Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Interesting meeting at Kittredge Magnet School





It seems that the redistricting fears have already kicked up so strongly that Jim Redovian felt the need to respond to some Kittredge magnet parents requests for a sit-down.  I couldn't resist sitting in as well.

Jim began the meeting by introducing his co-board members, Paul Womack and Pam Speaks and stating that the purpose of the meeting was to "take the thoughts and pains about redistricting away from the minds of the parents".  It was just the three of them, no other board reps were in attendance.  Donna Edler (in a runoff with Zepora for District 7) and Nancy Jester (in a runoff with Redovian for District 1) were also there.  I think word got out that there was a possibility this was going to be more or less a Jim Redovian pep rally, however, that's not what happened at all. Redovian was put on defense in responding to the many questions fired at him by the 100+ parents in attendance.  On one hand, he insisted that his hands were tied, while on the other, he more or less promised that nothing would change for the area's magnets.

I shot some (terrible quality) videos with my phone, one of which I split in two parts posted above for everyone to watch (they overlap, so you might want to start the second one at 2:40). I found it interesting, as in the video, basically, Jim promised a parent that his child would not be redistricted out of Chamblee.  Also, Paul Womack promised us that they were in the process of cutting the administration so deeply that it would be "unrecognizable".  And in response to a question about the enormous administrative costs, Jim stated that we have to have so many administrators due to federal mandates from the $450 million we get in Title 1 funds (which is a wildly incorrect number - we get about $30 million in Title 1 funds annually).

During the discussion, Paul reiterated that we have over 11,000 "empty" seats, mostly in south DeKalb, costing us millions in FTE dollars—thus the need for closures and consolidation.  He later promoted Coralwood school, which focuses on children with special needs and does an excellent job, however, since they only serve a couple hundred 3,4 and 5 year olds, I think they don't receive FTE dollars either. (I'm not certain where their funding comes from though.)

Paul also had terrible, hateful comments about "the blogs".  He pretty much stated that we don't know what we are talking about.  That all of our information is wrong and that we "delight in sitting at home with nothing else to do except create rumors and see where they go".  Funnily enough, after that he and Redovian went on to make several statements that endorse specific postings from this blog, such as the fact that the magnets need to be replicated in every school, that there is a history of nepotism in the school system, that more money is actually spent in south DeKalb vs north, that Wadsworth is not equitable to Kittredge, that the (untrue) perception is that you can only get a good education in north DeKalb, that the board has a history of not being transparent. (One parent made the suggestion that in this day and age, many people get their news and information electronically and the school system should be providing it as such.  In fact, why don't they have a Q&A blog of their own? I swear - it wasn't me! But, as I have often said, I couldn't agree more.)

Regarding his point about administrative cuts, Womack further stated that "we have teachers who can't write teaching our children" and he specifically asked Tyson what she was going to do about poor performing teachers and administrators.  He said that in the past, the superintendent "non-renewed" only about 15 contracts per year, however, this year, Tyson "non-renewed" 152. Womack said that there is currently an accent on getting rid of as many non-performers as possible, in preparation for a new super in April or May.

Womack also was very pleased with the budget cuts they made, stating that they are ahead of the curve by about $29 million.  He was proud that the board had "stayed out of the classroom", to which several parents responded that the board cut 20 points to the magnets—8 to Kittredge alone—costing them teachers. (Also, remember that they cut 200 parapros as well as many media clerks and technical support staff to all schools.)

Redovian, in trying to get back to the topic of magnets, assured the crowd that he thinks it would be "insane" to do anything with Kittredge and Chamblee. Womack seconded that by stating that "your program here is safe".  Pam Speaks, on the other hand, eluded to the fact that if they can't replicate the program, then they should at least place it in an area of the county that is accessible and equitable for all.   Redovian pointed out that if they moved the magnets, they could lose faculty. He said that the "rumors" of moving the program came from the Citizens Task Force on redistricting and that they were referring to the many small, very expensive magnets, like Evansdale and others located all around the county.

Basically, it was a very casual, unfocused discussion from which no new information or knowledge was gained. There is no way that these board members could have any knowledge of what kinds of recommendations will come from the consultant's charrettes and in my opinion, were speaking out of turn. There is no way that they can promise anything to anyone.  Truly, until we get all of the facts, none of us can know what the future holds for any school in the system.

===
For more notes on this meeting, check out Dunwoody Talk's in-depth report.

97 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recap Cere! Jim Redovian is being less than honest with parents about his opinions on the magnet. At the DCPC Forum on 10/28 he was asked if he was in favor of moving the magnets to a "central" location. Jim said "yes". Now he wants to tell parents that he'll protect the magnets?!!!? He's lost all credibility with me. I don't believe a thing he says.

Anonymous said...

I was also at the meeting and agree that there was no new information. All 3 board members seem like very nice people. But both Redovian and Womack kept talking out of both sides of their mouths. Basically they would love to make every school more like Kittredge, but with the budget and redistricting, they can't control what will happen. I don't feel any more comfortable with the future of the magnet program then I did yesterday.

