Friday, April 17, 2009

Why is the DeKalb Marine High School only for Title One Students? Why Did the Marine Who Spoke at the End of the Public Hearing Say What He Did?

I am excited about the DeKalb County Marine High School being offered as an option to students in DeKalb County. I am glad to see DeKalb County Schools go outside the box looking for ways to help our students be as successful as possible as adults. However, why is this program currently only being offered to students who are Title 1 students? This seems a little discriminatory to students of higher incomes and abilities who might benefit from the structure of a marine high school. Why are so many of our choice schools having so many stipulations in order to be accepted to attend? I am hopeful this is due to the request of the Marines instead of the DeKalb County School Board. It would appear that so much money is being spent on optional schools in DeKalb County with so many stipulations for acceptance that it makes me a little concerned about the direction public education is going. Should public school option schools be available to all students in DeKalb regardless of their race, income, religion, disability, ability? What do you think?

I was extremely offended by the comments at the Heritage Center hearing by the marine who accused the white area in the north side of the county not wanting the Title 1 students to be served in the military school at Heritage. As a member of the Lakeside Community, I did not perceive that the concerns of the community had anything to do with the Title 1 students being served at Heritage. In fact, this was news to our community when Dr. Crawford told us that the Marine HS would be open to Title 1 Students only. The Lakeside/Heritage Community was not even aware of this fact so this could not be the reason for all the concern in the community. It had to do with the traffic and extra congestion of two high schools within .6 of a mile. The community was concerned with parking for the high school, and the park next to the school that is used by the entire community. Anyone who attended the hearing was made extremely aware of the lack of parking space for citizens to park. You had to park ½ to 1 mile away to get a parking place to attend the hearing at Heritage.

For me personally it had to do with placing the special needs students in a better economic situation for the county. It is true that many of the students at Heritage need to be served in self-contained classrooms, as their needs due to the medical fragile situation would best be meet in a self-contained classroom but that does not mean that these classrooms have to be in a separate facility. We have many high schools and middle schools in the county that have room for these children and their could be such a benefit from allowing regular education high school and middle school students to have mentorship’s to work with these special needs children. There would appear to be such a benefit to both the special needs students and the regular education students. I do not like to see these students served in a separate facility from regular education students. I questions why some of the overcrowded grade schools like Oak Grove even could not be moved to Heritage and make Heritage more like Coralwood by serving regular education students and special needs students. They would not have to be served even in the same classrooms, but moving some of the overcrowded students from Oak Grove to Heritage would make sense to me.

I also was concerned that concerned citizens about the Military High Schools made most of the meeting comments. Parents of children, who attended Heritage, did not have sufficient opportunities to be heard because of the limit of time for the hearing. Many of the special needs parents appeared very upset when they were not allowed time to speak due to the concerns of the location of the Military High School. What do you think about the situation regarding the Marine High School location and where do you think the special needs students at Heritage need to be served?


Cerebration said...

Very good post, Ella. Very thoughtful. You ask some important questions.

Why are we turning a blind eye to the fact that these special needs students are being kicked out of Heritage and sent to merge with students up to age 22. Is it humane to expect these children to spend their entire lives in the same building?

I really like your option, Ella. Why not merge the Oak Grove Pre-K and K in with the Heritage students? We could better utilize the Heritage building AND get rid of all of the trailers at Oak Grove.

I wonder why that "marine" who spoke didn't bother to concern himself with the facts that special needs children are being marginalized and Oak Grove students are suffering over-crowding while our leaders instead choose to bus in students from around the county to start a new program for Title 1 high school students - to be led by the marines.

Cerebration said...

I would also assume that this program is only for Title 1 students so that the school will be a Title 1 school and will receive even more federal funding. It's not so much about providing a program that will fill a need - as it is about creating a program that will generate more Title 1 funds for the county.

The Special Revenue fund consists primarily of budgeted state and federal grant expenditures, including Title I funds. Special Revenue expenditures are planned to be $88.7 million. The Special Revenue funds do not include the ARRA funds that are anticipated to arrive for Title I and IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) purposes. The Title I and IDEA allocations for next year will increase the planned expenditures by approximately $26 million in the fiscal year 2010.

Ella Smith said...

I totally understand the need to consolodate the school at Heritage as this number of students being served in this facility hurts us a great deal on our number of schools not being used and a great number of seats available. But there are other options and other schools with space. All these students could be served in a wing of another school also were there are many seats available. Special needs students can be served in a facility with regular educations students without a problem other than on occassion a child needs may need to be taken to the hospital because of medical needs in a special education fragile situation but if these students were in a wing I do not see this impacting the regular classroom settings at all or just move some of the overcrowding at Oak Grove to Heritage and leave these children where they are.

