Trailers, trailers everywhere. A new Arabia Mountain High School which was originally supposed to relieve overcrowding in the south, but was switcherooed right before it opened. A call to close schools, while, despite the alledged shrinking enrollment, Superintendent Crawford Lewis keeps adding administrators and made up positions for these former principals, like "Executive Director of Corporate Wellness" (?). And a quiet, out to lunch BOE that refuses to ask any tough questions.
“It can get heated, and I’m sure it will, but the public feedback is very important to us,” Moseley said.
-That's codespeak for we're going to listen but this train has left the station, and we're closing schools, but we are not even considering downsizing the bloated, wasteful, ineffective and unproductive Central Office legion of executive directors, administrators, middle managers and admin assistants. Crawford is closings schools but keeping his army of pencil pushers.
School official: District will have to close schools in DeKalb
CLICK HERE TO VIEW REPORT
The DeKalb County School System will have to close an undetermined number of schools and redraw attendance zones to help eliminate nearly 16,000 empty seats the district anticipates over the next seven years, district officials said.
The closures will be part of a broad effort to consolidate space, save money and correct heavily lopsided enrollments throughout the district, particularly in areas where some schools have more than 500 empty seats, Associate Superintendent Robert Moseley said.
The district has not released which schools are top candidates for closure and where lines will be redrawn, but officials plan to publicize a draft of their recommendations by Dec. 1, according to an Oct. 23 school board presentation.
The enrollment imbalance is widespread in elementary, middle and high schools. Projected enrollments for next school year show schools across southern, central and southwestern DeKalb County with dramatically low enrollments, and the situation is projected to worsen by 2016-17, the last year of the school district’s capital improvements plan, which Superintendent Crawford Lewis began in 2006.
The district projects nearly 13,000 seats will be empty next school year and an additional 3,000 by 2016. Stephenson High School, for instance, can hold 2,237 students, according to district data. It’s projected to have 476 open seats next year, but that number is expected to increase to 787 by 2016.
McNair High School has a capacity of 1,663 seats, data show. The school is expected to have 692 empty seats next year and 635 in 2016. Nearby McNair Middle School also has similar enrollment issues. The school, which has a 1,427-student capacity, is projected to have 535 empty seats next year and 584 in 2016.
Reasons for the districtwide imbalance are varied. Shifts in the housing market have pushed people outside central DeKalb, Moseley said, but it’s not entirely clear why. More students have enrolled in private, charter and home school programs, the school board presentation indicated. The district is also analyzing how serious No Child Left Behind’s school of choice policies contributed to the imbalance, Moseley said. The federal legislation allows parents to transfer their children out of an under-performing school to a better-performing one if they choose. Regardless, they know school of choice isn’t the largest issue, he said.
“Even if we took them out, we would still have over and under capacity issues,” Moseley said.
As it decides which schools to close, the district will consider the following factors in addition to projected enrollments: proximity of schools to students’ residences, including travel times; the impact on neighborhoods; school feeder alignments; and the district’s long-range capital plan.
Closing a high school, for instance, will likely be more complicated than closing an elementary school because there are fewer of them, and relocated students might have to travel significantly longer distances to attend a different high school, Moseley said.
To further balance school enrollments, the district also will consider changes to admission and transfer policies that govern magnet and theme schools.
Next, the district will have to manage the inevitable roar from parents demanding answers. The district plans to present a “pre-public” draft to the school board, Lewis’ cabinet and the district’s citizens’ advisory committee between Nov. 2 and Nov. 6. After district recommendations are published by Dec. 1, the school system plans to hold three public hearings from Dec. 1-3.
“It can get heated, and I’m sure it will, but the public feedback is very important to us,” Moseley said.
After the district examines public feedback, it will present its final recommendations to the school board at its Jan. 4 meeting. The board is scheduled to vote on the plan at its Jan. 11 meeting. Attendance zone changes and school shutdowns would occur between June and July.
Check out the amatuer, short on detail "report" from DCSS:
Entitlements? Crawford Lewis and Marcus Turk have a warped, "entitled" point of view.
They want more and more money, but they don't send it diectly to the classoom, they clearly want more revenue to keep a huge DCSS Central Office.
The money from the state is slight in difference. Elementary schools needs 40 students. It is clear that DeKalb County parents want small schools.
If that means the DCSS Central office needs to tighten its belt a little, then make it happen. But it will not happen as long as Crawford Lewis is superintendent. He's looking for all the funds he can to keep the huge bureaucracy going. Would he ever check residency? Nope, because that would mean less Title 1 funds.
This administration is not focused on sending resources to the classroom (registered schol nurses, music and art teachers, etc.). Instead, it is addicted to finding every possible dollar so the administration can grow and grow and grow. Things have to change, BOE.
It is clear that DeKalb County parents want small schools.
How is it clear?
Attend PTA meetins throughout the county, and it's clear.
If you paid attention during the last time DCSS threatened to close schools, it's clear.
If you speak to any veteran Board of Education member at length, he or she will tell you how parents fight to keep the so-called "small" school, and it's clear.
Enrollment is shriking, yet we have a sea of trailers.
The trailers contract has also been controversial, with rumors of kickbacks, and capaign contributins to BOE members.
Why aren't trailers ever mentioned why the superintendent talks about downsizing?
I'd love to see an investigation of trailers at DCSS. Maybe a BOE member would do his/her job and actually ask some hard questions about it for once.
Sorry, Elementary schools needs 40o students.
If you speak to any veteran Board of Education member at length, he or she will tell you how parents fight to keep the so-called "small" school, and it's clear.
Parents fighting to keep their schools open has very little to do with size, but more with proximity and academic reputation. I can think of a school or two in my area where the parents would rather have hundreds of trailers rather than their children be redistricted to another school.
“It can get heated, and I’m sure it will, but the public feedback is very important to us,” Moseley said.
Lest we forget -- wasn't it Bob Moseley who said that parents are "Background Noise"?
Yes, Bob Moseley made that condescending remark. isn't it time for Moseley to retire? Crawford should have retired a few years ago. Betting that crawford gets some kind of DCSS consultant gig when he retires.
