Saturday, November 20, 2010

Aerials of our high schools - SPLOST in progress



I received a copy of the updated aerial photo of Tucker high school, and rather than simply posting it with a reference to just how wonderful some of our SPLOST projects are, I thought I would grab aerials online of all of our high schools and create a slideshow for everyone to review. (You can click on it to go to the full size images.)

I think the slideshow emphasizes that we have many wonderful new and newly renovated high schools, but we still have a ways to go to get them all up to par.  I am guessing that the board  is under great pressure to hire a business and education-savvy superintendent as well as streamline the construction department while posting the new internal auditor at the helm to watch over the SPLOST dollars in order to regain the public's trust so that we will vote in a SPLOST 4.  Obviously, we need it, as we still have a lot of construction to do. I hope the board is able to meet their goals, appease SACS and regain the public's trust. But I must say, that I, personally will not vote for SPLOST 4 unless the board can prove that they have secured strong oversight so that the bungling and corruption of the past cannot be repeated.

FWIW, posting the check register online would be a strong step in the right direction in order to exemplify transparency and earn trust.

56 comments:

Megan said...
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Megan said...

Oops, posted too soon.

What, no Clarkston? I've been thankful that thanks to our excellent custodial staff, the building has remained in great shape, several skeletal issues notwithstanding, http://championnewspaper.com/news/articles/661school-facilities-assessments-clarkston--high-kitchen-special-needs-class-inadequate--661.html

Cerebration said...

Thanks Megan - that one somehow was missed when I uploaded! It's in now...

Anonymous said...

relavent to all aticles:
Jester folks just knocked on my door with an absentee ballot.

Anonymous said...

Too bad you can't find one of the completed Arabia Mountain. It is huge, beautiful and awesome. If folks have not seen it, it is well worth a field trip one weekend. Park in front of the school and walk around back where you can see inside through the huge glass walls.

Anonymous said...

It is shame that there has to be such differences in DeKalb schools.

In Fulton, there was a plan to renovate existing schools as they built new ones. While certainly not perfect, for the most part if new schools got X amount of technology existing schools did as well. The newer buildings were certainly nicer but at least from an instructional point of view the system tried to level the playing field.

I will never understand why there wasn't more outrage in DeKalb as the system created inequities through the SPLOST process.

Anonymous said...

I will never understand why there wasn't more outrage in DeKalb as the system created inequities through the SPLOST process.
November 21, 2010 9:00 PM

The total expenditures were kept as quiet as possible and dribbled out. If anyone objected or questioned the R word would have have been tagged on him/her. So what was the use. To some people, including members of the BOE, glitz to show their constituents is more important than substance and equality.

Anonymous said...

"I will never understand why there wasn't more outrage in DeKalb as the system created inequities through the SPLOST process."

How could there be more outrage if everyone was told that the needs exceed the money available and the schools with the most critical needs were handled first? Unless there is someone that has a macro understanding of all facilities in the school district, how can you say they ones selected for SPLOST were not the ones with the gretest need?

Anonymous said...

SWD still has the "Learning Village". What a joke. That shouldn't be allowed to happen. Those trailers need to go, the ninth grade units on top of the hill need to go. The school needs another addition, or smaller attendance area.

Cerebration said...

Exactly, and it still seems that there's plenty of room at Arabia, just a few miles away.

Anonymous said...

^^^

Arabia Mt. needed to be a neighborhood school with an attendance zone.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Arabia Mt. needed to be a neighborhood school with an attendance zone.

This should be one of the first moves of the redistricting effort, IMO.

pscexb said...

Dunwoody Mom, I agree! I heard parents from ML King complaining about overcrowded conditions at their school. Surprisingly when I offered what you suggested as a remedy, they all agreed.

At the end of the day, all parents want to ensure their children are in the best learning environment possible. Trailers can to tolerated for short term housing challenges however should never be considered as a long term solution.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Any lawyers out there who can weight in on why the change to Federal Court?

A federal judge will now hear DeKalb County’s $100 million lawsuit against contraction manager Heery International.

The school board decided Monday morning to transfer the suit from DeKalb County Superior to federal court, a schools spokesman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Cerebration said...

Good news! One of our more technically adept bloggers was able to stitch together some aerials of Arabia resulting in an up-to-date post-construction photo! Thanks Anon!

ps - Dunwoody Mom - I hadn't heard that about the Heery-Mitchell case! What in the heck?

Anonymous said...

I believe that Heery-Mitchell has played dirty so far. I would like to think that the Federal courts would be more adept at handling this case and DCSS might get a fair shake.

Cerebration said...

