“Concentrating On Our Core Business of Educating Students”
Until DeKalb looks at special programs and schools as cost centers and compares them with other systems that are managing those cost centers more efficiently and cost effectively in terms of student safety and student progress, students will be sitting in larger classes while our taxes rise and our student achievement decreases. The core business of DCSS is what happens in the classroom. Dr. Atkinson must concentrate on the core business to ensure its success. Getting a handle on DCSS cost centers is critical.
Ms. Tyson is Special Assistant to the Superintendent under Dr. Atkinson. Is she up to the task of implementing the changes necessary to direct our resources back into the classroom? Business as usual cannot be the order of the day.
Drastic cuts in the non-teaching personnel pay and numbers is our only option since staff salaries and benefits account for 90+% of our budget. Taxes cannot be raised the way they were in the past to fund the admin and support side increases in number of personnel and compensation. Teacher ranks have been thinned to the point that students cannot get the individual help they need resulting in the lowest student achievement in the metro area. The core business of educating students has been severely and negatively impacted as the DCSS administration and the BOE has not been able to bring about the personnel and cost center changes needed.
Taxpayers/parents expect Dr. Atkinson to make real cuts in the Central Office and support side and leave nothing off the table including outsourcing some functions and eliminating and consolidating others. Salaries of the non-teaching employees MUST be "right sized". Teacher compensation in DeKalb is on the verge of being completely non-competitive in the marketplace.
Every non-teaching position in DeKalb needs to be evaluated as to how necessary it is to student progress. Every employee from accounting to technology to grounds maintenance needs to understand how his/her job supports teachers and students. ALL job performance objectives need to be tied to what is happening in the classroom. ALL departments and personnel need to be evaluated for their customer service level to the members of the classroom.
Surveys completed by teachers, students, and parents need to be evaluating any and every department that impacts the classroom. Is the technology working the way teachers need it to work? Is the Office of School Improvement making an impact on your students/children? Are benchmark tests giving you as a teacher the information you need for formative assessment? Are you satisfied with the training offered and given by the Staff Development group? Are the Instructional Coaches helping the students who are not achieving? Is the gifted program meeting the needs of your gifted students? Are parents more involved because of the Parent Center? How many parents are using the Parent Centers, how often, and what for? Are security officers available at the school? Are the security officers at your school visible throughout the day and do they improve the level of safety for the school? Do students and teachers feel safe? Do parents feel their child is safe at the school? Is discipline what it should be? Is there pressure on teachers to change grades? How is the no zero policy affecting student achievement? Is your content level coordinator visible and is he/she responsive to the classroom needs? Are the Prevention/Intervention personnel lowering the rate of bullying, altercations and need for student discipline referrals in your classroom and in your school? Are school lunches adequate, nutritious and served in a reasonable time frame with a cheerful attitude? Is transportation convenient and safe and timely?
Fireside chats are very nice, and we certainly applaud Dr. Atkinson for her early aggressive efforts to understand the communities, but ultimately, quantifiable data from the teachers, students and parents should be driving the admin and support train. Teachers and students are the members of the classroom, and the classroom is the ONLY reason the school system exists and the ONLY reason we pay school taxes. Parents are the ones who pay the taxes and are the people most responsible for their children. The school system must revolve around these three groups – students, teachers and parents - to be effective. Support the classroom and parents will be supportive of the school system and the job it is endeavoring to do. The question is “Can DeKalb Become a Classroom Centered School System”?