This is a necessary move for the school system to get its fair share of state money to improve building structures in the Dekalb County School System.
However, it is important that the future of the school system or the vision of the school system in the future is put first. The needs of our children should always be first. We are spending much more money than we should on small schools that are eating up our budget. It is time to run the school system like the business it is.
Dekalb County School System is in the business of educating our students. The more money that can be placed on educating our students verses paying for the extra costs of small schools has got to come first.
This is not about the parents. This is about the students of Dekalb County and what is best for them.
Anon 9:17 Well said.
"We are spending much more money than we should on small schools that are eating up our budget. It is time to run the school system like the business it is."
Prove it. Show me the hard data that " We are spending much more money than we should on small schools that are eating up our budget".
You're just buying the "DCSS official line", hook and sinker.
We are spending way too much money on administration and ridiculous programs that do nothing to improve learning in the classroom. I value my child's elementary school of 425. Spend some time speaking to Gwinnett County parents, where the schools are monstrous, especially the high schools. They are factory schools where too many kids get lost in the system.
I'd have no problem with closing the so-called "small schools" if DCSS were run like a business, and there were no funds left. But DCSS is not run like a business. There is incredible bloat. There are hundreds of non-teaching, non-school personnel. Tell me how does the Executive Director of Corporate Wellness and that new program do one thing to improve classroom instruction.
It doesn't. There are many, many things to be done before Crawford lewis should even hint about closing these so-called "small schools". It's just one more of his many money grabs. 1000 student elementary schools don't work as well as a 500 student one. You can buy into what the Lewis administration is selling. other know better.
For certain, cut administrative bloat first.
Show us how the central office staff will be reduced as enrollment is reduced. If you expect a six to nine percent drop in enrollment, I think at least a 10-15 percent drop in the NUMBER of central office employees is probably appropriate (if not more).
Small schools do cost more. At the elementary level, full funding is not received from the state for state funded positions until the magic number of 450. HOWEVER, at 425 for example, the school is received almost all the funding (it is a prorated formula.)
Also, the City of Atlanta, has very small schools but they pay far more property taxes than we do in DeKalb. Same for City of Decatur. Even if the economy was good, the citizenry of DeKalb won't support property tax increases for that purpose especially because at least half of DCSS elementary schools are over 700 students last time I checked (which has been a while).
In City of Decatur, most tax payers feel that they are getting good value for the taxes. In Atlanta, the residents may not agree, but can't seem to elect a school board that will tax differently, so perhaps that is a sign of agreement.
Just a comment re: DCSS's trailers: They're not even classroom trailers, they're narrow, rectangular construction office trailers. You can't configure desks in such a trailer for optimal classroom use, and 25 students in a trailer is super-crowded. They're not maintained, delapidated, leaking, horribly insulated, insect- and rat-infested, and totally inadequate as classroom trailers. If you visit a school with trailers, step into one and smell the moldy carpet.
Son of weighing in on trailers.
The school system could have got rid of at least a hundred or so trailers back at the start of SPLOST 1 by re-utilizing the mothballed and converted schools:
(Rehobeth, Warren,Heritage, Shallowford, etc). But that's not how contracts are obtained. Yet another part of Pritchett's dynasty. Contracts for trailers (by not re-utilzing what's available in inventory), contracts for buses (by placing many middle/theme schools in locations far removed from area housing).
This is the first time I've heard anyone mention possible involvement of school board members
in contracts. Keep talking anon 10:02- we're all ears. Maybe someone has the scoop on yet another contract I've been dying to hear about: who got the money for the 200 to 400 acres worth of timber that's been cut and sold from the school sites from Splost 1 until the present?
How long has Crawford Lewis been superintendant. Does anyone know about how to start a recall petition to get him out before totally destroys DCSS? I knwo how to get it started but some suggesstions on the best way to get it circulated. Not sure of how many parent and taxpayer signatures are needed.
Is it true that Crawford Lewis secretary makes close to a 100,000? Are the salaries of public official supposed to be public information? President Obama's salary was published.
I think this is a good sight with a wealth of information. I share what I read with friends and associates. Are you guys linked to twitter? We need to get the word out. PTA is a puppet to appease parents and do fund raisers for the schools. they are not going to take a stand and speak out as a voice for the parents and students. They dont want to risk being shut out.
Small schools and under utilized schools definitely cost the school system extra money. For every school that is closed because the students are redistricted, we (the taxpayers) save big.
By combining schools, theoretically the DCSS eliminates the salary of a principal, assistant principal, maintenance staff, secretarial staff, cafeteria staff, utility bills, and upkeep of the building. Plus, the county can sell the land and building. And DCSS gets more money from the state.
I think we can all agree that parents should demand somethihng in return-that the administration commit to at least 5% more reduction in expenditures at the administration level. They claim a 2% reduction but that is way too small and I still haven't seen the proof of even 2% reduction.
Son of ... go to the agenda for the June 8, 2009 Board meeting. It looks like Williams Scotsman, Inc. has the contract for portables and Modular Space Corp. has the contract for modular classrooms.
I agree with the poster that most of the portables DCSS uses are cheap construction trailers. They are so crammed with desks that they are a fire and emergency hazard.
I love all this "run like a business" talk.
Bank of America?
Like "business" is the model we should shoot for.
Before a decsion to close school is made, there needs to be a careful look at all expenditures in the system. When the number of students increase in a school,there can be problems in accessing common areas. Restrooms, the gym, cafeteria and the library would be areas that would need to be able to support a larger population. When Henderson was changed into a middle school and the students were sent to Lakeside and Tucker,the planning process for that was one year. Even with careful planning there were issues. Students and staff in schools that will be merged, need support and time to meet to discuss concerns. Without this you may have schools that combine but never merge together as one unit. Are there expenditures that can be cut without impacting the schools? Special education,vocational education, support services and the fine arts always seem to be the areas that are cut.These are areas that our students need. Please do not forget the special students that need additional support. If you have ever had to advocate for a special needs child, then you understand my feelings. In hard economic times like these, the schools are being required to do more and more for students. If we close schools, but do not look honestly at other ways to save money, in a short period of time we will be in the same economic distress we find ourselves in now. As parents we need to watch national and local elections very carefully, we cannot afford to support elected officals that do not support funding to public education. If we are going to make our schools larger, are we also going to make departments that do not directly support the schools smaller? We need to pray, stay informed and ask questions and expect honest answers.These are not just buildings. These are our children. On another issue, where is Ella? I hope that she is doing well.
