Monday, November 7, 2011

November 7 Board Meeting - PART 2

Whoa.  Too many comments in my original post - had to start a new post.  To read the citizen comments, click here.

(Ms. Copelin-Wood is attending via telephone.)

Financial Report - Turk. Available here.

HR - Wilson. McChesney asked a good question - are the reported 23 job openings the same ones from last month? (No way to tell by the report.) Only 6 are.

Babst - audit report. 32 schools audited this year. Ethics line generated 30 reports. Jester disappointed that he hasn't gotten to the systemwide issues.

Sheltering Arms. Special Ed. Staffed by DCSS.

Museum School approved to use Forrest Hills. Edler: Charter is 5 years, but lease is 10 years. Why aren't they the same? (Good question.) School wanted to be ensured they would have long term use - they are investing a lot in renovations. Speaks: Are we responsible for insurance? Lawyer: DCSS is deemed harmless. Cunningham: Lease should coincide with length of program. I puzzled by the 10 year lease when the charter is for 5. McChesney: Already asked a lot of these questions. What happens is that 2nd, 5 year lease is null and void if charter is not renewed. Womack: I understand due to their investment in the property. Edler: But we should go with what makes sense to be 'congruent'... I think it should be in our ballpark. Bowen: They just want to protect their investment. Edler: (still pushes...) What is the difference if they're looking to lease after 10 years? Bowen: You're right. But we're not held hostage, so it doesn't make a difference. (More lights from board reps.) McChesney: If we need the school for growth, there's a provision to take it back. Atty: Yes. Cunningham: Help me find the part where it says if we approve after the 5, then they can have another 5 on the lease... (they all look over the contract as if they've never seen it). Cunningham approves. Atty to Speaks: Tenant is required to hold insurance. Cunningham: Are there any other folks that are looking at buildings? Atty: Yes, ICS wants to lease Medlock and another charter will want to lease after charter is approved by the state. (My comment: how ridiculous! this much discussion over a charter lease?)

Freeman: $100,000 to approve ambulance service for football, cross country and track. McChesney: How about soccer? Freeman: No, we'll look into it. Lots more discussion including lacrosse, which has a lot of injuries.

Ms. Woods wants to revisit the Museum School contract. She understood them to be apprehensive that they might do all these repairs and get booted from the school. Are they consulting about their plans? Knighton: Yes. (Woods can't hear, so Knight responds more loudly.)

Freeman: Not to exceed $200,000 for officiating services from the Atlanta Quarterback and Capitol City Officials Associations. Red Cross: Memorandum of Agreement to use certain schools for emergency shelters.

Guillory: School bus purchases - 7 buses at $76,000+ each. Uses state school bus funds. No cost to system. McChesney: Can we convert to natural gas? Guillory: Yes. Cunningham: What about SPLOST III buses? Guillory: We have not used SPLOST III to purchase buses. We've used state funds only. Have received 9 buses. (Special Ed.) Womack: What about natural gas? There are grants available - I thought we were going to look at that. Walker: Special thanks to David for pointing out the 'value-add' for the buses.

Barbara Colman: Change orders only come when they're over $50,000. DSA - roof replacement at Avondale HS (to reroof the third wing - where DSA is). McChesney: It's not the same roofer that did Hawthorne I hope. (No.) Edler: Is there a schedule? Or is it who yells the loudest? Colman: No, we go by the assessment, not by who screams the loudest. Edler: I'm sorry, I didn't hear you. Are you going to provide a list? Colman: We will provide one. Miller Grove renovation and addition design. WBBC - new lighting $65,000+ and new HVAC controls $87,500. Edler: I'd like a similar report on HVAC systems in order of rotation. (Good idea Donna!)

Dan Drake: An obesity initiative.

Atkinson: Professional services. May 9 authorized a salary compensation and class study after the last one did not produce the results they sought. I sent out an RFP for a new audit. Deadline Jan 1. Phase II - March 15 deadline. Management Advisory Group was considered the most responsive responsible bid. $175,420. Jester: Excited to begin this process. Didn't hear back from initial companies we sought bids from. Adkinson: We had a short window and strict consequences for late work so it "may" have deterred some. Time to vote. Sarah on the phone, "What are we voting on?" Item passed.

Other Comments: Edler: Reminding people to vote tomorrow. An important referendum on the ballot: SPLOST.

Walker: Jack and Jill Organization held a Youth Forum. (Like a Civics 101 to teach roles and responsibilities of elected officials.)

Cunningham: Thanks for the thoughts and prayers. I laid on my back for two weeks thinking about life. "If you're not doing what you should do like taking meds and exercising, or being stubborn like men, then you need to take a look at how you're living.... I"m now eating fruit."

Jester: I"d like to see a safety report in our regular monthly packet. We've had several break-ins and I think the board should be informed, especially since we're self-insured. I'd also like to point out that in a brochure that went home about SPLOST - I'd like to point out that the line stating that there is no funding for projects, that the Chamblee program is funded with federal QSCB funds and will go forward with or without SPLOST. Cunningham: I appreciate your comment, but SPLOST pays back the QSCB. It's not free money, it's a loan. Jester: Yes. That reiterated what I said. And the $57 per home tax increase without the SPLOST will repay the QSCB. Bowen: If you want to know more about SPLOST, check the website.

112 comments:

Dunwoody Mom said...

Dr. Walker - Mr. Babst had been on the job, now, almost a year? And you and your budget and audit committee can't decide what the public should or should not know?

You know, I don't know whether to cry or drink heavily during these board meetings.

Dunwoody Mom said...

$10 million was spent moving DSA from the N. Druid Hills facility and a new roof was not part of this?

Cerebration said...

Apparently not. Also, apparently the $4 million in SPLOST III for buses was not spent on buses either, as David Guillory informed us that all buses were purchased with state funds - not SPLOST funds.

Anonymous said...

Cunningham and Bowen are certainly pushing for SPLOST votes tomorrow.

Based on her comments, it sounds like Jester is not for SPLOST.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Gee, I wonder what the extra $4 million dollars not spent on buses was used for? Certainly not for maintenance I'll bet.

CMiller said...

Here is a picture of a million dollar home. Just think, we could have bought 10 of these for the price to move DSA!

CMiller said...

http://ts2.mm.bing.net/images/thumbnail.aspx?q=1290701899985&id=5f84f96752d0ea07585e5f96e80f59e9&url=http%3a%2f%2fwww.sterlingchaserealty.com%2fimages%2fzcontent%2fhomes%2forlandomansion.jpg

Cerebration said...

This board meeting exemplifies the outcome of SPLOST - the board once again, ONLY discussed buildings and money and 'things' -- there was not one single sentence uttered about education.

Cynical in Chamblee said...

RE: Dunwoody Mom, 8:43 pm

You should file a Freedom-of Information-Request for the expenditures regarding the move of D.S.A. Even though the BOE voted to spend $10,000,000 on the renovations, rumor is that they only spent around $6,000,000. They didn't replace most of the windows nor did they even bother to paint them! Also, $1,000,000 of the D.S.A. money spent was on a separate free-standing four classroom building called the Avondale 9th grade annex--for Avondale students! This annex building was used by Avondale students for 4 months at the end of the 2010 school year and for the 2010-2011 year. But now it sits vacant and unused--barely a year and a half old! And, that's one of the reasons I am voting NO tomorrow on SPLOST IV.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I wasted my time watching this circus. I would have had more mental stimulation watching the Housewives of New Jersey.

Anonymous said...

It amazes me when I try to watch these with the mindset of, "Surely if I listen hard enough, I will understand what is going on," and I am unable to follow. Am I not smart enough, or are they just operating in some sort of alternate universe that speaks some weird language that normal, smart people can't understand?

Anonymous said...

Cere,


This sums up my feelings and why I will vote no tomorrow:

"This board meeting exemplifies the outcome of SPLOST - the board once again, ONLY discussed buildings and money and 'things' -- there was not one single sentence uttered about education."

Until the board focuses on education and actually appear to look over the agenda and read what needs to be read for voting, I am not voting for SPLOST. These people are PAID to be school board members and can't read the information before a board meeting. Enough is enough.

Cerebration said...

The AJC has already posted the report on the new audit:

The DeKalb Board of Education hired a Washington DC-area consulting firm at its regular meeting Monday night, with the goal of eliminating inefficiencies and saving tax money. The firm, Management Advisory Group Inc., was awarded a contract worth up to $175,420. It will examine every job and salary of all 15,000 school employees, starting with the central office. Superintendent Cheryl H.L. Atkinson said that the firm work will begin almost immediately and the first phase of the work will be done in January and the second phase will be completed in March.

http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/dekalb-school-board-hires-1219799.html

Anonymous said...

And, please note that once again, Atkinson did not have a "formal" report for the board meeting.

Forget "formal." Atkinson did not have any kind of report. Again.

Vote NO on SPLOST IV!

Anonymous said...

