Monday, January 25, 2010

Budget Cuts? Start here Crawford

Cere has posted this earlier, but it's worth a new post. Crawford Lewis is pushing for a major property tax increase, despite the incredible bloat of a Central Office he built, despite a huge and bloated school police department, despite huge budgets for the underperforming and questionably competent Sam Moss Center and Info. Systems Dept., and despite a massive amount in layer fees, especially paying $14 million in legal fees for a $500,000 contended amount. As Cere has mentioned, there is incredible waste with underenrolled schools, and specialty schools. We have many under-enrolled schools, such as Wadsworth.

Do these schools need big administrative staffs, with the salaries, pensions and benefits that go with them, when Crawford is expecting teachers to take furlough days, along with a big property tax increase? When it's other people's money, it sure seems easier to spend, doesn't it Dr. Lewis?

High schools (200 or more empty seats by the year 2016)

787 Stephenson

657 Southwest DeKalb

635 McNair

452 Martin Luther King Jr.

377 Columbia

207 Redan

Middle schools (200 or more empty seats)

584 McNair

447 Stephenson

426 Chapel Hill

396 Stone Mountain

368 Columbia

356 Avondale

277 Chamblee

267 Redan

198 Freedom

Elementary schools (150 or more empty seats)

350 Oak View

322 Snapfinger

321 McNair

281 Pine Ridge Princeton

278 Clifton

278 Peachcrest

260 Hambrick

257 Flat Shoals

253 Sky Haven

253 Columbia

250 Jolly

243 Rock Chapel

231 Atherton

230 Allgood

223 Rainbow

222 Midway

215 Cedar Grove

215 Dunaire

214 Princeton Pine Ridge

214 Panola Way

212 Redan

206 Avondale

202 Gresham Park

196 Stone Mountain

195 Woodward

190 Bob Mathis

177 Midvale

171 Laurel Ridge

166 Briar Vista

165 Rowland

153 Toney

From Cere:
Avondale and DSA each have their own principal and admin staff (total about 800-900 kids)

Open Campus and DeKalb Early College Academy each have their own principal and admin staff (total about 700-800 kids)

Destiny Academy - with far less than 100 students has it's own building and it's own principal and admin staff

Wadsworth ES - with far less than 200 students has it's own building and it's own principal and admin staff

Does the HS of Technology North still have their own principal or do they share Cross Keys? (The website still lists the principal as Vivian H. Terry)

How about DeKalb Night School? With 60-100 students, they have their own principal and staff - separate from DeKalb Alternative School!

Same for DeKalb Transition Academy (140-160 students)

Same for DeKalb Truancy School, with 7th, 8th, 9th,
Enrollment: 50


Anonymous said...

Dr. Lewis' proposal includes a plan to combine alternative programs.

DSA and Avondale should share a principal. It might not be either of the current principals (I know neither, so I am not judging) but it has to be someone who can manage this.

DeKalb Early College is heavily subsidized by Gates Foundation and the grant is running down. Dr. Lewis proposes not extending the program. Gates money comes with lots of strings and even in good economic times, DCSS was struggling to meet expectations.

Wadsworth is probably still open because a group of S. DeKalb parents reportedly have filed a lawsuit about the relocation of KMS.

Someone ought to file an open records request to find out how much each year DCSS is spending in legal fees related to KMS. I know of at least one other lawsuit that involved KMS last year. I don't know if it was ever filed, but the people retained an attorney, which meant that DCSS has to retain one as well.

Cerebration said...

This is quoted from Jim Walls report (update) at Atlanta Unfiltered. This enrollment balancing is really tricky business - but it appears that it simply must be done - we are wasting millions and millions of dollars. As Jim mentions, the board was supposed to present a plan in December, however they tabled the entire discussion for reasons unknown.

(Click the link in the article for the entire report with maps)

DeKalb County expects by January to approve school closings to reduce the number of “empty seats” — as many as 16,000, the equivalent of more than 500 classrooms — projected for the next six years.

At-risk schools are clustered primarily in southwest, central and east DeKalb, according to maps released Friday. Lots of numbers floated around during a presentation to the board of education. The bottom line: By 2016, officials expect DeKalb will have 9,054 open seats in 38 elementary schools, 3,343 in nine middle schools and 3,574 in seven high schools.

(The math seems a little fuzzy, though; individual numbers for each school do NOT necessarily add up to the totals reflected on the maps. No one said you’d have to do math to close schools, right?)

