Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Public Budget Meeting Thursday - Plan to Attend!


If you care about how the school system spends your tax dollars and where they intend to either make cuts - or raise revenue - you won't want to miss this Thursday's meeting.

On Thursday, January 28, 2010, at 6:00 pm, the DeKalb Board of Education will hold a Public Budget Input Meeting at the DeKalb County School System's William Bradley Bryant Center of Technology, 2652 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur.

The purpose of the meeting is to receive input from the public regarding the taxpayers’ priorities in preparation for the development of the 2010--2011 school system budget. The agenda for the meeting is (below).

Meeting information can be accessed online by going to:
www.dekalb.k12.ga.us, click on Board of Education and Meeting Information.


Thomas E. Bowen, Chair
DeKalb Board of Education

It is requested that the DeKalb Board of Education adopt the January 28, 2010, public budget input meeting agenda.

Motion by: ___ Seconded by: ___ Vote: ___

By: Dr. Crawford Lewis, Superintendent


There is no advance sign up for the Public Budget Input Meeting. Individuals will be allowed to sign up the day of the meeting between 4:45- 5:45 pm. Each speaker will be allowed 2 minutes to address the Board, for a total of 30 speakers.

1. Community Informational Math Meeting (Regions 3 & 4), 8:30am, Saturday, January 30, 2010, Oakview Elementary School, 3574 Oakville Road, Decatur

2. 11th Annual Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl, 9:00am, Saturday, January 30, 2010, Miller Grove High School, 2645 DeKalb Medical Parkway, Lithonia

3. Dunwoody-Chamblee Parent Council Meeting, 8:45am, Wednesday, February 3, 2010, Vanderlyn Elementary School, 1877 Vanderlyn Drive, Dunwoody

4. Auxiliary Advisory Committee Meeting, 10:00am, Wednesday, February 3, 2010, Sam Moss Service Center, 1780 Montreal Road, Lawrenceville

5. Business Advisory Committee Meeting, 8:30am, Thursday, February 4, 2010, Robert R. Freeman Administrative Center, Building A, J. David Williamson Board Room, 3770 North Decatur Road, Decatur

6. DeKalb Board of Education Work Session & Business Meeting, 6:00pm, Monday, February 8, 2010, William Bradley Bryant Center of Technology, 2652 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur


Anonymous said...

Funny -- there WAS no mechanism for input on the budget until a few years ago (about five years, I believe). Heretofore, the administration felt that with all of the work they did prior to the spring (when the budget is tentatively adopted), there was no need for public input. When a board member raised the notion of public input, the push-back was nearly overwhelming. At the time, the super and administration reluctantly agreed to hold annual public input meetings during the last week in January.

What followed was an embarassment. Not that there was great communication on the matter, but almost no one showed up for these meetings. One year one person showed up.

I'm excited that this is a different year, and yet sad that it took a climate like this one to make it different. Things will get better. They always do. When that happens, I hope that citizens will continue to offer -- no demand -- input on the spending of their tax dollars.

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.

themommy said...

Please email your concerns about the lack of a need for new ELA textbooks to Paul Womack.

I am hearing this from faculty across the county and it is my understanding, that as chair of the budget committee, these comments need to be directed to Mr. Womack.

The state recommends that you refresh (not necessarily replace) materials every 5 years. DCSS is apparently way past that point.

However, I do believe that teachers are happy with the ELA textbooks at least in grades K-8.

So email Mr. Womack, but be sure to put something about textbooks in your subject so he will see it. I am certain they are being besieged by so many emails that it is unbelievable.


Anonymous said...

Anon 7:44. GA Law requires three public hearings in this situation (even though the millage won't be changed). The collected taxes will go up nonetheless.

This is the infamous "back door tax increase" politicians can make without getting voted out of office because citizens don't have any idea what happened.

Historically county-wide (not unique to DeKalb) property values have increased. The BOE, wanting to look like the wise financial stewards, announce there'll be "No increase in the (tax) millage rate this year".

What they don't announce is there should be a tax roll-back due since county-wide property values have increased and as such, the anticipated tax collections will be far above those from last year, hence funding the District in excess. (Albeit this year due to the economy may be the only exception, I haven't studied the numbers.)

The formula is simple: millage rate X net property assessment = taxes due. If your property value (assessment) goes up, you pay more in tax. The BOE doesn't have to adjust the millage. They are going to get more $$ regardless.

Those able to speak at the budget hearings should demand either a tax roll back, or adequate funding -- in the CLASSROOM.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree that we do not need to be purchasing new text books at this time. It's almost as if the purchase of these new textbooks are to keep people's jobs or to keep family/friends who work for the publishing companies pockets lined with dollars.

It's very sad that the district is not coming to the teachers to see what we need. We'd let them know that we do not need new books when we are in a time of crisis. We would much rather have paper and photo copies that work each and every day.

Cerebration said...

Has Language Arts really changed much in the last 50 years?

Anonymous said...

Are there any AP World History teachers out there? I heard a rumor that the County may be replacing the AP World History textbook which has only been used for a few years.

