Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wednesday's ELPC meeting notes

Wednesday, Emory Lavista Parent Council hosted their monthly meeting. The speaker was Ramona Tyson, our interim superintendent who gave the annual "State of the System" address. Below is a compilation of notes taken by two of our regular bloggers, Sagamore7 and fedupindcss.

There was a large crowd that filled entire cafeteria. Board members in attendance were McChesney, Redovian and Speaks (only Redovian spoke, briefly, towards the end). Huge crowd from CO, including Marcus Turk, Beasley, and the new auditor. Mary Margaret Oliver and Fran Millar was there as well, and Scott Holcomb (who will replace Kevin Levitas) and Nancy Jester.

Marshall said the next ELPC in October will be at Briarlake and will cover the process of redistricting (not what will actually be done, but how the process works).

Tyson was very professional, very well spoken, but made it clear that she is in crisis management mode and not happy about her lot in life. Key points on this:
  • The first 5 ½ months seems to her as it has been 5 ½ years.
  • She was naive about crisis management. She didn’t expect how much of her time it would consume.
  • She wants to be held accountable to the best of her ability.
  • She will always give the facts when asked and will not EVER hide the truth.
  • Against the wishes of her staff, she answers her own email.

Here is how the talk (one hour) broke down:

--Movement of data center: Before she got into the State of the System address, she wanted to address a situation that she has had to deal with this week. MIS Department move and the $5,000,000 costs.

Ms. Tyson stated that everyone was getting in an uproar over the project. What was published on the website was the wrong cost analysis. They aren’t going to spend all that money on renovating the building; they just need to move the data servers to a secure environment. [When available, we will publish the new, improved, correct projected line item estimate for the move.]

When the decision was made to move buildings A&B to Mtn. Industrial (which was purchased under SPLOST II), there was no money to do anything until SPLOST III and Mtn. Industrial sat empty for years. Tyson said when the renovation started, she told "people" that they also needed to make sure the data center was included in that move, but no one listened to her and so it was not included in the budget. The data center was thus left behind in the now abandoned A&B, and it holds all personnel records, student records, vendor payment info, and the entire telecom system for DCSS (she added that all DCSS phones from every school connect back to the data center, including 911 calls, so they all have to route through there!). Additionally, the entire fiber optic network for DCSS runs out of there (she was very proud that DCSS owns it, and does not lease it like other systems; she said for once "we have something Gwinnett wants"). So, if the Data center falls apart, the whole system crumbles, and this is a risk if it is left in a decommissioned building.

Tyson said there are no extras, that all they are doing in paying for moving the engineering of it all to Mtn. Ind. The plan that was out there and got to the blog was a "cadillac plan" that the board had put together. There will be no data center "wish list" items [editorial: why did they even propose one as a board request for funds?]. The money for it will not come out of the $40 million surplus, but out of 'contingency' [editorial: how is that not SPLOST money?], and they hope the sale of A&B will pay for it all (A&B are valued at $7.3 million, but don't expect to get that). [Note: previously, we reported that Marcus Turk informed us that the sale of buildings goes into the regular capital funds (not SPLOST construction funds) and can roll into general operations if needed.  So, using the proceeds from the sale to cover the cost is not possible, according to Turk.]

--SACS report: a huge staff worked on it 24/7 for 45 days, said she will not hide the truth, and will give all the facts. SACS said they will respond in 30 days, which she said will be around 10/10/10 [interesting date], and she is very anxious. Of the 243 DCSS policies and procedures that are in place, 4 of them occupied DCSS’s time and attention.

1. Ethics
2. Conflicts of Interest
3. Purchasing
4. Whistleblower

She said she read it 19 times and it went through multiple drafts. She also proudly admitted she withheld it from the AJC, because she wanted SACS to see it first. Tyson said she talked to Dr. Elgart regularly about the progress of the report [!], and gave her explanation for the quick turnaround of the posting of the 4 policy changes (whistleblower, nepotism, etc.). Her story is that normally they would give 30 days for comment, but that they wanted to get them approved and into the SACS report to show that they were making a good faith effort to move forward with revising the school policies (which have not been looked at since 2000).

--Culture of DCSS: (her term): the pattern of employee self-dealing shocked her. She couldn't talk too much about it because of hearings, privacy laws, etc., but they are making it clear what you can and cannot do if you draw a DCSS paycheck.

--Whistleblower rule: employees need to feel comfortable to talk about issues to the administration, but they also need to know that it isn't a free for all to get back at people (like your prinicpal) that you don't like.

--Superintendent search: Board voted to bid for search firm, and the bids were unsealed as she spoke. The vote will take place at the October board meeting.

--Budget: DCSS will get $18 million from the $400 million GA got for the Jobs Education Act (stimulus to cover salaries and benefits at the school level). It will come in two payments between now and the end of October. She is going to work the Turk (!) to bring relief to the schools. Possibilities include releasing furlough days, step increases, cost of living adjustments. The planning for FY 2012 has begun and we should expect more cuts. They built this year's cuts that they expect the state to announce mid year into their budget already, so they don't expect that they will have to do any adjustments in January.

--$40 million SPLOST III surplus: will be dedicated to school needs. We are also eligible for $58 million in school construction bonds to go with the $40 million, and the board will decide on whether to accept it. The Board will sit with the capital improvements people (unclear who they are) in county to decide who to spend it. The $58 million in QSCAB bonds that the federal government will issue to us at very low interest rates. (We have no money to pay them back currently.)

--Outsourcing: Turk (him again!) is working with Tyson to look at how to outsource CO duties (examples included maintenance, operations, transportation, food services). There are 3 or 4 firms in GA who do this, and they are researching them. One issue is that they know that people (who? Board member relatives?) are worried that this will displace a number of DCSS employees, but the word is that many of them get hired back by the outsourcer (after they pass a drug test and if they are found to be competent).

--Facilities & Operations: DCSS wants “Shared Leadership” in the months of September and October. “Shared Leadership is asking the community about redistricting and engaging us in solving the challenges about consolidation.” [Sounds like Jeff Dickerson might have helped write that one.]

In November DCSS will present to the BOE their “Shared” recommendations. That is when the BOE goes back to the community and presents the recommendations to the public and asks for further recommendations to go back to DCSS.

Then in February 2011, DCSS will make suggestions for redistricting and consolidation.

They are going to hire Dr. Humbolt and his company, who recently assisted St. Louis Missouri in redistricting and consolidation, to help in this process. [I haven’t googled him yet.] Along with Dr. Humbolt’s recommendations, DCSS will present their plan along with a STRONG marketing and PR plan. [I guess this is where Jeff Dickerson gets paid again.]

I don’t know if Dr. Humbolt’s company does this also, but Dr. Tyson stated that DCSS is going to hire a 3rd party company to analyze every school in the system. They will analyze the following for recommendations for SPLOST IV.
  • The existing school structure and buildings for age and future sustainability.
  • Buildings and Operations.
This will be part of DCSS’s “Local Facilities 2013-2017 plan.” Future renovations are based on a “Needs for proper learning environment basis.”

--2020 master facilities plan: it is now on the website. Another third party company will come in to look at every school to see needs from an engineering POV, and this will be the road map for (wait for it...) SPLOST IV!! [Sounds like they are creating a "wish list" for various constituencies to make them think they will get something].

--Remaining focus for her tenure: the new Super will need 3-5 years to fix all this. What she wants to focus on is the following:
  • Crisis management
  • New culture of DCSS, giving more power back to principals.
  • School consolidation/redistricting (she said it will happen, and she won't wait to do it).
  • Comprehensive policy revisions.
  • Budget
  • Teacher support and effectiveness
She stated that she wants to create a sense of “Principal Empowerment”. The majority of all principals have 5 or less years experience at that level.

At this point she introduced Gary Babst, the new internal auditor, and touted his experience with GM.