Vote NO-NO-NO on SPLOST IV

Vote early. Vote often. Vote NO!

Vote NO-NO-NO on SPLOST IV

Anonymous said...

Since the Management Advisory Group, Inc. has been hired, maybe their analysis and report regarding the central office positions will be complete per the mid-January deadline as Dr. Atkinson noted. This way, we will see if she has the courage and power to reduce the pay and/or not renew many of the central contracts of the "friends and family" members that usually go out at the beginning of March.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:49 You're assuming that this company is on the up and up. Call me cynical, but I am skeptical of the board, anyone that they hire to do a job, Atkinson, and any other administrator. The people who are running DCSS will do anything to protect their friends and family. We have no idea who this company is and who works at it. I know of several people who live in DCSS, and work in Washington, D.C., because they cannot find work in Atlanta. I'm not putting anything past this board, especially if the results are not similar to that of the previous study done. We also need to make sure that the company is using Atlanta salaries and not DC salaries, which are higher because of the increased cost of living.

Anonymous said...

In fairness, the superitendent's report is generally given at the business meeting and not at the work session.

VOTE NO today on SPLOST

Anonymous said...

Sure hope that the AJC gives us a more in-depth report of the Board's hiring this consulting firm. All we get now are press releases from DCSS that are published under the byline of Rich McKay. All this "news" does is feed us what the Board wants us to read. And the emphasis seems to be on "all 15,000 employees"---bus drivers? custodians? cafeteria workers? teacher slaves? These folks are really bustin' the budget. Will it be more justification for scheduling furlough days?

Surely the sordid history of DCSS' handling of the last salary audit would make a good background story in the AJC. It might also make public some of the crap the county has pulled in the past that we insiders and readers of this blog know about.

Viola Davis said...

Without transparency, ethics, and accountability, I am forced to vote “No” for SPLOST. There are those who use words of intimidation to move property owners to feel that they have no choice but to vote to approve almost every tax request. They say, “Let’s not forget the needs of the children.”

As taxpayers and voters, we must hold the “powers to be” accountable for the manner in which our tax money is spent. The children and teachers have yet to receive their due with our SPLOST money. When will we hold our elected officials accountable for our SPLOST money? We need to make sure our children have the highest quality education and our teachers receive a decent pay.

DeKalb County School System close 8-11 school earlier in the year then tell the taxpayers and voters that they need more money to build 8 new schools. What happen to the 11,000 empty seats? Did we forget? DeKalb County School System have four people charged with a crime (RICO) dealing with SPLOST funds; yet, refuse to perform an external forensic audit to regain the public’s trust.

I would prefer to deal with SPLOST in 2012. Let’s get our house in order to protect our school assets to provide the best learning environment for our children to learn and our teachers to teach. We must stop the lack of transparency, ethics, and accountability within our school system.

DaQuan Smiff said...

Fernbank Science Center has all their parking blocked off today. Almost no where to park and go vote. Fernbank Science Center does not even open till noon. What a joke. This place needs to be closed down and the funds used elsewhere.

roslynholcomb said...

I've been going back and forth on the SPLOST issue for months. It really goes against everything I believe in to vote against a tax for schools, but my progressive ideals ran into a pragmatic reality a couple of days ago.

On Sunday I spent pretty much the whole day baking. I baked a lemon pound cake, a chocolate pound cake, two batches each of oatmeal raisin cookies and chocolate chip cookies. Yes, I have a legendary sweet tooth, but these goodies weren't for my family. No, they were for my son's school bake sale. Was this bake sale for some special field trip or to pay for a Christmas party? Uh no. It's for landscaping, and not just some flowers or other fripperies, but for some much needed erosion control.

After I finished my baking marathon I sat down to pay my bills. One of those bills was my DeKalb County property tax bill. And that's when it hit me, and hit me hard: What in the name of all living hell are they doing with this money? By North DeKalb standards I have a very modest home, yet my taxes are five times what they were in Alabama and the schools are no better. For this type money I don't expect there to be 25 kids in my son's classroom, or for him to have to play on a playground that literally makes me fear for his safety. The entire campus is a disgrace before man, let alone God.

Then comes the SPLOST issue. A half billion dollars??? Seriously, for what? They've been set loose with that type money, yet we have to have a bake sale to keep our campus from washing away??? For a half billion dollars we could contract to assign a landscaper to every school in the district!

It breaks my heart and goes against everything I normally advocate for, but I just can't vote for this SPLOST. I don't know if the administrators are crooks or just willfully stupid, either way my money is best kept in my own pocket.

Cerebration said...

Excellent point Rosyln. Sometimes the simplest explanations are the most eloquent. Thanks for the perspective.

Cerebration said...

It appears that the result of mismanagement on the part of the county (have you heard about the $40 million they 'accidentally' spent from the park bond fund to pay operations salaries?) has resulted in a move to break away and form cities in order to get better services and save money. According to Mike Jacobs recent email, the results of a GA State study are now in and a city of Brookhaven, like the city of Dunwoody, will save taxpayers money and provide better services than DeKalb county:

Cityhood Likely to Cut Property Taxes

The feasibility study for the proposed City of Brookhaven, performed by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia (CVI), has been released. Click here to read the report and executive summary.

The CVI study estimates that the proposed city’s annual revenues would be approximately $28.5 million and expenditures would be approximately $25.1 million, leaving a surplus of $3.4 million.

At 49,188 residents, the proposed City of Brookhaven would supplant Dunwoody as both the largest city in DeKalb County and 16th largest in the State of Georgia.

CVI also performed the feasibility study for the City of Dunwoody. A review of CVI’s track record with Dunwoody helps to show that their revenue and expenditure estimates are realistic and conservative. For example, in 2006 (a boom economy), CVI estimated that Dunwoody’s revenues would be $18,777,904. In its first full fiscal year in 2009 (after the economy tanked), Dunwoody’s actual revenues turned out to be $18,394,942, or two percent less than CVI estimated.

In the same study, CVI also predicted that Dunwoody’s total operating expenditures would be $15,571,573. In 2009, Dunwoody’s actual operating expenditures were $13,823,811, or eleven percent less than CVI estimated.

With a $3.4 million surplus, incorporating the City of Brookhaven is likely to result in a property tax cut.


To learn more, attend one of the following meetings:

Tuesday, November 15
7:00 p.m.
Cross Keys High School
1626 North Druid Hills Road

Thursday, November 17
7:00 p.m.
Montgomery Elementary School
3995 Ashford Dunwoody Road

NOT Waiting for Superman said...

Trying to decide about SPLOST IV?

"It's for the children" is a blatant and unconscionable attempt to guilt you into voting for something you know, intellectually and in your gut, is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Yet, these same people -- DCSS insiders and hangers-on -- who repeat that mantra over and over feel no guilt and no shame in mismanaging and stealing this money from our children. These are the people who are condemning our children -- especially those who live in poverty, mostly in South DeKalb -- to a continued lifetime of poverty and squalor.

It's for the children?

NO, it isn't! It's for the friends-and-family "full employment" program ... the bloated central office at The Palace, full of unqualified no-nothings and do-nothings.

Do you think -- and hope and pray -- that Atkinson will make a difference? It should be clear by now to any astute observer that Atkinson is just more of the same.

Do you watch the board meetings? They are a joke. No successful business would be run that way.

DO NOT give these people any more money to steal and squander! It is NOT for the children.

Vote NO today before 7 PM on SPLOST IV!

Anonymous said...

The AJC isn't going to dig any deeper, the radio and news stations aren't going to dig any deeper into the company hired to do the audit. We need to do the digging and report what we find out. Can't rely on others we must do it ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Did you know that while the taxes for those who live in North DeKalb have been continually RAISED, the property taxes for those in South DeKalb have been continually REDUCED?

Take a look a Zepora Roberts' (former BOE member who threatened to"slug" a member of the media) property taxes:

Tax Year...Tax Total
2011.......$237.71
2010.......$308.56
2009.......$308.56
2008.......$895.20
2007.......$893.04
2006.......$1,126.10
2005.......$1,015.30

Roberts claims a Senior School Tax Exemption (H4). However, her salary as a BOE member should put her over the eligibility limit for those years, including 2011.

Look up her address (1616 Cobbs Creek, Decatur, GA 30032) on Google Maps (maps.google.com). Her house is identified as "DeKalb County Schools." Look at the photo of her house on Google Maps. Does that look like DCSS property to you?

Roberts' nearby neighbors pay considerably more than she does in property tax:

Property Tax: Tax Year 2011

Street#...Tax Amount
1616......$237.71 Zepora Roberts

1600....$1,387.20
1601......$834.15
1607....$1,236.74
1611......$807.58
1613......$985.23
1615......$817.30
1617....$1,442.56
1621....$1,386.69
1622......$784.71
1626....$1,077.72
1625......$839.27
1631......$853.80
1635......$738.69

With one exception, all of these property taxes have been continually reduced over the years, as well.