Anonymous said...

What are they speaking to this anyway? It is not the job of the Board of Education to decide what programs to keep open, where to put them, that sort of thing.

They can only support or not support the plan put before them.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 406,
You are so right! Why did they even do this? Cere said they were "speaking out of turn". How true!

Anonymous said...

They keep stepping in that SACS "no-no" territory, don't they?

Anonymous said...

We have teachers who cannot write?
I would agree, I have heard them speak incorrectly (ebonics) so it would only make sense that they cannot write.

There are several teachers at Tucker High who use ebonics freely.

Anonymous said...

Of course, no one can be redistricted out of Chamblee. There will be a big high school built there and students are needed to fill it.

I thought it was strange that Chamblee people at the Charette seemed so worried about being redistricted out of Chamblee.

Who would replace them?

Cerebration said...

Jim did have a very interesting interview with Wendy Saltzman about the nepotism in DCSS -

Jim Redovian - "Nepotism found at DeKalb Schools is just the tip of the iceberg."

Cerebration said...

ps - that's right, Anon 4:42 PM. If anything, students from Dunwoody, Cross Keys, Tucker and Lakeside would be redistricted into a new Chamblee HS.

Anonymous said...

I am concerned that these board members are making promises to people that they may not be able to keep. When our school board members tell parents that the school system is planning to close some schools and magnet programs, but not their school, they are basically saying that they have no intention of using the information/report that we get from the consulting firm. If that is the case, then we are wasting tax money and valuable time going through a process that will provide a recommendation that will be ignored.

Cerebration said...

Yes, and as Ella informed us, Dr. Walker did this at the Fernbank meeting. Basically promised those parents that they would not change their attendance lines. No change.

Anonymous said...

Walker didn't promise that the attendance lines at Fernbak wouldn't be changed, just that he wouldn't vote for or support the change. there is a difference.

He is very sly.

Anonymous said...

I have an email from Jim Redovian stating that the attendance over capacity issues at Chamblee High would be solved as soon as the magnets move to a central location next year.

Jim changed his mind after leading the charge for the new building at CCHS.

I just wish he would come out and say that. I have never been able to trust what he says. Nancy Jester has my vote!

Anonymous said...

Chamblee Parent
Now that there will be a new building built I am not concerned about being redistricted into another school. I am not sure where the kids will go during the construction.

Cerebration said...

FWIW - I checked the State DOE and the latest info I could find on Title 1 for DCSS is from FY 2008 - below

Title I Budgeted Funds
Allocations for Fiscal Year 2008 $ 30,305,768.00
Additional Allocations $ 0.00
Carryover from Previous Year $ 3,789,947.00
Total $ 34,095,715.00

Expenditures by Function
Instruction $ 16,509,633.00
Pupil Services $ 479,988.00
Improvement Of Instructional Services $ 6,198,554.00
General Administration $ 2,583,958.00
Student Transportation Service $ 3,030,577.00
Other Support Services $ 1,503,058.00
Total $ 30,305,768.00

Paul Womack stated that our per pupil spending is Approx $8556 per student before adding in Title 1 and $9300-9500 after adding in Title 1. However - not all students benefit from Title 1 so you can't simply divide the total by the total number of students and add it. Basically, you need to know how many students benefit from Title 1 and add it to the basic number that is spent on everyone. He didn't really clarify, however, it is a significant amount of money - which doesn't appear to be making much of a dent in student's success.

I'm not even certain why this was discussed at all as it has nothing to do with magnet programs.

Anonymous said...

" And Jim states that we have to have so many administrators due to federal mandates from the $450 million we get in Title 1 funds "
I find it so upsetting that Jim Redovian has absolutely no idea how much Title 1 funds are. Here is the link to see that Title 1 funds are actually $30,000,000+ a year (2007-08 figures are the latest available. Perhaps it is $45,000,000 and Mr. Redovian thought it was $450,000,000 - only a $405,000,000 error).

http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=104&CountyId=644&T=1&FY=2008

$30,000,000 to $40,000,000 is still a lot to controlled by the Office of School Improvement. Dr. Berry who runs this office has been supported time and again by the votes of both Paul Womack and Jim Redovian even while student achievement has declined. Dr. Lewis brought the control of more and more Title 1 money under Dr. Berry. She spends almost all of it on Expensive non-teaching positions (average salary and benefits of $100,000 per employee associated with the Office of School Improvement)instead of hiring teachers to directly work with struggling students. Redovian and Womack have supported her and Lewis's use of these funds since all expenditures must be approved by them.

Anonymous said...

Why are all these people, Nancy Jester, too, kissing the feet of the magnet parents? Aren't they going to talk to the rest of us parents? You know the majority of the parents with children in DeKalb County?

Cerebration said...

I had the same question. One woman was so upset because her child didn't get into Kittredge and was at another magnet in the area. She said she simply cannot send her child to her home school, which is in Lithonia. And the response was only regarding her options - without a single person addressing the fact that we need to fix what is ailing at so many of our regular schools!