[I will add, in an entire hour of talking, she did not once mention academics, curriculum, or how to improve student achievement.]

===

Here is the Q&A:

Faye Andresen did not ask a question, but instead spoke to the importance of getting county business and political leaders together to counter a possible negative SACS report. She pointed out that we do not want to become another Clayton County, and we do not want our high school students to suffer the consequences.

A woman who identified herself as an Oak Grove/HMS parent said that parents want to know what they can do to help DCSS with their facility issues. Tyson responded that she will have DCSS work with every principal to set up meetings at the schools to present and discuss facilities issues (this sounds a lot like the old Need Assessment committees).

A high school student was there; it was difficult to hear him, but he had a specific personal question, and then he asked about why the Chamblee AYP transfers were put in the annex instead of at Chamblee proper. He also asked why the schools that were heavily renovated or built new did not make AYP, while the schools that made AYP are old and unrenovated (ah, the guilelessness of youth). On the latter, Tyson said that there is no correlation, that schools were renovated or built based solely on safety issues (!), and it was just ironic that it worked out the way it did. There is, she said, no relationship between physical plant and AYP. As to the Chamblee Annex issue, when she found out that over 200 students had chosen it as their first choice, she looked at the logistics and decided that it would be unsafe for the students. While the fire marshal approved the extra students, she said that it would be too difficult and unsafe to do class changes, get to lunch, and get to lockers with the extra bodies. She took full, personal responsibility for making this decision.

Shayna Steinfeld asked her to unbury the 2002 salary audit done by Dr. Brown's administration. It had been paid for but was never used. Tyson said she plans to look hard at CO salaries, and there will need to be a bridge between the '02 audit and a newer audit. She admitted the audit got buried, and said one should have been done every five years (meaning there should have been one in 2007).

Finally, someone asked her to please speak about academics, and how she intends to address student achievement. Tyson passed this question off to Morcease Beasley, head of instruction. He said there is a 7 step process on teaching and engaging. However, since it was not exactly clear what they were you will unfortunately not read about them here. The word "rigor" was used, though. Beasley said he would work with principals to ensure that teachers are ready to move students to "higher order" thinking skills in preparation for the coming national standards.

The last question was about why school starts to early in August, given that we are in financial straits and must spend a lot of money on A/C, expensive August gas, etc. Tyson said that this is an "age old" problem [editorial comment: an age in this case is about 10 years]. Savannah tried to do start after Labor Day for two years, and had to throw in the towel because the state would give no latitude in its testing window to accommodate them. So the metro calendars are held hostage to state testing windows, and it is up to the state (DOE? Legislature?) to change this.

Tyson wrapped up by admitting that communication between DCSS and parents is not good, and she said that once they get that fixed it will help with parent involvement. She admitted that they had offered the PR job to some people who turned it down because the salary was too low, so they are pursuing outsourcing that, instead.

79 comments:

Anonymous said...

PROGRAM ALERT!
Tonight at 9pm and Midnight
on Fox Business News
The show is STOSSEL

Michele Rhee, DC Schools Super will be on to discuss schools.

Also, they will be discussing a school in California where the principal fired the bad teachers and the principal improved the test scores and learning for students without spending incredible amounts of cash! Something our DCSS could learn!

Set your DVR's! TONIGHT-Thursday at 9pm and Midnight

Anonymous said...

"Outsourcing: Turk (him again!) is working with Tyson to look at how to outsource CO duties (examples included maintenance, operations, transportation, food services)."

How about outsourcing parts of the Professional Learning department and MIS, the technology department notorious for its poor customer service? These are high salary departments (way more than teachers) that employ Central Office and BOE family and friends.

It seems as if Ms. Tyson is not interested in cutting any non-teaching departments that have political connections.

Anonymous said...

"She (Tyson) was naive about crisis management. She didn’t expect how much of her time it would consume."

She's not had to talk to parents or be accountable since the 1980's. It's understandable that she's upset.

Anonymous said...

"Additionally, the entire fiber optic network for DCSS runs out of there (she was very proud that DCSS owns it, and does not lease it like other systems; she said for once "we have something Gwinnett wants")'

Most of SPLOST II technology dollars went for this fiber optics system which Tony Hunter sold to DCSS (he was the Account exec for the company that sold it to DCSS).

That's exactly how DCSS got so far behind in technology. We had a great big network that we paid tens of millions for and had no money to hang anything (i.e. computers for students) off of it. Since DCSS is run by network specialists, this was just fine with them.

Anonymous said...

"I will add, in an entire hour of talking, she did not once mention academics, curriculum, or how to improve student achievement.'

Ms. Tyson has 2 years in the educational realm over 20 years ago so this would not be an area she's comfortable talking about. She really should have had someone talk about academics, curriculum and improving student achievement since that is the ONLY thing parents care about. However, I don't think there is anyone on her staff that has enough experience to address that (am I wrong? Please tell me who has years of solid classroom experience on her staff). Dr. Beasley, the Deputy Superintendent of Instruction, has 3 1/2 years of teaching experience in the mid-90s. Except for Dr. Beasley, Ms. Tyson inherited Dr. Lewis's Cabinet so I understand why she avoided this topic.

Anonymous said...

So, regarding the whistleblower policy ... if a person is NOT trying to hurt their principal because they don't like him/her, to whom does the person go to do the whistleblowing?

To whom does the person go to share some unbelievable shenanigans that happened right under their very noses, most of which the "safe people to talk to" knew about and chose to look the other way and/or sabotage the investigation?

With this new policy in place, WHO IS THE PERSON who listens and acts upon all the cover ups, the set ups, and the ruined reputations and job losses?

No doubt this person who is unbiased and ready to act upon the information given him/her, will have a line of people waiting to share information ...

Cerebration said...

Isn't that Ron Ramsey's job? Doesn't Ron Ramsey get paid to investigate internal affairs? How did so much corruption slip by Ron Ramsey?

Anonymous said...

It is crtical that each building is assessed by professionals before any kind of plan to close/consolidate/renovate/tear down is made.

Pope had principals do it and that turned out to be a joke.

Anonymous said...

I can't find anything about Humbolt. I wonder if the name could be spelled wrong.

Cerebration said...

On a personal note: I wonder if Tyson had any clue that she was absolutely surrounded by those "uninformed" bloggers. If I provided her and the board a list of who gives us information, they would be shocked.

Someone should have run through the building yelling, "the bloggers are here! the bloggers are here!"

We are everywhere... I challenge the school system to fight fire with fire. Start your own blog. Answer the people's questions one by one. With details and with truth. Do not publicly mock us as "not knowing what we're talking about". We can ONLY know what we are able to dig up. Very little information is forth-coming from the system. Very little is transparent. You have a lot of work to do to reach this goal of mending trust with the people.

An online check register would be a very good start. A truthful, monitored, lively blog would be a show-stopper.

Anonymous said...

At first, Cere, I wondered if you were going to ask if Ms. Tyson knew how untrustworthy those surrounding her are?

Her job is being made 100 times harder because she can't/won't clean house.

Cerebration said...

Well... there's that too!

Anonymous said...

Anon. 8:49 YOU'RE EXACTLY RIGHT!

How about the education of OUR children. Besides hiring another insider, Dr. B, I want to know if the Central Office is concerned about the falling scores and if the TEACHERS, who are the lifeblood of our system, will be taken care of? Morale is at it's lowest in years, even more since Dr. B was hired as INTERIM!

Geez, the most important aspect of DCSS. The mission of DCSS and it's not discussed! Hey we got something that Gwinnett doesn't have! What? Now we're in a peeing match with the largest system in the state?

Bricks and mortar are important, since our schools are in such shoddy shape, no thanks to the great unwashed oops washed(shower in offices) at the Central Office. However, what about the teachers? What's being done to retain the great ones and what's being done to weed through the bad ones and I don't mean to send the bad ones to the Central Office either.

