Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Questions regarding the redistricting plans

Ok, so we have had a very lively discussion on the recently published proposed redistricting plans put forth by Dr. Bill Carnes & Mr. Ed Humble, consultants at MGT Consultants of America.

Questions have arisen in the discussion that we feel have validity. Questions such as:
  • Were transfer students counted when the current enrollments were calculated for schools? If so, shouldn't they first be removed before deciding if a school needs redistricted due to "over-crowding"? Is it fair to ask neighborhood students to move to another school to retain room for transfers?
  • Why has Arabia been set aside completely? The other magnets were consolidated and effected, but Arabia was not even part of the discussion. Enrollment and capacity numbers for Arabia are not even part of the report.
  • Arabia, Miller Grove and Lithonia High Schools are not even indicated on the maps, however, there are indications of students being redistricted into SW DeKalb. Some of those students are actually located closer to Arabia, should they not be sent there, since Arabia has plenty of space and SW is severely over-crowded?
  • What are the real rules for state funding for schools? Dunwoody Mom reported on the workshop presented by Lynn Jackson from the state DOE. (Read her notes here.) However, some of the rules are muddy and confusing. Will we really recover millions from the state? Do we have actual projections on how much will be returned for funding construction and "extras" like art, music and PE teachers?
  • How much money will be saved by the actual consolidation of schools? How much will we save by merging redundant staff in some of the magnets? How much in transportation? How much in utilities?
  • Why did so many enrollments at area schools seem to increase dramatically last May? The enrollment and capacity numbers have been changing fairly radically over the past year. Please explain how these numbers were calculated.


MGT did an excellent job of dispassionately gathering data, calculating attendance and carefully redrawing lines. This presentation, as they stated, is the first recommendation resulting from their outsider's look. Continuing in the spirit of the charrettes, schools and communities will have an opportunity to add input before the final decision will be made by the superintendent and then voted on by the board.

As far as the rest of the schedule - here's the plan.

January 2011
public input workshops (Updated!)
Miller Grove High School, Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 6:30 PM
Druid Hills Middle School (Shamrock Middle School), Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 6:30 PM
Chamblee High School, Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 6:30 PM
McNair High School, Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 6:30 PM
Bethune Middle School, Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 6:30 PM
Stone Mountain Middle School, Thursday 20, 2011 at 6:30 PM

January 31, 2011
special called board meeting—Superintendent presents redistricting and school consolidation recommendations
February 22 & 24, 2011
formal public hearings, Administrative and Instructional Complex auditorium at 6:30 PM
February 28, 2011
special called board meeting—approval of school consolidation and redistricting recommendations

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Please add your own questions to the comments section of this post and then gather and bring them to the workshops. Don't just come to complain, bring valid issues along with suggested solutions and your own data to support it.

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Below are jpgs of the proposed redistricting maps from the DCSS website.  Click on them to view larger and then right-click to download.


 


179 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is it fair to ask neighborhood students to move to another school to retain room for transfers?


NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know how two things:

(1) How much money will the district save under each consolidation plan?

(2) How much additional state funding will be acquired by the district under each consolidation plan?

These are not unreasonable questions. And their answers should be provided BEFORE any decision is made to redistrict or consolidate.

Anonymous said...

We need to cut non-teaching staff in order to keep and add to teaching staff. I can see that Wadworth's 150 students after they are absorbed into the larger magnet school would need the 9 homeroom teachers (that's a 17 student to one teacher ratio), but do you really think DCSS will have need for:

5 Enrichment teachers
1 CTSS
1 PE teacher
2 Spanish teachers
1 Nurse
3 Custodians
6 Cafeteria Workers
1 Principal
1 Assistant Principal
1 Counselor
1 Bookkeeper
1 Administrative Assistant

...that currently are employed in this school.

We must cut admin and support numbers and let the remaining personnel take on additional responsibilities. We have asked teachers to do this more and more year after year and this has drained planning and instructional time from the classroom.

We need to see a significant number of personnel in the admin and support numbers let go and teachers added to the classrooms. This is the only way students will improve in achievement. It's not about the adult workers - it's about students - the school system ONLY exists for them. Taxpayers ONLY pay taxes and support the school system for them. Ms. Tyson should be able to tell the public exactly how much we will be saving through eliminating redundant positions and have a plan to measure that savings. This should also be made public.

Anonymous said...

If the two elementary magnet schools and the two middle school magnets are combined only one principal will become redundant since the two middle school principals will still have their resident schools.
Under the centrilaztion plan the number of students at CMS and CHS will do down by about 200 students. I do not understand this move if the goal for middle schools is 1200 and high schools is 1600. However that does leave them open for NCLB transfers every year.
The Avondale schools are closed in either plan. The problem seems to be small elementary schools whether you are discussing resident programs or magnet programs. Also I do not understand why students are being moved from Fernbank if the goal is 900 students for elementary schools.
If you have not done so, look at numbers per school for each option. Henderson and Lakeside remain overcrowded for both options. It looks as though no one wanted to change their lines very much. If the goal is right sizing the schools then the lines for Cross Keys should go into the Lakeside area and the Chamblee area expanded even more. Or something. Look at the numbers. If you move the Magnets out of CHS and CMS the number of students for those schools go down and not enough students are added back by redrawing the lines.
Also at the high school level moving the magnets to a central location may actually add a new principal position since you will still have the resident programs for SWD and CHS. How many students will be in the new Magnet high school. I guess some of the APs, counselors, etc. will move to the magnet but some will stay at the resident school. I am not sure that you will have that many redundant staff. There are so many staff per number of students. Moving them into a different facility does not change the number of teachers needed including language, music, art, PE,etc. Actually it may create new positions if there is only one art teacher or music teacher at the middle school and that position stays at the resident school. A plan that shows how teachers, admin, support, counselors, etc are to be allocated if the magnets move to Avondale needs to be included before this is hailed as a great cost saver.

Pissed off resident said...

It doesn't make much sense for my child to be transferred from Elem, Middle and High Schools that are doing well, into over-crowded schools that did not make the AYP in 2010.

And I agree 100% with Anon 9:22 that it is absolutely ludicrous to retain out-of-district kids while displacing kids who are in the district. Whatever happened to ethics? Oh wait, this is the Dekalb Co. school system we're talking about. We're screwed.

Anonymous said...

A couple of comments with respect to the AMHS:

AMHS is not the same as the other magnets. In fact, only a very small portion of AMHS is a magnet. In the junior class of ~300 students, there are only about 30 magnet students.

While the other magnet schools are combination magnet and zoned, AMHS is a combination magnet and choice. The choice component means that AMHS is designed to pull students from any district in DeKalb.

A set portion of AMHS is for students that would otherwise be at schools in its general area that otherwise have overcrowding issues. The remainder of the spaces are then available to all eligible students.

Arabia does not have plenty of space. Once the small senior class leaves after this year and is replaced by a full freshman class, AMHS will be close to its stated capacity.

Moreover, if AMHS had plenty of space, why would there be an off-site academy of students that are considered AMHS students (at LHS - the AMHS Annex)? If there was much space as some seem to think, these students would just be at AMHS.

Cerebration said...

Curious though - why redistrict into SW DeKalb which has something like 30 trailers? Compared to that - Arabia has space.

And the Arabia AYP transfer village off campus is a whole 'nother can of worms...

Anonymous said...

9:22 is absolutely correct. This is clearly a no-brainer.

My question is this: if we close 14 schools we will need fewwer admin staff will we not? Is a reduction in non-teaching staff part of the plan?

Cerebration said...

I would imagine (totally making this up here) that in the future, the brand new Chamblee HS will serve exactly the same function as Arabia for the north end of the county - and will host exactly the same opportunities. It will have local resident students as well as "choice" students. It will offer better access though, as it is quite close to a Marta station.

Cerebration said...

ps - the consolidation of the magnets is not only to save operations costs - it's mostly to allow for the other consolidations to occur. These plans hinge on the magnets - as DCSS has for so very long put far too much focus on them (IMO) and now it seems that they are the pivot point for all other decisions. If we don't consolidate the magnets, then you see from the presentation, the de-centralized option - that we don't clear out nearly as many open seats and won't recover as much from the state. It's a domino effect, and the magnets are the first bones tipped.

Anonymous said...

It seems unlikely the board will do the right thing and go with the centralized plan. It really makes the most sense.

Pissed off resident said...

I would like to ask them this:

"If you are re-districting my kid from a top elementary school into one that is failing and didn't make AYP in 2010, how do you plan on making sure that my child gets as good of an education as she would be getting at the school you've kicked her out of?"

Anonymous said...

Nancy Jester has come out on her facebook page against the centralization of magnets.

Make sure you email her your thoughts or post them on her facebook page.

Cerebration said...

Maybe you should apply for an AYP transfer once you are redistricted?

Cerebration said...

I don't usually, but I happen to disagree with Nancy on this point. I think the magnets should consolidate - and I think they should proclaim them for the top 5% as in - scoring a 95% on tests plus the other testing factors (motivation tests have shown to be good predictors of success). Hold no lottery - if you qualify - you get in. Create a truly, off the charts, school for math and science for the gifted. Send some of the Fernbank Science Center teachers there to teach. Make something extraordinary and truly for the gifted. (Then make DSA an awesome 4-12 school for the arts and an Cross Keys an amazing vocational/technical school.)

Then spend your money and energies creating challenging, "high-achieving" programs in our regular schools for all to enjoy.

Cerebration said...

Basically - all of our high schools should be what Chamblee Magnet is currently - and the magnet should be something truly different and focused on those who are actually testing as 'gifted'.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Cere. If it is a magnet, it should be for all children who can qualify and the bar should be raised.
Nancy is showing she also can be swayed by the minority in her ear and to serve her own interests. Magnets need to move.

Cerebration said...

I don't think Nancy is being swayed, I think this is truly her opinion and since she is very much a numbers person, she probably hasn't seen numbers to convince her to make this change.

Anonymous said...

"There are so many staff per number of students. Moving them into a different facility does not change the number of teachers needed including language, music, art, PE,etc."

Not necessarily. For example, at Wadsworth, there is a PE teacher for 150 students. Yet in other schools of 450 there is one PE teacher. Same with art and music. It's really economies of scale. The pupil teacher ratio varies wildly under the current plan. The more standardization you achieve in the area of class size, the more cost efficiencies you have and the more equitable the educational experience becomes for all students.

No doubt counselors, principals, Instructional coaches, gifted/enrichment teachers, ESOL teachers, bookkeepers, custodians, Prevention/Intervention Specialists, special education, cafeteria workers, etc. can be reduced as many of them do not have the maximum load of students. For example, some gifted teachers only have 5 or 6 students in a class if there are not very many gifted students in that school while they can go to - it was 17, but I believe it's now 21. The same is true of ESOL. If your school only has 3 or 4 ESOL students, the ESOL teacher still must serve them a certain number of hours a week so the hours the ESOL teacher is at that school, his/her class will only have 3 or 4 students or maybe even 1 or 2. This is not very efficient from a cost/benefit standpoint so the economy of scale rule operates here as well when consolidating schools and programs.

This is why Ms. Tyson needs to present the number of personnel that can be reduced based on numbers of students in each grade level and special needs category versus the student load that can be accommodated.

For example: Combining two schools, each with their own gifted teacher, will leave the new school with 75 gifted students. One gifted teacher will be needed rather than two gifted teachers. We have attrition in the 4th grade so we will move one of the gifted teachers to that vacant position. As you can see, you have reduced your faculty by one gifted teacher, but the student load is still very manageable and well within the legal limits.

Certainly, 3 or 4 Assistant Principals are not needed when 2 would do. 2 Head custodians at a much higher pay scale are not needed when schools combine.

The personnel savings figures are not that hard to achieve. Perhaps Ms. Tyson wants to nail down these changes before contracts are given out. That would make perfect sense.

However, she needs to share with the public the reduction in staff which means a reduction in expenses with the public and then build into the plan accountability for those savings.

Remember when Dr. Brown convinced the BOE spend millions in a retirement "buy-out" in an attempt to reduce expensive non-teaching staff. That was not a bad idea. but then Dr. Lewis came in and replaced all those staff and more. Taxpayers were then out the millions spent on the buy-out and in even worse shape down the road. He began to reduce teaching positions to pay for those new hires in non-teaching areas, and class sizes soared. If the BOE had instituted a publicly shared plan that evaluated the savings of reduced non-teaching personnel in 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, 4 years and at 5 years, Lewis would not have been able to add the tens of millions in non-teaching salaries and taxpayers would not have been stuck with the multi-million dollar buy-out for which we received no ROI.

Cerebration said...

Excellent points Anon.

magnet parent said...

Cere, great points regarding "magnet" schools. I agree with centralization. After all, Kittredge started as a 4-8 grade school. I agree with your points to limit the program to the top 5% on ITBS and make it so that all who qualify can participate. I disagree with nancy Jester. The "numbers" she is listening to are the "numbers" of neighbors, constituents that voted her in that office.

Anonymous said...

Does she state WHY she is opposed to centralization??? I'd be interested in hearing her logic.

I would like to see a different set of numbers. How many of the KMS (and Wadsworth, Chamblee, students are from what area? In other words, I know that the rules say that 2 students can apply then the rest of the slots are given at large. However, we turned down a slot, so did that go to another student at our school, or did it become "at large" and if so, is there an ability for the school to manipulate this?

In terms of the centralization question, I think knowing where these students are pulled from for each could be telling. Equally interesting, in my opinion, would be how many gifted students (not high achiever) are in each of the home schools (this is on the state website and the county also knows the information). My issue with the magnets and the county is that no resources, or uneven resources, are going to local schools to ensure that the true gifted population is receiving what the state law requires. Indeed, my interactions with the county office indicate they do not know what is required and will not investigate what is going on at schools unless numerous parents make the requests in writing.

I'm with Cere. I would think having the numbers - where the students are coming from, how many are gifted and how many students in these high achiever magnets have below 90 as percentile scores. I suspect that KMS has a majority of students from the north end of the county. As the poster on the previous blog indicated, they lobbied to have the program pulled from the central area (leaving the central region in the dust, as no afterschool is provided locally for these kids - at least not according to my letter - while local afterschool programming was made available from southern students and KMS has afterschool for northern students).

I suspect that there are more folks like me, two parent working families with more than one child, who simply cannot make the transportation work.

I'd like to see how the county proposes dealing with truly gifted students. They have NO COORDINATOR for gifted kids only, the magnet coordinator is in charge. It is clear that the only kids that this coordinator lobbies for are those in the magnet.

Can the county provide the numbers of opting in for these magnets?

Anonymous said...

"Nancy is showing she also can be swayed by the minority in her ear and to serve her own interests. Magnets need to move.'

I supported Nancy Jester and still do. She's taken on quite a task. Along with Ms. Edler, Ms. Jester brings a good deal of financial acumen to the BOE, something we have sorely needed.