Anonymous said...

The room was filled with the most selfish adults I have ever seen. It was all about them and their children. However, if you read the comments on the Vision 2020 survey results, you see absolutely the same thing.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, I am offended by all of the special programs that allow children to leave their home schools. If the schools are so bad that no one wants to go to them, admit the problems out loud and fix them. Stop making excuses and putting band-aids on serious issues in these low-performing schools. If the teachers are unqualified, then get rid of them. If the parents are not parenting, demand that they do their jobs. If the students are lazy, disrespectful, and unmotivated, hold them accountable with serious consequences. Everyone wants to make excuses, but no one is willing to do what it takes to make things better. Leaving a school does not make it better. Staying and fighting for it does. Everyone, quit complaining and step up to the plate!

Anonymous said...

Selfish? These are parents who are doing the best they can for their children in our dysfunctional system. Just like the rest of us. While the crooks and the incompetents pit us against one another and make us fight over the few little bits of special stuff. We must try to avoid the name-calling and work together. And we must have new board members!

Ella Smith said...

I would hope that the data would be collected and analyzed before any decisions are made by any school board members. Decisions should be made with many citizens in a district considered.

I am concerned about promises being made before data is collected and recommendations are made to the school board. Is this not a form of micro-managing the situation and actually stepping in and getting involved when it really is the school superintendent's and cabinet's responsibility to be answering questions at this point about data being collected.

Who place is it is evaluate teachers? I believe it is the principals and school superintendent. Again is this not micromanaging the situation by interfering with the management of the day to day operations of the school. I am just wondering. Is this not an issue that SAC has and actually against state law now. I do think there is a thin line. I am positive Pam would never cross that line as she is as professional as they come. However, the micro-management of the school system is not the job of the school board.

No Duh said...

Expensive programs like Evansdale? Spitting diet Coke at the screen.

Explain how the combined salaries of one French teacher and one dedicated Science teacher (both of whom educationally support the whole school population, not just the magnet students)comes close to being "expensive" -- considering how readily this board seems to flush $$ down the toilet. (Jeff Dickerson and Cohn and Wolf now being paid PR $$$ btw. Anyone remember the big brouhaha over the request for $25K for PR "services" after they fired the whole PR department? DCSS has long since moved on while the shell game continues -- Board has approved several hundred thousand dollars for PR expenses since that $25K request. Nobody blinked!)

BTW, these "expensive" magnet teachers also direct traffic during drop off and pick up, perform lunchroom duty, serve on school committees and are members of the PTA.

And you know what? I don't like any of the magnets!!! But, don't sit in a meeting at KITTREDGE -- the biggest money draining, inequitable, divisive entity in DCSS until Arabia Mountain came along -- and call Evansdale, et al "Expensive"!

Oh, and the "good" teachers won't leave Kittredge's cushy location? BS!!! If a teacher is only at Kittredge because those kids are "easier" to teach then the "good" teachers will go where the "good" students are.

I've had teachers say to me that they don't want to teach at the highest performing schools because they prefer the challenge of bringing children's scores up and they don't consider helping a child go from the 96th percentile to the 97th a particular challenge. Not THAT's a "good" teacher.

Anonymous said...

UNRELATED: I just found out that the Geography Bee has been canceled. Can anyone tell me why?

No Duh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
No Duh said...

Meant to say "Now THAT's a 'good' teacher!"

Anonymous said...

"Jeff Dickerson and Cohn and Wolf now being paid PR $$$ btw. "

Does anyone believe anything these guys say? Isn't or wasn't Jeff Dickerson the PR person for New Birth?

Anonymous said...

I've worked with teachers all over DeKalb County, and there are good teachers everywhere. You would be humbled and amazed at what these teachers do every day for students. That's why it's so upsetting to see teachers get so little respect and support from the DCSS administration. DCSS administrators have lost their focus in the endless race for high salaries and "who has the power".

Anonymous said...

The room was filled with the most selfish adults I have ever seen. It was all about them and their children.

This has been the reputation of the magnet parents for many, many years. The magnet population is small, but their parents are loud and the board of education does nothing but kow-tow to their every whim - at the expense of the remainder of DCSS students.

Anonymous said...

"He was proud that the board had "stayed out of the classroom", to which several parents responded that the board cut 20 points to the magnets—8 to Kittredge alone—costing them teachers. "

This is simply not true. The BOE cut 275 teacher positions in 2008-09 and 100 positions in 2009-10. And they've been trimming for years. How else would get an imbalance of 6,300 teachers to 8,500 admin and support personnel? And BOE cut lower level schoolhouse positions like CTSSs and paraprofessionals. The hundreds of paraprofessionals Womack and Redovian and Roberts and the rest of the BOE cut worked the classrooms with students. So that's almost 400 teacher positions and 200 paraprofessionals in the last 2 years that they sucked out of the classrooms.

It was obvious that Womack and the rest of the BOE think cutting almost 600 positions that work directly with students was more effective than cutting expensive ($100,000 and $100,000+) admin and support positions. No wonder we are having less and less schools make AYP.