Yeah, Ella - where are you? I know she had technical difficulties with her id there for a bit --
One of the anons said,
Tell me how does the Executive Director of Corporate Wellness and that new program do one thing to improve classroom instruction.
My question too! Especially when that department already had a DIRECTOR - who has high level training in the subject of wellness and was doing a great job. See - this is Dr Lewis' rewards plan. The principal who was promoted to EXECUTIVE director over the director already in place - was highlighted in several news programs. Dr. Lewis loves - and rewards that. Doesn't have much to do with qualifications or the need for that position -- or the blatant passing over of the director in place - who should have been promoted to ED if that position was necessary... See how Lewis leads? This is one - very fine - example.
The military academy is another example. It was his MO in all it's glory - Yeah - let's do it! And then, instead of researching the need/interest/feasibility - he just goes out wildly helter-skelter trying to get it going. And it failed. Because the military won't be dragged into such unorganized chaos.
Now - we have the Pat Pope situation. I just don't even know where to begin to describe the horrible mismanagement of that entire scenario. And now, leaving Cross Keys once again in limbo - without an expressed concern from Lewis. He is sending some new "interim" to deal with the community. I guarantee - she won't know a single thing or be able to answer a single question. She's just a very expensive sacrificial lamb. Excuse my rant - I'm just simply mortified at the situation.
BTW - we're not on Twitter -- anyone care to take up that cause???
I wasn't too happy about Yvonne Butler's appointment as Exec Dir of Corp Wellness. However, I did hear that her position is funded by grants and not out of the general budget. Ms. Butler is savvy enough to find grants that would fund her salary.
That said, I still think the position is a waste and adds to the bureaucracy bs.
I have to correct your statement about Yvonne Butler's position being funded by grants. It is the Assistant Director of Health & Wellness' position that is funded solely by grants. That employee went out and secured grants to fund her entire position and much more for DCSS. After all of that was set, Yvonne Butler was promoted without the position being posted (to allow anyone else who might actually be qualified to apply) & Butler's salary comes out of the general budget.
As one of Butler's primary responsibilities IS supposed to be securing grants, I think it would only be fair to ask her to find grants to cover her entire salary.
"Is it true that Crawford Lewis secretary makes close to a 100,000?"
Cere, PLEASE tell me this isn't true!! $100k for an admin. assistant????
"Plus, the county can sell the land and building. And DCSS gets more money from the state."
Anon 9:23, the school system can but they DO NOT sell surplus properties. I just spoke to a BOE member about this a few days ago. The money from the state is nomimal. There are many, many research articles on how much more effective smaller learning environments are for elementary schools. I'm a parent who wants to see more elementary schools with 425 students, not monster elementary schools like Gwinnett has. Don't listen to the BS about the state money. It's a red herring.
"It looks like Williams Scotsman, Inc. has the contract for portables and Modular Space Corp. has the contract for modular classrooms."
The old GoDeKalb.com site had a lot of info. about Williams Scotsman, and its very questionable ties and gifts to some DCSS administrators and BOE members. I don't think those links are active, but I'll look. The trailer at my child's school leaks, has had rats, and is an embarassment to any facilities management administrator with any pride in his/her profession. Before there is any talk about closing schools, get every single child out of trailers and back into the classroom.
"I wasn't too happy about Yvonne Butler's appointment as Exec Dir of Corp Wellness. However, I did hear that her position is funded by grants and not out of the general budget."
Actually, Dr. Shannon Williams position, and she's an asst. director, is the one paid for from grants. Not so for Yvonne Butler's made up position. And you know who was the director in front of Dr. Williams? No one.
I guarantee you Yvonne Butler will not be applying for grants. She will delegate it to Williams and others. Butler is not one for taking the meticulous time it takes to write and secure grants. Butler had success with just one student lunch program and then Crawford gives her a positon which needs a Masters of Public Health. But Butler of a friend of C Lew's, so now she's making over $130k per year with the made up "Executive Director" title. Butler will come up with one or two moderatley effective programs a year, and they will be called "initiatives", and they will be overhyped, DCSS top level pencil pushers will over-congratulate themselves, and the programs will last a year or two until C Lew, Butler and DCSS move onto the next fad.
Things ae really, really bad with the Central Office these days. After the Jaheem mess, the Pat Pope mess, the Marine school mess, and all the other messes, if Crawford bungles the school closings, it has to be the last straw for the BOE to finally let him retire.
Anons - Thanks for the clarification on whose salary is covered by grants. Like I said, I think we're better off without Yvonne. Shannon Williams sounds like the right person and the only person who should be in that position.
Well, I still say the Pope reassignment move was a personal vendetta. They used to be very tight - then something happened in which the relationship deteriorated. Her husband confirmed this on the news. Like her or not, she was doing a great job. Construction was under or at the very least within budget. Now Crawford Lewis has turned the progam over to a consultant, Barbara Colman of Parsons 'not intereste in DCSS at all' who knows very little about our program. Pay close attention at the Cross Keys community meeting. She will not speak much - rather they will have the Project Manager (whose only job is to coordinate and be the liason) speak. Donahue will not answer questions - cause he doesn't know. Worthington (the bulldog) will entertain you with his banter - but really knows nothing. So you will have the GC, Architect and Project Manager trying to answer your questions that DCSS should be answering - thus Pat Pope. Know that this consultant - Barbara Colman was with DCSS for 3 months - under Pat Pope - but left after the positions were ramped up. Now she is back at Crawford Lewis' direction in an attempt to punish Pope. Instead of getting behind his employee - Pat Pope - he practically led the investigation. Why? He was intimadated by talk of Pat Pope's power ie people looking to her for answers - that he couldn't provide. or maybe it was the banter of Pope possibly becoming the next Superintendent - hmmm.