Remember, Zepora's family is part of the "DCSS Friends-and-Family Program." They earn outrageous salaries for what they do -- even if they were qualified. That's why Zepora, as a sitting BOE member, threatened to slug a reporter who was asking questions about Zepora's daughter's employment with DCSS.

How about sitting BOE member Paul Womack? He also claims a Senior School Tax Exemption (H4). Womack mismanages our money while having none of his own in the game. Further, his eligibility for H4 is highly questionable. Womack likes to brag about his business acumen and his wealth. Regardless of his other income, his salary as a BOE member should make him ineligible for the Senior School Tax Exemption (H4).

All of this -- and more -- is public information, easily accessible online. These shameless people and others like them are laughing all the way to the bank! And, they are trying to guilt you into giving them more.

Are you going to fall for their "It's for the children" BS?

Just say NO! Vote NO today before 7PM on SPLOST IV!

Anonymous said...

Voted NO today.

This is the first time this liberal, strong public school supporting, Democratic mother of 4 has ever voted against anything related to public schools.

I cannot advocate giving anymore of our hard-earned money to this board to mismanage and lose and use for political favors.

NOT Waiting for Superman said...

DITTO!

Voted NO today.

This is the first time this liberal, strong public-school-supporting, parent volunteer and mother of 2 has ever voted against anything related to public schools.

I cannot and will not condone giving anymore of my hard-earned money -- in addition to the outrageous property taxes I pay, even though I am retired -- to More-of-the-same Atkinson, the Palace thugs and the DCSS BOE to mismanage, steal, lose and use to keep their sorry, unqualified friends-and-family employed at the expense of our children and their teachers.

concerned citizen of south dekalb said...

These are the people who are condemning our children -- especially those who live in poverty, mostly in South DeKalb -- to a continued lifetime of poverty and squalor.

Every time I read South Dekalb being referred to as in poverty and squalor I cringe and wonder where is this area? I've lived here for over 20 years and, trust me, if it was that bad or bad at all, I would not have stayed. Our neighborhood still has original (white) families from when the homes were built in the '70s. Since that time, Dekalb County has been known as an area that contains one of the most affluent Black population behind Prince Georges County Maryland (DC area). Our homes look like the homes in the North and Central- brick ranch style sitting on almost an acre lot, on the outcroppings of Panola Mountain. My sons graduated from MLK Jr. H.S. and received academic scholarships from several prestigious institutions outside of Georgia. The oldest is a senior studying Mechanical Engineering (following in my, his mother's, footsteps- GT ME) at a northern school (PITT) since I wanted to know how well his Dekalb County education prepared him. He struggled in Math although he made As in it in H.S. Behind MLK H. S. is a nature trail (PATH Foundation) that is more scenic (and hilly) than the Silver Comet that leads to Panola, Arabia and Stone Mountains. I saw several deer out there today and see them in my yard. That's why we are fighting the proposed cell tower. We are a proactive community. In this case (since no advance notice was given similar to the other Cell Tower schools) we are fighting after approval. Also, voted No on SPLOST since a 9th grade academy MLK was to be built starting in 2009 on the SPLOST III priority project list. The school became overcrowded not long after opening. Ground is yet to be broken on this SPLOST III project, students are still in trailers which we objected to while the new administrative building was completed ahead of schedule. The MLK project was put on hold - I didn't know SPLOST projects could be put hold- and, according to DCSS CIP documents, construction was to have started in 2010. It is now a $16 million project although it was originally estimated at $10 million with $6 million from GA DOE. What happened to that funding?The community met with our school board member Cunningham a couple of weeks ago and he said it will be started next year some time. The unneeded cell tower (we already have cell service in this area) is slated to go up in March ahead of the needed school additions. They don't need any more money to mess up especially when they disregard the community opposition to a cell tower that will negatively impact our quality of life. MLK is also part of the SPLOST II lawsuit since it was never built right in the beginning (10 years ago)- has an ongoing sewage problem that has never been repaired properly, poor acoustics and very small auditorium,small gym with locker rooms on middle school plan. The school is built on rock- there were several granite quarries mined in this area-so the contractors didn't install the sewage system properly.
Anyway, a bit of history on this side of Dekalb which is only a few miles from Henry (right on the other side of MLK) & Rockdale counties and is not poverty stricken (homes over several hundred thousand dollars, Senior Center, Performing Art Center, StoneCrest Mall, etc.).Take a drive down State Road 155 and you'll see. It's less congested than the north part of the county that borders Fulton and Gwinnett.

Cerebration said...

I don't know about squalor, that seems like a harsh adjective, however, I think the idea that there is a lot of poverty in south DeKalb comes from the fact that most of the schools there are Title 1 schools. To be considered a Title 1 school, at least 60% of the students at the school have to qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch.

Check out the list -

Title I Schools

As of August 2, 2011, there are a total of ninety-one Title I Schools, including seven new schools, four target assistance (TA) schools†, and eighty-seven schoolwide programs (SWP) schools.

Cerebration said...

Also, the Senior Center and Performing Art Center that you mention were both built with tax dollars collected countywide. There is no comparable taxpayer-funded arts center in the north part of DeKalb. And there is a very small senior center near Medlock, but it only serves a small local area.

Anonymous said...

I just got my mail and saw the mailer from the highly secretive -- and therefore, very suspect -- Friends of DeKalb Education IV.

In a school system that is majority black (72% black; 11% Hispanic; 10% white and 4% Asian) the big photo on the front of the mailer shows 6 children -- only 2 of whom are clearly identifiable by ethnicity. Both are black. It appears that this is by design to suggest subconsciously to potential voters that only about 1/3 of DCSS is black.

There is something very wrong -- and, dare I say, racist -- with appealing for votes using a photo that was designed to subconsciously send the wrong message.

concerned citizen of south dekalb said...

When my sons were at MLK Jr. H.S., it was not a Title I school (or maybe just became that in the youngest last few years) but it's definitely not a poverty stricken area. The area looks pretty much the same as when I moved here. Since housing projects were torn down in ATL, some of those residents did migrate to different counties and probably the loss of jobs (income) as caused more applying for free lunch. Does the school system really verify who qualifies? Also we noticed that over time, especially with the highly successful athletic teams and band, more students came from outside of the county or other attendance zones. We talked to the School Board about this because of the overcrowding and they said we needed to write down who these people were. Dekalb does not verify as other school systems do.

Regarding the Senior Center, I agree Dekalb sorely needs more located throughout the County. Being an ATL native (Grady baby), I always wondered why Dekalb was so different from ATL in services to its residents. It hasn't been that long ago that we finally got libraries in the South End of the County- I guess it really was a bedroom community. Fulton County has several senior centers at no cost to residents. Dekalb only has one- why? Isn't Callanwolde another performing arts center supported by Dekalb County taxes located in Druid Hills.

Anonymous said...

@Concerned -
Not really - it's in a building that used to be a residence.
No stage. Art classes (for a fee). Dance classes (for a fee). Nothing like Porter Sanford. And the Senior Center is just a little building with a couple of meeting rooms and one larger room.

Anonymous said...

The Callanwolde Foundation, Inc.,
operating as Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve, restore, and develop the Callanwolde Estate and to be a premier public participatory arts and cultural center.

Support is provided to Callanwolde Fine Arts Center through a grant appropriated by the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners, in part by DeKalb County Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs, and in part by the Georgia Council for the Arts through appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. Georgia Council for the Arts is a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Callanwolde Fine Arts Center is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization.

concerned citizen of south dekalb said...

Oh. You have to pay for everything at Porter Sanford too, no discount for county residents like they do in Fulton. The Senior center isn't free either, unlike Fulton. (ok, just read Dekalb is 65% residential unlike Fulton)Also someone mentioned that we pay lower taxes in South Dekalb...hmmm well, our property values were hit much harder-large number of foreclosures (built all these expensive subdivisions during the boom, subprime mortgages).
http://www.ajc.com/news/surprisingly-low-property-values-971241.html

A house in my neighborhood just sold for little over $55k (it does need internal work) but is a solid brick house in a well established community. I haven't ever seen values that low .

Cerebration said...

These are the Title 1 high schools listed on the website:

Cedar Grove High School
Clarkston High School
Columbia High School
Cross Keys High School
DeKalb Early College Academy (DECA)
Elizabeth Andrews High School
Lithonia High School
Ronald E. McNair High School
Miller Grove High School
M.L. King, Jr. High School
Redan High School
Stephenson High School
Stone Mountain High School
Towers High School

If you are saying that these people are actually quite well off, then we have a problem. That would mean that 'perhaps' people aren't quite truthful when applying for federal money. Personally, I don't think that's the case. I think there are quite a few more people who meet the criteria than some in the area would like to admit.

One big problem with Title 1 money is that the money does not follow the child. So, when a Title 1 child takes a transfer to a non-Title 1 school, the new school does not get the Title 1 money.

