Friday, November 5, 2010

Board Retreat and Policy Input

Tomorrow,Saturday November 6, 2010, the Committee on Instruction and Board Policy of the DeKalb County Board of Education will hold a retreat on Saturday, November 6, 2010 in the Cabinet Room at the DeKalb County School System's Administrative & Instructional Complex,1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain

8:45am – 9:00am
Continental Breakfast

Welcome
Presented by: Dr. Pamela A. Speaks,
Committee Chair
Instruction & Board Policy Committee

2020 Facilities Vision Plan
Presented by: Ms. Ramona H. Tyson & Staff

10:15am – 10:30am - Break

QSCB Funding
Presented by: Mr. Marcus Turk, Chief Financial Officer
(Qualified School Construction Bonds)

QZAB Funding
Presented by: Mr. Marcus Turk, Chief Financial Officer
(Qualified Zone Academy Bonds)

12:00pm – 1:00pm - Lunch

Boardmanship
Presented by: Mr. Jim Puckett
School Boards Association
Adjourn

These retreats are open to the public. If you do attend, please let us know what happens.

I would think that during the Bonds discussion they will talk about potential uses for the money. I just don’t even know what to say about the Boardmanship section of the retreat. Perhaps Puckett could use some real world examples from some DeKalb board members for what not to do during a board meeting.

Policies Posted


A new round of policy revisions is available on the DCSS website and ready for comment. These policies are scheduled to be adopted on December 6th, 2010.

GAG-R - Staff Conflict of Interest
GAGC-R(1) - Employee Ethics
GBKA - Professional Personnel Lay-Off
GBU-R(1) - Professional Personnel Ethics
JCDA - Student Behavior Code

Three of the policies (GAG-R, GAGC-R, and GBU-R(1) have to do with whistle blowing. Please read these policies and share your concerns and comments with us.

51 comments:

Dunwoody Mom said...

Interesting to see a discussion about the QZAB bonds on the agenda. Lynn Jackson brought this topic up at the Budget meeting and it seemed that the committee members had no clue about these type of bonds.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I do like the Personnel Layoff Policy, though I can see teachers not being happy with this as "seniority" is not one of the factors. Sorry, Lisa Morgan, "seniority" and "expertise" are not synonymous.

Anonymous said...

Jim Puckett is someone I respect. Bringing folks in from either DOE or other state-wide to give their own expertise and perspectives directly to the board was something that the DeKalb administration avoided lest information and perspectives not controlled by them (and to benefit them) might come out. The board--who felt Dekalb was perfect as is (or at least let's not discuss anything that might imply otherwise)--went along with it.

Can we please view this change as a sign of progress that "outsiders" are willing to help, and being allowed the floor to attempt it?

Anonymous said...

Maybe I don't understand DCSS board governance, but it seems to me that the board's Budget, Finance & Facilities Committee should be the one having the retreat since three of the four agenda topics deal directly with budget, finance, and facilities. Or maybe they're already busy that weekend discussing instruction and policies.

Cynical? Yes!

Sagamore 7 said...

Who can make these meetings tomorrow?
I would have to miss family functions to be there.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the idea of an updated Compensation audit like the 2004 audit Lewis and the BOE buried that stated over 2,500 non-teaching employees (35% of all non-teaching personnel) cost DCSS $14.8 million a year in salary over payments while teachers were on par and slightly below the compensation of the other metro systems?

It is imperative that the BOE and superintendent right sizes the admin and support numbers and compensation.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, you comment implies that older teachers don't know how to do a good job and that just isn't true. There is something to be said for experience. Most of the teachers I work with are very competent. Some are young, some are nearing retirement. Yes, if you have a teacher with documented problems, they should be let go first. As teachers we want to see incompetent people let go. When you have to fix student learning problems year after year that occurred because someone didn't do their job, you want that person to find another career. Seniority and expertise may not be synonymous, but all things being equal, there should be some consideration of seniority in the layoff policy.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I implied no such thing.

Ella Smith said...

I understand both sides of the situation regarding seniority. Incompetent teachers should be let go. However, my concern also is that our teachers' evaluation tool can be very bias. I have seen excellent teachers that I have taught with in team taught situation be let go because of evaluation and I know for a fact the evaulations were not valid.

