Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Bad Neighbor

This is a quick post, as re-districting and other things are much more important.

However it needs to be pointed out: DCSS is a bad neighbor. With thousands of non-teacher employees, whether Sam Moss staff, custodians, school police, etc., there is still snow and ice on many, many DCSS properties. DCSS owns more properties than any other entity than the county itself. It has a duty to be a "good neighbor", but that has never seemed to be a priority to the Central Office, whether under Halford, Brown, Lewis or Tyson. We all know the system and the county can't even agree on a memorandum of understanding to share facilities, which were paid for by the taxpayer.

I drove down North Druid Hills Rd. today, and saw a young woman slip and fall on the sidewalk in front of Adams Stadium that is as icy today as it was on Tuesday. A movie is filming at the old School of the Arts/Elizabeth Andrews Center, but that long stretch of sidewalk hasn't seen any attention. Ramona and Steve: Have you ever heard of "ice melt"???

I drove by other DCSS schools that have public sidewalks, and with a few exceptions, it seems like Ramona Tyson and former principal Steve Donohue now in charge of Sam Moss put little priority into being good neighbors and making sure the public sidewalks on DCSS property were addressed.

With the days off, it would have been a prudent use of resources to have all Sam Moss staff, custodians, and heck, even school police, to be out in force on Wed., Thurs. and Fri. clearing DCSS sidewalks and driveways. Maybe it's too much to ask to shovel, but at least use ice melt and hit trouble spots.

But that did not happen. Not sure what Sam Moss staff, school police, and custodians did last week other than enjoy an impromptu (paid) vacation.

I wouldn't be surprised if some schools still have icy patches of sidewalk and driveway on Tuesday morning. It is Sunday, a full week after the storm, and DCSS schools still have icy sidewalks and driveway entrances (???).

It's unacceptable, but it's the DCSS way.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

They better hope it rains hard tomorrow, or you're right, there will still be some icy patches at the schools.

Anonymous said...

Sidewalks are not school property - but property of DeKalb County.

Cerebration said...

This place is funny. The cities wait for the state to clear the roads, the schools wait for the county to clear the sidewalks... geesh.

Ask anyone from up north - you get out a shovel and shovel your walks. And you do it right after the snow falls, before it compacts - or god forbid - melts and freezes as we have had here all week.

Pansies!

Anonymous said...

A couple of good lawsuits taught the North these lessons.

I am going to take a walk in front of the palace and purposefully break something to teach them a lesson!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Cherry made principals go to their schools on Sunday to make sure the window blinds were straight. I'm sure he would have ordered his principals to clear the sidewalks and bus lanes of ice and snow.

I can't imagine the complaints to the BOE if Mrs. Tyson told principals to go to their schools during a snow week to make sure the sidewalks were clear.

Cerebration said...

Andre Jackson has a very good editorial on the subject in today's AJC -

Deep Freeze 2011: State can’t afford sitting out storms

He's absolutely right. Atlanta (and DeKalb) need to learn to respond quickly and aggressively to weather and any other issue that would slow down our city. We are a hub in many ways to many other parts of the country and the world. We need to respond as if we deeply care about the fact that so many others depend on us.

Dunwoody Mom said...

So true. Having lived through Snow Jam in 1983 - not a thing has changed in the last 27 years. I realize that these type of storms rarely happen, but one would think we could have learned some lessons in all these years.

Anonymous said...

"Sidewalks are not school property - but property of DeKalb County."

Where I come from up north, if you have a sidewalk in front of your house, you are required by law to clear it after a snowstorm. Yes, we pay taxes, but this is our community. We should be taking some individual responsibility for where we live.

Anonymous said...

Maybe all the people talking about how we do things up north, need to go back. People were told to stay inside and off the roads. Do we really want to tell the custodians to venture out in the ice, risking their life and anyone else on the road to go to their school and clean it up. If you live next to the school and think it needs to be cleaned up then you do it. You are at far less risk than the custodians would be. Most custodians are hourly employees which mean they don't get paid when they don't work.

