Friday, November 6, 2009

Hot News! DeKalb delays closing schools

DeKalb officials delay closing schools to get more input

By Kristina Torres
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

5:10 p.m. Friday, November 6, 2009

Plans to close more schools in DeKalb County have been put on hold for a year, as system officials committed Friday to a more open and inclusive decision-making process.

The change gives school officials more time to collect data about student enrollment and confirm or update school building capacities. Over the next two months, they will also create a "planning task force" of community members to help them weigh their options. The 20-member task force is expected to start work in January and end in October. The new time line tentatively puts a re-crafted plan before school board members for action in December 2010.

"What we're trying to do is get more buy-in on the problem before we come up with a solution," said Dan Drake, who the system hired in September to be its planning and forecasting director -- the first DeKalb has had.

Robert Moseley, the system's deputy chief superintendent for school operations, credited Drake for suggesting that the system step back and reexamine its plans.

Officials previously said they would announce a countywide school closure and redistricting plan this month. Work on that plan started over the summer but was partially dependent on a 2006 demographic study. The study, done by an outside consultant, projected enrollment through 2016 and was completed before a previous round of school closures. But due to its timing, it didn't account for the recession and the housing bubble burst. Still, Moseley said officials found the experience so useful that it made them prioritize the hiring of an in-house expert.

That officials are considering closing schools at all stems from their costs at a time when the state continues to cut its financial support and local taxpayers are in no mood to raise their own. DeKalb, with about 98,000 students, supports 153 campuses -- more than Georgia's largest system, Gwinnett, with nearly 160,000 students.

Additionally, a number of DeKalb schools are under-enrolled. DeKalb subsidizes their cost because they do not serve enough students to qualify for full state funding -- such as the 450 students needed for the state to cover an elementary school's full staffing and operations costs.

Last summer, DeKalb closed five elementary schools for that reason. Officials also redrew attendance lines for 18 other schools and moved several school choice programs, including the high-profile Kittredge Magnet School for High Achievers, to different campuses -- for a savings of $4 million annually.

At the time, officials targeted some of the most severely under-enrolled schools, with 300 or fewer students.

The small schools were, in effect, low-hanging fruit. Now officials will probably look higher. Eleven elementary schools currently enroll fewer than 400 students. However, there is no indication so far of which schools are most in danger; a school may serve fewer students but be considered well-used given its space, such as housing a special-needs program.

Drake, a certified planner with a master's degree in civil engineering, came to DeKalb after working as the public works director in Milton. He expects the task force to propose a preferred scenario about school closures, as well as attendance line changes to balance out enrollment, by next summer. That draft will be presented to the public before a final plan is made. Once approved by the board, schools would close in August 2011.

Find this article at:


Cerebration said...

All I can say is, Hallelujah! Finally - we have someone on staff who is willing to slow down and collect reliable data instead of shooting from the hip.

Anonymous said...

Frankly I don't believe a single word of it. Typical DeKalb... "Let's let the stakeholders weigh in..." Total Bullsh$%! This is politics folks.

Five school board members have terms expiring in 2010. Guess which ones: Roberts, Copelin-Wood, Cunningham, Walker & Redovian. No way they'd get re-elected if they closed their neighborhood schools prior to the election. Not surprisingly most of those up for election in 2010 have the majority of exposure of underpopulated schools (a result of their own bad politics).

Putting off the decision to close small schools for one year assures the election cycle will be over. Shame on you Crawford and DCSS administration for providing the cover story lie! And you claim you're in it for the children??

As someone who really wants more tax dollars to go directly to educating our students this just makes me vomit. The guilty board members along with the administrators who make cover stories supporting them should be arrested. It happens time and time again. This time more blatantly then before. Shame on them for thinking we are so stupid; and shame on them for putting themselves before the kids they claim they're helping.

Anonymous said...

IMO, this is a political move to put off closing school until after the election next November. Several school board members are up for election and none of them want the schools closed before their election. The sad thing is that none of these individuals should be elected as the money it will cost to continue to run these schools for a year so that they are not effected by the closings is not a wise business decision and we are paying them to make wise business decisions.