I honestly think these folks in the upper leadership think that they are doing great work and will retain their jobs once the new Super arrives. It's time for these folks to move on to another system, if they can get work.

EPIC FAIL! When it comes to the teaching of OUR kids. To them it's all about the money$$$$$
As long as their own fiefdoms get their share, they might actually save some to trickle down to the classrooms.

Color me cynical or skeptical but when you don't speak about the teaching, when that is MISSION #1, you fail.

BY THE WAY! GREAT SYNOPSIS OF MEETING, I PLAN TO BE AT OCTOBER'S. Thanks for taking the time to put it together.

Anonymous said...

Nothing Dr. Halford ever did showed me he was really concerned about academic achievement. I think Johnny Brown cared but was so ambitious that it didn't matter whether his plans would work or not. Algebra I in 8th grade for everyone. I think not!

And Lewis, well he was clearly not particularly invested in true school reform for the schools and students who needed it the most. In the there were so many things that he could of done and that he didn't.

I truly hope that the number 1 qualification for the new Super is someone with a proven track record of improving student achievement.

Anonymous said...

Beasley, Pringle, Berry, etc. -- all assistant directors, interims, directors -- THEY ARE NOT NEEDED!!!! THEY DO NOTHING TO IMPROVE EDUCATION. In fact. they harm students more than they help. Gut the administration. Reduce it to a bare bones operation and put the power back in the school buildings. This would be a start. However, these people will not fire themselves and their buds, as Tyson has made abundantly clear.

Anonymous said...

That should say, In the era when there were so many things that he could of done and that he didn't.

Anonymous said...

I am not surprised that no one could summarize Beasley's rambling comments from ELPC, since despite spewing words for 10 minutes, I don't think the guy actually said anything substantive. Yes, he threw in works like "robust" and other jargon, but he was completely incoherents. Throw him out - NOW!

Anonymous said...

I appreciate and applaud Ms. Tyson and what she had done and is doing to get Dekalb County through this crisis. I did watch John Stossel tonight and was very, very impressed with Michelle Rhee and what she has done in Washington, D.C. She set standards and measured the results - very specifically!! Her counterpart from New York City was no match for her results-oriented approach.

Dekalb County needs change - dramatic change. First, the voters need to step up in November and clean out five seats on the School Board. Second, I encourage that we strongly consider and seek Michelle Rhee to be our next School Superintendent. She has a strong and positive reputation that would tremendously benefit our students. She cut the Washington, D.C. bureaucracy by over 50% and put that money in the schools. She would clean up and clean out our schools, restore Dekalb's once-upon-a-time greatness, and give our students opportunities that are now a dream!

Anonymous said...

--$40 million SPLOST III surplus: will be dedicated to school needs. We are also eligible for $58 million in school construction bonds to go with the $40 million, and the board will decide on whether to accept it. The Board will sit with the capital improvements people (unclear who they are) in county to decide who to spend it. The $58 million in QSCAB bonds that the federal government will issue to us at very low interest rates. (We have no money to pay them back currently.)


Great, Zepora "I'm Gonna to Slug Ya" Roberts and Sarah "I Scream Because I Can" Copelin-Wood get to decide where the $40 mil SPLOST surplus and $58 mil in bonds are going to be spent.

Anonymous said...

"She admitted the audit got buried, and said one should have been done every five years "

So where is the audit. It didn't just disappear. It had to be electronic and hard copy. Ms. Robers and Ms. Copelin-Wood were there for the presentation that said 2600 non-teaching employees were being overpaid close to $15,000,000 annually. Didn't they receive a copy? This audit was paid for with taxpayer dollars. Who buried it? Lewis couldn't have buried it by himself.

Anonymous said...

Ramona Tyson's explanation of the WBBC does not ring truthful. She won't admit it but it's clear she will go out of her way for MIS, as she was its former head, she bought the "data pipes" from Tony Hunter and then hired him to replace her, and she will never admit that MIS provides miserable customer service.

Everything the Central Office and Tyson do is for the Central Office first.

P.S. Morcease Beasleywas a compete and utter embarassment tonight. It's scary that he is the "Chief Learning Officer" for our children, and the 26th largest school system in America. So far out of his competence level.

Anonymous said...

Someone please ask directly for this audit, and keep asking until we, the taxpayers, get it. This would be a first request that we could ask of Gary Babst.

We keep talking about it. Someone needs to be made to produce it. They (the ones who have something to hide) are hoping all this blowing smoke we are doing will eventually die down. They are hoping ... and probably doing a bit of praying at this point.

Anonymous said...

Did Beasley go to an education school? What seven step process does he follow? Or did he say or mean nine?

Seriously. Every theory I've seen and learned about (I have an M.Ed) has its detractors and critics. Education doesn't happen through a process of steps - not in high school. Kids see through the formula and they get bored.

There's a popular theory with NINE "events" of instruction...and that I know I have seen at DeKalb. (Event #2: inform learners of objectives - DeKalb translation: write your objective on the board). Its bunk, some of it, because not every lesson will need every even, for example: "Stimulate recall of prior learning". I taught science, and I found that sometimes there really wasn't any connection to something they learned before. Analogies help, images and video are better, there are connections that can be made, but sometimes you are breaking such new ground that to stretch it and bring in prior knowledge actually confuses them more.

Theory is useful as a guide, that's all. It goes out the window when you teach high school science, and the theory is based on the psychology of kids in Kindergarten, or in the military (as the theory above was). And no theory in the world exists to engage a pregnant child who slept in a car the night before, and just came back to school after being suspended for ten days for fighting (yes, that was one of my most interesting challenges).

For a look at the theory: http://www.e-learningguru.com/articles/art3_3.htm

and some critics:
http://donaldclarkplanb.blogspot.com/2006/09/gagnes-nine-dull-commandments.html

http://etrainingtrenches.blogspot.com/2006/09/critics-of-gagnes.html

Anonymous said...

Three notes:

Michelle Rhee, great leader and awesome communicator. Do we have ONE of those at DCSS? You should watch the Stossel show on FBN.

Tyson, lacks credibility and trust. She is the one who had no idea for 6 months that one of her hires in MIS, Jamal Edwards, was hiding out at a school and did not report to his new job, after giving him a $15K raise and a promotion. Parents of that school exposed him to Clew and Asst. Super. Debbie Loeb. At that time Ms. Loeb called Ms. Tyson on a speakerphone, in front of the parents, I was one of them. Ms. Tyson said, "she had no idea of his whereabouts." My question was, who has been approving his pay?

WHERE IS THE AUDIT! IT MIGHT BE 3 OR 4 YEARS OLD, HOWEVER WE THE TAXPAYERS PAID FOR IT. WE DESERVE TO SEE IT! WHY DID CLEW HIDE IT FROM THE PEOPLE WHO PAID FOR IT?

Anonymous said...

RE: The compensation audit.

I was very involved back then and to my great frustration my board member told me while the audit showed some some positions that were overpaid, these were mostly positions that are in very high demand like speech therapists. and DCSS couldn't reduce their pay scale because school systems already faced a shortage.

My board member claimed that the audit showed that there were actually central office employees that were underpaid. This board member was not an insider nor a yes person.

Finally, I contend, as I did when the audit was completed, that in DCSS a large part of our compensation problem related to the central office is the titles that people have. Dr. Halford and Dr. Lewis both promoted due to the passage of time rather than a change in real job duties.

So, someone may be doing the exact same administrative type job as 12 years ago but they have had 4 changes in title.

Anonymous said...

