $155,000,000 - it's projected to reach no higher than $118,000,00 - I got carried away. I guess everytime I look, it's larger and larger!

Anonymous said...

"Board Tells Lewis to Resign or Retire"

Noooooooooo! Crawford Lewis must be fired for cause! Otherwise, he can and will retire as part of the Teachers Retirement System and collect approximately $13,000 per month for the rest of his life!

Crawford Lewis is the person who has stolen irreplaceable school years from our children; de-valued our homes; presided over the largest "jobs program" in Georgia; played fast and loose with federal and state monies (along with his cronies in DCSS); and brought DCSS to its knees. No one in the county, state or even in the U.S. Attorney's office has the guts to go after the thieving SOB. And, now, Lewis gets a golden handshake???

Anonymous said...

@4:37, sorry but it's more like $15,000 per month since he can go out at 70%. Maybe he can use the extra 2 grand/month to fuel his cars.

Anonymous said...

Who the hell is Dr. Felicia Moss Mayfield? We received an email with a link to Kaleidoscope today through her and Robert Mosely. She's listed as Assistant Supt for Support Services. She's not on the Audits and Accounts salary listing for last year, and I don't see her name on the organizational charts. Was this an under-the-radar hire by Lewis? Or is this another moniker for Felicia Mitchell, a la Patrica Reid...Pope...Whatever? I wonder how over 100K Dr. Mayfield makes?

Anonymous said...

If he resigns, will DCSS still foot the bill for his lawyers?

Anonymous said...

Felicia Mitchell == Felicia Mayfield. She remarried.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 5:13 pm
"I wonder how over 100K Dr. Mayfield makes?"

Felicia Mitchell (now Mayfield)
2005: $96,354
2009: $125,284

$28,930 or 30% raise since Dr. Lewis became Superintendent in 2004. 7.5% increase a year.

Kim Gokce said...

I heard from a good source yesterday that Dr. Lewis will annonce retirement next week, wouldn 't surprise me a bit. However, attributing to him supernatural powers to have single-handedly wrecked public education in DeKalb I 'm not buying that. This train wreck has been decades in the making ...

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me? Felicia Mitchell has gotten a 7.5% raise each year while my pay and benefits have decreased (as a teacher)? Great.
Does anyone know a board member personally and can sit down with them and tell them that the Instructional Coaches and Graduation Coaches that the BOE is trying so hard to protect do NOTHING with students? PLEASE. These jobs were created specifically for cronies of Talley and Lewis. You could save many, many paraprofessional jobs by cutting these. The paraprofessionals actually WORK with the students. As a teacher, I'd rather have paraprofessionals than Instructional Coaches any day. I've never seen an Instructional Coach in my twenty years in Dekalb. I don't even know if they know what they do.

Anonymous said...

I heard last week the BOE and CL were going to announce CL's retirement over Spring Break when many were out of town. Looks like that's happening on schedule.
However, unless the BOE really cleans house, this means very little. Why is Pat Pope still employed? Channel 2 reported tonight that the legal fees involving Pope and CL have reached over $14 million. That's what we're paying for.

Ella Smith said...

Dr. Lewis has over 30 years in Teacher's retirement. It does not matter if he gets fired or retires. He already has enough time to leave today and draw retirement at at least 70% of his salary.

This is money he has paid in and has been drawing interest. This has nothing to do with any benifits of the school system. This is teachers retirement which every teacher has taken out of their check and sent to teacher's retirement every month. Actually a great deal of money comes out of our checks monthly.

Dr. Lewis is eligible to draw this money regardless of how he leaves the system now. It does not matter if he gets fired. He still will draw his teacher's retirement from the STATE TEACHER"S RETIREMENT SYSTEM OF GA.

Anonymous said...

If Crawford Lewis is fired for cause, he may take out the money he has paid into Teachers Retirement System, but he will not be able to receive lifetime benefits.

Anonymous said...

There are some good comments made in this thread. My posting here is particularly in response to the comment(s) of the Task Force not carrying out their responsibility. Yes, the Task Force should set the tone, BUT...look at our national/local political scene today. The gov't is supposed to FOLLOW the people, but we all know this is NOT the case. It is a bunch of smoke and mirrors. I think the task force did the right thing IN THIS CASE. I'm tired of the POLITICAL ACROBATICS. You have to understand so-called leaders instigate quarrels among us to take possession of issues before the public, to ultimately obtain power. In this particular case, they created the problem, let them take responsibility for cleaning it up. Dear Task Force, don't go infighting among yourselves. The BOE has OWNERSHIP of this one. Period!

