Below are some of my notes from Monday's business meeting. Business meetings are almost always a repeat of the previous week's work session, however, this business meeting was chock full of very enlightening new information. My notes are lengthy and will appear in two posts - one today and one tomorrow.
Quenterious Tolen (graduating student member of the board) – DCSS – a haven of comfort, hope and joy. Next Friday I will graduate with honors from Columbia HS – what I believe is the best education I could be offered. I have been esteemed at the honor of being on the DeKalb County board of education. Now I leave to you my final words of wisdom. I remind this county of the charge that it has. You have charges to keep buildings running, however today I remind you of your charge to educate. To educate means to empower students. Go back to what makes leading a school system worthwhile. That landmark is love. Where is that love? In power, popularity, prestige? I call upon all in DeKalb county to lay aside our differences and focus on the students. Never offer a complaint without offering a solution. We need a humble teacher to stand and lead us into the promised land of brotherhood.
Welcome Dr. Sylvia Hooker - Georgia DOE, Deputy Superintendent for School Turnaround
Presentation led by Dr Beasley:
DCSS - Recipient of $34 million in RTTT
$400 million in total to GA
Our Focus – Graduation from high school, teacher training (Class Keys, Leader Keys – new evaluation system) Data – Teach For America – Merit Pay – Address lowest achieving schools
4 core areas:
A - Recruiting, preparing, rewarding & retaining effective leaders & teachers (priority from Dr Hooker – support effective teachers and weed ineffective ones)
B - Adoption of standards (common core GPS)
C - Building data systems – teachers have 24/7 access
D - Turn around lowest achieving schools
A – Interviewed 99 candidates – selecting up to 75 Teach for Am candidates – select 2 teaching fellow – train to be APs – Will train at Columbia University
B – July 2010 – renamed to GPS – all will be addressed – Common Assessments being developed – implemented in 2014-15 -- Phase 1 – administrators, Phase 2 – teacher leaders, Phase 3 all teachers
C – Data system (Instruction Improvement System). To be seamless. All teachers have access and will use the data. Used p-20. State will use the data as well.
D – Turnaround schools – 4 intervention models: Turnaround, Charter EMO, School Closure & Transformation – We’ve selected the Transformation model. Have identified schools. Towers application looks good so far. Must ensure extreme instructional makeover – Clarkston & McNair implementing improvements now. STEM – all ES and MS make Science the 2nd AYP indicator in lieu of attendance beginning in 2013.
[NOTE; The Turnaround Model requires replacing the principal and removing at least 50% of staff]
Dr. Hooker – collaboration with the state
Board and super – it’s a pleasure to stand before you. You have shown that it’s not only head, it’s heart driving these initiatives. I encourage you all to listen to what Mr. Tolen mentioned. It’s about heart – what we need for turnaround.
20 schools in GA that we’re working with. DCSS selected Transformation. We’re in the right zone – headed for great things. I look forward to more students in the future like Mr. Tolen.
DeKalb county - $34 million. You bought into the following:
Summer leadership academy – required to attend. Rollout common core and evaluation standards. Keys – will be streamlined. Everyone needs standards-based instruction and assessment. Collaboratively with state DOE. Re-emphasizing the roles of school administrators – remove 'administratia' so that principals can get into the classroom. We also expect the students to do their part and step up their game in the next 2-3 years in this strategy. Seek to entice Teach for America teachers so that they decide to teach as a career. This district has asked me to look at candidates for the turnaround model. I expect great gains in these schools because I saw what the teachers want for the schools and I’ve seen the leadership ask for guidance. Yes, there will be struggles, but I don’t find a struggle working with DeKalb schools as you have asked me in on the front end.
Dr Walker – excited about this – I wish the governor would have appointed someone from DeKalb on this RTTT committee. He has someone from everywhere but DeKalb, and we got the money - but we don’t need it cause we have Dr Hooker.
[NOTE: DeKalb does have representation on all committees related to RTTT. I will post the input I received from the DOE communications officer in the comments.]
Mosely – Redistricting: closing 8 schools nearly complete. HR has developed procedures for reassignment. No staff member will lose a job. Scheduled and conducted meetings in each school for staff. Held meetings with principals to discuss plans for transition. Scheduled open houses for students and parents. Mailed 7000 letters over spring break. Installed a redistricting phone line for parents to ask questions. Plans to merge PTAs and transportation has reviewed bus routes. Athletics has a plan for relocating equipment. Collaborated with state for eligibility. Facilities has a decommission plan for each school. To Edler - Fernbank’s SST program (a countywide program with 200 slots) from Avondale MS will be a part of STT at new assigned school. Avondale’s ROTC program will move to Arabia HS. MIS moves all technology. Capital needs will address design needs of receiving schools. Voting precincts associated with the closed schools will also be reassigned. PreK lottery recipients at Sky Haven will attend PreK at Meadowview or McNair D&L. Funding will go to Rainbow and Allgood. Cunningham – community is confused about PreK assignments. Also asked about custodians, cafeteria workers and bus drivers – still have the same job reassignment process as teachers, etc. filling vacancies. To Jester – Dunwoody situation – changing the 4-5 academy to k-5. Dunwoody is more complicated due to grade level changes within the schools. Need to make sure we have the right teachers & administrators. Cunningham – what about block schedule? If they change how does that effect? Mosely – changing over the summer is no problem. Again, parents are confused on the subject. Edler – have we anticipated an increase in NCLB transfers due to redistricting and have we given thought to the annex situation which I find problematic. Beasley – we’ve decided already to move current annexes to main buildings and it’s not our intention to offer annexes in the future. Tucker MS at Stone Mt MS will exist next year, but will be phased out. Womack – when will we migrate from the block and go to the 7 period. Tyson – BOE put that on my plate when I took over and it’s been in the queue, but I haven’t had time to get to it.
For more info on the RTTT, visit this link at the GA DOE website;