Hosting a dialogue among parents, educators and community members focused on improving our schools and providing a quality, equitable education for each of our nearly 100,000 students. ~ "ipsa scientia potestas est" ~ "Knowledge itself is power"
Friday, October 23, 2009
Notes from DeKalb School Board Meeting on 10/23
This was sent to us by a "friend of the blog".
Bob Moseley handled the overview and closing. Dan Drake, the new director of planning, discussed the high level specifics. The detailed recommendation was not discussed though some board members asked pointed questions.
DeKalb is 3rd largest school district in GA and 27th largest in the country. The current FTE is 99,905. This number is expected to remain flat until 2016. DeKalb has more school facilities than any other district in the state.
When you look at the ratio of schools to students, Gwinnett and Cobb have over 1000 students per school. DeKalb has fewer than 700.
Elementary school population expected to go down by 3000 by 2016
Middle school expected to go up by 500 by 2016
High school expected to go up by 2500 by 2016
Operational costs are higher at under populated schools. The impact of the recommendation would be a cost savings at the administrative layer and general operational savings. Most classroom teachers would remain. Overall staff reductions would be handled through normal attrition.
There will be objective criteria to guide how decisions are made.
Elementary schools have more than 6000 empty seats. Expect to have 9000 empty seats by 2016 (this factors in scheduled additions at several high schools via SPLOST III).
Enrollment expected to be 96,366 in 2010-2011.
10 of 22 middle schools with have over 200 empty seats next year
2,952 open seats in 8 middle schools currently
924 seats over capacity in 4 high schools
3,574 open seats in 7 high schools
1,492 seats over capacity in 6 high schools
November 2-6 – small group meeting with members of the board
December 1 – publish plan on website
December 1,2,3 – public hearings to receive feedback from community
January 4- formally present recommendation to the board
January 11 – ask for up/down vote from the board. It was clearly stated that the board would need to approve the plan in January if they wished to begin implementation in August 2010.
There were several questions from board members. The specifics of the plan were not discussed and would be reserved until the small group meetings. The objective of these meetings would be to present the recommendations to the board and solicit their feedback prior to informing the public.
Interesting discussion about Wadsworth. There are less than 200 students at this school and the rumor was that there was consideration of moving this program to another school. It seems that due to an outstanding lawsuit against Kittredge at Nancy Creek, this school will remain open for the current time. This needs to be confirmed but it seems the lawsuit was filed by parents suggesting they were ‘harmed’ with the relocation to the Nancy Creek site with respect to access.
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
"The school system has launched several initiatives to help get parents involved in schools. Two of the biggest initiatives are the compilation of a parental resource guide and the creation of the online Parent Portal. The guide is available at each school and on the school system Web site. It compiles information like school system contacts, testing schedules and school choice options. The Parent Portal, which is scheduled to launch Oct. 23, is a secure Web site where parents can log on to view their child’s grades, disciplinary records and attendance records."
The complete and utter cluelessness of Crawford Lewis and overpaid bureaucrats like "Executive Director of School Improvement" Audria Berry astounds me. She calls a parent's guide, basically a phone list with some other info., an "initiative".
Audria, you make well over $120,000k per year. A parent guide is not an "initiative. It's a basic, basic necessity every school system does, and if DeKalb hasn't done one until now, it's another example of the laziness of the Central Office.
She aslo calls the Parent Portal and "initiative". Guess what? Every half-decent school system in the U.S., big or small, has had something similar to an online parent portal for years. It is not an "initiative".
Why isn't Audria a "director" or "coordinator" instead of an "Executive Director"? Because she's tight with Crawford and being an Executive Director" means a higher salary.
Yvonne Butler is now DCSS' "Executive Director of Corporate Wellness", a brand new program. What is Butler's background in public health/corporate wellness? Nada. But Crawford likes her because Tavis Smiley interviewed her on TV, so he made up a program just for her along with the high paying "Executive Director" title.
What does it all mean? Less resources for the classroom. More principals being moved into administrative positions. You know what? When a principal doesn't want to be a principal any more, they should have two choices. Go back to school and get a degree in the area where they now want to work, along with a real world internship/practicum. Or go back to the classroom as a teacher. Oh the horror! Someone who broke the easy to reach DCSS over $100k salary mark might have to go back to being a lowly teacher?