Anonymous said...

Why do we have so many unqualified teachers in the classroom? It is too easy to become a teacher in Georgia, and particularly in DCSS. Raise the standards to become a teacher. Make it a requirement for teachers to have a real college education, with significant coursework in field (very important for high school teachers) and make the teacher tests more difficult. In this economy, especially, we can afford to be more selective.

Anonymous said...

"Womack said that there is currently an accent on getting rid of as many non-performers as possible, in preparation for a new super in April or May."

Maybe they could start with the Office of School Improvement since Dr. Berry and the Instructional Coaches have failed to improve student achievement. Look at the titles of some of the personnel of the Office of School Improvement (and these don't include the $9,000,000 Instructional and Literacy Coaches):
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/instruction/improvement/contacts.html

Please go to the state Salary and Travel audit and look up any one of these non-teaching "supervisors" salary and then add 25% in benefits cost.
http://www.open.georgia.gov/

Please remember that Jim Redovian said that we have to have all of these non-teachers because of Title 1 federal mandates. This is not true. Many school systems have Title 1 teachers working directly with small groups of struggling students. Mr. Redovian and the rest of the BOE have chosen to approve the funding of the large number of non-teaching positions Dr. Berry has recommended.

Anonymous said...

8:36,

DCSS offers the lowest total compensation of any metro system. Not to mention all of the craziness, which does impact teachers. Those who are more highly qualified will go elsewhere.

Also, how many smart, talented folks are going to major in education "in this economy"? A master's degree should bring more than $40K with no promise of a raise.

Anonymous said...

7:27--You are so right!

Kim Gokce said...

Cere: "There is no way that they can promise anything to anyone."

They have done so in the past, continue to do so now, and will continue to do so in the future because they can get away with it.

The only way I can see this changing in the short run is if the MGT America report recommendations are accepted by the entire community. They could then be used to pressure the Board to act with a semblance of objectivity and they'd have no constituency to pander to finally.

I'd place the odds of this condition arising at ... at ... well, 50% of zero.

Anonymous said...

7:27, I used to agree with you, but after trying for 5 years and 3 children to help my home school get better, I decided my 4th deserved more. I did everything from the smallest job of making copies to funding field trips to serving 4 positions on the PTA board to offering to pay myself for the principal to attend some innovative leadership training to attending the majority of board meetings to lobby for improvements (everywhere), and jeapordized a LOT to just beg the area superintendent and various officers in the administration to replace some key school personnel. At the end of it all, virtually NOTHING had changed. So now my kids are in magnets and those who did not get into magnets are in private. There was no desire on my home school's part to improve anything. It is the culture that DeKalb has cultivated, and my children are not going to pay the price. I will not apologize for fully supporting the magnets.

Anonymous said...

"DCSS offers the lowest total compensation of any metro system."

The independent Compensation audit by Ernst and Young that was completed in 2004 summarized that over 2,500 DCSS admin and support employees were overpaid by $15,000,000 a year while teachers were on basically on par and a little lower than other metro systems. The BOE needs to release this study that taxpayers paid for (over $300,000) to the public.

The DCSS budget has increased and the number of employees have increased since 2004 while our number of teachers have decreased and teacher compensation have decreased in relation to inflation and other metro systems. It's simple mathematics that something needs rightsizing here.

Kim Gokce said...

Thanks for posting this, Cere. I tried to listen to the videos but after the first minute I had to turn it off in disgust: "We're here for a reason. And that is to handle these children that need this extra stuff."

Really?

Anonymous said...

Instructional Coaches
The goal of coaching in the DeKalb County School System is to support teachers as they improve their content knowledge and understanding of what is effective instruction and how children learn. In order to maximize the effectiveness of this initiation, coaches will work directly with teachers in the classroom, analyze teachers’ needs, observe classes, collaborate on interventions, and build a network for change resulting in improving student achievement.

So that's what coaches are suppose to do! Not at our school....so sad.

Anonymous said...

"Why do we have so many unqualified teachers in the classroom?"

The reality is that we don't. Many very highly qualified, dedicated people work in our schools. The unqualified are in the minority. Unfortunately, they get a lot of press. Also, parents and students are more likely to remember the bad experiences. I certainly do.

Anonymous said...

We're here for a reason. And that is to handle these children that need this extra stuff."

BOOM!!!!

And now you know the real story of the entitlement of the magnet parents. When they tell DCSS and the BOE to "jump"...DCSS and the BOE say "how high"?

Anonymous said...

"We're here for a reason. And that is to handle these children that need this extra stuff."

- Jim Redovian

Anonymous said...

@anon647,

I'm a Chamblee parent and my child is not in the magnet. I feel that Nancy Jester listens to all the parents. I'm voting for her.

Anonymous said...

Womack really beats up on teachers. He has a nasty streak that is a mile wide and a mile deep. There is some bigotry in there as well.

Anonymous said...

Ninety five percent of the teachers that my children have had have been good or better.

It is the few rotten apples that make people forget that though.

