Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Committee Reports from the June 8 Board Meeting

Unfortunately, I didn't get to watch or attend the meeting -- I'll try to catch it online. However, I will share some interesting notes from the committee meeting minutes that were included in the meeting agenda listing online. If anyone attended and would like to post comments - please do.

Board Operations, Development and Policy Committee Meeting Minutes
Committee Secretary – Dr. Speaks

+Mr. Moseley was asked by Dr. Lewis to make adjustments to the policy by Dr. Lewis because groups monopolize the citizen comments portion of Board meetings which prevents others from participating.

+A discussion followed with several comments expressed:
a. Dr. Walker expressed the proposed changes/modifications were a political decision that he could not support and that if the Board tries to control how individuals sign up for comments the Board is being punitive.

b. Ms. Wood expressed the proposed changes/modifications would result in stifling comments by citizens and their freedom of speech.

c. Mr. Womack expressed the changes/modifications would prevent groups from monopolizing and in fact give more people an opportunity to participate and be heard by the Board.

A motion by Dr. Walker was made and seconded by Ms. Wood not to go forward tonight with the changes/modifications at the Board meeting. (Vote: 2 in support of motion and 2 opposed to motion. The motion failed and changes/modifications would be discussed at the Board meeting.)

+The Committee recommends the approval for Ms. Pat Pope regarding the ten properties presented to the Board.

+There was a question regarding the spending of $20 million on Cross Keys High School based on the student enrollment. The Committee recommends the approval for spending the $20 million on Cross Keys High School pending Ms. Pope’s recommendation for future programs at Cross Keys High School.

Budget, Finance and Facilities Committee Meeting Minutes
Jay Cunningham, Chair

+Facilities & Property - Ms. Pope stated there are ten properties to be sold or reevaluated. Forrest Hills Elementary School will be used as a same gender (female) school. Mr. Womack stated he would like to see uniforms in schools.

+Ms. Pope said there is asbestos present in the Open Campus building and it would take $30 million to renovate the building. Ms. Pope would like to close the Open Campus building because of its appraised value of $18 million. Ms. Pope noted that there were only 60 students at the Clarkston Center and that it would be relocated. She said DISPAC will remain in Building “A” until it can be moved to the William Bradley Bryant Center for Technology. Ms. Pope mentioned the administrative offices needed a great deal of work.

+Dr. Walker stated the Cross Keys High School community is troubled by the development in the area. He inquired should the money be spent as recommended on Cross Keys or should we go in another direction?
- Ms. Pope thinks we should move forward with the renovations for Cross Keys with the idea of a different designation later, possibly a technology school, military school or school of the arts. Ms. Pope noted the DeKalb County Planning Commission does advise us of developments. She stated they build anyway without real input from the school system. Mr. McChesney made a report of the Cross Keys demographics and DeKalb County Board of Commissioners plans for the area. Ms. Pope stated the Board needs to approve the surplus plan for the future. Mr. (Ernest) Brown asked should we tear down some buildings and convert to green space?

Organization Chart – Dr. Lewis stated the goal is to organize more efficiently. Mr. Cunningham said we need to put an internal audit position back in the budget. He stated we also need a planning person to give relief to Ms. Pope. Mr. Cunningham said the demographers suggested a planning director based on the size of our school system. The salary for the Director of Internal Audit would be approximately $100,000.00.
- Mr. Turk stated the Director of Internal Audit would look at systems and processes. This person would not be an educator.
- Dr. Lewis stated he is trying to streamline instruction. He said Dr. Bouie will supervise all principals through the Area Superintendents. Mr. Cunningham, Dr. Walker and Mr. Womack suggested that the Office of Internal Affairs report directly to the Superintendent. Dr. Lewis stated in light of the economy, four positions on the Organization Chart needed an adjustment in salary; however, he will defer any raises for the promoted positions on the chart until the economy improves. The Committee questioned Dr. Lewis about possible salary schedules for new hires.