While I am no fan of this textbook, this is clearly the wrong time to order new books.

And last time I looked, the history of the world had not changed.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:48 -
The issue is a bit more complex. DeKalb's property tax based on appraisals should have fallen, but DeKalb ignored state law and didn't lower appraisals as they were supposed to.

Anon 11:04 -
A history text book that was adopted 5 years ago (2005) would likely have little to no info on 9/11 and its aftermath...having been written probably in 2002. It takes a while to write, edit, publish on the one hand. Then the adoption process takes a long time. Meanwhile, some whizbang professor writes an essay question about the implications of post-9/11 world on daily society, economy, and global culture, and the poor schools are at a disadvantage, which some private schools that adopt every other year are beating the pants off the public school kid.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:48 -- Of course three public hearings are required -- my point was that those hearings get underway only after the budget is tentatively adopted in the spring, far too late to have any "public input". If you think that the public hearing portion is the time to contribute to the budget dialogue, you're mistaken. The time is before the budget is even formally prepared -- and some would argue that it's too late even now.

When the budget is tentatively adopted, the perception among board and adminsistration is that finalization of that budget is only a formality. Also, when the budget is tentatively adopted, the legislative session is just about over, so the state has by then already voted on its spending plan -- which pretty much locks down local school districts.

In other words, you're fighting a two-front war -- the local district and the state, and you've got to accomplish your goals early on and with both bodies if you want to really influence the budget. After all, the advocacy on the local front is about what's left of the budget after the state has its say -- and we've seen the warning signs already from the Gold Dome. But the "what's left" part is pretty significant -- and worth fighting for.

You're absolutely on target with the concept of back-door increases, which allow jurisdictions to claim victory with not raising taxes when they know the mills collected will increase due to the tax digest changes. It will be interesting to see what happens this year.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:21 re: World History Textbook.

The text that DCSS is using was published in 2007, not 2005. The DCSS has changed AP texts very frequently -much more frequently than other school systems.

The current AP Text covers the 9/11 attacks. The AP curriculum and test does not try to cover every event through the present day. It generally covers modern day issues such as globalization, etc. The next course, AP US HIstory covers these in more detail.

I fail to see any reason to change texts except that it makes some textbook salesmen and publishers very, very rich.

Anonymous said...

Everyone should take note that DeKalb County CEO Ellis said yesterday that the tax digest was wrong and that the county's budget deficit was much larger than expected. If so, I wonder if the DCSS $56M shortfall is not larger than announced.

Of course, all the politicians could be crying wolf to justify a tax increase.

themommy said...

I expect that the truth about the DeKalb tax digest is somewhere between what is projected and what Ellis said.

There are neighborhoods (not small ones) that have seen more than a 50 percent drop in valuation. Even Dunwoody is at zero growth in property values.

Commercial real estate is expected to see record foreclosures in 2010.

The DeKalb tax digest will drop this year and it will drop next year as well.

Both at the school system level and at the county level, we simply can not tax ourselves out of this crisis.

Dekalbparent said...

Question about textbooks:

I don't see a reason to update ELA or math as frequently as history and the sciences - new stuff happens in these subjects and the kids need to be aware and understand.

That said, the private schools and the programs not falling under state dictates (like International Baccaluareate) use magazine and journal articles, video and lectures from knowledgeable professionals to get the new stuff in, thus avoiding buying new textbooks at the drop of a hat.

Is there a reason the rest of the teachers would not be allowed to do this? There are a lot of sources on the internet for these materials -teachers all over the country and internationally are happy to share what they have used.

Anonymous said...

The budget Meeting i very important to show representation!

The Board and District leaders must know that- yes the community wants a reduction at the district office level- BUT NOT at the expene of instruction and instructional support! Instruction should be the LAST area to cut!

By the way.... the recent street committee rumors say that Gloria Talley has bailed! Can anyone confirm????

Cerebration said...

Haven't heard anything about Gloria - but I wouldn't blame her for ditching DeKalb. She has high aspirations, IMO, and working for DCSS these days may put a big bad mark on her resume.

Cerebration said...

On another note --

According to this article from last week's AJC, there is no need for a tax increase. Dr. Lewis states in this article that he will not ask for more furlough days from teachers. Ge said that the system will save $9 million from slashing teacher's retirement contributions and $10.5 million from the 3 furlough days already taken.

As you can read below - "The remaining $1.5 million will be trimmed from other spending."

“We believe if we tighten our belts a little more we can easily find the other $1.5 million,” Lewis said.

No more furloughs for DeKalb teachers this school year

By Megan Matteucci
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

12:05 p.m. Wednesday, January 20, 2010
DeKalb County teachers will not have to take any more furlough days this school year, the superintendent announced Wednesday.

Instead the teachers will not get contributions to their tax-sheltered annuity.

“The average DeKalb teacher will save $1000 from not be furloughed three days,” Superintendent Crawford Lewis told the board Wednesday morning.

On Friday, Gov. Sonny Perdue asked teachers across Georgia to take three more days off to offset a decrease in state revenue.