Also, Premier DeKalb Schools likes to call it “enrollment balancing,” not school closing. That certainly makes a difference, doesn’t it?

DeKalb also expects 10 schools will be overcrowded (by 100 students or more) by 2016. Adjusting attendance zones can handle some of that, officials said, but new classrooms may also be required.

Draft recommendations for closings will be released by Dec. 1, but board members and citizen advisory committees will see them next week (Nov. 2-6). A final decision must be made by Jan. 11.

Officials made it quite clear they have not yet recommended any schools be closed, But they want parents and taxpayers to understand the financial difficulties that form part of the rationale for possible closings: inefficiencies in operating smaller schools, downsizing staff, teacher furloughs and pay freeze, cuts in the transportation budget.
State funding formulas also penalize DeKalb for operating smaller schools. Since 2003, Deputy Superintendent Robert Moseley said, the system has lost $170 million in state funds as a consequence.

Friday’s Powerpoint presentation will be posted on the district’s Web site soon. In the meantime, I snagged a hard copy Friday and am posting scans of the maps here. Maps projecting 2016-17 enrollment are inserted here. Scroll down to download the projections for 2010-11.

themommy said...

DCSS recently hired a planner and he came in about the time someone in DCSS released numbers (both capacity and projected enrollment) that made no sense to people very familiar with specific schools and communities. Many board members were left scratching their heads as well.

A committee has been formed and will meet sometime in the next few weeks to begin to provide input about school closings and redistricting.

My problem is that this means a whole other school year will go by with DCSS spending funds that they don't need to.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the county is required to wait 18 months notice after the lines are published before any redistricting takes place. So, closing schools and rebalancing enrollments is by no means a quick way to save money.

Anonymous said...

Just close Kittredge Magnet School. That will save DCSS at least $56 Million. Maybe more. And it will solve all the other problems in DCSS as well. Close Kittredge now!

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:53. I am not aware of any 18 month requirement. The original plan was to announce the redistricting plans this fall, finalize the decision in January and close the schools at the end of this academic year.

However, some of the data seemed flawed or outdated, especially at the high school level. This may have been because there are many high school students who do not attend their home schools.

However, given the budget crisis, it seems that the county could move forward with the low hanging fruit, i.e., closing some of these tiny elementary schools that have had very low enrollment for a number of years.

Anonymous said...

C'mon folks.

First there is no 18-month requirement -- its more of a courtesy extended to avoid wholesale community upset -- schedule changes in homes, giving families time to digest it, etc.

But that's all smoke and mirrors. Does anyone think they can muster up five board members willing to vote for school closures in an election year? The same parents who decry wasteful spending are often the ones who also decry closing schools or specialized programs.

There was a time when systems like DeKalb could afford to offer smorgasbord education -- and not be one-size fits all. That's not the case anymore, except the district can't make that case because (1) it has such poor communicators and (2) it can't seem to do anything right (and in some cases legal). So it's hard to make a case to any parent -- KMS, Theme School (which also costs more to run than traditional schools), DSA, Alternative, Alternative Night, Alternative Lite, blah blah when there's so much bloat.

It makes me sick. Everybody's got an agenda. For their own slice of pizza. The fact is, the vast majority of students in the district are educated in a traditional school setting -- but look at the factions represented on various committees, etc. They're stocked with magnet/theme parents, business people with a vested interest, etc.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:14
It is imperative that vested parties approach this issue with some degree of compromise and collaboration. Many parent groups of DCSS are seen as a bunch of whining " I want mine " people.

Face it, the special interest settings are fair game in times of budget cutbacks. Unfortunately, for many reasons, nothing will happen. But all potential areas should be taken into consideration.

It would not save 56 million to close or " enrollment balance " any school but it would make a significant difference in DCSS expenditures to decrease and eliminate services it can no longer afford.

Kim Gokce said...

The new planner hired is Dan Drake. I found out about this resource when asking Pat Pope about the general need for planning (capital, enrollment, infrastructure, etc.) last summer. I have run into Dan at public meetings related to DeKalb County planning process (this is part of his duties - monitor County Planning). He has always impressed me as someone possessed of excellent analytical skills and experience. My expectation is that he will bring a level of quality to the DCSS planning data and analysis that can only improve decision-making.

Regarding the BoE having the stomach for school closures in an election year, I do not believe any vote would be prior to elections unless I mis-understand the plan. A couple of months ago, we were complaining on this blog that the analysis and decision-making was being intentionally delayed until AFTER the election.