Sagamore 7 said...

Our school still has icy sidewalks and snowy and icy driveway.
These sidewalks are where the kids get out of the cars and walk into the school. The driveway is shaded by trees and the snow and ice is not melting.
I would like to see DCSS address these issues.
My school is Sagamore Hills ES if you haven't figured that out yet.

Anonymous said...

My husband is the person you borrow tools from, he has so many. Much to my surprise, the one thing we didn't have was a flat shovel to use for snow and ice. We will probably get one as soon as the stores have them back in stock but then it will probably not snow like this for another decade.

But we will be prepared.

Anonymous said...

"Do we really want to tell the custodians to venture out in the ice, risking their life and anyone else on the road to go to their school and clean it up. "

Communities up north do a good job of keeping roads clear. Even without investing in expensive snow clearing equipment, there were things that could have been done to keep our roads passable. I visited my local grocery store on Thursday afternoon and found the parking lot to be free of snow.

Our elected officials should be talking with their northern cousins to see how it is done. There is absolutely no reason why a homeowner can't walk to the sidewalk in front of their house and put down some salt or sand. It took 20 minutes for me to clear a path to my front door using a garden shovel. Then, I used table salt on my front step to get rid of the remaining ice. It worked very nicely.

Anonymous said...

You're right.
This is so revealing.
Persons engaged and empowered, with a sense of ownership in their professions, would be figuring out how to get their buildings up and running in a safe manner. Heck the CVS manager near me managed to get his sidewalk cleared pronto. Persons who simply draw paychecks have no regard for the MISSION intrinsic in their work. And because we no longer have true instructional leaders in so many of our buildings, we have paycheck-collectors instead of engaged leaders.

Now let's contrast this to something more important like, say making sure Falcon fans could get to the dome last night. It would have been and OUTRAGE if anyone had not been able to access the Dome for so important an event as the (woeful) playoff game. But preparing the school house for children? Ensuring it can be navigated safely? Isn't that someone else's job? Isn't there rain in the forecast??

Anonymous said...

"Sidewalks are not school property - but property of DeKalb County."

That is incorrect. The county has an easement at most places to be able to do work on a prpoerty's frontage, but a property owner is responsible for maintaining his/her sidewalk. If a passerby falss, trips, etc., because of negligent property maintenance, he/she has the opportunity to sue. However here in Georgia, there has to be very clear negligence to make it to a judge.


But all that is beside the point. The school system doesn't exist on some island. it has a duty to be a"good neighbor". Esepcailly considering that 4 out of 5 households in the county do not currently have a child attending a DCSS school.

It's not hard. Just takes a little effort. These are the same people that will soon ask the county to approve a penny sales tax to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for the system. It's the least they can do.

Anonymous said...

"Most custodians are hourly employees which mean they don't get paid when they don't work."



C'mon Anon 2:22. Enough with the entitlement. DCSS custodians are on salary and will most likely use comp or vacation time.

Actuallym that's a great question. Are all non-teachers going to be required to use comp or vacation time for the missed days last week?

Please tell me pencil pushers like Audria Berry's army are not treated the same as teachers will be. Teachers will be in the classroom making up those days with students. Who know's what the thousands of DCSS non-teaching staff did last week.

Anonymous said...

I just drove by a DCSS elementary school, andif they're not going to do anything, they better sure hope it gets really warm tomorrow with rain. 'Cause the sidewalks there are still extremely icy.

Principals should have been in communication with Sam Moss staff, working with custodians, and every school entrance and its sidewalks and parking lots should have been addressed by Thursday or Friday.

It will be a embarassing disgrace if it's cold Tuesday morning and any student or staff slips on ice or slush. Steve Donahue, you have some explaining to do.

Anonymous said...

We can't expect much of the Central Office. They have proven for years they do not have talented leadership.

It would have been pretty darn nice and easy for the school system to say, hey we know the kids are stir crazy, plus there's no school on Monday, so we're going to open up school gym's on Saturday for the kids to come in and get some physical exercise.