It is politics as normal and really not about what is best for educating our children which is about running the school like a business and saving money so more money can be spent in the classroom on our children.


Anonymous said...

However, looking at the names of those up for elections and knowing them I do not believe all of them would be willing to put the decision off for a year. All of them care about the student. However, one or two of them could make the hard decision based on the election coming up and make it for the students. They could put politics aside. These school board members are good people. Why do politics have to be so involved in making decisions about our students? This in itself is bad business for our children.


Cerebration said...

I never thought about the political ramifications Anon... your theory makes sense.

Anonymous said...

I suspect it is a little of both- School Board politics and the need for reliable data.

Drake just started in September and needs the time to understand how the 2006 demographic study was done and to see if that data is still reliable in 2009. Remember the rule of statistics and data analsysis - Junk In, Junk out.

However, I also question the need to push back the administration's report on redistricting and public hearings until December 2010. It seems to me that the Planning Department could come up with recommendations by May. Deferring action until December 2010 stinks to high heaven.

Anonymous said...

Just look at the maps starting on page 10 of the following link from DCSS's Enrollment Balancing presentations and match those to the upcoming election. The picture is pretty clear...

Anonymous said...

So, the demographers report from 2006 was another fine example of DCSS wasting our money. As we all know certain board members didn't believe the recommendations from that report were accurate. Nothing was done to come up any firm plans to redistrict or cancel additions to schools with dropping enrollment projections. Jump to 2009, BoE election year in 2010, now we have an inhouse person whose job is make enrollment projections and balance enrollment. If he is worth the what I'll bet is a $100k+ salary I don't think it wouldn't take over a year to come up w/ a plan to balance enrollment. BTW, what happened to the hiring freeze?

Election time is coming up and whoa there, hold on, we can't have results come out right before those who "see color" are up for reelection. The schools they represent are sure to be directly impacted by the report. Their communities will be outraged and there goes their mileage reimbursement checks.

Another citizens committee is being formed; what an absolute joke. Don't waste your time people, DCSS will look you in the eye & thank you for all your hard work, while tossing your recommendations in the trash.

It's time for change in DCSS, hopefully SACS is building a case against the system as I type. The only way things are ever going to change is if we totally clean house and rebuild.

Cerebration said...

We've been discussing this for a while. Check out our other two threads on the topic -

The Enrollment Numbers Game


School Closings?

Lefty said...

I was encouraged that an objective, professional would be leading the effort to analyze and redraw school districts. In the process, I expected Dan Drake might even consult some outside experts.

Having board appointed task force will only muck up and politicize the process. It's the Blue Ribbon Task Force all over again. DCSS has proven once more that they are not capable of making hard decisions that may be unpopular with some but beneficial for most students and taxpayers.

Cerebration said...

I wonder if they are going to put SPLOST projects on hold until they acquire reliable data as well. As it is now, with the Pat Pope situation and the unreliable attendance numbers, we have several projects currently in a "holding" pattern. Some have drawings - some don't - but there doesn't appear to be any heavy equipment fired up anywhere.

The definition of under- and over-populated schools according to the ppt at the link above from Anon, goes like this,

• Underpopulated (UP) is defined as 150 open
seats in Elementary and 200 open seats in
• Overpopulated (OP) is defined as 100 or more
seats over capacity in any school

Current October enrollments put Lakeside HS once again at 1,721 (with a capacity - and restrooms - for 1332). So - there are 389 EXTRA kids in this crumbling old building - right now - today. Most of them are there on some kind of Administrative Transfer - many of whom could be sent to their home schools - easily. The only ones with a legal transfer are the NCLB/AYP transfers - from last year. (Lakeside was not a receiving school this year.)

But outrageously, the school system plans to add space for an additional 611 seats, bringing the current capacity of 1332 to 1943. That's WAY TOO BIG for a high school on that dinky piece of land (it's chalked at 33.5 acres, but much of it is unbuildable marsh) locked by small access roads!

The same plan only builds an additional 212 seats to Dunwoody HS (32.8 acres) to raise capacity from 1421 to 1633 - even though projections put Dunwoody at around 600 over-capacity by 2016. Heck - the brand new Tucker and Arabia each only have capacity for a little over 1600.