I also have a concern of protecting teachers over 40. Teachers over 40 with lots of experience make more money. It is easier on the budget to let these teachers go and hire new teachers. Think of the money this will save and it can be done legally but not done above board or fairly if the evaluations are not correctly.

I am all for teachers who are not teaching our students and getting results to be let go. However, I do think this can open up a can of worms and we must have the right people in place to make sure bad things do not happen if this becomes a policy. It can be used inappropriately and this concerns me.

Ella Smith said...

Sorry.

are not correct.

Ella Smith said...

The policy itself is not the problem. However, the ways it could be used inappropriately to save money and to discriminate against older teachers who make more money may be a problem.

However, it does open up the door to get rid of incompetent teachers. Care must be taken in how it is used and much documentation must be collected. I have concerns because of what I have personally seen in Fulton County which already has this policy.

Anonymous said...

The issue with seniority is tied to the central office. There are heads of departments and secretaries who all the most years but are the least competent.

This policy will allow DCSS to get rid of some of the high salaried people who do crummy jobs.

Cerebration said...

@ Ella - "I am all for teachers who are not teaching our students and getting results to be let go. However, I do think this can open up a can of worms and we must have the right people in place to make sure bad things do not happen if this becomes a policy. It can be used inappropriately and this concerns me."

Nice statement, Ella, however, it's just not relevant - as it just doesn't happen. Do you really know of a public school teacher who was actually fired? I've never met one personally. I know one who "resigned" after being pressured by parents for over five years. And we all know about the teacher at MLK who resigned after the sub changed her grade book while the teacher was out and the teacher wouldn't change the student's grade per admin's request). But really - we have over 6,000 teachers in DCSS - and I have never witnessed one get fired. I heard about a DCSS principal firing a teacher once, but it took over 2 years and went to a high level in court before the principal was validated in upholding the firing.

On the other hand, I work in the business world and watch people get fired fairly often. No recourse usually as Georgia is a right to work state - well, for most of us.

Anonymous said...

Did you know that Dr. Lewis was on his way to fire the principal at the elementary school where the summer test retake cheating occurred and he resigned before Lewis could get there?

I know an incompetent principal that is fighting their demotion by suing DCSS. I also knew a teacher who sued the principal who wrote her up on an infraction.

Cerebration said...

No - and I personally don't believe it. As posted at the time on our thread -

CRCT cheating details revealed - “I want you to call the answers to me

Dr. Lewis sent out the following memo asking all 15,000 DCSS employees to write letters of support to the cheaters -

To: All DeKalb Employees
From: Dr. Crawford Lewis, Superintendent
Subject: Message From the Superintendent
Date: 24 June 2009

As you know by now, Atherton Elementary School was recently implicated in the CRCT cheating scandal that has been a source of much publicity by the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC).

As Superintendent, I was both concerned and surprised that this investigation was elevated to the front page of Sunday's AJC newspaper and warranted a probe by the District Attorney's office. Dr. James Berry and Mrs. Doretha Alexander are good people who made a grave mistake. They both acknowledged their involvement and accepted their consequences. They have served the DeKalb School System with distinction for many years. It is important that you know that the school district was not consulted nor played any role in their recent arrests. While we do not condone their actions in any way, they should be allowed to move on with their lives.

DeKalb County School System is a family, and during difficult times family should come together. As a family, I am asking the entire system to reach out to Dr. Berry and Mrs. Alexander and show your support. An e-mail, card or phone call will go a long way towards showing Dr. Berry and Mrs. Alexander that we still care about them. The DeKalb County School System is a great school district working together to ensure that all of our students are successful and prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

Cerebration said...

I mean, I know the guy resigned, but I don't believe Dr. Lewis was going to fire him all of his own accord. If he was on his way to do so, it was because of legal pressure by the board and our attorneys. He had no choice. Most likely, he gave Berry a heads up and encouraged him to resign before he could get there to fire him.

Cerebration said...

And I believe you about the principal suing (I think the book-seller principal and her sister are also suing)... DeKalb is well-known as the place where people automatically sue when someone attempts firing them.