I have not looked at her Facebook page, but I will after this post.

IMHO:
The magnet programs should be housed in regular schools since the consolidation of magnet programs under one roof may very well cause the same "magnet envy" we have now even if the programs are self supporting - i.e. the cost per pupil is no more for a magnet student than for a regular ed student (excluding any gifted funds of course since these funds follow the student).

Magnets are not just for "gifted" students. There are science magnets and engineering magnets and performing arts magnets and technology magnets, etc.

The top 5% as a cutoff of a high achievers school is not useful. My daughter went to Kittredge. Her classmates were all high achievers and many were gifted including my daughter. Some of her "gifted" classmates are in mundane jobs while some of the high achievers (not classified gifted) are in medical school or other highly demanding graduate programs.

Read Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers where he explains that Einstein's IQ was considerably lower than a number of other scientists, but he was "smart enough" combined with his other gifts of concentration and creativity to formulate ground breaking theories in physics that no one else has approached. Gladwell's point is that IQ is often overrated because being "smart enough" is the basis for most successful people. Most of the Kittredge and Wadsworth kids are "smart enough" to be doctors and scientists and whatever else they want to be.

The current stand-alone model for Arabia Mtn., Kittredge, Wadsworth,etc. is not good in that it helps create that "magnet envy", and the cost per pupil is more than sharing resources within an existing school. Shared resources generally save taxpayers a lot of money in the educational realm, and we need the money now more than ever.


IMHO - the school system should be trying to improve all the regular ed schools, but still have magnets housed in some schools throughout the county in order to meet the needs of students with special interests and abilities. Having said that, if the consensus is to create a massive magnet school that consolidates all the programs, then I would support that simply because of the economies of scale and cost efficiencies. Either scenario would be better than what we have now.

I trust that Nancy Jester will be looking at this from a cost/benefit standpoint. I'm very interested in her financial rationale. She's a numbers person so we should expect her numbers to shed some light on her viewpoint.

Anonymous said...

The reason for looking at the cut off being raised is that gifted services in the local schools are so sorely lacking. If we were providing those services as the law requires, then there would be no need to revisit selection into a high achiever magnet. But when gifted students receive services on the basis of winning a lottery where the numbers are stacked against them, we have a problem. I think you all simply do not get that these students are not receiving legally prescribed services at their local schools....that or you simply don't care....no surprise I guess..the county doesn't either.

Anonymous said...

"I'd like to see how the county proposes dealing with truly gifted students. They have NO COORDINATOR for gifted kids only, the magnet coordinator is in charge. It is clear that the only kids that this coordinator lobbies for are those in the magnet.

They have two coordinators for the magnet/gifted program. One is certified in gifted and has been in charge of the magnet program for many years. One is not certified in gifted according to the public online PSC certification records. We must have a thousand teachers certified in gifted. You would think the administration would consider a program that holds 10,000 students important enough to at least ensure the coordinators are certified in gifted and had actually taught gifted classes.

Anonymous said...

"I think you all simply do not get that these students are not receiving legally prescribed services at their local schools....that or you simply don't care....no surprise I guess..the county doesn't either. "

Then you need to be sitting with the state gifted coordinator:
Annette Eger
Program Specialist for Gifted Education
1766 Twin Towers East
205 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive SE
Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 657-0182
(404) 651-8582
aeger@doe.k12.ga.us

http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/ci_iap_gifted.aspx

Dekalbparent said...

OK, how about lobbying for changes to the acceptance criteria and structure of the magnet program?

1) consolidate the schools and deal with transportation via hubs and carpools (the way DSA does it)

2) open up MORE seats

3) 95th % or higher to enter the elementary school

4) 3 or 4 students from each school, with the rest of the slots going to at-large once every school with three qualifying students who want to go has sent them. Go so far as having an independent panel to screen applicants - absolutely nobody from central office or administration to be involved.

5) allow a TRUELY accelerated curriculum

6) require students to re-qualify for each change of level (elementary to middle, middle to HS)

7) do not give extra chances to remain at the school (KMS has an exit policy for kids whose grades fall below a certain level, but there is a history of second chances, third chances and extra credit allowed to bring grades up.)Extenuating circumstances should be allowed for, however.

When Kittredge began, it was a 4-8 school, with two students from each school, with 98th% scores, chosen by the principal (I realize this process is as subject to favoritism as others, but it is limited by the test scores), and each prospective student had to have an interview with KMS personnel for admission. They offered three or four languages (Chinese and Russian among them), high school and college level math and science, accelerated pacing. After school went to 5pm, and they had computer programming (remember this was 1987 - computers were a big deal), ham radio, photography, art, drama...

Not saying we could reproduce this, but it is an example to use.

Anonymous said...

"MGT did an excellent job of dispassionately gathering data, calculating attendance and carefully redrawing lines."

Cere, that may be true in some instances. But certainly it is not true in some. For example, in my area several elementary schools will now be sent to different middle and high schools than the currently districted. Students who not infrequently walk 1.5 miles to high school will now have to ride a bus 6 miles to an already overcrowded school that is not slated to lose students. Other students at the same high school who currently have to ride a bus 6 or 7 miles to get there were not moved to a high school only 2 miles away. So, the result is that now there are two sets of students being transported 6+ miles and none going to a school 1 to 2 miles away.

Anonymous said...

Correction to my 1:31 post. Several subgroups of students from two elementary schools will be districted to different MS and High schools, not entire elementary school populations.

Insider said...

Why is Harold Lewis, Director of Special Operations not listed on the Transportation web page? Seem like they're trying to hide him.

Anonymous said...

Well stated anon 131. Also why would you move neighborhood kids when the number of our of are transfers at Lakeside (and number of other schools which are being redistricted) is greater than the number they are pushing out. Take care of neighborhood kids first - then if there is room allow transfers. It should not be the other way around!

Anonymous said...

I really, really want to know why Arabia Mountain High is such an "untouchable" (?).

I'd also like to know why Tyson doesn't seem ready to end the administrative transfer madness (especially at Lakeside and Fernbank). The Lewis administration used them for political favors with no regards for the implications they caused.

I don't think she will, but it's time for Tyson, and the BOE, to stop allowing Central Office administrators and staff to be able to send their children to any school they want, especially when some live in the county. If a Central office administrator or staff members lives in the county, then her/his child or children need to attend the school they are districted for. Period.

Only teachers and school house staff should be allowed to have their children attend the school they work at. Not the feeder schools. Just they school they currently work at.

But I do believe with our budget crisis, it needs to be limited to teachers and school house staff who live in the county, and therefore pay Dekalb property taxes, 70% which go to DCSS.

For every non-county child attending a DCSS school, whether their parent works for the system or not, is a $10,000 perk (tax free) which we can no longer afford.

Anonymous said...

I think Nancy Jester is waiting for the cost analysis as well as the coefficients and quantifiers, she asked for, that were used in this plan. I am stunned that they had not finished the financial piece of this plan before the first presentation. Ms. Tyson you talked about transparency back in April. I hope you have MGT bring out all the financial figures for these plans whether they are positive or negative. Make sure the public has all the same resources, the BOE has, when these decisions are made.

This process is going to happen real fast since it determines the teacher contracts needed for next year as well as the State funding guidelines and deadlines.

I have a resident high achiever at CMS and my main concern is how the centralized plan will determine how many of the gifted/high achiever teachers will have to move to Avondale. I hope there are plans in the works to keep some of these teachers at CMS, CHS, Wadsworth and others to maintain some consistency among the resident high achieving students that don't make the move to Avondale.

Anonymous said...

Well how about Central Office and admin and support personnel who are outside the county? They send their kids to whatever school they pick as well, many of which are being redistricted.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't sound like Nancy Jester is waiting for any information. From her Facebook page:

Nancy Jester For Dekalb County School Board Here’s a few of my thoughts about the redistricting discussion: 1) I don’t support moving the magnet programs;

Anonymous said...

There won't be a rush on the teacher contracts this year. Last year, the state extended the deadline as they worked on their budget and you can expect the same again this year.

Anonymous said...

Part 1 of post
"I hope you have MGT bring out all the financial figures for these plans whether they are positive or negative."

I don't know if Ms. Tyson has made those calculations, but she is the one who needs to - or direct her staff to. For example, if a school is closed, what is she going to do with those redundant positions of principal, AP, counselor(s), Instructional coach, Head Custodian, custodians, cafeteria workers, Cafeteria Manager, secretary, Security Officers, bookkeeper, psychologist, parent resource coordinator, math coach, ESOL coach, reading coach, Prevention/Intervention specialist, etc. and that's just some of the non-teaching schoolhouse personnel - even a tiny school spends as much as a $1,000,000 in salary and benefits on these non-teaching schoolhouse personnel we have added so many positions.

Other school systems save money not just because of the state money they now get for art, music, etc. They also save money because they have larger elementary schools with just one principal, just one counselor, just one coach, etc.

Remember when she closes Medlock those 200+ students will go to several schools so no school will absorb all of them. You don't need an extra counselor because you go from 600 to 670 students.

Will Ms. Tyson:
1. Let these people go
2. Let them apply for job positions that have openings (even if it's not the job they were doing - e.g I'm an AP certified in elementary ed so I can apply for a 4th grade teacher position if there are no AP positions) and give them preference to fill those openings
3. Duplicate the job by now having two math coaches and two counselors even if the numbers do not warrant this
4. Create new positions and titles within DCSS so they will still have jobs (this happened last year during the reorganization of departments and this is the history of DCSS)

If she does #1 or #2, then DCSS stands to save millions. If she does #3 or #4, then our savings will decrease substantially, and much of this agony will be for naught.

Anonymous said...

Pat 2 of post:
And how about the teachers who are specials - not homeroom teachers? I think it's a given that homeroom teachers will be needed in pretty much the same numbers. However, will the combined schools need only 2 gifted teachers while before one of them had 1 and one of them had 1.5 gifted points?

And then there's the sticky problem of administrative transfers. Is she going to leave the hundreds and hundreds of administrative transfers in place while redistricting the students who currently live in the attendance district out of popular schools like Lakeside, Fernbank, Druid Hills, Henderson Middle, Shamrock Middle, Laurel Ridge, Oak Grove, etc.?

Remember that the parents of these children are her co-workers. If she sends them back to the their home schools, that will cause ill will on the part of people she works with. However, if she grandfathers those children in and stops the administrative transfer practice today, then in a few years as those seats will be vacant as students move through the system and those seats are not refilled with admin transfers. Or will she just continue it, and "save" seats in those schools for the children of admin and support employees?

These are decisions Ms. Tyson needs to make regarding personnel and students before she can give a definitive answer as to the cost savings and the BOE needs to approve them. MGT cannot make those decisions for her.

Personally, we're in such dire shape financially and have such large class sizes in the content and grade level classes that I hope Ms. Tyson goes with the most economical route possible. We need to pare down our costs OUTSIDE the content area and grade level classrooms - if for no other reason than these are the only areas that are responsible for making Adequate Yearly Progress.

This giant jobs program has not been good for kids, and everybody knows it. We will NEVER get our Return on Investment unless we put the money into teachers who teach our children math, science, language arts and social studies. At the end of the day, that's exactly of what we expect our school system to do.

Anonymous said...

Have all of you really fallen for this?

The entire redistricting exercise is a diversion to maintain the administration/BOE majority power and status quo. No matter what redistricting alternative that is selected, SCW and her compatriots will be screaming victim hood. If there is any cost-saving, the money will only find its way to either maintain or further bloat the paychecks and pensions of the administration. You and your children are only pawns in the power game. Re-drawing boundary lines does not cure a cancer. You have to cut it out.

What you really should be seeking is to split DCSS into two school systems. The Northern half could run an efficient and excellent system with 1/20th the administrative personnel operating from a suite of offices rented from Dunwoody City.

The alternative to the above is to have the State come in and take over the system. While Nancy Jester might be a breath of fresh air, she will never be able to muster the majority of BOE members needed to make the necessary changes. Dr Walker and others have too many friends and relatives on the payroll that have to be protected.

I am an empty nester in super affluent Dunwoody (where housing values have not decreased... lol)and have no children in DCSS. I think that I am entitled to comment because I pay taxes that are extorted from me to keep the DCSS job and wealth redistribution machine going. As an observer not in any way affected by redrawn boundary lines, my main comment is that you people are being suckered. The old basketball head fake. Wake up and smell the DeKalb County sewage spills.

Anonymous said...

"Have all of you really fallen for this?" makes a good point.

Redistricting (Centralization or Decentralization) will not cure DCSS.

The real problem is central office administrative bloat, waste, incompetence and malfeasance. Until you clean that mess up all the redistricting in the world won't fix our public schools.

I'm all for capturing as much state funding as possible. But only if it goes to the classrooms and NOT central office administration.

I'm all for eliminating redundnant principals, APs, non-teaching jobs. But only if the savings go to the classrooms and NOT central office administration.

Anonymous said...

Is the timeframe for these changes really the next school year, 2011-2012?

Does anyone think that DCSS can successfully handle the redistricting of 13,000 - 16,000 students, selecting and moving appropriate teachers and staff, plus the annual uncertainties of AYP transfers that become known only late in the summer?

If we must do this, let's do it in phases. From what I've heard, the financial incentive is in consolidating small schools. Why not go for that at the elementary level the first year, and then phase in other changes? Maybe even do half of the elementary closings next year, with the others set for 2012-2013.

I have little confidence that all of these changes can be successfully managed in such a short timeframe (basically March through July).

With all of the other issues DCSS faces, let's take it slow. It's a good direction but Rome wasn't built in a day.

Cerebration said...

I am confident that Tyson will make these tough decisions. The big signal was her raise -- I think the board gave it to her as compensation for this horrible task and she certainly will have earned it if she follows through with all of these initiatives, consolidations and cuts to friends and family of DCSS leaders.

Anonymous said...

If the system is ever going to be divided (and Lord knows its needed), it almost would have to be an East/West divide. The racial politics involved with a North/South divide would cause near riots and the county as a whole would never recover.

But something has to be done. I'm one of those who believes Dunwoody will join Milton if some state rep/senator doesn't first write legislation giving Dunwoody its own charter school system (which it would run more efficiently with 10x less administrators and waste that the Lewis/Tyson Central office does). It's amazing that Dunwody as a new city has a sizable surplus while paving roads, laying sidewalk and tackling other infrasturcture needs DeKalb County either ignored or couldn't handle.

I'd rather see Dunwoody with a charter school system than see it leave the county entirely, taking the cash cow Perimeter Mall area with it.

Nero said...

@5:10, but Rome burned to the ground in a day.

Time's a wastin'...

Anonymous said...