Money is coming for Title 1 and Special Education from the federal government. I need to check on Monday as I have been home sick a couple of days but according to an email I got from my department head I can go to a workshop for 13 days this summer as a highly qualified science teacher and receive $4,000 for those 13 days. For $4,000 I think I will definitely attend. This program is only for highly certified science and social studies special education teachers. I hate to give up anytime in the summer but I believe for this money I can handle a few days in a workshop or class.

Cerebration said...

For a real eye-opener as to just how many seats we have available in our high schools alone - check out the chart at the article below. is really ridiculous for the school system to focus on a small group of special needs students, claiming the building is under-utilized, when it could actually be better utilized by incorporating students from the over-crowded school nearby.

On top of that - no one - and I mean no one - expresses any concern at all about the fact that we now have over 4,000 EMPTY SEATS in our high schools. In fact - plans are still underway to build enormous additions to MLK and Miller Grove - both of which will be relieved of over-crowding by Arabia. In fact - Arabia could have and SHOULD have relieved ALL of the over crowding in that area - but for unknown reasons, our school board instead chose to make this school into a choice school - with admissions requirements!

Smoke and mirrors -- If they get you watching the Marine Corps drama - perhaps you won't actually notice the man behind the curtain pulling out all the stops.

Ella Smith said...

It looks like Clarkston High School would be a perfect place for a wing for these fragile needs students and this would be fairly close to the hospital.

It also looks like SW Dekalb HS, MLK HS,and Lakeside HS are the high schools which need construction to be done. Why do they not look at the data and see where the need is. Decisions should be data driven to be fair to students and citizens of Dekalb County so building additions would be fairly chosen.

I did see that Terry Morris is on the new committee to help make these decisions. She will be very fair.

Ella Smith said...

Regarding: Arabian High School

From my conversation with school board members I got the impression there was some concern regarding students taking care of the building. This may be the reason that that made it a selective type school so they can decide what type students are there. They want the building to be kept in the shape it is now. I see no reason that this school does not take care of the overcrowding at the other local schools. Arabian High School is a public high school.

Cerebration said...

Please tell me that school board members did not say that. Oh my lord. How arrogant. They have now used public money to essentially build a beautiful, private school.

Arabia will only be accepting 350 students from MLK and 250 students from Lithonia, leaving 1,000 seats available for "Choice" transfers (although it looks like for the first year, they are only accepting 500 "Choice" students for a total enrollment of less than 1,100). The capacity of the building is 1,600 students with expansion room for 2,100.

What a freaking waste of taxpayer dollars.

Ella Smith said...

I agree totally. Arabian Mountain should be used as away to help the overcrowding in that section of the county schools and should take a large number of schools from the overcrowded areas and then open seats in their magnet program. North Springs is a magnet school but it also serves students in live in the district.

I do suspect from what I heard that they want to keep this school as a special school for just special student and want to keep certain students from attending. I do not approve of such selected practices.

Anonymous said...

The few, the proud, the pre-indoctrinated on what to say by certain school board members.

They led everyone initially to believe that the Marine Corps High School would be available for those wanting to utilize it, not only for Title One students.

Essentially, it's government endorsed reverse discrimination- you can't use this because you make too much. (You can't rent here because you make too much, you
can't transfer out of an underperforming school because you make too much).

Very predictable that they'd bring in a ringer to turn it into a racial whoop de doo. Worked back in '97 for the Avondale Middle School melee, and it was being ramped up for utilization so that the school board could get their 35 acres of timber off the Stone Mountain Middle School site.

Raising the thought that the whole purpose for the program to exist is to whore yet more Title One funds hit the nail on the head.

Due to this, it's important that they have the usual mechanism to demonize the opposition. That'd be the race card.

Son of awcomeonnow signing off for now.

Anonymous said...

Addendum- was there a "special,reserved slot" for the marine? Or did the school board members bypass a sea of raised hands to one certain individual.

Last question- was the marine
(conveniently) in uniform?

If so, I smell a set up. Three way tie on who dealt it-
Walker, Lewis, or Zepora

Ella Smith said...

The marine was not in uniform.

I do not think Dr. Lewis or Zepora had anything to do with this. I also do not think Dr. Walker had anything to do with this either but I did notice he did not sit with the other school board members. He sit by himself and did not say anything that I saw to the other school board members. He spoke at the last school board meeting that the rumors regarding him trying to get rid of Dr. Lewis were not true. I wonder what that was all about.

I was very shocked to hear that the Marine HS was just for Title One students. This is the problem I have. Placing the Marine Institute at Heritage is not that big of a deal to the community as long as it is for only one year.

Cerebration said...

It is a big deal. I don't understand why on earth - if they just need a spot for one year - do they have to use Heritage. What do they plan to do with Heritage after that one year? Do they ever plan any more into the future than next week?