Yes, Anon. I totally agree - Shannon Williams is the best, most qualified person for the position.
The difference in state funding between 425 and the state supported 450 is minimal. The difference between 250 and 450 is not. In fact, in many of GA's small school systems, they have no assistant principals at their tiny elementary schools to save money. I have no problem with schools above 400. I have a problem with schools significantly below that.
DeKalb could certainly sell schools and land the board just can't seem to come to an agreement about how to do it. I have attended at least one board subcommittee meeting on this issue and it is complicated. EXCEPT that it shouldn't be. Sell the parcels where land is plentiful and cheap and where trends suggest it will remain so for a while. Keep the land in areas that are built out and are pricey. Simple, yes. Will it happen? Not with the current board? Why not, because land is plentiful in parts of S. and Central DeKalb and not at all available in N. DeKalb. Not fair will scream certain board members. Don't sell that 80 year old building on 10 acres in an undesirable part of town because you aren't selling anything up north.
Keep in mind that soon the Central Office will be moving and all that property will be empty. What is going to happen to that acreage and its buildings?
As far as I can tell, the secretary rumor isn't true -
This is what I have from the 2008 salary schedule -
FRANCOIS,MARGARET C GENERAL ADMIN SECRETARY/CLERK $53,904.32
BTW - someone asked - the salary schedules for all state employees are available at the ga.gov site -
If the DA and GBI find evidence against Pope, her career is over, and there's possible jail time.
But what if there is no "there" there? Crawford Lewis went to the DA. If there are no charges filed, he has to be let go by the BOE. And he would be target No. 1 of a lawsuit from Pope. A big fat lawsuit.
This is a fascinating soap opera. But while it plays out, our kids suffer from the delays it's causing to SPLOST projects.
M. Francois is the Board's secretary not Dr. Lewis'. For the life of me, I can't remember the name of his secretary.
Actually, it is my understanding that a whistle blower went to the DA. A whistle blower who lost his/her position because of Pope. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
OK, well, apparently you may be correct on the secretary. I don't know who is his sec now, but it used to be Deborah Loeb (a very nice lady) -- I think she retired, but here's her 2007 listing -
DEKALB COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATI
And on the subject of Gwen Keyes - you all may want to keep track of the postings at DeKalb Officers Speak (under our favorite links on the home page of the blog) - this is an ominous posting they put up yesterday -
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2009
Gwen Keyes Fleming, District Attorney
Not long ago we posted that we have a couple of irons in the fire. One of those irons are nearly ready.
We just wonder how long it will take Ms. District Attorney to have our blog blocked by the county IT people.
POSTED BY DEKALB OFFICERS AT 5:55 PM
LABELS: FROM THE DESK OF DEKALB OFFICERS
And while we're on the subject of Pat Pope, below is a link to the latest article about her at "Atlanta Unfiltered"
DK schools replacing Pat Pope as SPLOST construction manager
The costs for the consultants hired to replace her are pretty surprising - and disheartening. Personally, I'm never voting for that penny tax again. But SPLOST does serve for one very good lesson for our children -- it shows them how those pennies add up!!
What's fascinating here is that normally DCSS, when confronted with evidence of employee misconduct (particularly fiscal) just asks them to resign and pays them off, rather than have the scandal. So someone here must have been really annoyed to ramp this up with Pat, or else there is so much criminal conduct that they couldn't hide it.
If it is the latter, you would think it would have been pretty obvious way before, though. Lots of people outside DCSS watch the construction costs.
My suspicions lie in the fact that these "charges" were filed in DECEMBER, 2008 - almost 11 months ago when they raided her office the first time. Yet - since that time until this second raid, Pope has been allowed to continue in her job duties as if nothing at all was wrong. Even though Lewis had already had the DA raid her office once! That is the most dysfunctional behavior I've ever seen. If he truly had suspicions about her - why didn't he set her out back then and hire an interim? They have to pay her contract no matter - but if she's operating under a cloud of suspicion - why keep her involved in the daily (very high dollar) decisions?
There are only 5 people signed up to speak at the meeting tonight. Come to Dunwoody and speak about how outrageous these fees are.
opps to speak, simply shoot Ms. Francois an email at
include your name, mailing address and what you want to speak about.
themommy -- I was just about to post the same thing. Only Five people signed up to speak and we have rumors of school closings (numbers all over the map -- 425 the death number? 450? 500?)Pat Pope's "situation," $14 million lawyers fees to settle a $500,000 dispute -- still not settled, blatant racism against Hispanic students, something called HSTW that no one can define (started by Johnny Brown/Abbe Boring, correct?), active racism among the BOE members themselves, BOE members approving expensive new high-level positions with nary a question asked, eSis still in crisis, etc.
OH MY LORD, $109,766.76 is about $45,000 too much for Crawford personal admin. asst.
His spending on his administration is so far out of control. It's all on the BOE for their complete lack of checks & balances. They can't complain about lack of funding and state money when there is money there, it's just instead going to pay for staff like $110K for C Lew's secretary. I'm sick and tired of Lewis.
How long has Lewis been Superintendent? Im thinkings since 2003-2004. I know he was interim superintendent for a minute.Is he under contract like Pat Pope? If so when does it expire.
"The cost will be substantial, however. The school board will be asked tonight to pay a team of 26 Jacobs and Parsons workers $644,150 to oversee projects through Dec. 11. Projected at that rate, the work would cost DeKalb schools more than $5.5 million over 52 weeks.
The top monthly compensation rates under the contract are $24,000 for Colman’s services; $25,115 for program executive W. Bruce Carminati; $27,951 for design manager Carlton Parker; $24,000 for senior project manager George Lentz; and $22,000 for construction manager Chuck Herman.
Pope earns an annual salary of $198,760 under an employment contract that runs through June 2010."
And if Barbara Colman is asked to stay on longer, and you know she will, her salary would be $288,000 PER YEAR!!!