Question: were transportation costs assessed in changing boundary lines (some only slightly) and sending students to different and farther away middle and high (though keeping in same elementary)? Some of these changes will send multiple buses into the same neighborhoods, even on the same streets, to take students to two different (middle/high) schools.

Questions: were changed boundary lines done only with regard to numbers of students in redlined areas or with sensitivity to natural neighborhood boundaries? My observation is that many of the changed lines cut right through neighborhoods and ignore a major street .25 miles away that form a natural or more appropriate boundary.

Question: will any students be grandfathered? As of now, NCLB and administrative transfers are guaranteed placement until they matriculate from the particular school (not others in feeder) to which they transfer? Will this be honored for NCLB students as well as for current residents districted out of their current elementary or middle/high? Or, will this be honored for NCLB and admin transfers while residents are not allowed to complete their years at their current school?

Question: was there any discussion of actually verifying residency of students listed on the rolls of certain overcrowded schools, especially high school? At some schools, parents routinely lie/ get false leases, etc. or move out of school district but continue to go to old school because no verification is ever requested after middle school.

Question: what is the expected date of implementation? Will ALL schools undergo redistricting and consolidation at one time? We've seen what even a system-wide eSIS implementation did, so I have serious concerns about moving everybody at the same time. Seems that closing/consolidating small schools first would be a more manageable mess for administators already known for their poor handling of changes.

Private School Guy said...

In regards to the Dunwoody/Milton merger, it may take a great leap of faith to believe this will happen in this century. First Milton has to be created as a county. In doing so it may require the approval of all of Fulton County. Secondly the constitution has to be changed to create a new school system. Third all of DeKalb may be required to vote for Dunwoody to join the Milton school system. A charter system would be more practical and possible. Don't blindly believe in all political promises.

Anonymous said...

@ Cere ~ "since she is very much a numbers person, she probably hasn't seen numbers to convince her to make this change"

Nancy Jester has not even been a Board member for 52 hours. She posted her opinion on Facebook (!) before she even had an opportunity to look at the data she requested of MGT. I agree with magnetparent. She's listening to the cluster of people around her that voted her in. At a minimum, she's not taking the time (longer than 52 hours, I would hope) to determine what is best for the ENTIRE district. She was presented with the information on Monday night, just as the rest of the Board was. She's already made up her mind.

She'll fit right in.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 6:59. Please call Nancy Jester and talk to her. She will take your call or email her, she is very responsive and willing to listen to your thoughts.

I've read her Facebook page and I don't think she has totally made up her mind. I do think once she has the formulas, that MGT and Dan Drake used, she will make an INFORMED decision.

Look this thing is going to be painful for all. Please talk or email Nancy before broad brushing her Facebook response, just hours after receiving just a partial bit of information.

I sent her an email suggesting that they open a Magnet/Resident program at Avondale Middle and High so our friends in Central DeKalb can have convenient access to the wonderful programs my kids are receiving as a Resident High Achiever.

Anonymous said...

@ 4:36 pm
"What you really should be seeking is to split DCSS into two school systems."

Apparently you don't realize that the Georgia Constitution forbids the establishment of additional school systems. We would have to have a amendment to the Georgia Constitution to do what you are suggesting, a proposition that takes years even gets to a vote by the citizens of Georgia.

I am retired as well and pay extremely high property taxes.

Your efforts are better spent trying to replace the DeKalb Schools BOE members that caused these problems (excluding Nancy Jester and Donna Edler - the 2 new Reform candidates that just won against long and difficult odds). I'm proud to say that the 2 candidates I donated to (Edler and Jester) in this last election won BOE seats. They have solid financial backgrounds and put students first.

Encourage your retired neighbors to write their legislators to reduce the BOE from 9 to 7 or even 5 BOE members, and encourage them to spread the word - they have the time - they are retired, and they pay hefty property taxes - 705 of which to to schools. This legislation would trigger new elections and potentially cause more BOE members that caused these problems to be unseated.

Sometimes retired people do not make the connection between the health of their schools, their property values, and the vibrancy of their community. This has been a long time problem with the graying of North DeKalb and is also a more recent problem with the graying of South DeKalb. You might want to take every opportunity to explain to them that they need to email or contact their legislators as well.

Here's a link to the Georgia Constitution which specifies that now new school system shall be established:

http://law.justia.com/georgia/constitution/conart8.html

Georgia Constitution:
Article VIII
SECTION V.

LOCAL SCHOOL SYSTEMS

Paragraph I. School systems continued; consolidation of school systems authorized; new independent school systems prohibited. Authority is granted to county and area boards of education to establish and maintain public schools within their limits. Existing county and independent school systems shall be continued, except that the General Assembly may provide by law for the consolidation of two or more county school systems, independent school systems, portions thereof, or any combination thereof into a single county or area school system under the control and management of a county or area board of education, under such terms and conditions as the General Assembly may prescribe; but no such consolidation shall become effective until approved by a majority of the qualified voters voting thereon in each separate school system proposed to be consolidated. "No independent school system shall hereafter be established."

Anonymous said...

Do you understand that the magnet programs cost money to operate above and beyond what a traditional school receives?

Dr. Lewis had major plans to implement more choices across the system. They went away in better financial times because of the costs associated with them.

Magnets, as operated in DeKalb, at least aren't cheap and they aren't free.

Anonymous said...

@ 4:45 pm

"I'm all for eliminating redundnant principals, APs, non-teaching jobs. But only if the savings go to the classrooms and NOT central office administration. "

Then you need to make your stance known to Ms. Tyson and the BOE. And you need to spread the word to your neighbors and church members and friends to make their stance known to Ms. Tyson and the BOE. They will preserve the status quo unless the pressure becomes too great.

I urge you to contact Ms. Tyson and the BOE to let them know you support letting redundant admin and support staff go in order to provide more teachers to teach our children math, science, social studies and language arts

Anonymous said...

Have you looked at enrollment by school for all options. If you look at that you will see that at the middle and high school levels not much is changing except that CHS, SWD, And the middle schools are losing the magnet programs. That works well for SWD because it is overcrowded. It leaves CHS and CMS under enrolled.
Some of the overcrowding at Lakeside and Henderson is aleviatd. Lakeside goes from 149% utilization to around 128%. Similiar numbers for Henderson. Cross Keys which borders the Lakeside area remains at around 79% utilization. I thought the plan was to balance the students so that no schools were overcrowded so why isn't Cross Keys picking up some of Lakeside's students? CHS is picking up students from Cross Keys. The only reason I can think of is that they will change the attendance area for Cross Keys and Chamblee when the new building is finished. That will be many years from now.
I can see that consolidating the small elementary schools will save some money. (Looks like the people who will be losing jobs will be teachers and school personnel again) I can see that an attempt has been made to balance at the middle and high schools but it is a relatively small number of students. The numbers are very similiar for Plan "C" and Plan "D".
Moving Kittredge and Wadsworth looks like it might save some money but moving the middle and high schools magnets...I'm not so sure about. You might want to leave the magnets where they are until the new building is finished and they consolidate Cross Keys and Chamblee. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

The consultants made the point Monday night that the smaller Chamblee High is during construction the better.

Anonymous said...

That makes sense. If Chamblee is not at full enrollment next fall will it be designated a receiving school for NCLB? How is the whole NCLB movement from non-AYP to AYP schools going work next year? Same as in the past? That needs to be taken into account. Has anyone mentioned that in the reports?

Anonymous said...

If I am not mistaken, all of Sagamore is now redistricted into Druid Hills. I guess this fulfills Don McChesney's commitment to his Sagamore proponents to end the split feeder, eh?

fedupindcss said...

Anon 6:10--as per splitting the district (which, IMHO, will never happen), you are correct that a North/South divide would be politically untenable and never pass muster with the Dekalb delegation. However, from a completely non-racial pov, it makes more sense than East/West. Not so that North Dekalb parents could have the rarified school system they dreamed of (I am one, so I know), but because of the sheer issue of transportation costs. One of the big budget problems with DCSS over the years has been the growth of the transportation budget, and the cost of hauling kids all around a (now) densely populated and congested county. To create a sub-system that requires just that, rather than a more compact one, would be fiscally ridiculous, particularly given that transportation is not money spent on instruction.

Anonymous said...

Forgive me if this has been covered already - I don't have time to read every comment. Seems they just posted some new maps, with google earth photos They include the number of students from each area/street. Amazing! Go Dan Drake and team!

Here's a link to the North map:
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/redistricting/resident-attendee-north-map.pdf

Forgive me for not putting the text in html - just copy/paste.

The other maps and an explanation of the numbers are located at the bottom of the 2020 Vision page.

Anonymous said...

Also -- we need to know how many students are in the counts that are not currently, really, actually DeKalb County residents....

Anonymous said...

any school within reach of city of decatur should be lobbying for it's residents to become a part of the city of decatur, with its schools (dhhs & lhs in particular)...no need for a new school system... it's already there... just make it a bit bigger.

Cerebration said...

I'm interested in some of the schools currently very much under-utilized, costing us lots of unrecoverable money from the state. On top of that, some of these are magnets, which already cost more than regular schools. So some schools are not only costing more to operate, but they are harming our ability to recover reimbursements from the state.

Examples:

Atherton 66%
Avondale ES 67%
Avondale MS 55%
Clifton ES 66%
DeKalb Alternative 43%
DeKalb EArly College Academy 57%
DeKalb Night HS 17%
DeKalb School of the Arts 56%
DeKalb Transition Academy 24%
DOLA (Online) at McNair 45%
Dunwoody ES 65%
Eagle Woods Academy 51%
Elizabeth Andrews (Open Campus) 54%
Flat Shoals ES 57%
Gresham Park ES 49%
International Student Center 51%
Jolly ES 66%
Knollwood ES 39%
Margaret Harris 19%
McNair MS 60%
McNair HS 62%
Peachcrest ES 50%
Pine Ridge 61%
Rock Chapel ES 62%
Shadow Rock Center 69%
Sky Haven ES 42%
Snapfinger ES 51%
Wadsworth ES Magnet 32%

Question: Do the programs considered some kind of special program (alternative, special ed, etc) actually count against the system for low "capacity"? I would hope the state only looks at regular education schools, not alternative or special education programs.

At any rate, these numbers are really bad. These schools must be consolidated to meet our utilization goals. The big question is - do we really need to shuffle chairs at schools not on this list - unless it's in order to make room for students coming from one of the above being closed?

Cerebration said...

Idea: This was discussed for about 10 seconds way back in the comments.

Do we REALLY NEED the magnets? What if we shuttered them completely? What if we just put ALL that money into running really excellent schools - schools like Fernbank, Oak Grove, Briarlake, Vanderlyn, Austin - none of these are magnets - and all compete with Kittredge pretty well. What if we served the gifted in programs in their home schools? What if we made Chamblee a Charter High School for Math and Science. People could just apply like a normal charter. Same thing as Arabia just about.

What if we had one school that focused on the arts? But if it was a charter with an arts program built in - you could just apply like a regular charter because you are interested in the arts! DSA has still only grown their program to just over 300 students - there are many high schools that could absorb DSA as a program right into their home school.

What if we made a SERIOUS effort to replicate Kittredge all across the county and do everything "Kittredge" at EVERY school?!

Just a thought...

Anonymous said...

Cere -- you make an excellent point in your most recent posts... I say we do it! I'm afraid thought that the political wherewithal won't be there though... can you get a critical mass to support it? (I have to say thought that there will still be issues at the terribly overcrowded landlocked schools, such as Oak Grove, which really does need to send some kids to Briarlake ... can't speak to Vanderlyn & Austin, which probably need to peel off some kids to DES ... at a certain point, you must redraw lines -- I give Fernbank the right to raise money and grow to 1000 kids if it wants to ... they have the land to do it... I don't think the other 3 schools have the land to build on to (personally, I prefer the 500 kid school with the kittredge model being used)). I say, do it!

Nancy Jester said...

Hello Bloggers!
I just wanted to drop you a line to let you know that I have received hundreds of emails and I will be responding to them shortly. Since the BOE meeting on Monday, I have attended other meetings and appointments and have not been at my computer for lengthy periods. I apologize for the delay. I hope to "clear out" my inbox by the end of this weekend.

I appreciate all of your input and the opportunity to serve you. As always, please feel free to email me at nancyjester@gmail.com.
--Nancy Jester

Anonymous said...

Cere and anon 11:04:

I also agree. While I have many friends with children in the Kittredge/Chamblee program, in my opinion, the presence of that program not only skews financial expenditures, but in varying degrees across the whole county, garden-variety "high achiever" magnets hampers growth and success of regular schools and, again, in varying degrees, quells parent commitment to regular neighborhood schools because that winning lottery ticket is hanging out there.

I'm curious and haven't done the research -- perhaps some of you have -- what other comparable or even non-comparable districts in the state or country have such an extensive system of magnets simply for "high-achieving"? I get the rationale for magnets for subject areas -- math, technology, visual or performing arts, for more vocational endeavors, or for the liberal arts. And I do understand the rationale for high-achieving magnets under certain circumstances, which frankly, I think is served here by theme schools. Anyway, if anyone has any data from other districts on prevalence of high-achiever magnets and from what areas of those districts the magnets can pull, I think that would be interesting.

Anonymous said...

@ Cere
"Do we REALLY NEED the magnets? What if we shuttered them completely? What if we just put ALL that money into running really excellent schools"

Interesting thought. I worked in DCSS and lived in DCSS and was a parent in DCSS BEFORE magnets and a lot of the "progress" in education. Most schools were pretty equal in offerings. The gifted program was much stronger.

We had infinitely less non-teaching personnel - no Security Officers, no Instructional Coaches, no Parent Centers, no Intervention/Prevention Specialists, no Math Coaches, no MIS group (LOL - but not much less in the way of computers in the classrooms since that's to all intents and purposes non-usable even now), no Assistant Principals (every school had a Lead Teacher and he/she actually taught a class), no magnet program, no theme schools, no ESOL coaches, no IB, no school choice, no Office of School Improvement, no Graduation coaches. So we were probably $300,000,000 lighter in non-teaching personnel.

Almost everyone was a teacher. We had paraprofessionals, custodians, special ed and gifted (by the late 70s), a few ESOL teachers (again late (70s), usually there was an art or music teacher (rarely both)and later a PE teacher (in the 70s - no PE - we took them out to recess 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon - I taught them hopscotch and dodgeball and watched them run and play. Boy did they look forward to those times.

We took field trips. And sometimes I picked them up at home and took them with me and my daughter to a play or an art show. I had dinner with their families.

The Iowa Test of Basic Skills was used to group my students into levels (not grades) so those kids who were great readers could sprint ahead and those who needed help could progress at their own pace and the average reader was addressed as well. Math levels were in place in the same manner. Teachers could have kids do fun projects and science consisted of hands-on lessons and labs. We taught New math so they learned algebra concepts in the 4th grade - they could do it! You could throw out the English textbook and have your kids write and publish books all year (I did that) - write, write, write until their fingers were sore.