Please put the money into the schools now. You may not know this but schools are losing some very strong staff members. We are on the front lines. There is more and more being required of everyone in the school.
I am a teacher. I love teaching. I have a family. I cannot keep take taking the cuts. My principal, custodian, the para educators in our building , the clerical staff all work very hard.
You may not know this but all parents and all students are not always kind and supportive, even on the north end of the DCSS.
Also, there are facets about Dr. B's plan that are good. We all need more accountability.
I do not feel that all services should be out sourced. I do feel that we need someone running Plant Services that knows the area. Last prinicpals got a letter about how hot rooms should be and not to call Plant Services unless the room was a certain temperature. We did not get a lot of support from our Region Superintendent. Let me quickly say that our new person is great. Our region was adjusted slighty and we really like the new man in charge of it. He is so much more helpful than the one we had before.
I read recently that principals should blamed for repairs not being made to their building. I knew immediately that that was a person that did not work in a school. Principals call, do e-mails, beg and put in work orders. We have a great custodian crew. But, they cannot repair the air. They cannot make the rain stop coming in the building.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 6:23

If your BOE Rep told you those comments, then why is DCSS leadership hiding the audit. Seems to me there should me nothing to worry about.

SHOW US THE AUDIT! SHOW US THE MONEY!

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

I have no idea why they are hiding the audit, especially since salaries are now published on the internet.

I think in 2002, the perception was that even though salaries were public information, they should still be kept secret.

Has anyone tried a freedom of information act for the audit?

If you were denied, why?

Anonymous said...

"I have no idea why they are hiding the audit, especially since salaries are now published on the internet."

The audit compared the job functions of each employee to an employee in the open markets who was performing the same job functions. Title are fairly meaningless except to place someone on a higher pay scale. When doing comparisons, you need to look at the job functions performed. The public cannot do this with job titles and salary information. This audit was very comprehensive. It also found there were people performing the same job functions but they had different titles so they were being paid differently.

The public paid for this audit and deserves to see it. If it is an innocuous as they say, then there should be no problem.

Anonymous said...

I think someone should contact the people who did the audit to see if they would give us a copy. I am sure they still have it.

Anonymous said...

whistleblower policy implies that Mr. Babst, the internal auditor, will handle whistle blowing which is aimed at ilegal behavior. HR will handle other grievances which as such won't rise to whistle blowing.

Anonymous said...

Dr Brown commissioned the audit. He was dismissed (for $450,000)by the
micro-managing BOE. Apparently he was getting too close to the truth and some BOE members got nervous.

CLew then came in. He addressed the audit by re-designating titles (with raises)so that no real comparison could be made.

As to comparison with salaries in the private sector, you can do that on USA Today by finding private sector pay for some specific job titles. I wonder what such a comparison would show with other local school systems such as Cobb, Gwinett, etc. ?

If the audit is directed to private sector salary comparison, it probably would come out clean since, according to many recent publications, public service employees are paid 40% (forty per cent) more than private sector counterparts.

But we taxpayers all should feel good that our dedicated DCSS employees will have good pensions even though we may have to scrimp a bit for our own families to pay for them.

Pension Formula
2% for each year of service
X average of two years highest salary

So, for example, CLew should be getting

33 (years) x.02 =.66 x $250,000 (may be off a bit on this) =$165,000 per year. plus (full?) medical. plus COLAs (not sure on this)

Anonymous said...

The December 5, 2005 DCSS BOE minutes are incorrect:
"Superintendent’s Report
1. Compensation/Classification Study
Dr. Lewis reported on the Compensation/Classification Study that was commissioned by the Board in 2002."

It was actually commissioned at the September 8, 2003 BOE meeting (see BOE September 8, 2003 minutes on the DCSS BOE website).

The audit was performed in 2004 and the summary was presented to the BOE by the independent auditor Jim Landry of Ernst and Young at a BOE April 1, 2004 BOE meeting. At that time, Mr. Landry said the audit showed that over 2,500 non-teaching personnel (35% of all non-teaching personnel) were overpaid at a cost to DeKalb taxpayers of around $15,000,000 annually. Less than 300 non-teaching employees were underpaid to the tune of around $300,000. Teachers were not being overpaid. They were on par with the metro area and underpaid compared to some metro systems.

By the time Dr. Lewis addressed this audit at the December 5, 2005 BOE meeting, he disputed the savings as being around $2,000,000 a year. He said no one would lose salary with regards to this study.

The December 5, BOE minute are incorrect:
"Superintendent’s Report
1. Compensation/Classification Study
Dr. Lewis reported on the Compensation/Classification Study that was commissioned by the Board in 2002."

Dr. Lewis did not get the facts straight about when this study was commissioned.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 6:23 am

"I was very involved back then and to my great frustration my board member told me while the audit showed some some positions that were overpaid, these were mostly positions that are in very high demand like speech therapists. and DCSS couldn't reduce their pay scale because school systems already faced a shortage.

My board member claimed that the audit showed that there were actually central office employees that were underpaid. This board member was not an insider nor a yes person."


Even though Dr. Lewis would not use this study to rightsize non-teaching salaries, he used the findings of the audit to INCREASE non-teaching salaries.

Please note that Ms. Zepora Roberts' daughter, a non-teaching employee, got a pay increase on the basis of the audit:

BOE minutes from WORK SESSION/BUSINESS MEETING
OF THE DEKALB COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION
January 9, 2006


"Dr. Lewis recommended a change in salary based on verified years of experience for Chanda White, a relative of a board member, in her current position as a Title I Parent Facilitator.
In discussion that followed, Dr. Lewis stated that Ms. White is one of nine people in this category requiring a salary adjustment based on verified years of experience as identified in the Compensation Classification Study.

Ms. Grant made a motion to approve the recommendation, and Ms. Andrews seconded. The motion passed by a vote of 8/0/1, with Ms. Anderson-Littlejohn, Ms. Andrews, Ms. Copelin-Wood, Mrs. Edwards, Mr. Franzoni, Ms. Grant, Ms. Joyner, and Ms. Manning-Moon voting affirmatively, and Ms. Roberts abstaining."

Anonymous said...

Well, at least she abstained.

Cerebration said...

What I've found on the subject of the audit:

Teachers and other certificated personnel were excluded because they fall under state law regarding pay. This is important because many central office personnel who came from a school (former princiapls, teachers) are certificated and can maintain that certificate. They don't automatically fall off of the state teaching schedule when they go to central office. The state pay scale is based on degree and years of experience and I'm not sure if that experience is classroom or in a job with a school system.

Anonymous said...

I hope the superintendent they hire does not use pointless buzzwords. I am so tired of rigor and the rest. As for stakeholder, isn't that someone who is about to kill a vampire? Speak English please.

Anonymous said...

Someone should have run through the building yelling, "the bloggers are here! the bloggers are here!"

Cute. :-)

Fun aside, I really wonder if some schools with principals and APs who are in over their heads would fall apart if we lost some of those interim people at the top. A school principal and AP should be able to manage a team of teachers and get good instructional results without all these directors, etc. We may need to do some work improving building leadership before we get rid of these people. Not saying I like the leadership. We could use some improvements there, but they may be doing more for us than we realize. This has to be fixed in measured steps. It's going to take a highly qualified superintendent to do this.

Cerebration said...

And an AJC article written at the time:

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
April 2, 2004
Section: Metro News
Edition: Home; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Page: D3

Study: DeKalb schools overpay workers

JEN SANSBURY
Staff

The DeKalb County School System overpays more than 2,500 nonteaching employees to the tune of $14.8 million, but officials said the district may not be able to address the issue in time to affect next school year's budget.

Ernst & Young consultant Jim Landry told school board members Thursday that some positions are "overvalued" and carry "inflated titles." He did not cite specific examples and took care to say the firm's findings are not intended to criticize the individuals in those jobs.

Landry emphasized that the figures are not final, but characterized the analysis as an "alarming" starting point.
The firm is conducting a comprehensive salary study and presented its analysis on the heels of a two-hour budget work session that focused on next year's pay raises.

About 35 percent of 7,355 full-time employees who are not in the classrooms appear to be paid above the maximum recommended pay range for their jobs. Only 233 employees are paid below appropriate pay ranges, which would cost about $325,000 to fix, he said.