But what do you expect from a superintendent who values adding more administrators more than anything else? When we look back 10-20 years from now on the Lewis administration, the one thing we'll remember first is how large the Central Office bureaucracy become under his tenure. We'll also remember how he handled the Jaheem suicide, the pat Pope situation, his car purchase, and his still unforgivable defense of the two administrators/felons who changed CRCT test scores.
Crawford Lewis was a high ranking DCSS burueacrat for so long. Too long.
Hey friend of the blog
Elementary schools have more than 6000 empty seats. Expect to have 9000 empty seats by 2016 (this factors in scheduled additions at several high schools via SPLOST III).
I don't quite understand this... Why would high school additions affect elementary school seats?
More and more empty seast coming for DCSS. Will it mean a reduction in administrators? Heck no!
If redistricting, excuse me, "enrollment balancing" means that the overcrowded schools can get rid of the trailers that is great.
But before the DCSS administration mentions a word about redistricting, I want to hear that Lewis and all the Board members have conducted a thorough investigation to see if we have students at overcrowded schools like Lakeside and Chamblee who do not live in the district.
Lewis knows there are approximately 1000 to 1500 non-resident students in DCSS, but it means more Title 1 money, so he looks the other way.
Lakeside and Chamblee do not receive any Title I money so these schools do not benefit from this yet they continue to be overcrowded.
I agree with you anonymous. I have a feeling that this planned 28 classroom addition to Lakeside is only being built to accommodate more Administrative Transfers or transfers from the new state law. Unless and until we have all of our schools performing well, we are going to continue to have hundreds of students leaving what should be perfectly good schools, but aren't. I actually don't blame them for transferring - you have to do what you can to get a decent education for your child. But historically, this is how DeKalb has unfortunately handled the complaints. They grease the squeaky wheels and just move on with business as usual. So the kids "left behind" are never really served with a quality education, but those kids aren't from the families who make a fuss. This has been the big reveal of NCLB that has pulled back the rock on inequity in DeKalb. Still, though, the go-to solution seems to be - transfer to another school if you don't like it - when they really should be pulling out the stops to improve the home schools - like McNair Middle.
On top of that - the administration seems to operate in a continuous crisis mode. If it's not a Heery-Mitchell lawsuit, it's an unorganized, unsuccessful attempt to start a military academy, the revelation of the deplorable conditions our poor, immigrant students spend their days in at Cross Keys, then bullying and suicide and paying a judge $400,000 to investigate, principals who change answers on tests for students to make themselves look good (and then get sympathy notes from Lewis), eSis, nonsensical "promotions", placing principals in unrelated, high-paying jobs and now the Pat Pope situation involving the DA and the GBI. What drama!
Lewis called the system a "family" when he wrote the systemwide email asking for support for the cheating principals, and he was correct - DCSS is just a typical dysfunctional family. These "continuous crises" serve to allow the leaders to focus on anything but their primary job - educating students.
Does anyone know anything about Dan Drake, the Director of Planning?
Take away the Magnet program and Chamblee would not be overcrowded. In fact, Chamblee would be very under-enrolled. Build a new mega-school on the Cross Keys campus, merge Chamblee and Cross Keys and close the Chamblee facility.
Agree with Anon 11:51. Build a mega campus with both up to date technical education opportunities and a couple of special programs like Arabia Mountain has, as well as regular high school offerings, and you might magically "balance" several of the high schools.
DeKalb Parent- that would result in a school with a starting enrollment of well over 2400 students and the Chamblee residential zone has seen steady growth. I don't think mega high schools are a good idea. Might as well move to Gwinnett county.
Actually, my thinking was more along the lines of centralizing a facility offering the special programs that are lacking in the county. We have long spoken of the need for an alternative to the college-prep formula that all students are being forced into. There are lots of students who have post-school plans that don't include college.
And lest I be accused of implied racism, I specifically have in mind two students I know personally who grew up in typically college-path circumstances (suburban DeKalb and Ansley Park), but had no interest in college. One wanted to be a photographer and one could not let cars alone.