It's so sad to see how our schools have come to be run for adults and not children. It was fun to be a student and fun to be a teacher. Most employees were classroom teachers. DCSS had one coordinator for Language Arts, one for Social Studies, one for Math and one for Science and we could go to North Decatur and walk into their offices.

Yes. I think our kids would be better off without magnets and theme schools and the $300,000,000 in all that overhead personnel. Too many chiefs and not enough Indians.

Cerebration said...

Try this exercise -- Go to the state doe's website and click on QBE Reports (Allotments) - then run reports for DeKalb and other, similarly sized systems. Check out the funding we DO NOT receive compared to say - COBB. (below)

STATE EARNED QBE FORMULA ALLOTMENTS -

DeKalb - 97,562 students

Salary - $480,034,622
Operating $41,003,709
QBE Earnings - $523,561,283
Less Local 5 Mills - $113,919,515
State Funds - $348,196,626

EARNED POSITIONS K-12

Teachers 5930.05
Subject Specials - 156.18
Counselors - 196.24
Tech Spec - 88.71
Supt - 1
Asst Supt - 6
Principals - 138
Asst Prin - 155.72
Secretaries - 195.72
Accountant - 1
VT/SW 39.42
Psychologists - 39.42
SP ED Ldr - 41.43
Media Ctr - 168.78

======

Cobb - 108,322 students

Salary - $545,191,229
Operating $45,947,094
QBE Earnings - $594,076,545
Less Local 5 Mills - $133,973,704
State Funds - $390,718,940

EARNED POSITIONS K-12

Teachers 7071.51
Subject Specials - 162,63
Counselors - 207.06
Tech Spec - 98.47
Supt - 1
Asst Supt - 6
Principals - 114
Asst Prin - 173.64
Secretaries - 214.87
Accountant - 1
VT/SW 43.77
Psychologists - 43
SP ED Ldr - 64.68
Media Ctr - 185.96

===

In a nutshell, DCSS gets $5366 per student in QBE dollars from the state (Cobb gets $5484) and DCSS earns 1 teacher for every 16.45 students (Cobb gets 1 for each 15.31 students).

Here's the link to go try it yourself - Publish your results for other districts in the comments. Anyone want to do Gwinnett? Atlanta? Fulton? Clayton?

http://app.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/qbe_reports.public_menu?p_fy=2000

Cerebration said...

Good comment Anon 11:35 PM. Your opinion is valuable. Very important. And thank you for all you did for all your students.

Anonymous said...

http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/pressure-facing-new-dekalb-795976.html

Pressure facing new DeKalb school board members

Cerebration said...

@ Anon 11:34 PM - the story goes that the magnets (Kittredge anyway) was a product of the Federal Order to Integrate DeKalb County Schools. DCSS was under this order for gee, almost 30 years and had to come up with many innovative ways to integrate schools. I think it was nearly 20 years ago that the schools were finally declared "unified" and the court order released. (Somehow, the magnets still remain.) Paul Womack was on the board then and can tell you all about it.

Anonymous said...

I have 3 gifted kids --at different levels --93%, 95% and 99% -- they each need different things. 2 of them were in the KMS lottery twice & never got a spot. My 99th percentile kid could have really benefited from it. One is now in college and all 3 of them have gotten some pretty good gifted services at their local schoos -- I argue to you that they would have gotten even better services at their local schools had the KMS/CMS/CHHS resources been shared amongst their local schools and not been amplified by being spent on the 180 or so lucky ones in any given year with those teachers who have been lucky to be cocooned there at KMS. I don't think that there is any emperical data that shows that any one KMS kid had done any better at KMS/CMS than he or she would have done had they been left at their home school -- and that if they have done better that the incremental cost of that "better" has been worth the "expense" to the kids left behind in the home schools who did not "win" the underlying lottery (which has not been fair and has resulted in a number of law suits -- one of which I could have filed and didn't as there was one filed one of the years we were in the lottery and won by the plaintiff family). There is no data on the success of the program -- the scores are high because the students are selected for the program -- not necessarily because of how the program is handled. The vast majority of these kids would have high scores no matter where they took the test. Don't get me wrong -- I understand it's a wonderful program -- so wonderful, that all kids are entitled to the same services and that's the problem -- it's grossly unfair given the way it is handled. I do not believe that there is any high achiever magnet anywhere else in the country, much less the state at an elementary level. I am aware of a "gifted" magnet in Manhattan which selects in Kindergarten based solely on IQ from the top 99.9% down until it fills its class. I haven't heard of any other similar program in the county until you hit high school and then they are for gifted kids and mostly in math and science (see the Newsweek & US News reports). We are harming the kids aho don't get the spots by grossly oversepnding on the programs in a lottery fashion on "high achievers." It's just not fair or equitable. The KMS model needs to be replicated at all the local schools so that all high achievers can benefit from it and a program truly designed for the gifted needs to be implemented at the high school (maybe middle) level akin to what's happening elsewhere in the county in much more successful districts. We need to be modeling successful districts (I submit this includes a north springs' model for DSA too).

Anonymous said...

From the AJC article:
"Jester and Edler are the only board members who have children in DeKalb schools."


Also, is Jay Cunningham only on the BOE because of the salary and the mileage reimbursement?? I know Towm Bowen is only on the BOE because he has family members working for the system and wants to run for higher office.

Cerebration said...

BTW - that unearned money - the $118 per student we get LESS than Cobb - equates to $11,512,316 we lost out on due to lower QBE credits. (Due to under-enrolled schools with too many empty seats.)

That's about 10% of the budget cuts made last year. Perhaps we could have save the paras or the media clerks...

Anonymous said...

Note to anon 12:02, I think Tom Bowen's track record of leading the Dekalb County School Board clearly indicates that he is not a good or effective leader. The School Board was really an embarrassment during 2010.

The issues that SACS has are not with the students, not with the teachers, not with the parents' support of the school system, nor are they with the willingness of Dekalb residents to support our schools. The SACS issues are solely with the administration and management of the Dekalb County School System of which Tom Bowen is the Chair.

Our schools in Dekalb County will not improve until Tom Bowen and the seven incumbent school board members are removed and replaced. A new school board hopefully would hire a outstanding leader, organizer, and motivator to reinvigorate our system. Failed leaders have lost the confidence of the people and, once that is lost, they are like rudderless ships in a troubled sea.

Anonymous said...

@cere

Interesting viewpoint:
Taxpayer: Magnet schools cost more. Fix this.
School leaders: Yes, set up gifted classes so that we can maximize funding for the school (gifted have a higher FTE formula)and we can have reduced class sizes.

In the non-magnet schools, with smaller gifted populations, its VERY difficult to set up classes to support the gifted population. (this is High School) Class sizes of 10? Principals can't afford to do this. And the extra funding is only received from the state if the class is separated and taught by a gifted teacher. So if you want equity in non-magnet schools you will need to give them more funding so that there is support for the gifted students.

Its far easier for some combining of the gifted students at one school so that state funding can be maximized. ie gifted classes with 25 students.

You can't have it all: reduced class sizes, gifted support, all programs available at all schools AND reduced costs. This is NOT the place to cut costs!

Reduced funding from the state has us tearing each other apart and attacking the wrong areas.

Anonymous said...

Note to anon 12:54, correct me if I am wrong but all Tom Bowen does is chair the Board meetings and sign documents on behalf of the Board. Other than that, he is one vote as the other eight members. Seems like your expectations of him as Chair may not reflect reality.

Anonymous said...

7:44 am, you're right. He is just one vote, presides over the meetings to keep order, and signs on behalf of the board. The only other "power" he has is to make annual board member committee assignments -- and a committee can't act on anything without the full board's approval.

Anonymous said...

I agree with others that there are programs in DCSS that are just as good as the magnets. Let's move those resources to serve the greater number of kids and realize this savings along with the savings of consolidation.

As an example, UGA's Honors College is rigorous and highly selective. Their admissions procedure is to gather ALL the applications, winnow out those who MIGHT be candidates and then select from that pool up to the number of openings.

In the HS graduating class of 2010, there were 9 applicantsts from the DHHS International Baccalaureate and AP programs selected. There were no applicants from the CCHS magnet program selected. I don't know about the IB program at MLK or any of the other high schools.

Gil said...

From News Talk 1160:
http://www.newstalk1160.com/dekalb-parents-to-speak-out-against-redistricting-plan

Anonymous said...

Several things:

- Just how much do you think Kittredge costs? If you close Kittredge, there's not enough resources to spread over 3 schools, much less 80! What are you people thinking? Closing Kittredge (and Wadsworth) would do NOTHING to help every elementary school in DeKalb!
- Why are you all letting the magnet discussion distract you from the real problem - an insanely top-heavy administration??
- Gifted programs in the home schools won't necessarily serve people the same as Kittredge because not all home principals are dedicated to that population. There are schools that are not even meeting the state and federal guidelines for gifted at their schools.
- PLENTY of other school systems around the nation have magnet programs. Los Angeles, Boston, Nashville all come to mind. They have applications and lotteries just like DeKalb. Where DeKalb has differentiated itself is in the inequity at every non-magnet school. Some schools do not have what we consider the basics. Other school systems have not let this kind of disparity thrive. P.S. Shuttering Kittredge would not fix the inequity problem. It isn't enough money to go around, and it doesn't solve the other problems that created the inequity, like horrible principals.

We Need To Know said...

(1) How much will it cost to implement these redistricting plans?

(2) What additional transportation costs will be created as a result of these redistricting plans?

(3) How much money will be saved by the district once these redistricting plans are implemented?

(4) How many jobs will be eliminated in the district as a result of these redistricting plans?

(5) How much additional state funding will the district receive once these redistricting plans are implemented?

(6) What effect, if any, will these redistricting plans have on central office administration?

Anonymous said...

The DCSS should not count on any State funding to implement this. The state currently is dealing with a $2.1 billion budget shortfall and education is 53% of the budget. Any shifting of resources to continue programs or reduce class sizes are going to have to find the funds within the local systems. With DCSS that means getting serious about reallocating admin dollars to classrooms. The state is tired of failing systems coming continually back asking for more $ without fundamental changes being made. Any money that they need will have to be found from within.

You now have almost a super majority of Republican legislators in the General Assembly who look at failing systems like Clayton and DeKalb feel that giving any more state money to those systems is like giving heroin to an addict. They always come back for more. There is PLENTY of budget withing the DCSS to accomplish all core needs, there is just not the will of the voters or the administration to make the hard choices and clean up the Central Office. There is an apathetic population that keeps electing Copelin-Woods, Cunningham, Walker, and even weaklings like Bowen.

This is a local problem that needs to be solved on a local level, the state will not be bailing DCSS out.

I anticipate that DCSS will be raising the millage rate by 2 mils to the limit of 25 mils VERY soon. On top of that, the DK BOE is contemplating raising the County Operations millage rate by 4 (FOUR!) mils, not the 2.32 that Burrell requested in his budget.

Most of the DeKalb delegation is really disliked by the Republican majority for the reasons listed above, always "gimmee, gimmee, gimmee because we can't manage the money we have." There are only 3 members of the DeKalb delegation in the majority party now, Fran Millar in the Senate and Mike Jacobs and Tom Taylor in the House.

The rural and mostly conservative Republicans that have almost a super-majority are tired of hearing the woes on dysfunctional urban and liberal counties and school systems and like DeKalb, where you have those 3 even in the majority party, none is in a leadership position. Millar is a freshman Senator, Taylor a freshman House rep, and Jacobs was a Democrat until 2007.

Should not set the expectations bar too high for ANY state help.

Anonymous said...

RE:
"Most of the DeKalb delegation is really disliked by the Republican majority for the reasons listed above, always "gimmee, gimmee, gimmee because we can't manage the money we have."
OK, we'll settle for them no longer taking money from urban areas like Dekalb and Fulton and giving it to "rural" school districts, like Gwinnett.

Anonymous said...

@ 10:28 AM 1/6

We really do need two separate school systems. The frugal (cheap) North DeKalb taxpayers are holding back the development of the education hungry residents of South DeKalb

North DeKalb should integrate with the new Milton County when it is formed to stop being such a burden to the educational aspirations of South DeKalb.

Cerebration said...

The "help" from the state is not "additional" help at all - what we are seeking by consolidating our very under-populated schools is reimbursement of QBE funds at the highest possible level. As you can see from my calculations above, Cobb recovered $118 per student more in QBE funds from the state than DeKalb. (The state rewards you for having efficient full schools of at least 450 for ES.) This equated to over $11 million more we could have possibly been funded if we pleased the state requirements for full funding.

Anonymous said...

schools of 450 there is one PE teacher

that must be an interesting class size with a seven period day.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't make much sense for my child to be transferred from Elem, Middle and High Schools that are doing well, into over-crowded schools that did not make the AYP in 2010.
There is nothing in the plan that even remotely suggests transfering students into over crowded schools.

Anonymous said...

either plan is a wonderful first step-let's do one and get on with next step

Anonymous said...

After redrawing the districting lines and closing 12 to 14 schools,downsizing the central office staff, putting the checkbook on line, let's also raise the taxes to the max and have a really good school system

Dekalbparent said...

This just occurred to me when I was reading the Get Schooled blog on this subject.

Because of the new addition, Druid Hills has even fewer parking spaces than before, and the semi-circular drive has been shortened to a tighter turn, making it harder to maneuver the buses. There is no visitor parking at all, and what was the student parking is now partly faculty parking.

It is surrounded by residential streets that are posted No Parking from 8-4 (or 5), and the police are regularly called to ticket, so no extra parking is to be found there.

What effect will the redistricting have on this - particularly students who would have walked to their current school must travel on the roads. If there are more students arriving by bus, the jam will be worse (already the buses are two and three deep at drop off and pick up times). If more are brought and picked up by parents, the traffic will extend out onto N Decatur Rd (just at the same time as shift change for the hospitals). If some drive, where will they park?

I hate to say it, but DeKalb County government needs to be in on some of this conversation, in terms of traffic flow.

Insider said...

Just FYI - there have been two additional public info workshops added to the four already mentioned:

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

Anonymous said...

I've never seen any data that supports the conclusory statements that all magnet schools cost more so much more than non-magnet schools. Please show me the actual dollar figures that show how much more it costs DCSS to operate Chamblee Charter high school with the embedded magnet, than a non-magnet high school in DeKalb county.

And don't talk about gifted funds because at the high school level there is only supposed to be one gifted subject per grade. At CCHS all the gifted students receive the exact same benefit, whether magnet, resident or school choice transfer, i.e., if a student is classified as gifted they can take gifted language arts. No other gifted instruction is offered. Moreover, the magnet program is NOT a gifted program. All schools receive gifted funding (although not all use it in the same way). Students must test into the high achiever program and that is the primary difference between charter and theme schools which are prohibited from having admission criteria.