Anonymous said...

@Ella
And if a teacher starts teaching at 40 they have your rule applied? Yikes. The seniority issue was removed because there are schools that "have to" take transfer teachers because the school is a receiving school (students). These transfer list teachers can be a toss up in regards to quality and it is really demoralizing to take a transfer teacher that is not up to par, especially if they have many years of experience. AND if the layoff policy is only based on seniority that transfer teacher can now bump out the best and brightest at that school. Not fair and not good for the school. Let the principal make the decisions!

Anonymous said...

I had the pleasure, I think, to attend most of the board retreat today. While I missed the first 40 minutes the next 70 minutes were very insightful. Having never attended one of the retreats before I was very interested in seeing what would happen.
When I walked in the discussion focused on the allocation of the various "Q" designated funds. The complexities of these funds and their guidelines are sickening and I truly wonder if many of the members really understand it themselves.
The dysfunction of the board was evident most particularly in even the seating arrangement. On one side you had the "three wise-men" (Redovian, McChesney, and Womack) sitting like a bunch of over confident know-it-alls while having their own "side-bars" and smirking at the other members when they spoke. Then you had Ms. Copelin-Wood who truly seems to be in a world of her own. She looks and sounds tired and her message of north/south resource allocation dilutes its validity every time she speaks. Ms. Roberts held court in the middle with Jay Cunningham at her side trying to make it seem like he knew what was going on. Mr. Walker sat two seats over from Jay, and Ms. Speaks presided from the side.
I was surprised when Mr. Redovian ascribed the $1 billion dollar deficit as a result of "gas and buses due to court mandated busing" and the ensuing legal challeneges. As I waited for the punch line it became obvious he believed the nonsense he had just spoken.
Mr. Walker is to be commended for his efforts to keep the discusion focused and he expressed confidence in the staff presentation and individuals. Ms. Tyson was very impressive in her manner and how expertly she handled (deflected) some comments from board members that floated in from left field. Their performance served as a breath of fresh air.
It seemed the portion of the meeting I observed was primarily dedicated to reviewing capital improvement plans at Chamblee HS. The presentation was concise, seemingly well thought out, and presented in a very objective manner. Ms. Roberts and Ms. Copelin-Woods comments about southside schools, particularly Redan, were informative yet presented in a manner that feeds into the division we face today.
Attending this meeting made it clear to me that the fundamental change that needs to happen in DCSS still will not occur easily. It also makes me truly question the qualifications and abilities of several of our board members. The infighting and grandstanding seems like a sand-box squabble that has gone far too long.The quality of our schools is not a partisan issue and efforts to use the brush of rascism to assign and stoke fears could be a fatal throwback to an era we are trying to move past.
As a DCSS employee and parent it breaks my heart to witness this disfunctional body work against the interests of our students, families, and hard working employees. Some measure of change is still possible, remember the upcoming run-off elections and encourage those eligible to vote. Look at the incumbents records and see if their interests are really yours. Look at the challengers and judge whether their activism, knowledge,skills and abilities can have an impact.
But most importantly, just look, ask questions, and then act.

Cerebration said...

Thanks for the report, Anon. Is there anyone else who attended who could add more to the discussion?

Anonymous said...

Redovian is right, the decades of fighting the desegregation lawsuits and then the ensuing costs related to the court settlements had a marked impact on the school system's ability to spend resources on facility maintenance and expansion.

In fact, during the court case, DCSS was severely limited on what it could do in terms of building and expanding. In fact, as I understand it, no building could be done.

At the height of choice transportation, M to M and magnet/theme, the system was spending upwards of 15 million dollars a year. DCSS did sue the state of GA to recoup some of these costs, but that case was lost. And I can't remember why DCSS thought the state should pay.

Contrast the transportation expenses to Gwinnett or Cobb which never faced such lawsuits, or Fulton which never had that many students in M to M and had limited transportation for magnet programs.

Keep in mind that M to M only ended in the late 1990s.

Fifteen million dollars a year is nearly an elementary school.

Anonymous said...

Were their comments related to the condition of Redan?

Did anyone ask how the construction of a new Chamblee fits into a master plan?