How have they played dirty in your opinion? I haven't seen or heard much of anything on this case... and we've spent literally over $12-12 or maybe even $20 million on it already!

Dekalbparent said...

Re "playing dirty", maybe this is what is referred to:

The AJC reports that Heery-Mitchell has gotten permission to sue the BOE and Clew as individuals:

The board requested the transfer on the same day a DeKalb judge signed an order allowing Heery/Mitchell to sue individual school board members, former superintendent Crawford Lewis and other administrators. The suit previously named only the school district.
The judge’s order allowing individuals to be sued will only delay the trial more, school board chair Tom Bowen said, which will add to the school system expense.

“We’re trying to take the route that will get us to court the soonest," Bowen said. "The federal docket is managed much tighter to keep cases from moving. The faster we get to trial, the less expensive it will be.”


They're still estimating the case will not start for another year...

http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/dekalb-schools-move-lawsuit-750575.html

Cerebration said...

Oh, lord. This was worth it's own thread... again.

Anonymous said...

@ pscebx
"Trailers can to tolerated for short term housing challenges however should never be considered as a long term solution. "

This is debatable. Drive by Vanderlyn and look at the "learning cottages" next to the school. Parents in the Vanderlyn community wanted "permanent mobile units"in order to ensure their children would stay in the Vanderlyn district. Vanderlyn has no students from apartments, heavy parent involvement, and a very wealthy, hardworking and involved PTA. They've done a marvelous job funding instructional technology in this school with private funds and their own sweat equity. Vanderlyn has a large percentage of gifted students so they have extra state funding to have extra teachers.

Some schools do want permanent trailers, and their reasons are sound. This does not bode well for redistricting.

Anonymous said...

Vanderlyn does have an apartment complex -- one and it is large. It is also high end and expensive.

Remember that part of the 2020 vision plan may be expansions at certain schools.

Anonymous said...

I didn't reaize that they had an apartment complex. I see in the 2009-10 AYP report that the have 0% Economically Disadvantqaged test takers. Most of their students (75%) exceed expectations on the CRCTs. They have a terrific PTA that works very hard to ensure the students at Vanderlyn have cutting edge technology and the teachers have the teaching tools they need. No doubt Vanderlyn could use an expansion. I don't think there are many parents who would want to be zoned out of Vanderlyn.

Anonymous said...

The SWD expansion was supposed to start this upcoming summer and come online in August 2012. The construction has been delayed until 2012 now.

Dunwoody Mom said...
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Dunwoody Mom said...

The meeting with Lynn Jackson is now online. It is very interesting if you have some time to view...

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/vision-2020

Go to the bottom of the page under 2020 Master Plan and click on video

Dunwoody Mom said...

Look at this disparity in offerings:

Allgood ES with 408 FTE gets NO points for Art and Music.

But Kittredge with 413 FTE has 1 Art and 2 Music points.

Dekalbparent said...

Good find, DM. Anybody know of a rationale for this?

Anonymous said...

don't even bother to take on the disproportionate allocation for the magnets - it is always explained away with this or that.... oh, or you are accused of being jealous, or trying to ruin a good thing or let's see - oh yes, the ever present " red herring" theory
whatever, i do appreciate what you are doing DM - keep it up , maybe one day when our children are in rocking chairs the DCSS Board will wake up and do something for each child to receivable equitable services.....

Dunwoody Mom said...

I hope, or maybe I am just naive, that DCSS really wants to make sure there is equitable educational opportunities in our schools.

However, this is going to cost in both emotional (closing of schools) and financial terms. It will take a lot of money to bring all schools up to an even playing field - i.e. the talk if a millage increase. I know, I know, many of you don't want to go there - but if we are serious about making our schools equal across the board - the money has to come from somewhere. Are the citizens/parents in DeKalb County ready to "put up the money" to accomplish this?

Something to chew on while you are eating turkey tomorrow.

Also, what continues to deeply disturb me is the current BOE members and candidates want to keep the current magnet programs with no change but offer no suggestions or solutions on how to make sure ALL of our children are provided the same opportunities as the magnet students.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what the "thing" with magnets is. Please look to other counties with magnet programs...do you think that every student in Fulton is offered the level of performing arts that is offered in the magnet, that every student is offered Culinary as in the magnet, that every student is offered Science as in the Science Academy? Get real and get off the magnet programs. NO, every school should not have the same offerings as a magnet program! That is why they are a magnet! Look at the IB programs, does every school have to offer an IB program because one does? Is this really what you want Dunwoody Mom. It sounds in my opinion that you have some sort of grudge against the magnet program!