Why are we making Lakeside a Mega-School? The attendance zone does not provide nearly this number, so it can only be in order to provide for unlimited transfers. The only schools larger will be SW DeKalb (2,095 capacity and 35.8 acres) and MLK (2,174 and 131.8 acres). My point is - before you go making all kinds accommodations for "projections" - please investigate if these students are even supposed to be in this building in the first place!

Here's a quote from the original demographer's report -- the one they didn't believe --

High School Attendance Areas
By the early to mid part of the next decade the high school enrollment for the district is projected to be approximately 4,500 students above instructional capacity. To remedy this situation the district should strongly consider building new high school
facilities and /or expanding several of the current high school buildings where land and logistics permit. The area with the greatest need for this expanded capacity is the east/east central section of the district and the north/ north east (Dunwoody- Tucker-Lakeside)

Cerebration said...

According to their own PPT at the link above from Anon, the poor planning, unmonitored and uncontrolled transfers (and disbelief of the demographer's projections) by our school board has left us with the following totally out of balance capacity figures projected for 2016 for high schools -

• 3,574 open seats in 7 schools
• 1,492 seats over capacity in 6 schools

As you can see if you look at the maps on slides 16 and 17, HS over-crowding is projected in the area where we built Arabia HS - however - after it was built, the board changed their minds and made it a pseudo-magnet school - instead of a new school intended to relieve over-crowding. Pitiful.

NO MORE MONEY should be spent in that area of the county until they utilize Arabia for over-crowding instead of making it something "special" for certain people to enjoy - leaving other area schools still over-crowded.

Cerebration said...

Correction, the capacity for Arabia is only 1505 -- significantly lower than the previously published 1600 with expansion to 2100 when it was publicly promoted and needed buy-in to be built. (I can share many news reports showing the higher capacity number.)

So - according to the capacity chart - which we have conveniently stored here -

Capacity Charts

Currently OP schools (Over-crowded) include:
SW DeKalb

Under-enrolled (over 100 seats available) include:
Cedar Grove
Eliz Andrews (Open Campus)

And the projections for Over-Enrolled (crowded by over 100) for 2016 (taking plans for additions into consideration) --
Cedar Grove
Cross Keys
Druid HIlls
Stone Mt

And Under-Enrolled (over 100 available seats) in 2016 (taking plans for additions into consideration) --
Eliz Andrews
SW DeKalb

Dekalbparent said...

Looking at the top of the table on page 15 of the ppt, I see that the additional capacity at the schools (with the exception of CKHS) is to be available Jan 10 - or Jan 11 at Tucker (what's up with that?).

I am not familiar enough with the other projects, but at DHHS, the work on one floor of the existing building was finished the first week of school. The new classrooms being added on are still not finished - current move date is October 23, but that is contingent on its actually being completed and passing the fire marshal inspection, which it has failed at least twice.

At this point, work will begin on another floor (enlarging classrooms to state code). This is projected at 3 months. At that point, everybody moves classrooms again, and work begins on the last floor. All floors need to be touched, because there are out of compliance classrooms on all floors.

January 10, 2010 is not possible in this reality. Do they mean Jan 10, 2011?

This makes me wonder real hard about the reality of any of the dates in that table.

Cerebration said...

Yes, our point has been that all along - the numbers are unreliable - and they change all the time.

Here's a quote from an AJC article on the opening of Arabia,-

When DeKalb County officials first conceived of Arabia Mountain High School, they meant to relieve crowded campuses in one of metro Atlanta’s most booming suburbs.

Then the boom went bust. Enrollment eased. And the public school, which is located outside I-285 in southeast DeKalb, opened last month with a very different plan: A state-of-the-art, $48-million facility boasting some of the newest and most challenging high school magnet programs open to students countywide. If they decided to come.

Now, seven weeks since opening, enrollment at DeKalb’s newest high school is on target with 1,016 students in grades 9-11. The school will add a senior class next year, bringing it to about 1,400.