Anonymous said...

http://www.lexisone.com/lx1/caselaw/freecaselaw?action=OCLGetCaseDetail&format=FULL&sourceID=bdjgjj&searchTerm=eiUf.Haea.aadj.ebOG&searchFlag=y&l1loc=FCLOW

I got curious and looked up the lawsuit against the state for transportation cost reimbursement. It was heard at the appeal level in 2003.

We were still spending money on desegregation related legal issues as recently as then.

Cerebration said...

So, it's looking like the culture of DeKalb has been to spend, spend, spend on attorneys - for a very long time. No wonder there's not much left over for books and buildings!

Anonymous said...

And the culture of parents to sue, sue, sue to get what they want as well.

Anonymous said...

In response to the question about Redan... Yes there was a dsicussion about physical plant conditions at Redan. The lack of renovation and condition of the physical plant was described and conditionns are deplorable and have been for years. Ms. Roberts seemed surprised when informed of this Wednesday's meeting at Redan to discuss conditions and develop a plan. Once again, it seemed that the right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing.
As to the statement in support of the assertion that M to M cost a billion dollars... If that is true then the system long ago lost sight of its primary mission: to educate all county children. At some point someone should of seen the regressive nature and expense of the legal challenge. Does Redovian (and his ilk) see this expense as wasteful or a good excuse to accommadate white flight and racism? Either way, both are excuses.
At some point the futility of the legal challenge should have been cast aside. Check your figures. It does not cost $10 million a year to handle the transportation needs of a elemnetary school. If it does, your buses must be Rolls Royces burning high octane premium fuel with very well paid drivers.

Anonymous said...

Clarification: The 3:58 post did not say $10 million for transportation to an elementary school. I got overzealous in my reply but stand by the context in which it was presented.

Anonymous said...

You are confused. The transportation costs were for cross-county transportation for thousands of children. Two trips a day plus many high school activity buses. The ten million plus a year was for that transportation cost alone, that did not include regular neighborhood transportation.

Womack is the only board member who could have had any influence over the desegregation lawsuit as he was on the Board back in the 80s when things were still up in the air a bit, I believe.

The rest of the board came in much later, most in the last 4 to 6 years.

Anonymous said...

And the transportation was mostly door to door in the beginning and there were buses with just a few students on them etc.

If you picked Dunwoody for your child and you liven in Redan, the bus picked your child up and took them there.

Read the history of DCSS, at least from DeKalb's perspective, to get a sense of how things were all those years.

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/about/history.html

Anonymous said...

Current magnet transportation costs between 3 and 4 million dollars for a shuttle system that is not door to door and serves far fewer children than the peak of m to m.

"At some point the futility of the legal challenge should have been cast aside."

You are right, but no one who was around then is around now. We can't hold them accountable.

Anonymous said...

@anon 911,

Jim Puckett went on and on about how great Zepora is. He called her a mentor. Do you respect that?

Anonymous said...

Jim Redovian and the magic M to M excuse. Can't we get these old guys off the board?

Anonymous said...

I don't know much about Puckett, but I do know that Ms. Roberts shows up at every meeting that she can. I expect that they know each other well.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Jim Redovian and the magic M to M excuse. Can't we get these old guys off the board?

Redovian is right about M-to-M and how it devasted DCSS financially and in other ways.

Anonymous said...

We suffer today because of poor leadership during those times.

Look at this from Emory about Jim Cherry, a former DeKalb Superintendent.

http://marbl.library.emory.edu/conduct-research/research-guides/school-desegregation

CHERRY, JIM D. (MSS 655)

Papers, 1947-1988; 11 linear ft. (11 boxes, 13 oversized bound volumes)

Jim D. Cherry (1911-1980) was superintendent of the DeKalb County, Georgia, school system for twenty-five years. He believed in maintaining separate schools for white and black students. By the time Cherry retired in 1972, the school system had undergone token integration. The collection consists of correspondence, speeches, writings, printed material, scrapbooks, photographs, clippings, and memorabilia.

Restriction: Restrictions on access and reproduction may apply.

Anonymous said...

@DM,
It was certainly a bad deal. But we can't keep using that as an excuse. It is 2010. Redovian's been on the board and done nothing to address the core problems.