If they only need it for one year - why not use the old - soon to be vacated - DSA? If it's been good enough for 277 DSA kids for the last however many years - surely it will do for the Marines for one year. This excuse that it needs $9 million in renovation to be usable is a crock. Use DSA for a year as is - whoopee.

The "marine" was suspicious to me the minute I heard him start to rail. He made a big issue out of the fact that he didn't know anyone and hadn't spoken to anyone. Then he proceeds to call the entire room racist NIBMY's and chastise us for not advocating for Columbia or MLK or Lithonia. huh? He goes on to admit that he's an ROTC instructor from Gwinnett. And implores the community to give the school a chance. He obviously didn't get it (as so many others don't either) - the community isn't upset about a military academy - they just don't want 650 high school students crammed into a little elementary school built for 396 little children and with only 40 parking spaces. They are certain that the school system will need to level the park into a parking lot. And no one believes that this would be for one year. My god - why spend any money at all to retrofit a building for one year? The building has little baby sized toilets - no lockers - no field for drills - no gymnasium - a "cafetorium" and only 18 small classrooms and no desks to speak of.

He was a plant, IMO. It was much too convenient that Mosely introduced him as the last speaker of the evening - suddenly deciding to tell everyone else to sit down (after they had waited in line to speak for an hour.)

Cerebration said...

Here's a dumb scenario that is very possible.

The school system kicks out the special needs students housed in Heritage with all of their OT and Sensory spaces torn out and shipped elsewhere and reinstalled. Then, it spends many thousands of dollars to change out the toilets and urinals to big boy size, buys high school sized desks, equipment, library materials, computers, lockers and other equipment to make this school fit for high schoolers.

One year later - they move the marines somewhere else (which right now they have no idea where) and decide to return Heritage to its proper use as an elementary school - incorporating several elementary special needs classes per the Coralwood model. So -- they take out the new big boy toilets, etc and replace everything with child-sized equipment. Then, in order to accommodate the incoming special needs students, they recreate the sensory rooms and therapy rooms that were in full operation the year before, but torn out. Then, they hold a lottery to see who wins a seat in the new school.

I think I've got their number, don't you?

Ella Smith said...

I do know several of the associate supertendents and they are good people. I also think Dr. Lewis is a good person.

I am concerned about the Briarcliff location and do not understand why it cannot be used for the Marine High School. When I brought up the Briarcliff location when I spoke I saw a big smile on Ms.Pope's face. In the back of my mind I wondered if this was the location she would chose also. I do know that local school board members apparently wanted the Marine High School at the old Briarcliff HS location also but did not want to get involved with day to day operations.

I personally think too many of them are currently involved in day to day operations. Many of them are retired and are probable too involved with day to day operations.

Kim Gokce said...

The swirl around this topic is amazing. I am really not informed on the DCSS plant to have much of an opinion. I do have an observation about the process, though.

Earlier today I was thinking over issues related to Cross Keys as I tried to make sense of the past few years. I kept asking myself: "What was the rationale? What was the plan? What strategy would have lead to the conditions I see?

The only answer I could come up with was that DCSS planned to close Cross Keys and sell the property - no other plan or strategy seems to fit the actions of the past years. But if that is true, why reverse the plan and instead invest $20m in the school???

The conclusion I came to was that there are no chess players in the leadership. I'm not sure they had a plan at all. We need leadership to have moves 3,4,5, or 6 in mind. They either don't have them or they simply don't tell the public that they do - either way, it is not a comforting thought.

Anonymous said...

Cere- good call.

Sorry Ella, this dude was decidely a pre-arranged/ pre speaking points given plant.


1. Pointedly saying that he
"didn't know anyone there, or had spoke to anyone."

Detective 101: when someone answers a question that no one has asked, then they have something to hide, ie pulling someone over for a traffic stop and having them blurt out

"I don't know anything about the convenience store robbery, officer."

Who asked about the robbery?
Who asked the marine if he knew anybody there?

Having someone presiding over the meeting that no more questions will be taken after "we get to hear from this gentleman"

Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

Same modus operandi as the meetings concerning Stone Mountain Middle School, just different timing.

At the Stone Mountain Middle School meeting, a blank space was
purposely left on the first space on the sign up sheet outside in the hallway.
Those wanting to sign up to speak were informed that someone
might be late "but they really wanted to speak".
Nobody there thought to point out that such a courtesy would be offered to anybody else that might have been late or have wanted to speak.

The "Important" speaker?

the former NAACP head of Dekalb county, John Evans. He was
rested up from his jail term for
bribery/extortion as a former Dekalb County Comissioner.

The crux of the speech?

Calling the opposition a
"racial thing".

Two different meetings, two special speakers, both being given
preferential treatment to demonize anyone questions the oh, so pure motives of the Dekalb County School system.