The magnet schools get a few "magnet points" but these have been greatly reduced. I would like to see exactly how much these points translate into for CCHS and SWDeKalb.

As for transportion, I have always urged the Board and Administration to eliminate magnet transportation. If parents want to go this route they will find a way. I think all choice schools should be treated the same with respect to transportation.

I see very little hard cost savings gained from consolidating the magnet middle and high schools. I'd love to see the numbers crunched.

However, there will be substantial disruption and enormous "soft costs" to move 4 schools, students, teachers and administration.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 9:30 am

Please let me add that there needs to be set checklists at the end of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 years that evaluates the decrease in expenses to ensure it has not "crept" back up - similar to what happened in the multimillion dollar retirement "buy-outs" for employees OUTSIDE the schoolhouse - i.e. non-teaching employees - that Dr. Brown had the BOE approve.

The cost savings were there or would have been after the "buy-out" up front cost was repaid by the cost savings from eliminating high salaries. However the BOE fired Brown and within 2 years Lewis had added back all those jobs and then many more - e.g. The Parent Center was established. One of the Prent Center coordinators hired is former BOE member's Zepora Roberts daughter. She has only been employed since 2005 when Lewis got the BOE to establish this non-teaching group. She's a non-teaching employee who zoomed to $66,000 by 2008, $71,000 by 2009, and $76,000 by 2010 in salary and benefits. BTW this was during a COLA freeze for teachers and her job designation as Parent Center Coordinator did not change.

Let's look at another example - former BOE head Francis Edwards' son-in-law and daughter.

In 2003 under Dr. Brown take a look at their compensation including salary and benefits (25%):
David Guillory: $88,000
Phlandrea Guillory: $80,500

In 2004 under Dr. Brown, their income level (salary and benefits) only rose 4% and 2.4% respectively - about the same as teachers:
David Guillory: $92,000
Phlandrea Guillory: $82,000

Fast forward to 2008 after 4 years with Lewis - see their compensation in salary and benefits:
David Guillory: $142,000 (54% increase or 13.5% annually)
Philandrea Guillory: $141,000 in salary and benefits (72% increase or 18% annually)

In 2010, after the DCSS administration and BOE had cut hundreds of teaching positions, the Guillorys made $144,000 each in salary and benefits for a combined total to DeKalb taxpayers of $288,000 a year.

These are just three small examples. There are so many more.

This is how it's done if you do not constantly establish cost centers, put every employee under a cost center, monitor that cost center year after year, and publish the results for the public.

I have nothing against shuttering small schools and redistricting to save money, but Ms. Tyson and the BOE MUST make DRAMATIC cuts in the admin and support areas and reduce inflated admin and support salaries (and don't even think about touching teachers - they are slightly below the marketplace - bordering on non-competitive salaries - and you can't get any more students into their rooms without a shoe horn).

The bloated and over paid admin and support group (8,500 admin and support versus 6,500 teachers of which only 4,000 teachers teach math, reading, social studies and science) is the elephant in the room.

When Ms. Tyson asks parents and children to make dramatic changes to their educational environment she cannot give the admin and support group a pass. The over paid and over staffed admin and support group are after all the reason we are in such financial distress.

(source: state salary and travel audit - http://www.open.georgia.gov/)

Anonymous said...

Great quote below.


http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2011/01/05/dekalb-schools-parents-question-closings-new-lines/

"One of the things that divides the parents so radically is the difference in programs offered from one school to the next. An IB school here, a magnet there, a Montesorri over yonder – it is NOT fair to have such a school available in walking distance for one neighborhood and not another. DeKalb should be offering a quality education to every child in every school. Perhaps some schools have fewer students in the advanced classes, but there is no reason to not offer the same education across the board."

Anonymous said...

Many of you posting on how it is simply not feasible to provide gifted support at local elem. schools just don't get it. The state has laws requiring that all gifted students have to receive certain services, with models outline that school districts must follow. I can assure you that because the county has taken NO INTEREST in this at the local schools, MOST schools do not meet the legal standards set by the state.

For those of you who are arguing that the magnets allow the district to address this issue in a cheaper manner - you also do not get it. The "high achiever" magnets are not for "gifted students". When the bar based on ITBS test results is set at the 75th percentile to qualify for these magnets, but it is set at the 95th percentile to be identified as "gifted," there is clear dissonance in the utilization of the magnets to meet gifted programming needs in the county.

This is why it is important that the board examine the school populations (partic. KMS and Wadsworth) to see what proportion of the students qualify for gifted points. I know that our small elementary school has 60 gifted students earning points - NOT at a magnet school. As well, I can tell you that we do NOT have a discovery teacher and the state guidelines for program provision are not being met.

I am sure that those parents at KMS who have kids below the 95th percentile want to keep that open. But the problem is Dekalb in addressing gifted education is far greater than the county understands. They push off the fact that they are not interested in these kids by claiming that this population's needs are being met through magnet programming.

IT IS NOT. There are at least 60 kids at my local school according to the county office, but we don't qualify for a full "point" and do not have any gifted programming occurring at this point. Instead, the discovery teacher who was working directly in the classroom was lost through budget cuts. The county simply notes that it is hard to meet these kids needs when there are so few of them at the school. So, here we sit. If you do not have a principal who understands that gifted students have differentiated learning needs, then it is a battle.

Again, how many of the KMS and Wadsworth students actually qualify as gifted? Knowing that would certainly be useful in examining the county's treatment of "gifted education" in the district.

Anonymous said...

It IS a great quote. And I agree with it.

But for this DeKalb County BOE it's easier to pay consultants $400K and do some "redistricting" than it is to cut the waste in central office and provide excellent educational opportunities in each and every school house.

Cerebration said...

@ Anon 2:12 PM - I could not agree with you more. This is why this massive redistricting is so painful - they are skipping steps. One skipped step is to examine and severely reduce the administration as you point out and the second skipped step is to closely examine the magnet programs and make some very tough decisions as to how we envision those in the future. Especially Kittredge, Wadsworth and DSA - our three most expensive programs. Third, the issue regarding the severe inequity of education offered amongst our schools must be corrected or at least have a formal plan of correction before requiring sacrifice of our communities.

Unless and until the leadership address these issues, these redistricting plans will continue to be a very hard sell to the general public, parents and students in DeKalb.

Cerebration said...

Two key points from Dunwoody Mom's notes from the meeting with Lynn Jackson (state DOE) -

you can see why DCSS cannot wait for a new Super to get the redistricting, consolidation/closing plan in place. If the system wants to be able to request state funds this all has to be in place by June.)

DCSS currently has accumulated $16,135.415 dollars that it has available to request for projects.
Ms. Jackson also pointed out that there are funds approved in 2004 that have not been used and must be used before February of next year or they are lost to the school system. I don’t think she indicated the amount.


I hope the leadership has their eye on this above referenced money and it hasn't gotten shuffled to the back burner and forgotten during all the other distractions and initiatives.

DCSS Budget, Finance and Facilities Meeting 10-21-10

Anonymous said...

Cere, can you please post how much extra funds DSA gets compared to another high school?
They have 5 grades but I don't know their enrollment; around 300, I think.

Every major school system in the United States has a fine arts magnet and DSA is a major target right now--I think--because of county mismanagement of funds and lack of funds overall. It would be a shame to lose this magnet and, in fact, it should be expanded to serve more students.

While all options are being discussed, I haven't heard anyone mention one important detail: the state of Georgia has severely cut education funding for the past several years. And cuts have occurred at the federal level, too. We need to demand that these funds be restored, and that DeKalb County cut its bloat. Keep an eye on the legislatures, both state and federal---write and call!

Anonymous said...

Cere, as long as those unused funds are used for the CLASSROOMS and not the palace I will not say a word. A matter of fact, there should not be an additional dime spent at the Palace until this process is complete. Personally, the employees at the Palace need to sacrifice too, 25% cuts from all Departments located at the Palace, as well as the Bryant & Moss centers.

Anonymous said...

In the budget, DSA has 7 unearned teachers, this means that 7 of their teachers are strictly funded by local funds.

Make DSA a magnet like North Springs and much of the controversy goes away.

Anonymous said...

OK, I think I finally get it:
DCSS acts quickly to change things that seem to be working quite well ... and never changes other things that seem to be screaming for attention!

Cerebration said...

Go to this webpage and download the school allotments charts -

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/budget/budget-detail-school-allotments.pdf

For a quick comparison - Most hard costs are the same per pupil, however, teacher ratios vary as well as staff (which are not indicated on the reports or on the school websites).

Lakeside - 1737 FTE (students)
83.75 regular (includes 2 ROTC) and 19.5 special education points (teachers) (1:16.82 ratio)
Expenditures $217,541.45 ($125.23 each)
Media $22,633.11 ($13.03 each)

Cross Keys - 1069 FTE (students)
62.5 regular and 6.75 special education points (teachers) (1:15.43 ratio)
Expenditures $112,386.89 ($105.13 each)
Media $13,929.07 ($13.03 each)

Avondale Hs - 652 FTE (students)
32.5 regular and 13.5 special education points (teachers) (1:14.17 ratio)
Expenditures $81,756.77 ($125.39 each)
Media $8,495.56 ($13.03 each)

DSA - 296 FTE (students)
24 regular and 1.5 special education points (teachers) (1:11.6 ratio)
Expenditures $30,160.44 ($101.89 each)
Media $3,856.88 ($13.03 each)

Additionally, each of these schools has it's own administration. Each has a principal, at least one Asst Principal, counselors, service staff, etc.)

Cerebration said...

It's true that of the 24 points for DSA, 19.5 are regular and 7.0 are magnet.

Lakeside has 2.0 ROTC and Avondale has 3.0 ROTC.

Cross Keys has 1.0 ROTC point.

These points are included in the totals above.

Cerebration said...

Here are the numbers for Wadsworth

166 FTE (students)
15 regular (includes 3.0 magnet points) and 0 special education points (teachers) (1:11.0 ratio)
Expenditures $10,598.02 ($63.84 each)
Media $2,299.78 ($13.85 each)

Cerebration said...

It's hard to do a flat comparison of teacher to student ratio, as we have no idea how many special education students are in each scenario, so to just add the teachers and divide into the students isn't the best method - but I don't know of another.

FWIW - if we just use the regular ed teachers and take special ed teachers off the equation, the ratios look like this -

Lakeside (1:20.74)
Cross Keys (1:17.10)
Avondale (1:20.06)
DSA (1:12.33)

Cerebration said...

Ironically, Kittredge, with 418 students, only gets 6.0 magnet points. This is included in their 33 regular points. They also have .75 special education points.

Total ratio - (1:12.38)
Ratio without special ed points (1:12.66)

Compare that to --

Oak Grove - 37.25 regular + 6.0 special ed points for 629 students

Total ratio - (1:14.54)
Ratio without special ed points (1:16.89)

Anonymous said...

I'm willing to listen to the details of this plan, however, I was appalled that no one had placed a dollar figure, whether it would be costly or a savings, on this yet. I think this would have been an easier sell if the dollar figures were presented. My fear is that they had and did not like what they saw.

When Nancy Creek was transformed into Kittredge, almost a million dollars was spent to retrofit the school from a PK-5 to a 4-6 school.
If the centralized plan is approved, Nancy Creek would have to be retrofitted back into a PK-5 school, how much is this going to cost?

One last comment, Last month, when she asked for her raise, Ms. Tyson should have shown some sacrifice on her part by firing Moseley, Thompson, Mitchell-Mayfield and Audria (I went on a trip with Clew) Berry, before this plan was presented. Everyone asks for sacrifice of the parents and teachers, well Ms. Tyson it's time you start sacrificing the very people who have not done their jobs, like Audria Berry, since becoming the director of school improvement, MORE of DCSS schools have failed to make AYP. Plus, her staff has almost doubled in size and salary during that time. Plus, that department has paid for expensive programs (America's Choice & Parent Centers) that have shown NO return on investment. To this day, I can't believe all these six figure employees had no idea what Pope and CLew were up to. Especially, Moseley and Thompson. They had to know something!

Ms. Tyson want to get more stakeholders on board with your plan? Start trimming the staff at the Palace and make the transition for the new Super less painful.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 12:47
"The reason for looking at the cut off being raised is that gifted services in the local schools are so sorely lacking."

Cerebration just posed this question in a post on another thread (2020 Vision):
"To the poster who wondered if the money saved by closing say, Kittredge would not help the rest of the schools - think about it - wouldn't 50 teachers dispersed around the county help out gifted students in home schools?"

There were less than 80 dedicated Gifted teachers in DCSS this last school year 2009-10. The year before in 2008-09 there were 87. The year before in 2008-08, there were 90. So you see the Central Office has indeed been whittling them down.

Since we only have less than 80 dedicated Gifted teachers in the DCSS, I would say that 50 (60% increase) more Gifted teachers would definitely make an impact.

I posted this here because I've read the posts in this thread many parents frustrated with the gifted services DCSS provides.

DCSS should be receiving close to $1,700 per gifted child for each gifted child served the maximum amount of hours a week - set at 5 hours (see DOE source below). Gifted is funded at 1.667 of the per pupil from the state. If one gifted child is served, all gifted students must be served. A school system is NOT allowed to pick and choose.

This should be close to $17,000,000 a year in state funds for gifted (DCSS has around 10,000 students identified as gifted).

These less than 80 gifted teachers cost DCSS around $6,500,000 in salary and benefits.

So where is the rest of the money going? I think that's a valid question that parents of gifted students should be asking the Director of the gifted program and the Coordinator of the High Achievers/Gifted program. Here's a link to the Magnet/Gifted DCSS web page so you can see who the Director and Coordinator of the Gifted programs are and how to contact them:
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/support/gifted/

DCSS needs to practice more transparency into showing txpayers exactly where these funds are going. Cost centers need to be established and published every year by DCSS.

School system expenditure details are a great mystery at this time. The only way taxpayers have of calculating cost centers is through the information that the state requires DCSS to send to the DOE. The DOE in turn publishes it on the Internet as part of the transparency in government laws.

Here are the sources (all state of Gerogia) I used in case anyone wants to check my figures:
1. state Salary and Travel audit
http://www.open.georgia.gov/

2. Georgia DOE "Gifted Education Elements":
http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/DMGetDocument.aspx/2010%20Data%20Collection.pdf?p=6CC6799F8C1371F6F1EFF2E750F3BE1F0C4A6071634B52F79038AFCEEDA8F2DC&Type=D

Anonymous said...

Well. There's a problem right there. I looked on the Coordinator for Gifted's certification on the Teacher Certification website and I could not find any gifted certification. How can someone be in charge of the Instructional of Gifted Students in DCSS if their not certified in Gifted? That means they've never taught Gifted if they're not certified.