You know what's crazy? After the long drawn out and still insettled lawsuit against Heery for SPLOST oversight, now Crawford Lewis has trhe cajones to ask the BOE to spend a huge amount to pay "Parsons Commercial Technology Group along with Jacobs Project Management Co." a contract for SPLOST oversight.
I bet Crawford and Gene Walker met the Parsons/Jacobs big wigs over drinks at The Commerce Club.
The fees from Parsons/Jacobs are insane. What the heck is going on here???!!!
Here is one more item to add to your list of concerns No Duh. An item has been slipped into the end of the agenda to amend the SPLOST Citizen's Advisory Committee By-laws so that the committee would report directly to the Board and not to the general public as they do now. This committee was created to provide public oversight of the SPLOST projects after SPLOST II had so many problems and it looked like SPLOST III might not pass. If these changes are voted in the committee members will be accountable to the board, not the public. Here is the kicker - no one on the committee had been informed about this. The board is going to try eliminate all public accountability for SPLOST III at the same time the Superintendent is bringing in a bunch of "consultants" to do the job that one Pat Pope did. Coincidence?
I wonder if anyone from Parsons Commercial Technology Group/Jacobs Project Management Co. has ever made any campaign contributions to State Senator/head of DCSS Internal Affairs Ron Ramsey?
Apparently Barbara Coleman was approached in JUNE about project oversight. JUNE.
"Colman will report to deputy superintendent Ramona Tyson."
What does Ramona Tyson freaking know about school construction?
I'm hoping this Pat Pope/Parsons &Jacobs mess leads to the long past due retirement of Crawford Lewis. He is absolutely out of control.
1) Let's find out who exactly is responsible for trying to slip in the by-law change.
2) Whenever there is a SPLOST Citizen's Advisory Committee, let's make sure the meeting time and location is posted here on DCSW. I believe Ernest Brown is or was on the SPLOST Comm. I hope Gene Walker didn't push him off. I'll sleep better at night if someone like Ernest is on that committee.
And you know who definitely should be the the SPLOST Committee: Our own Kim Gokce. That might be the only way to ever see half-decent facilites and grounds at Cross Keys, Chamblee and Sequoyah Middle.
"The cost will be substantial, however. The school board will be asked tonight to pay a team of 26 Jacobs and Parsons workers $644,150 to oversee projects through Dec. 11. Projected at that rate, the work would cost DeKalb schools more than $5.5 million over 52 weeks."
Wait a second here. A team of "26 WORKERS" from Jacobs/Parsons?
26? What??? 26 staff members? Does that mean 26 Sam Moss managers will be laid off?
One person, Pat Pope, was fired. Now we suddenly need 26 people to replace her?
This is freaking madness.
Ernest was removed from the committee and replaced by Gene Walker. Absolutely Kim should be on the committee which is why Don McChesney would never appoint him.
FWIW - if you just go a bit early to the board meeting and ask to be put on the list of substitute speakers, you can just have a spot if there is one available at the last minute -- and it sure looks like there will be plenty of slots available tonight!
Exactly who is on the SPLOST Citizen Advisory Committee? Is this the thing that Bob Chambers is on? And Terracer Ernest? Is it just another "look we involved citizens" charade like the Parent Advisory Council/Committee? I recall the Board members hand-picking members, but when was the last time these members rotated off -- and what it the term of service, etc.? Just I'll have to get on the ever easy to negoiate DCSS website and find out.. see you in a few hours once I finally find the info on the website.
Oh and Ramona Tyson -- isn't she the one who just introduced the Parent Involvement website (ELPC meeting waste of time, I mean, topic)? You know, the new website that looks a lot better than DCSS' official site, but essentially holds the exact same information. What was that about?
Lots of topics to address--two of which will be the subject of this post. First, on the CAC By-Laws, there has been a blatant attempt to change the very essence of the CAC--public accountability. In fact, the very proposal violates the By-Laws of the CAC which requires that amendments be generated from the CAC. The CAC has worked well--focusing on broad accountability and peformance issues and avoiding narrow parochial interests. If you combine the removal of the person most knowledgable about the program with the attempt to eviscerate the CAC, you end up with SPOST II all over again.
Second, on the Ramona Tyson presentation to ELPC, you may have missed a very critical point she made. She acknowledged that the new website is not doing everything we might want it to do--particularly, with respect to accountability and the ability to act collectively to change things in the system. But, the reason for this lack of functionality is that BOE policies and the administrative interpretations prohibit these things. The real question is whether we will have a school system (i.e. Board and Admin) accountable to the public. And, that is what ties these two things together--the attempt to diminish the role of the CAC and the unwillingness of the BOE to enact policies that promote robust debate and real public engagement--will all result in even less accountability.
I just goggled them, so it didn't take a few hours...
(I don't know how to make that an active link from here, but you will want to go to that site because these minutes are revealing).
The above site holds the minutes from the last CAC (Citizens Advisory Committee) meeting. How many members did/do the BOE members get to appoint? 13 people showed up and that was not a quorum. The BOE members certainly were there.
Two seemingly contradictory requests/statements were made according to the minutes:
"Mr. Redovian requested community questions and requests for information (I am assuming SPLOST-related questions/requests)to be turned over to the CAC members."
And, later in the meeting...
"CAC would prefer that the community not contact the individual members; but, go through the BOE members."
Sounds like neither our citizen peers nor our elected BOE members care to hear from us. We must just be too demanding for them all. Of all the gall! How dare we seek out what's happening with our tax dollars? I guess we are just too inconvenient for them all.
And check this out from the minutes:
"Mr. McChesney stated that the CAC members are the “Watch Dogs” over the money."
What the *&^%*?
What the hell do we elect a board for?!! Are these hand-picked favored BOE mouth pieces without accounting backgrounds REALLY the "Watch Dogs" over the money?
Notice that the second-to-last item shows that the CAC bylaws were requested to be presented to the BOE -- it does not indicate who requested that.
"you may have missed a very critical point she made. She acknowledged that the new website is not doing everything we might want it to do--particularly, with respect to accountability and the ability to act collectively to change things in the system. But, the reason for this lack of functionality is that BOE policies and the administrative interpretations prohibit these things."