Anonymous said...

How many years has Mosely
been on the school board? Has it been at least 5? If so, this might be getting more interesting.

Kim Gokce said...

@Ella: "I personally think too many of them are currently involved in day to day operations. Many of them are retired and are probable too involved with day to day operations."

While I agree that in principle the BOE Members should not be involved in operational decisions, I believe that their constituents demand that they be involved because of a leadership gap in the system. Do I pester my BOE members to discuss operational issues? I certainly do and I hate myself for doing it. Then I get over it ...

One Fed Up Insider said...

Here is my own thought about the Marine School.... FIX THE PROBLEMS AT HOME FIRST BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE. If I am reading the blog and the AJC correctly. The Marine School is going to be around $11 million dollars in just temp fixes and still the school does not have a permanent home. Take that $11 million and help CHS, (not their middle school feeder, brand new) CKHS, LHS, and their middle/elementary school feeders. Once you have those schools a little bit closer to getting caught up with other schools in the county, then HEY I am all for the Marine School.


Molly said...

I have already posed these questions to Crawford Lewis and am still waiting for an answer.

I want to know why the Marine Corps HS is being fast-tracked. According to the AJC, the first discussion about this school happened in February and the school will open in August.

When DCSS introduced the regional school choice options, the process took several years - forming design teams, soliciting commmunity feedback, coming up with school choice options....and phase 1 of those plans are just now beginning to show up as potential choices for students. If it is possible to create a new Marine Corps HS so quickly, why are we still waiting for the school choice options communities requested?

I would also like to know what research (if any) DCSS has done to determine that the community wants this particular option. Presumably, they should have surveyed students and parents to determine that this option is desirable. If so, the location of the school needs to be guided by that research - where are the students who will attend this school coming from? Are they evenly distributed throughout the county? If so, then the school needs to be at a central, easily accessible location. Are the potential students clustered in one part of the county? If so, the school needs to be accessible to the greatest number of students.

I suspect that the reason Crawford Lewis hasn't answered my question is because no such research was done. (When was there time to do any research?) If that is the case, he needs to admit that he is making very expensive decisions blindly.

Cerebration said...

Mosely is not a member of the school board - he is a career DCSS administrator. In fact he's a member of the "top ten"

Crawford Lewis $251,687.60
Patricia Reid $194,850.00
Marcus Turk $162,798.00
Gloria Talley $162,648.00
Frankie Callway (Dpt Ast Super) $162,200.82
Bob Moseley (Dpt Ast Super) $151,563.70Jamie Wilson (HR Director) $141,741.85
Ramona Tyson (Dpt Ast Super) $131,104.82
Wendolyn Norris-Bouie (Dpt Ast Super) $131,104.82
Felicia Mitchell (Dpt Ast Super) $123,594.82

Interestingly - most of these top tier administrators were present at this meeting, as were several board members, yet no one thought it might be a good idea to give out numbers 1-30 to the speakers, giving preference to Heritage parents and staff - considering that this meeting was supposedly about them.

Cerebration said...

Good questions, Molly. Did you submit them on a card at the meeting? We were promised that all of the questions submitted on the cards would be posted and answered at the DCSS website. Not sure when.

Also - the question was asked at the meeting regarding a market survey to assess student interest in this program. The answer was no - no market testing had been performed.

Judging by the requirements, I'm questioning the level of interest in the program. Students need to be Title 1, have no behavior issues or conduct issues, have passed what is now called "Math 1" in 8th grade (formerly known as Algebra 1), effectively putting them on an advanced math track and they must be willing to get on a bus at the crack of dawn, pick up a transfer at a hub and ride to the academy.

Beyond that, the school will be year-round, so they must commit to summer programs and deal with intermittent 2 week breaks. But the uniforms and military haircut requirement could be the deal-breaker for many.

Cerebration said...

Maybe Crawford Lewis needs to get a Fidelity account. You know, then that lady on the commercial can remind him to "get back on the line" and stay focused on the plans at hand. If there weren't so many schools suffering from poor teaching, sick buildings, over-crowding and such, then perhaps in this environment of "scarcity" mentality that pervades DCSS, people would not get so outraged every time a new "idea" or "program" bumps their needs to the bottom of the list - again.

Anonymous said...

Lewis gets $251,000 a year?
I can see why he'd only want to pay five thousand dollars for a one
year old Ford. Obviously, it would put a severe crimp on his cost of living.

fedupindcss said...

Molly--the school was likely fast-tracked because the Marines are the ones calling the shots on it. They are offering a huge sum of money to help operate it, and it probably has a deadline attached to when the money must be used. If I wanted to be really cynical (and I do), I could even imagine a scenario where DCSS decided to move the Heritage kids to create and "empty" school in order to get the Marine money. The whole process of kicking out the Heritage students seemed way too ramped up for a special needs community. Oh, wait, I forgot: the parents of the special needs students didn't have millions of dollars to dangle before the school system. My bad.

