Thursday, February 12, 2009

What will happen with Cross Keys and High School Technology North (HSTN)???

Frequent blogger Kim->CommunityRadar.Com posted the following summary for this meeting on Wednesday, 2/11:

In spite of bronchitis and a power outage I made the X-Keys meeting. It was moved to Ashford Park Elementary due to a power outage at the school.

This also meant I missed the presentation portion. However, most of the salient points were covered again in Q&A.

My take-aways look like this:

1. SPLOST III money is NOT going to be used for the merger and WILL still be allocated to the defined work at X-Keys ($16.9 million).
2. There IS separate funding for the Tech merger.
3. The X-Keys work has been delayed due to probs with service providers (they quit).
4. DCSS is finalizing the 'bidding' phase again and expect a new contractor eminently.
5. Pat Pope still encourages stakeholders to contact her office with suggestions / wishlists for X-Keys.
6. The Tech group will not operate as a 'school-within-a-school' under a separate administration.
7. Tech students at X-Keys are not eligible for sports, etc. at X-Keys but Moseley said they are looking at "options" still.
8. No fixed project schedule will be set until 10 days or so after the contract sign date (TBD).
9. Completion is obviously an open subject but they are batting around 4th quarter 2010 dates.

In under 10, there you go. Word out! X-Keys rules. Watch out, the Indians are coming ...


There were some 'trust' issues that 'may' have been resolved as a result of this meeting. The community should continue to watch the developments of this situation.

What do you think? Will designating Cross Keys as a 'full service' school with academic and heavy technical programs serve the needs of the community and its students?


pscexb said...

Should also point out, the automotive classes will not move to Cross Keys until January 2010. Perimeter College will permit those classes to remain at the current site until that time. There will be some transportation 'inefficiencies' during that time however some that the district must incur during that period.

A question was asked about dollars allocated to HSTN and what would become of them. Those dollars will not 'automatically' go to Cross Keys. By procedure, the dollars go back into the CIP pot then a recommendation must be made to the board to reallocate them to Cross Keys. This is to ensure transparency with that process.

Anonymous said...

@pscexb: On the HSTN dollars point - good catch on my miss and just to be clear for those not in mtg, this was money allocated for roof repairs at that facility and the X-Keys constituency (if there is such a thing emerging) needs to follow-up and shamelessly scramble for the cash to flow back to X-Keys.

On the move overall: I claim no pedagogical credentials. I'm not even sure if I've spelled that correctly. I will say that the move can only help our school by broadening the services. Whatever stigma (if there is one in some minds) associated with 'tech' will be more than made up for by young people learning and growing successfully in those programs.

As I find more and more "insiders" at X-Keys, the more I am convinced of what they are saying - these kids can perform with the best of them. DCSS and the larger community just needs to step in where they have failed this school in recent years.

Anonymous said...

... just one more poignant point about X-Keys ... the first graders at Woodward in 1995 were in a cluster with a Georgia School of Excellence in their future at the high school. How could they and their families be betrayed?

Will the incoming first graders in 2009 be luckier? While I'm hopeful, I haven't seen enough concrete action to be optimistic.

I'm not sure I care how "we" got here. I want definitive and inspired action on the part of DCSS and building renovations is just an ante in my mind.

Anonymous said...

I remember that Cross Keys had a top-notch Drama Department when I was in student in DCSS. They always had phenomonal musicals each year. I can even remember going to see "West Side Story".

Sorry for the nostalgia......

pscexb said...

Two other points to consider, a gentleman from HSTN asked for comments regarding the name of the school, specifically whether 'Comprehensive' would be included. His point was that was an outdated term and does not accurately reflect the types of skills students can learn at this school. FWIW, Chamblee includes 'Charter' in its name. Maybe Cross Keys Technical HS? Don't make any changes? Thoughts?

The other point made at the meeting and reported by Kim was that community involvement was welcome for the design phase. IMO, expectations must be managed properly as there is a finite amount of dollars available for the project. If renovation dollars become available through the stimulus plan and/or healthy SPLOST revenues, it would make sense to allocate more dollars to this school. Cross Keys is the 3rd oldest HS in DCSS (Druid Hills and Avondale) thus could make a business case from that aspect. I believe there will also be additional outreach to the immediate community to support Cross Keys by sending their children there. Time will tell....

Cerebration said...

Yes oh yes! I have been advocating for a really (REALLY) good vocational/technical high school for over 8 years now!! Where I come from in the Midwest - they are prolific and excellent. You would salivate over them - and the kids there are --- happy!!!

pscexb said...

