Tuesday, October 12, 2010

District 1 BOE Candidates' Answers to eduKALB Questions

Copied directly from the eduKALB website for purposes of a direct comparison:

District 1 BOE Candidates’ Answers to eduKALB Questions

Nancy Jester

Jim Redovian

Bobbe Gillis

(1) Please briefly describe the qualifications and abilities which you believe make you best suited to serve on the DeKalb County Board of Education.

My educational background, professional experience and service work give me the abilities and qualifications necessary to be a productive and effective Board member. My undergraduate degree and graduate work are in economics and I have professional experience as an actuarial consultant.

My training and work have given me critical technical skills that I intend to put to use in improving accountability and decision making in DCSS. I have also served in a number of volunteer leadership roles. These posts have given me the opportunity to understand the dynamics of consensus building and group decision making.

Finally, I am a parent with young children in public school. Despite the myriad of issues that face our school district, this fact is a powerful vote of optimism for the future of DeKalb.

Have owned my own successful business since 1985. 33 year resident of DeKalb. Have been involved with schools for over 30 years, with my six children. Served as Blue Ribbon Task Force.

I am a graduate of the Dekalb County School System and now have two children in Dekalb County schools. One child is in elementary and one child is in middle school. I spend a great deal of time volunteering at both schools and have been witness to many parents who dedicate their time at the schools to make certain that their child has the very best education possible.

I have owned a business for the last 13 years, and I am a creative thinker. I am capable of leading and working as part of a team, setting goals, creating and implementing policies, managing budgets and hiring new staff while always maintaining honesty and integrity.

Nancy Jester

Jim Redovian

Bobbe Gillis

(2) What do you see as the top three most pressing challenges facing our DeKalb Schools?

· Leadership – The Superintendent search is an urgent matter. DeKalb needs the direction of a leader with integrity and successful experience providing leadership to large organizations. Additionally, the Board of Education needs new voices that lead the district by working cooperatively with other BOE members, the administration and the community to develop a vision for DCSS.

· Accountability and Ethics – The policies and procedures of the current Board and administration have demonstrably failed the taxpayers and students of DeKalb County. We must review every corner of our system to strengthen and enact policies and procedures that will safeguard the tax payers’ money. It is imperative that we have multiple, independent review processes for every type of expenditure. We must also adopt the most stringent ethics policy possible.

· Student Achievement – We must ensure that every student in DeKalb has the educational resources to maximize their potential. Children of all backgrounds and academic levels deserve effective instruction and environments that support and enhance their education.

Finding the right superintendent. Rebuilding the trust of our stakeholders and employees through good management and transparency. Developing a master plan that fits our needs.

· Our children are not receiving the education that they need so that they may compete in a global economy upon graduation.

· The furlough and lay offs of our teachers is demeaning and inappropriate. How do we expect to educate our children if we do not have the teaching staff and those teachers who are in the schools are unhappy and dissatisfied with their careers because they are not rewarded for their commitment?

· The negative press that our school system has received as a result of the overstaffed and dishonest administration. This makes Dekalb a poor choice for businesses and anyone looking to relocate – further reducing our overall economy

Nancy Jester

Jim Redovian

Bobbe Gillis

(3) What qualities and skillsets do you believe would be most important in seeking a new Superintendent for DeKalb Schools?

Our new Superintendent must be a person with:

1. Exceptional integrity,

2. A sterling record of large organization leadership,

3. A keen intellect,

4. The ability to overcome obstacles to reform,

5. Impressive communication skills and

6. An unwavering focus on student achievement.

A proven administrator capable of running a billion dollar company. A person with a vision and a passion to make it work. A new fresh individual without previous ties to DeKalb.

Dekalb needs someone who is a great communicator and impeccably honest. I would like to see someone from the business community who has a strong history of proven success. A Superintendent should be someone who is willing to work within the community he/she is representing, implement policies and follow these policies themselves.

Nancy Jester

Jim Redovian

Bobbe Gillis

(4) The DeKalb School Board oversees and approves an annual budget approaching $1.2 billion. As a school board member, how would you approach making certain that those dollars are spent most effectively to support our educational mission?

As discussed in question #2, I support and advocate for a comprehensive review of how money is spent in our district. At every level we must implement effective controls and review methods to guarantee that the public’s money is being spent appropriately. We must be compliant with best practices in public expenditure management.