So, which is it? Anyone know for sure? My expectation (founded or unfounded) is that recommendations will be made by the Super's team in the 4th quarter and no BoE vote would happen before year's end.

Kim Gokce said...

"Does the HS of Technology North still have their own principal or do they share Cross Keys? (The website still lists the principal as Vivian H. Terry)"

Tech North is to be integrated into the CKHS administration and may be already. There will not be a separate administration for two - only one. I believe this has already been executed.

Anonymous said...

Great post by 11:49: "The fact is, the vast majority of students in the district are educated in a traditional school setting -- but look at the factions represented on various committees, etc. They're stocked with magnet/theme parents, business people with a vested interest, etc."

The vast majority of DCSS students are taught in a traditional setting, but the parents of the magnets, theme's, etc. are most active and vocal (and give them credit fo being active).

There may come a time for hard decisions to be made about the magnets, theme's, etc., but that is down the road. There is no doubt in my mind that DCSS could make up any budget shortfalls by making the cuts it needs to administration and various departments like Sam Moss, severely cutting Gloria Talley's army, school police, Info. Systems, etc., and closing and/or combing schools. Magnets and theme's should be safe for now, if we can ever get the Board of Ed to make sue DCSS is run by a lean and mean administration.

Dos anyone know how many employees actually opted for early retirement? I heard from a school staffer that it was less than expected.

Kim Gokce said...

@Cerebration: "As Jim mentions, the board was supposed to present a plan in December, however they tabled the entire discussion for reasons unknown."

My understanding is that the Super recommended to the BoE that the decision be delayed until additional and updated data could be gathered and analyzed. I don't believe Dr. Lewis wants to stand on the (in)famous demographer's report as the only source of data for the recommendations coming.

Cerebration said...

Yep, we've discussed enrollment here - ad nauseum.

Here'a a link to the post that holds the data - the very conflicting data.

The Enrollment Numbers Game

I think the problem is - no one really knows how what the actual capacities are for these buildings (they suddenly changed after remaining steady for years) OR what the projected enrollment numbers are for five years from now.

Every demographic report I've seen projects the most growth in the Lakeside, Dunwoody, Tucker cluster - but the board simply won't believe it. They insist on building more space in South DeKalb. They built Arabia with the stated intention of relieving over-crowding for LIthonia, MLK and Miller Grove. But then, when the time came, they decided to make Arabia a magnet or choice school - one which students must apply to to get a seat. (There are a few hundred seats reserved for regular area students - ones who don't mind wearing a uniform.)

So now, they say they still need additions to the other schools in the area. The fact is, enrollment is down in those schools - but why? Is it because people moved away? Or is it because so many students have transferred to other DCSS schools? I don't think anyone knows.

Anonymous said...

I just went on the DeKalb County website and found my School Board representative.

I emailed him that I didn't want pay cuts or a greater pupil-teacher ratio next year. Administrative and support cuts need to come before the classroom is impacted.

While full employment may be Dr. Lewis and the BOE's goal, I pay taxes for my child to have the best educational situation possible, not to ensure full employment.

I urge everyone to write, call or email your school board representative. I am also emailing and calling every friend and neighbor I know in DeKalb County to see if they will write their BOE member asking them to cut other areas in DeKalb, but leave teachers' pay alone.

Cerebration, is there a way you can advocate that people reading this blog call, write, and/or email their BOE members to express their opinion? Can that be a visible Post?

They need have their in boxes full of taxpayers' messages. We would not be advocating what taxpayers should say, just that they should contact their board members.

Cerebration said...

ep, we've encouraged emailing your board rep - or the entire board - many times. SO many times.

Here's a listing of the email addresses to copy & paste -;;;;;;;;;

As always -- I encourage you to share your opinions with your elected officials!!!

Kim Gokce said...

@Cerebration: "Is it because people moved away? Or is it because so many students have transferred to other DCSS schools? I don't think anyone knows."

Oh, DCSS knows. In fact, it is my expectation that this is exactly the type of data that will be used to make decisions this time around. I believe they will be looking at residency for every enrolled student, private school residency, U.S. govt data, private sector birth rate and other private demographic projections.

The question in my mind is how much of this data will be made public. If the readers of this blog want to do one thing to empower our communities, I suggest we pool our $$$ and make sure all the DCSS data gathered on this initiative be acquired and published via open records requests.

