Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This just in..."DeKalb schools propose cuts in programs, teacher pay"

(Make a real difference and contact the Board of Education. Click HERE, and click on "stay engaged" at the last paragraph to e-mail each Board of Education member. Thanks John Heneghan!)

It is time for taxpayers and parents demand that the DCSS Central Office be forced to make real cuts. The Transportation Dept. and Info. Systems are two bloated examples. The Sam Moss Center staff is extremely ineffective with the most basic of maintenance, such as HVAC, roofing and grounds. The Athletics Dept. desperately needs to have a forensic audit. Poor spending choices for worthless products such as eSIS and America's Choice. An administration which doesn't even have a list of all the facilities it owns. Nepotism is out on control at DCSS.

And as Cere has pointed out before, here is where the cuts have to be made first by the BOE, to Gloria Talley's Army: 72 "Instructional Supervisors" at a cost of almost $6.4 million - plus 473 "Instructional Specialists" totaling $23.9 million

Crawford Lewis (when not issuing letters to all DCSS employees defending a principal who changed test scores and is now a convicted criminal for doing so, and when not making up unnecessary new departments like Corporate Wellness led by Yvonne Bulter, with no previous experience in public health) is clearly not the person who should be leading the downsizing of DCSS. He created the bloated, wasteful mess as superintendent, and before that, as part of the upper management inner circle. Johnny Brown was on his way to serious downsize the DCSS Central Office, and the overpaid Central Office administrators turned on him, and convinced the weak and blind BOE to let him go.

How dare he propose that teachers take 5 percent pay cut, right after he demanded to the BOE an increase for his salary and ridiculously high expense account, and after he was allowed to purchase a DCSS vehicle for one-third of its book value. How dare you, Crawford Lewis.

DeKalb schools propose cuts in programs, teacher pay
By Megan Matteucci
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
5:29 p.m. Wednesday, January 20, 2010

DeKalb County pre-kindergarten classes, magnet schools and art courses will be slashed and teachers will likely see another pay cut to offset a $56 million deficit in the school system.

The only other option is to raise property taxes, DeKalb Superintendent Crawford Lewis said Wednesday.

Either way, students, teachers and administrators will feel the pinch next year.

On Wednesday, Lewis outlined several budget proposals to help trim $56 million from next year’s budget, which starts July 1.

A loss in revenue from declining property taxes and state aid caused the shortfall, he said.

The school board will spend the next few months deciding whether to raise property taxes or slash employees’ salaries through furloughs or a pay decrease.

“No one will lose their job,” Lewis told the board Wednesday. “But some employees will be offered a different position.”

Lewis said his goal is to avoid a property tax hike by trimming programs which have low attendance.

"We’re trying to be sensitive to people who are out of work, lost their homes to foreclosure and are struggling,” he said.

At 22.98 mills, DeKalb already has the third highest school tax rate in the metro area, according to Lewis.

Lewis’ proposal calls for teachers to take seven furlough days next school year or a 5 percent pay cut, an annual loss of about $3,200 for the average teacher. Administrators would take 15 furlough days under the proposal.

Bus drivers, custodians and cafeteria workers would not be affected. Substitute teachers would have their salary cut from $90 to $80 a day.

Those reductions would be in addition to about $11 million in cuts to school programs, including magnet and Montessori schools, classes at Fernbank Science Center, standardized testing in first and second grades, single gender schools and Lithonia Charter School and DeKalb Early College Academy. Summer school classes would be offered online only and half of the 104-pre-kindergarten classes would be cut. The state lottery funds pre-K teachers but not paraprofessionals, Lewis said.

The superintendent’s proposal also calls for 45 administrators in the central office to be transferred to schools, where they will become teachers.

The proposal also calls for cuts in the ranks of paraprofessionals, assistant principals and counselors. Once positions become vacant, they will not be filled.

Some board members said they would rather see a tax increase than cuts to teacher pay and programs.

If the board raises property taxes 1 mill, teachers would only face two furlough days or a 1.25 percent pay cut. The tax increase would cost a homeowner with a property valued at $200,000, about $68 more a year.

Board member Eugene Walker suggested the board raise taxes 2 mills, which would raise the average homeowner’s tax bill by about $135 more a year.

The county commission is also considering raising property taxes.

Teachers said they understand everyone will feel the effects of the recession and they are willing to take a cut. But they don’t understand why their furloughs are coming at the same time Lewis is getting a raise.

“Dr. Lewis just doesn’t get it with this pay issue,” said David Schutten, president of Organization of DeKalb Educators. “We’re willing to pitch in, but that continues to irk all of the employees.”

Earlier this month, the board voted to raise the superintendent’s pay from $240,000 to $255,000 and extend his contract to 2013.

On Wednesday, Lewis defended his raise and pointed out that he voluntarily took a pay cut last year.

“I don’t know any other superintendent who did that,” Lewis said. “Nothing I can say would be sufficient for anybody. If the board thought I was not a good deal, they would have gone outside and hired someone else.”

Despite the proposed cuts for next year, teachers said they are happy not to have to take any more furlough days this school year. Instead, they will not get contributions to their tax-sheltered annuity.

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 in DeKalb, the state’s third largest school district.

Last year, the DeKalb board halted 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.

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


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Anonymous said...

These proposed cuts seemed designed to make parents demand a tax increase. Cutting Pre-K will get a lot of press and no one screams louder than the magnet parents....

Does anyone know how much each mil in DeKalb earns for schools?

Paula Caldarella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paula Caldarella said...