I got that point clearly. It made me wonder why this woman was sent off to spend God knows how much money to create a website that her own administration and Board will not tolerate? Is she a maverick or a fool? Who commissioned this website?
Your point on the website implementation is well taken--but I am going with maverick on the interpretation. I think she knew what she was saying and that she threw the issue squarely back to the BOE.
On the CAC issue, the point was not that the CAC was uninterested in individual issues but that the charter of the CAC was to take a look at the program as a whole, to avoid having CAC members become advocates for individual projects rather then giving scrutiny to the overall program. The irony is that certain board members (maybe all of them in reality) wanted CAC members battling for individual projects (read--narrow parochial interests). The CAC has interpreted its role as one of accountability not advocacy but that was not intended to relieve the BOE of its responsibilities. Of course, that presumes the BOE is interested in being accountable...
Start attending these meetings!!
Subsequent meeting dates for CAC were read for the minutes:
o 5 pm, November 12, 2009
o 5 pm, January 14, 2010
o 5 pm, March 11, 2010
o 5 pm, May 13, 2010
All meetings start at 5:00 PM and are held at the Sam Moss Service Center, 1780 Montreal Road
Tucker, Georgia 30084
"The CAC has interpreted its role as one of accountability not advocacy but that was not intended to relieve the BOE of its responsibilities"
Accountability to whom?
I recall the CAC to have morphed from the original SPLOST "cluster" task forces that were formed when Stan Pritchett was pretending to care what the schools thought they needed. These cluster groups (the members were picked by the School Councils from the schools within the high school clusters)were to present a unified, group consensus-backed list to Pritchett of how they wanted SPLOST II money spent on their schools (with the promise that Tucker Middle School would be top on the list). Pritchett turned these lists into spreadsheets and never referred to them again (as I recall).
The problem with that method was that the high school clusters in central and south DeKalb would not meet (or didn't have the mechanisms in place -- like ELPC -- to identify members) and the needs of those clusters continued to be met by intruding BOE members strong-arming SPLOST funds for their schools -- leaping over the neatly submitted list from the SPLOST cluster groups in northern DeKalb. With Bebe Joyner either playing by the "rules" or playing dead -- I could never truly determine.
Having served on one of the cluster SPLOST task forces, it was this experience that convinced me that DCSS creates these faux exercises in community involvement to perpetrate their shell game with the SPLOST funds. While we foolishly busy ourselves agreeing what our cluster's building needs really are -- DCSS is secretly moving the money around anyway it wants (or certain FOCs want).
What has the CAC actually produced that was acted upon by DCSS? How many members of the CAC show up at the meetings? How many CAC members from southern DeKalb schools show up at the meetings? What EXACTLY has CAC consulted DCSS on and what happened as a result?
If the CAC is accountable to the citizens, why did it schedule a presentation of its "Annual Report" to the BOE instead of having a community meeting first to explain to the taxpaying citizens of DeKalb County how the CAC "watchdogged" our funds and were "accountable"?
If I sound like I'm angry with the members of the CAC, I'm not. I just don't trust that DCSS has ever created a citizen-run group that it truly wanted involved in any process within DCSS. These groups are red herrings. And DeKalb citizens who care deeply about DCSS schools have spent thousands of personal hours on these "task forces" -- to no avail. Anybody remember the Blue Ribbon Task Force? Or the "regional choice" groups (which wasted teachers' time, too)? Get my point?
Is the Parent Involvement website live and available? If so, where?
"What the hell do we elect a board for?!! Are these hand-picked favored BOE mouth pieces without accounting backgrounds REALLY the "Watch Dogs" over the money?"
No Duh, CAC member Pam Buncum DOES have an accounting background - not sure about the other members.
I share your frustration about how little the county cares what the citizenry thinks, but this is the last vestige of public involvement (not counting your 3 minutes at the BOE meetings, ha) and they are trying to muck with even that. The point is we are watching a train wreck in progress and we need to let the board and Lewis know we notice these things. We know they read this blog.
Atlanta Unfiltered is doing some real investigating into the Pat Pope debacle, let's hope we get some real information soon.
My point was not that none of the XX number of CAC members have accounting backgrounds, it is that they were not choosen for that reason. DCSS accounting department and auditing group should be the "Watch dogs" -- and the BOE should be the ones sending the auditing group in the right direction to sniff out corruption.
HA, ha, ha,....made myself laugh.
Many of us who through the years have attempted in good faith to provide DCSS officials (up to and including the Superintendent)with perspectives and insights into dysfunction in the system. I didn't lose my trust in DCSS after the first lie I was told, it took a few years. It will take years to win my trust back -- and nothing on the horizon indicates that DCSS is going to start telling the truth now. And certainly nothing indicates that it/they are ready to hear anything their customers have to say.
Big deal, they read this blog. They read it not to collect constructive criticism to better the system -- they read it to take names and kick butts.
Marshall Orson is a businessman, has participated in Atlanta City School oversight, and may be an attorney. BOE member Womack was an executive, and I think BOE member McChesney has a hand in a family business, also. There should be question-asking abilities there. Hope there are questions asked.
"Big deal, they read this blog. They read it not to collect constructive criticism to better the system -- they read it to take names and kick butts."
Too true. However, if you are watching the meeting, the by-laws change was removed from the agenda as the first action item of the meeting.
I don't think the school system deserves your trust.
No Duh--you wish Bob Chambers or Terracer Earnest were on the CAC. I think Womack appointed Terry Morris as his choice. Train wreck.
Speaking of, just got through watching BOE blithely approve the $$ for Parsons. Walker patronizingly told "the public" that the money was already there. They must read the blog...
The CAC is required to present an annual report to the BOE--hence the scheduling of that presentation. As to the question of accountability, I think we are inverting the logic here. The CAC's role is to try and insure there is accountability by DCSS. With limited resources and no apparent interest by the BOE is this being done, they review the projects and overall costs, try to elicit information on time to completion, tax revenues and future plans and, serve as a reminder to the system that it cannot do whatever it wants to do.