I said in another tread, be quite, listen, and watch what they do. I also spoke about ATTRITION. Listen, I'm watching very closely in the middle school where I work. There are some who have become DRUNK with so-called leadership/power for selfish reasons--colluding to protect their own butt$. Setting up scenarios to justify "cuts" at the end of this school calendar year-- when in fact, they them$elve$ should NOT be allowed within 1 mile of any school. BOE, you DO NOT NEED to close any schools, you NEED to focus on eliminating all those people occupying jobs that were created unnecessarily. After you do that, go to Obama and ask permission to eradicate bad teachers since you can't do that either. If I were leading, I'd keep the schools OPEN, and employ computers and technology to better educate our children. YOU ARE DEFINITELY GOING TO NEED THE SPACE!

We ALL should take a lesson from the native Americans when they said they DID NOT OWN THE LAND--that it belonged to the CREATOR. Who do those schools you plan to shutdown belong to? Now go talk about racism! STOP looking for a quick fix...you didn't get into this mess overnight...how the heck you gonna get out overnight! Oh, it's a mandate from the State. I now see the light. :)

Is that your solution?

Dan M said...

Announcing his retirement over spring break. How forthright.


Here is a big, big part of the problem: Administrators and staff should not be able to pay into the Teachers Retirement System. TRS should be for teachers and principals ONLY!

If you want to be an administrator, then you have to transfer over your TRS to a defined benefit or defined contribution retirement plan.

TRS is an awesome incentive, but it was meant for teachers. Not Gloria Talley's army. Not Central Office pencil pushers. We want good teachers to remain in the classroom, or move up to be an AP or principal.

If you want to be an instructional coach or Central Office bureaucrat, then fine, but you are not a teacher and have no right to TRS. First, it would save us majorly in cost. Secondly, there would not be this constant rush for so many to leave the classroom and scracth and claw for Central Office positions.

We need to starve the Central Office. Do not expand class sizes. Cut all other costs. Making sure TRS is only for teachers and principals is a major first step.

Anonymous said...

Get busy and write your Ms. Tyson and your BOE members to get them to cut in the admin and support area OUTSIDE the classroom rather the INSIDE the classroom.

Encourage your BOE members to look for a superintendent who has educational and business experience. Ask them to look outside DeKalb County Schools. The much maligned Johnny Brown didn't increase the budget like Crawford. He voluntarily sent Central Office personnel back to schools.

Don't look to any Central Office employee to become superintendent and do any cutting outside the classroom. Look at what Ms. Tyson, Dr. Lewis's right hand person and his pick for Interim Superintendent, has done - cut as much as she could INSIDE the classroom while barely touching personnel OUTSIDE the classroom.

Cerebration said...

New article from the AJC on Lewis -

Just three months after giving the superintendent a raise and extending his contract, the DeKalb County school board is asking Crawford Lewis to consider a “mutual” separation agreement.

The distraction of a criminal investigation and Lewis' leave during that probe -- heaped on top of the pressure of a huge budget deficit and possible school closings -- is just too much, board members said.

Lewis has been on leave since late February when the district attorney served search warrants at his home and office as part of a criminal investigation into possible wrongdoing involving school construction spending. Lewis decided to take leave during the investigation.

On Friday, board chairman Tom Bowen confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the board has been talking to Lewis about a possible separation.

“We’re in discussions to see if there is a way to reach a mutually agreeable separation,” Bowen said. “Contrary to rumors, it’s not adversarial at all.”

Lewis’ contract gives the board unilateral options to terminate him with four months of severance.

That may be a possibility.

“In the unlikely event we are unable to reach a mutual agreement, the board would likely consider the other options under the contract,” Bowen said.

Reached Friday afternoon, Lewis referred comments to his attorney, Mike Brown.

“I have spoken to Mr. Bowen very briefly last evening, but I have to refer you to my attorney,” Lewis said.

Brown declined to comment.

In addition to the criminal probe, the district faces a budget shortfall topping $115 million, possible school closures, the CRCT test cheating investigation and pending lawsuits.