- The Committee questioned if there was a plan for the reserved funds? Dr. Lewis stated the idea is being looked at and they do not intend to touch the reserves. Mr. Schutten said it is a mistake to take away Area Coordinators and that the Office of Internal Affairs needed to be discussed.
- He also stated the teachers’ workload has increased without additional compensation. Mr. Schutten suggests peer review and evaluation. Dr. Lewis stated they are working very hard on principal leadership. Dr. Lewis wishes to increase dialogue with ODE.

+The audit on cellular services for the District decentralized use of cellular services. The multiple uses of cellular services include 926 cellular phones in the county spread across 12 areas. The annual total for all cell phone bills is $563K. The Department of Management Information Systems (MIS) has 352 phones under the MIS budget. MIS gets federal assistance for the 352 phones. The federal government funds 78% of their phone bill. The monthly cellular bill for the 926 accounts is $ 46,874. The federal government gave $202,598 for the 352 phones under MIS. The Committee recommends reducing the number of cellular phones and place ll cellular phone accounts under MIS in the future.

- It was noted that currently there is no cell phone policy; however, a cell phone policy is being constructed. Ms. Tyson stated there was a reduction in the number of cell phone users from 926 to 781. She has reduced the cell phone budget by 50%. Ms. Tyson said we are changing our cellular carrier from Sprint to AT&T if the Board approves.

- The committee agreed on the following recommendations:
1. Improve school alarm systems
2. Review Ms. Pope’s discussion and continue dialogue
3. Proceed with $20 million investment at Cross Keys High School and determine future use of building
4. Dr. Lewis will defer raises for the promotions listed on the Organization Chart until the economy improves
5. Committee agrees with cell phone presentation
6. Committee agrees with reductions in the Media Department
7. Committee agrees Mr. Moseley needs to revisit staff automobile usage and ensure chart is accurate to include the Superintendent’s vehicle
8. Continue to review Charter Schools information

Human Resources Committee Meeting Minutes
Don McChesney, Chair

1. The Mission and Vision statement from 2008 was approved without changes.
2. Experience levels of Principals and Assistant Principals:
a. Suggestion by D. McChesney: increase years of classroom experience to 5 years for Ass’t Principal and 7 years for Principal, with at least a Master’s degree if this is not already a requirement. This expectation could be waived in emergency situations with documentation of waiver.
b. Suggestion by P. Womack: aspiring AP’s and Principals to attend a “Leadership School/Academy” (possible length 2 weeks). Also suggested the administration of a psychological test battery by HR to Principal applicants.
c. Suggestion by P. Speaks: AP’s should have experience in areas critical to success as a Principal, e.g. instruction, discipline, scheduling, etc.
d. Previous suggestion by J. Cunningham: HR should develop a written manual of policies and procedures regarding hiring. Dr. Wilson will be asked if his power point presentation came from this manual.
3. Ask Dr. Wilson if there is an exit interview for exiting Principals.
4. McChesney/Speaks would like an update of Driver Education and Graphic Arts Departments regarding available open positions for employment placement.
5. P. Womack would like a further breakdown of Dr. Lewis’ organizational chart (e.g. the number of Principals reporting to Associate Superintendents)
6. Ask Ms. Tyson of possibility of informing public through emails/cell phones summaries of committee meetings.
7. D. McChesney suggests that the Human Resources Committee recommend that the committee meet only twice a year since Dr. Wilson presents the full Board with a monthly HR report. Also, after McChesney/Speaks polled several Board members from other school districts, they all convene in a COW rather than individual committee meetings.
8. Suggestion made to have Dr. Wilson and Ms. Tyson review HR Committee’s past 2009 agendas to familiarize themselves with discussion questions and attend the next committee meeting for Q&A.
9. Mr. Paxton stated that as a parent and community member he and others are asking the same accountability questions that the HR Committee is asking.

If you would like to look over the agenda and supporting documents yourself, it is all available online - click here.


Cerebration said...

I was pretty excited to see a formal mention of a possible new Technology HIgh School -- I'd love to see us build something truly exemplary in that arena.

Kim Gokce said...