Core offerings need to be consistent among regular schools. The elective offerings should vary with the school. Does every Fulton school offer German, Japanese, NO, but some do.

I think our goal should be to try to be sure that core offerings are consistent, but also meet the needs of the community. Electives should also be community driven with input of parents and community.

Please stop harping about the magnet programs. You are beginning to sound very much like someone you are often criticizing and I know that is NOT your intent.

Now I have had my say and I WON'T say it again. IMO, once is enough!

Dunwoody Mom said...

Have a blessed day, anonymous 12:33

Anonymous said...

12:33 While I agree that offering different programs at different schools isn't a "problem." Not offering music and art in elementary school is a huge problem, and one that needs to be addressed. Not every school should have full time art and music teachers, but every child in elementary school should be offered art and music, as research has shown that learning about art and music enhances one's brain development and thinking processes in the area of Math and Science.

I also believe that what art and music teachers do in elementary school should be better regulated and that children should be learning about art and music theory and the various genres of art and music. In my old school, I found the art program a complete waste. When I was in art, I learned about impressionistic painting, did a 2 and 3 point perspective drawing in 5th grade, learned about pottery, color and such. I did not see that type of learning about art in my old school. Instead I saw simple arts and crafts like projects that could have been done at home. When I had art, I felt like I was decent, even though I can't draw a straight line with a rule and don't know magenta from red. I am able to go into an art museum and appreciate the works of art there, without an art history class in college and nothing but a pottery class in high school.

Offering music and art should be programs that are automatic offerings in elementary school. I have never been in a school where these two classes where not offered, and I have been in many schools all over the country-most of them in very poor areas.

Anonymous said...

Actually foreign language is offered in every elementary school in Fulton. Additionally there are no stand alone magnets in Fulton so the magnet extras benefit an entire school.

How would you decide which school is worty of extras and which isn't?

Last year there were 10 elementary schools that didn't have music.

Dunwoody Mom said...

As you've said, studies show that music education greatly increases math skills. However, those same studies indicate that music education needs to start in 1st grade. Currently, I believe, for those schools that offer music, it begins in 4th grade? I know when I was in ES, we alternated our days between music, art and PE. I'd like to see DCSS to go back to this type of offering.

Anonymous said...

I have seen music in the first grade in the schools that I worked at in DCSS, but believe that it should begin in kindergarten. Good music and art instruction is important for our students.

Cerebration said...

Anon, 12:33 PM - please tell me you didn't mean that it's ok for a magnet to have 3 art/music teachers while a regular school of similar size has none.

That is just wrong. In my opinion, ALL schools should have art, music and PE. How does one get through life without having sung the Star Spangled Banner or the theme from Oklahoma in their school chorus? These are important civic lessons, not to mention the fact that research has proven that music and art improve brain function and that ever-elusive "critical thinking" ability.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I have seen music in the first grade in the schools that I worked at in DCSS

You're right - some schools do have a music teacher for the younger group...My mind was geared toward the band offerings for ES

Anonymous said...

I have never seen band offered at any school before 4th grade. What I have seen in other districts and what I had myself is that children are taught how to read music and play using a song flute or recorder and then band is offered. All children are then exposed to reading music and reading music, not just those that are able to afford band.

Do theme schools have more points for music and art the way that Magnet schools do? How about the converted charter schools?

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to point out that Kittredge is grades 4-6, and so offers instrumental music to a larger proportion of the student body than a K-5 school.

Anonymous said...

I am also weary of the magnet whinning. My kids went to Fernbank and had art and music. My friend's child went to Briarlake and had the same. Should we take away Vanderlyn's computer program because other schools don't have one?

In many schools the principal decides how to use the "points" and we can't blame those decisions on the three stand alone magnet schools: Kittredge, Wadsworth and DSA.

The more important issue is to educate the parents at the very small schools so that they understand that by consolidating schools they get more money and points and the schools will have more resources.

Anonymous said...

Kittredge only has 400 kids. Wadsworth only has 185 and DSA has about 300. The consolidation argument for others isn't the best choice to make your point.

Anonymous said...

add more students to the magnets. Kittredge and DSA have far more students that qualify and apply than are allowed in. Not sure what the issue is with Wadsworth.

Anonymous said...

Didn't someone make a comment about consolidating magnets to a central facility? That would seem to make sense as you would save both on building and administrative costs. Those savings could be used to help with instruction for the non magnet schools.

Anonymous said...

Haven't you heard? The Board of Education and the current Board of Education candidates have sworn to protect the magnets AT ALL COSTS.

