Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Another Reason "Y" to Love Cross Keys High School (and this blog ...)

Some like to belittle this blog and its followers as a few hacks with little or no impact. I can testify to the opposite.

Twelve months ago almost to the day, the readers and host of this blog took up the cause of Cross Keys HS renovation after seeing images like the photo at right of CK field and track. I firmly believe that the renovation may have not gone forward as it has without the public pressure documented on this blog. I may not have started out on my own personal mission to form the Cross Keys Foundation and advocate for this most deserving group of students without the inspiration and guidance of this blog’s hosts and contributors.

Twelve months later I am happy to report another positive, progressive development in the cause of Cross Keys. Working with peers on the Foundation board, with community members, and, yes, with the school system chain of command, the YMCA of Metro Atlanta has put a partnership proposal for Cross Keys in the hands of DCSS for consideration at this Monday’s Board of Education Work Session.

The current SPLOST III investments of public capital into Cross Keys High School is delivering a much needed renovation to the buildings of this 52 year old school. However, the DeKalb County Schools administration, the DeKalb County Board of Education, and community members all recognize that these significant improvements leave a few gaps in the school's facilities. Specifically, no current funding has been designated for an auditorium addition as planned at other area schools nor to improve the athletic grounds in dire need of restoration.

The YMCA proposal seeks to address the athletic field and related security concerns.

The goals of the proposal are: 1) Provide a quality athletic field for the school, 2) Provide enhanced security of the site, 3) Displace unauthorized activities, 4) Provide a platform for youth services to an under-served population.

The scope of the proposal is for the YMCA to restore the athletic field at Cross Keys HS to YMCA standards for youth programs. The proposed project will include the grading, leveling and installing sod on the field areas, the installation of portable fixtures such as bleachers and tables, and the installation of security fencing and gates. This will be accomplished using YMCA funds and no public funds.

The YMCA will offer youth soccer and other programs as approved by the Principal of Cross Keys HS at the improved site. The YMCA will carry liability insurance to cover all programs managed by their staff and volunteers. YMCA managed weekday practices will be staffed by at least one, full-time employee of YMCA, and by at least one off duty police officer to provide security and traffic control. Competitive game days (Saturday youth soccer) will be staffed with two off duty police officers.

The offered programs will never be allowed to conflict with the ongoing uses of the fields by current athletic, band, and other authorized student uses.

This proposal is scheduled for a vote at the Board of Education Work Session of July 12, 2010 and I expect a positive outcome. I will be speaking in the #1 public slot to advocate for this proposal. Here's what you can do:

1)    Attend the meeting to show your support 6:00pm this Monday at:
Work Session/Business Meeting:
William Bradley Bryant Center of Technology
2652 Lawrenceville Highway
Decatur, Georgia 30033
2)    Sign an electronic petition in support by Monday at 12:00pm at:
    http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/ymca-partnership.html
3)    Send a note of encouragement to your Board of Education representative(s) asking them to vote 'yes.'

Let's Turn Brown to Green

This proposal will bring opportunity to the families of Buford Hwy for organized after-school programs for their children. The initiative will also enhance the “curb appeal” of Cross Keys and will generate a lot of interest in the school from Brookhaven area families with young children.

The character of this proposal is one that I think can serve as a model for future efforts throughout DeKalb County. I hope you agree and show your support by signing our petition. I will be presenting the results of the online petition along with personal statements of elected officials from Doraville, Chamblee, DeKalb and the State of Georgia during my public comments Monday.

Keep the faith and keep blogging - it is making a difference! -Kim Gokce

75 comments:

Cerebration said...

You go, Kim!!! Bloggers - please sign the petition!

Anonymous said...

if you don't get a lot of signatures, it might mean that a majority of your followers are educators for the county and unable to step out of the shadows....just a thought....

Kim Gokce said...

Names can be withheld as an option so I don't think that will be an obstacle for many. There are already a few names I recognize as DCSS teachers on that petition.

I think a very positive proposal like this would be the last thing to get an employee in trouble. If the BoE supports the proposal and I'm pretty sure they will, how could they hold it against a teacher?

I think you'll be ok!

Anonymous said...

This proposal should face no challenges. In fact, Murphy Candler Little League already has similar arrangements or at least has had similar arrangements in the past.

You shouldn't even need a petition. This is a no brainer.

More of this kind of partnership is needed across the county.



Well done!

Lynn Deutsch

Molly said...

Great work Kim.

Anonymous said...

Attention Clarkston High School and McNair High School parents and community members,

At today's state board meetings, your schools will receive approximately 2.5 million dollars to spend on school improvement over the next three years.