Sigh.

http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/board-asks-dekalb-schools-429524.html

Cerebration said...

And here are some excellent points from the article made by Charles Hill. (Why does SACS continue to stay out of this? )

“The concern about the distraction is known and shared by everyone involved. It was the principle reason the superintendent requested a leave of absence,” Bowen said. “At this time, we are trying to balance the board’s responsibilities to the district and at the same time to be equitable to the superintendent. The most important thing is that we move to establish stability in the district.”

Even with Lewis out of the daily school operations, he still seems to be a factor in decisions, board members and community leaders said.

Lewis was the one who advocated for public involvement and put together the Citizens Planning Task Force: a group of 20 residents charged with recommending schools for closure. But when it came time to make their decision Thursday night, some task force members said the district's unstable leadership was too much of a factor to move forward.

“One concern about school closings is the state [that the district] is in,” task force member Charles Hill said. “We don’t have a superintendent [and] we have a young school board.”

The district doesn’t need any more disruptions, Hill said.

Cerebration said...

And - back to the subject of school closings -This is from last evening at the ajc.com -

Some DeKalb County schools will be closed this year whether or not residents want them to be.

The only other options are to lay off teachers or raise taxes, school board members said Friday.

“It’s going to get done one way or the other,” board member Don McChesney told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday. “You can’t cut $116 million from a budget and say there will be no impact on services. We have a fiduciary responsibility here. People who are saying we should not close their schools are saying [to] go ahead and waste their money.”

On Thursday, the Citizens Planning Task Force -- that was tasked with naming four schools to close -- voted that no schools should close this year and the district should take more time to make a decision.

But DeKalb doesn’t have much more time. The state’s third-largest district has a week to finalize $115 million in cuts – and that’s while schools are closed for spring break.

On April 12, the board is scheduled to vote on a budget that includes teacher furlough days, programs cuts and four school closings.

“Closing schools is a tough decision but it would be irresponsible for the board to avoid looking at the issue because it is unpopular,” board chairman Tom Bowen said. “This decision has the potential to save millions of dollars, which will go back into the classroom, and also directly impacts the tens of millions of construction dollars we are eligible to receive from the state.”

The district has almost 11,000 empty seats in its schools. The longer those seats sit open, the more money the district loses, deputy chief superintendent of operations Robert Moseley said.

“Money spent on empty seats is money that could be spent on students,” he added.

If no schools are closed, the board will be forced to cut music, art, assistant principals and other programs at small schools -- expenses that the state doesn’t fund, Moseley said.

Moseley said the task force wasn’t a waste a time since the group did draft a thorough criteria on how schools should remain open, including enrollment numbers, building capacity, cost and distance to other schools.

But most of that work was done by Dan Drake, the district’s planner who spent weeks compiling the data and creating closure scenarios.

His most recent scenario – as requested by the task force – calls for Gresham Park, Kelley Lake, Knollwood and Peachcrest Elementary schools to be closed. Although that scenario was voted down by the task force, that work won’t be thrown out.

It will be the first scenario administrators consider when they put together a closing proposal for the board, Moseley said.


http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/dekalb-to-move-forward-430624.html

Cerebration said...

WSB's report -

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/23036298/detail.html

They state the legal fees at the end of the report as being $14 million. Geesh - that would've gone a long way in the classroom - or for construction.

Anonymous said...

"Lewis’ contract gives the board unilateral options to terminate him with four months of severance."

This train wreck may be decades in the making, but CL did very little, if anything, to change direction of DCSS. Clearly, he has been an extremely poor manager and has surrounded himself with the same. Terminate his contract with four months’ severance and let him retire. He is a big boy and he will be OK.

I strongly suggest Board Members take this action for three reasons:

1 – Inaction has consequences and if you cannot manage and produce results you will not be rewarded.
2 – To send a signal to employees regardless of position that production and positive results are expected.
3 – To let the taxpayers of DeKalb know they understand that they are stewards of their money. Well, at least it is a step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

DeKalb board member accused of sabotaging school closings process

http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/dekalb-board-member-accused-432483.html

Great! Just what we need, a board member stirring the pot!

Cerebration said...

From bad -- to worse. This is just beyond anything the students, teachers and citizens of DeKalb should have to endure any longer.

Anonymous said...