I just realized O&T posted a topic for this subject. Sorry 'bout dat... :(

FWIW, two board members attended and were present when it started, Mr. McChesney and Mr. Womack. There was also a meeting at Merry Hills subdivision (I believe a meeting with CEO Ellis) that they had a previous obligation for thus they left after about 30 minutes.

Attendees included teachers from both school (mostly Cross Keys) along with the principals, PTA president from Cross Keys, and at least 2-3 students from both schools. There were also several community people that were interested in the discussions.

Cerebration said...

Kim - I've shared this before but I think this was before you arrived at this blog. Shayna Steinfeld had this great idea when she ran for school board. She thought the high schools (Lakeside in particular) should form future committees comprised of elementary school parents who could work to create their vision for their children's high school - now. She called it "Lakeside 20/20" - get it - to see clearly - and the year - a target. You could form - Cross Keys 20/20 and do the same. If your board rep supported you in this endeavor it would be terrific.

Cerebration said...

This is apparently a quote from Dr. Lewis' state of the system address to the business community --

With a system-wide AYP passing rate of 71% and a graduation rate of 75.4%, DCSS is proud of its progress, but recognizes its hurdles like improving mathematics comprehension in primary grades as well as reducing the number of high school dropouts, a problem business leaders could help alleviate by teaming with DCSS’ Career Technology department to enhance work-ready educational programs more tailored to young people’s desires.

I would suggest that we hold him to that promise.

pscexb said...

Cross Keys Career Academy??? CKCA prepares its students to succeed with a rigorous college preparatory curriculum and also offers workplace certification training for those wanting in enter private industry?

Gimme some help......

themommy said...

CKCA prepares its students to succeed with a rigorous college preparatory curriculum and also offers workplace certification training for those wanting in enter private industry.

CKCA prepares its students to succeed after high school completion with both a rigorous college preparatory curriculum and workplace certification training. CKCA students have a multitude of opportunities to lay a path for a successful future.

Anonymous said...

Cross Keys Institute of Technology ... c-kit ... seek it ...

Brookhaven School of Arts and Technology at Cross Keys... that's right, Brookhaven. What a nice ring that has ... We don't have a school and it is ridiculous. Give tnis community in the middle of no-man's land an excuse to support the school - name it after the area.

ok, i have no idea what to call it but I was serious about Brookhaven.

Cerebration said...

Druid Hills Career Tech Institute
Cross Keys School of Technology
Brookhaven School of Technology
Brookhaven Academy
Cross Keys Academy
The Academy of Druid Hills
Brookhaven Technical High School
Cross Keys Technical High School
Cliff Valley High School of Technology

This is interesting -- from Wikipedia --

The Cross Keys was a common sign in Christian heraldry and referred to St Peter to whom Christ had said: "I will give unto you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven." These keys, one silver and one gold, were always presented in saltire – the form of St Andrew's Cross – and were first recorded as a pub sign in Leicester, England in 1552.

Cerebration said...

Holy Cross Keys School of Technology and Royal Pub


Anonymous said...

I was most impressed with Ms. Pope at the meeting. She was upfront, and represents the school system extremely well. I am glad she is an employee of Dekalb County. She appears to be worth every penny she earns. I was extremely expressed with her answers in the Cross Keys Community Meeting. I left the meeting feeling good about what was going to happen at Cross Keys in the future. The Cross Keys teachers are adjusted to having plenty of room and the change of having to float will not be a nice experience for them but at least the principal did indicate that they would be floating in wings. I actually go back and forth across North Springs Campus and it is a big school. Occassionally the students threaten to send me for a tardy slip as I run in as the bell rings. It is tough to float but not unually at all.

greenie said...