This is part of the The Title I, Part A, Section 1003(g) School Improvement Grants and Title I, Part A, Section 1003(g) ARRA School Improvement Grants provide financial resources to schools identified as persistently lowest achieving. Only about 10 schools in GA are receiving these grants.

You need to find out what the plans are at your schools to use this money.

You can read all about the grant

http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/summary/gaapp.pdf

Clarkston HS $876,027.00(2011) $881,675.00 $836,637.00 $2,594,339.00
DeKalb County McNair HS $868,746.00 $800,986.00 $663,288.00 $2,333,020.00

Kim Gokce said...

Thank you Lynn and Molly! I have had the same thought for over 8 months while I've quietly supported this - I do think it is a no-brainer. However, that has never guaranteed that something succeeded.

So, I have been feverishly reaching out to the community this week now that we're public with the proposal. My concern all along has been that the vote becomes a political bargaining chip on the BoE and might get delayed. Any delay this summer means we miss the window of opportunity before school starts and that means another year of waiting to execute.

Also, as much as I hate to say it, I have encountered push-back from citizens like this: "I don't think we should be spending any more tax payer money on those kids on Buford Hwy." Of course, I have to politely explain that it is private money we are talking about here but still it is difficult for me to assume support for this when these kids are so often put down.

Thank you all for all the personal support and advocacy for these kids this past year - I can tell you first-hand that you have changed some lives. Many of these kids are cock-sure that their broader community doesn't want or support them and your support has helped redefined their self-image in many cases.

Be True to Your School said...

Beth Farokhi, candidate for State Superintendent of Schools has an online feedback form. Here is my question to her and below that, her answer:

Question:
Here's what I need to know -- what can you and will you do about the DeKalb County School System? Please be very specific. My vote hangs in the balance -- and I will forward your answer to everyone I know.

Answer:
As State School Superintendent, specific issues would be looked at and resources made available to assist where needed. There are several statewide organization that can also provide support and resources to work within the Dekalb System, e.g. as the GA State Schools Board Association.

Sincerely, Beth Farokhi

Dr. Beth Farokhi
2010 Democratic Candidate
State School Superintendent
BethforEducation.com

My comment:
Not good enough! I expected a researched, well-thought-out answer. Vague, political answers like this just won't cut it anymore. Not for me.

What is going on in DCSS and the curious lack of assistance or support from any agency -- including the GaDOE and SACS -- is the biggest education issue in the state right now. I cannot vote for someone who has no clue.

Cerebration said...

In line with Kim's unconditional love for the students of Cross Keys, is Warren Buffett's interview on the "best advice" he's ever received --

In an exclusive interview with Yahoo! News and The Huffington Post, he credited his father for teaching him how to live, and explained that all parents can make a "better human being" by offering their children unconditional love:

The power of unconditional love. I mean, there is no power on earth like unconditional love. And I think that if you offered that to your child, I mean you’re 90 percent of the way home. There may be days when you don’t feel like it, it’s not uncritical love, that’s a different animal, but to know you can always come back, that is huge in life. That takes you a long, long way. And I would say that every parent out there that can extend that to their child at an early age, it’s going to make for a better human being.



Check it out here -

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_upshot/20100708/bs_yblog_upshot/buffett-recounts-the-best-advice-hes-ever-received

Momfirst said...

That's great news Kim! Kudos to you for sticking w/ it and making great strides for kids that don't seem to have a voice.

Anonymous said...

This is a nice proposal. DeKalb should accept it. It will benefit a lot of students.

Kim Gokce said...

Thank you, Momfirst. I wish all of our readers here could experience what I have interacting with the children of our district. There has been a flowering of confidence and hope among these very jaded teenagers from Oakcliff to Doraville to Chamblee to Brookhaven.

The ground covered during the past 12 months in their hearts has been breath-taking to watch. From a sense of complete isolation and neglect vis-a-vis the community, to a place now where they are questioning their assumptions about the broader community.

Frankly, they did not have a particularly favorable view of "us" and I didn't blame them for it. How sweet is it now to see their own renewed sense of pride sparked by gestures of support from the broad community they assumed did not care ...

A Mother said...

Kim, many Kudos to you for your hard work and success with this!

It is a no brainer. A petition should not be needed. These are the kind of things that a committed BoE would be doing to benefit the schools themselves. Any opposition from them should not even be a thought. Yet, realistically, it is.

I have no doubt that when people come together in a forum such as this, it makes a difference. There is no substitute for it.

This "Internet thing" works so keep working it!