Maybe they should sue. DCSS has a pretty good record of folding or losing in the face of lawsuits (I think they may have won one).

I agree also that the problems at home schools should be addressed before a new magnet is put in place. But I would go farther and say it is not just physical plant problems; it is also the systemic educational issues in all these schools. If they would deal with curriculum, teaching, and quality of life issues (i.e. go back to a six period day), the kids might not have all the problems that lead them to think they need another "special" school.

Open+Transparent said...

Crawford Lewis and marcus Turk are addicted to Title 1 funding, no matter how negatively that may affect specific schools.

And the Board of Education allws it and enables it.

Ella Smith said...

First, of all many local school board members wanted to close down Heritage due to number of students attending there.

Second, the school board and administration were given an opportunity to have the Marine Institute by connections at the State School Board Level. A local School Board member ran into a state school board member who told him about the opportunity and the school board and Dr. Lewis jumped on the opportunity for the Marine Money and opportunities for our Dekalb County Students before other counties had a good chance to get on board. They had no choice but to work fast to get this opportunity for our children verse Gwinnett or Fulton, etc.

The school board and county administration may close other low attendance school also. I think Heritage is just the start of things to come.

I understand totally why the number of students at Heritage is not exceptable but why could we not talk the overload of students at Oak Grove and send them to Heritage. It could be a grade school and a special needs facility like Coralwood.

Ella Smith said...

I sincerely like Mr. Mosely a great deal. He is a very nice and reasonable man.

Cerebration said...

I really don't think we should blindly assume that the military academy is a perfect solution. I would think they would need a lot of monitoring. Marines have their fair share of testosterone you know --

Check out the article from the AJC last week - highlighting the prevalence of hazing in high schools. Sports teams reported the most hazing activities - but guess who came in second -- ROTC.

Allan and Madden found the highest rates of hazing among members of sports teams (47 percent), ROTC (46 percent), and bands and performing arts organizations (34 percent). The average for other school organizations was 20 percent, the researchers reported..

Kim Gokce said...

I know where we could use a few good men in a home school ...

After a meeting discussing Cross Keys Friday, I decided to drive by the school and confirm a couple of things about a development planned on Curtis drive across from the school. There were a few young men gathered out front of Cross Keys before/after an athletic practice so I chatted with them.

I asked them from their perspective what was the biggest problem at Cross Keys. They did not hesitate: gangs.

"Gangs?" I said, a bit surprised. They all concurred. I asked what the gangs do and the guys said that they mostly tear up stuff at the school or paint it or mark it up in some fashion. They said, for example, that in the men's bathrooms the stall doors and the mirrors have been removed to prevent shenanigans.

So after the $20 million is spent on renovating Cross Keys, I suggest we have a Marine stationed in the bathroom to keep it secure.

All morbid joking aside, we need to make Job #1 focus on home school quality for sure! I know the concept of community schools is passe but I don't see how a public system works without it.

By the way, the young men I spoke with were very sincere, quality young people with an interest in their school. Maybe we can spare one Marine to help this boring, old neighborhood school.

Cerebration said...

Marines? How about principals, assistant principals, hall monitors, teachers? Back when I went to school - these people were always visible and walking the halls. Nowadays - you're hard-pressed to see a principal/asst principal/counselor/monitor an ANY adult walking the halls - they are always holed up in their offices - meeting. doing paperwork. calling. or getting their stuff together to bolt out the door.

When my son went to Chamblee Middle - one dad started a dad brigade. These dads volunteered to monitor halls, restrooms and cafeterias. They made a presence that only dads can make. They were nice to the kids and the kids knew that they were there because they cared. It was a great program - but they were shut down for some reason.

pscexb said...

Ahhh, back from another 'Soccer Saturday' and decided to review the traffic on my favorite blog. Where do I start???

we need to make Job #1 focus on home school quality for sure! I know the concept of community schools is passe but I don't see how a public system works without it.Well put, Kim! Unfortunately we seem to be in an era where 'some' of our neighbors don't have the same 'education value system' as most of us. If their children lack structure and ignore authority at home, how can we reasonably expect the school to correct this kind of behavior? I spoke to two different parents in my community recently who are actively seeking a transfer for their children to a central or north DeKalb school (yep)or private school.

Regarding Tuesday nite at Heritage, it is really 20/20 hindsight regarding how it should have been handled. All should be glad to hear that the Heritage stakeholders will have a chance to have a private meeting with central office staffers regarding their concerns, in light of what happened that night.