Of course, another line in the article perked up my ears - and made me think of poor old Cross Keys -

Among the school’s highlights are an extensive use of glass and large windows, since research has shown a correlation between children’s access to natural light and higher test scores. Classrooms are also outfitted with the latest technology, including interactive whiteboards — as big as chalkboards but connected to the Internet.


Anonymous said...

The only way the student population in the older schools will ever see an interactive white board is if their parents have the means to pull them out of this failing system and put them in private school.

Cerebration said...

Truly, I believe that the only way we will ever get a quality education and equitable construction is if we formally break the school system into 2-4 separate systems. Smaller is better for education, IMO.

Anonymous said...

You are so right! It is just political bullsh@%#! Roberts, Copelin-Wood, Cunningham, Walker & Redovian on the chopping block...hmmmm!

If they are reading this let me say OH HAPPY DAY!!!!

Jay Cunningham's days are numbered.His SORRY be-hind will not get re-elected. District 5 is sick of him.

Time for new blood with less poluted political ties that do not benefit our kids.

Stakeholders want Crawford Lewis out! He has done more damage and wasted more taxpayer dollars than he has good!

I am still for a recall petition to get them out earlier.

Our kids deserve better.

Anonymous said...

Now we have some good school board members. The problem is politics have to be played to keep their positions. However, voters do need to be aware of the political games being played and the ones to suffer are our children.

fedupindcss said...

Anon 7:13--who are the good board members? I can maybe fix on Bowen,Speaks and Redovian, but then it all goes to you know where.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:13 -- This is exactly the problem. IMO all school board members got into the role for the right reasons. Over time their egos inflate and they begin to believe they are the only ones who can save the world. They're not.

DeKalb has a long history of attracting talent interested in a school board seat. Unfortunately sitting board members refuse to step aside when the politics of re-election takes precedence over children. The end does NOT justify the means when it comes to our kids.

I just wish they could step outside their own egos and reflect why they took the role in the first place, and realize that when their self-serving politics begins to harm children it's time to give it up. There are others who can make their same yes/no votes without the collateral damage.

Or maybe this is time to push the legislature hard for term limits for school board members!

Cerebration said...

To quote Sarah Copeland-Wood, "The Election is Over - Get Over It!" True enough! We have the board the voters wanted - so it's not entirely the board's fault - it is also the fault of the voting public who don't seem to understand how much our school board effects our quality of life in DeKalb -- and just how much money and correlating power they control. The voting public apparently wants a school board rep who will "fight" for their district.

The 2010 election could be another pivotal one. Hopefully, we can encourage more interest in the school board elections at that time. Till then - we have the board we have - and all we can do is make certain that we watch and report.

Anonymous said...

This blog sort of reminds me of Alice in Wonderland when she met the pigeon. I quote
“As there seemed to be no chance of getting her hands up to her head, she tried to get her head down to them, and was delighted to find that her neck would bend about easily in any direction, like a serpent. She had just succeeded in curving it down into a graceful zigzag, and was going to dive in among the leaves, which she found to be nothing but the tops of the trees under which she had been wandering, when a sharp hiss made her draw back in a hurry: a large pigeon had flown into her face, and was beating her violently with its wings.
`Serpent!' screamed the Pigeon.
`I'm NOT a serpent!' said Alice indignantly. `Let me alone!'
`Serpent, I say again!' repeated the Pigeon, but in a more subdued tone, and added with a kind of sob, `I've tried every way, and nothing seems to suit them!'
`I haven't the least idea what you're talking about,' said Alice.
`I've tried the roots of trees, and I've tried banks, and I've tried hedges,' the Pigeon went on, without attending to her; `but those serpents! There's no pleasing them!' “
First the school system announced that they wanted to do enrollment balancing, a euphemism for aligning attendance tin order to avoid over crowding in some schools and underutilization (and the loss of state funding) in others. Few people were happy. They cried out “we do not trust numbers, this is too quick, we’re being ignored, something crooked was going on,” etc.
The school system said “ok, we’ll postpone, look at the numbers again, and take more citizen input.” Then few people were happy, they cried out “politics, we new the numbers were bad, why we are delaying closing these costly schools, why are we waiting to alleviate over crowding, and of course, something crooked is going on,” etc.
Demographers make projections based on the trends. One projection they did not make in 2006 was an economic downturn. Let’s look at the numbers one more time until more people are satisfied with the numbers. The hard choice is still coming-lines will have to be redrawn, future construction may have to be reprioritized. Take part in the process. See if you can lift your eyes above your own interests and let’s find the best solution for all our students.