I live in SC. I will sign the petition if it helps. I am willing to be clear about my identity. I use a moniker only because it is the Internet and my identity is not relevant to what I post here.

The form asks for address. Since I don't live in the county, would it help for me to sign it?

I have been following the situation with Dekalb schools. I think many outside your area would like to see a positive outcome in spite of all that has happened and continues to happen.

One success at a time moves you closer to what you want for the children.

Woohoo!

Kim Gokce said...

@A Mother said ...

Yes, we, the Cross Keys Foundation, believe in a more broad definition of stakeholders for our public schools. By all means, that includes progressive-minded neighbors in South Carolina. It also helps our BoE understand just how widely they are being followed and how important their jobs are, in fact.

In my opinion, this proposal will codify what I believe to be true: for our public schools to be the best they can possibly be and to enable them to provide all possible opportunities to ALL children, they must be operating at the heart of our communities and benefiting from ALL stakeholders, not just current parents.

The sustainability of our mission in public education has to be greater than the duration of one family's journey through it and greater than one superintendent's tenure. Sorry, soap-boxing ... thank you for your support!

Cerebration said...

Good news in the county/school system partnership for students in the Redan area -

DeKalb gets new recreation center

DeKalb County will hold a grand opening ceremony Saturday at the new Redan Recreation Center.

The ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. at 1839 Phillips Road in Lithonia.

More than 100 children have already gotten the chance to check out the new center as part of the summer day camp. However, additional programs will be added July 10. Volleyball and basketball leagues are scheduled to start in the fall, said Shelia Edwards, spokeswoman for the CEO.

The center features a gym with volleyball and basketball courts, a suspended walking track, aerobic/dance room and fitness room. There also is a computer lab, meeting rooms and craft rooms.

The $5.7 million center was paid for out of the 2001 and 2006 park bond funds, Edwards said.

Kim Gokce said...

That's awesome! I want one :)

I didn't see DCSS' involvement in that ... did I miss it?

Cerebration said...

Weeeeel... perhaps this is more strictly an effort from the county. But it will support children!!

Kim Gokce said...

Yeah, my understanding is that DeKalb Rec and DCSS have yet to find a way to help each other. Hopefully, that'll change ... we all have to row in synch for our future's sake ...

A Mother said...

Done! I just went to GoPetition.com and signed the petition. I am petitioner #100 -

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/ymca-partnership/signatures-page1.html

Yes, people in other places are watching what's happening in Dekalb. I check this blog every day and am disappointed when there is no new topic. This is where I find out what's REALLY going on.

I check AJC once in awhile to see what's being published but I come here to get the News.

I'm still amazed by all the things that can be done on the Internet. One can circulate a petition and collect "signatures".

I was surprised to be #100. I thought there would have been a lot more signatures for this. That alone says a lot about the state of affairs with the BoE in Dekalb.

Either way, this sends a message. If you get a lot of signature, that's great. If you don't, would they wonder why?

Kim Gokce said...

Good points all the way around - yes, they'd have to wonder, I suppose. I have met resistance from folks nearby who say, "That's not our attendance area school." They are missing the point - it is for all area kids regardless of school attendance area!

It will be interesting to see where the number of signatures goes - stay tuned!

Anonymous said...

I think a ton of people are out of town. My street is very quiet.

Kim Gokce said...

Anon is right about folks being out of town but we'll catch them Sunday night Monday morning with a bit of luck!

Cerebration said...

"A Mother" - thanks so much for your support of this blog! Your comment made my day!

Kim Gokce said...

All that misunderstand who the students of Cross Keys are need to read about Thuy Le. I had the honor of meeting her a few times during her senior year. She is an incredible human being and dedicated scholar. She interned at Emory's epigenetics lab while at CK and was a tireless volunteer in our community.

Motherless student gets help

If you run into anyone in your community who says we shouldn't care about or spend money on "those" kids at Cross Keys, remember Thuy Le.

A Mother said...

Cere,

Thank you for this blog! It provides inspiration, hope, important information, commaderie, a place to vent, to share ideas, to share experiences, to plan, a connection to relevant petitions and articles, links to the board, the candidates... Need I go on?

This an invaluable resource. We know it doesn't just happen without all the work and time you put into it.

Thank you!

Kim,

That is a wonderful heart-warming story! There aren't enough words in the English language to say "Thank You" for what you and others in the community are doing, either.

It does take a village!

Ella Smith said...

Thank you Kim for your efforts.

I have been disappointed that Adams Stadium looks like this most of the year also. I am shocked to see this as we pay someone to keep up this facility and it apparently has not been kept up very well. I know it gets a great deal of wear and tear. It would be benificial to turf this field as much play as it gets but the county cannot afford it at this end of the county.