As a board member, when I make decisions evaluating where and how the public’s money is to be spent, I will ask:

1. Is this a reasonable and prudent investment of the public’s tax dollars?

2. Does this improve the classroom experience for students and teachers?

3. How will we measure the success of this expenditure?

4. What do we anticipate is the return on investment (ROI)?

5. What is the “opportunity cost” of this expenditure (next best option)?

The question would assume I have not been following an effective plan. I would continue to be as diligent as the past.

I would look at the current expenditures and salaries of the school system to make certain that monies are being spent equitably. I feel that there are many administrative positions that may no longer be necessary, and I would like to see these positions eliminated so that the money can be used to support our educational mission.

Nancy Jester

Jim Redovian

Bobbe Gillis

(5) What do you understand to be the three most important responsibilities of a school board member?

· To collaboratively establish, maintain and measure a comprehensive vision for our district’s schools that prioritizes the students of DeKalb county;

· To hire and evaluate the superintendent pursuant to the plans and goals that are articulated within the comprehensive vision for the district; including student achievement, fiscal management, capital development and maintenance and overall staff development and performance and;

· To provide the highest standards of accountability and transparency to the public regarding their investment in public education.

Evaluation of the superintendent, formulation of police, manage and control the budget.

First and most importantly to remember at all times the school board’s mission, which is “to form a collaborative effort between home and school that maximizes student’s social and academic potential preparing them to compete in a global society.”

Second, to abide by the goals of the school board. Goals one and two should be combined to say that the board will narrow the achievement gap to increase graduation rates by increasing rigor and academic achievement.

And lastly, to combine the 3rd and 4th goals to say the board should provide quality personnel in all positions and ensure fiscal responsibility.

Nancy Jester

Jim Redovian

Bobbe Gillis

(6) In your previous experience, how have you best been able to bridge conflict, or help to build consensus when part of a deeply divided group?

First I seek to understand and clarify the nature of the conflict.

Next, I acknowledge that various group members will respond to conflict in different ways – judgmental, avoidant, strategic, competitive, accommodating, collaborative, etc. I try to understand the reason behind the reaction of each group member by actively listening to them. This means that I ask each person questions and refrain from judging their responses.

I have found that by modeling this behavior it creates a climate of respect and helps foster a constructive decision-making paradigm rather than continuing a loop of avoidance or unhealthy aggression.

The magic word constructive compromise. I have learned that it is impossible to not always get ones way.

In my experience as an employer, business person and parent I have always tried to understand all the different aspects of every hostile situation. I want to hear from each party and research the wrongdoings and then present options which can be voted on to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

Nancy Jester

Jim Redovian

Bobbe Gillis

(7) Given DeKalb County’s shrinking tax digest, and other financial difficulties…how might you approach the issue of potential closure of under-utilized schools and facilities?

We must acknowledge it is past time to implement a new facilities strategy to maximize our state funding and be prudent stewards of our local tax dollars. We cannot continue indefinitely holding open underutilized facilities. This is a disservice to the students and staff as well as the taxpayer. I acknowledge that school closings are difficult and emotional for their communities. We must take thoughtful and reasonable steps to assist them during these transitions.

My approach to school/facility closures would start by acknowledging the reality of the demographics and funding. I would favor using an outside demographer/logistician to draw common sense zones incorporating the changes brought on by closures and population shifts. Our closures and zone updates should reflect our comprehensive vision for the future of DeKalb’s schools.

As we are currently doing by looking over the whole district – redistrict as most beneficial, then decide where closing should be.

Our county school system must be redistricted to accommodate for growth, shrinking and aging populations. This should be looked at yearly, recorded and then be mandated every 5-10 years.


Sandy Spruill said...


Please send me your answers to the eduKALB questions. I will publish them here side-by-side with Gene Walker's answers -- just the way I did for the District 1 candidates' answers. (I already have the template set up.) That way, at least you will get some exposure.

Send your answers to shspruill@gmail.com

I think I can do this tomorrow ...

Sandy Spruill

Anonymous said...

Nice job! It's great to see the answers side by side! Nancy would be a fine addition to a BOE who badly needs good leadership, accountability, and the ability to look at a budget and ask the tough questions of the DCSS staff. Times are getting ready to change at the Palace. Let's all get out and vote in a very important election.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Jim Redovian? Wow!

Anonymous said...