Cerebration said...

Are you referring to us as "serpents"? Haven't been called that one yet...

People are entitled to question political leaders you know - it's the American way.

I do think we agree on one point you made, Anon,
The hard choice is still coming-lines will have to be redrawn, future construction may have to be reprioritized. Take part in the process. See if you can lift your eyes above your own interests and let’s find the best solution for all our students.

Although, "taking part in the process" is easier said than done -- it depends on who you are and who you know.

Anonymous said...

I have been looking at SACS guidlines. DCSS falls short on a lot of them.

Now the loss of accrediation hurts the students, especially graduating Seniors, as it did with Clayton.

But when you have a LBOE and a Superintendent that act as thought the stakeholders dont matter for they sure as heck are not listening to us, you have put some heat where there needs to be fire.

The elcetions are over, but the board is not untouchable.

We as stakeholders have some options.

Get Sacs up their A-holes. They wont take our accrediation right away. DCSS will have the opportunity to clean up their act as did Clayton. They had the opportunity they just did not.

DCSS is too corrupt! Misuse of funds,neglect of school property, intimidation of teachers and parents,conflict of interest, nepotism, unethical conduct and the list goes on and on...

Anonymous said...

"and the loss of state funding"

The state funding thing is a red herring DCSS uses. There are few schools under 400. It goes back to the fact that Crawford Lewis and Marcus Turk have built a huge bureaucracy, and they look for every single penny of funds, like their blatant misuse of Title I funds, to keep the gravy train rolling, instead of cutting the waste and bloat.

It is absolutely crazy how many non-teaching personnel report to Gloria Talley. Millions wasted now in salary, millions wasted down the road in pensions.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous-10:37 AM-Alice in Wonderland-definitely has ties to the School Board or is a close friend of one of the school board members.

I for one have said nothing about the closing of the schools. In fact I thought it was a great idea. I was happy to see the School Board start to make the hard decisions that would help put more money back into the classrooms. I am disappointed because of the change. I do not think more data is going to change the small schools. However, it will push the date to close the school until after the election next year. School board members are politicans and this does make me sad that there is a possibility that they would put their political interests over the interests of our children in Dekalb County.

themommy said...

Actually, DeKalb lost millions last year in state funding in construction dollars because we simply have to many buildings as compared to other metro systems. Fran Millar and Dan Weber (about the only Republicans we have in DeKalb-- plus Jacobs)negotiated with the Governor to get us a little money but systems that were far smaller than DCSS got far more money. That is why, this past spring, you saw the board start decommissioning buildings. This takes them off the list of buildings for DCSS but also makes it nearly impossible to reopen them as schools. It was a big step and, if I recall directly, faced some resistance from the usual suspects on the board.

One of the challenges that DCSS is really going to face is what to do with many of these buildings. Many of the schools are in areas were there is no demand for land or buildings or anything. A few charters (or potential charters) might be lurking about hoping to purchases a building or two and I know that many would like the county commission (which also is cash poor) to purchase some of these for land, but otherwise, DCSS will probably own a lot of empty buildings.

In Atlanta, many of the closed schools buildings are in areas that became/are becoming "hip" and have been converted into condos, lofts etc. Over time, perhaps this is a possibility in DeKalb if the areas improve.

Anonymous said...

I get the feeling a DCSS staff member or BOE member wrote the last post.

"Actually, DeKalb lost millions last year in state funding in construction dollars because we simply have to many buildings as compared to other metro systems."

That is not fully accurate. There are other parts of the equation included projected growth. Schools with low enrollment did not significantly affect the funding formula.

"Many of the schools are in areas were there is no demand for land or buildings or anything."

That is a ridiculous and entirely untrue statement. Pretty much every unoccupied DCSS building is in a location where there would be multiple buyers, or the county could use greenspace & park bond money to purchase.