How do schools like Northsprings who take care of their own individual field expenses afford to turf in Fulton County and Dekalb County has money coming in from many sports programs not have the money to turf. This does not make sense to me. Does it make sense to any of you. If Fulton County Schools individually who fund their individual stadiums can turf their individual stadiums why can Dekalb not turf 3 or 4 stadiums. I do not understand where the money goes in Dekalb?

Kim Gokce said...

Ella - thanks for the kind words. As for Adams, wow this poor field is "home" for so many schools it is a wonder a single blade of grass is left on it. Yes, it should be turfed due to excessive use! Have you been to Decatur's new athletics complex? We play soccer there vs Decatur and it is like going to the Taj Mahal. I believe the figure for that was $30m for new stadium, top quality turf (U. of Tennessee was impressed enough to make this their practice field while here), and incredible public and team locker rooms.

As to where the money goes remember that according to Richard Belcher's report on WSB-TV we've been paying between 50 - 75% more than Gwinnett, for example, for construction cost during recent projects. So, I don't know the whole picture but I think part of the answer is we are simply not being as efficient or effective in managing taxpayer dollars. That, and we have too many high schools - we need more like 12-14, not 22.

Ella Smith said...

Kim I do agree but we do not have that many stadiums to keep up like other counties. We should be able to turf the few we have. I guess this is what bothers me. Dekalb has only a few stadiums to keep up and they play all their games at these stadiums. They need to turf these stadiums.

Anonymous said...

Based on what I have read about Cobb putting in turf, I thought that was controversial. Anyhow, the Fulton high school booster clubs fund many of their improvements.

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/21475180/detail.html

http://www.wsbtv.com/video/21481179/index.html

Anonymous said...

"How do schools like Northsprings who take care of their own individual field expenses afford to turf in Fulton County and Dekalb County has money coming in from many sports programs not have the money to turf."


Ella, it's not about money It's about competent, responsible management of your facilities. Even with the amount of usage Adams gets in the fall and spring, it's turf should be in good shape. But the grounds crew from Sam Moss does not have any expertise in athletic turf management.

It's sad and it's not going to change. The maintenance of DCSS athletic fields should be contracted out. The worst field may be Avondale High School's baseball field. No one is Sam Moss has the knowledge, nor do they have the intestinal fortitude to take on low performance of the ground staff. If our high schools were responsible for their own athletic fields and stadiums like in Gwinnett, I think it could change. With everything run by the Central Office and DCSS Athletics, too many coahces and AD's have given up after being beaten down by the mind-numbing, do-nothing bureucracy

And even if you spend $300,000 - $450,00k on a synthetic turf field, it still needs regular, high quality maintenance. DCSS could and should install synthetic turf fields in conjunction with DeKalb County Parks & Recreation, but the county and school system still don't play nice together.

A few years back, then county commissioner now county CEO Burrell Ellis hosted a joint workshop with then BOE member Simone Manning-Moon, on ways the county and school system could work together and save taxpayer dollars. Manning-Moon in particular was very impressive during the workshop. Sad that no one from the BOE or DCSS followed up after she left the board, and even sadder that CEO Ellis has ignored his prior work.

And here is what is FREAKING infuriating: We have almost 200 staff members and two directors (why two directors?) in the DCSS School Police Dept., and they don't do anything on nights and weekends. A bunch of DCSS School Police staff even have take home cars for no good reason. People playing soccer consistently cut the fences at Adams Stadium and Chamblee High and use the fields even though they are supposed to be locked up. It's just not athletic fields that DCSS School Police ignore; go behind DCSS' Heritage School at night or on a weekend, and almost everytime you'll find teens and oung adults drinking beer and/or smking marijuana openly, on county school property. I GUARANTEE you that the DCSS School Police doesn't have an up to date list of every DCSS-owned piece of property let alone regularly checks on all DCSS properties.

The DCSS Athletics Staff is aware of these issues, but Director Ron Seebree is out of his league and doesn't give a darn about it. He does sure like buying uniforms and using outside contractors to staff home games, and they are some of the laziest workers you'll find in Georgia. The illegal, unapproved usage happens at most of DCSS fields. It's one thing if a field is supposed to be left open for public use. But especially during pre-season and during the growing season, if a field is supposed to locked up so the turf can grow and rest, then it needs to have some enforcement.

Despite 200 DCSS School Police staff, they fail to check facilities on nights and weekends. Sad stuff and DCSS is too large a bureaucracy to change even when a new superintendent comes in.

