Monday, November 2, 2009

Meanwhile, back at the Board of Education meeting...

RANDOM MINUTES from the MEETING tonight:

Kudos to the playground ladies!!! The board actually finally (after I swear, a couple of years) approved recess!!! What an innovative, novel idea! The new rule is - students in K-5 must have 15 minutes of unstructured play time every day. AND - the time cannot be taken away as a discipline tactic.

And more kudos to the wonderful Sandra Purkett who led the charge to secure $5 million in scholarships for Redan HS students. What a lady.

Willie Pringle tells us that Chapel Hill students are being taught by an over-abundance of subs -- better check that out Gloria - that's not good at all!

Ernest Brown raised concerns during the public comments about the Citizens Advisory Committee changes to the bylaws - and then poof! it was taken off of the agenda. I agree with bloggers here - CAC's just another "smoke and mirrors" attempt to tone down the "background noise"... just like the Blue Ribbon Task Force and the Regional Planning Committee. Lesson here: don't bother to volunteer - you will waste years of your life.

I felt a bit bad for Barbara Colman. She had no answers to any of the questions. She simply read through the contract requests for approval. Talk about a hot seat - but oh well - she's being paid well to sit on it.

Gene Walker tells us - the $644,150 to pay for the construction consultants is not "additional" - hmm - apparently it was already in the budget. I wonder how it got there. Weird. I never did figure out if these 26 people are in addition to the people on staff or if they plan to let staff go (thus - the money is already there.) Dunno.

Q: Are they really CREATING jobs in order to spend Stimulus money? That's what Jamey's report sounded like to me... they have a whole bunch of job openings - new ones - but they are to be paid with Stimulus funds. Hey - free money! Guess we'll spend it!

Interesting - Moseley requested that the board basically declare it "unconstitutional" for the state to approve a charter school. Yikes!

And the HSTW question has been answered! It's a "Framework" not a "Program" (like America's Choice) Ahhh! I get it now.... ;-)

But the winner tonight -- in my opinion -- was the bombshell politely and softly dropped by Kiara Bruce (not sure if that's her correct name) of DESA. If I had to guess, I would guess that Ms. Jackson wrote her speech, which basically informed us that Ms. Jackson has been warned in a letter from the board that they will charge her with criminal trespassing if she tries to set foot in DESA. She said that her children were asked to leave DESA because she went to the mic too often - oh - whoops - no - she lives out of the county (Gwinnett) even though their daddy teaches in DeKalb. But lots of kids at DESA live out of the county and the board knows it -- in fact, she said that even some "board members grandchildren who live out of DeKalb attend DESA"! Really, Kiara? Tell us more!


Anonymous said...

Was there any discussion on the pending school closings/redistricting or this is "off limits"?

Cerebration said...

Not a word.

Anonymous said...

Hey Gene Walker/Sembler schill, what do you mean the money "was already in the budget"??? The budget was turned in last February, and approved in March. How in the heck was money for these consultants/26 staff members approved back then?

Something is fishy here. And there is no doubt Crawford asked his Commerce Club buddy Gene to get out in front of this one for him.

And when the stimulus money is gone, who'd then going to pay for all these new positions?

No Duh said...

I also noticed they do read the blog. They took great care to ensure that the audience heard an explanation of just what HSTW is. It's a "framework"! What the ?

So far, if I'm clearly listening, HSTW does nothing but bring in consultants to "train" teachers and staff. Does anyone else get a better read on this than I? Certainly Zepora Robert's riveting analysis tonight of HSTW convinced me she's a subject matter expert. But, she did want it on the record that she's heard of HSTW before! :)

Cerebration said...

I could be mistaken, but wasn't (isn't) Springboard a "framework" also?

Anonymous said...

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"

To see the High Schools That Work brochure go to

Pattie Baker said...

FYI, I posted about the absolutely wonderful decision about recess made by our BOE. Am hoping the DeKalb BOE decision inspires other school districts in the country to make this decision as well.

Anonymous said...

Question: Do our BOE members have legal, ethical and fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers in GA under Sarbanes-Oxley?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, here is full link for some interesting reading on non-profit boards and Sarbanes Oxley regs.

Dekalbparent said...

I found several opinions that Sarbanes Oxley does apply to school boards. The question seems to be on a lot of minds. There were several sites discussing the extent to which SOX pertains to non-profit boards of all sorts.