Dunwoody Mom said...

It was certainly a bad deal. But we can't keep using that as an excuse

Sure we can. The M-to-M program caused a tremendous amount of damage to DCSS in financial terms. As someone pointed out earlier, a tremendous amount of money was spent on busing; the school system was not allowed to redistrict or build not buildings. If you think M-to-M should be belitted, then I suggest you do some digging on its history and effect on our schools.

It was also the beginning, sadly, of white flight to private schools.

Dunwoody Mom said...

And M-to-M was not an "idea". It was a mandate by the Federal Government.

Anonymous said...

White flight wasn't just to private schools either, the demographics of DeKalb changed dramatically. At the time of the first law suit, I think there were less than 5,000 African American students in DeKalb.

Much of Gwinnett's early growth can be attributed to white families fleeing integragation.

Anonymous said...

Slightly off topic, but can someone tell me where I can find the October 2010 "count" numbers for school enrollment? I was told they are on the state website but I cannot find them.

Would like to have these before attending the first charette.

Anonymous said...

Womack is very proud of the fact that he is responsible for having DCSS declared a unitary school system by the US Supreme Court -- he would have you believe he flew the plane himself to Washington for the hearing. He ran for the BOE again because Terry Morris needed him to fix things that weren't right when she left....

Anonymous said...

Lawsuits continue today in DCSS. At least one over the move of KMS and as reported on this blog the federal complaint over the location of programs like IB at Shamrock.

Anonymous said...

@DM,
I know that M to M was a federal mandate. But we spend far to much effort using it as an excuse and having this discussion. We should spend our time and resources teaching kids regardless of their location. Our school board, Jim Redovian included, doesn't spend much time discussing the reality of our academic situation. How long shall we argue about M to M and it's effects? You said it was an excuse - indeed. Can't we get past accepting excuses and deal with where we are not and not argue about how we got here?

Dunwoody Mom said...

Again, if in your efforts to discredit Jim Redovian, you fail to understand the long-term consequences to this school system of the M-to-M program, well, then there is not much more than I can say.

Dunwoody Mom said...

The GADOE has not updated their wesbsite with the Oct. 2010. The enrollment numbers can be found at this link:

http://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/fte_pack_enrollgrade.entry_form

Anonymous said...

The lawsuits cited above really indicate that this is an issue that lives on in DeKalb. Time consuming and expensive, this makes changing things all the harder.

Anonymous said...

There are numbers from the Sept 15th count on the planning website.

I can't imagine the official numbers will be off that much.

In case you haven't seen them, here they are:

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/planning/

Enrollment Report by grade is probably the report you want.

Anonymous said...

@DM,
I said that "our school board, Jim Redovian included". I didn't say just "Jim". Someone else brought up the fact that Jim mentioned M to M. My point is that he's part of the problem. He's clinging to that issue and has done nothing to improve education in our district. That's why discussing M to M is an excuse. It's an excuse for more than just Jim Redovian, many on the board will bring this up. I'm not trying to discredit or praise anyone. I just want to discuss what I observe and what anonymous observed in a different posting. Please don't jump to conclusions.

Anonymous said...

The principal that is suing DCSS didnot sue when the system allowed her to travel the state and out of state using county time and leave on Tom Joyner, CNN, Essence, etc. Nor, did Butler sue when she sold books and pocketed the money. Nor, did she sue the county when she lied about her findings on Martha Stewart about how much she saved the county. It is apparent that she and her sister used the system like so many others but they got caught and now they are upset and want everyone to think of them as victims. They are not victims and hopefully they lawyer will take their money like they did with the book sales and allow the county to send them packing for GOOD! Thieves. Butler and her sister, Ms. Roberts are mad with the other book sellers now, so they want to sue. Interesting. She should refund people back their money and be ordered to locate the missing cookbooks that she wrote a bonus check out for herself with. To date, no one not even Butler can tell you where the books are. More than likey, the money in entangled in her made up company, "ENNvoy"

Anonymous said...

Re the blog above, are Ron Ramsey and DR. Tucker looking into these allegations?

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, guess you'll be voting Jim back in .... I must say I had you pegged differently.