Board Vice Chairwoman Bebe Joyner said the nearly $15 million figure is "kind of a shocker."

"We've been accused of having way too many people in central office and paying way too much for a long time, and it validates that," Joyner said.

However, equalizing pay will be a slow process, she said.

The 98,000-student district also employs about 7,000 teachers. Landry said DeKalb's teacher pay scale is lower than some other metro Atlanta systems, but higher than the national market. It is not likely to need much adjustment, he said.

When a new structure is adopted, the district's 1,680 job titles will be cut in half, said Reanee Ivey, DeKalb's assistant director for affirmative development.

Ernst & Young has been comparing job descriptions and actual duties based on questionnaires completed by thousands of employees.

"There have been elevations of people into jobs that really the overall market [indicates] what you should be paying is considerably less" than they are currently earning.

Employees will be able to appeal their new job classifications.

Board member Chip Franzoni, who chairs the budget committee, asked whether there would be recommendations the board could adopt before it sets next year's property tax rate in June.

Superintendent Johnny Brown said that had been an "ambitious goal" of the district, but appeared unlikely. "I just think it would be too risky," he said.

Brown has proposed a $727.2 million spending plan for 2004-2005. It is 3.5 percent higher than the current $702.5 million budget, but would not require a tax increase because rising property values will bring in more revenue.

Teachers would get 2 percent cost-of-living raises and regular step increases in January, when state funding for raises is expected to come. State lawmakers have not approved an education budget yet. All other DeKalb employees, except the superintendent, would get a one-time 2 percent salary stipend in January.

The administration is proposing an early retirement incentive for up to 178 longtime employees in district-level jobs that would not have to be filled. About 140 have expressed interest, which could save the district $1 million to $3 million.

Anonymous said...

I do remember minutes being rewritten and also hidden from public view for months, until parents filed a FOIA! I was involved with that one and though we were unable to get the audit we got a lot of minutes that had been hidden from view and deleted from the website. I was there and copied hundreds of pages of documents. It was a job. In the long run we found a lot out about the Central Office and how a lot of people there were not qualified for their positions.

The parents exposed a lot of this to media but they sat on it and even a old AJC writer who Clew had wrapped around his fingers were calling them names in articles and basically exposed the names of the parents to the administration.

I'm glad there is a different person on the DCSS beat now! Megan Mateucci is doing a much better job than Christina Torres had.

Anonymous said...

so how many of those interested in "early retirement" then, actually retired? (Just like last year or so...). How many on the "overpaid" list on the audit belong to New Birth?

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 6:0 pm

" I do remember minutes being rewritten and also hidden from public view for months, until parents filed a FOIA! I was involved with that one and though we were unable to get the audit we got a lot of minutes that had been hidden from view and deleted from the website."

The April 1, 2004 meeting cited by the AJC during which Jim Landry presented the audit summary does not have any minutes - nor is it even listed on the DCSS BOE website.

Anonymous said...

Most people who retired last year were teachers. There were people in the administration end who were rifed, but no friends and family members.

The over paid aren't going to leave unless forced out. They make way too much for so little. Their job is a gold mine.

Anonymous said...

"Most people who retired last year were teachers. There were people in the administration end who were rifed, but no friends and family members."

There was a "buyout" for personnel with 30 years of experience OUTSIDE the schoolhouse to retire last year. They had to take the "buyout" by January 1, 2009. It was a considerable amount of money (maybe 25% of their yearly salary) for Central Office employees and some took it. Teachers were not included in the "buyout" for retirement.

Anonymous said...

Those April 1st minutes are hidden. Those were the only ones we could not find. That's why it's imperative that we get this Gary Babst? guy and get him to make that audit public as well as those minutes. I'm sure they have been edited by now. Clew was famous for amending minutes and hiding minutes.

Why did CLew hide it?

What's in it that's so secret, that the people who paid for it can't see it?

There has to be a law that is against hiding such public documents.

Florida has a very powerful sunshine law, it's time we get our legislators to pass one here.

Demand your legislators to ask for the audit!

Demand SACS to get DCSS to reveal it.

Why did Clew hide the minutes and the audit?

The taxpayers want to know, we deserve to know!

Folks, we must change our leadership NOW! Not little by little, fire them all and start over! This is getting old, what are they trying to hide?

Julie said...

I can't believe how unprofessional the tone of this meeting is, given your report. No one in the "real" business world would last a day conducting an important meeting using comments like "The first 5 ½ months seems to her as it has been 5 ½ years" "for once we have something Gwinnett wants" and "work the Turk." I am so tired of this sloppy school system and its self-aggrandizing and ridiculous self-centered jargon. The administrators' unprofessional attitudes towards the only thing that matters, the actual education of our kids, is shameful. Explain to me why anyone with three and a half years experience in the classroom is employed as the Deputy Superintendent of Instruction. And what's with all the doctors? Where are these people getting PhD's, honestly?

I am so sickened with this system I think I am going to pull my children out. You can only fight for so long before you realize nothing will every change. A new superintendent will step into place and everything will go on just as before. Sad but true.

Anonymous said...

I watched that John Stossel program with Michele Rhee again tonight. I then flipped to Channel 24 to catch the latest meeting of the Dekalb County School Board - it was pathetic! You don't have to look much further than Zepora Roberts and Sara Copelin-Wood to understand why our school system is under siege by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. I'll be kind and simply say that neither Zepora or Sara should be anywhere near a meeting of any school board. There is very little to salvage this School Board or it administration. It is just unbelievable how far our school system has regressed. I fully expect that the SACS report on October 10, 2010, will launch a full-scale investigation and will further express its frustration, disappointment, and concerns with our management and leadership. I just hope that we can escape with probation.

Regardless of whether you live in North, Central, or South Dekalb, the very future of our children is at stake. I strongly urge you, beg you, plead with you, to go to the polls and vote the five School Board incumbents up for re-election out!! Four more years of this School Board will destroy the future of our children, destroy our property values, and make Dekalb County a vast waste land.

Anonymous said...

I am certain that a new BoE can not alone fix this mess. Rather, the type of superintendent we hire and then, as parents, community members and taxpayers support is what will determine the future of DCSS.

DeKalb is a very diverse system and the problems/challenges facing a Gresham Park are far different and more difficult than the challenges facing an Oak Grove.

Finding a superintendent who can juggle this very difficult dynamic is the key. I can remember towards the end of Dr. Halford's career, when he must have developed a conscious, and he decided that there were high schools that didn't have enough AP courses. Just setting the goal, semt parents at several N. DeKalb schools into a frenzy. They were so worried that this would mean less for them.

Same thing with Dr. Brown and the uniforms. Brown was encouraged to implement the uniforms by the board but when the outcry ensued, several key board members withdrew their support.

I am not a fan of one size fits all, but this is a large public school system and sometimes the policies needed for the benefit of most won't be needed at your child's school.

In DeKalb, for so long, the parents who scream the most either get what they want/need for their schools. Because many of us often feel like we are fighting for mere crumbs, while the Queen eats cake, it is hard to change that habit. However, it is exactly what needs to happen.

We need a new, strong superintendent who brings in a top notch staff and then parents need to sit down and give them a chance to succeed.

Chained to DCSS said...

Re: Reverend Dr. Beasley. Every email flash on First Class seems to come through Dr. Beasley. He may not have written them all, thank God, but they have come through him.

He seems to exercise frightening power at the Taj.

He may be booking for a power struggle with Bishop Eddie, the other chaplain of DCSS.

In fact he may soon dub himself the Right Reverend Bishop Interim Superintendent of Teaching & Learning Dr. Morcease J. Beasley.

BTW, the last time I looked he dropped "Deputy" from his job title. Now he's the Superintendent of Teaching & Learning.

I suppress the gag reflex every time I see the phrase "Teaching & Learning" now.