On question #4:

The DeKalb School Board oversees and approves an annual budget approaching $1.2 billion. As a school board member, how would you approach making certain that those dollars are spent most effectively to support our educational mission


As discussed in question #2, I support and advocate for a comprehensive review of how money is spent in our district. At every level we must implement effective controls and review methods to guarantee that the public’s money is being spent appropriately. We must be compliant with best practices in public expenditure management.
As a board member, when I make decisions evaluating where and how the public’s money is to be spent, I will ask:
1. Is this a reasonable and prudent investment of the public’s tax dollars?
2. Does this improve the classroom experience for students and teachers?
3. How will we measure the success of this expenditure?
4. What do we anticipate is the return on investment (ROI)?
5. What is the “opportunity cost” of this expenditure (next best option)?


The question would assume I have not been following an effective plan. I would continue to be as diligent as the past.

"Business Leaders"?
I would like to see who voted for whom.
If I were a donor to this comical group of "Business Leaders", I would like to know.

Gregory B. Levett, Sr. – Co-Chair?
Chris Marquardt, Esq. – Co-Chair?
Robert Newcomer, Esq. -Treasurer?
Leonardo McClarty -Secretary?


Ernest Brown?
Sadie Dennard?
Allyson Gevertz?
Brenda Landers?
Kerry Ramsey?
Donata Renfrow, Ph.D.?
David Schutten?
Arnie Silverman?
Rocio Woody?
Honorable Ken Wright?

Cerebration said...

They're perfectly entitled to endorse whomever they choose. I'm sure they have their reasons.

Cerebration said...

Emory Lavista Parent Council
Join us at 9:15 am
(refreshments begin at 8:45 am)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Briarlake Elementary
3590 LaVista Road
Decatur, Georgia 30033

Our guest speaker Bill Carnes, Senior Associate, MGT of America, Inc. presents

School Consolidation and
Redistricting Initiative

Joining our meeting for the County: Ramona Tyson, Barbara Colman, Bob Moseley, Steve Donahue, Dan Drake, Joshua Williams, Ed Humble, Carlton Parker and Alice Thompson.

Upcoming Meeting for 2010:

November 17: Medlock Elementary School
Topic: Goverance

Anonymous said...

What is lacking ia of these responses is evidence that the candidates actually understand education. Yes, the business skills are important but in these economic times, when our BOE is responsible for making decisions to cut educational programs, they need to have, above all, a firm grasp on the educational issues.

Cerebration said...

That's true, however, the board does not have much influence over the way education is conducted - their most important task will be hiring the very best superintendent they can find. Then they can only manage that one employee - the superintendent. Their other big task is managing the budget. It's why they are elected - to protect the investment of the taxpayers. Many of our current members cannot read a balance sheet - and they are making multi-million dollar decisions.

We Graded These and said...

I'm an employer who uses performance based interview questions for hiring. It's our standard practice.

I removed the names from these responses and asked three (3) of my colleagues to grade these responses. I instructed them to follow the same criteria we use in our performance based interview grading process.

All three ranked the responses as follows:

Best: Nancy Jester
2nd: Bobbe Gillis
Wosrt: Jim Redovian

In other words, if these three individuals had applied for job with our organization and submitted these responses to our interview questions, this is the rank we would give them. We'd offer the job to Nancy Jester. If she declined, we'd offer it to Bobbe Gillis.

I completely agree with my three colleagues. It's not even close as to which two candidates had the best responses. And it was obivious which candidate had the worst responses.

Anonymous said...

None of these candidates mention the students, teachers first? which is a concern for me. All I read in these blogs are complaints about upper management and how they are spending $$$. None of these candidates have children with special needs,which is another concern for me. I feel that there are two other area's that needs to be looked at, that is the Exceptional Ed dept, how much money do they get to educate this population, what services are currently being covered? How will the candidates support the parents of students that are differently abled? DCSS needs to hired quaifited teachers that can really educate all levels of special needs students. Area's of interest are: Learning Dis, Autism, students that are able to learn but learn differently. I've noticed that the strong experience special educational folk are in upper management, The special needs administrators, and personal that's not working in special ed but in other area's in the Central offices need to be manidated to come out of there comfort zones and help these teachers and prinicpals with little to no experience in truly teaching special needs students. The parents want to know what is the budget for special needs and where is that money being allocated. I need for the new candidates to speak on what will they do to ensure the DCSS provide a quailty of education for Students of Exceptionalities.