Was Sgt. Erwin a plant? Who knows, but one could definitely understand him perhaps feeling 'misinformation' being provided about the Marines and how funding works. I seem to recall that was one of his first statements. There was also a gentlemen in a Navy sweat shirt that also took issue with some of the comments regarding the military. He was also in line and did not get a chance to speak. I will agree some of Sgt. Erwin's comments could be deemed offensive to residents of that area.

To clarify a few points that everyone seems to miss, this was a offer DCSS felt they had to act on right away because other districts were interested in it. This was independent of the Heritage/Margaret Harris merger as that was already planned. Part of the requirements from the Marines was that the facility be located in central DeKalb. They were not interested in the 'school within a school' concept however I believe that may be revisited for year 2. As Dr. Lewis and Ms. Pope indicated, the old Briarcliff does not have a cafeteria (they have a trailer where lunch is served and food is brought in for DSA. Open Campus uses the old stage from the gym). While that may have been OK for DSA/Open Campus, obviously this would have caused problems for the Marines. The investment needed for Heritage is to retrofit the bathrooms for HS students. This is minimal when you consider what they would have to spend for the Briarcliff facility (9 - 34 million).

What everyone should remember, this is a choice program. The market will determine if it is successful but the number of students that attend. If it is not successful, we should feel certain that DCSS and the Marines will discontinue the program. Based on the response in Chicago, both entities feel at this time it will be successful. Time will tell.

I asked about Forrest Hills and was told the Marines were not interested in that site. I have since found out that that site is still targeted for the 'single gender' program. I digress, but at the Meeting of the Whole held on Friday, I found out several school are using that concept with instructional teams and realizing some success. It will be interesting to see the test scores of those target groups.

FWIW, at that meeting they discussed 'possibly' using redistricting to provbe the ide relief to some schools. IMO, that would solution to many student housing challenges we face. Unfortunately many throughout the community 'push back' when this is offered as a remedy. Gwinnett seems to do this with frequency and their residents understand it is a necessity.

It was brought up that Stoneview still has 17 trailers and Browns Mill have 5 modules (4 classrooms with bathroom facilities). Combine that with Flat Rock that has over 1200 students and you could see the concern. Again, Flat Rock has several acres of cleared space around it for a housing development. That area will probably have need for another ES in a few years, considering the capacity of the surrounding schools.

Regarding salaries, all should look at compensation for 'like sized' school systems and will notice they are in line. Heck, if you look at some of the school systems in the Northeast that have one high school with feeders, you will see we are getting a bargain considering we have 22 high schools and feeders.

If SonofAwecomeonnow is out there, let me assure you that a current inventory of the all school system properties exists. Ms. Pope shared this with board members at Friday's meeting. Ol' pscexb tried to sweet talk her into getting a copy but she was having none of that. I'd have to make an open record request to either review or get it. FWIW, she did say that the attorneys were reviewing all the deeds to ensure off the paperwork was current. Ms. Roberts also commented it was the first time she had a comprehensive list such as this that was also easy to review.

In fairness, what was discussed at that meeting is a blog topic unto itself. Kristina touched on some of the highlights in her article in the 4/18 AJC though we had that information already :). I did not know that Heritage Park was owned by the school system. I think back to the gentlemen asking the school system to make repairs at the park and could understand the school system having a hard time justifying that.

OK, enough for this response. Any question, just post them and I'll respond as best I can....

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonnow, present!
As explained before, I have trouble posting with google.
Anyway, one other thought crossed my mind on a better location for the Marine High school. How about Brad Bryant center, the old Rehobeth Elementary? Location wise, it's extremely convenient, and it's also on a divided thoroughfare.
Finally, it would be paying penance for some past misdeeds
regarding how adversely it's closing affected the McClendon
and Idlewood attendance areas.
(But it made both schools and
Shamrock High School Title one back when).
Would LOVE to see the school list. Would particularly like to see which ones we still have title to that are being leased out for next to nothing.
Finally, as could be guessed,
most of the slams concerning the
Marine plant are from yours truly.

Cerebration said...

And Ironically - this whole idea of a marine academy came to us from none other than -- Brad Bryant!

I have one BIG question for the Board - came from my neighbor and I think it's a really good one -- it's also on the other MCA thread.

As an act of good faith, since you have promised never to disturb the park, and thus have no use for the land otherwise, would you be willing to transfer ownership of Charles McDaniel Park to DeKalb County as a way to ensure it's life as a park in perpetuity?"


I think a move like this would serve as a positive gesture of goodwill and an act of the newfound collaboration with the county we keep hearing about. After all - it's simply a transfer of property from one taxpayer fund to another.

pscexb said...

Glad to see you out there, SoA!!! Great post earlier about why Avondale lost enrollment. It was announced that the HSs enrollment was 650 during the meetings this past week. Scary when you consider the impact Avondale once was in this county.