It matters not that the magnets only serve a small amount of students percentage-wise. It matters not that we have schools without music and art and PE.

The squeaky wheels are the only ones heard in this school system. The magnet parents may be small in numbers, but they are LOUD in voices.

Anonymous said...

Here is a Q&A for you all:

Q. What happens when you put students with high-test scores in one school?

A. You get a school with high test scores!! Genius!!!

Now, would not it be better to put our money into schools so that all our schools can have high-test scores and not have to manufacture schools in order to say we have high test scores?

To assume there is something
special going on in this HA magnet programs is ludicrous.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 9:46

"Should we take away Vanderlyn's computer program because other schools don't have one?"

That's not going to happen because Vanderlyn's PTA paid for and installed most of the computers and Activboards at Vanderlyn - over the protests of MIS. The Vanderlyn PTA's commitment to buy and install an Activboard for every teacher who wants to use one (they have to write an application to the PTA saying how they are going to use it with their students)and placing abundant working computers in the classrooms of teachers who want to integrate technology has been terrific for the students.

When MIS would not let the Vanderlyn parents use the DCSS network, Vanderlyn PTA parents raised the money, wired the classrooms and installed their own network with Internet connections, bypassing the DCSS network. Ironically, this network has proved faster and more stable than the DCSS fiber optic network.

The PTA put in a computer lab with an overhead projector and has funded instructional software purchases for the students.

The students at Vanderlyn have topnotch computer integration because the parents were a hardworking and determined group. You can see why redistricting will be tough. They fought the good fight against the county to bring their school into the 21st Century for their kids and have invested countless hours and much money into providing instructional technology access. The Vanderlyn teachers have been amazing as they utilize technology with their students. Why would anyone want to leave this school that provides so much for their students?

Cerebration said...

Wow. That is enlightening, Anon.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration

Yes. Vanderlyn parents are organized and hard working. The private Vanderlyn network they put in serves the Vanderlyn purchased computers in the classroom because MIS would not let them connect to the DCSS network. They said no problem, we'll put in and pay for our own network. The technology program at Vanderlyn has truly been "sweat equity". It's a great place to visit to see how teachers and students are using technology in their studies. This is an amazing school, and the parents along with dedicated teachers have really made it terrific for the students. It's not a wonder they have high scores and low teacher turnover. Peek into any of the classrooms and you'll understand how dynamic the learning situation is.

Anonymous said...

If Vanderlyn parents made changes to a DCSS school without MIS permission or knowledge, there could be some legal issues here.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 5:48 PM

Then maybe Vanderlyn needs to become a conversion charter school. Clearly they have the parent commitment and a principal with the guts to be a charter school principal and a leader.

Anonymous said...

No legal issues. They didn' t use DCSS equipment or network. It's hard to argue with a school that is as successful as Kittredge and not a magnet. This is a typicAl attitude of placing DCSS "who's got the power" over what's good for students. Believe it or not, successful school systems are not adversaries with parents. If DCSS provided students with a topnotch education, parents would not be donating time and money to ensure this. Surely you can't believe DCSS offers students adequate access to a 21sr century classroom. They have done nothing for students in the way of technology for years. Concerned parents got tired of this. Austin and Hawthorne and Oak Ggroce and Fernbank PTAs have paid for technology access for their kids. Maybe DCSS should be looking at these schools as a model of success.

Anonymous said...

sorry - Oak Grove
Also look at the non-support DCSS MIS gave Stone Mtn . High and Henderson Middle and Hawthorne when they wanted to install Macs with non-MIS funds. Consider the objections to the Montgomery open source Linux system that gave every classroom access to a minimum of 5 computers. If parents wait for student technology access from MIS they will be waiting a very, very long time.

Anonymous said...

Nonetheless, the building and everything in it belongs to DCSS. If there was work done in Vanderlyn without the knowledge and permission of DCSS, the princpal could be in big, big trouble.

Anonymous said...

Get over it. They put this network in a number of years ago. Permission above MIS was granted. MIS does report to the Central Office. No one was or is "in trouble". On the contrary, Vanderlyn has been singled out as an outstanding school by every superintendent. The point here is that PTAs in DeKalb County have stepped up and provided their children what DCSS should be providing all children. Waiting for MIS is like waiting for superman.

Anonymous said...

Back in the day, the parents at Oak Grove ended up painting the entire school after giving up on the county. I think they secretly rely on schools with active parents to do their work for them.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8:57 PM

Oh, puh-leeze! Get over yourself. Vanderlyn belongs to the taxpayers of DeKalb County. It is time that DCSS understands that they work for us, not the other way around.