The second area of concern is the large poplulation of ESL students, and how the state is requiring them to make standards when they don't know and understand the english language, candidates what are you thoughts on this subject? what is the budget for ESL population, is that money being allocated correctly? I undertand we need to look at how the current board is spending $$$ however we need to look at how every dept is spending $$$,

My last statement regarding the Title 1 funding, it seems to me that the ones that are complaining about Dr. A Berry aren't really aware of the high quailty of work she and those who work under her is doing for the students that are functing at lower levels than others. You may not be aware of this but there are children that suffer with different ways of learning and the title one funds suppports these types of students well. I must admitt that I feel that allot of these student could benifit in receiving service from special ed. But it remains a great deal of concern that our teachers aren't truly experience with dealing with the large mass of students with Autism and other types of cognitve issues, check out the elementary school, middle schools they are full of students with some kind of cognitve delay. Candidates can you look into these issues and explain how you would support the Special Ed, ESL Depts? My goal is to see how the new DOE will support the teachers? NO MORE CUTS, GIVE BACK ALL THE FURLOUGH PAY THAT DCSS TOOK FROM THE SPECIAL ED TEACHERS, BRING IN QUAITY PROFESSIONAL TO DCSS THATS EXPERIENCE IN LEARNING DIS, ALL TYPE OF VISION ISSUES, AUTISM SPECIALIST,DEV DELAY SPECIALIST,DCSS NEEDS SUPPORT FOR THE BOE NOT SO MUCH BLAMING, WE ALL NO THAT THEY HAVE DONE A POOR JOB IN SOME AREA'S BUT HOW CAN WE MOVE FORWARD NOW WHICH WHAT WE CURRENTLY HAVE.


Ernest Brown, you're killing me said...

Ernest Brown?!?!?

I am very disappointed Ernest Brown's name is on this edukalb nonsense.

I've always admired and respected Ernest Brown. He's one of the good guys. And that's rare. Very rare.

For him to be associated with edukalb is so disappointing it's almost enough to cause me to abandon all hope for our public school system in DeKalb. . . .

Cerebration said...

We Graded These - Thanks for going to the trouble of professionally evaluating these responses.

Anonymous said...

"We Graded These"

Interesting. Care to detail a bit more what y'all look at in this "performance based interview grading process," and how, on these criteria, the rankings clearly and unanimously came out as they did?

We Graded These and said...

Performance Based Interviewing (PBI) is a selection process that uses techniques to evaluate job applicants for the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (KSAOs) they have that are important in order for them to do a good job. Studies show that the way people behave in the past is probably the way they will behave in the future. When grading answers, we look at the degree to which each applicant possesses the important knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics necessary for successful job performance.

Using this criteria, three panel members individually grade the answers with a numerical value (1-10).

In this instance, with three panelist indepenently reviewing the responses, each candidate could accumulate 210 points (7 questions, 10 points per answer, 3 reviewers).

Nancy Jester scored 170 out of 210
Bobbe Gillis scored 154 out of 210
Jim Redovain scored 84 out of 210

The results were clear. In fact, it wasn't even close. Jester doubled Redovian. Gillis nearly did as well.

The results were also unanimous. All three panelist ranked Jester first, Gillis second and Redovian last.

Performance Based Interviewing (PBI) is not the only methodolgy for evaluating job candidates. There are other schools of thought and programs. But for leadership driven environments, we've found it to be the best practice for selecting candidates.

Anonymous said...

But you are not privy to the individual interviews for each of these candidates.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand what all that performance stuff is. But I read the answers and I agree Jim Redovian's answers are by far the worst of the lot.

Anonymous said...

@anon 1130,
You are right. We weren't in the interviews. I have seen Jester and Gillis speak and I've watched board meetings. I've read their answers to the questions. BTW - have your noticed that Redovian didn't even respond to the League of Women Voters and the AJC for their "Voter Guide"? We just have the evidence we have. Redovian didn't attend any eduKALB events. It's obvious from the evidence we do have who gave the best responses. I don't believe that anything drastically different happened in the interviews. Just my opinion.

Cerebration said...

Did Walker attend any eduKALB events either? I was really curious why eduKALB didn't vet the date for the forum that was held in Dunwoody to at least make certain that the District 1 candidates would all be able to attend. I'm told that Jim Redovian had a known, important prior commitment for months.