That! That will ensure we get quality decisions and accountability.

Anonymous said...

Kim, I turst your judgement about Dan Drake. If he is as smart as you said, he'll put all this demographics online, even if Crawford and Marcus Turk pressure him not to (and you know Crawford will).

And if Drake if good, he'll uncover the huge amount of students in the Brookhaven/Cross Keys area that would go to a DCSS school instead of a private school if Cross Keys wasn't in horrendous condition (and Sequoyah too).

Square Peg said...

I don't know if fixing the horrendous physical condition of Cross Keys and Sequoyah would be sufficient to attract the residents who are now using private schools.

We chose our neighborhood in the late 90's because we'd heard great things about the schools. Shortly after we moved here, the elementary school won a School of Excellence award. In 2010, though, it is not the same school that it used to be. I don't know how much of the change to attribute to the effects of NCLB, or to new administrators and a lot of teacher turnover, or to regulation and standardization, etc. The high school hasn't lost its good reputation among outsiders yet, but...

Now only about half the families on our street send their children to public school. The others fork over big bucks for a private education. One neighbor family started in public school, but got frustrated and moved to private after 1st grade. Another considered switching to public for high school, but decided to continue in private. Since I believe passionately in public education, this makes me very sad, but I am well aware that a kindergartener starting now would not have the good experience my children had for the first several years.

Kim, keep at it, though - you give us all hope that committed citizens can succeed at turning around their schools.

Kim Gokce said...

@Square Peg: "Kim, keep at it, though - you give us all hope that committed citizens can succeed at turning around their schools."

I appreciate the goodwill and compliment but I have to say I don't see that I'm turning around our schools. Speaking of CKHS and its feeders, they seem to do rather well with the in-classroom mission of education.

Rather, I am working on getting greater community support to these schools. The kids deserve our support whatever we think of the leadership of DCSS.

In fact, I personally believe we are MORE obligated to support our young people because of the shortcomings of the system ...

Kim Gokce said...

RE: building conditions ... I have to add that I do not think new building versus old building is what is keeping folks out of DeKalb public schools.

While it certainly is a consideration, I think that it more often has more to do with one or more of the following:

1) Lack of trust of system leadership
2) Poor reputation of DeKalb schools (perception is reality)
3) Parental guilt (if I can give little Johnny the Taj Mahal option, what kind of parent would I be if I didn't?)
4) The fact that "God" or moral teaching has been driven out of our public schools.
5) And, yes, _some_ of my white brethren would NEVER put their kid in a school where they'd be the minority race. In DeKalb, that means virtually no school would meet that parent's criteria.

#1 and #2 we can work on, the rest not so much ...

Cerebration said...

Those are all interesting reasons for using private schools, Kim, however, I have to add one I've noticed -

The Happiness Factor

People I know who send their children to private schools are much happier about their children's education, school environment, school activities, school's sense of community and the school's respect of and communication with parents.

From what I understand, Lakeside really used to have this Happiness Factor, and a small group of community members/parents/students are fighting against the tide to bring it back.

Kim Gokce said...

I think the Happiness Factor is a valid reason. I think the major reason behind the happiness factor for private schools is that they have to manage no more than one cluster. The destruction of the community atmosphere at Lakeside has to do with system decisions and system management ... something a private school does not have to survive.

For me, the biggest single problem in the public system is that it is, well, a system. We have gotten to far away from running schools and spend too much time on the system and all its dressings.

Cerebration said...

We have gotten to far away from running schools and spend too much time on the system and all its dressings.

Boy - you hit the nail on the head, there!

Kim Gokce said...

@Anonymous: "... the huge amount of students in the Brookhaven/Cross Keys area that would go to a DCSS school instead of a private school if Cross Keys wasn't in horrendous condition (and Sequoyah too)."

Well, I do not think this is likely. Firstly, we have to remember that 90% of this area is zoned for Chamblee HS and they still do not attend public. Not that Chamblee HS plant is all that but it has been quite better cared for than CKHS.

My point is that the overwhelming number of Brookhaven folks have the option of attending Chamblee HS and it seems more choose private than public. In addition to Lovett, Westminister, Pace Academy and other Buckhead options, we have Marist and St. Pius < 5 miles and we have a Woodward Academy and a Greater Atlanta Christian bus stop on Peachtree in Brookhaven for goodness sake!