So Ella, back to your question: How do schools like Northsprings who take care of their own individual field?" Because they are better run and they are infinitely more professional than DCSS.

Kim Gokce said...

For those that missed it, here's is the WSBTV report:

DeKalb School Could Get Improvements Without Taxpayer Money

andi said...

Woo Hoo!! They ALL voted yes!

Anonymous said...

A horrible precedent was set tonight by our board members. The action item to accept a $10K donation from 100 Black Men to rebuild McNair High School's marquee sign was contingent upon using a specific vendor for the project. It was unanimously approved.

The old days would require open competition from an "approved" vendor. This ensures the project is built to code, proper insurances in place, lowest responsible price for the construction, the list goes on.

This action item should have been split into two parts: 1) Is the board willing to accept the donation and 2) They should award the construction contract only after they have competitively shopped -- that's their policy after all.

Call me cynical, but this smacks of an excessive $10K IRS tax deduction while boosting revenues for a struggling sign company.

In the future it seems any booster club that can raise the funds can now build whatever they want, by whomever they want. Hey Redan and Dunwoody High, use your neighbors and go build those indoor batting cages now!

Anonymous said...

I think the relationship with DCSS and 100 Black Men is fishy. However, if you go to the board item, it looks like there were at least three bids.

https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/ViewMeetingOrder.aspx?S=4054&MID=14116

Dunwoody Mom said...

I wish someone would step up and pay for a new marquee in front of Peachtree Middle School. The new facility is beautiful and tremendous, but that old blue, metal early 90's marquee has got to go....

Kim Gokce said...

I drove by Adams last night on the way to the BoE meeting and it has new sod down and is green as the Chicago river in March.

Also, Steve Donahue said last night the the Avondale baseball field has been completely cleaned-up/restored. I haven't seen that but did want to share with Anon above.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link Anon 9:16 am. Now I am really upset.

Three vendors quoted it -- Signs Plus for $4875, Stewart Signs for $7140, and Robson for $9582.

Who got the contract? Robson.

When was the Robson order accepted? Last night? No. Actually 4 months ago -- 3/19/10 to be exact. Look at the acceptance signature on the supporting document in the link.

If I were Signs Plus I'd be especially upset since they weren't even able to submit a quote until 5/12/10, 2 months after the deal was already done.

This whole thing is a sham. Faulty bid process, choosing highest bidder, BOE "approval" charade. This deal was inked and done long ago. What a farce! I could just SCREAM.

This kind of stuff is just fuel for the Heery lawsuit team.

Anonymous said...

Are you even sure that donations have to be bid?

Dekalbparent said...

I drove by the Avondale baseball field yesterday, and there was a large crew working on it. Looked as if the base paths were scraped clean about 10 feet wide and the outfield was also scraped. Don't know what it will look like in the end, but it is definitely being worked on.

I agree about the unauthorized usage of the stadiums - I don't think they should remain unavailable to the community by any means, but access needs to be under some sort of control, so stuff doesn't get damaged and fields that are being repaired don't get torn up. Ideally, the county and the school system co-operating on this would allow this sort of control. Doesn't Gwinnett have community availability? How do they deal with it?

Anonymous said...

@10:57 -- The board's gift policy DFK says they need to follow their purchasing policy DJE. Here's a quick link to both: https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/ePolicy/listing.aspx?S=4054&Sch=4054&C=D&F=

To answer your question they need 2 written quotes.

The real issue here is something different. It's 1) Why did they choose the vendor who's price was 2X higher than the lowest bidder? and 2) Why did the agenda item come to the board 4 months AFTER the contract which required their approval was executed? And why didn't ANYONE say ANYTHING about it? Isn't this the type of stuff they're being sued for? 3) Why did they have to bundle the agenda item to accept the funds with the requirement to use a specific vendor? Smells fishy.

Dunwoody Mom said...

This is a donation. It is costing the school system nothing. Why does anyone care?

Anonymous said...

People care, because the 100 Black Men organization appear to be part of the friends and family plan. People are tired of them using our schools and such. Until the district and it's policies are taken a thorough look at by outsiders-true outsiders- we will never know how deep the problems in DCSS go. I for one am sick and tired of it.

Dunwoody Mom said...

This organization donated an a marquee to a school and that is bad because....? All schools have Partners in Education - who many times provide goods and services for free. I think you just need something to complain about.

Anonymous said...

I care because the board still is not following their own purchasing policies. There's a $100,000,000+ law suit out there which has a backbone in part based on the board not following their own policies. It's hard to say the board is not at fault when they continue this behavior.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Nothing was purchased here - it was a gift. How does Purchasing policy come into play here? I read the Board Policy on Gifts and it seems this was done "by the book".