Heritage if a perfect example. The county would pay for the park part, while there are a slew of developers who would love to purchase the school lot and build houses in what is one of the most desirable residential areas in the metro area.

The Clarkston Community Center is a DCSS school owned building in a fast growing area, and should have been sold to the City of Clarkston years ago, instead of leasing it to them for $1 a year. That's a great deal if you're a Clarkston resident, but it is a slap in the face to the rest of us county taxpayers. It's just a form of welfare at the expense of those whose taxes paid for the property and building.

Anonymous said...

"Many of the schools are in areas were there is no demand for land or buildings or anything."

What county do you live in? I know for a fact that there are many investors looking hard to acquire large propreties in the county. There just aren't many properties available that are 20, 30 40, etc. acres. And the county is always looking to acquire greenspace.

Anonymous said...

I know for a fact that there are many investors looking hard to acquire large propreties in the county

Outside of looking at the GM plant property, please name those investors. I'm sure DeKalb County would love to hear from you.

And the county is always looking to acquire greenspace.

The county has no money to acquire greenspace.

Anonymous said...


You are absolutely right. We have a right as parents and taxpayers to voice concern about things going on or not going on in our schools.

But if your background noise gets too loud you will find yourself in the receipt of a letter from Crawford Lewis himself retricting your access.

Remember the parent from Hooper Alexander. she would go to every board meeting with her kids and speak on issues for 3 minutes. She would have the kids come up and speak as well.

She has been restircted from coming on any DCSS property on the grounds that they do not live in the district.

Her husband works for DCSS. I though your child being able to go to any school of your choice was a company or employment "perk".

Make too much noise "BACKGROUND NOISE" and you will find your self banded.

Where is SACS? We really need them. Dekalb is more corrupt than Clayton!

themommy said...

Certainly not a DCSS employee. And you are right, projections also figured into the state formula. BUT having so many buildings really did hurt DCSS. I was on the front line of this issue working with my state representatives and DOE employees trying to understand what he h*ll happened.

The parcels of land like Heritage are exactly the ones that DCSS shouldn't sell because land is so scarce there. These $1 leases are obscene and DCSS needs to work on them, but Clarkston may not have the money to buy that building -- though I wonder what it is really worth anyway?

However, I wonder what will become of the Central Office when DCSS moves to American Way (or whereever they are going)?

The capital market has gotten so tight that no one is making loans hardly at all especially on risky projects.

If DeKalb County has money for greenspace, that is great. But that isn't what we are hearing.

Cerebration said...

I think the county absolutely has money for greenspace - in fact, we voted to TAX ourselves to pay for it - remember the park bond? The county has millions set aside to purchase land and my zone (Jeff Rader's) has been seriously shorted - just ask Jeff, he'll tell you it's true.

Heritage should definitely be sold to the county as a park - I think the whole thing should go - tear down the school - and make it all a park. That tiny school on a tucked away street is of no value. Consider - Briarcliff ES is almost walkable from Heritage - and it's one of the dangerously low-enrolled schools. Plus - if they do get lots more students in the future, there is a bit of room there for expansion - in fact, they even have a gym already. (Heritage does not.)

Go to the county's greenspace suggestion website and suggest that they try to buy Heritage. *(Go to the link below and click "Property Nomination Form").
DeKalb Greenspace

Welcome to DeKalb County’s website highlighting the County’s Parks and Greenspace Program. The DeKalb County Parks Bond and Greenspace Program utilizes a multi-million dollar fund established for the preservation of Greenspace. DeKalb County citizens dedicated more than $248 million for Greenspace acquisitions and park developments when they passed a bond referendum in 2001 and again in 2006.

The only thing standing in their way is Paul Womack. Womack (and McChesney) would also chain himself to the Druid Hills property before selling off any portion of it.

Not sure about the old Shallowford ES in Dunwoody, but that is a very valuable piece of land - which could have been converted into a new ES (after having served as Chamblee MS and now is closed) - but instead the system chose to build a brand new ES near Perimeter College (having traded the HS of Tech North for the ES school property).

