The following promises have been made -- and ignored.
In the September, 2010 post called, "Awesome Board Meeting" I blathered on about how wonderful the board was working together and how they seemed to be rising to the challenge of the SACS inquiry by hiring the new auditor. Today, in hindsight, my words look foolish.
..."Anyway, back to the auditor. They have hired a real pro. . . . His name is Gary Babst and he has 22 years of experience as an internal business auditor, having worked for GM in Detroit. He presented his 100 day plan which I will bullet-point below:
Build internal controls structure
Create efficient, effective business processes
Benchmark with other area school systems
Implement a fraud hotline
Implement an ethics program
Identify the "audit universe" and high risks for the system [??!]
Engender a strong tone at the top
Encourage management to create a sense of urgency and lead by example
Create clear goals and objectives as well as metrics to measure progress
Ensure high impact and high visibility for audits
Demonstrate that "we're looking after the taxpayers money"
Uck. He has done none of these things. We still don't even have that whistleblower hotline, which the board enjoyed so much positive press about! How hard can it be to install a whistleblower hotline? Three space shuttles have launched since that board meeting, however Babst has yet to produce a whistleblower hotline. (He says he does, however, have some bids!) Yippeee!
What about ROI? It "seemed" that Tyson and our board were finally starting to pay attention to the return on investment for so many expensive learning programs.
Happily, the board is now questioning how much money we are spending on "programs". Don heavily questioned Dr. Watkins on his request for another $120,000 for yet another Title 1 "program" to implement small learning communities. He read from the proposal and said it sounded like a bunch of 'gobbleygook'. Dr. Speaks questioned him further and we find that we've been throwing money at this program since 2004, and apparently have tons of data, but nothing has improved at these schools.Oh well... no worries. Just approve, approve, approve! For "some" reason, if Ms. Berry says, "Jump", our board says, "How high Ms. Berry?"
How about this? I will quote my own interpretation of Ms. Tyson's empty promises,
"Ms. Tyson got it though. She knows she needs to dig deeper into this kind of spending to find out if we are getting our money's worth and if we should in fact, drop a program or two when they continue to not show results."Ha. Ha. Ha. In hindsight, that one is particularly naive of me to believe. RESULTS? Who tracks those?!!! [I'll assume you've seen our latest test scores.]
Speaking of Ramona - she has managed to close or consolidate 8 more schools. That leaves us with literally dozens of abandoned properties dotting the county, however, when concerned, caring citizens attempt to start a charter school, one by one they are denied by Nichole Knighton and the board, ironically, according to Knighton, mostly due to the fact that they have no location! This is in spite of the fact that the school system by law must provide charter schools access to shuttered schools.
Or how about this?
"Moseley is putting two buildings up for use - Heritage and Hooper. Womack stated that he could use Heritage for over-crowding at Oak Grove and Sagamore. (K-2) could move to Heritage. He's not sure that the community would want to do that."What ever happened to those buildings? [Still closed.] Why is the International School and other charters still begging for a building when we have so many available, but shuttered and protected by board members as 'home turf'?
Or how about Marcus Turk and his "funny accounting"? Our electric bills have increased over 57%. Another department, simply called "other benefits" increased over 90%. Our legal fees are beyond imagining, but we can never know, since they are not itemized, they are buried within each and every budget line. What a farce! This is taxpayer money – you, Mr. Turk, need to tell us where it's going. Real CFOs are clean - and unafraid of things like Online Check Registers. What's the holdup with that idea, Turk? Tyson? Babst?
All I can say is -- looking back, all I hear now is "blah, blah, blah." This board is full of one empty promise after another - one unfulfilled ideal after another -- one distraction after another. (The distraction/inaction list is long: Marine Academy, Sembler proposals and the closing of schools, the Jaheem Herrera investigation resulting in nearly a half-million payment to a retired judge, SPLOST oversight committees, The Blue Ribbon Task Force, Citizens Planning Task Force, Citizen's Advisory Committee, RICO charges, investigations, a $100 million civil lawsuit, $15.5 Million in lawyers fees for the investigations, a superintendent search complete with leaked information, redistricting, cell towers, and RIFs.) They focus on discussing, motioning and planning, but never acting on just about everything BUT educating children.
Dr. Lewis spoke of "urban inertia" when promoting the Marine Corps Academy back in March of 2009. He had simplified a science term as he said, "In DeKalb, we find ourselves wrestling with the complexities of an original phrase I shall use - urban inertia. As you are aware inertia is a physics term that refers to force." Of course, being a former PE teacher, not a science teacher, Lewis didn't know that inertia does not simply refer to "force"; inertia refers to the "resistance to change". That's what we have here, complete, utter, stone-walling resistance to change.