Thanks for the posting of the minutes - invaluable! Re: Cross Keys attendance ... the discussion about being under enrolled is a bit off base in my opinion. I brought the Symphony Park development to the attention of the BoE. Yes, there are 200+ students in the current properties that would be the subject of a proposed project. To suggest somehow that the "County" is responsible for under enrollment at Cross Keys is disingenuous, though.

Certainly, the commercial redevelopment has implications for Cross Keys HS attendance because the school is pretty much isolated to this stretch of land along Buford Hwy with few exceptions. However, the school is ALREADY under enrolled.

The move of Ashford Park in '98 represents about 400 students alone. Taken in consideration that X-Keys has been a transfer school under NCLB and that by all accounts the school has been orphaned by DCSS until recently, can we really say anyone is behind the under enrollment other than DCSS?

There is no a lack of students in our area, there has been a lack of leadership. The potential displacement of 200 students is a smaller threat to Cross Keys than our own decision making, or lack thereof.

Check and see if St. Pius, Marist, St. Martins, IHM, and OLA are under enrolled. How many students at Chamblee are from Cross Keys attendance zone in fact?

We are playing loose with facts to suggestion that the redevelopment will be the undoing of Cross Keys - this will come true ONLY if there are no other decisions taken by DCSS and they plays the victim circumstance. If there is to be an undoing, it will be the continuation of over 10 years of neglect and deferred decision making by DCSS.

As for using the property, I did hear Mr. McChesney say at a Buford Hwy Area briefing held by DeKalb Planning Dept that he felt the property had to be better leveraged by the County. Amen! Expanding the soon to be re-located Technical School is an excellent direction for this school. Spending $20 million on renovation is short-sighted ... we should be looking at this property as a rebuild.

Ultimately, though, until there is a rational attendance zone for this school it will suffer due to the lack of natural support community in the greater Brookhaven/North Druid Hills area.

Anonymous said...

Awcomeonnow signing in.
Kim- the best thing that could occur to the Cross Keys area
( also to the city of Doraville) would be someway to return to having a middle school closer to the Cross Keys area as it's feeder.
The same logic would apply
towards the Seqouyah area. Either revamp it, and return it to high school useage, or utilize it as the middle school, and create a
high school in the area.
Anybody know how far away from either site the old former
Chamblee Middle School building is?
It could perhaps be utilzed as the Cross Keys middle school, since the enrollment's currently low.
Anybody else have any brainstorms on creating two attendance areas reflective of their (gasp) communities?

Ella Smith said...

I would love to see the property on North Druid Hills turned into a high school like Arabian High School. It may need to be torn down and re-built but the location is prime and maybe if Cross Keys students were moved to the new high school and the current Cross Keys was used for a technical school then this may help the situation. Lakeside, Chamblee and Druid Hills are at or over maximum capacity. If a new high school was built at this location and the lines were changed to send students from the other schools to the new school this would help with the problems with Cross Keys and how it has been the step-child of the school system. With a new school with a new curriculum of math and science emphasis like Arabian then this school may be the place for students to attend and maybe we can bring back our students from private school in the area. Lakeside has picked up many private school student back in the last year due to the economy. If the parents had a choice like a new high school then maybe many of our children now being served in private school would come back.

I went out of town for a few days and missed the meeting on Monday night. I would love to know what happened.

Anonymous said...

I'm tired of the underenrollment comments about CKHS. Cross Keys, although on paper appears to be underenrolled, is not as underenrolled as people may think. As many people know, we have a high ELL (English Language Learner) population and as a result, have many classes designated "sheltered ESOL", where the teacher is dual certified in ESOL and content instruction. These sheltered classes are capped at about 15-20 students. Some are required to be even smaller, at no more than 10. So even though people may look at the building, and figure that during every period 30 students should be in each room, that is not the case. The capacity of CK, due to these sheltered classes, is smaller than it appears. They have trailers (although not as many as other schools) and do have to use them.

Ella Smith said...

Anonymous, you are so correct about the English as a second language students at Cross Keys. The classes have to be smaller due to the nature of the classes.