Andy yes, we should sell the Clarkston property to Clarkston. We also own a bunch of other crazy old building - like the "old rock gym" in Stone Mt among others. At one time, there was discussion about reviewing the school system's inventory of property - only to discover that it's apparently not organized in any type of file/account/binder - basically not organized at all. So that hampers the brainstorming.

Cerebration said...

Anon - thanks for your concern about my access to DCSS - but believe it or not - I actually have none! Haven't had a kid in the system for quite a while now - and have no fears of being ostracized or otherwise impaired. If "little old me" - can create a blog like this and bring together great, caring people who want only to make sure that our children are being educated, then imagine what someone WITH access and a child-focused agenda could do!

Communication is key. Our board could be communicating better. Until they do - all we have is this blog.

Cerebration said...

You know what gives this blog the power is has? The people who come here and post comments. The people who send us info and items via email. The people who expand our knowledge by sharing what they know at our little "meetings". This blog is not "Cere's blog" by any stretch... this blog gets it's strength from a large number of people. In fact, there are two or three who stand ready to take over blog-monitoring when I fly the coop!

So, you see, restricting access to an individual won't hamper this blog -- but spending tax dollars wisely, spending time, money and energy focused on children - and their education and well-being, providing equal access to healthy buildings, books, materials, quality teachers and bully-free schools to all children - now those things could make this blog unnecessary. If that happens -- I will host a party!

greenie said...

Cere said:
"At one time, there was discussion about reviewing the school system's inventory of property - only to discover that it's apparently not organized in any type of file/account/binder - basically not organized at all. So that hampers the brainstorming."
Well, here is a project for Pat Pope - ideal, in fact. an expert on property assessments with nothing to do ... how do we get inventorying property onto her plate?
Maybe we should all e-mail Dr. Lewis - or will the suggestions from his concerned constituents send him running in the opposite direction (he wouldn't want to get caught not knowing what he's doing).

themommy said...

Greenie that is a great idea. I think someone should suggest it to their board member (be selective). By the end of December, she should certainly be able to have that inventory complete.

Anonymous said...

Just to let you know. Pat Pope can not get emails anymore. They will just go unread.

Anonymous said...

"The county has no money to acquire greenspace."

Buy a clue and check how much money commissioners have left in the 2001 bond. One commissioner has $5 million for acquisition.

Anonymous said...

Buy a clue and check how much money commissioners have left in the 2001 bond. One commissioner has $5 million for acquisition.


Anonymous said...

The funds from the bonds are for more than purchasing greenspace. The bonds are to be used to upgrade and renovate parks, recreation centers, etc., all around the county.

Cerebration said...

True, but Heritage is in Rader's district - and this district has not received anywhere near an equitable share of funding for parks - or HOST bonds for that matter.

And as far as spending (having) park money on things other than acquisitions - well, we have this -

By themselves, two facilities – the Lou Walker “Seniors and Multi-purpose Center” and the new
Sanford Performing Arts Center have an annual operating cost of over $2.5 million, dwarfing the
County budgets of all other seniors and arts centers in DeKalb combined. This is in addition to
over $1 million per year in debt service for loans financing their construction. State nutrition
program cuts are being passed through in DeKalb’s budget that hurt needy seniors, while
extravagant expenditures persist at the independent Lou Walker Center. Neither the Walker nor Sanford Centers is projected to attract offsetting non-tax revenues and so represent costly
burdens on the budget.

The HOST tax money hasn't been spent equitably either -
District # District HOST % of Total
1 $ 11,455,000 12%
2 $ 5,795,000 6%
3 $ 15,786,552 16%
4 $ 9,265,000 9%
5 $ 32,400,000 33%
Ttl District HOST Disbursed $ 74,701,552 75%
Total HOST Disbursed* $ 99,028,054 100%
* includes Countywide road resurfacing, etc.


So - are we being naive in believing that SPLOST money will be spent any differently?

Another interesting thing to note re SPLOST 3 -- we have apparently made over $17 million in INTEREST on the collected bond money, since it has been "so slow to be disbursed."

I would challenge the school system to allocate most of that interest to Cross Keys, since they are the ones who have suffered the most due to this "slowness" to disburse.