I think we are in agreement on the underlying premise--DCSS has no interest in accountability (i.e. in being accountable). The CAC was created as a way to try and get the public to pass SPLOST III. At most meetings a quorum has been present and the CAC members have worked to get the needed information to make an assessment as to whether DCSS is adhering to the plan. Pat Pope always seemed forthcoming and provided information with back-up. But, the CAC is working against a long history of well-placed mistrust and, even if considered "effective" is an exception to the rule. We lack effective mechanisms to hold DCSS accountable and until we create them, we will be at the mercy of a BOE and Admin that cares about narrow parochial interests and protecting the status quo.
Yes that is true. A former disgruntled employee called in a personal favor from her 'daddy's friend' at the DA's office - Clay Nix. Ever since they have been on a witch hunt ie Pat Pope - with a lot of help from Crawford Lewis.
I talked to one person who was previously on the CAC. It was a joke. This person told me that at the last meeting he participated in the administration made a presentation on the CIP plan and construction progress then asked them to vote on certain additions and changes based on the recommendation of the administration. It turned out that they gave them the same CIP report that had been posted on the Operations website for months. There was no debate, no questions, no suggestion that they deliberate or conduct any inquiry or fact finding. It was simply "trust us" and you all need to vote yes. They all voted yes and went home.
Hey--Son of awesome--
Timber fraud news
"A former disgruntled employee called in a personal favor from her 'daddy's friend' at the DA's office - Clay Nix. Ever since they have been on a witch hunt ie Pat Pope - with a lot of help from Crawford Lewis."
Clay Nix - interesting - there's a company - Nix Fowler - which was awarded a $1,705,000 contract for HVAC at McClendon ES (also - McNair High School DeKalb County Schools-$17,418,535-Mar-06)
Interesting son of -- you may like to know that somewhere in the reporting of the Heery Mitchell lawsuit or the depositions - that one of the subs "accidentally" clear cut acres of timber -- on the wrong land! Oooops! Just one of the things HM didn't notice in their job as construction managers. Now, how could that happen??? And what became of THAT timber???
This case is going to be a real doosey when it goes to trial in March...Yeah, that's right - we've spent somewhere between $11-14 million on attorneys and we aren't scheduled to see a trial start until at least March of 2010!
Dekalbparent, McChesney removed Marshall Orson and replaced him with Janet Haurey, I beleive from this committee. What a shame.
"No Duh--you wish Bob Chambers or Terracer Earnest were on the CAC"
According to the minutes from the last CAC meeting, Bob and Terracer are part of the group. And perhaps their complete commitment to the CAC and positioning within DCSS as "acceptable" parents really did move Lakeside forward to its current "drawings on paper" status in the SPLOST queue. And we should thank them for their many, many hours of UNPAID time "watch dogging" our tax dollars while our BOE members are living in the past and calling each other names.
I noticed Terry Morris as a member now, also -- geez -- talk about jumping the shark.
So, we have a Parent Advisory Committee that is rarely attended by many parent assignees because they agree to participate thinking that the committee is going to be asking the parents' advice. They get to the meetings and find out the meetings are nothing more than PR shows of various "initiatives." Never once has that group actually been asked its opinion -- much less advice.
The CAC is supposed to be an advisory committee. I ask again, what has that group truly done and or advised that was carried out by DCSS?
The bombshell by the little DESA girl was classic. I wonder why whoever wrote her speech didn't have the guts to just name the BOE member with the out-of-county grandchild in attendance at DESA. The two girls were certainly better presenters than the Jackson kids -- at least they could read the words as written. Who's the grandkid and are they paying the required tuition? Anyone?
Also, did anyone else catch that of all the unemployed people in Atlanta, by coincidence the BOE agreed to hire Bob Moseley's brother in law as a roofer and Felicia Mitchell's son as a parapro. Today a roofer -- tomorrow Executive Director of Roofing!
"McChesney removed Marshall Orson and replaced him with Janet Haurey, I beleive from this committee. What a shame."
Don McChesney has displayed only two things since he's been on the BOE: He's petty, and he's thin-skinned.
"by coincidence the BOE agreed to hire Bob Moseley's brother in law as a roofer and Felicia Mitchell's son as a parapro. Today a roofer --tomorrow Executive Director of Roofing!"
Shame on you Bob Moseley and Felicia Mitchell for your complete lack of ethics. DCSS is still all about nepotism. The BOE allowed the sham of frances Edwards and the Guillory's, and now allows complete unethical actions by Bob Moseley and Felicia Mitchell. F-ing shameful.
Regarding the CAC (Citizens Advisory Committee). It's meant to be a conduit to the public regarding SPLOST. It is not intended for BOE members, who already get tons of SPLOST info.
But look at some of the non-CAC members who attend meetings:
H. Paul Womack, Jr.
Dr. Pamela Speaks
Dr. Eugene “Gene” Walker
Jesse “Jay” Cunningham
This is extremely unhealthy. Here are two things to take into account:
1) The BOE members appoint citizens to represent them at CAC meetings. It is extremely unhealthy for the BOE members to also attend the CAC meetings and stick their noses into it. They appoint smart county residents to attend and represent them, not to sit behind them at meetings. The BOE members do not have a life. They are too close to the day to day operations, and have no perspective. Many of them are retired. They do not have outside interests. They get way too involved in the day to day, instead of focusing their energy on the long-term goals of the system. It's really bad.
2) Show me a BOE member who attends CAC meetings, and I'll show you a BOE member who is trying to bully SPLOST money into their district schools. These BOE members are trying to game the system, and they are a big reason why certain school gets tons of money, i.e. SW DeKalb, and others are ignored for decades, i.e. Cross Keys and Sequoyah.
Here's something we should push for. If any BOE member attends a CAC meeting, he/she should not be reimbursed for the mileage to attend the meeting. if they attend CAC meetigs, they are doing so as private citizens, not to get 53 cents per mile of our tax money (which really adds up by the way).
Some BOE members live for every single penny of mileage they get reimbursed for attending meetings, and will go out of their way to attend meetings where they are not needed. They're retired, and use the mileage as income.
I can not begin to explain how FUBAR things are right now with Sam Moss and SPLOST. The BOE is a huge part of the problem, and they "can't se the forest for the trees".