I have resolved myself to my mission on behalf of the mostly brown and mostly poor kids that currently make up the enrollment at CKHS. They deserve a first class school even if the "first class" kids aren't enrolled there.

Perhaps 5-10 years from now the folks that have been running the other way from CKHS will run back just as dramatically. That's the kind of school we must have - one that is so attractive and successful it can overcome all this history and all these mistakes. Sigh ...

Kim Gokce said...

@Cerebration: "Boy - you hit the nail on the head, there!"

We should demand of every decision made by the Super and the BoE a list of the specific impacts on specific schools. If they can not articulate specific schoolhouse impacts by name, then they are just re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic that is our system.

Iceberg! Dead ahead!

We need to ignite a "Schoolhouse Rules" campaign across clusters and parent groups. If every single dollar can not be traced to a specific school's benefit, we should say 'no' to that dollar being spent.

Cerebration said...

Great idea - we can incorporate it into the Student's Bill of Rights. Stand-by - we intend to have it ready for the Feb. 8th Board meeting.

Also, as far as private schools go - think about it. Don't you want your kid to participate in band, orchestra, school plays, sporting events, arts programs etc? Our schools in this area do not offer very attractive programs. We have no auditoriums - horrible art departments - terrible sports fields for practice - depressing, sick buildings, etc.

Check out the happy, cheerful, fun-filled, arts filled buildings and school grounds the private schools provide. They have pride in their facilities.

We need to demand that EVERY high school be brought to the level of Arabia.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we allow the horrific conditions at CKHS to continue; we allow a school nurse program to be in jeopardy but we turn away ( oh the horror ) from eliminating schools and programs that cater to our special interest populations. Equality takes on many forms..... Buildings, Services, Accessibility, What should be rights of all of the children of DCSS....

Anonymous said...

I talked to a Catholic school administrator about the DCSS bureaucracy. DCSS does have many, many more challenges, but the one mantra the Catholic schools go by is lean and mean overhead. Everything is classroom first. Even though she admits athletics is becoming more of a focus than it should be. The Catholic schools teachers are so gung ho about scoring an administration job because there aren't many available for them, so they focus on being the best teacher possible, often going back and getting a Masters in their subject matter. At DCSS, when a teacher does go back to school, it for a degree in school administration.

And Catholic schools go after every possible grant, and go after alumni donations. DCSS can't go after alumni, but there are so many federal, state, and foundation grants out there, and the DCSS Central Office is not competent enough to go after and win these grants. Even the City of Atlanta school system is scoring grants from corporations, which is a very recent situation, but they got there act together and are reaping the rewards for doing so.

Heck, with the CDC right here in the county, you would think that this would be one of the the top school systems in America for health and bioscience related programs.

Nope, not as long as the Lewis administration is in control.

Anonymous said...

Support our good buddy Kim Gokce, and vist his site and tell your friends to visit it too.

If Kim's website becomes successful enough, then we can convince him to run for Board of Ed!!!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, should be "are not"

The Catholic schools teachers are NOT so gung ho about scoring an administration job because there aren't many available for them, so they focus on being the best teacher possible, often going back and getting a Masters in their subject matter.

Square Peg said...

Happiness factor - that's exactly the name for what I was thinking of. Our elementary and high schools lost their happiness; the middle school never had any. (Of course, besides system issues there's also NCLB as a school destroyer; it will be interesting to read the discussion on that new thread.)

Dekalbparent said...

I sent my kids to private school for a while, and the posts have gotten me thinking about the "happiness factor". What was it for us, and can it be created in a public school? To me, this is a discussion worth pursuing, because it can also help us form a framework for discussion, along with the Students' Bill of Rights.

When my older one started at the private school, it was located in a rented education wing of a church.

Cons: For PE, just a field. Had to go to other schools or the YMCA for team practice. No lunch room. Library was a small classroom with not too many books. No lockers (used plastic crates). No auditorium (used church sanctuary for gatherings). No music room. All teachers taught more than one grade. Science labs in trailers (the trailers were specially set up to be labs, though - had water and gas, and two bathrooms each).

"Happiness Factor": Accessibility of teachers. Accessibility of head of school. Small classes. Flexibility of curriculum - I could explain my child's learning style (she has LD), and the teachers would talk to me until they understood, They were able to really differentiate the teaching - had to, because there was only one class per subject per grade, so every ability level was in it. Inventive curriculum - lots of overlap between subjects. The feeling among students, faculty and families that "we are all in it together for the benefit of the kids".