Ego, bombast, greed, secrecy, church membership,and to whom you're related--the top "core qualities" of leadership in DCSS!

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:47
Good points, however I was part of a group of parents that screamed loudly using facts! We were shunned by Clew's cabinet and CLew convinced the AJC to write an article that called us names. So it's not always how loud you scream.

I gave Clew two years to get our system back on track. All he did was, hide an audit that showed Palace personnel were overpaid and under-qualified, he continued down the road of promoting BOE relatives and giving them big raises, implemented costly programs and could not provide any return on investment except for more failing schools, and he did nothing to solve the redistricting and consolidation problems. If he did anything, he divided the citizens of the county more, instead of bringing them together.

I'm tired of being branded a racist by BOE Reps, just because I want the kids, from ALL parts of the county to have a safe building to learn in and to find/retain the best teachers.

I'll sit back and give our NEW DCSS leadership a chance as soon as the current leadership is gone. They talk a great game, through powerpoint presentations and using words like 'rigor' or 'robust'. I want to see real progress, like more schools making AYP, more schools providing a good education for our kids. I certainly DO NOT want to see more of the same, which is what we're getting now.

Folks, November 2nd will determine the direction we take as a whole system. We have 2 choices, will it be more of the same or new leadership and a better education for our kids. Sounds simple to me. Vote out incumbents, they are the reason we are languishing around the bottom of the barrel.

Cerebration said...

I hate to keep hounding this audit, but it just never quiet gets done! We have discussed and discussed doing one and it ALWAYS gets tabled! (I have to wonder if this isn't part of the reason Dr Lewis was forced out - he actually said he was going to do and audit! Really, they never had a problem with his p-card purchases before.) Who really, is so fearful of this?!!

Here's a quote from another thread, where we discussed this back in JANUARY -

Evergreen submitted a proposal of $475,000 for a Management and Performance Audit. It was estimated this could be completed in four to five months, hence delivered by Thanksgiving if begun during July. They also proposed a Compensation and Classification study for $350,000. This could start in December and would also last four to five months.

Both could be done for $775,000 if the Board used Evergreen, representing a savings of $50,000.

The Board was advised the Compensation and Classification study should be opened to other vendors for consideration before proceeding. Dr. Lewis committed to have a recommendation for a vendor by the August work session. The Board will vote on the Management and Performance Audit at the July 14th meeting.


What is the problem? This audit should be done or in the works - and it's not even up for discussion anymore.

Read all about it here --

<a
ref="http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/01/its-deja-vu-all-over-again.html>It's Deja Vu All Over Again!</a>

Anonymous said...

Dr. Tyson's actual wording was precisely;
"Gwinnett wants what we want!"
She was trying to say;
"Gwinnett wants what we have" pertaining to the MIS infrastructure.
She had several misquotes in her talk.

Another goof in her "Address" was she first spoke about all the work it took to get the SACS report to SACS on Thursday September 9th. She talked about this in the beginning of the meeting. She sent 3 employees with the entire report to "Triple check" and make sure everything is done correctly.

She can't trust one employee to do the right thing, nor cah she trust two employees or they might both chose incorrectly, she had three employees deliver the report. This took the maority of the day to get the report to SACS, but it finally was done.

Then later on in her speech, she referred to a teaching meeting at SACS she attended with another high level employee last Thursday. The meeting lasted all day from 8am until 4pm.

Last Thursday was Thursday, September 9th. The same day she sent 3 employees to deliver the SACS report.

Did she get her dates mixed up?

Did she accomplish both tasks on the same day?

Did she go to the SACS meeting and leave the report to 3 employees to deliver for her?

I'm not too concerned about her errors, but I will be VERY interested to see the SACS report on 10/10/10.

Can we get a copy of the report that DCSS sent to SACS?

I would love to see what the existing policies for "Whistleblower, Ethics, Purchasing and Conflict of Interest" are.

Have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

Cere,

What is the Libertatrian Party of Dekalb working on?
Aren't they doing an audit of DCSS currently?

Sagamore 7

Cerebration said...

1 - Ramona Tyson is not "Dr" Tyson, just regular "Ms"

2 - Yes the Libertarian Party has formed a group called "Citizens Auditing DeKalb Schools (CADS). Their blog is here -

http://www.lpdekalb.org/

3 - The document sent to SACS is available online at the DCSS website. While I give them credit for posting it at all, I give them an "F" for making it accessible. The documents are scans of the original (not pdfs created from a word-processing program) so they are enormous file sizes (50mb each section!) and they are not searchable. (I thought Tyson was a techie! If these had been pdfs created from say, a Word doc, they would be 1 MB or less each. In fact, you could probably create one file of the whole thing and it would only be a few MB or less - and it would be searchable.

Anyway, if you have a fast internet service, hard space for storage, and time to read the whole thing, (not search for topics), then go here to start downloading.

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/sacs-casi-accreditation

Anonymous said...

"She talked about this in the beginning of the meeting. She sent 3 employees with the entire report to "Triple check" and make sure everything is done correctly. "

I would be concerned if Ms. Tyson didn't have several people reviewing this report to be sure that everything was done correctly. This is a complex document and very important. Everywhere I've worked the more important the report or document, the more people look at it before it is turned in.

Maybe you want SACS to step in and help our school system dig itself out of the hole we find ourselves in. That actually might help the school system, but SACS still needs the best data we can send them.

Cerebration said...

Tyson's doing the best she can, IMO. She does have to bear in mind that she will return to her old job as head of MIS, so that certainly would effect her ability to make tough decisions regarding her peers.

She really isn't responsible for the terrible pickle we're in at the moment. In fact, I think she was under the impression that she was just going to serve for a couple of months in an emergency while the board figured out what to do. Sadly, (again, IMO) the board simply decided to stick with Tyson while they drag their feet in selecting a permanent new superintendent.

Why didn't they go out and get a corrective super? Tyson has been in this job for about 5-6 months and it looks like she will serve at least 5-6 more! We could have gone out and hired someone to come in and right-size the system, examine ALL policies and budgets (including the MIS budget) and have a completed salary and compensation audit ready and fairly well implemented to clear the slate for the new super. But no - the board stuck with Tyson. She's a very nice, sincere person, but I have to say, she's in over her head. We need someone stronger - an outsider - to do the hard work.

Cerebration said...

I encourage everyone to go back and read this post -

It's Deja Vu All Over Again!

Prepare to be shocked regarding just how long we have postponed doing the Salary and Compensation audit! Who is stonewalling this?!!

Cerebration said...

Here's a quote from the July 23, 2008 CrossRoads article --

Two studies proposed

Evergreen submitted a proposal of $475,000 for a Management and Performance Audit. It was estimated this could be completed in four to five months, hence delivered by Thanksgiving if begun during July. They also proposed a Compensation and Classification study for $350,000. This could start in December and would also last four to five months.

Both could be done for $775,000 if the Board used Evergreen, representing a savings of $50,000.

The Board was advised the Compensation and Classification study should be opened to other vendors for consideration before proceeding. Dr. Lewis committed to have a recommendation for a vendor by the August work session. The Board will vote on the Management and Performance Audit at the July 14th meeting.


Folks - that would be JULY of 2008 !!!

Cerebration said...

Here's a comment from the CrossRoads post -

« It never ends wrote on Monday, Jan 25 at 10:24 AM »

http://www.ajc.com/news/no-bid-deal-costs-281460.html

No-bid deal costs DeKalb schools

http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/01/our-superintedent-weasel.html

http://www.ajc.com/news/moody-s-role-in-282366.html

Moody's role in DeKalb construction case a twisting tale

AJC Investigation

http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/01/did-you-know-dcss-has-pretty-darn-large.html

Did you Know? DCSS has a pretty darn large police department all it's own

$11.3 million budget for 2010 breaks down like this:

2 Administrators (Directors)

5 Supervisors (1 Lieutenant, 4 Srgnt)

63 School Resource Officers

9 Detectives

4 Civilian (Secretary)

120 Campus Supervisors

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 9:51

"Gwinnett wants what we have" pertaining to the MIS infrastructure. '

Gwinnett may want a fiber optics network like DCSS's, however they aren't willing to spend the money to get it.