I still have not posted my comments b/c I'm still gathering my notes from that meeting. But I will tell you one thing - I was not impressed by Ms. Pope. Maybe I was jaded and a bit PO'd about not finding the meeting till almost 6:30 (in fact, I missed the board members and didn't realize they'd come). But I felt like she was glib and gave a lot of lip service and not a lot of concrete info. She kept telling the teachers that they would have input, some of the things they suggested would be taken into consideration, but she didn't know if the floor would be blue or green or tile or vinyl - as if that's what the community (mostly teachers) cares about. The band leader, ROTC teacher, art teacher and others were asking concrete questions about design and the data that a design committee had assembled and delivered to Pope last year, and she kept going on about floor colors. She said all the suggestions would be considered. BUT, once there is an RFP (which no one seems to have seen), how many significant physical changes (such as soundproofing, building out use-specific space, etc) can be made w/out deviating from the bid? so IMO, for them to issue the RFP and take bids before they meet again with the community seems somewhat useless.
I really felt, from the time I tried to find out about the meeting (the only source of info was this blog), I have sensed that CK is really the DCSS stepchild. I have never been to a meeting such as this at which so little concrete info was disseminated. I'm still not even sure why they held the meeting - they certainly didn't make a big effort to be inclusive. Were the announcements (and calling posts) even translated to Spanish?
As I said, I'm still digesting, but I was not impressed. Why have an architect and an a/c contractor walked off the job at this school? who made it so difficult for them to do a job? If the "lowest bidder was not the most respected bidder" for the renovation, and the attorney told them to rebid it, then how does that honor the integrity of the bidding process? They might as well give the "most respected bidder" their guidelines in advance so that company can win the bid first time around and save the money and hassle of consulting an attorney, rejecting the lowest bid and rebidding the whole job (which now takes longer b/c new bidding rules went into effect in October - about a year after the project should have started)>
OK, now I'm rambling, and I am still trying to review my notes.
I'm just curious, did anyone else find Ms. Pope to be less than impressive? (disclosure: I missed the original presentation and only arrived for Q&A)

Anonymous said...

I went to the meeting upset as to the putting off of the project but I left the meeting thinking maybe there really were some problems as mentioned that slowed down the process. I was impressed that Ms. Pope answered my question honestly and she was so professional in her manners of doing so. But, I was disappointed to see that the crowd was mostly teachers and very few members from the community. I also did not see the presence of many parents which disappointed me.

I felt strongly that the school board personnel answered questions very well and all handled themselves extremely professionally. In sawing this I still do not like that the Cross Keys project took so long and that they are having to re-bid the project but I felt the questions were answered extremely well while I was there. I did have to leave early as I had another obligation.

Cerebration said...

A project to renovate a horrible school building should have nothing to do with how vocal the parents and the community are. Hispanics come from a culture where you really do not have a voice in government and they are timid to participate. But this is America and we take care of the least among us - at least that's what we should be doing.

I am so pleased that teachers and bloggers have picked up the flag for these students. Sadly, historically, in DCSS the squeaky wheel is the one to get the grease - therefore I'm very happy to see someone squeaking for those who do not have the language, knowledge or courage to do it themselves. Obviously these are passionate teachers who care deeply about these students and feel that they can be very successful. If the teachers say so - then I support them 100% as a member of the community at large.

ps - Pope probably went on about the floor color as she has had much discussion in Dunwoody over the color of the roof of the new ES. Different crowd - but then again - they usually get more of what they want.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I checked out Cross Keys and it's in really, really bad shape. May be in worse shape than Lakeside.

Anonymous said...

"But, I was disappointed to see that the crowd was mostly teachers and very few members from the community."

It's because DCSS does not ever do a good job advertising meetings to parents, especially Hispanic parents, and the surrounding community. it's so easy to properly advertise a meeting, yet DCSS only does so when it wants a SPLOST.

Anonymous said...

@Cere: "Cross Keys 20/20"

I think that is an excellent idea. That's about the time my son would be at Sequoyah. Is it just me or do others see the irony in DCSS' most abused schools all labeled with icons of American Indians? Talk about a Trail of Tears!

I don't know if any parents or other community members are going to have the cojones (si! yo dijo "cojones.") to see this type of endeavor through but it has to be tested (pun intended).

I will start circulating your idea around and see if it draws moths to the flame. :)


Go read Ursula K. LeGuin's short story, "The One Who Walk Away from Omelas" and you will understand what happened to Cross Keys and our neighborhoods. Our cluster is the metaphorical abandoned child left in the closet steeping in its own excrement so the rest of Omelas' children can lack for little.

Yes, X-Keys is worse off than Lakeside. I don't think there is a rival in the County with the combined facilities and human neglect. Way to go DCSS! You've manage to focus the collateral damage of your neglect to the marginal offspring of the most docile among us!

The families who have left DCSS from my area, just like the ones who walked away in LeGuin's story, could no longer accept the conditions of "that child" as the price. It is a disgrace.

Sorry for being dramatic today but my 2 year old deserves better and so do the children I see running back and forth across North Cliff Valley Way, the ones in that stinking closet. Shame on us all!