I am wondering if the problem is that the state formula for available sets from the state takes that into consideration regarding giving money to counties who need money for construction. I think this is one of the problems that Dr. Lewis, the Dekalb Legislative Body and the School Board members are looking at currently. Dekalb County is not getting it share of the construction money because of the way the formula is set up. The only way to change this is to change the make-up of the schools. Whether I agree or disagree with what is currently happening, I do believe that a big picture is being looked at and that many problems are being addressed regarding building that are not being used to capacity on paper as far as the formula. I believe that the school system is trying to get it fair share of construction money and for this to happen then the big picture has to be looked at.

The Cross Keys attendance area needs to be changed for this make-up of the school to be at maximum capacity. I would like to see some changes in the school district so as to get a diverse group of students at Cross Keys.

pscexb said...

Anon @ 6:01, according to the 2008-2009 Title 1 attendance report, there were just under 900 high school age students in the Cross Keys attendance zone. Cross Keys and Avondale were the ONLY HSs that had less that 1000 high school age students in their attendance zones. This report factors in students attending private schools, those being home schooled, and dropouts.

Someone asked, "What if you re purpose the Cross Keys site with another program and send the current students to nearby HSs". That is possible given that that Chamblee, Druid Hills, and Lakeside each have over 200 students each in their attendance areas that attend private school. Factoring in federal mandated programs (NCLB) that make it hard to predict how many students may attend a HS, it complicates the question regarding the Cross Keys site.

Is there a program we can place at the Cross Keys site that would appeal to the residents in the immediate area while providing relief to other schools in that part of the county? I'd be interested in considering that.

Kim Gokce said...

@Anon: "... is not as underenrolled as people may think."

I had this same conversation with some of the X-Keys faculty. There are many special considerations at Cross Keys and this is another one. Even with this fact, the enrollment trends needs to be reversed. pscexb quotes a report of 900+ while the actual number at year end this year was south of 800. Whether the number is 800, 900, even whether class size limits are in play due to ESL, Cross Keys is an under utilized capital asset and must be the subject of much attention in coming years.

@ella: Crazy talk! Changing the attendance zones for Cross Keys HS? Why that might actually be in the best interest of the system and the greatest number of our children ... we can't contemplate that!

@pscexb: "Is there a program we can place at the Cross Keys site that would appeal to the residents in the immediate area while providing relief to other schools in that part of the county? I'd be interested in considering that."

What about the School of Arts? I know people think I am crazy but why not a Brookhaven School of Arts & Technology at Cross Keys? Tech North is on its way - just more Tech programs, add the Arts, another nice wing and a whole lot of PR to bring in the community. Oglethorpe is a stone's throw away and looking for opportunities to bind with its Brookhaven community further. DCSS does not realize what it is overlooking at Cross Keys site. A lot of private money could be brought to bear if there was just a hint of leadership and vision for this district.

Kim Gokce said...

@awcomeonnow: "... the old former
Chamblee Middle School building is?"

It's off Chamblee-Dunwoody outside I-285 and no closer really than Sequoyah and now technically inside the City of Dunwoody.

The Cross Keys conundrum is not going to be easily solved. The compromises made at the merger with Sequoyah will not be changed without some pain. The only properties nearby Cross Keys that I am aware of are Woodward ES (across the street) and the North Druid Hills property by the stadium. The assets are all from the K-7/8-12 days and aren't really spread around the map to suit the MS format. We abandon the old ES/HS attendance patterns/design but didn't evolve the plant with it.

Dekalbparent said...

Hear, Hear, Kim! How do we get them to LISTEN????

Cerebration said...

The School of the Arts only has about 280 students. (Under-enrolled) so they merged them with Avondale - with 706 students - (under-enrolled) - But the building has a capacity of 1.254 so even with the merge, the total is now only 986 (under-enrolled). Why does no one have a problem with this?

How about McNair? The building has a capacity of 1,701 but an enrollment of only 1,124 (under-enrolled by 577. But wait - the enrollment is expected to drop to 1,021 for 09-10 - leaving it under-enrolled by 680. Why does no one have a problem with this?

Cedar Grove -- under-enrolled by 287.