Anonymous said...

Parent Center: A little off topic but I saw a red flyer at school today with information about exciting door prizes to come to a parent center. I was so disgusted at these people trying to do a show in front of Dr Atkinson, that I did not read it closely. The flyer made it look like they really care about parents and want them to come...YUCK, Fakers!

Anonymous said...

When I taught on the South Side of the county, I witnessed teachers and administrators telling parents how much to put on free and reduced lunch forms to get more money. I know of kids whose parents drove expensive cars and received free lunch.

Free and reduced numbers are a fraud as far as I am concerned, and do not mean that an area is poor or rich.

Anonymous said...

@Concerned S. DeKalb -

Not trying to cry "poor us"; Callanwolde is very nice, just not a full performing arts center, and the senior center does offer some classes and get-togethere. Just no pool or exercise room, and you gotta bring your own lunch!

The point you made is true - other counties do offer more.

Cerebration said...

How very strange. Are we really suggesting that the schools in south DeKalb are actually full of wealthy people posing as poor people in order to collect federal money? uh oh... that hadn't better be true. I actually don't think it's true. I think there are plenty of struggling people in the area and plenty of single parent homes. There are plenty of struggling people in north DeKalb as well. You can see from the list that some of the Title 1 schools are in the north end of the county. It would be an interesting idea to create Title 1 schools in order to recoup some of the funds we have had taken back by the state over the years...

SHS said...

Cere -- to add to your post about Title 1 Schools ...

Not only does Title 1 money NOT follow the student ... all the services paid for by Title 1 monies are unavailable in non-Title 1 schools. Students who leave a Title 1 school because it cannot make AYP and is a "Needs Improvement" school have, themselves, probably contributed to the school's academic and attendance problems. They need the Title 1-paid remediation they cannot get elsewhere.

Parents or students who think that transferring to a school that is doing well academically will magically bring the inadequately prepared, academically deficient student up to grade level in reading and math are dreaming. The classes are still crowded and there is no Title 1 money for extra tutoring and other assistance.

Time to turn off the "reality shows" on TV and tune into real life.

Anonymous said...

I recently learned that although my child attends a Title 1 school, he cannot take advantage of the SES tutoring services because we're not free or reduced lunch. So does this mean that although he attends the same Title 1 school which didn't make AYP, alongside other struggling students who CAN have this tutoring, and HE struggles with one particular subject to the point of utter despair, that he's supposed to magically succeed on his own just because we can afford to feed him?

What else in a Title 1 school is further delineated by the free/reduced lunch indicator, or any other sub-indicator? Remember, it is the same non-AYP Title 1 school. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

"How very strange. Are we really suggesting that the schools in south DeKalb are actually full of wealthy people posing as poor people in order to collect federal money"

I don't think that's what Concerned S. Dekalb is saying. He/she appears to say that not all of S. DeKalb is a desolate wasteland of the poor. Although most schools in South DeKalb qualify as Title 1, there are a substantial number of middle class communities in South DeKalb. The idea of Atlanta becoming gentrified and thus "pushing" low income people concentrically out of the city limits is one that has been given credence in the demographic information gathered in recent years.

Concerned S. DeKalb is just pointing out the obvious. South DeKalb has a variety of communities and income levels. Although the poor, average income and wealthy areas are separated geographically, they intersect at public schools such as MLK.

If you have been in the area that Concerned S. DeKalb lives, you would see that there is an abundance of open spaces and the natural environment is quite beautiful. The nature trails around Arabia Mountain are filled with walkers. Arabia Mountain is an amazing natural resource with a rare plant that is only found 2 other places in the world. Stonecrest is a very nice shopping area wtth good restaurants. The area Concerned S. DeKalb describes is totally different from Central and North DeKalb in that it is quite rural, but it is solidly middle class.

South DeKalb has been hit particularly hard by the economic meltdown and home foreclosures, and there are many low income neighborhoods in this area. But if you live in a nice area like Concerned S. DeKalb near Rockdale and Henry, you will not see the poverty of South DeKalb. This is true of people who live in affluent areas of Central and North DeKalb. Few of those people frequent or seek out poor areas either.

South DeKalb schools have on the whole much lower student achievement than Central and North DeKalb, and this correlates with a greater number of lower income neighborhoods in South DeKalb. However, there are also affluent areas in South DeKalb and just like involved parents anywhere, their children will probably be successful.

Concerned S. DeKalb voted No to SPLOST for the same reasons many people all over DeKalb voted No. He/she is tired of the empty promises coming from the DeKalb Schools Central Office.

Anonymous said...

As a S. DeKalb parent/resident, any suggestion that there is an "imagined" poverty situation going on here is delusional or needs to be more observant at the entire picture and not the BMW anomaly in the parking lot.

Cerebration said...

I agree. I think the fact is that there are many families, many of them single parent homes struggling in south DeKalb. Yes, the area is beautiful. Yes, it has beautiful parks and some nice new schools. Yes, it has a county senior center and a performing arts center. It's a great place to live. But even though there are some subdivisions with nice homes and some people with nice cars, virtually all of the schools are Title 1, making it a fact that over 60% of families qualify for free or reduced lunch. That's not as low as the poverty line, however.

If this is not true, then the only other conclusion to make is that people are misrepresenting their income. I don't think they're doing that.

Anonymous said...

No one said South DeKalb does not have many areas of high poverty. What was pointed out is that generalizations of this area do not resonate with every one who lives in this area. Areas like those near Henry County and Rockdale County are more removed from the economic devastation that much of South DeKalb has experienced.

Anonymous said...

Cere, Not all people are misstating their income, but there are some. No one checks on the free-reduced lunch forms. Anyone can put anything down. I've watched teachers tell parents how to fill it out and what income amounts to put down. I've see teachers children get free reduced lunch and teachers aren't poor. They are paid well for their job.

I will say that free and reduced lunches need an audit as does anything else that means money for schools. I would say the same for gifted students-watched a number of kids get fudged scores to make them gifted to keep a teachers numbers up and to keep parents happy.

We need to be honest and realize that the system is corrupt. The county is corrupt. Change needs to happen throughout DeKalb at every level. I don't see it happening. I do see many of the families with young children looking to leave the county, so that they can give their children a better education. These are good families with caring, educated parents. They aren't willing to let their children attend over crowded schools that aren't educating their children. I keep hearing more and more families saying this, and I live in a "good" district.

When will the county residents wake up and realize what is really happening with the money that the county and school district receives. It's all tax money, whether it comes from local or federal or state taxes.

Anonymous said...

Looks like SPLOST is going to pass in DeKalb.

Daniel said...

A nearly 2-1 vote in favor.... people seem to think the change in administration is worth the risk of the SPLOST.

Anonymous said...

DeKalb has almost 300,000 registered voters. 33,000 voted. So that's around 11% turnout.

Look at it this way. The legislation reducing the BOE to 7 and all BOE members up for re-election will occur 2012 during a Presidential election so that will be a larger turnout - much more accurate and actually much more important.

Anonymous said...

same ole - same ole

Anonymous said...

So the voters in Dekalb have created a rich medium from which the new DCSS admin can grow another Crawford Lewis and Pat Pope.

We're just feeding the corruption. And once you got a taste of it, there's no limit to your hunger for it.

A half a billion dollars is nothing to sneeze at when you divvy it up among your friends and family, and build shoddy new school buildings, piss-poor renovations, and provide either no or incompetent follow-through with maintenance for any of them.

We just handed it over, guys, "for the children" of the powers-that-be.

Student and teachers and learning be damned.

Anonymous said...

Political slush fund, here we come. Dunwooody, don't expect to be on any SPLOST lists anytime soon. And maybe I'm moving there b/c it seems to be the only sane area in this town.

Let's definitely give a BOE that consists of whining babies who walk out of professional meetings, felons, published money issues, and people who can't graduate from college a half a billion dollars to manage.

Fernbank, enjoy tearing down your 2005 addition for a brand new building. Hopefully all of your kids will be out of there by the time it's built.

NOT Waiting for Superman said...

@ Daniel, 10:34 PM, 11/8/2011

And what change are you referring to? The only thing that has changed is the face. Nothing else. It's time for Plan B.

Anonymous said...

It's a sad day for the children and teachers of DeKalb County. Can't wait to see how the Fernbank and Coralwood parents hold Central Office accountable for improving student achievement. Everyone seems to think it is easy to do if we just speak up...despite many active parents trying this technique in the past.

Now the fun will begin - who gets appointed to the SPLOST oversight committee?? Heard parents are no longer going to be allowed to serve on the design teams - there goes a piece of oversight - not that it ever mattered before!!

Fernbank and Coralwood - it is now all on your shoulders to make sure each child in DeKalb County receives a proper education in a well equipped, properly heated/cooled, dry, safe building -now that your precious children are taken care of. Shame on you Coralwood - you turn your back on those same children when they get to Hawthorne, Henderson Middle and Lakeside...