Anonymous said...

Walker was at the last event at DeKalb Medical Center.

Anonymous said...

From a meeting today: School closings are back on the horizon. DCSS has hired MGT American and the Parsons group to examine every DeKalb school to find out which are the schools that serve the students best. There was also some information regarding stimulus money that will be given to teachers. The board will make a decision on this at their next meeting. The options are a small cost of living increase, a half step increase or the payback of the TSA money.

Anonymous said...


Very impressive company.

Anonymous said...

Serve the students the best isn't exactly the right impression. They are going to be looking at what things like instructional space, figuring capacities, figuring future needs etc.

Also, they will be doing assessments of building conditions.

Paula Caldarella said...

2020 Vision - Redistricting and Consolidation Process...At first glance is impressive, especially the Public Charrettes.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember the name of the company that performed the first "audit" of SPLOST many years ago? And has MGT American ever done work for (either contract or subcontract) the DCSS?

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:07. Wasn't the audit done by Ernst and Young? You're speaking of the audit that Crawford Lewis hid from public view, right?

DM, Wow! Vision2020 and they are doing this after they decide how to spend the QSCB bonds and the SPLOST III found money. Very interesting!

Then right after the master planning for the Consolidation/Redistricting & Vision2020 plan, we get our new Superintendent, who will have no say in the whole plan that he/she will be overseeing, since it would have already been decided and in motion!

Now I see why a previous poster said there was a tight lipped rumor at the Palace that the new Super had already been chosen and will be announced April 15th. My head is about to explode!

Is this smart? Should we be jumping into this without a new Super?

Anonymous said...

@7:07 there were 2 "first" audits. #1 was a result of legislation Fran Millar pushed which required only a cursory review that policies were followed. Politically a win for Millar, but not effective at all to exposing any problem areas.

The second was championed by board members Franzoni, Joyner, and Manning-Moon which was more forensic in nature trying to match receipts to work done. They paid a bunch for this one, but it was the catalyst for the following lawsuits and criminal indictments.

I forget the firm's name, maybe someone else remembers... Rubin & McGahee rings a bell... but admittedly I could be totally off base.

Paula Caldarella said...

Is this it?


Anonymous said...

I think that is why it would have been wise to have a different kind of interim. This person could have overseen the heavy lifting of school closings and redistricting and then leave town. The new superintendent would start with a clean slate.

Eighteen months would be a good time to have this type of interim for.

Anonymous said...

2020 Vision Redistricting......
Who writes this stuff, anyway? What's wrong with using plain old English? I read some of the descriptions 3 times and still am not sure what it is they are trying to say. I must applaud the transparency effort, however. Just wish some of the wording was a little more user-friendly.

Anonymous said...

I just read some of it and I felt the same way. In fact, I felt that they weren't particularly clear on some of their goals and objectives.

Anonymous said...

This is Anon 7:07

I found this on the DCSS Website - Board meetings - 2/7/05

SPLOST Performance Audit

It is recommended that the Board approve the most advantageous proposal for providing a continuous performance audit and performance review of expenditures and sales tax receipts for capital outlay projects to MGT of America, with the guaranteed maximum price, if approved, for these services will be $305,000.

The proposer will issue monthly interim reports and annual public reports to provide an audit of expenditures meeting goals and will also issue annual public recommendations for meeting those goals.

Quick Summary / Abstract
Presented by: Dr. Stan Pritchett

Financial Impact
$305,000 SPLOST proceeds; Fund 19


Dr. Stan Pritchett, Deputy Superintendent for Administration & Business Affairs

Supporting Documents
Evaluation Rating & Contract

Let's hope they do a better job this time...

Goal Scorecard


Date: 10/14/2010 Privacy Notice

©2010 eBOARDsolutions Inc. - All rights reserved.

Cerebration said...

For more on the District 1 race, read Maureen Downey's "Get Schooled" blog at the AJC.

DeKalb County school board District 1: Incumbent faces two challengers. See what all three have to say.

I'm certain that Maureen plans to do interviews of candidates in all the districts up for re-election. Keep an eye on Maureen's blog.

Cerebration said...

As a matter of fact, here is the link to Maureen's post on the District 7 Race -

DeKalb School Board District 7: Three people challenging incumbent Zepora Roberts. See what they have to say.