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/support/gifted/

Teacher certification:
https://www.gapsc.com/Certification/Lookup/look_up.aspx

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration
"It's hard to do a flat comparison of teacher to student ratio, as we have no idea how many special education students are in each scenario, so to just add the teachers and divide into the students isn't the best method - but I don't know of another."

Not really. Whether a student is in Gifted or Special Ed or ESOL, he/she rarely spends a full day there. Almost ALL of these students depend on the grade level teachers in elementary and the Content Area teachers in middle and high to learn math, language arts, science, and social studies. The misnomer is that we count special ed in the pupil teacher ratio as well as other special area teachers. This gives the impression that the teachers who teach our students math, science, language arts, and social studies (you know - the content that 100% of our students are there to learn, and the ONLY content that counts for AYP) have small class sizes.

In reality out of 6,500 DCSS teachers for our 96,000 students, considerably less than 4,000 are content area and grade level teachers in DCSS. They are considered the lowest in terms of prestige in the county and have the highest turnover rate.

No wonder they migrate out of the classroom to administration, special area teaching, other counties with less "specialists and administrators", and out of the teaching profession.

It's a sobering thought that the entire responsibility for making AYP rests on the shoulders of around 3,800 employees out of 15,000+ and yet they receive so little pay, respect, and support.

I left the regular ed classroom and migrated into a special area many years ago because having all of the responsibility without the respect and authority was simply too much for me. I had many mixed feelings because I really loved having my own classroom of kids.

This has become the "dirty little secret" of every school system, but DCSS is the worst offender of the metro area. I don't think this will ever be corrected because those 3,800 are the ones visible to parents while the other 11,000 are in the background for "support".

Anonymous said...

DCSS MAKING MONEY ON BRIARCLIFF PROPERTY AFTER ALL!!

Don't know where to post this, but I have seen evidence of filming at old Briarcliff HS on N Druid Hills, and today the lot was packed with trailers, equipment, tents and people, and they were running shuttle buses from the church across the street.

Asked AJC and found out they are filming episodes of MTV "Teen Wolf" there. Has this been shared with the public? How much money are they making on it? Where is the money going?

Asked my BoE member several months ago when I saw it before, and they said they didn't know what was going on, so has it not been shared with them?

Anonymous said...

I teach Gifted--a program that is as poorly managed as any within our system. We don't even have a Gifted coordinator in our school now, and the county coordinator doesn't seem to have noticed.

Anonymous said...

I would love it if parents of gifted students in local schools would start raising #$%!!. Clearly, given the numbers of fte that Cere just posted for earned points for gifted, KMS has a LOT of kids there who are not qualified "gifted." If more were, they would have many more points.

So, where are these kids and what services are they receiving? And, can county realistically claim that they are serving this population?

My calls to the county office consistently yield the conclusion that there aren't enough students at the school to earn a full point so the administration must make other models work. NO OVERSIGHT.

Read the state guidelines. They indicate that counties should be doing an ANNUAL review of curriculum and numbers to ensure that students are being a) appropriately identified, b) appropriately served. Is this happening? (Doubt it). Certainly, there is no oversight of curriculum. I'm assuming that if there has been we would not be fighting the battle in which we currently are engaged.

Anonymous said...

W Anonymous ^:27
"We don't even have a Gifted coordinator in our school now, and the county coordinator doesn't seem to have noticed. "

Yes. You do have a Gifted Coordinaton at the county level - Dr. Kishia Towns-Dixon:
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/support/gifted/

Unfortunately, she does not appear to be certified in Gifted so she could not have taught Gifted.

Please see if you can find a Gifted certification for this employee who is making the instructional and curriculum decisions for Gifted Instruction:
https://www.gapsc.com/Certification/Lookup/look_up.aspx

I'm so sorry for you and all the gifted students in DCSS. I taught Gifted over a decade in DCSS. EVERY coordinator since the inception of Gifted in DCSS had a Gifted certification and had taught as a Gifted teacher in the classroom.

BTW - I know your coordinator taught chemistry at Chamblee Charter magnet program where my child went - why do you think I looked up her certification?

Anonymous said...

"My calls to the county office consistently yield the conclusion that there aren't enough students at the school to earn a full point so the administration must make other models work. NO OVERSIGHT."

Read the post by Anonymous 8:05 and maybe you will realize why your phone calls have not produced results. How did this happen?

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 7:59,

What schools are you talking about? My child goes to DCSS elementary school (not one of the magnets) and is in the gifted program. She was tested within a month of her starting school. After the testing was complete she was promptly put in Discovery (gifted classes) where she goes daily for 40 minutes or so. So other than the first six weeks or so that she was in school, she has been to Discovery daily.

I am very satisfied with the gifted services she receives. When she gets to the age of being eligible for Kittredge, I may not even apply her -- because we like being in our local school so she can walk, have friends from school in the neighborhood, etc.

If she were not receiving gifted services I would definitely be applying to Kittredge because she is the kind of kid that needs that challenge.

Anonymous said...

Why is DCSS still spending $7,000,000 on a science center that is outdated, uses thousand of buses to bus 30+ students into a central location for 1 teacher to teach them a 1 1/2 hour to 2 hour science lesson (maybe our students get ONE lesson a Year)? Surely NO ONE can still countenance this program started in the 1950s when gas was cheap and we had no budget worries.

Are parents satisfied that DCSS doesn't touch the $7,000,000 a year terribly antiquated science center while your school closes and your children face redistricting?

Only 28 of the 61 (less than half) of the employees at Fernbank Science Center are even teachers. The rest are administrators. PLEASE see the list of administrators versus teachers by going to this website address. Yet another example of DCSS finding a way to fund non-teaching administrators:

http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/03/are-proposed-dcss-budget-cuts-going-to.html?showComment=1268107305335#c1538229996533106229

The 1950s era of 30 cents a gallon gas are gone.

Ms. Tyson and the BOE MUST do something about this cost center that does not produce any Return of Investment for our students. $7,000,000 a year and rising with the gas prices.

What a shame to shutter neighborhood schools but keep this albatross open.

Write Ms. Tyson and the BOE to ask them why they are not shuttering this ineffective center.

Anonymous said...

Regarding moving the SWD HS and Chamblee HS magnets to the Avondale High campus:

Here are the Facility Adequacy (FA) and Technology Readiness (TR) scores per MGT:

FA TR
Avondale HS 44.79 59.2
Chamblee HS 32.56 83.3
SWD HS 55.41 73.4

Why would parents want their children to move to such a sub-standard facility, just so the county can proudly claim that things are "equitable"?

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8:23
"
What schools are you talking about? My child goes to DCSS elementary school (not one of the magnets) and is in the gifted program. She was tested within a month of her starting school. After the testing was complete she was promptly put in Discovery (gifted classes) where she goes daily for 40 minutes or so"

Does your child go to a school that has a plethora of gifted students? Surely she's not in a school with only 20 or 30 gifted students. How could a school with so few gifted have a fulltime or even half time gifted teacher? Not possible with only 81 dedicated Gifted teachers in DCSS for 140+ schools.

What school is your daughter in?

Anonymous said...

Cere, can you run the current numbers on FTEs/ funding for Arabia Mountain HS?

I am curious about their student teacher ratio and extra points.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Anon 8:55 for your post! You shared a reality that some on this blog have not experienced. Hopefully it opened some eyes and will force some to think outside of their world.

Anonymous said...

Henderson Middle does an excellent job on gifted services. Our experience with gifted at Briaralake was also excellent although our beloved gifted instructor is now an asst. principal elsewhere (Vanderlyn I think). She was doing gifted at Briarlake for well over a decade. Briarlake did an excellent job during that time of testing for gifted to maximize those points and had qualified for as many as 1.5 full time gifted instructors. I'm not sure what it currently does as I've been out of elementary for a while. One of the "tricks" is insisting that the school test for gifted (and IEP) services so that the school qualifies for those extra points.

Anonymous said...

Let me emphasize that gifted services are severely lacking for schools with a small percentage of gifted students. There are not enough gifted students to qualify for a point, and the principal chooses to spend the gifted money elsewhere. This is why I hope the magnet schools will stay open in some capacity, and I would like to try for it when my child is old enough. Gifted kids in schools where there are not a lot are NOT receiving the services for which the school is paid. They need an opportunity like a high achiever magnet.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:47,

I understand your analogy regarding gas prices in the ‘50’s being $0.30/gal. More accurately, crude oil was averaging $2.00/barrel in the mid ‘60’s and in 1969 gas at the pump in NE Atlanta was fluctuating between $0.259 and $0.289 depending upon gas pricing wars amongst rival stations. Five dollars would fill up the average gas tank.

Unfortunately, you got me thinking. Back then teachers did not put up with BS in the classroom and principals backed up their teachers. In school discipline was never questioned. As a result, the emphasis was on education and students actually learned something. Education in this county was streamlined and productive. What a nightmare we have now.

Anonymous said...

I think that there needs to be recourse when there is a gifted child who is qualifying for funding that is not being spent for gifted services ... that may be a basis for a move into a school with more adequate gifted service -- which move would (and should) include a "taking" of the funding with the child so there's an incentive for the principals to actually meet the needs of the gifted kids -- the answer is not to overspend a chunk of resources on one place at the expense of a bunch of other places when the "qualifier" is not "gifted" with its extra funding.

Cerebration said...

Arabia -

FTE (students) - 1466
Points (teachers) 69.0 regular - 4.0 special ed (no ROTC)

Ratio - (including special ed teachers) (1:20.08)
Ratio - (using just regular ed teachers) (1:21.24)

Expenditures - $184,825 ($126 each)
Media - $19,101 ($13.02 each)

Anonymous said...

I left out "with a lottery component" so it's divvied up by luck of the draw and not based on who really needs the special services (or even who may enter the school with the extra gifted points).

Anonymous said...

One other bad thing about returning Nancy Creek as its own school and moving the 180 kids out of Montgomery. Both schools lose. The combined Montgomery/Nancy Creek school (housed at Montgomery)has become a school that rivals Vanderlyn and Austin in our end of the county. It is arguably one of the "hottest" schools in growth which has resulted in it now becoming "overcrowded" by about 30 students. The school is really clicking and now they will split it and combine both schools with different neighborhoods (Huntley Hills, Ashford Park) and really disrupt a lot of students. Makes more sense not to destroy a good thing.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 9:03

"Thank you Anon 8:55 for your post! You shared a reality that some on this blog have not experienced. Hopefully it opened some eyes and will force some to think outside of their world."

You're welcome. One of my three schools in DCSS where I used to teach gifted for years in DCSS had only 30 students classified as gifted. I was part time, but I combined my students (grades 1-3 and grades 4 - 6) so I could spend as much time as possible with them. We published a school newspaper. I combined them with my other schools on buses so they could afford to take field trips (3 a year per child). We published books that they actually authored. I invited speakers into our school. Mike Luckovich of the AJC did caricatures of them the year he won the Pulitzer Prize, Ms. Scott of the Atlanta Daily World came to our class, the Emory archaeologist "Mummy Wraps"helped them prepare each other for an Egyptian burial for our Egyptian unit. I was determined we would do everything schools with a full time gifted teacher would be able to do.

I'm retired now. However, it's terribly painful to hear that in DCSS schools with very few gifted students, the DCSS administration has made sure the teachers in the regular ed classroom are certified in Gifted in order to claim the "differentiated" instruction they do qualifies as gifted services - all so they can get the tens of millions of dollars of gifted money. They care nothing for how the gifted student is served. It's all about how much money they can bring into DCSS for the least amount of teacher services (this is probably true of Special Ed and ESOL as well).

I also taught regular ed so I realize how ridiculous this is - how can a teacher with perhaps 40% of his/her class doing remedial work possibly do the activities appropriate for his few gifted students? The regular ed teacher has the administration interested in only one thing - making AYP - not serving gifted students, and the pressure is unbelievable on them to serve the low achieving students.

Gifted students in schools where there are few gifted students get left in the dust in DCSS. And then people in schools with many gifted students wonder why these parents of gifted kids with low numbers of gifted students are complaining. Their child has plenty of gifted services they say. Why are those parents complaining?

The DCSS administration has a Gifted coordinator who is not even certified in Gifted and has never taught gifted and makes well in excess of a $100,000 a year in salary and benefits. Does that tell you something? It's not about the students at all. Is that surprising?

Anonymous said...

@9:50. Thank you. I have felt so alone for about 2 years. When I raise the issues, people look at me like I'm a snob. I wish I knew you. It is nice to know that someone out there in the DCCS wasteland understands. You have stated the issues more eloquently than I can because I'm so frustrated at this point. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

from the other post: All kids will be running society in the future. If they have no education and no job skills - they will most likely become criminals -- we need to educate them. Conversely, our gifted kids are who are most likely going to be our doctors, lawyers, politicians, engineers, ceos and other business leaders. They may also be the unibomber and that other serial killer who was ivy league educated. It is important that we educate them properly so that when we are all old and grey we have the vast majority of these kids doing things that are productive and useful -- that we will want them to be doing when we can't be doing them for them -- they will need to be doing for us and for their children. Georgia, believe it or not, has some of the best laws and provisions for gifted education in the country. If your school is not giving your child what they are qualified for in gifted education so your child grows up to be a ceo or rocket scientist instead of the unibomber -- it is your right, duty and obligation to file a complaint with the apropriate state agency (info previously noted). Your school is getting money for your child for gifted services -- your child is entitled to receive those services. Your child's only advocate is you...My largest problem with Kittredge and Wadsworth is that they are not gifted programs. They are not based on merit or the need of the underyling child -- they are based on a relatively low, "high achieving" test score that the vast majority of kids at any of our schools would qualify at and would benefit from. If the qualifier were to change to be merit based and it would be treated as a "Harvard" or public Westminster based on accpeting the top 150 applicants based solely on numbers (test scores) then it wouldn't seem so random and arbitrary and unfair and it is much more likely that the entire population of the school would qualify for the extra gifted funding. this is the way it was initially set up and this is the way the vast majority of similar "achievement" magnets work throughout the country (and I'm still unconvinced that there are very many at the elementary level and I challenge you to actaually name the elementary programs that are similar -- I know of the one in Manahattan & it is based on raw IQ 99.9th percentile down to about 97th starting with admission in kindergarten).