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how you get precinct by precinct results for DeKalb County?

pscexb said...

You can see the unofficial summary of votes on the Voter Registration and Election site at,

http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/Voter/pdf/Results11082011.pdf

The precinct by precinct results will probably come later in the week.

Anonymous said...

"Dunwooody, don't expect to be on any SPLOST lists anytime soon. "

Of all the clusters, Dunwoody has received quite a bit of SPLOST dollars. A new elementary school is scheduled in SPLOST IV after having a new middle and elementary school along with major renovations to the high school. The other schools have received money for American with Disabilities Act updates at a minimum. Once they take care of the old Chamblee middle school site, they will be done, except for regular maintenance.

Anonymous said...

DCSS is so much bigger that the Fernbank community, yet the focus of this blog has become a constant bashing of Fernbank ES, Fernbank Science Center, the Druid Hills area, etc. These nasty postings have turned off a lot of readers.

SPLOST passed county-wide. Every single voter in the county is responsible for the result.

Anonymous said...

When only 10% of voters show up, it does come down to specifics like Fernbank, etc. This group was able to fund a PAC and plaster the county with signs because they have the money and power. They were able to meet with Dr. Atkinson before she even started, and, with their money and influence, are able to trade favors with board members to keep their precious school protected from the rest of the garbage they know is going on in the county. I know there would have been no PAC, no Twitter account, no Facebook page, no publicity campaign, and no signs if Fernbank had not been slated for a new school. Period. So when a small group with money and influence is able to buy and pay their way into enough votes on an off year to sway, then, yes, it is fair to call them out. They have a $2 million addition from 2005 being torn down when they were ranked by an independent consulting company as NOT NEEDING improvements, especially as compared to the other, less influential schools in the district. Must be nice to have money and power. It's what it takes in DCSS.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Here are a few reasons Dunwoody voted No - our memories are long:

Dunwoody and North DeKalb is also where the population growth is. Why is DCSS planning to build where population is dwindling?

DCSS builds a new middle school, PCMS, that is 4 years in and has trailers even though DCSS officials were advised to make the school larger due to projected enrollment.

The track at PCMS was also ruined during construction and DCSS refuses to replace it. But, Cedar Grove receives "emergency funds" for a new track. The PCMS community is attempting to raise the funds for a new track themselves.

The location of Dunwoody Elementary was ill-advised and in a ridiculous location.

Redistricting was a mess and one only has to look at FTE numbers in Dunwoody to know it was not done properly.

The other 4 elementary schools, built in the late 60's and early 70's, and have had no renovations, and they are falling apart.

There are no specifics concerning the "replacement" Austin school. This what is troubling that community.

Yes, Dunwoody HS has a nice new auditorium and Math classes, but it was 3 years past due when it was promised and the schools' capacity was not increased. The school is 200 students over capacity at this point.

DCSS is building a brand new, much larger Chamblee High School, but has no plan on how to "fill" that school.

As you can see DCSS has done the "bare minimum" for N. DeKalb while at the same time ignoring parents and community members.

But, that's okay, The North DeKalb Community will continue to support our children and our schools - we always have.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Got a flyer this morning in my mailbox. Seems to be a day late but NOT a dollar short. The flyer has kids running on a playground and reads VOTE yes! The kids seem to be having fun, why? They're not in DeKalb County, that's why. Look in the background of the flyer and there are palm trees in the picture. How many DCSS playgrounds look like the one pictured? NONE! The picture in the flyer had kids running on grass, not weeds and dirt like DCSS schools. The fence in the background looks nice and not broken like so many at DCSS schools.

Everytime SPLOST is voted on the BOE always say they need 2 Billion. Well SPLOST IV and the others added to it will almost add up to 2 Billion and what do we have to show for it? Leaky roofs, stolen HVAC systems, bad security, school properties in shoddy condition and no discussion about educating our kids! 3 Hour BOE meeting the other night and not one world uttered about education, I thought that was the mission of DCSS(D?). Epic Election Fail last night, but now we'll have to watch these folks on the BOE with a magnifying glass. The same people who implemented SPLOSTs 1-3 are still in power, they did such a good job before why should there be any change at the Palace?

Anonymous said...

AMG, I had to spit my coffee out. You are so right.

"The flyer has kids running on a playground and reads VOTE yes! The kids seem to be having fun, why? They're not in DeKalb County, that's why. Look in the background of the flyer and there are palm trees in the picture. How many DCSS playgrounds look like the one pictured? NONE! The picture in the flyer had kids running on grass, not weeds and dirt like DCSS schools. "

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, you make a lot of sense. I'd like to say I should move to Dunwoody because there seem to be logical and sane people there, but, if I went through the effort of moving, I have to say it would have to be to leave DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

I think the vote last night shows that those of you who are active on the DC School Watch are merely just a extreme vocal minority that had little to no sway with the general voters of Dekalb. Sadly this trend was replicated throughout the metro area.

All I heard/saw was how great SPLOST was going to be and I didnt hear or see any media or anything else otherwise to move voters over to the "no" column. the Pro-SPLOST crowd was prepared and had their guns firing, but the Anti-SPLOST crowd apparently left their guns at home.

Once again the ignorant majority wins because the vocal minority didnt care increase the volume of their noise.

Anonymous said...

@pscexb

I have already seen that page. I looked at past election results on the DeKalb Co. Site, and they didn't break it down by precinct. I was curious to see what precincts voted for SPLOST.

pscexb said...

Dunwoody Mom,

It wasn't popular when I said it before but I will say it again, we have too many school buildings in DeKalb. We seem to be caught in a time warp from the 50's and 60's in wanting to have small schools. Gwinnett has 60% more students yet fewer school buildings than DeKalb. As a result, they have less needs for maintenance and operations along with administrative costs. Yes, small neighborhood school have a value however their is a cost associated with having so many.

If DeKalb wants to stick with small and old school buildings, we have to be prepared to price the price for frequent renovations. In the McNair cluster, they closed three buildings (Leslie J. Steele, Terry Mill, and Tilson) and replaced them with one (McNair Academy). They are planning to do the same with Gresham, Meadowview and Sky Haven. This may be a model worth looking at in some communities.

Anonymous said...

Guys, even if you factor out the 'Fernbank Issue', if I can use that term, it would have passed anyway. In each of the past SPLOSTs, committees were formed, support was garnered and the fact is that many people in a special off-cycle election like this one will come to the polls with the notion that even if things are very wrong, at least there will be the money for improvements and whatever else. So lets not harp on Fernbank, ignorant voters, etc. (The "ignorant voter" message is also getting old and really turning people off. To me, the only ignorant person is one who doesn't vote at all.)

Personally, I would have been prepared to extend the penny had we not suffered so many illogical school closings and had I not seen last-minute horse trading during redistricting. It was just that simple for me. But I do have respect for the people who voted yes. And I can't worry about who of those "yes" votes had a nefarious agenda. I've always said that even though our democratic republic works goofy oftentimes, it DOES work.

Now let's get to work continuing to hold people accountable. Dust yourselves off and try to avoid being vituperative in the process.

Anonymous said...

I love democracy. The people who cared enough to vote have spoken. Maybe if we can find some positive energy we can move forward togather to improve our schools. Or-
"Once again the ignorant majority wins because the vocal minority didnt care to increase the volume of their noise."
Maybe you'd like to just have a more totalitarian state? Somehow I don't think this blog represents the 99% that includes me.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

We are an extreme vocal minority who know too much about what really goes on at the Palace. Most of us do not have the ability or funds to put together a Friends of DeKalb Education PAC.

Most of us here are trying to make our school system transparent and honest. What's wrong with that? Why are so many employees still on the payroll of an organization where two if it's former leaders have been indicted on RICO charges? Completed audits go missing? It took three years to get another audit approved, we're just moving on it now. Meeting minutes go missing and when they are found, we find missing paragraphs and edited minutes. Yet we vote these BOE members back in and the system continues on with no oversight or complete honesty.

How much general budget money will have to be spent to make sure these new funds are not wasted. How many lawsuits will be created and filed by the new SPLOST. Can we settle the other SPLOSTS first, before taking another dime?

Anonymous said...

SPLOST passed. Move on.

Anonymous said...

SPLOST IV passed. Wonder why. Maybe because DCSS has 13,000 employees of voting age and another 20,000 or more family members all of whom had a financial interest in seeing SPLOST pass. That is one big voting block.

Unless Dr Atkinson turns out to be Superwoman nothing much will change. Only time will tell. Get aboard the train and enjoy the ride.

Anonymous said...

It would seem to me that rather than sit around griping on this blog the "extreme vocal minority" would be mobilizing for the BOE elections that will take place in July. If you really give a crap you will get out and work to make sure we have an entire new slate of candidates.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

I agree. The vocal minority must look at the 7 newly drawn districts and who would likely be the BOE candidates for election.
This vocal minority will need to build precinct level support and ground operations to be successful.