DCSS's fiber optics network took almost all of DCSS SPLOST II technology dollars and still consumes a considerable amount of DCSS general operations fund and SPLOST III dollars to maintain and administer.

Why do you think we have so little technology in the schools for students to use? For the money we have spent/spend on technology our schools should have been/should be "technology rich". Instead our schools are "technology poor". Walk through the schools and look for technology access and use by students - ask the teachers. In addition, the software and hardware in so many cases does not work for teachers and students (PLEASE ask the teachers in your school).

One of the main reasons our technology doesn't work is that we are network driven. The emphasis is on the network, not the little bits of hardware we can afford to hang off those big, expensive data pipes.

Regarding installations, when software gets pushed out through the network, it is considered a successful install if:
1. The icon appears on the desktop
2. The program opens
After that, teachers are expected to register help desk calls if the program doesn't work - extremely frustrating if you bring a group to the lab or you're required to use a program such as eSis.

DCSS decided to put technology dollars into the network and the top echelon of technical personnel are well paid network personnel. Parents - any of you who have worked with DCSS MIS know this is true. Have you ever spoken to anyone who wasn't a network person? DCSS spends almost $19,000,000 a year for 290 employees - almost all network certified.

The CTSS's are required to be Network certified (in Microsoft of course.). The control over the network is all that is seen as important. While the world is moving to Internet, Linux, Unix, and Apple based solutions, DCSS is strictly a Microsoft based shop with care and feeding of the network is all important. eSis ($4,000,000) and the data from Schoolnet ($7,000,000+), the new Student Data Management system, are both outgrowths of the network mentality.

Vanderlyn or Austin PTAs got tired of waiting so they went out and bought computers and Interactive Boards for their students and teachers. BTW - many of the elementary schools in North DeKalb did this.

Ms. Tyson should not be bragging on our network.

MIS and the DCSS network are like a microcosm of the whole of DCSS in that much money is spent but little trickles down to benefit the students.

Anonymous said...

Cere, It is Deja Vu all over again and again and again and again!

They expect us peons to just stand in line and bow down to the greats like Tyson, Moseley, Thompson, Turk, Mitchell-Mayfield, Ramsey, Hunter, The robust and rigor Dr. Beasley and the rest!

I say NO MAS! Time for change. November 2nd is the day. Vote out the incumbents and vote in the folks who want real change. NOT THE EDUKALB CHANGE, but real change. EDUKALB is just another bunch of money grubbing people looking for their share of OUR tax dollars.

Cere, I'm trying to wade through the SACS response... Not a great read and I'm livid they delivered it like the Healthcare Bill. Dr. Thompson should be fired for this alone. Wasn't she in charge of putting the document together? Even if she wasn't she should be fired like the rest I mentioned above. I do not have enough paper or ink to print this so I'll try and read it and weep.

I look forward to everyone's comments on the document.

Anonymous said...

I believe the documents were scanned, and so large, in an effort to deter people from looking at them. Tyson keeps saying they are going to be transparent, than put an PDF up, so that it is easier to access. Tyson, being an IT person should know this and should have requested this. Can you imagine the manpower used to scan this document? Another DeKalb waste. When will it end?

Anonymous said...

Why do you say you can't do a search? It's a PDF file. If you have Adobe Reader, you can do a search to your heart's content.

Cerebration said...

No you can't. These are scans, like photos, and although you can view them with Adobe Reader, you can't search them. Try it. Put a word in the search box - say, for instance, "DeKalb". You'll get nothing, as the text is not recognizable.

I wouldn't say it was purposeful though. It looks like this was a collection of papers from various departments that they copied and put into a presentation book. They probably didn't even get the electronic files. However, it would have been best to gather as much of it electronically as possible, compile them and then create a pdf from there. Most of it would have been searchable.

It's a skill most regular employees don't have, however, I'm surprised that Ms. Tyson, a self-proclaimed "techie" didn't insist on it. There most likely used to be an employee in the print shop or the PR dept who could have put this together more technically, but all of those people have been let go.

Well, we have what we have. At least they posted it!

tiredandconfusedteacher said...

I don't mean to be obtuse...but why is Elizabeth Andrews being referred to as "former"? Last I checked it was a fully functioning entity......

Sept 30, 2010, 108 were confirmed and would be sent to the Chamblee Charter High School Annex to be opened at the former Elizabeth Andres High School, which also served as the Open School Campus on Mtn. Ind. Pkwy.

Anonymous said...

@ Cere 11:37

"She does have to bear in mind that she will return to her old job as head of MIS, so that certainly would effect her ability to make tough decisions regarding her peers. "

Why do you think that? Her last "old" job was Deputy Superintendent of Business Operations over Human Resources and Finance even if it was only for a year.

I cannot see Ms. Tyson stepping down to head up MIS. She has the superintendency of one of the largest school systems in the country on her resume now. Watch the news and you'll see her meeting with many "power players." My guess is she'll move to a state or federal administrative job in education or to an executive position in an educational company.

I wouldn't want to head up DCSS MIS. At some point taxpayers will push for MIS to answer the tough questions:
1. Why has their budget remained intact during these hard economic times?
2. Where is their Return on Investment in terms of directly increasing student achievement?
3. Why do our students have so little access to technology as compared to similar metro systems?
4. Why do the software programs MIS chooses and installs have so many problems at the student and teacher level?
5. Where is the teacher and parent involvement in selecting educational hardware and software and technology planning?
6. What is the level of service for their customers and how do they obtain customer feedback?
7. Are their salaries comparable to the marketplace for their education and experience level?
8. Could some MIS functions be outsourced for a greater savings to taxpayers?

Hopefully, the new superintendent will be somewhat knowledgeable in how technology impacts students. Hallford, Brown, Lewis and in really even sadly Ms. Tyson weren't/aren't.

Alvin Wilbanks, Gwinnett's superintendent was head of Gwinnett Tech before he became the county school system superintendent. He had a vision of students and teachers using technology. When he was new and told by the Gwinnett technical group about their 5 year plan, he told them to reduce it to a 1 year plan.

DCSS has 20th Century classrooms in a 21st Century world.

Many teachers and ALL students would love abundant access to cutting edge and WORKING technology. Young teachers are particularly dismayed when they come to DCSS and realize that technology and its support are scant. Some CTSSs are great, and some are not. Some Bryant Center personnel are great, and some are not. It is the luck of the draw.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 3:05 om

"It looks like this was a collection of papers from various departments that they copied and put into a presentation book. "

That sounds about right. There is a dearth of critical thinking in the DCSS upper ranks (a.k.a. Central Office). The idea of actually sitting down, reading information, conducting meetings with schoolhouse personnel and parents, and being able to assimilate this into a coherent document is beyond anyone I know of in the Central Office.

I haven't read it yet, but I'm betting you'll see "copy and paste" and pieces of information here and there cobbled together to make a lengthy document (didn't some parents at Nancy Creek complain about a copy/paste demographer's report?).

It was probably:
1. Divided into parts
2. Parts were delegated to various departments
3. Every department involved submitted what they thought Ms. Tyson wanted
4. Someone compiled it into a massive document

They probably included everything but the kitchen sink in hopes that if you throw enough words at the wall, some of them will stick. That's the reason you see scanning and no searchable .pdf file. I'll bet each department involved was told to submit it in a scanned format (some probably are not as tech savvy as others). Maybe I'll see it differently when I read it.

SACs should be requiring:
1. A coherent, well designed response
2. Readily understood by taxpayers/parents and SACs officials
3. A document that makes sense for DCSS students

Cerebration said...