Or we're going to open school libraries and computer labs. Come on in and read a book or play some educational computer games. Or do some school work.

But that would take leadership from the Board of Education, and It would take a little effort from the Mountain industrial Palace.

And we don't have either of those.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh...."Bad Neighbor"????? How about "Thank you Ms. Tyson and Steve Donahue for not forcing DCSS workers into the icy mess and risking injury. " How about "Hey folks, it's ice and it's slippery, stay off it!!!!!!" Gimma break!!!!!

Anonymous said...

During a freeze last year the front entrance of my school was iced over. Not a lot but enough to slip on. When I arrived at a little after seven AM they were making people walk around the ice to the back entrance. When I suggested that the custodian get some salt from the cafeteria to melt the ice. They looked at me like I was crazy. So either the staff doesn't know simple science or has never cleared ice off a sidewalk.

Anonymous said...

@2:11, why would anyone take personal responsibility when we could simply blog and complain about what the school system is not doing for us? It's so much easier to point fingers.

As 7:29 suggests, it sounds as though many here would prefer school system employees possibly risk their life on behalf of communities not willing to pitch in and help their local school. I heard from a friend in the media that one school system that requested 12 month employees report had to rescind that when several employees were injured attempting to go into work.

Cerebration said...

That's a very different (Southern) paradigm. Gee, most of my neighbors were able to shovel their driveways and sidewalks. (Must be a bunch of Yankees...)

Anyway - on the news last night, they reported that businesses were legally responsible for clearing their driveways and sidewalks. Actually, they have to in order to avoid getting a citation.

My local Kroger was able to get the job done the day after the storm. The deal is - you have to get the snow up asap. If you let it sit, it will melt a little during the day - and then that melted snow on top will freeze overnight. That's mostly what happened around here.

Anonymous said...

Outsourcing custodian and ground keepers is s no go.
This from Tyson yesterday:
All DeKalb Employees
From: Ramona Tyson, Interim Superintendent
Subject: Outsourcing Statement
Date: 16 January 2010

The interim Superintendent’s office has received welcome feedback from employees and members of the community over the past weeks regarding a number of proposed Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for Ground Maintenance, District-wide Cleaning Services and other facilities services.

I wanted to take this opportunity to inform school system employees that I have made the decision to not pursue any of the RFPs for facilities services.

My decision as superintendent to not pursue this initiative is based on but not limited to the following:
1) non-responsive RFPs,
2) historical precedence of poor performance of work,
3) minimal cost savings and,
4) negative impact including poor work quality and inefficient operations.

In addition, none of the RFPs were responsive to the specifications required by the RFP. As a part of the process, the potential vendors are provided with a listing of specifications in order to be responsive to the RFPs. Non-responsive RFPs are disqualified from the process for not meeting critical specifications. It is not the DeKalb School System practice to move forward with vendors' non-responsive RFPs.

I appreciate the many comments that we have received as part of this process and we want everyone in the DeKalb Schools Community to know that our office will always be responsive to the needs and concerns of our employees, students, teachers, and the community at large.

?!....this brings up a lot of questions.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone think she was serious about outsourcing. I'll bet she won't even look into outsourcing the bloated Security force, grounds keeping, or MIS functions now. It's so much easier to cut teacher positions (just don't replace them and ask the other teachers to take on more students). She can say she didn't cut teaching personnel, but the result is exactly the same for students - they'll be even more packed into classes. But then again results for students plays little in the DCSS jobs program.

Cerebration said...

NOTICE OF DEKALB BOARD OF EDUCATION PIBLIC HEARING & MEETINGS:

The DeKalb Board of Education will hold a public hearing & meetings on
Tuesday, January 18, 2011:

10:00am Public Hearing pursuant to State Law O.C.G.A § 20-2-212-6
regarding
the proposed salary increase for the Interim Superintendent
J. David Williamson Board Room
DCSS Administrative & Instructional Complex
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

10:30am Called Meeting to adjourn executive session to discuss a
personnel matter
Cabinet Room
DCSS Administrative & Instructional Complex
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

11:30am Business Meeting (re-scheduled from January 10, 2011)
J. David Williamson Board Room
DCSS Administrative & Instructional Complex
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

Anonymous said...