After fighting their way through high school courses they had no interest in, they each found training on their own. Each is making a quite comfortable living (especially the one who is now an in-demand Mercedes mechanic), but what if they could have gotten the training they needed during their high school years?
I also look with envy at some of the specialized courses offered at Arabia. The travel makes it untenable for kids from the north and central parts of DeKalb, but I'll bet there are kids who would take those courses if they were offered closer to home.
The point is that the potential students for these programs are probably at Chamblee, Lakeside, Druid Hills, etc.
And what about the former Briarcliff HS property? it's 5-10 minutes from the Cross Keys property - the whole complex could be shared between the two campuses.
The point of brainstorming is not to come up with perfect ideas, but to throw stuff out that can be built on and refined into a workable solution.
Dan Drake: The Director of Planning
Regarding Ms. Pope:
However, the true test as to how good of a leader an individual is is not just what happens when you lead a team, but what happens after you leave. When a leader leads a team, did the leader build capability, which can withstand their departure?
If Mr. Drake can step in and do a good job, this will indicate that Ms. Pope did a great job. All the leadership books indicate that a good leader shows if someone else can step in and the good work continues. However, I agree that care should be given to whomever is given jobs in this area. Way too many educators have jobs in this area and this may not be appropriate. Ella
Anon 11:51 - that's exactly what I suggested to my board member. He wasn't enthused but he didn't shoot it down either. It's a huge idea.
These are all excellent ideas. High school has to become something new. The old way of offering the educational curriculum just doesn't work for everyone. (Conversely, imagine if we forced everyone to learn to play an instrument or fix a car or sing?) I just love the idea of some kind of comprehensive high school campus on the Druid Hills property. This kind of place could draw students from a large area since it's in such an accessible location. Then again, so is Cross Keys. It's a 10 minute walk from the Brookhaven Marta station.
At any rate - we need a 'regular' high school with gym, track and auditorium in the area (Cross Keys could be the one, and close Chamblee - it's a horrible location and only has 14 acres vs CK has nearly 40). Then offer some kind of funky campus at Druid Hills that encompasses vo-tech and high-tech and truly gifted high achievers. My nephew is one of the latter - he was offered full scholarships to 9 colleges -- but guess what - he absolutely loves to work on cars. These kinds of brilliant brains work this way (especially in boys) and often go undiscovered in an old-fashioned 'sit in your chair and listen' environment.
REally, you could build such a high school campus and have 2500-3000 students - however they would technically belong to 3 or 4 separate schools within the campus (schools of 750-1000) all sharing a track, auditorium, etc. Each with it's own separate identity. More or less like a small college campus.
The Chamblee "residential" area send their children to private schools. There are about as many magnet students as there are resident students at Chamblee. And many of those "resident" students are NCLB transfers. Again, close the magnet program, build an innovative type high school for, ala a "northern Arabia Mountain" and consolidate CKHS and CCHS. The Chamblee campus is small and there is no room for enlargement.
Makes sense. The "magnet" designation in DCSS is a misnomer. It was started to end white flight, and has long since stopped being for gifted students.
Of course, the real solution is to have decent schools in all attendance zones without all the bells and whistles for just one area. Stop cross-county transportation (use the money for instruction and let the kids get some sleep instead of getting up at 4:00) and foster some sense of community around the school. Tis but a dream, though.
Chamblee HS is not overcrowded.
Chamblee is actually operating at over 124% capacity right now. About 200 over. Who knows how many private school people in the area would utilize a public school if it wasn't a health hazard.
The high schools that are underutilized are Clarkston, McNair, and Towers. The most crowded are SW DeKalb, Redan, MLK, & Lakeside.
MLK and to a degree, SW DeKalb COULD be relieved by properly using Arabia seats. Redan and Lakeside are simply bursting.
Not sure where you are getting your figures. The instructional capacity of CCHS is 1400. They don't have close to 1400 students.