When my younger one started, they had moved into their own building (needed a lot of work), had a gym/auditorium, had a lunch room (and a kitchen), had a music room and an art room, a library (still not many books - had a lot of book fairs to raise funds), same science lab trailers.

Strangely enough, the "Happiness Factor" declined for me. The teachers were still accessible, but the head of school not so much (a new head by this point). Still a lot of family involvement, but certain people started to take over. Some of the most innovative teachers were not allowed to be quite as innovative. Still small, close-knit classes, with bonding of classmates encouraged and supported. Slightly more standardized curriculum, and the kids at the high end of the class lost out - if the school didn't offer the challenge they needed, theyt had to go elsewhere. A little bit of politics developed in the faculty as the school got bigger - the head of school encouraged it, too.

Is it sounding familiar?

It was a tough decision to leave, but it was looking like public school (we are lucky that our district has a small high school) would offer a good education, provided we stayed on top of things. I have cultivated a good relationship with my kids' teachers, counselors, and the school administration. I still volunteer at the school, but I work directly for teachers, and avoid the PTSA.

So, if you could remake a school to have a "happiness factor" for you, what would be essential, and what would not?

Anonymous said...

Will someone out there please follow the money trail and explain why middle schools are getting new Language Arts textbooks at a cost of over one million dollars when they are NOT needed at this time? Who authorized this purchase and why? Also, are the America's Choice schools going to get them when they don't even use textbooks? Teachers did not use their current books for a few years due to SpringBoard and since that is now gone (thank you!), they can finally put them to good use. The books are in great shape, teachers have worked hard to learn and utilize all of the helpful resources, and if DCSS had just asked the ELA teachers, they would have discovered this for themselves. It is infuriating to see such wasteful spending while at the same time crying budget poor.

Cerebration said...

Sounds like a good topic to bring to the microphone at Thursday's community budget meeting. I hope you have all noticed the new post about it (important points in red) - and I hope to see you all there!

Cerebration said...

As far at the Happiness Factor goes, I don't have to imagine it - I've seen it in a public school - my hometown school in Ohio.

Now, I will admit that my little hometown school in Ohio is a very small district (only about 6000 students in total), but they love, care and nurture each and every child. They offer very high level courses, AP courses and all kinds of career tech courses at the high school. And the middle and elementary schools offers solid core curriculums, gifted programs and wonderful art programs. (The middle schoolers actually make pottery that has to be fired in a kiln!)

The high school AND the middle school both have auditoriums for the many community performances they host. Their music and art programs are fantastic. Their Christmas concert is a creatively brilliant "not to be missed" event. My nephew was able to learn to play all kinds of instruments and won a 4 year music scholarship to a prestigious college - thanks to the dedication of his band and orchestra teachers. In fact, they played here at Woodruff Arts Center not too long ago.

On top of that, the community combines with four other systems to offer a state of the art vocational/technical high school. Students are free to "explore" the school in 10th grade by visiting and if they choose to apply - they go full time for 11th and 12th grades. This school is outstanding and offers something like 23 programs to choose from. Boy, you should see the happy faces that get off the buses to start the school day at this school!

All I'm saying is - the schools are where our hearts are - our children. They should be the safest, kindest, most positive, nurturing, enlightening, and yes - happy - places we can create.

Now, if these middle class farming community can put their children's schools at the top of their list of important "gotta haves", then why can't DeKalb - with it's access to literally a billion dollars?

To that end, DCSS has a whole lotta work to do.

Anonymous said...

With Emory University, Agnes Scott, Columbia Theological Seminary, Oglethorpe, the CDC, and numerous cultural and economic strengths in Dekalb County (granted Agnes Scott and Columbia are in Decatur, but they have economic and educational benefits for the whole county), why is DCSS such a disgrace? Dekalb deserves a better school system.

When I was young and living in south Georgia, Dekalb was the coolest county in Georgia...especially since Emory was my college of choice. When I looked for a teaching job, I dreamed of teaching in Dekalb schools. What the hell has happened? Why are some damn good teachers ashamed to be working for this county? Dekalb deserves better!!!!!!

Cerebration said...

Not to belabor the point, but here are some of the visions and statement from my hometown high school BLOG! (yes - you read that correctly - they have a blog - with detailed info and where people can ask questions and get answers.) Of course, the blog is monitored and you have to discuss the topic at hand - but hey - it's a blog!

Strategic Plan Home

Mission Statement
Ensuring students achieve their greatest potential.