Sarah Copelin-Wood should be removed from the school board. She is, and has always been, unprofessional, uninformed (she is rarely prepared for meetings--doesn't bother to do any reading), and is so divisive.

No Duh said...

Nothing cowardly about Marcia Coward. Way to go. Which BOE member appointed her to the task force?

Doesn't surprise me at all that the only two BOE members intimidating that task force were C-W and Roberts. Those women are stuck in 1955. They are doing a disservice to their communities every time they open their mouths. Race baiting has no business here.

And thank you Marcia Coward for standing up for what is right.

SACS Please! Where are you? How much evidence of BOE interference in our schools do you need?

Anonymous said...

The citizens of DeKalb MUST vote all five incumbent board members OUT in November.

If DeKalb is serious about having a viable public school system, ALL FIVE BoE members up for re-election MUST be defeated at the polls.

The current BoE has demonstrated they are unwilling / unable to govern our public schools.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, some of the BOE members have a loyal base in their communities. I'm not sure how they could be unseated. Can BOE members be recalled? Just a thought. I'd personally love it if we recalled the whole lot and started over.
Is there no Code of Contact for Board members? Is getting a dressing down all that could happen to Sarah Coppelin-Wood for interfering? THIS is the part where SACS should get involved.

Anonymous said...

@ No duh
"SACS Please! Where are you? How much evidence of BOE interference in our schools do you need?"

Do you really want to know how DeKalb got through its last SACS review? Lewis hired Gloria Talley to get DeKalb Schools through the SACS review. Gloria Talley was a Director in the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta, Georgia. SACS and the Southern Regional Education Board are both accrediting agencies. They overlap in so many ways. They need another Talley to guide through the SACS accreditation and is well positioned with SACS. They have common social ties since they interface in so many ways. For example, Dr. Gerald Lord, a Vice president at SACS is married to Joan McCarty Lord, Vice President of the Southern Regional Education Board.

Maureen ran a blog asking why DeKalb would go outside the system and spend $165,000 on a new Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning when they could fill her position from within and save $165,000 on a new DeKalb employee.
Get Shoooled:
The $164,000 question: Is DeKalb really cutting back on its spending?
http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2010/03/02/for-dekalb-lots-of-questions-about-continued-spending-despite-budget-crisis/

Well, now you know. Tyson/Lewis are looking for someone outside the system that has SACS connections like Ms. Talley so they can get through a SACS study. Worked before like a charm. Now they’re counting on trying the same technique again.

The above reasons are also why SACS has been so hands-off in DeKalb. And you all thought Lewis was clueless.

Cerebration said...

I don't know why the system won't take a look at Arabia. There is a TON of room in this school - if they would create an attendance zone as originally promised, there would be NO need for additions to nearby schools! That money could be used for truly crumbling, old or over-crowded schools!

This is from a DCSS webpage from the Planning Dept a while back (before "someone" decided to hold out Arabia for "special" programs only.) I printed it out before the school system took it down and started denying that Arabia was supposed to be a regular school.

For the 2009-2010 school year, two new schools are expected to
open.

A new Dunwoody-area elementary school is currently under construction. This school - which will be located on Womack Road near Georgia Perimeter College - will serve students in grades 4 & 5 for students living in the attendance areas of Austin ES, Chesnut ES and Vandelryn ES. These schools will become PK-3 schools. Kingsley & Hightower will remain PK-5 schools.

A new Arabia Mountain-area high school is currently scheduled to open for the 2009-2010 school year. The attendance lines have not been drawn as yet. The new school is expected to provide relief to Martin Luther King Jr. HS and Lithonia HS.


There is STILL about $11 million in the SPLOST 3 budget for an addition to MLK.

Central Office Pawn said...

hello!

Cerebration said...

Here's a very good article on the effect closing a school has on the surrounding neighborhood --

How school closure impacted a community

I think closing schools could be a very bad move for DeKalb overall. Our school system has already shuttered far too many buildings, leaving them empty and causing blight in the area (Druid Hills is a disgrace). Heritage School is another example - this empty building has been serving as a place for late night parties - complete with bonfires - on the property behind the shuttered, unattended building.

Closing schools could be the straw that will break the economic recovery camel's back of DeKalb. It's quite possible that the school system may in fact damage property values to the point that tax collections will never again pay for decent schools.

This kind of knee-jerk reaction - without long-range vision is very dangerous.