In my many years of having children in school, I have seen where one parent/child loves a teacher and another parent/child doesn't. So much of this is personality driven.

Cerebration said...

For more notes on this meeting, check out Dunwoody Talk's in-depth report.

Anonymous said...

From the Dunwoody Talk's blog:

At the DCPC meeting held October 28, 2010 at the Dunwoody library the District 1 candidates were asked (questions were submitted ahead of time to Jester, Redovian, Gillis), "Do you support the movement of magnet schools to a more central location?" Redovian answered YES, Jester answered NO. I'd say Mr. Redovian is partially responsible for the 'rumor' as anyone else, based on that comment at the DCPC candidate forum.

Anonymous said...

The decision to build a new Chamblee High School, has huge implications as the school needs to be filled. With a new Chamblee comes a building that should no longer be over crowded and should be in great shape for instruction.

I was at the forum. I heard the question as Would you support... not Do you support.

Gillis and Redovian answered the question as a yes/no question because that is how it is asked. Jester did not, rather she gave an explanation of her answer.

Redovian was asked to have this meeting by a group of concerned KMS parents. He invited other board members including Paul Womack who is chair of the budget committee and who did an absolutely terrible job explaining finances, etc. No good deed goes unpunished.

Anonymous said...

What I find sad from a teaching, parent, and tax payer perspective, is that what happens in magnet schools, should be happening in all of our schools. If expectations were raised and discipline problems taken care of effectively at an early age than all of our schools would be so much better-even with the other problems that DCSS has.

It is time for the administration to focus on improving our neighborhood schools and the education of the majority of students in DCSS.

The only way for DCSS to improve is to focus on improving the neighborhood schools were most children attend.

Anonymous said...

"The only way for DCSS to improve is to focus on improving the neighborhood schools were most children attend."

This. But way to often the magnet parents dominate the discussions to the point that all other voices are drowned out.

Cerebration said...

Jim was correct in his statement that the Task Force initiated the idea of possibly closing Kittredge (as part of a list of 21 possibilities, simply due to enrollment under the magic number of 450). I don't see how the new data will come up with anything different. The numbers are the numbers. Perhaps combining KMS with Wadsworth's 180+ students could make a large enough school?)

Big surprises on possible DeKalb closure list, including Kittredge

Anonymous said...

Wadsworth was specifically named as a problem, in terms of enrollment and facility usage by Lynn Jackson from the state.

Because their enrollment was so small the first year, the projections were low for the second year. Teachers were removed. There were Wadsworth parents at the August board meeting indicating that there were many students on the waiting list, but now not enough teachers.

These parents seemed very happy with Wadsworth and based on test data the school seems to be doing very well.

I have no idea if teachers were added back and students allowed to enroll.

Cerebration said...

For a good report on the actual planning process for redistricting read this Dunwoody Reporter article --

http://www.reporternewspapers.net/2010/11/04/dekalb-officials-ready-redistrict-consolidate-schools/

Cerebration said...

This redistricting/school closure issue has been on the docket for a very long, tortuous time. I'm beginning to think maybe Paul Womack is right - just do it and move on... stop the torture!

Below is a sampling of headlines on the subject over the last 9 months. For actual links, visit our page titled, "News Articles about DCSS" found on the side panel of the home page. Or just click here.

Grim news: DeKalb schools’ chief says more cuts, school closings on the way

Big surprises on possible DeKalb closure list, including Kittredge

DeKalb schools deficit nears $115 million; targeted school list released

Board member accused of interfering, injecting race into DeKalb closings debate

AJC obtains list of 21 schools for possible closure

Task force says no to closing schools

DeKalb to move forward with school closings


Task force's vote likely won't impact DeKalb school closings

DeKalb school closures delayed a year

DeKalb officials getting ready to redistrict, consolidate schools

DeKalb schools expect enrollment drop

Cerebration said...

During the meeting, a parent stated that she thought the school board seemed "afraid" of technology (to which I add - and the internet -- and the bllllooooooogggs!) to which Redovian responded that DeKalb is ahead of other systems technologically. To which I say, "Really?!" Wow. That's deluded.

Read this latest article on technology in the classroom -
Social Networking: The Essential Balancing Act in Schools

By Christopher Wells - IT policies and communications director for Gwinnett County Public Schools, the largest school district in Georgia.

Check out his bio - and buy the book for your board rep -
Christopher Wells is the IT policies and communications director for Gwinnett County Public Schools, the largest school district in Georgia. With more than 160,000 students in the district, he responds to the diverse, creative ways technology is being used in classrooms. Christopher presents regularly and his enthusiasm for his topic material is contagious (even if the audience thinks that technology policies and procedures are boring!). By incorporating realistic examples and messages with humor, compassion, and vision, Christopher consistently engages diverse audiences and leaves listeners focused and energized on the development of new resources for students and teachers. In the past, he worked for Arthur Andersen, a global consulting firm, and developed and managed a global distance learning consulting practice. Prior to that, Christopher was a high school science and computer science teacher, developing curricula for biology, ecology, environmental science, oceanography, science research, and AP Pascal classes.