But like with most things DCSS(D?, 2012 will bring the trials of former leaders, results of an audit, the first since 2004-5, the resulting downsizing and then the 9 to 7 election. All of these will zap the energy from the real task of DCSS(D?), educating the kids. I hope Dr. Atkinson and her newly hired leaders can focus on education, while the longtime employees and the campaigning BOE members will be more focused on their past failures.

Cerebration said...

Actually, that is a big plus to the passage of SPLOST. Legislators will not have to reword the new law. We can now look forward to dismissing two seats on the board. Most likely that will be Dr. Walker and Pam Speaks due to the fact that they represent "super districts". In addition, the districts will be redrawn according to population, which will shift board zones northward. The north end of the county, with the population growth reported by the 2010 U.S. Census will most likely take a board seat from the south end. Same goes for the legislature.

Not SPLOST, Just LOST said...

"Look at it this way. The legislation reducing the BOE to 7 and all BOE members up for re-election will occur 2012 during a Presidential election so that will be a larger turnout - much more accurate and actually much more important."

Sadly, I must disagree with this statement. A Presidential election does mean larger turnout, yes, but that means a lot of people will be there to vote for the Presidential election and, unless they have children, they will likely have no clue about who is a "good guy" and who is a "bad guy" and the board will likely be all acting nice around that time, getting along, etc. There will likely be a SACS announcement about no more probation to give the impression that the scandal is behind us. The CLewis team will leak some information about how the courrpution was very limited and no current board members were involved.

And, what happens in elections in America when we do not pay attention to the names and issues presented on a ballot before us? Well, we would normally vote along party lines. Can't do that with school boards. So, next we are most likely to vote for the incumbant, sad as that might be. Why? Because when people do not feel qualified to make a decision and they are afraid of doing the "wrong" thing, they will opt to vote for more of the same because we inherently dislike change, even when it is for the better. We do not want to be the agents of change if the outcome is not something we are confident we will be comfotable with. We would rather let the change happen and deal with it only when and if we have to or it causes us more discomfort to remain stagnant than it does to put the effort into change. We are creatures of habit.

The only time that voters who do not know anything about either canidate are more likely to vote for a canidate OTHER than the incumbant (when party lines are not a factor)... can you guess?? I'll give you a hint: the answer is a likely factor in our own school board elections in DeKalb ... voters consistently will vote for a canidate, any canidate who has a "nickname" in quotes in addition to their regular first and last name on the ballot. Psychologists say that we want to elect someone whom we think will be nice and someone we can relate to. Well, a stereotype of someone who has a "nickname" is that they are probably more fun-loving, or friendly than the other canidate because they must have a lot of friends who know them by the "nickname" and that's why they had to put it on the ballot that way. It's nothing more than a tried and true marketing technique to make someone's "brand" appear more appealing simply by the appearance of the name itself.

If we were buying peanut butter, I'd say "big deal. what's the risk? go ahead and pick the Skippy this time, junior." But, this isn't peanut butter, is it? And quick first impression based on something as simple as a name is a terrible way to elect someone who will oversee your money and decide on polcies that will affect the value of your home and the future of your children.

Anonymous said...

We truly must live in one of the most uneducated counties in America. We voted for more of the same. We give away money to other districts. Our schools are neglected. We can't stop a $2.2 million dollar addition from being torn down or a new wing in an overcrowded school from being delayed and dealyed and dealyed.

We can't get answers. We can't get along. We are pathetic. And, we can't move away. We are spending money on technology even our teachers don't know how to use. And our kids are full of kids deserving Title I funding to help them and we ship them off to other schools where the help will not follow? We talk about the "problems" but no one, ever, ever, ever thinks about the children. Even in Dr. Atkinson's plaguraized "Children First" campaign that she invented on the heels of her "never been party to a lawsuit" application for employment she FORGOT to mention anything about talking to the children.

People will not stand up to call out the corruption for a simple reason - everyone is a part of it and no one wants to be caught. From the CEO to the PTA, from the School Cafeteria Workers to the Teachers to the Technology Workers. From the Auditors to the Oversight Committees to the Booster Clubs. From the North to the South. Hell, even our county's slogan is a big lie, "The Greenest County in America." Unless that is some kind of an inside joke among those who are robbing us blind to mean all the GREEN they will be putting in their pockets while they start the demolition of all the Crawford Lewis evidence and then build him a golden jail cell that will be bigger than the palace. The police, the non-profits, the state board of education, the county commissioners... and the bullys in our schools to the ringworms in the dirt on our playgrounds.

Now the pro-SPLOST people want us to get over it and move on? Fernbank shouldn't be called out? They can't bend over and pick up the garbage outside on the ground to provide a better environment for their own children and instead they want us to think that a few windows that won't open are the cause of flies and this somehow translates to the NEED to tear down an entire building so they can have something new? And this is the reason they voted yes and will be forcing us to suffer 5 more years of criminals running our schools like their own personal sweat shops, churning out CRCT bubble sheets in poor working conditions to make money for "the man." But in this case, "the man" is the friends and family that have been spreading like disease. And the vast majority of anyone involved in the schools in any way is not a part of that 'family' because they are not strong enough to speak out, so they must be expecting their time in the sun to be coming along any day now. Wake me up from the nightmare when that happens. I will be picturing myself alongside those kids in the postcard that says "vote yes" - the ones that are running and happy and multi-culturnal and NOT in DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

Cere - why do you say that you doubt there are people fudging the numbers on the free/reduced lunch forms? I absolutely believe that to be true.

My community is similar to the one described by Concerned S. DeKalb, but I live on what would be considered the boarder of North and Central Dekalb. The community is a mix of ages and incomes, but largely untouched by foreclosures. Most everyone is employed or retired middle class. Home values were holding around $200 - $230,000 until this past year when they dropped accoding to the county, but not as much according to actual sales data. A home on my street just sold for $178,000 and we have one around the corner for $244,000 with a tennis court in the backyard. Average income is close to $60K and the poverty level according to the census should be lower than 10%. So, if our local elementary school served our community, we would be very unlikely to be a Title I school, right? Well, guess what? We have a 60% free/reduced lunch ratio, a large English as Second Language population, and many, many busses. We don't really know where these other kids come from or whether or not they come from money. The parents don't come to PTA meetings, but that doesn't mean they don't care about their kids. They probably work or don't want to fight Atlanta traffic for a meeting across town that will not really be about anything, or they didn't get the flyer.

But, I volunteered in the classroom and ate lunch with the kids and I saw some kids not being fed anything while others threw away plates of food untouched. And the ones that I knew from the neighborhood... all had lunches from home.

But, worse than that, my own child who was supposed to be having lunch and breakfast everyday that I paid for... was not being fed! For almost a full week, she went without breakfast. I only learned when I checked the data on the online lunch account, but it is only kept for a week so it might have gone on longer. And, on many days when my child would plan to eat lunch there and we selected the "choice" that was one of the options on the menu, it was not available because they "ran out." They also "ran out" of chocolate milk on a daily basis.

Apparantly they didn't want my money to throw off their stats and give the indication that the school's poverty indicators don't compute with the neighborhood.

On registration day, I was hit with applications thrust at me by high pressure sales people (all African American women) who told me that I could put whatever I wanted in the income box because no one checks it. I refused. Then I was told that I could just leave it blank. I refused. I was then willfully ignored and never saw any of those women volunteering for any other purpose or at any other function. The VERY FIRST DAY of school I was told that I should pack a lunch because it didn't look like my child liked the cafeteria food.

this is all true and I would take a lie detector test to prove it if this was an episode of Desparate Housewives or something.

Anonymous said...

We are Title I school, in case I failed to make that clear.

Would the board have some kind of incentive to make neighborhoods with large retirement populations appear to be poor because they have open seats to bus in the kids from the not making AYP schools? Then they can claim the low school tax collected (due to the retirees not having to pay it) would look like overall less money in the area and could be misinterpreted to mean it is a poverty area. Then they can have more Title I schools by creation, not natural selection? If that sounds true, then would it be a fair assumption that we are actually in the business of CREATING schools to intentionally NOT make AYP to allow transfers to other schools in an effort to CREATE more Title I schools because of the big state bucks they get in return? If those kids tranfer again and the money does not follow the student, are you saying the school keeps the money but has no obligation to keep the kid? And it starts all over again the next year? So, the child who could use the extra help from title I funds is allowed or even encouraged to leave the neighborhood school because it is not making AYP, transfers to a non-TITLE I school that cannot offer the help until it becomes a Title I school and gets the funding for the help. And then if it also does not make AYP, the student can transfer again? And again the student could go to a NON Title I school that cannot give him/her the help the money is supposed to pay for? And then the kid's parent picks him/her up in a Mercedes????

Btw, parts of South DeKalb have a lot of money - it is where a lot of the Atlanta Falcons live - and the rich folks from the mega-churches, and the Chic-fil-a family compound, just to name a few.