I have been involved in a major RFP for another system and the process is slow moving for both the school system and the vendors. I can't help but think there was not enough time to get a proper response ore what they were asking was very difficult to make a bid for the contract. I would love to hear from any vendors who applied or sought to apply for the contract.
Does anyone have a copy of the specs for the RFP?

Anonymous said...

First, yes this was rushed. It's pretty darn easy for Tyson to say, hey, we didn't get any qualified bids.

Well, why was this so rushed?

More importantly, why wasn't this tried on a trial basis at just a few schools first? Roll it out slowly and learn from your mistakes.

Research other school systems and city governments who have outsourced janitorial. Meet with them. Observe them.

It's a little hard to believe, but par for the course, how quickly Tyson backed down on this. We will not see one new reform under her leadership.

Anonymous said...

"More importantly, why wasn't this tried on a trial basis at just a few schools first? Roll it out slowly and learn from your mistakes."

Actually, the custodial services at Arabia Mountain are outsourced.

In the letter, Ms. Tyson said, "In addition, none of the RFPs were responsive to the specifications required by the RFP."

If the responses did not address the requirements of the RFP, you throw them all out. The purpose was to determine if it made sense to outsource not that they were going to move forward.

Given the timing with the budget and other projects, it's best to put this aside and concentrate on those. This can be something the new superintendent takes on, if they desire.

Anonymous said...

I realize that privatization will save money in the long run, but until we have a corruption free central office and school board, I can't support the idea.

Sagamore 7 said...

Here is a feel good story!
I guess DCSS doing there job should be considered a "Feel Good" story.
I emailed our Principal, pictures included, of the snow and ice covered driveway and sidewalks at Sagamore ES this morning. Approx 10:45am. By 2:30, the facilities maintenance workers from Montreal Drive had the bobcats (small bulldozers) clearing everything for tomorrow's students. I thanked them for a job well done and asked if they were finished for the day.
they explained that they had a few more schools to care for and would make sure the job is done before school tomorrow.

Way to go DCSS! Truly a "Job well done and a Feel Good story!"

Now my kids can go to school tomorrow!!!!

See you at Miller Grove tomorrow night!

S7

Anonymous said...

This Northener says " Great job!!"

Anonymous said...

"I emailed our Principal, pictures included, of the snow and ice covered driveway and sidewalks at Sagamore ES this morning. Approx 10:45am. By 2:30, the facilities maintenance workers from Montreal Drive had the bobcats (small bulldozers) clearing everything for tomorrow's students."

Sag 7, this is great, but what if you didn't send that e-mail?

I'm guessing that someone from Sam Moss that this post. Cleanup should have been automatic. Safety trumps all else.

It seens like DCSS puts so much on the principals, and lets them takes the fall when there's a problem. But when something goes well, the Central office takes all the credit.

Anonymous said...

Principals did check their buildings. Principals were required to make sure that their buildings were safe and ready for students and staff.
At our schools custodians checked our building and came in extra early today to make sure that the areas were safe for students and staff.
I have lived in both the north and the south too. We are not the north. We do not have the equipment. If local or state government used money to buy lots of equipment, these sames people would have been protesting about wasting money.
Did anyone volunteer to go to their neighborhood, school, church or assisted living facility and clear snow and ice? It is always so easy to look at the fault in others. One of the many things that made Dr. King an exceptional man was his willingness to be act.
Any community needs more than people willing to point out the faults in others.
If custodians are out sourced or not, they are people. Every one was warned about the dangerous conditions and told to stay off of the streets. People were killed in accidents because of the ice. There were over 900 accidents.
No body cares how much you know until they know how much you care.