Christopher is a graduate of the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida, earning his BS in science education and biology and an MS in computer education with an emphasis on instructional technology. He is currently a PhD student at Walden University’s College of Management and Technology in leadership and organizational change. Christopher is still actively involved in several organizations that involve youth and the natural world, including a youth retreat movement for middle school students and a sea turtle research project run on Wassaw Island, Georgia.


hmmm. Do we have anyone like this leading our technology in the classroom?

Smarter Clicking
School Technology Policies That Work!

Cerebration said...

Or how about teaching in 3D for some real fun?

Discover the advantages of teaching in 3D

Cerebration said...

One more chuckle - in response to the parent asking for better (and online) communication, Redovian and Womack cited the system's electronic magazine Kaleidoscope, which was a fabulous effort by Julie Rhame to promote the positive happenings in our schools.

Only thing is - as Womack later proudly proclaimed - the board cut the internal PR Dept - Julie included (although, I'm told she had already taken a better job, having seen the writing on the wall). The last publication of Kaleidoscope was back in May.

Julie is a member of the Decatur school board and was a guest speaker at Emory Lavista Parent Council this morning. Anyone have a report on that meeting?

Anonymous said...

Oh puhleeeeeze, I am sick to death of hearing about the whining magnet parents... And I agree with the earlier poster - Kittridge is the most blatant disproportionate allocation of county resources. Sure, it is great in many ways but why the heck should all of the county pay for a school that a small fraction ( even those who do qualify ) get to use. The DCSS Board members go running over to meet with them because it is reelection time. I am sick of the whole issue - we can't mangage to spend the money and the effort to pull up the failing schools but we can go running over to Kittridge to listen to their belly aching and worries about losing their priviledged extra stuff. Enough - somebody needs to get the guts to make that system what it should be - for the highest achievers - no more of that 75% crap to get kids out of failing schools in south dekalb....

Anonymous said...

Could someone please share some facts on the student spending at Kittredge? I hear this, but it is true? Details about how much is reimbursed from fed gifted/certified dollars would be helpful too.

Anonymous said...

Picking on magnet parents? If the rest of the county had half that much passion we wouldn't be in this mess. BOE does not bow down - they respond to legitimate requests.

Anonymous said...

Picking on magnet parents? If the rest of the county had half that much passion we wouldn't be in this mess

blah, blah, blah, blah....typical attitude of the magnet parent - "my kids deserve the magnet program, but I don't really care about your kids"..

I say, dismantle ALL of the magnet programs NOW.

Anonymous said...

How much more costly is Kittredge than the average elementary school? They have a higher than average number of gifted children, which increases the amount of federal and state money they can spend but does not take money away from other DeKalb schools. If those kids were sent back to their home schools and the principals did what they were supposed to do with the money, it would be spent on those gifted kids anyway. With that said, having all of those high achievers back in the home schools would certainly change the profiles of some of those schools, but I don't think this is a money argument, as I think Kittredge "earns" the extra money it spends b/c of the high proportion of gifted. My problem with the home schools at this point has been that the gifted have been so few in number that they are not treated any differently - principals are just spending the gifted money on other things.

Anonymous said...

There is no federal monies for gifted ed.

If you go to the DCSS budget document below, you will see a line item called magnet points. These points are equivalent to teachers.

These points are locally funded, no state or federal reimbursement for them.

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/budget/approved-budget-(2011).pdf

Anonymous said...

@anon 824,
Your statement is completely false. I was at the DCPC forum when they asked the question before the election. I'm a magnet parent so I was paying close attention. Nancy Jester answered with ONE WORD -NO! She is not in favor of "centralizing" the magnets. She didn't say another word to explain the clear "no" that she gave. Redovian and Gillis said yes.

Kim Gokce said...

@Anon 11/16 9:31 "7:27, I used to agree with you, but after trying for 5 years and 3 children to help my home school get better, I decided my 4th deserved more."

I have heard this refrain over and over from parents who exhaust themselves in advocacy for their local public schools. This has led me to conclude that the improvements necessary require more than parent activists. Among other limitations, a parent's time in a given school is usually limited.

Where is the more broad constituency for public education in DeKalb? Somehow, our community in DeKalb is no longer convinced of the civic value of public education. This civic value is still true in spite of the scandals and we had better wake up and start pulling together to support our schools. Especially those of us with no children in the system!

Anonymous said...

Funding for gifted ed: see this Davidson summary of federal and state policies.

http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/state_policies.aspx

Anonymous said...

@anon 824,
You are confusing that question with raising the millage rate question. Maybe that's why you've been spreading untruths.

Nancy Jester was a "no" to moving the magnets. Redovian said yes.

They had an either/or question about the millage rate and she didn't accept the premise and said that.

Anonymous said...

If Nancy Jester is making decisions and promises before any type of redistricting and consolidation program has been put forth, she is no better than Redovian, et al...

Anonymous said...