Anon said...

Hey Anon. you should tell your story to the U.S. Attorney (Sally Yates).

Cerebration said...

Anon, your story is very disturbing. I strongly suggest that you report it to the new whistleblower hotline - here's the info:

Ethicsline Awareness
The District has established an EthicsLine to facilitate the anonymous reporting of fraud or misconduct. The EthicsLine is operated by Global Compliance, Inc., an independent 3rd party supplier, and should provide a safe and efficient method for reporting issues:

Safely report any violations or get more information by logging
on to the DeKalb County School System EthicsLine [ http://dcsd.myethicsline.com ]:

or by calling: 888-475-0482

Confidential, Easy-To-Use, and Always Available

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/audit-and-compliance

===

or report it directly at this third party website:

https://dcsd.alertline.com/gcs/welcome

===

Do these things and please let us know how it goes.

reparteeforfun@gmail.com

===

And yes, definitely report it to the U.S. Attorney, Sally Yates -


The United States Attorney's Office

Richard B. Russell Federal Building
75 Spring Street, S.W.
Suite 600
Atlanta, GA 30303-3309

Tel: 404.581.6000
Fax: 404.581.6181

http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/contact/index.html

===

Title 1 dollars are federal money the same as social security, food stamps and Medicare. If you know of abuse, please report it.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Anon's story resonates with me a bit. The elementary school I attended, Huntley Hills, sits right smack in the middle of a middle-class neighborhood in which young families are moving back in. However, the school last year (I haven't seen this year's updated stats) had a 67% Free/Reduced Lunch percentage. Maybe it is legit, but seems awfully high to me.

Molly said...

My children attended Huntley Hills. The poverty rate at HH went way up after Nancy Creek was closed. The single family homes were primarily zoned into Montgomery, and the apartment complexes (housing large numbers of Hispanic immigrants) were zoned into Huntley Hills. The poverty rate of 67% may be off by a few points, but I don't think it is far off.

Get the Cell Out - Atlanta Chapter said...

Go to Zillow.com and type in the address for the school in question. You can then pan around and see what the values of the homes are as well as the recent sales prices, inlcuding whether or not they are foreclosures.

Anonymous said...

I guess Atkinson's new chief info officer better get this one hired before the new salary audit. Sounds like a Lewis regime hire. Ed requirement: high school diploma or GED. But look at the salary! Am I the only one that sees that as so disgustingly typical of DCCS(D)? And the posting is new, but will expire soon, since I'm sure they already have kin or friend in mind...at the max on the salary range.

Position Title Secretary to Chief Info Office
Location / Responsibility
Centers Number
DEPT-M.I.S. / 761
Job Description EDUCATION AND/OR EXPERIENCE: High school diploma or GED equivalent required.
Associate’s degree in office management or other related field preferred. Minimum of one
(1) year experience in an administrative support position required.
KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS & ABILITIES:
May require: Knowledge of current office best practices and procedures; use of office
machines and equipment; proper and business English, spelling, grammar, and
punctuation; methods and techniques used in recordkeeping; principles and practices of
supervision; organizational and department functions Skill in effective oral, written and
interpersonal communication; taking and transcribing dictation and a variety of materials
that may include statements and minutes; composition, setting up and typing a variety of
correspondence, reports and other materials Ability to perform a variety of administrative
support assignments; meet and interact with various governmental officials/community
representatives, students, parents, personnel and other visitors
Salary $53,186.40 to $72,285.60
Shift Time Regular Mo/Yr 12
Days/Yr 239
Hrs/Day 8
Position Number 76

Anonymous said...

$53,000 for a secretary with a GED??? Are you kidding me????

Anonymous said...

That salary is way too much for that job. It's more than I made as a teacher in DCSS with 9 years of teaching experience and a masters degree, and then never a raise again. Disgust and anger. This is an outrage and a slap in the face to teachers who have graduated from a four year degree and make far less.

This is what is wrong with DCSS. I hope that the public wakes up soon, before it's too late to turn the sinking Titanic around.

Anonymous said...

I hope that the company auditing jobs and salaries, really looks close at job descriptions. I am really worried that this company is an insider or has connections in some way. It just doesn't feel right that only one company applied for the job.

Anonymous said...

The public isn't going to wake up. The time to wake up was Tuesday. We have NO leverage now! The sinking continues and the voters are totally responsible. If you voted yes for SPLOST, thanks a bunch for enabling this sick system to continue status quo.

SPLOSTgoesTHEweasel said...

Roslyn, you will get a kick out of this article on the Patch. Reminded me of you when I read it because of your baking story...

http://tucker.patch.com/blog_posts/parental-involvement-does-not-mean-baking-cookies

It is called Parental Involvement Does Not Mean Baking Cookies!

Anonymous said...

Concerned, I am sorry to hear about what your community has endured at the hands of SPLOST. The school should be the pride of the community, not something that is put on the back burner to sit and wait until someone remembers why it was ever put there in the first place. I am guessing your new cell tower is a way they are trying to come up with the money to fix all the issues and buid the addition you mentioned. Chances are good that they already spent your money, plus interest (hence the increase in cost without breaking ground.).

Anonymous said...

pscexb:

you can't be serious about the small school thing, can you?

Why do you think every parent in every part of the country is concerned about small class size? Because it provides more individualized instruction which leads to better understanding which leads to greater opportunity for learning to take place. Learing would be the assumed goal of an educational system, but not always the case here.

Small schools would be the next logical step in following that logic and are especially important for elementary schools. In large schools, students get lost and feel they are treated like a number. Teachers feel less connected and therefore feel less impactful and therefore they lose the enthusiasm for their proession, so essentially they do end up treating the student like a number, because there is no other way to manage a large class in a large school. Preschool and elementary students need to transition smoothly from home to school while still feeling safe and protected. That's hard to duplicate in a 1,000+ student building that looks like a prison instead of a quaint, well-seasoned school tucked quietly into a neighborhood where the kids can all walk to school and the parents all know each other and the teachers live nearby. You have heard the phrase "it takes a village to raise a child" right? Well, how is anyone's village going to rally around a child to show their support when that child has to be transported to the nearest mega-super-size-me-school emporium? We can't just sit the children down on a conveyor belt somewhere and expect them to be shipped back to us like a neatly wrapped package from Amazon.com. Children are not by-products of efficient business systems, they are human beings which makes each one just as individual and complex and special as every snowflake that falls or every star in the sky. We need to get some people involved in this system who understand the value of life and the obligation each generation has to ensure the success of the next or else we will all be contributors to the demise of our entire planet. This consume and discard mentality is very disturbing since it is the same line of reasoning that led to consumer over-reliance on credit card debt. If education is going in the wrong direction, then it makes more sense to me to stop all the obessive thoughts that "if we build it, they will learn." We didn't have all of this stuff when we grew up - why do we think buildings will determine the success of our system? Give me a patch of grass to sit on, clouds in the sky to gaze at, a pencil and some paper and a child who is eager to learn from someone who cares and I promise you I could inspire them and they would learn without even realizing that was what they were doing. Every business model where a company tries to do too much without mastery of its core business component has ended in failure or near-failure. The ones that rebound know one important thing - return to the basics and keep doing them until you get them right. Do not promise to be all thing to all people because they all cannot be happy at once. Focus on the reason you are in the business you are in and then decide how you can do that one thing better than anyone else. That is when the success will arise from the ashes. That is when your job will be easy because the path will be clear. Unfortunately, we just approve enough money for our system to remain off the path and never look up until they hit a brick wall. When they look back to call for help they will realize the rest of their cargo hit the wall a long time ago because the entire time they were moving so far ahead of where they should be, they were actually going in reverse and not listening to all the voices of reason that have been shouting at them to stop, turn around and go the other way. Maybe that's because they limit those voices to 3 mins each and turn their mikes off at the end even if they haven't finished talking.

Turkey said...

maintenace and rennovation for schools rich in history, tradition, culture, well made construction and a source of community pride? well worth it!

There are even grants from the state to preserve these schools so SPLost would not have been needed.

Anonymous said...

Student achievement, across every subgroup, is higher (usually significantly) in Fulton and Gwinnett than in DeKalb. And they have large elementary schools that seem to work well.

It isn't about how your child feels, there is actually a growing body of research showing the damage the self esteem emphasis has done to education in America, it is about resources and teacher quality.

We need fewer buildings period in DeKalb.

Cerebration said...

@Anon 11 1:34 AM , It's always been the small, neighborhood based schools that has made DeKalb unique and therefore the place people chose to live and send their children to school. It's truly been the small, neighborhood school that has driven people's choice to live in DeKalb. One has to wonder that if we try to move to the large scale model (ala Gwinnett), yet, we don't do it as well as other counties, will we then lose the only real appeal we offer? I would imagine (and this is strictly a theory) that we will lose lots of families to Decatur and private schools if we try to go to the large elementary school model. Just a gut feeling that's all...