Ella Smith said...

Mr. Mosley promised me this would be done. I thought it would but I have not been by to see.

One of the problems is play on the fields. We have too much play on the few fields we have for sod. The sod gets worn down very fast.

This is a problem you guys may have at Cross Keys also. I hope you have a fence to keep people off the field when it is not in use by the YMCA and the School. My husband is on the board at TYSA and the big problem with their fields is the play that they get by users who play on the fields other than Y and and school users and the fields get beat up and end up with no grass.

I was not shocked to see the topic go away from Cross Keys and go to Avondale. Nothing can be about any other district except Ms. Woods district. This is a real issue for her. I understand she must represent her district but she must vote for issues in other districts without bringing up her district.

Anonymous said...

“And even if you spend $300,000 - $450,00k on a synthetic turf field, it still needs regular, high quality maintenance. DCSS could and should install synthetic turf fields in conjunction with DeKalb County Parks & Recreation, but the county and school system still don't play nice together”

There are also two grant sources for artificial turf-one from soccer and one from the NFL/Falcons. However, these grants require a 50% cash match and the school board has a policy against providing a cash match.

Anonymous said...

DM @ 1:59: When you read the Board's DFK policy you must have missed the part that said:

"...The School System, with use of the gifted funds, will be responsible for obtaining any services needed for the project and for securing qualified contractors for the project pursuant to Board Policy DJE and applicable state law regarding public entity bidding. Notwithstanding any other language in this policy, all monetary gifts for special projects that exceed $5,000.00 must be presented to the Board for formal acceptance and approval. "

Lynn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

@anonymous 3:07, then you believe that the BOE should have turned down the YMCA "gift" to Cross Keys as well?

A Mother said...

Anon 1:46

I agree with you. A contribution comes with no strings attached. A gift is "Free".

If they wanted to make a gift of "the sign" itself, then 100 Blac Men could have chosen anyone they wanted to do the work and paid any amount they wanted to pay for it.

Once they made a contribution to the board and payment for the sign gets made through the board, everything should follow the rules and guidelines in place for anything else that goes through the board.

Aside from the fact that I can think of a few shady things that could be going on with the way it was done, the appearance of impropriety is a luxury the board can not afford at this time. Establishing their integrity needs to be a priority.

It's a good idea for organizations and individuals to make contributions to the school. Thank you. There is absolutely no reason to do this in a way that looks shady, even if it isn't. My guess is that it is - shady.

If the giver is sincere, they would be happy to comply with a simple request from the board that their contribution of 10,000.00 goes to pay for the sign and to use any remainder in the way that is best for the school system.

What is up with this paying twice as much as necessary to use one particular provider? Did they think of getting the sign done for 5,000.00 and spending another 5,000.00 on something else the school needs or giving 5,000.00 to another good cause?

It's all just a bunch on nonsense at best!

Anonymous said...

Kim et al: How right is it that Chamblee High School's own teams can't use their stadium as a practice facility (since they have no other on-site options) because of the fear they'll damage the sod, yet DCSS is OK with partnering with community organizations to share the turf when not in use elsewhere?

Mr. Redovian.... where TF are you????

Kim Gokce said...

anon 10:28 re: "Stadium"

The same issue exists at every DeKalb stadium to my knowledge. At least, it is the case at Adams and Avondale. That doesn't make it "right" or desirable but that is where we are. This very issue was also raised by Sarah Copelin-Wood vis-a-vis Avondale Stadium last night and she was not happy with the answer ...

Years ago, DeKalb decided that they would not invest in stadiums at every high school and setup this "sharing" scheme we have now. My personal opinion is that the only way out of this less than ideal setup is to have fewer high schools with proper facilities, including stadiums.

I'd like to see every high school with a facility like Decatur High - one that is built from the ground up for multi-purpose and high utilization. That one was $30 million. The only way I see our system's schools every competing with these types of facilities is dramatic consolidation.

We have something ridiculous like 22 high schools with an average enrollment no higher than 1,200 I'd guess. I think we need more like 12-14 with and avg enrollment double that. I keep saying this and most folks look at me like I just stepped out of a flying saucer.

Anon, would you be happy if the Bulldogs had an enrollment of 3,200 and a stadium you didn't have to share? That is my opinion of how best to get one.

P.S. The Cross Keys athletes are not thrilled to have to call Chamblee stadium "Home" for some games and less so Adams which is "Home" for Druid Hills, Lakeside, Tucker (I think), and possibly Chamblee on occasion ... transportation for our population is a big issue and this virtually assures limited fan support at games.