138pm,
Oh please. Jester has never made any promises. She has no authority to do so. She has simply stated that she isn't in favor or centralizing the magnet. That's a position not a promise. Redovian favors moving the magnets. That's also a position and I don't have a problem with him saying that. (Of course, he's backtracking on that now...). When he promises that somebody's kid will remain at a school, that's crossing the line. (Jester wasn't even asked to speak.) He shouldn't have engaged these parents at Kittredge.

I hope that you can understand the difference between positions on issues and telling a parent they won't be redistricted (something Jim did). Wow....incredible! He's got to go.

Anonymous said...

How is If elected, I will not... or If elected, I will... not a position/promise.

I expect to hear those kinds of statements from candidates.

And then I expect them to follow through on them.

Radical, eh?

Anonymous said...

Really ? Picking on magnets? Next comes the red herring comment - that magnet discussions are an evil plot by the DCSS BOE to steer all of us away from the hidden truth.
Seriously, magnets have operated ( rather nicely ) under the radar for YEARS! And, budgetary decisions have been made and will continue to be made that impact ALL of the county students. And the magnet expenditures for operation and for transportation do affect ALL of the county students.
And, we continue to make the problem worse by offering up magical choice that they might win a spot in a " better " school.
It is far overdue for magnets to be called what they are - an unfair , unequitable distribution of county resources. Shrinking resources at that -
The teacher that posted earlier is correct - the county's problem will not get better until we all demand the same level of educational opportunities.

Anonymous said...

The candidates for the Cobb BoE last year made promises. They promised to return Cobb to a more traditional calendar. This got most of them elected. With one exception, they all supported a calendar that was anything but traditional. Cobb started school in early, early August and those board members get to serve their full terms.

Anonymous said...

@158,
The question was "do you favor moving the magnets?" Jester was clear, she said "no". I expect her to stick to her position. No doubt about that. Now, Redovian promising that man that his kids would stay districted in Chamblee was a "promise" to a specific parent that he can't possibly be sure about. That's not a position, that was just plain crazy.

Anonymous said...

So, it's okay for Jester to make promises, but not Redovian?

Anonymous said...

Aren't you cute! Jester stated her position and so did Redovian. That's ok for both of them. A "position" applies to an issue. Of course, there's the matter of him changing his position too. But positions are ok for them both. No one has said otherwise.

The matter of promising a parent you can stay in a school district is entirely different. That's what Redovian did. Jester didn't do that. She didn't even speak at that meeting.

Anonymous said...

Of course, no one is going to be redistricted out of CCHS. One doesn't have to be a brain surgeon to realize that.

There are less than 700 students from the attendance zone, including those enrolled in the magnet, and they are going to build a new big new school. They need more students not fewer.

It is a common sense answer.

Anonymous said...

Common sense, huh?! Jim also said that with the redistricting, nobody knows what will happen. So which is it? You may have thought through your position but Jim hasn't. He's all over the map trying to figure out what happened in the election.

Anonymous said...

According to this Georgia DOE Gifted Resource Guide (http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/DMGetDocument.aspx/2010-2011%20Gifted%20Education%20Resource%20Manual.pdf?p=6CC6799F8C1371F64442E271C9197012F632DCEEDE565F6D653CF92690ABCFB0&Type=D), there is special funding for gifted. See pages 89 and 90. So magnet programs that are based on achievement do earn the extra money they spend by virtue of having a higher proportion of gifted students.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely, they earn extra money. If you examine the budget documents that were linked above, you can see that. If you compaer the FTE to actual enrollment, generally that is where it is captured. It is very complicated and the state doesn't make it easy to understand.

However, DCSS in its budget documents makes the local funds very clear, because they are labeled that way. However, on top of that money, they get locally funded points (teachers) that are not funded by anyone but the taxpayers of DeKalb.

When a school only has a few gifted students, it is hard to make a full time gifted teacher work, as funds are earned in segments of a day. This is a case where schools need to be sharing resources, but so many principals seem to be reluctant to do so. Years ago, when our elementary school earned 1.5 Discovery teachers, we shared one of the teachers with another school.

Magnet points have been cut tremendously the last few years, but when Dr. Lewis convened those design teams a few years ago, the magnet programs were costing about 12 million a year including transportation.

Cerebration said...

Lest we forget that Jay Cunningham led the charge to put the "half" the magnet transportation hubs back into the budget (which does not translate to a 50% savings) -- yet cut 200 parapros as well as many media clerks and technical support staff at regular schools. These line items could have been easily swapped. But our board chose magnet transportation hubs over in-school support personnel for regular ed.

Anonymous said...

If Kittredge doesn't have enough students to qualify for full funding why aren't we taking more students into the program? We have a lottery every year to decide who gets in. That indicates to me that there are a lot of children who want to attend and don't get in. It should be a simple fix. Of course, classes would be a little larger.

Anonymous said...

What would happen if the Kittredge parents banded together and dropped out of the continued dekalb dysfunction and create a charter for high achievers. Could they keep the teachers and try to live on the standard per child payroll that a charter gets?

anybody with good insight - not bitterness?

Cerebration said...