Clarkston - under-enrolled by 450. (With a major reno and addition in the works.)

Columbia - under-enrolled y 205.

Miller Grove - under-enrolled by 330 (which will go up as more students take AYP transfers to Lakeside and other places or choose to enroll at Arabia.)

Stephenson HS - under-enrolled by 509.

Towers HS - under-enrolled by 511.

And Lithionia may well end up under-enrolled as Arabia siphons students off from there.

Heck - Arabia will be seriously under-enrolled (how's that application process coming along guys?)

Cross Keys has a reported 829 - predicted to drop to 732 in 09-10 BUT the HS of Technology will merge their 75 or 80 students into Cross Keys bringing them up to 810 or so. With a capacity of 1,342, that will make them under-enrolled by 535. But of course, as Ella mentions, their capacity number should be adjusted, as they have so many ESOL classes which legally must have smaller classrooms. So their available seats may drop to 400 or less - BUT NOW THIS appears to be a problem to the school board for some reason...

I could see it - IF they were touting the same woes of available seats at ALL schools that are under-enrolled. But for some reason - it really only bugs them at Cross Keys. Not only that - most of these other schools have already had serious renovations, additions and auditoriums - which were built with not one person bringing up the enrollment numbers. Stephenson actually has its own separate building JUST for freshmen - with its own kitchen and cafeteria and science labs! C'mon!

Ella Smith said...

Kim, I was thinking more of the possibility of building a new school like Arabian High School on North Druid Hills property which is only a couple of miles from Cross Keys and turning Cross Keys into a Tech. School as is being talked about. Apparently there are some problems with the apparent structure that would take 30 million dollars to fix. I was thinking a new high school in its place might be helpful to the Dekalb County Schools and many schools in the area by redistricting for a new school.

Crazy or not, I would love to see the attendance area changed at Cross Keys in favor of Cross Keys instead of hurting Cross Keys as it has in the past. I think that too many students have been moved to Chamblee and hurt Cross Keys. I also would like to see a new high school like Arabian in this area with emphasis in math and science. I feel Lakeside and Druid Hills and Chamblee are becoming overcrowded and a new Cross Keys or Briarcliff High School that would help bring private kids back may be crazy but if it would improve the educational opportunities of children in the area then I would be very supportive of it.

Kim Gokce said...

@dekalbparent: "... get them to LISTEN?"

I've come to the conclusion that there is not enough political capital (a common substitute for courage and leadership) behind a significant change for Cross Keys.

Great change in the school will likely only come when enough Brookhaven residents, businesses, and non-profits adopt the school's cause. The only other way is to re-draw the lines to create a more broad constituency.

I play a Q+A game with my neighbors and it goes like this:

1. Where is Brookaven's public ES?
2. Where is Brookhaven's public MS?
3. Where is Brookhaven's public HS?

The people who know anything about the public schools answer:

1. Ashford Park ES
2. Chamblee MS
3. Chamblee HS

And they are 100% right. Whether this is the best arrangement in the long run is another question. During the past few years, DCSS has seen fit to draw the Chamblee attendance zone to within a 2500 ft of Cross Keys HS!!!

Ella Smith said...

Celebration, I am wondering what the formula for the construction money from the state has to do with this. The county delegation have been upset that Dekalb is not getting its fair share of construction money.

I suspect that the county are looking at this formula and wanting to be eligible for some of that money that they currently are not eligible for.

The problem is that the formula does not take into consideration the ESOL students and the small classes. There was a problem at Heritage also due to the formula and it was a special education school. I believe this was also the reason for the two special needs schools going to one school. Of course this is just my opinion.

Kim Gokce said...

@ella: You have my 100% agreement and support. I may have been the first on this blog to suggest an "Arabia North" when talking in a delirium about the Cross Keys property's destiny to be Brookhaven's HS.

One thing haven't discussed on this blog (to my knowledge) is the potential impact of transfer legislation - didn't I read that the State is now support transfers across BoE boundaries????