The three furlough days equal about a $10.5 million budget cut for DeKalb schools.

Last year, the DeKalb board slashed contributions to all school employees’ tax-sheltered annuity. By continuing with that cut, the board will save $9 million for the rest of the school year, Lewis said.

The remaining $1.5 million will be trimmed from other spending.

“We believe if we tighten our belts a little more we can easily find the other $1.5 million,” Lewis said.

The tax-sheltered annuity contributions will be re-instated July 1, Lewis said.

Teachers have complained about the reduction in annuity contributions while Lewis continues to get his tax-sheltered annuity, along with a pay raise. Earlier this month, the board voted to raise Lewis’ salary from $240,000 to $255,000.

themommy said...


That is related to the shortfall DCSS will have for this budget year. The 56 million is for next year's budget.

The state giveth and the state taketh away -- even after they giveth. So DCSS will be getting far less money that initially thought for this year from the state.

Cerebration said...

oh. rats. boy, are we in a pickle. I hope we can get to the day where we spend a majority of our funds directly on students (teachers, classrooms, technologies, transportation and supplies) - The bloat has to be cut - we've been pleading for it for over a year. No more director of Health and Wellness. No more 450+ Curriculum Specialists. (They can go back to the classroom and teach). No more bloated IT departments. Get a grip on Sam Moss or farm out their services.

If you aren't working directly with students - or directly supporting those who do (as endorsed by a survey of teachers - stating what they find helpful) or if you don't directly control a necessary department like finance - then you are not needed.

Cerebration said...

For a link to a discussion about these very same budget cuts -- from well over a year ago - read this post -

It's Deja Vu All Over Again!

Anonymous said...

Oh but please get some new textbooks for World languages. They are soooo old that they still refer to pesetas and francs. There is no mention of the euro adopted in 2002. What a shame!!!

Anonymous said...

Folks, please try to attend this meeting and ask good questions. I have to work and can't attend but I have written the Board members -twice.

Anonymous said...

@Cere... where do folks keep getting the "400+ Curriculum Specialists" number from? This number must be including the Instructional Coaches and Lead Teachers for Special Ed.

We cannot confuse these with the content specialists. The proposed cuts and reassignments like they will reduce the district to one content specialist fr k-12. This is a model that Gwinett has gone to. Though it saves money- it significantly reduces the support that that one person can provde.

Teachers need thst one person that knows their content area in detail and can be their voice and support wuth the district, state and federal policy makers for that content area.

SongCue said...

Hey folks, this may have already been mentioned in other posts (I haven't read through all of them), but THERE IS NO ANNOUNCEMENT OF THIS MEETING ON THE DEKALB COUNTY SCHOOLS WEB SITE! I just called and urged them to put it on the front page. It's almost like they don't want anyone to come...

Anonymous said...

Please e-mail the announcement to your neighborhoods, fellow parents, etc.

Cerebration said...

Re: "400+ Curriculum Specialists"

Go to Open Georgia -


Click Salaries & Travel Reimbursements
Click your way to Organizations
Local BOEs
DeKalb County

Then download the whole Excel file

Resort the file by the column with the job descriptions and then you will see how many people have the title "Curriculum Specialist"

Anonymous said...

The meeting is listed under the Board of Education Meeting List, as they always are.

Anonymous said...

This meeting should be mentioned on the DCSS website main page, on a croll with other major announcements. Hiding it on a page where 99% of the website viewers won't think to check is disingenuos/sneaky.

Anonymous said...

It's not difficult to find. Just put your cursor on the Board of Education category and then down to the Meeting Agendas.

Cerebration said...

BTW, there was also a meeting this morning on the subject --


The DeKalb Board of Education Committee on Budget, Finance & Facilities will hold a meeting this Thursday, January 28th at 9:00am in the DeKalb County School System's J. David Williamson Board Room, at the Robert R. Freeman Administrative Center, Building A, 3770 North Decatur Road in Decatur, Georgia. The purpose of the meeting is to review Board policies and system-wide operations as it relates to finance & facilities. Meeting information can be accessed here.

Dekalb Board of Education Committee Meetings are open to the public.

For additional information about the Dekalb Board of Education (members, districts, meeting schedule, agendas, policies), click here and open the Board of Education link on the left.

To receive announcements about future meetings, contact the Board of Education secretary, Margaret Francois and ask to be added to the distribution list for Dekalb Bd. of Education meeting notices.


If anyone attends this one, please let us know what was discussed. (Gee - maybe we all need to get on Twitter - this stuff is flowing like lava these days.)

Anonymous said...

Dekalb parent said: That said, the private schools and the programs not falling under state dictates (like International Baccaluareate) use magazine and journal articles, video and lectures from knowledgeable professionals to get the new stuff in, thus avoiding buying new textbooks at the drop of a hat.

Er, no. At both of the private schools my kids have attended, the parents are required to buy text books for their child every year. They are not re-used from year to year, but if you are lucky and they have not changed the books (about 1/2 of the time) you might be able to buy some of them used from the class just ahead of you.