The American Bar Association opines that SOX would pertain to school boards, at least in part:

...The effect of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act has been to redefine corporate responsibility, generally. Even though it does not technically apply to public school corporations in most instances, school administrators, school business officials, school officers, and board members need to understand this climate for increased corporate responsibility with respect to the exercise of their statutory financial oversight obligations.

An example is cited:
In the Saint Vrain, Colorado, School District, the school district auditor at a December 12, 2001, meeting told the school board that she did not recommend that it (the board) continue approving budgets in which the district spent more than it brought in...When this crisis first surfaced, one board member was quoted as saying it was not the board member’s responsibility to double check the district’s finances, but the board ultimately recognized that the responsibility rested with them; one board member stated: “I think we blame ourselves. We all think we could have done a better job.”

New York state enacted specific accountability requirements for school boards:

The Legislature and the Governor ...enacted a series of reforms that will impose financial
oversight requirements on school districts and enhanced audit requirements by the State
In Chapter 263 (S.5050-A), the law increases the accountability of school district financial
practices. The new law will require districts to appoint an outside claims auditor, train new
board members, limit the number of years an outside auditor may be engaged, impose internal
audit controls and require the establishment of an audit committee.

I found an opinion that SOX requirements for retention and preservation of e-communications as well as audit requirements pertain to school boards in Education Law vol 2, Charles J. Russo, ed.


Anonymous said...

HSTW is paid for out of stimulus money?
Can anyone prove that?
We had HSTW for years before "stimulus money" existed.
At our school, we were told that America's Choice was paid for out of stimulus money.
How much stimulus money did Dekalb get?
Were these programs....or whatever they call them really the best use of stimulus money? Do we have proof of effectiveness ? Maybe some independent research? (The only research I could find on HSTW seemed to have been conducted by..guess who?..Yes...SREB! And they said their own product is great!
It always seemed to me that SREB was a place for county employees to get a second gig after they retired form school systems.
And here is another thought for you..
How can a school be doing HSTW, America's Choice and SIOP ( a program bought form Pearson publishing), at the same time? Three different programs with three different sets of strategies, agendas, plans and requirements?
Lots of money going around.

Cerebration said...

I agree. No one said anything about stimulus paying for HSTW. And they ALWAYS mention when things are paid for with stimulus money. Also - they DID make the point when they voted for America's Choice to say it was paid with Title 1 funding (and sold to us by an AC rep who was a former DCSS Area Supervisor of the Dunwoody cluster - Rives I believe is her name.)

Dekalbparent said...

I believe DeKalb chose to use stimulus money to pay for America's Choice. Don't know where the Title I funds (which they said they were using) fit into this... Seemed not quite fair to use stimulus moneyfor something that does not benefit ALL the kids, but if it frees up funds to be used for all that's OK. I hope that is the case.

Don't know about HSTW - and that's just for high schools, while America's Choice is elem (and MS?). They seem mutually exclusive, not complementary.

themommy said...

Unfortunately, the education portion of the stimulus package was ultimately not designed to benefit all children. Rather, it is targeted to Title 1 schools and special ed. Obama had alot of funds that could have been used for "every child" but the Congress took those out.

I didn't hear Stepney say that ARRA funds were used for HSTW. Rather, she said she has whittled down what we are paying for it. She is about at half of what it was when she started.

America's Choice is being paid for by the Stimulus Title 1 funds.

Anonymous said...


America's Choice is in some high schools. I am very sure on this point.

From my experience with AC, I don't think you would get any agreement from teachers, students or parents on AC helping or benefiting anyone (except possibly the rep who sold the program to the county).

I don't see how buying a product "frees up" any funds to be used in other ways. Especially a product with such a spotty track record. (Again very little independent research on the effectiveness of this product.most "research" quoted was not independent but rather propaganda from the company.)

HSTW and AC are mutually exclusive, but not for the reason you propose (separate age groups) but rather due to them being very different products. Unfortunately "used" at the same time in the same schools.

Save your tax money! Teachers do not need consultants and products.
They need involved parents and communities, safe, non biohazard buildings, basic supplies and working equipment .

No Duh said...

I am almost certain HSTW started in the Brown/Boring administration. Am I crazy?

If so, we were paying for it before stimulus money.

Molly said...