If that is true, just think of all the tuition we could draw from Fulton families with a modern, community-suported, Math/Science school in the Brookhaven/North Atlanta area? The North Druid Hills site (was that Briarcliff HS?) or the X-Keys site are both perfectly located to be a regional draw from North Fulton and DeKalb. The NDH location is within the boundaries of the recently approved/funded NDH LCI study.

Cerebration said...

Interestingly, tuition was discussed at the recent Board meetings. Suggested tuition was set at around $3,900 - the DK portion of the cost. It would be a bargain for neighboring counties to pay this much to send their children to a fantastic high tech school at Cross Keys. BIG PLUS - MARTA is a stone's throw away!

I've been thinking about the rallying cry for neighborhood schools. I have a feeling they are becoming "Passe" -- it's almost become "cool" or "college-like" to exercise your independence and attend high school across the city.

Ella Smith said...

The tuition issue is a big one and a high school at either site would be wonderful. In fact it could be a ARTs and Math and Science High School. A great ARTS SCHOOL and a great Math and Science school could pull many students from the Atlanta City Schools also.

Parents do have a choice now to send their children to the school of their chose as long as the school is not overcrowded. Many of the schools in the north side of Dekalb are overcrowded and this probable will not be an option. But a new high school might cause the overcrowding sitution to go away.

My son will finish at Lakeside. His dad went to Lakeside and it is this Lakeside tradition that will keep him at Lakeside, but I would be happy for him to go to a new Math and Science school verses Lakeside but this will not happen in the three years he has left and if it did he would not want to leave his home school.

But, for the many students who would benifit in the future I have my fingers crossed that something good will happen for the Cross Keys area.

Anonymous said...

Someone please tell me what Dr. Audria Berry, Executive Director of the Office of School Improvement, acxctually does, and how much does she get paid? How many staff members report to her and what is the totla budget.

What metrics are used to determine whether she and her staff are effective? Or is she just one more overpaid DCSS Central Office administrator whose salary would be much better used by being put back into actual classrooms?

Anonymous said...

CCHS is the only school in the central and north side of the county that is slated to receive NCLB transfer students again this year,
which is so disruptive to having any continuity in the school. We also lost more good teachers. I think 13 resigned at the end of the year.

One Fed Up Insider said...

Anon 4:23. You can not imagine how many parent pull their students out of Montgomery at the end of the students 5th grade year because there is no lack of community when it comes to the middle school and high school.

CMS and CHS have always had the KMS pull and it has been to easy to get sibblings in once one child has already been accepted into KMS.

CMS and CHS are never going to get better until KMS is stopped.

You are going to keep seeing parents from the community leave and that is a shame.

Cerebration said...

$114,774.00 (salary)
$4,773.49 (expenses)

Anonymous said...

Chamblee for years received no NCLB transfers while Lakeside and Dunwoody were getting hit hard. Time to spread the wealth as they say!!

Cerebration said...

I'm curious why the school system can't make a magnet program past KMS a separate program in a separate building... just a thought.

I mean, imagine if the high achievers/gifted magnet students had their own program/building from 7th-12th. Seems it's doable for the DK School of the Arts - and they have only 280 students from 8th-12th. A post-KMS magnet would have many, many more - I'd guess 500-600.

IF we can somehow come up with the money for so many alternatives for "at-risk" high-schoolers, like Open Campus, DK Alternative School, Early College Academy, Gateway to College Academy, DeKalb Transition Academy, DeKalb Truancy School, Destiny Academy of Excellence and the soon to be introduced Military Academy, SURELY we could find a way to create a self-contained school environment for our gifted - high achievers.

A "program within a program" isn't the ideal solution for the kids in the program - or the kids who attend the school the program gets merged into.

One Fed Up Insider said...

CHS and CMS has gotten their fair share of transfers. Just not NCLB. How did they get their transfers you say.

Well let's say Jane got into KMS, well Jane's brother did not. When Jane goes to CMS, it has been so easy in years past to get Jane's brother either into CMS or CHS depending on how old Jane's brother is.

CMS and CHS is full of admin transfers because of this problem. You do not say it is bad. Go by the Chamblee Marta station about 7:20 every morning and see the number of kids who are leaving the station walking to school.