Cerebration said...

Could the better results in other counties be due to better top-down leadership and a higher concentration of quality teachers? Just because they test better, doesn't mean that it's due to the size of the building.

Correlation does not imply causation.

Cerebration said...

All that said, I do think that larger high schools are a good idea. (Not enormous - just large enough to offer a lot of choices cost-effectively.)

Cerebration said...

Oh! It looks like the AJC has picked up on the story about the highly-paid secretary position at PATS. (Darn... I was going to apply!)

;-)

DeKalb teacher: Why is county hiring a secretary at an annual salary of $53,186 to $72,285? Good question.

DeKalb explains $53,000 to $72,000 secretarial job in central office. I still don’t get it.

Sigh! The toughest job in DCSS has to be as head of the PR department.

Cerebration said...

Sorry, I just have to share this one comment on the AJC blog, defending the job posting.

Point #3 – I know plenty of individuals with Doctoral degrees who cannot write a sentence without typographical or grammerical errors, must less write correspondence of calibur that this position would require.
So…….continute to bash if you would like but I would suggest you don’t judge or throw stones until you have all of your facts!!

Cerebration said...

And, therein lies the problem. We need say no more.

Kim Gokce said...

We are mixing up school size and class size up thread there ... there is every reason in the world to want a "Mayberry USA"-like atmosphere for our neighborhoods ... as long as we are willing to bleed money as we have the past 10-15 years.

The discussion is a moot point for DeKalb for at least the next 10-15 years anyway for all but the tiniest schools. The 300-400 enrollment elementary schools may merge into 900 scale schools but I have bad news ... that is not a particularly big school.

The only size that matters is class size and we've blown our chance at making a significant change in this figure in DeKalb, too. Only by consolidating plant, increasing capacities, and gutting the management layers will we end up with enough money to fund enough classrooms with enough teachers to maintain class sizes low.

So again, moot point for the next 10-15 years at a minimum ... so let's all just relax, get along, and enjoy our quaint, neighborhood schools that are dilapidated, over crowded, amenity-bare, and under-staffed with educators.

Anonymous said...

What's troubling about the secretary position announcement:

-It happened under Dr. Atkinson's watch.

-Just as the audit begins, the hire will have taken place and gotten some lock against perhaps being nixed before it could have happened.

-The hire was to have been for Dr. Atkinson's own man as CIO.

-HR is obviously out of control. HR has processed all of Atkinson's appointments and has rigged the continuation of the those replaced as DCSS(D) employees. I'll be willing to guess that some of the big shots who have been replaced will remain beyond their K expirations in some capacity at DCSS(D). Jamie Wilson is and always has been unqualifed to run HR--Leadership Cert classes do not teach much about managing, hiring, and firing. Come on! HR Directors are usually highly qualified, well versed in regs, statutes, and case-law. HR training is usually highly intensive and highly regarded. And most HR Directors are required to have this training before they are hired or promoted to Director.

Back to the topic:

-Defenders of this hire contend that this was an Executive Assitant job-(excuse mon Francais) but BULLSHIT! It would have announced as such, and the requirements would have been much more stringent and specific--maybe even computer knowledge beyond MS Word.

-Was Walter Woods told by Atkinson to defend and explain the position? Did she then relent only after she realized the clamor in the press? I think that Get Schooled was tipped to this from a post here on Dekalb School Watch! We made a difference!!!!

-Kind of a side note, but Atkinson had to negotiate with a real teacher's union in Ohio. The contract placed some restraints on a supt that do not bind Atkinson in the wonderful "right-(?)-to- work" state of Georgia. Once she realizes how much more by the throat she has teachers here in Dekalb, she may not be so teacher- friendly. Teachers can't negotiate anything regarding their livelihoods or futures (SS contributions, anyone?) when they sign that contract of adhesion that Dekalb offers them every year.

A little long-winded, but pissed.

The dark before the dawn has yet to get here.

Anonymous said...

Atkinson should have cleaned house and sprayed some industrial-strength Lysol on DAY ONE!

The status quo has already pulled her in.

Anonymous said...

"Theory of Action for Change is about the most meaningless phrase I have ever encountered in my years working for a humongous bureaucracy myself."

I posted this earlier over at Get Schooled.

From the same mentality that brought us "Premier" "Dr. Lewis has a vision!" "No Excuses" "As we strive towards excellence in teaching and learning!", and other meaningless garbage (in their context).

Anonymous said...

What's the source for the posting about the Dekalb Council of PTAs legislative meeting this thursday, Nov. 17, @ 7pm? I can't find it on any website.

thanks

Dunwoody Mom said...

Dr. Atkinson did report at tonight's BOE meeting that all Central Office administrative and school administrative positions have been frozen until such time as the salary audit is complete.

Good move Dr. Atkinson.

The rest of the board you just had to laugh out loud at. They were gushing about the SPLOST Yes vote. "It's for the children". Yeah, right.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I cannot wait to see the re-drawn BOE district lines.

Anonymous said...

Kim, With all due respect, no there was no confusion between class size and school size. Both have research to back their positive contributions to education.

This study by Think New Mexico found that small schools tend to have higher graduation rates and higher student achievement – especially for low-income students – as well as less violence, more per capita extracurricular opportunities and greater satisfaction among students, teachers, principals and parents.

http://www.realrenewal.org/dbdocs//4ea2d8c83394a.pdf

And, A 2009 study on children and urban sprawl released by the Vanier Institute on the Family is critical of school planning decisions that increase the distance between students and schools. “Neighbourhood schools where children can walk or bike independently offer many of the features children want in a high quality living environment,” writes author Juan Torrez of the University of Montreal’s Institute of Urbanism.

I don't have a problem with the larger high schools necessarily, but the large school model is for economics and not proven to have a postive contribution to performance.

For elementary schools, I cannot imagine sending a child that young to a huge institution where they might be scared, get lost and not have anyone there who seems to care aout them - that might be a false impression I will readily admit, but my impression would be enough for me to want to send my child elsewhere. IMHO.

Anonymous said...

America is rediscovering the small school and research is backing that small schools can provide a better quality education than a large school. Small schools provide many advantages to students, teachers and parents. Earlier this century small schools started consolidating to make larger ones and the trend continues to this day. However, decades of research has shown that student achievement in small schools is at least equal and often superior to the achievement in large schools (Cotton). The Chicago Public Schools has a website where a special section of the district’s web site makes its case for small schools. In part it says: “There is almost 40 years of existing research and literature on small schools which indicates that students in a small school have higher attendance and graduation rates, fewer drop-outs, equal to or better levels of academic achievement and fewer incidences of discipline and violence” (Kinnaman).

Small schools offer students many benefits that have a positive impact on their education. Smaller classes mean that students have a more personalized learning environment where they are known better by teachers. Students of minority populations have also benefited greatly from the smaller schools and more personalized education (Cotton). It is harder for students to fall through the cracks in education when all the teachers know the students well. Students in small schools have higher attendance rates and grade point averages. They are also more likely to graduate from high school and continue to higher education (Chicago Public Schools, Clowes).

Students feel a better sense of belonging and are more likely to participate in extra-curricular activities because of the smaller population. In small schools everyone is needed to fill the rosters of sports teams, offices and clubs so more students are encouraged to participate and made feel like they belong. This results in students having a better attitude towards school and being less likely to create discipline problems (Barker, Cotton).

Students are also safer in small schools, and incidents of violence and drug abuse are far less than in larger schools (Chicago Public Schools). Being known by all the teachers and peers in a school, students are less apt to feel isolated, which reduces fighting and violence. Students take more responsibility for their behavior and the behavior of their classmates and are less likely to be violent to one another because they know each other (Dunne).

Teachers in a small school benefit from the smaller numbers as well. The staff of a small school can support each other and have better and easier communication with each other. Smaller classes mean that teachers can have more opportunities to have an individual connection with each student and are better able to assess each student’s needs and address them accordingly. Students are more accountable to teachers when the teachers all know them by name and have fewer discipline problems (Chicago Public Schools). Teachers expect more from students when they know them better and care about what happens to them. Community members are more likely to view teachers as respected and valued citizens when they live and work in a small community (Barker).

Parents of students in a small school also benefit. They tend to know teachers by name and have a personal relationship with them regarding the education of the student. Small schools often make parents more comfortable with working closely with teachers to obtain the best education for their child. Teachers know how much parents need to be involved in their children’s education and strive to have them be involved (Chicago Public Schools).

Read more here: http://educateyourselfonissues.wetpaint.com/page/Small+Schools+Provide+Better+Education

Anonymous said...

"There is mounting evidence that the impersonal environment of the mega-school inhibits the basic function of the school; that is, giving kids the best education possible," says this article published by the National Association of Realtors.

http://www.realrenewal.org/dbdocs//4ea2d7766ee5c.pdf