Hmmm - my data (from the planning dept figures last year) says capacity is 1364 for Chamblee and that they have 1564 students. Has enrollment seriously dropped? Maybe Arabia sucked up a bunch??? It's a lot nicer school and a better commute for so many students. I'd like to know the enrollment data for Arabia - where are all of the students from? How did it effect enrollment elsewhere?
ok - I went back to the planning dept website and found their projections created in July for this fall.
You're correct, it's under-enrolled. They projected only 1205 students (561 regular and 571 magnet) So, if we lost a lot of those magnet students to Arabia, Chamblee could very well be seriously under-enrolled. Can't wait to get a hold of the actual October head count.
Here's the link to the MS/HS projections-
Also, if you check through the ES projections, there are quite a few schools with exceptionally small enrollment numbers.
The board plans to let us know Dec 1 what their plans are for consolidation -- should be interesting.
Yes, when I dug out the "Preliminary Projections
School Year 2009-2010" the numbers were very different. Last April, they were projecting 1,546 for Chamblee for fall 09. They dropped it to 1,205 in July. In fact, they dropped enrollment numbers for several schools (MLK, MIller Grove, Redan and SW DeKalb). Must be attributed to Arabia.
My child is at Chamblee and it is certainly overcrowded. It was built for 1250 and has an instructional capacity of 1364 but I am told that figure counts the trailers. The PTSA reported current enrollment at 1519 and only 1/3 are magnet and the school was only slated to receive 50 NCLB transfer students this year.
Also the classrooms, like Druid Hills and other older schools were only built for 25 students. With 32 plus students crammed in classrooms it is impossible to move.
I hope they're washing their hands!!!
Like I said, these are all just "projections" I look forward to getting the real enrollment numbers - very soon. If anyone gets them early, please post them here. If the schools projected to drop, have actually gained enrollment, then we need to double-check residency on Arabia students. They got about 1000 students from somewhere...
Interesting... I guess I really took my eye off the projections. These numbers have really changed. For instance, Cedar Grove went from having 287 available seats to 368. Miller Grove went from 330 available to 424. McNair went from 680 available to 691. Stephenson went form 509 available to 646. And Towers went from 511 available to 558. Seems people are rattling around in some of our buildings...
Even MLK went from being over crowded by 446 to being over by 200 and Redan went from being over by 151 to only being over by 79.
However, some numbers are virtually the same - we still have Druid Hills over by 71, Dunwoody over by 101, Lakeside over by 268 & SW DeKalb over by 203.
But really, no school is seriously over-crowded according to these new July projections for fall 09. In fact, it looks like without Arabia - we have seats for 28,167 but we only have 25,088 students in these high schools. That's 3,079 empty seats! Add Arabia, with it's published capacity for 1600, and it's 1000 students and we have to add another 600(+) available seats to the mix for a total of 3,679 available seats.
Now, I would wage a guess that these numbers will have an effect on plans for classroom additions to some of our high schools. In fact, if we got a handle on administrative transfers, we may find that the over-crowded schools shouldn't really be as crowded as they are. Why should we be spending money for classroom additions when we have spaces elsewhere? We can spend that money refurbishing old buildings and building nice auditoriums and outdoor facilities instead.
I don't think you can draw any conclusions from the Planning Department projections because they are wrong and are not based on the actual enrollments. Citizens need to demand that DCSS post all the October counts immediately on the web so parents and taxpayers can see them.
It is shocking that DCSS has proposed that they will not publish a plan that will affect so many students and families until December 1 which is THE SAME DAY that they begin having public meetings. How can they obtain "feedback" from the community if the community has no facts?
I am writing my board members, Lewis and Mosely today to insist that the school enrollment numbers and the proposals be provided long before the public meetings. I encourage everyone to do this.
You are surely correct Anon. I'm just amazed at how much the projection numbers changed in 3 months. The actual numbers are a mystery. It's Oct 25th - time to let us know the official Oct count. Heck, people can't even seem to agree if Chamblee is over or under crowded - it's weird.
I wonder what numbers they used to come to the recommendations for consolidation that they have now?
Here are the projections for Chamblee HS this year. We'll see how these figures bear out once this year's come out. Look at Grades 10, 11 and 12 - those projections would be based on last year's enrollment. As you can see, the majority of those are in the magnet program. Now, the question I have is how many in the Magnet program actually live in the Chamblee attendance area?