Anon - I haven't read it yet, but I'm betting you'll see "copy and paste" and pieces of information here and there cobbled together to make a lengthy document

That's pretty much what it looks like to me. In fact, many of the scanned pages are crooked.

And, for example, there are quite a few PowerPoint presentations (one slide per page). PowerPoints can easily be saved as pdf documents and inserted into a larger pdf document electronically. Had that been done, they would be searchable.

Same goes for board minutes. These were originally created as Word docs, which can be converted to searchable pdfs. But if you print a hard copy and then scan it as a pdf, it's no longer searchable.

But, like I said, at least it's THERE!

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 3:23

"Many teachers and ALL students would love abundant access to cutting edge and WORKING technology. Young teachers are particularly dismayed when they come to DCSS and realize that technology and its support are scant."

I'd want to believe everyone agrees with this statement but the question will always be, How do you pay for this? Let's say you could negotiation a volume purchase deal to buy new machines for $500 with Office loaded on them. If you used the $40 million dollar SPLOST surplus on machines only, that would get you about 80,000 machines. Would most citizens agree with this?

Anonymous said...

Meant negotiate instead of negotiation above.

Cerebration said...

I'd vote for the laptops!! Having access to laptops and especially the internet has increased education in third world countries exponentially. Have you ever heard of the movement called, "One Laptop Per Child"? Check out these cute little $100 machines making their way around the world, helping children everywhere learn!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Laptop_per_Child

http://www.olpcnews.com/

Seeking to address the educational inequity suffered in rural areas, Peru's MOE targeted its first XO deployments to areas suffering the highest poverty and highest rates of illiteracy and social exclusion, and the lowest rates of population concentration in school.

The MOE’s stated objectives for the OLPC program include:
1) Improving the quality of public primary education, especially that of children of the remotest places of extreme povert;
2) Developing skills in curriculum design considered by students of primary level education through pedagogical application of XO laptops;
3) Train and provide continuous updating of teachers in pedagogical use of the XO laptop. (The MOE has trained some 115,000 teachers in using the XO.)

An early evaluation of progress in Peru released in May 2009 showed a 50% improvement in reading comprehension among students and of almost 60% for textual and mathematical analysis. The study also noted the texts produced by children and teachers demonstrate more creativity and improvement in writing and spelling.

In 2009, Peru shared the UNESCO Prize for the Use of Information Technologies and Communication in Education for its One Laptop Per Child program. The two winning projects were chosen from a total of 67 projects submitted by 47 states.

Peru guarantees the right to free education and school is compulsory from years 6 to 18. In 2006, at least 96% of school age children were attending school.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 4:31 pm

"I'd want to believe everyone agrees with this statement but the question will always be, How do you pay for this?"

DCSS spends literally tens of millions of technology dollars every year, but little for student access. Per BOE meeting 10/1/07 $10,000,000 was allocated to "refresh" (replace) the old desktops in DCSS. Remember that means all the Central Office computers (1239 employees), teacher computers (at that time probably around 7,000), and the support services computers. After the tech labs, dedicated to the teachers and students taking career ed, were "refreshed" little was left over for technology in the classroom. That's why we have around 2 computers in the classroom for 30+ students. Too little for most teachers to fool with.

$11,000,000 was spent to buy eSis and SchoolNet. eSis replaced a perfectly adequate electronic gradebook and was a nightmare for teachers. SchoolNet, a new Student Data Management System that was to supposed to provide real time student assessment to teachers, does not provide that data in a timely and usable form. Meanwhile, we've been paying the $11,000,000 bill for eSis and SchoolNet for 4 years.

The fiber optic network that Ms. Tyson referred to was literally tens of millions of SPLOST II dollars yet in the end we ha little money to hang anything off it for students.

We pay almost $19,000,000 a year in salary and benefits for MIS personnel. They are primarily responsible for the "care and feeding" of the DCSS network.

DCSS provides 50,000+ students with accounts for student email on their very comprehensive and very expensive email system. This expensive system is greatly underutilized, in part because the students need technology access to use it.

DCSS does not look further than Microsoft - e.g. we have given little thought to thin client arrangements, less than Cadillac interactive boards, outsourcing many MIS functions, less expensive bare-bones email for students, Apple computers or other operating systems, partnerships with companies, etc.

I would not support spending any more for technology either since every time we allocate money for technology, little makes it down to the classroom.

For many, many years DCSS has needed to reassess its technology expenditures with relation to students. We spend a lot, but the allocation of resources is misplaced.

Anonymous said...

I agree that simply replacing the school board is just a beginning, but we need to start at the top. Ask yourself, what decent candidate for the position of Superintendent would work for this school board? If it didn't have such an impact on so many, especially our kids, this board would be a joke - a comedy of dysfunctional and unqualified pranksters!

If we don't begin anew with five new school board members in November, then we are in serious trouble - as parents, as property owners, and residents of Dekalb County. An excellent, well-qualified school board is essential to attracting and hiring a superintendent who can lead, motivate, measure performance, and reward excellence. Such a superintendent would emphasize schools and not administration, would shift budget resources from administration to schools, would streamline administrative structure, would set measurable goals and reward those who met them and separate those who cannot or will not meet these goals. Outstanding people tend to surround themselves with outstanding people and won't tolerate mediocrity. Excellence would be imbued from the top down and permeate the whole system. We can have this in Dekalb County. We don't necessarily need someone with multiple doctorates and impressive-sounding titles - we just need a strong leader because what we have now at the school board and at the administration is pitifully poor. The current board and administration don't know what they have been doing, don't know now what they are doing and, as such, have no idea how to fix the mess we are in.

Anonymous said...

The majority of the board will be the same come January. At least one candidate is unbeatable.

So now is the time to demand transparency in the superintendent selection process. A good place to start is the following. In GA, a school board that goes from 4 or more top runners for superintendent to 1 or two, doesn't have to reveal their identities. We need to demand that the BoE have three candidates that are publicly identified and brought to DeKalb for community interaction.

If one of the top 3 refuses to be identified*, then you go to number 4. We must have community forum and a chance to know that the candidates are well vetted.

* Some candidates may not want their current employer to know they are job hunting.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how anyone knows the outcome of an election 6 weeks prior to November 2nd. Has the DeKalb County board of elections already decided the election before the people vote? Has the New Birth members already know the outcome.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration
"What I've found on the subject of the audit:

Teachers and other certificated personnel were excluded because they fall under state law regarding pay."

Teacher pay was looked at under the audit. So were other certificated personnel outside the schoolhouse.

Anonymous said...

"If we don't begin anew with five new school board members in November, then we are in serious trouble - as parents, as property owners, and residents of Dekalb County."

Could not have said it better myself. After 20 years in DeKalb County, I sent my young children to a DeKalb County charter school, only to encounter the same lying, hiding of information, refusal to allow actual parent involvement, doctoring of meeting minutes and sheer refusal to understand and analyze the relevant issues from the Board of the Charter that DCSS regularly engages in.

I finally gave up, and moved out of state. For the record, my children, the eldest of which is only in f1rst grade, are significantly behind their classmates academically, after only one year in this school. Thank God I wised up. DCSS should be shut down completely as a system, all all staff fired, and every person forced to re-apply for their jobs under an entirely new set of standards. The school board(s) should be disbanded by the legislature or SACS and only qualified personnel allowed to sit, regardless of whether the seat is elected or volunteer.

Anonymous said...

This BOE is going to be removed and replaced. If the people cannot or will not do it, it won't be long before the State will do it and for the same reasons it replaced four members of the Clayton County School Board. I'm convinced that this BOE is so bad because it is incapable of being better. Just go out to cbsatlanta.com, click on the Web Extras and watch the remix of the Zepora Roberts take. You'll laugh - and then cry that this woman is really a school board member! Thank God that Wendy didn't interview Sara. At least, I wish Sara would remove that flower she wears!