I would think that maybe they could - without the transportation costs. Oddly, though, I'm not sure that you can have a charter that's so exclusive. Even more oddly, you can have a regular public school that's so exclusive.

Anonymous said...

In GA charters are not allowed to have admission standards. Lotteries must be blind. You can have continuation requirements, but not admission requirements. In other words, you can say that to remain at the charter school a student must pass all their classes but you can't say a certain test score or GPA is required.

In addition, start up charters operate with less money per child not more. KMS is operating on more money not less.

mal615 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

As a magnet parent, I'm very insulted by the comments here. I live across the street from our home elementary school. Even with an addition to the school, it was way overcrowded due to very poor planning on the part of the county. I believe that the school does a great job with the challenges they have - transience, many non-English speaking students and parents, etc., but it was not the place where my children could get an adequate education. So I applied to Kittredge and was lucky enough that both of my children got in. It was luck, NOT entitlement, that got my kids into the program.

I absolutely agree that the quality of education my children get should be the norm throughout the county - and its a crime that it isn't. In the meantime, I continue to count my blessings that we were lucky. But I'm not a whiner, and I'm not a snob and I'm not entitled - and most of the other magnet parents I know aren't either. I guarantee that you fight just like we do to get the best for your children. So stop attacking us and our children and put the blame where it should go.

November 17, 2010 5:11 PM

Anonymous said...

If it wasn't for Kittredge and magnet schools, how many of our schools would be making AYP?

Anonymous said...

I am a Kittredge parent, and I am fully in support of cutting all magnet transportation to get paras back in any and all schools in the county.

Dunwoody Mom said...

If it wasn't for Kittredge and magnet schools, how many of our schools would be making AYP?

Are you serious? 83 schools in DCSS made AYP.

Anonymous said...

In GA charters are not allowed to have admission standards. Lotteries must be blind. You can have continuation requirements, but not admission requirements. In other words, you can say that to remain at the charter school a student must pass all their classes but you can't say a certain test score or GPA is required.

Then how is that Arabia has got it's application process?

Anonymous said...

Arabia Mountain isn't a charter school. It is school that holds a magnet and theme type program, but it definitely isn't a charter school. I think it is a Theme High School, but the system seems careful not to call it that.

It should become a neighborhood school that holds a magnet program, but I won't hold my breath.

Anonymous said...

As Cere pointed out above, school systems are allowed to have schools with admission standards, but charters are not.

Anonymous said...

"administrators due to federal mandates from the $450 million we get in Title 1 funds (which is a wildly incorrect number - we get about $30 million in Title 1 funds annually"

This is bad data. This year we will recieve in excess of 65 million Title I funds. The entire title budget is in excess of 200,000 million and the Race to the Top will be over $30,000,000 over a three year period. Much of the expenditures of these funds are indeed proscribed and restricted to non discretionary uses. It would be wonderful if we could just dole it out to each school and say get whatever teachers you need. All of the title programs require admininstrators to budget,a meet federal audits and reports, provide evaluations, etc.

Cerebration said...

So what exactly do they do with all of the Title 1 funds except fund administrators to manage the budget and create reports? Why can it not pay for support teachers in reading in math directly in the schoolhouse?

Anonymous said...

Title I Budgeted Funds
Allocations for Fiscal Year 2008 $ 30,305,768.00
Additional Allocations $ 0.00
Carryover from Previous Year $ 3,789,947.00
Total $ 34,095,715.00

This again is incorrect-there are several ports of Title I funds and the other Title funds also carry mandates. Funding parent involvement in low income schools for instance which requires staffing and extensive reporting.

However, title I does fund some teachers. The fed and the state are the agencies that require the admininstration and the reporting. I suppose you would expect some strings attached wouldn't you? If were so simple to say to the principal who decides the school staffing spend it however you'd like we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Cerebration said...

I always chuckle when Redovian and other board members spew out wildly incorrect information, usually very soon after dissing the blogs for not knowing what we're talking about... Here's another example (in addition to the "450 million in Title 1" which is actually only $30 million - Redovian said - "Gwinnett has high schools with 4500 kids - do you want that?"

I went to Gwinnett's website - here are the numbers -

Archer 1,342
Berkmar 3,341
Brookwood 3,433
Central Gwinnett 2,661
Collins Hill 3,466
Dacula 2,035
Duluth 2,360
Grayson 2,807
Maxwell High School of Technology 1,000
Meadowcreek 2,381
Mill Creek 3,466
Mountain View 1,348
Norcross 2,943
North Gwinnett 3,338
Parkview 2,715
Peachtree Ridge 3,175
Phoenix 490
Shiloh 1,917
South Gwinnett 2,726

===

We work very hard at this blog to properly research and bring real info. If you find that someone has posted something incorrect, let us know - we always try to fix it right away.

Anonymous said...

Cere

Until recently, several of GCSS' high schools were close to 4000. New schools opened to relieve them.

Something like half the school systems in GA have fewer students than Gwinnett's biggest high school.

By the way, Redovian lost. You can stop now.