Our Vision
Our School District, within three years, will be seen as a top 100 district in the nation based on standardized and measurable criteria nationally, statewide and locally in its performance, culture and marketing initiatives.

Focus Areas

Teaching & Learning - Nurture a culture among students, staff and the community where students are invested in critical thinking, creativity and lifelong learning.

Communication & Collaboration – All stakeholders work cooperatively to listen and communicate with a unified voice and build ongoing relationships internally and with the community to support and increase student achievement.

Safety, Security & Financial Accountability - Ensure that all district buildings provide a physically and emotionally safe, secure and supportive learning and teaching environment and ensure financial responsibility and accountability by allocating resources to support and increase student achievement.


You gotta love that last one! Feel free to copy and paste these statements DeKalb! Sometimes, just writing them down is half the battle. It's true - people who write down their goals and objectives are far, far more likely to achieve them.

Anonymous said...

Cere noted:
"People I know who send their children to private schools are much happier about their children's education, school environment, school activities, school's sense of community and the school's respect of and communication with parents."

You didn't mean to, but you just gave the main reasons, particularly in dysfunctional DeKalb, that parents create charter schools--educational quality, community, respect of and communication with parents--to which I'd add respect for students as something sadly lacking in DCSS.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:26: There is a college/university partnership program. It was started while Johnny Brown was the superintendent, spearheaded by one of the newer board members at the time. See

Why not ask what's going on with that partnership? It was borne out of the same ideals discussed here -- but I have no idea what's going on with it now.

Dekalbparent said...

Don't know where best to post this... Just viewing a Channel 5 report on the dust-up regarding Comm. Barnes-Sutton.

She teaches Business for DOLA and reportedly makes $49,000 a year...

Cerebration said...

Well, the DCSS website lists this info

Colleges/Universities Student and Teacher Support Initiative
A Collaborative Effort

Initiative System Contact: Dr. Regina Fletcher
Initiative Facilitator: Dr. Cynthia Hill

Why don't you shoot these women an email and ask them about the program and then come back and tell us what you find out.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Regina Fletcher retired from DeKalb Schools in 2007.

Anonymous said...

Out of the 13,285 employees of DeKalb Schools, only 7,500 are teachers while 5,800 are administrative and support personnel. 42% of our employees being administrative and support personnel is simply too high.

91% of our budget is spent on personnel while other metro systems average 85%. This creates a $54,0000,000 annual shortfall in our $900,000,000 budget. Ironically, the shortfall that Dr. Lewis is predicting in 2010-11 is $56,000,000. This figure is strikingly close to the annual shortfall we have been experiencing for years due to our abnormally high support personnel percentage.

Even though DeKalb spends a higher percentage on personnel than any other metro Atlanta system, our children do not have better pupil-teacher ratios, and our teachers' salaries are not higher. That means that we have considerably higher personnel expenditures than other systems in the administrative and support area.

We taxpayers pay taxes to educate our children, not to guarantee that all employees keep their jobs. Reduction in Force, furloughs, percentage decrease in pay, or outsourcing are all options for DeKalb Schools support personnel. These options would not impact our children's education to the extent that the items in Dr. Lewis's proposed budget would. Dr. Lewis's budget proposes cutting teachers' salaries, increasing pupil-teacher ratios, and increasing furlough days for teachers in order to keep everyone in their jobs. Increasing furlough days on a county level as well as well as a state level will eventually force us to decrease student instructional days.

Teachers are the heart and soul of children's education. Teachers as a percentage of the DeKalb County Schools has been steadily shrinking. Currently, our teachers are stretched to the breaking point as less and less personnel teach (only 58%) and more and more employees are administrative and support personnel (42%). The student is the real loser in this situation.

Cerebration said...

Excellent comment, Anon at 1:20 AM(!) If I could, I would Bold Face your whole comment! You are exactly correct. And we cannot let our leaders use the economy as an emergency reason to raise taxes and save jobs. The mission here is to educate children - not to provide administrative jobs for half of DeKalb county.

On another note -

Dr. Regina Fletcher retired in 2007?!! Someone hasn't been updating the school system's website. I'll go out on a limb and assume that the college relationship program is no more then.

Cerebration said...

Jim Walls at Atlanta Unfiltered has brought us the whole story on Sharon Barnes-Sutton --

Read it here - and weep.

Debt-ridden DK official says she spent $69K out of pocket on campaign