Kim Gokce said...

Oh! And let's not even talk about Halford as a "Home" field for Cross Keys ... sheesh.

Kim Gokce said...

re: "McNair marquee"

At the risk of standing between those with torches and pitchforks and the DCSS castle, I am not sure we have this one right ...

I read all the vendor quotes and Robson seems to be the only one that includes installation. It also seems to me to be implied that they gave the 100 Black Men, what, a year long installment plan of some kind, no?

And, are the products quoted really comparable? I don't know with precision from the paperwork but I'm open to that possibility, too. During the discussion, McChesney felt so compelled to turn on his mic and make an emphatic point that this was "a heck of a deal, folks."

I'm not smelling the rat, here. I'm really not an apologist for DeKalb Schools but I'm also not assuming the worst in decision. Let's beat them about the brow for the conditions of our schools and let the 100 Black Men continue to write checks.

Dunwoody Mom said...

We need to be clear, North DeKalb Stadium which sits adjacent to Chamblee High School is not Chamblee's stadium. The athletic teams at Chamblee have never, even in my days as a student in the Dark Ages, been allowed access to the stadium as a pratice facility.

Kim Gokce said...

But what about jousting tourneys, Dunwoody Mom, huh? How about that at North DeKalb Stadium in the Dark Ages?

Dunwoody Mom said...

Jousting? I think I was a student even before Jousting became popular - LOL.

Seriously, though, I remember that we (CHS) were allowed to have athletic team pictures for the Yearbook (they were called "annuals" back in my day)taken in the stadium, but that was about it for access to N. DeKalb - that I remember.

Anonymous said...

Kim, I thought when McChesney made that comment it was about the resurfacing of wood floors. That price is a "deal" and I just hope it comes with quality assurance.

As for Decatur's new athletic field, yes, it is drop dead gorgeous. But please remember that Decatur only has one high school and one middle school and very high property taxes.

Kim Gokce said...

It is completely possible that I have McChesney's comment mis-associated with the Robson deal ... it was a mind-numbing 2 1/2 hours.

As for Decatur, they have about 18,000 residents and 2500 students in public schools (7.2 residents supporting each student). DeKalb Co has 750,000 residents and 97,000 (est.) thousand students in public schools (7.73 residents supporter each student). We should be able to do the same for our schools even with lower property taxes. And think about our SPLOST base versus Decatur's ... we have the money we're just mis-allocating it and, again, I think among way too many schools.

Ella Smith said...

The big problem with access to the stadiums is not the tracks for individuals walking around.

The problem is the fields open for anyone to play on them.

If the fields are open and not closely supervised then they will be used constantly with soccer games and there will not be a blade of grass on them.

Even if there is turf there would have to be someone to rent out the facility for community teams to practice. This is what Northsprings does. My son's soccer team pays to practice at Northsprings. This is how they have such beautiful turf and lights at their school. The community soccer teams pay to practice and play games in the off season or when the school is not using it.

Now the recreation department/school system/police department could work together and something could be worked out that would benifit everyone. The School Board has got to work with the County Recreation Department/The County Commissioners and others for this to happen.

Anonymous said...

The issue in DCSS is that the stadiums belong to no school, they belong to the school system. The school system can use them as they see fit.

As Kim said, when the decision was made to have system based stadiums, the decision was also made to not use them as practice fields, etc for specific schools.

Keep in mind, as has been posted here, that the N. Fulton and Gwinnett stadiums are so nice because the booster clubs raise a ton of money and take out loans to make them happen.

Ella Smith said...

However, because they are used by so many different school they have more play on them so they cannot keep grass on them and stay in any kind of shape for the teams.

The school system does not have enough facilities to close some while grass is being worked on or repaired on others during the year. This is a problem in itself and why the school system needs to go ahead and spend the money on turf for all of its fields. It is embarassing to host schools when we play on a field which is mostly dirt in soccer in the spring. The football teams tear them up pretty bad normally in the fall and there is not enough time to repair them or the county just does not repair them for the spring sports.

Dekalb County should be able to keep up the few stadiums they have with the gate receipts. The booster clubs help a great deal at the schools. The least the school system can do is keep the fields up and I have not seen this happen in the Dekalb County School System like other School Systems. I do not know exactly what the problem is. I suspect one problem is that our county spends way too much money still on busing students in this county which other counties do not spend. I do know there is a big difference between what the Dekalb County Stadiums look like and the other county stadiums look like and our students are embarassed as to what there stadium fields look like.

As taxpayers we pay way too much taxes for our kids to be embarassed about their home stadium fields.