Anonymous said...

Administrative transfers are a problem for a lot of schools. It is out of control and needs to be stopped.

No Duh said...

Jim Redovian, Don McChesney and Paul Womack have allsaid they are working on eliminating the admin transfer -- or doing something to make it very difficult to do. But, as with everything DCSS, that hot potato cooled off when they dropped it to get jacked up on the military school.

Anonymous said...

Question, particularly to One Fed Up Insider. Why do you think KMS continues to exist without research to support its very expensive existence? I am amazed that those who are not fortunate to " win " a scholarship do not take on the administration in this time of cutbacks and reallocation of limited resources.

Cerebration said...

There is actually additional funding from the State and Feds for gifted students - but not for so many other pricey programs we currently offer - (except Title 1 money)

I would say, how can they justify the very expensive per pupil cost of DSA? ($35,000 per student just for the move to Avondale!) That one's even worse! ANd - It comes at the expense of offering art to all students in the system! At least, if you're in a 'regular' school, you can take advanced classes or Discovery - but so many schools have abysmal art and music programs. How about the per pupil cost of 'Destiny Learning Academy"? With only about 100 students, their cost is around $15k per kid. I would make the argument that the multitude of programs for at-risk students is undermining the ability to properly serve the students who do well. And DSA and DESA are out of control...

Cerebration said...

And I agree with you No Duh. The Military Academy breezed in and usurped all attention away from everything else. Heck - the poor parents and teachers at Heritage School couldn't even get their voices heard at the public meeting about the move -- which was legally for them - not the military academy!

Paul and Don took it further and would argue with people in the neighborhood over the capacity of Heritage school --- even though the diagram of the building posted on the emergency exit clearly showed only 18 elementary sized classrooms - and 40 parking spaces - as well as NO GYM - they still insisted on claiming we were being difficult for not believing the building could hold 700 high schoolers!

I've never seen two more hard-headed people.

pscexb said...

The transfer legislation (I think it is HB 251) enables students to transfer within their school district to schools having space with the parents providing transportation. As mentioned, students outside of DCSS would have to pay tuition to attend.

Dr. Berry is over the Title 1 program for DCSS. It involves a LOT including parent outreach programs like the Parent Centers around the county.

The 'challenge' is see with a MS magnet for High Achievers would be where to put it. Given the size of our county, some students could have commutes upwards of 2 hours each way which could undermine attendance.

Kittredge is the number one elementary school in the state. Bragging rights on that means something, though we do have several highly rated elementary neighborhood schools. Anyone know which ES is number 2?

Supposedly the funding formula which would have penalized DCSS and given substantial dollars to Gwinnett is being looked at. Maybe the squawking we did during the legislative session is making a difference.

Cerebration said...

"some students could have commutes upwards of 2 hours each way "

huh? TWO HOURS EACH WAY? That's impossible. There are plenty of locations mid-county that are accessible. Besides - using that theory - then was was the thinking behind making Arabia which is so inaccessible as to nearly be in Rockdale County a "choice" school!? (- it's only about a mile from the border)

My point is - people are so quick to jump on the band wagon demonizing the spending on Kittredge - while spending elsewhere in many areas is much more wasteful and out of control.

Cerebration said...

If anyone would like to know more about the Parent Resource Centers - here's a link to their newsletter - It highlights a lot of the programs and lists several learning opportunities available this summer for students and parents --


Anonymous said...

First I find the use of the word
"choice" rather comical as that doesn't tend to be the case in DCSS. I am surprised that many people have not jumped on bandwagon to question the effectiveness and correctness of KMS. Since when is the 75% considered a high achiever? If the qualifying population is so large that a lottery is required, perhaps one needs to examine the criteria a bit more. How does it make sense to promote parental involvement in a school and pass one magnet school to get to another. And, why do we continue to provide transportation to a by " choice" location ? Talk about spending. Yes, there are many examples of non effective spending but this is one that a review of is long overdue on many fronts.

Cerebration said...