Here's something that you might be interested in until the full list is published. Two properties is particular would be interesting to you per your questions:

1) Robert Shaw Annex - I'm 'assuming' this is located near Robert Shaw Theme School. A history lesson for some, I understand this is one of the 'black' schools that was closed as a result of the 1969 decision. It is across the street from Hamilton Rec, which was one of the former 'black' HSs and sold to the county. As I understand, the Robert Shaw Annex property is being leased to the Health department for $1200/month however there is no record of anything being collected for it. It was recommended that DCSS either trade this with the county, sell it, or continue to lease it and collect the monies.

2) Rock Gym - again, no idea where this is but it is being lease to the City of Stone Mountain for $1/year. One could rationalize it was paid for by taxpayers and taxpayers are deriving benefit from it, hence the rent should be negligible. I don't know who/if is responsible for the property taxes.

Part of the research by the attorneys is to verify whether there are any restrictions on the deeds. We've discussed here and on GDK that there are some schools that were deeded to DCSS and would revert back to the property owners (or heirs) if the school was closed. That 'may' play a decision as to which schools remain open.

I wonder if the Rehobeth location is one of the 5-7 sites for consideration. Most administrative functions will be centralized in the Mountain Industrial facility within the next year or two. I did not recall whether the departments in this site would be moving.

Cerebration said...

So glad to hear that the school system has compiled a complete list of properties we own. Can you imagine owning so much property and some for so long and many not in use - that you don't even know what you have? This is a task that had needed to be done for a looooong time. Kudos to Pat Pope or whoever compiled the report. Dr. Lewis and the BOE can only make good decisions if they have all of the information.

Thanks for the informative post, PSC - thorough and balanced - as always!

Anonymous said...

A few observations:

1) Could the Marine Academy be limited to Title I students so that the county can provide bus transportation to them?

2) The DCSS excuse that the buildings on ND Hills road do not have a cafeteria is very weak! Thousands of students attended these schools and I don't believe any student died of malnutrition. Kittredge never had a working kitchen. Meals were prepared at another location and delivered there. Heck, thanks to all the transfer students LHS and CCHS are so overcrowded that the lunch break is only 22-25 minutes so most students brown bag. Why can't the Marine students???

3) I don't think requiring rising 8th graders to pass Math I to be admitted to the marine academy is a hurdle. Math I is the standard course now required in every 8th grade class in the state. There is also Advanced Math I and Acclerated Math I, but I did not think these were required. Maybe what the Marines are trying to say is that they don't want to admit students who are subject to DCSS' historic policy of passing students who should be held back.

4) As a taxpayer, I have no problem with a public military school so long as there is equal access to an alternative. Why doesn't DCSS offer up one of their empty buildings to the Friends School? They need a high school and I think this county could use a school that promotes tolerance and equity. (I realize the separation of church and state issues- just trying to make a point.)

pscexb said...

To Anon @ 11:46pm...

1) I don't recall hearing that this school would be 'limited' to Title 1 students. That does not mean it was not said but I will check into this. FWIW, this will be a 'magnet' school hence applications will go through Pat Copeland's office and students will use the shuttle system to get to the school. To me, this suggests that at most 6 buses will travel to this school. How many come to Heritage now?

2) That is a good question! Again, I'll research why it was OK for DSA/Open Campus but not acceptable for the Marines.

3) I believe most will agree that requiring students to pass Math 1/8 should not be a hurdle. This also should provide clarity to the kind of students they want to appeal to, those that can do the work. Misinformation got out that they would want 'troubled' students but that does not seem to be the case unless they can pass that class.

4) If the Friends school opened as a charter, they could be eligible to utilize an unused facility. HB 555 is one citizens in DeKalb should review, considering we have so many unused properties. In short, school systems should make unused facilities available to charters, for lease. In an earlier iteration of this bill, facilities were to be provided at no cost to charters.

pscexb said...

If any cares, Dick Williams of the Georgia Gang gave Dr. Lewis a 'thumbs up' on the 4/19 episode with regards to the Marine Academy.

Anonymous said...

pscexb: Anonymous here. It was reported in this blog that the Marine Academy would be for Title I students. Maybe that report was in error. But if all the students were Title I, I can imagine this might be a way to provide transportation. The magnet shuttle/hub system leaves a lot to be desired and if the school has an extended calendar, it will not be available.

Your are right, 8th graders take Math 8, not math I. (Too late at night for the brain to work correctly).

My comment about the Friends School was not serious. I don't think the Society of Friends (Quakers) could receive public funds to operate a high school, but it is a nice idea.

Ella Smith said...