Anonymous said...

from the other post: All kids will be running society in the future. If they have no education and no job skills - they will most likely become criminals -- we need to educate them. Conversely, our gifted kids are who are most likely going to be our doctors, lawyers, politicians, engineers, ceos and other business leaders. They may also be the unibomber and that other serial killer who was ivy league educated. It is important that we educate them properly so that when we are all old and grey we have the vast majority of these kids doing things that are productive and useful -- that we will want them to be doing when we can't be doing them for them -- they will need to be doing for us and for their children. Georgia, believe it or not, has some of the best laws and provisions for gifted education in the country. If your school is not giving your child what they are qualified for in gifted education so your child grows up to be a ceo or rocket scientist instead of the unibomber -- it is your right, duty and obligation to file a complaint with the apropriate state agency (info previously noted). Your school is getting money for your child for gifted services -- your child is entitled to receive those services. Your child's only advocate is you...My largest problem with Kittredge and Wadsworth is that they are not gifted programs. They are not based on merit or the need of the underyling child -- they are based on a relatively low, "high achieving" test score that the vast majority of kids at any of our schools would qualify at and would benefit from. If the qualifier were to change to be merit based and it would be treated as a "Harvard" or public Westminster based on accpeting the top 150 applicants based solely on numbers (test scores) then it wouldn't seem so random and arbitrary and unfair and it is much more likely that the entire population of the school would qualify for the extra gifted funding. this is the way it was initially set up and this is the way the vast majority of similar "achievement" magnets work throughout the country (and I'm still unconvinced that there are very many at the elementary level and I challenge you to actaually name the elementary programs that are similar -- I know of the one in Manahattan & it is based on raw IQ 99.9th percentile down to about 97th starting with admission in kindergarten).

Anonymous said...

from the other post: All kids will be running society in the future. If they have no education and no job skills - they will most likely become criminals -- we need to educate them. Conversely, our gifted kids are who are most likely going to be our doctors, lawyers, politicians, engineers, ceos and other business leaders. They may also be the unibomber and that other serial killer who was ivy league educated. It is important that we educate them properly so that when we are all old and grey we have the vast majority of these kids doing things that are productive and useful -- that we will want them to be doing when we can't be doing them for them -- they will need to be doing for us and for their children. Georgia, believe it or not, has some of the best laws and provisions for gifted education in the country. If your school is not giving your child what they are qualified for in gifted education so your child grows up to be a ceo or rocket scientist instead of the unibomber -- it is your right, duty and obligation to file a complaint with the apropriate state agency (info previously noted). Your school is getting money for your child for gifted services -- your child is entitled to receive those services. Your child's only advocate is you...My largest problem with Kittredge and Wadsworth is that they are not gifted programs. They are not based on merit or the need of the underyling child -- they are based on a relatively low, "high achieving" test score that the vast majority of kids at any of our schools would qualify at and would benefit from. If the qualifier were to change to be merit based and it would be treated as a "Harvard" or public Westminster based on accpeting the top 150 applicants based solely on numbers (test scores) then it wouldn't seem so random and arbitrary and unfair and it is much more likely that the entire population of the school would qualify for the extra gifted funding. this is the way it was initially set up and this is the way the vast majority of similar "achievement" magnets work throughout the country (and I'm still unconvinced that there are very many at the elementary level and I challenge you to actaually name the elementary programs that are similar -- I know of the one in Manahattan & it is based on raw IQ 99.9th percentile down to about 97th starting with admission in kindergarten).

Anonymous said...

@8:05,

I think you misunderstood.

I posted at 6:27, that my SCHOOL has no gifted coordnator and that the county gifted coordinator (who does, ostensibly, oversee the program) has apparently not noticed that no one is in charge.

We have quite a large Gifted population. I'm not suggesting that these kids aren't being served, because we have a great group of teachers who see to it.

But shouldn't this woman at the county be interacting with us in some fashion or checking in to see what we are up to?

What exactly are her duties?

Anonymous said...

10:20 -- despite this whole conversation on gifted certification and gifted services -- some of our all time best gifted teachers in our "gifted" classes were not gifted certified and some of our worst teachers were gifted certified (this is at the middle school level when you could really see the contrast). So I'm not so sure I would criticize the gifted coordinator for lack of this certification without more and I'm not so sure I'd be frustrated for no county level supervison given all the complaints the blog gets for useless supervision -- unless there is some problem, be happy that it's working and let it be.

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem with the magnets as they now exist is the shear "luck of the draw". The way that Kittredge works is that each school gets x number of slots - like 3. Take a school like Montgomery or Vanderlyn where 30-40% of the student body is in the gifted program and that school gets 3 spots?!?! Maybe 5-10% of a class will be chosen for the magnet? That isn't right. But can the 95% who don't get into the program get the same experience at these schools? All gifted/high achieving students should have equal access to all programs. Picking names out of a hat is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Watch Channel 2 news at 10: covering community response meeting to DeKalb redistricting.

Anonymous said...

Gene Walker, a true sell out of human being, when not facing charges of sexual harassment:

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/26358727/detail.html

Some board members expressed concern about the equity of the plan. Dr. Eugene Walker said he hoped to minimize the disruption to students and teachers.

“My people have some very strong sentiments about schools,” Walker said. “I’m gonna make sure those sentiments are heard.”

Anonymous said...

Getting hard to live in the DK:

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/26388627/detail.html

One month after raising water rates, DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis announced a plan to raise property taxes for homeowners as well.

The CEO announced a proposed budget with a tax increase of 2.32 mills. A county official told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh that the increase amounts to $20 a month for the average homeowner.

Anonymous said...

@ 10:27

"some of our all time best gifted teachers in our "gifted" classes were not gifted certified and some of our worst teachers were gifted certified (this is at the middle school level when you could really see the contrast). "

Well, that's not true. If your child was in a "Gifted" class, then the teacher was certified in "Gifted". Otherwise, the county could not collect "Gifted" funding - the most important component.

A teacher does not have be certified in "Gifted" to be a great teacher. However, gifted children are different. I taught gifted for 11 years and I had/have a gifted child (all grown up now). If they were not different from other children they would not be called - uh - "Gifted". I also taught regular ed - every grade but 1st and 2nd for a decade so I do know a little bit about the difference in regular ed and gifted - obviously more than I can share on this post.

Having someone in charge of Gifted Education who is not certified in Gifted and has never taught Gifted is actually a big deal. How would you advocate for science ed if you've always taught French? How would you understand the ins and outs of teaching English if you have only taught Math? To put it in business terms (in case you in private industry), would you put your head of Accounting in charge of Sales? I was in sales for a decade. I always made over my quota. Would you hire me to sell or a person who had experience in managing a customer service group?

So yes - someone who has had skin in the game and actually has performance as a background should be hired as the Gifted Coordinator. Not someone who has no experience and no formal classes in the subject at hand. And to be fair, my child did have this person as a teacher in high school and the impression was of someone who was more interested in advancement than imparting knowledge. My child got A's but not due to any inspired teaching.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:10

" @9:50. Thank you. I have felt so alone for about 2 years. When I raise the issues, people look at me like I'm a snob."

You are not a snob. You are merely in a minority of parents. Just like parents who would advocate for their child who has learning disabilities, you are concerned for your child who is gifted. If your child sits in classroom filled with many gifted students, then the teacher will teach to those students. If your child sits in a classroom where most of the students are in the middle, then the teacher will teach to the middle. If your child sits in a classroom where most of the students are low achievers, then the teacher will teach to those students. When students cannot add, a teacher would be foolish to teach multiplication (repeated addition). When students cannot subtract, a teacher would be foolish to teach division (repeated subtraction).

What's so difficult in understanding the reality of our classrooms? You are right to advocate for your child. IMO (and also experience) - gifted children in low achieving schools benefit the most from gifted services and they receive the least of those services.

Anonymous said...

Thank you again Anon 9:05 for your post! There are many well intentioned people on this blog but unfortunately many have a myopic view of gifted services in this school system. I don't think many could understand having to wait until the 4th grade to finally having an option for a gifted child. Even then, acceptance into one of the magnet programs is not guaranteed. Yes, all children should be able to receive the services they need in their own school however that has not been happening over the year.s

Anonymous said...

I must disagree with the comments about "gifted" courses vs. the high achiever magnet program. I have had children in both in DeKalb county.

The "gifted" program at the elementary level at my children's school was a joke and only served to satisfy the parents' desire to see that their children received the label. Yes, the teacher was gifted certified, but the students did very little but play during the pull out sessions and the teacher was one of the worst in the school. The paperwork she sent home was filled with typos and grammatical errors. I believe the principal moved her to the gifted position so she would do less damage than teaching a regular class of students all day long.

Everyone lobbied to get their children tagged "gifted" because a few years ago the gifted classes were smaller in middle and high school and there were more of them.
But now there is very little "gifted" instruction at the middle and high school level and everyone has huge classes where the poor teachers are supposed to differentiate instruction.

I much prefer a high achiever magnet program where all the students must test into the program based on a nationally normed test such as the IOWA or SSAT. There are various pros and cons about whether a true high achiever program is best delivered in a stand alone magnet or in the schools. The biggest problem I see with implementing it in the schools is that it is never consistent from school to school. Witness the fact that some of the high schools are on block (HORRIBLE) and some are on a 7 period schedule, some do not observe the silly "no zero" or "3 opportunities to make up a failure grade" policies. Some schools have massive grade inflation and others do not.

Mary Kay Woodworth said...

I understand that the consultants did not look at the types of residences feeding into schools when they developed the proposals. Can anyone confirm this?

For example, Henderson Mill Elementary currently has 10 apartment complexes feeding into it, and a large number of non-English speaking/at risk/transient population. In the proposed decentralized plan, 40% of Henderson Mill Elementary's active volunteer families will be shifted to Hawthorne - residents of single family homes in the neighborhood directly behind the school.

That's great for Hawthorne, but leaves Henderson Mill with a very real issue - the children that are most at risk will not have the support that they need and deserve - and Henderson Mill will almost certainly become a Title 1 school.

A long-time, great tradition at HME is the tremendous support that the active parent base provides to these at-risk students and their families.

Isn't this moving in the wrong direction?

Anonymous said...

Henderson Mill has always needed redistricting. When I moved to my house in 1983 one street from Briarlake, we were zoned into Briarlake Elementary (less than a 1/2 mile. The street behind me (1/2 mile from Briarlake) was and is zoned into Henderson Mill. Those children on the streets behind my house could walk to Briarlake, yet they are bused to Henderson Mill. You would think in 30 years time, this would have been addressed. I'm glad to see this happen.

Anonymous said...

"The "gifted" program at the elementary level at my children's school was a joke and only served to satisfy the parents' desire to see that their children received the label. Yes, the teacher was gifted certified, but the students did very little but play during the pull out sessions and the teacher was one of the worst in the school. "

That is a problem that the principal and the coordinator of gifted in DCSS should have addressed. I taught gifted for many years and shared many units with other gifted teachers. Some gifted teachers are great and some practice what I call "death by ditto" - i.e. they continually give out ditto sheets to the point where it's mind numbing. It gives gifted a bad name. As a teacher of the gifted, I couldn't worry about the slackers. I could only focus on my students and do what's right for them. However, we do have folks paid to focus on this problem. They need to be doing their jobs.

Anonymous said...

"some practice what I call "death by ditto" - i.e. they continually give out ditto sheets to the point where it's mind numbing. It gives gifted a bad name"

You would think with Audria Berry's army, with its massive amount of highly compensated former teachers, would be constantly auditing classes. In Decatur, each principal has to audit at least one class per day.
Audria Berry's avergae staff member sits on her butt all day, checks out the internet, walks around occassionally to look busy, tells a teacher how to build a better bulletin, etc.

It is clearly time to completely eliminate the Office of School Improvement. There is no return on investment, and test scores are actually dropping. $15 million right there back into the school house.

And for Parent Respurces Centers, eliminate all the full-time staff (especially those related to BOE members who make 50% more than teachers with no education degree). In the lowest performing schools, keep Parent Resource Centers staffed by retired teachers paid at an hourly rate, no benefits. Millions more back into the school house.


You would also think that former teacher Don McChesney would stick up for teachers more, and demand that resources are put back into the school house, instead of being spent on Berry's
army of do nothing's.

Foghorn Leghorn, er, Paul Womack loves to remind everyone what a successful businessman he was. Tom Bowen likes to list his business background. You would think that the BOE's Chair and Vice-Chair would ask hard questions about return on investment for the Office of School Improvement, along with Parent Resources Centers, MIS, the school police department, etc.

Cerebration said...

It's been almost a year since I posted this data, so it may have changed - and now I'm unable to find it on DCSS' website - but here's what I had posted last year on the number of apartment complexes that feed into schools -

Question though -- how do you explain the fact that Avondale (24 apt complexes), Cedar Grove( 1 apt complexes), Clarkston (28 apt complexes), Columbia (15 apt complexes), Lithonia (17 apt complexes), (Miller Grove (12 apt complexes), MLK (5 apt complexes), McNair (21 apt complexes), Redan (2 apt complexes), Stone Mt (24 apt complexes), Towers (19 apt complexes) are all TITLE 1 schools, none of which made AYP in 2008 - most having not made AYP for several years -

While ---

These NON-Title 1 schools - Lakeside (36 apt complexes), Dunwoody (28 apt complexes), Chamblee (22 apt complexes), Druid Hills (69 apt complexes), Tucker (24 apt complexes), all make AYP year after year.

Of course there's SW DeKalb - making AYP but with only 4 apartment complexes - but it is a magnet school.

And -

Most ironically - Cross Keys - with a whopping 80 apartment complexes feeding into it and a large population of English language learners, probably the worst campus in the county and very little support from the central office - made AYP in 2008.

I just don't get it. How are all those SW DeKalb schools Title 1 when most of them are fed by suburban single family homes in supposed middle class neighborhoods. And further - why do these schools - many of which are gorgeous new facilities outfitted with the best new equipment available - fail to make AYP year over year?

Lucy - you've got some "splainin'" to do.

I would make the charge that a new administration is required - one who will look at the reasons for the underperformance at these schools and make remedies to fix them - remedies that don't require expensive "special" programs, out of control transfers for a whole host of "reasons" and the transportation associated with those transfers.

I would even go so far as to say that this administration is so hyper-focused on new buildings - new programs - magnet - theme - and choice - that it is effectively in fact - harming the home schools and causing flight, leaving empty seats and poor performers "behind".

Anonymous said...

Cere--
Seriously, visit some of the 28 apartment complexes in Clarkston and some of the 28 apartment complexes in Dunwoody and tell me what kind of equivalence you see.

Anonymous said...

Agree Cere. This is probably why Dunwoody is so quiet. Most of Austin's "apartment kids" are proposed to be districted somewhere else, as are other area elementary feeders. The new Dunwoody elem will pick up the lion's share.

Anonymous said...

Not all apartment complexes are created equally. Some people actually choose to move into certain apartment comlexes in order to go to certain schools. In other apartment complexes, school choice may not even be on the radar.

Mary Kay Woodworth said...

Anonymous 9:33

I completely agree that Henderson Mill and others have needed redistricting for a very long time.
However, I also think that if the consultants don't consider the residential mix and the effect that it will have on the school, that it is an issue.

And I don't know believe that the majority of these families that are moving to the apartments and extended stay hotels/motels in this situation are doing so because of the school district - it is economically driven.