9 10 11 12 Total
Regular 250 110 87 114 561
Magnet 141 141 153 136 571
As a Chamblee alum, I'm sad at the fact that this school is no longer a "neighborhood" school.
How much of the change in numbers were based on the fact that Lakeside and Dunwoody were not "receiving" schools this year and Chamblee received only a few NCLB transfers? Perhaps students stayed in their home schools?
9 10 11 12 Total
Regular 250 110 87 114 561
Magnet 141 141 153 136 571
Wow - a total of 1132 - yet a new and different number! So - according to these numbers, there are only 561 neighborhood kids attending Chamblee. (Only 87 juniors???) Could it possibly have to do with the condition of the facilities and the fact that the school has no sense of community anymore? These would be major reasons to pay money to send your kid to Marist or Pius or somewhere. It's not only about the quality of education, it's about the experience and the connection - the feeling of belonging that teenagers thrive on.
whoa!! We are really off-base with our numbers -- check out this story at Atlanta Unfiltered --- what is going on?
DeKalb Plans School Closings to Trim 16,000 "Empty" Seats
Below are the projections of EMPTY seats for the school year 2016/17 that Atlanta Unfiltered got from a hard copy of the DCSS Powerpoint presentation on the subject -
High schools (200 or more empty seats)
657 Southwest DeKalb
452 Martin Luther King Jr.
Middle schools (200 or more empty seats)
426 Chapel Hill
396 Stone Mountain
Elementary schools (150 or more empty seats)
350 Oak View
257 Flat Shoals
253 Sky Haven
243 Rock Chapel
215 Cedar Grove
214 Pine Ridge
214 Panola Way
202 Gresham Park
196 Stone Mountain
190 Bob Mathis
171 Laurel Ridge
166 Briar Vista
Go to the article (posted in my comment above) for more details and to download the 2016 projections that Atlanta Unfiltered has stored on its server.
Dunwoody residents should look at these maps carefully - I see a lot of red (over-crowded) areas and I don't recall seeing a whole lot of planning for growth here.
Wow, a lot of elementary schools on that list. Also, Chamblee MS is a new building. Are there any MS close to Chamblee that are overcrowded? This area could be prime for redistricting.
cere, I would imagine the old Shallowford ES/Chamblee MS property would be utlized somehow to alleviate overcrowding.
Kind of OT, but remember when Crawford Lewis made the comment that he was concerned that the non-magnet students at CCHS were not getting the same attention as the magnet students? I was reading up on Chamblee's Charter and get this:
To serve its mission of academic excellence, CCHS continues to focus on high achieving students and thus seeks to maintain its leadership position among all DeKalb County high schools on standardized tests including SAT, PSAT, ACT and the Georgia High School Graduation Test. Many of the provisions in this charter and the Verifiable Academic Performance-Based Criteria specifically serve high achieving students.
And this charter was approved? What about the non High Achieving students?
Is there any truth to what I just read on the AJC Get Schooled blog:
Is it true that students walked out of school at Towers High in DeKalb on Friday? I hear that ten police cars showed up. I also hear that the protest was over a particular administrator who has had a quite checkered career in DeKalb but has a friend and protector who is on the school board in DeKalb.
Alright, I'm uninformed and naive. With all these current and empty seats, why doesnt that mean an end to all the trailers?
Elementary schools (150 or more empty seats)
171 Laurel Ridge
I know this school and the principal well. There is no way there are that many empty seats there. Will follow up and post after I speak to him.
The DCSS maps on Atlanta Unfiltered are baffling. I believe it shows that Lakeside is under-populated by 23 students and Dunwoody over by nearly 600 students. Can this be? This must include Lakeside's trailer capacity. Are there trailers at D'woody?
Am I reading this stuff wrong?
Remember, these are projections for 2016.
Oh - wait. You're correct, Lefty. That's pretty weird. According to the demographer's report, Lakeside was predicted to be over-capacity by over 500 by 2016. Now it looks like this chart says 23 under-capacity by 2016. Could they be taking the planned addition into account? Seems pretty weird. Especially when you see that the Cross Keys district is projected to be over enrolled by 265. It shows CK as only under-enrolled by 100 currently, which is way off as we all know.