Yes, HSTW was a Johnny Brown initiative - it came along with the block schedule.

Anonymous said...

HSTW is actually a State DOE initiative. SREB which develops and promotes HSTW is an organization of 13 (?) southern states and the members are all appointed by the governors of each member state.

Anonymous said...

It is easy to forget that DCSS is a billion dollar per year enterprise. It's being run by a former HPE teacher who has no education in finance. That's fine, as long as you have top notch financial people behind you. But we don't.

Lewis doesn't think twice about all the administrative positions he's added over his tenure, and all the pension and benefits they bring with them.

He doesn't think twice about al these fad curriculum ideas and fad software programs that not only cost millions to purchase, but millions to implement, and untold lost productivity of teachers and staff (eSIS!).

We have to get across to the BOE that DCSS needs to be lean and mean. The resoruces must go into the classroom. The top heavy administration has to be reduced. The spending on fad's has to stop. Get children out of trailers and back into the classroom. Take care of the aging facilities you have and modernize them.

I believe that DCSS is really risking the passage of SPLOST IV. it is not going to pass unless the belt is tighetened, and things become a lot more transparent and efficient.

Cerebration said...

Personally, I will never vote for a SPLOST IV. In fact, there's really no point, as they can't get SPLOST III spent - they are sitting on over $100 million of it in the bank!

Anonymous said...

I teach at a school where America's Choice is implemented. The program itself may not be too bad. The problem teachers at my school have is with the AC personnel (former DeKalb employees) who have acted rudely, unprofessionally, and don't seem to know what they're talking about some of the time. DeKalb AC personnel says things that directly contradict what higher up AC execs say. Teachers get mixed messages a lot of the time.

Meetings get scheduled at the last minute and then rescheduled. Training sessions consistently start late. Teachers are expected to attend meetings during their planning periods, after school until 6 pm, during the entire work day, or during the regular school day. We have not been compensated for this time at all. No staff development hours or financial compensation.

The Ramp-Up to Literacy class may be effective in improving reading skills, but it creates a ridiculously huge amount of work. Teachers and administrators have doubts about how ready Ramp-Up student will be for the EOCT. Pay close attention to the scores when they come out in the spring. It also, by the way, does NOTHING for kids who are several levels below grade level. Those poor kids are hung out to dry.

Teachers who have to teach this class right now have already indicated that if they have to do it again next year, they're getting their transfer papers in. The graduation coaches are now called "America's Choice" coaches, and they barely have time to address juniors and seniors who need to pass the GHSGT.

Cerebration said...

During the meeting there was a moment of silence in honor of Narvie J. Harris, a well-loved employee of DeKalb schools from 1944-1983. In fact, one of our Elementary Schools is named in her honor.

In 1944, Narvie began what would become a stellar career in the DeKalb County School System as Supervisor of Instruction for the Negro Schools. A landmark in DeKalb County, she remained there until her retirement in 1983. Shortly after retirement, she was named an honorary "Associate Superintendent" which was most appropriate as she was always referred to as "the Black Superintendent". In 1999, a school was erected and named in her honor as the Narvie J. Harris Theme School.

Below is a link to the full text of her death notice
Narvie J. Harris

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dekalbparent for your follow-up comments on my SOX question/concerns. Your closing
statement if you will, "Sooo...",
cries out for further discussion or questions.

If the members of the BOE are charged with the responsibility of oversight, who oversees the overseers??

Sadly, we the voters have to share in the blame for the current situation. "All that is neccessary for good men to do nothing."

We all share in the success but must also accept our share of the blame of the failure(s). Failures of the people we've placed our faith in and failure of the process that has lost sight of its mission, education.

Dekalbparent said...

Yes, the "Sooo..." meant exactly that. Is the SOX issue something to persue? Seems to me that the fiduciary responsibility is a big question as far as this Board (and preceding ones) is concerned.

Anonymous said...

We were told last week about the new recess policy. Our students in the lower grades do need this unstructured air time. It has been a state law for quite a few years but there has been a lot of resistance from administration at some schools to allow students this unstructured time.

Cerebration said...

Does anyone know what the school system plans to do or has done with the Stimulus funds they were allocated by the state? Seems DCSS got over $33 million - second only to Atlanta Pubic Schools - which got $35 million. Third is Gwinnett - with $20 million.

Check out the GA Stimulus Accountability