Dr. Lewis said publically in his comments that the Marine Institute would be for Title One students only. This is where I got that from. I was actually shocked by the comment as this was not made public before. This was why I was so offended by the marine as he indicated the community was upset about Title One students when in fact we did not know that this school would be for Title One students until Dr. Lewis himself announced this fact.

I agree that there will not be many buses due to the number of students. There probable are more smaller buses know going up and down the street due to the special needs students currently at Heritage.

I do not see a reason to give the park to the county as this is the playground for possible elementary students in the future at Heritage.
I totally understand how the community must feel about the park. Maybe money could be raised and the community could work with the school system to update the park.

I would love to see more emphasis on community schools. Many of us in the county have continued to keep our students in community schools and have benifited in no way by all the choice schools.

I do think the Brad Bryant facility would be a great facility for the Marine HS. It is close to the interstate. Do they have a current lunchroom? I would not think so. I would also suspect it also needs many updates.

Cerebration said...

I also heard Dr. Lewis state the the military academy was for Title 1 students. He actually said it several times at the Heritage meeting.

Aren't the WBBC employees moving out to Stone Mt in Jan 2010 also? I don't see a plan listed for that building on your new (very informative) post, psc. That could be a good option.

As far as the park goes - I think ownership should transfer to the county - as a gesture of goodwill and a way to ensure it remains a park. Plus - there are still millions in the park bond fund (the tiniest fraction of which has been spent here in district 2). There is land available for sale that could be annexed to McDaniel and allowing for park expansion - perhaps even a boardwalk into the wetlands?!! Further, the county already owns some adjoining properties. In fact - one important factor for the county to consider when looking a a property to purchase, is it's proximity to a school so that it can be used by the school.

I would much rather have the county in charge of McDaniel Park - they have so much park bond money in the bank and could do the needed improvements.

This district really needs some breathing space - parks and green space. Developers keep gobbling up the good properties and tearing out every tree - then ironically renaming the developments names like "Oak Grove Preserve".

Ella Smith said...

There will be more students at the Marine HS than at the special needs Heritage school so their probable will be more parents dropping off students and more parents picking up students for after school activities. This was the concern of the local communities. There are many small children in the community going to the park after school to play and the parents are concerned about the extra traffic in the community. It is about safety for their children.

Cerebration said...

Another concern was regarding the revelation that the school would be more or less year round. So that brings buses down the street in the summer, while the little kids are walking and biking to the park and pool.

In addition, Dr. Lewis mentioned that they may bus the students to Adams Stadium for drills. More buses - mid-day.

And regarding the Quakers - or peaceful options - you know there is currently a VERY big movement for a Department of Peace in Washington. I'm sure they'd love to see a "Peace" school - and so would Dr. King!

Ella Smith said...

I could never see the park along being sold as long as the school is in use. I totally understand why many in the area may like for this to happen but I do not think that would be what would be best in the long run for the school system. In the future if the school is used again as an elementary school which I would expect is a big possibility due to
overcrowding this is the only playground for the students. I do not see this as a wise move. I could see the school and the park being sold if the school system does not use the building as a school to parks and recreation, but I honestly do not think that will happen either. The school appears to be in excellent shape.

Eventually, if it is vacant it would be a great Charter School which could happen if it was vacant.

I agree with Cerebration that a great deal of traffic in the summer would be on these streets that normally would not normally be. More children in the area will be out playing in their yards and at the park.

pscexb said...

Point of clarification regarding the Marine Academy! Attendance to this school is NOT restricted to Title 1 students. This choice offering is available to all students in DeKalb County however part of the reasoning behind offering this school is to provide additional opportunities for 'under served' students. Title 1 students will not get any preferences for attendance to this school.

I got above from a pretty good source and will follow up again on this.

Cerebration said...

You'd better let Dr. Lewis know that, psc.

Ella Smith said...

pscexb, Dr. Lewis said this repeatily in his presentation. He said the Marine HS was for Title One Students only. I was shocked and disappointed.

Pscexb, please do some homework and let up know. If this is true then why did Dr. Lewis indicate this several times.

Lefty said...

Even the Board members were surprised when Dr. Lewis placed the emphasis on Title 1 students. But I will say the if Heritage is ultimately chosen for 1 year, the area Board members will raise heck if the system tries to go beyond that. They really are lobbying to have the academy at old Briarcliff HS. It will take a year to have BHS repaired and updated. And that's the case no matter who ends up there.

As for Heritage, Board members thought the suggestion that it provide relief to Oak Grove and to lesser extent, Sagamore, was a great idea.

Cere, I know you were concerned about moving the Heritage kids into the same facility as older Margaret Harris students. The kids at Heritage are so profoundly disabled, that many or most of them don't even leave their classroom the entire day. They probably don't even comprehend age difference. There will also be improvement in therapeutic efficacy realized with all of these students in one facility.