We need 50, 100 or more parents and regular county citizens/taxpayers to attend CAC meetings. Not BOE members.
Son of awcomeonow wondering what school site the timber was
"accidently" cleared from.
My bet is on a middle school site where neighboring residents were woke up by bulldozers knocking down trees up to their fencelines. This little debacle happened on a Saturday, when all of the county offices were closed.
Was Stone Mountain Middle School one of the Heery Mitchell
Anon 12:30 -
"Don McChesney has displayed only two things since he's been on the BOE: He's petty, and he's thin-skinned."
Could not agree more. Would add "vindictive".
Campaigned on a platform of changing things and not being part of an elite power structure (aimed at Marshall Orson). Appears to be riding in Clew's hip pocket at all times.
A great big disappointment.
All of McChesney's neighbor buddies did everything possible to get McChesney elected. But it was all for one reason: To change the attendance lines in their neighborhood to make sure they all were attending Lakeside, because there wa a silver that was zones for Druid Hills High.
That was the only issue he and his neighborhood cared about. it's pretty darn sad that everyone else in his district could have had Ella or Marahall Orson actually representing everyon'es interests.
I really believe it is time for a new generation of BOE members, and that Walker and McChesney, and hopefully Zepora and Copelin-Wood will not win their next elections.
Please, please, please ask Ernest Brown to run again for BOE, and when he does, support him with a campaign contricution and your vote. E Brown is exactly the type of younger, intelligent, fair-minded BOE member we need these days. Instead of bullies who go to CAC meetings and try to hog all the SPLOST tax money.
Marshall Orson, Bob Chambers and Terracer Earnest are all still on the CAC. Marshall Orson is an appointment of Dr. Lewis'.
Good for Lewis--at least he recognized that Marshall's removal by McChesney was petty.
Bob Chambers and Terracer Earnest are good, vanilla appointments. They know their stuff but Lewis et. al. will like them because they also won't make waves, ever. That said, please note that there is not a shovel in the ground at Lakeside, and the word is that the bid process may stretch out until summer. Wouldn't get my hopes up, at this point.
Terry Morris is there because she was Womack's de facto campaign manager. She wanted back in and he owed her.
Marshall was always a Lewis appointment. McChesney didn't remove him.
Marshall Orson was removed by Lewis as a favor to McChesney but reinstated once Pat Pope pointed out that it was a direct violation of the by-laws to remove him. Make no mistake, there is a concerted effort to sweep the Board and Admin. of anyone who might ask uncomfortable questions. I think the attempt to change the by-laws is another effort to get Marshall and a couple other smart members off the CAC. The plan to get rid of Pat Pope began in June when the administration started negotiations with Parsons.
"The plan to get rid of Pat Pope began in June when the administration started negotiations with Parsons."
That is exactly true and I've heard it verified from multiple sources. Just like Crawford was telling friends three months before the Johnny Brown firing that he was going to be the next superintendent.
Terry Morris on the CAC? We don't need any more re-treads. Move on, Terry. There are 750,000 people in this county. We don't need the same old, same old folks hogging up space on the public advisory boards.
We need smart, non-political types from a wide variety of professions to start attending BOE and CAC meetings. Even if they don't have children in the system, it's there tax money.
My bad. I should have known that Dr. Lewis didn't put Marshall back on there out of the goodness of his heart.
There are people like Terry but also members of the school board (Womack, Woods) who will go only when you pry their fingers from the door frame. It is very, very hard to get new blood into the school board or committees. They are like zombies--you just can't kill them off easily (I mean that figuratively, of course).
High Schools That Work is a system of practices that low performing school adopt to improve student achievement. The adoption requires. In our case it is paid for out of stimulus money and does not syphon off our regular budget. It is primarily for Title I schools. According to the Southern Regional Education Board (which provides this product) "Students who complete the HSTW-recommended academic core and either an academic or career/technical concentration have higher mean reading, mathematics and science achievement scores than students who do not meet either or both conditions. Students are more likely to have mean scores at the Basic and Proficient levels than students who do not complete such a core and concentration.5 Students are more likely to take the HST recommended curriculum at schools that have more deeply implemented the HSTW design. Students have significantly higher achievement in mathematics, reading and science at high schools that have more deeply implemented the HSTW design than do similar students at schools that have not, regardless of students’ ethnicity or level of parents’ education. Using student and faculty survey data from the 2002 HSTW Assessment, HSTW identified 50 school sites that have more fully implemented the HSTW design and compared student achievement at those sites with that of students at 50 other schools with low-level implementation. The findings are presented in the HSTW publication, High School Reform Works — When Implemented: A Comparative Study of High- and Low-implementation Schools, available at
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DCSS has always hired 4 to 5 construction managers throughout the SPLOST projects. They have been consultants rather than on the payroll to save full year salaries with benefits. So these were in the budget. The change is hiring the consultant to stand in for Ms. Pope until the investigation is ended.
Janet Haury was a stellar addition to the CAC. She's president of the Coralwood Foundation LEF. They've raised over $48,000 to fund an outdoor classroom platform. This "allows students in walkers and wheelchairs an opportunity to experience not only an exposure to nature but an experience of being in a tree house environment." The Foundation is also driving the addition of more classroom space.
"DCSS has always hired 4 to 5 construction managers throughout the SPLOST projects. They have been consultants rather than on the payroll to save full year salaries with benefits. So these were in the budget. The change is hiring the consultant to stand in for Ms. Pope until the investigation is ended."
Big difference between 4-5 construction managers than freaking 26 staff members from Parsons/Jacobs!!!!!
Big difference between 4-5 construction managers than freaking 26 staff members from Parsons/Jacobs!!!!!
The level of construction consultants, engineers, etc has not changed significantly over the past yers. Same number of construction managers, same other consultants except for the 3 part time people to manage in lieu of Pope.
Please vary your vocabulary andtry some new words other than freaking.
Pat Pope was one of those consultants not too terribly long ago. In fact, she consulted with DCSS while at the same time, was employed full-time by her now husband, Vincent Pope. Did Dr. Lewis know this when he hired her full time?
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