In fact, the numbers on these maps are not the planning dept's posted projections from June 09. Where did these numbers come from? Are these the Oct count numbers???
This seemed to be the best place to put this:
The 10/23 Get Schooled blog is about school boards. Worth reading. http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2009/10/23/school-boards-benefit-or-burden-to-education/
PARTICULARLY worth reading is the website for Pittsburg's volunteer watchdog group A Plus Schools. http://www.aplusschools.org/
Check out particularly their Board Watch project, and download their Board Watch Report form (a pdf file). I am going to look into viewing their Board Watch webinar.
p.s. I wish I knew the secret of producing italics and bolding in these entries.
Anon 3:11 - you're right, AtlUnfilt is only showing the 2016-17 map projections. There are links at the bottom to the 2010-11 projections. The 10-11 maps show Lakeside over by 350, D'woody over by 108, SWD over by 278.
This makes more sense for current pops. However, I'm skeptical of the 16-17 projections. The projections they made 5-6 years ago about Lakeside were wrong and I'm sure many others were too.
Dekalbparent - to bold, italicize, etc., use html tags as indicated below the comment-writing window. To bold you put the b inside the "greater than less than" brackets at the opening of the phrase you want to bold. Close the phrase with a /b inside the brackets. Do the same with i for italics.
Hope this makes sense.
Thank you Lefty.
Lefty (or anybody):
Just at the beginning of the phrase? How do I show where to end the bolding or italicizing? is there an end b in greater than / lesser than signs?
I love technology, but I think I am learning more slowly these days. When I was a kiddo, TV was a big freakin' deal...
If I do it straight, it will of course make the characters look like what I'm instructing. So here is what you do only I am adding spaces in between the characters so it hopefully won't read as html:
bold begin: < b >
bold end: < / b >
italic begin: < i >
italic end: < / i >
I'm crossing my fingers that it works.
Worked real good, Lefty - Thanks.
Re Chamblee High School
I believe that part of the reason that Chamblee is in such bad shape is because there is no real sense of community.
Chamblee's designated seats on the Dunwoody Chamblee Parents Council board are most often filled by Dunwoody residents who have students in the magnet program. While they are very loyal to the magnet program, in my opinion, they are not nearly as loyal to school as a whole.
Chamblee Middle School was built with the assumption that the 6th grade would move up from KMS for good. Hasn't happened and now every few years, CMS has 100s of empty seats that are filled with AYP and administrative transfers. It causes school climate issues.
Chamblee knows there is a problem.
This is from their charter, too
CCHS seeks to narrow the gap between the high achiever magnet program and the resident and charter student programs by making benefits of attending CCHS available to resident and magnet students alike to enhance the educational experience for every student. These benefits include access to the best teachers, high teacher expectations for resident and charter students and effective action to improve the low performing students. In addition, CCHS will separately measure and track results for magnet and resident/charter students for PSAT, SAT and GHSGT.
" ...access to the best teachers,"
Ah - so that's where they are!
To themommy from 9:54, you are correct in that comment was made but not about elementary schools. It was made to point out that the planning department factored in the planned high school additions when looking at the high school population projections by 2016. That comment should have stood on its own.
Someone may want to put a call into Dan Drake to see if they could get a copy of the PowerPoint that was used. If not him, perhaps a Board member could get a copy. It included 4 strategies for addressing underpopulated schools. It seems that closure/consolidation was #1 and redistricting (balance enrollment) was #2.
A direct question was also asked by a board member about Livsey. As many know, several elementary schools in the Tucker area are small and on small lots. It was explained that it would be difficult to perform closure and consolidation in that area because it would potentially mean adding trailers to existing schools. That was something the staff did not want to recommend.
I asked Jim Walls at Atlanta Unfiltered about the Powerpoint. They didn't give him a copy of the actual ppt, just hard copies of it, which he scanned. They promised that the ppt would be available on the website soon. If anyone gets that link, please share it here.
This is an important, long-lasting decision so let your board rep know that you are hoping that they dig very deep into the data before just endorsing any plan.
Post a Comment