Shoot, maybe it would be better for the school if it was Title 1, to get more resources.....

Anonymous said...

This is an example of very bad information. Fernbank has two admininstrators.

"Only 28 of the 61 (less than half) of the employees at Fernbank Science Center are even teachers. The rest are administrators. PLEASE see the list of administrators versus teachers by going to this website address. Yet another example of DCSS finding a way to fund non-teaching administrators."

And this is bad logic

"What a shame to shutter neighborhood schools but keep this albatross open."


If we closed Fernbank tomorrow we would still have to close 12 to 14 neighborhood schools.

But both were great examples of someone with an axe to grind.

Cerebration said...

I think we need to focus on this in phases. First, we need to consolidate those schools that are costing us massive losses in state FTE funding due to severe under-utilization. Then, we need to find out where the over-crowding is actually coming from in schools like Lakeside where neighborhoods in close proximity to the school are being asked to attend a different school much further away, requiring transportation. We need to look at all schools - especially in the Dunwoody area - and do some thoughtful enrollment balancing. Third, we need to look at ALL magnets and special programs as Ms. Tyson says, "forensically". I just don't see how the regular redistricting and the magnet issues can be wrapped up in with these school consolidations in one fell swoop. There are really about three separate action items in this package.

Anonymous said...

Cere, Spot on! They should do this in 3 phases. Consolidation, Redrawing lines then Forensic Audit of Magnets.

There are a huge amount of decisions being made here and if money is an issue, deal with that first! While consolidating, also ask for austerity cuts at the Palace. Ms. Berry your plan is not working it's time to shutter the Improvement Dept and leave that to the professionals in the school house. I'd rather give a salary bump to the folks actually teaching our kids and see the incredible layer of mis-managed "six figure" coaches transfer to a class room or say so long!

There can be several stages to the redrawing issues as well. We must balance our attendance zones and a part of that can be the magnet, once we know the return on that investment and if it should be changed.

Anonymous said...

I have a solution to the gifted student problem that is causing so much angst. Many of you probably have heard Garrison Keillor on NPR. He comes from Lake Woebegone "where all children are above average".

So, with the power invested in me, emanating from the taxes extorted from me by DCSS, "I hereby declare all children currently attending DCSS schools to be gifted".

@10:17 I loved your description of Mr Womack. As to Mr. Bowen, the reputed financial genius, would you trust him to do your income tax return?

Anonymous said...

Of course the Austin and Vanderlyn contingency is quiet on the boards; they got exactly what they wanted... exclusive (in the true sense of the word) rather than inclusive elementary schools. Let the the other 3 Dunwoody elementary schools absorb the apartment dwellers, ESL, racially diverse and economically disadvantaged populations. They don't care if it's fair (which it's not), as long as it's someone else's problem and not theirs.

Anonymous said...

I've been following the arguments being vocally put forth by parents opposed to redistricting plans that would affect the current Briarlake-Henderson-Lakeside zone. Many of the arguments against the proposals are laughable, such as kids who go to the same neighborhood swimming pool need to attend the same elementary school. Other arguments involve vague notions of how changing the feeder pattern will harm "community continuity." Give us a break. Let's be honest for a moment. The bottom line is that the yuppie plastic surgery queen moms and neo-Con Lexus dads in the Briarlake-Oakgrove areas are upset that their home values might take a further hit if they are zoned for Shamrock and Druid Hills or even "lesser" schools, instead of Henderson and Lakeside. This is almost all about money and maintaining economic segregation. Two words capture it: Elitism and racism. I'm sure the Dekalb School Board realizes this.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 5:27

"Two words capture it: Elitism and racism. I'm sure the Dekalb School Board realizes this."

Well put. Now let's see if Eugene Walker, BOE member who captured so many Fernbank votes, will "save" the Fernbank students from little old Briar Vista?

I live in the Briarlake/Shamrock/Lakeside area. This discussion is ridiculous when so many schools in South Dekalb are going to be closed. How silly we are to argue over equally good public school options.

How do you think the Briar Vista parents, students, and faculty feel about their school being bombarded by Fernbank parents who say in an email:

"legal...redress"...working our community's connections with anyone and any entity that may influence the Board's decisionmaking"..developing and coordinating both external contact with media outlets... opposing the current proposal.....research.... campaign finance and other records relating to members of the Board of Education....signature-gathering -- we will be drafting a petition for recall of certain Board members....if any of you have additional ideas or suggestions for methods of influencing the outcome of this process in our favor, please pass those along to any of us.."

I'm actually embarrassed for the Fernbank group that would advocate such strategies against a school that provides virtually the same in achievement level as their children receive presently. And that's what public schools promise - Achievement.

Fernbank's chess club, yoga classes, IB, etc. may be great, but is that really what public schools are about? Somehow I thought good academic achievement so students can grow up and get good paying jobs is what they are about.

Cerebration said...

"working our community's connections with anyone and any entity that may influence the Board's decisionmaking" --

Action like this would bring a SACS inquiry.

In defense of Oak Grove, Briarlake, etc. I have lived in that community for over 16 years and don't personally know a soul who had plastic surgery. Please dispense with the name-calling.

Second, what is up with Gene Walker? Is he all about equity for poor and minorities or is he all about appeasing his most powerful and vocal voters in order to stay in office? I'm thinking, sadly, these days it's "B"...

Anonymous said...

"working our community's connections with anyone and any entity that may influence the Board's decisionmaking" --

Give me a break, do you think this is unique to Fernbank? The same thing is going on all over the Lakeside district as well.

"I'm actually embarrassed for the Fernbank group that would advocate such strategies against a school . . ."

They're NOT advocating anything "against" another school. They're advocating against being pulled from the IB curriculum.

Anonymous said...

Neo-Con Lexus dads? Please! most of the folks in this area are huge liberals, just check out the signs during election time. Most folks in this area were for Barnes. They are Emory/CDC Government employees.

Anonymous said...

"How do you think the Briar Vista parents, students, and faculty feel about their school being bombarded by Fernbank parents who say in an email: etc .. ."

Briar Vista parents, students, and faculty WEREN'T bombarded by Fernbank parents. They were bombarded by people posting a community email on THIS blog. But don't let the facts get in the way of your animosity toward Fernbank.

Anonymous said...

"...most of the folks in this area are huge liberals, just check out the signs during election time. Most folks in this area were for Barnes. They are Emory/CDC Government employees. "

Yes. And my neighbors had no problem with the Lewis regime and have no problems with his residue. Lewis' administration is still totally intact. Name JUST ONE top level administrator who has lost his/her job since Lewis was indicted. Do we really believe Lewis decided on all these promotions of non-teaching positions by himself? Do we really believe not one of those administrators knew who was the female employee he took on personal trips with school system dollars and promoted to the high level position she occupies even today?

These "liberals" are happy as long as their children are in the advanced and AP and IB classes separated from the masses.

I'm proud to say I'm a liberal in the Briarlake community who worked hard for and believe in Obama and Barnes and Hank Johnson, and believe that this school system needs reform and redistricting. I know also there are lot of liberals in this community who "talk the talk", but they don't "walk the walk".

Anonymous said...

Re Fernbank:
"They're NOT advocating anything "against" another school. They're advocating against being pulled from the IB curriculum. "


I guess the "public" school system guaranteed them the IB curriculum. Funny. I thought DCSS guaranteed them a decent education and good achievement for their children.

Anonymous said...

Liberal or not, it is a fact that school success is predicated by socio-economics. Higher the socio-economics, higher the likelihood of success.

I understand why otherwise liberal people who understand these facts may not one their child to be negatively impacted by the behaviors of a much lower socio-economics group of students.

All other variables being constant, a group of Briarlake or Oak Grove kids would learn less at Clarkston than at Druids Hill or Lakeside. The behavior dynamics would be different requiring a more disciplinarian approach instead of the more academic approach found at DHS or LHS.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 8:40

"Briar Vista parents, students, and faculty WEREN'T bombarded by Fernbank parents."


No. The Fernbank parents have just organized via emails calling for petitions to recall board members, legal redress, and public meetings. Look at this link:
http://clairmontheights.org/node/1446

And this meeting:
"Also, we encourage everyone to attend Fernbank's next PTA meeting, October 19, 6pm in the school cafeteria. We are hosting a candidates' forum for the two individuals running for the DeKalb County Board of Education's District 9 seat, which is one of two "superdistricts" and includes Fernbank's attendance zone. Those candidates are Eugene Walker, the incumbent, and Ella Smith. Each candidate will give his or her remarks, to be followed by Q&A. "

Someone who attended that meeting - please tell us - Did Walker tell the Fernbank parents they would be exempt from rezoning?
http://clairmontheights.org/node/1481


Meanwhile, all this blog has done is post a few numbers showing whatever this protest is about - it's not about achievement which is the ONLY promise of a public school system.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 8:45, you give me hope after reading your post. I just wish more felt the way you do. Over 60% of our property taxes goes to DCSS. Folks as long as the former regime is in place, nothing will change. These folks must be shown the door, NOW! Ms. Tyson, you got your raise, now let the money you're making talk! Start preparing the foundation for the new Super, ask the Clew leadership to go and after the new Super arrives, you need to resign as well. It's time for change at DCSS!

Anonymous said...

"In defense of Oak Grove, Briarlake, etc. I have lived in that community for over 16 years and don't personally know a soul who had plastic surgery." LMAO! That's because they can afford good plastic surgery and they're not admitting it to you!

As for all the supposed "liberals" and "government employees" in Oak Grove...don't kid yourself. Perhaps some CDC docs who can afford McMansions on Oak Grove Rd, yes, but otherwise plenty of private sector, fiscal conservatives in the area. And even among the many so-called liberals in the Briarlake/Oak Grove area, their liberalism seems to end when it comes to having their precious little ones exposed to ethnic diversity in the schools. lol

Anonymous said...

what does that have to do with the price of eggs?

Lefty said...

Anon 11:08 - you are absolutely right. I can think of several surgical friends here around LaVista off the top of my head. And OG parents react to Sagamore as horribly as Ferbank parents Briar Vista. "My child is at a school that's a 9 and they want to send her to a school that's a 5." They fail to look at GreatSchool.org parent reviews. Parents continue to say great things about Sagamore giving it the same 4 star average as Oak Grove.

Anonymous said...

Lefty,
What is the consensus amongst the Sagamore parents about ending the split feeder?

Lefty said...

They hope to get something done. The new plan does end the split feed. But it sends all of Sagamore school and all Leafmore residents to DHMS/DHHS. So the plan got rid of the split at Sagamore but created them at OG and B'Lake. Imagine living west of Briarcliff with youe kids at Sagamore and they want to send your kids to DHHS when you live less than a mile from LHS. Crazy!! The clear boundry is NDH and Clairmont.

The goal should be no split feeders.

Anonymous said...

And North DeKalb and South DeKalb didn't think Central DeKalb is really a distinct location.

South DeKalb - you think we are secretly part of North DeKalb.

North DeKalb thinks we are NOT part of Dunwoody and so they don't really think of us too much at all.

But now everyone can see the little kingdoms that have been carved out by the schools that inhabit Central DeKalb. Do you guys in the north and south see the quiet power centers that reside in Central Dekalb?

Cerebration said...

For a perspective beyond Lakeside and Druid Hills - this is a comment posted at the AJC blog from a South DeKalb parent - something to think about:

Tired in DeKalb
January 9th, 2011
9:22 pm

I am tired of DeKalb shifting high performing students to schools where they need more students and higher test scores. This is the third time since my children have been in the program that they have shifted. My last child will be transferred to her 4th school with this change. Please make up your mind.

By the way for Dr. No. South DeKalb is not a drain on the system. The majority of us that live in this area are hard working parents of high achieving children. We are involved in our children’s education, we attend PTA meetings, and our children achieve just as much or more as the children in the North side of the county. We own homes and pay taxes just like people in Lakeside or any where else and want the best for our children. So before you go down that path get your facts straight.

Unfortunately, all of our children in this school system will suffer in some way. We as parents have to decide what solution will cause the least amount of damage.

Anonymous said...

I'll tell what will cause the least amount of damage, is to have the entire Clew leadership that is still in place to resign! The folks at the palace continue to do things that are dishonest, corrupt and not transparent. They hide data that would expose the nasty DCSS secret, that palace personnel is entirely overpaid and inept at what they do. They fudge numbers to make sure their kids get into the schools that will prepare them for the future and they let the bad schools get worse and worse.

This DCSS bunch does not punish the bad, it punishes success!

Time for the lack of leadership at the palace to be exposed and it's time we say so long to the office of "improvement". The only improvement I've seen at DCSS is the improvement of pay stubs of the palace guard. These folks are robbing our school system blind and we the taxpayers should not have to put up with this madness.

Cut the staff at the palace by 30% is the solution that will be least damaging to our kids in the DCSS.

Anonymous said...

"The only improvement I've seen at DCSS is the improvement of pay stubs of the palace guard."


Great quote, and oh so true!!

Anonymous said...

As a parent of a DCSS student, a teacher with DCSS, and a Dekalb Co. resident who sends her child to school in their designated district, I feel that the redistricting is a great idea. I taught at Shamrock before redistricting in 2004 and then after for several years. Before, Shamrock was recially balanced, with a culturally rich and diverse student body. The students were happy and so were the staff. After, the school became racially unbalanced. They did the exact opposite! I support this change so that Shamrock can go back to the way it was and even better. I love the idea of changing the name to Druid Hills Middle as well. This school needs a fresh start and I hope the proposed rennovation happens. It has been in dire need for quite some time with a rediculously inferior structure when compared to other schools. My son is very excited about the proposed redistricting and I am too. He currently attends Henderson MS but will be attending Shamrock if the redistricting plan goes through. Henderson is said to the best MS in Dekalb. This school is built on a garbage dump! I just pray the rotted garbage that's been buried there for over 50 years isn't getting into the water supply. If Henderson is best middle school in Dekalb, then God help us. I am so thankful someone wants to rennovate and restore Shamrock. The children in our neighborhood deserve it!

Anonymous said...

Honestly, will all of this really matter? I am curious whether all of the questions and concerns will be taken into consideration. At this point I do not have any faith in the board. Clearly there are important questions being posed by concerned parents. Will they be addressed? Or will the board simply look at the recommendations and agree with them due to the huges amounts of tax payers dollars used to pay for the consultants? What is the true meaning behind all of this? Is this what we voted for? How about looking into giving ALL of Georgia's student the same high level of (quality) education across the school districts. Parents should not have to move to a certain area for a quality education. We should all have the same level of excellence in all of the schools. Quality teachers and committed parents and students. Sounds like a plan to me. Lets look into that. Quality education for ALL of our students no matter what neighborhood, income level, etc.

The students deserve it and our nation needs it.