Beyond that - the system apparently "picked up" over $311 million in bond proceeds.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:58 ~

Pat Pope was never deleted from First Class. She's listed as Pat A. Pope, not Patricia Pope.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:58 here...

Got it from 2 board members that she would not be returning any emails, nor could she read them.

I know that she is on First Class but apparently she can not do any work for some reason.

Cerebration said...

This idea to push off the redistricting and closure plan is going to cause big problems with state funding, I'm afraid. Although, I agree that we need to step back and assess the REAL numbers in order to make solid decisions, the timetable needs to move up.

Today's AJC tells us why -

"State revenues in Georgia continue to plummet"

GA's revenue collections fell another 18% in October compared to last year. Individual income taxes fell from $722.5 million down to $610.57 million. Even worse, corporate tax revenues dropped from $23.55 million down to $4.9 million. Sales and use is down to $397.96 million from $486.74 million. Average drop in total is 15.5%

The fiscal year (July 1- Oct 31) will end with overall tax collections down from $5.49 billion in 08 to $4.65 billion in 09.

Schools will need to brace themselves for BIG cut backs in August 2010. We should have schools shuttered and consolidated by then - to wait would be a very bad idea.

Anonymous said...

Well said Celebration. The fake layoffs that were done in June 2009is nothing compared to the DCSS future layoff in June 2010. Lewis will have to cut his beloved Bldgs A & B staff drastically by 50/60 percent. If not SACS will get involved because you can't bankrupt a school system with overpaying high salaries outside the classroom with poor test scores and fewer students in some schools and overcrowding in others. Close schools now or have the states to step in and do it for you later. Either way would be painful but at least there will be input if DCSS makes the decision versus the state. And guess more raises or paying into teacher's retirement for another year. Teacher's deserve more than they are getting from DCSS and this state.

Anonymous said...

70% of the 2001 bond was marked specifically for acquisition. Call your commissioners and ask how mcuh they have left. One has $5 mil, and its 2009.

Cerebration said...

That's absolutely correct. I recall a year or two ago the county reported earning over $5 million in interest on the taxes collected. And - I'm pretty certain that by law, they have to spend it - they aren't allowed to just sit on it and collect interest for very long. Anyone know?

Anonymous said...

We received an email today about the county wanting ideas for ways to cut the budget.

Any ideas/suggestions? I will add them to my email to the powers that be.

Cerebration said...

Sell the Sanford Arts Center to a private entity.

One Fed Up Insider said...

Like they are going to listen to us. Funny how they will not send that email out to parents.

I bet that they us what we say against us to make our lives an even more living h*ll.

Cerebration said...

I assumed you meant the county, not the school system, correct, Anon?

The county can save money lots of places - ESPECIALLY by not building glitzy arts center for one special area of the county that costs the rest of us dearly for years to come --- but remember - the county only accounts for about 25%-30% of your total property tax bill - the school system takes the rest...

Anonymous said...

No, I meant the school district. All employs received an email asking how they could save money in the budget.

My favorite 2 sentences from the memo, as they make me laugh:

As a result, your input as employees is solicited and valued. Please
forward any suggestions or ideas you may have regarding the budget.

I don't really think that they'll listen, but you never know.

Cerebration said...

Oh - Wow! I hope you all really do send in suggestions - I'm certain that teachers and staff can come up with some fantastic money-saving ideas!

Anonymous said...

Cere.. Just not any that they want to hear.

Like One Fed Up stated.. They are just going to use it against us to get us out or to leave.

Anonymous said...

I and about 6 other parents meet last weekend to talk about taking actions to get Crawford and others like him out of our school system. we are putting together a list of complaints that we are going to take to the US Department of Education in DC. They have a conference in 2010. We are going to charter buses and reserve hotel accomodations for all those who want to participate.

We are sick of the process of things. We are sick of being told by the State BOE and the Govern's office that they have no jurisdiction over an entity that they give our taxpayer dollars to.

We need to close the loop holes that allow Superintendents like Crawford Lewis to slip things and people in for his persoanl gain.

The site will be up in a week. We want specific complaints that we can take to the US. Department of ED in DC.