The coaches at Northsprings make fun of Adam Stadium to me. The soccer coach indicates it is the worse field his players plays on all year. This is a little embarassing to me as I am a proud Dekalb County citizen.

Anonymous said...

If you drive by Avondale High School, the beautiful athletic facilities that you see across the street belong to Paideia. An earlier comment mentioned work being done on "Avondale's" baseball field--it's Paideia's field. A few feet further beyond the Paideia complex is a patchy weedy baseball field in terrible shape. It looks like someone's back 40 gone fallow. I suspect that this is Avondale's field.

Anonymous said...

The issue at Chamblee High is that unlike all the other DCSS high schools, Chamblee has no practice field for their football team. With their small campus there's really nowhere to put one. But adjacent to the campus is this nice stadium they're not allowed to use...

Kim Gokce said...

I agree the situation for the Bulldog athletes is a bit ridiculous. As I harp over and over, the only long term way to provide appropriate and equitable facilities to our public high schools is to have fewer of them-many, many fewer. Broader base of "booster" support potential, lower average capital maintenance, lower administration and probably other benefits I haven't thought of yet ...

Kim Gokce said...

Back on the topic of YMCA/Cross Keys, the AJC is covering it today:

YMCA to Pay for Upgrades to DeKalb School's Fields

A Mother said...

Yes, discussion on this thread did get all around the perimeters of it.

...and back to the topic. That's good coverage of the story. The public needs to be made aware of this. It could inspire even more Great ideas. Local papers may be picking this story up from the ajc.

The article shows the student and community excitement about this. That makes me feel good, too.

It could be my browser but I had trouble with the link. I just went to ajc.com then to Dekalb news.

Kim Gokce said...

Try copying and pasting this link instead: http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/ymca-to-pay-for-569712.html

You have no idea how excited the community is immediately around the school. The current student athletes are excited, recent graduates are excited about volunteer opportunities, and of course the faculty is really starting to believe the specter of neglect is finally leaving CK forever. Very, very positive ripples under way ... and that was the desired affect.

Dunwoody Mom said...

And we are excited for them!!!

I'm am so impressed that the Cowart Y stepped up to the plate on this.

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

No school is more deserving for this improvement than Cross Key at this point. There facilities are the worse in the county.

I am excited for them.

Dan Magee said...

"The school system does not have enough facilities to close some while grass is being worked on or repaired on others during the year."

Actually, the school system does have more than enough field space to do so Ella, with proper coordination. And there are even more fields at our county parks available for DCSS if and when DCSS and the county get ever get their heads out of their butts and start working together.

DCSS itself, for example, has multiple fields such as the very large field space behind the Bryant Tech Center that it maintains at a miserable level, even though it it large enough for multiple fields. There are very large field spaces behind Shamrock Middle and Sequoyah Middle that make a parks professional as myself want to cry from the lack of lack maintenance. Elementary schools in my area such as Laurel Ridge and McClendon have medium sized fields that are of course, poorly maintained.

The very large field space behind Cross Keys should never have been allowed to fall into such miserable disrepair. It is the lead example of the failure of the Sam Moss staff when it comes to fields and school grounds. It's bad enough to call for firings. There are dozens of skilled turf companies in the metro area who could do so much better at a very competitive cost, and we wouldn't be on the hook for benefits and pensions.

DCSS has so many facilities, fields, school grounds, etc. paid for by us taxpayers and the school system has completely and utterly failed to maintain them in a professional and competent manner. It is sad and unacceptable and we should never again tolerate such a lack of competence.

Anonymous said...

"The coaches at Northsprings make fun of Adam Stadium to me. "
I hope you said:
Yeah, whatever. We have $2,000.00 chairs and fancy showers in our county offices, so there, North Springs!

(Thanks again go out to all sitting members of the Dekalb School board!)

Cerebration said...

I found an important item on DunwoodyMom's blog -

The Latin American Association invites you to donate school supplies to our Back-to-School event where kids from LAA programs and Woodward Elementary School will get school supplies…for free!

Donate school supplies for a three hour “shopping” spree for kidsin need! We will be offering everything from book-bags to pencils and many more items for grades K-5!

DROP OFF SUPPLIES AT: Latin American Association, 2750 Buford Highway, Atlanta GA 30324 (M-F, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

DEADLINE FOR SUPPLIES: August 1, 2010

PURPOSE: Empower kids with the supplies they need to achieve academic success. Children will attend our Back-to-School “Shopping” Event on Aug. 7, 2010.

For further details or questions contact: Eliezer Velez. 404-638-1810.
evelez@thelaa.org


For a list of items needed, click here