The whole system needs a review of spending - attendance levels - construction necessities or the changes needed in planning - inventory of buildings - closure and sale of unnecessary properties - and streamlining programs. There are so many inefficiencies when you simply scratch the surface - no telling how much waste is layered underneath.

We have programs willy-nilly all over this county - and students criss-crossing the county to get to their "choice" - it's all got to be reined in. Fortunately, Dr. Lewis had the bright idea to at least cut out the busing. (However, he was pressured into offering a "hub" system by parents used to years of entitlement.) But his decision can now let the Feds at least pay the transportation costs on their AYP/Title 1 transfers roaming all over DK County. At 58.5 cents per mile - the reimbursement alone is enough of an enticement to opt for the transfer.

I did the math once - say you travel from Lithonia to Chamblee Hs or Lakeside. That can be around 20 miles or more each way - every day. 40 miles at 58.5 cents per mile equals $23.40 PER DAY! $117 PER WEEK! $468 PER MONTH! No one actually has to prove that they drive - so take MARTA for $50 a month - and pocket the rest! It's a back door way to pay kids to go to school - compliments of the Federal Government.

Now - do you really think Kittredge is the straw that's breaking this camel's back?

Anonymous said...

I agree on every front. Clearly, each participant on this blog has an item that prompted them to participate. However, most make the transition from it being a personal matter to a matter of principle. And,in that process, I would think that this group should be able to make more of a difference with a collective voice. It seems that many issues are reviewed with an incredible amount of insight and detailed, accurate information. Yet, rarely do you see a collective effort to apply public pressure to the Board or Administration for change. I am always surprised that parents of
" high achieving kids" don't take up that cause. Except perhaps when it comes to their precious ( yes entitled ) transportation. No, Kittridge isn't breaking the system, but it is an example of a resource that is poorly administered. Not a CWL basher, but seems you have to start at the top.

themommy said...

From everything I can tell, admin transfers are not happening for next year. I know of multiple teachers and other system employees whose children are finishing a level of school (ie they were in 5th grade) who when they tried to register their child for the next school in the same feeder pattern, they were told no. I have (in a few extreme cases) suggested that parents file a request for an admin transfer and they all have been offered no hope. At the board meeting last week, one of the last speakers was a teacher who was complaining (on behalf of others) that her fellow CMS teachers couldn't get their students into Chamblee High School.

By accepting administrative transfers, CCHS was not following charter law. Charter law allows for AYP transfers and then requires a lottery system. Apparently, the system has decided to enforce the charter rules.

And it isn't just at Chamblee. I know of examples in several other clusters.

Also, Dr. Lewis really doesn't want to provide transportation. SCW, GW, JC and ZR really seem to think it is important. The good news is that if another round of budget cuts happens I suspect Dr. Lewis will have the votes to eliminate it. (it only takes 5 votes)

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:00 p.m.

There is no transportation provided to choice schools anymore. Beginning in mid year last year, magnet (not choice) students were provided transportation from a couple hubs to magnet schools but parents had to get their child to the hub. The county provided door to door transportation for the technology schools but I was told this was because state law required it. Some Title One AYP students continued to receive door-to-door service.

It is my understanding that in August all Title one AYP students will have to provide their own transportation and be reimbursed through federal funds. But I wonder whether the county will continue the hub system for magnet students.

A huge amount of money is wasted on all the "activity" buses at the middle and high schools. Let's cut those out.

themommy said...


The magnet transportation program (the hubs) is still costing the school system several million dollars.

What a waste. I agree with you about the activity buses.

Cerebration said...

The DeKalb Board of Education will hold two (2) public hearings on the millage rate on
Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 12:00noon and 6:00pm,
at the DeKalb County School System's Robert R. Freeman Administrative Center, Building A, J. David Williamson Board Room, 3770 North Decatur Road, Decatur.

The agenda includes Citizen Comments so if you would like to make a public comment, send an email to

Meeting information can be accessed online by going to: www.dekalb.k12.ga.us
Click on Board of Education and Meeting Information.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the BOE photo, it looks like Tom B. is the only one under 50 years old. Too bad we don't have any actual BOE members 40 or under with their own children in a DCSS school.