Here is the link to budget plan:

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe Crawford Lewis is proposing that teachers take a five percent pay cut. He has increased the number of administrators by a huge amount, and now he wants teachers to sacrafice for the kingdom he built for himself.

Parents: We are going to lose so many good, experienced teachers at the end of this school year. It makes me for the first time want to support vouchers. Please tell me our BOE is perceptive enough to realize that we need a new superintendent and upper management.

Anonymous said...

the AJC article mentions cutting standardized tests in 1st and 2nd grade. Does this mean no more 1st and 2nd grade CRCT? It's a test not mandated by the NCLB legislation. If this is the case it's certainly the only good news I've heard in a long while.

Are we really facing all these furloughs and cuts over $135/year for those wealthy enough to own a $200K home (yes that means you are wealthy)? Up the millage rate and be done with it!

Anonymous said...

It is time that the board look at real budget cuts and see where they can save real money. We have bloat in our administration, unnecessary programs, and schools with many vacant spaces. We have expensive programs that we cannot afford and that do not work (Esis and America's Choice).

Raising taxes is not the answer when the district is wasting money. As a teacher, tax payer, and parent, the board of ed needs to make serious budget cuts, not just cut salaries. They need to seek out the waste and slash it. No one likes to do it. My family is going to have to do this again. Other families that have people out of work have had to do it. It's now the board of eds job to do this. Make serious cuts. Have teachers teach beyond the standards and provide our children with a quality education.

I am all for vouchers, as at least I would have to pay both taxes and for private school, so that my child can really learn. I wouldn't mind an increase in my taxes if the board of ed was running lean. They however, are not. They are running the system like money is falling from the sky or there is a golden goose in the Central Office.

This is a very sad day in DeKalb. I hope that if administrators take a pay that it means that Lewis has to take one as well.

I did not go into teaching to get rich, but I did expect respect and the ability to actually provide my children with an education. I am one of the teachers leaving at the end of the year. I am not old enough to retire, but realize that DCSS is not making the education of the county's children it's first priority. I will be homeschooling my child and will continue to talk to parents about the Virtual School and other options that they have in providing their child with a quality education despite the Board of Ed and Dr. Lewis.

Anonymous said...

This has reached the breaking point. A tax increase is unacceptable. Lewis built up a huge administration, and now he is going to try to force the Board of Education to raise taxes. It is time for the Lewis administration to end and end now.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:29 The BOE needs to make serious budget cuts along with teacher salaries before they ask me or any other tax payer to pay more in taxes for a system that isn't working or educating our children. My home's value has ne down, because of the poor school system and the foreclosures in the Southern part of the county. A hard look at our budget and one can easily seek where to make cuts. We're not talking rocket science here.

Anonymous said...

I knew we were in trouble when the first official communication from Dr. Lewis had grammatical errors!
And can anybody forget the "collard"

Anonymous said...

"Board member Eugene Walker suggested the board raise taxes 2 mills, which would raise the average homeowner’s tax bill by about $135 more a year."

What???!!! You've lost my vote Gene Walker. No one in the Board of Ed is serious about reducing the bloat. Increasing taxes is the weak easy way out. We taxpayers are not going to allow an increase for a school system with shrinking enrollment and a poor, underperforming, bloated management.

Paula Caldarella said...

the AJC article mentions cutting standardized tests in 1st and 2nd grade. Does this mean no more 1st and 2nd grade CRCT

It means no ITBS and Cogat.

Paula Caldarella said...

Some sad news from Stone Mountain High School. 3 students were hit by a car near the school this afternoon. One female student was killed.

Anonymous said...

Lewis didn't mind cutting 127 jobs in June....and he will cut many, many more this time around. We all are in trouble. There is no way he will save jobs by having all these admin positions. Those salaries must be paid and who's gonna pay them..we are and this is wrong.
There is no way property taxes will increase with the current property values dropping. I think the BOE need to exercise the fire CLewis clause of his contract immediately or we recall the BOE. Let's make this happen.
Whis is DCSS the only one's making these decisions so soon after the Governor's announcement. Have they truly thought this plan through?

Anonymous said...

Raising taxes is not the answer when there is bloat and waste in the budget and especially in Central Administration. It is irresponsible.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what the reference in the link to 7 period days (4 schools) means? Does this mean Dunwoody will be moving to a 7 period day?

Anonymous said...

A true leader doesn't ask others to do something that he himself is unwilling to do.

Lewis is a gold digger.

Anonymous said...

I have lived in this county a long time. I cannot believe the school superintendent and BOE member Gene Walker would have the nerve to propose raising property taxes by $235 per year. There are so many administrators in the system that need to have their positions deleted. I have read on this blog that there are less students in the system than five years ago. I can not fathom the gall to propose a property tax increase in these uncertain economic times. My wife and I are furious.

Anonymous said...

I support our teachers. And I cannot afford a property tax increase. The DCSS Central Office must be cut back severely, and become a lean and mean machine. No Executive Director of Corporate Wellness. No more fancy gym's next to the admin office. No more spending $500,000 on a judge to do an internal investigation when Ron Ramsey has a full staff. No more Directors becoming Executive Directors (Tony Hunter).

The county gov't is also considering a property tax increase. This madness needs to end and end now.

Anonymous said...

The BOE will raise your taxes if it'll keep their friends, family, and Lewis employed. Not much for them to pay individually (<$300/yr) to be able to give away numerous $100K+ salaries, and keep their campaigns fully funded by "friendly" developers or vendors of DCSS.

If you're serious about getting rid of them, you need to put a real plan in place -- they already are working on theirs for re-election.

Anonymous said...

We need to look at the number of people making six figure salaries first, ask them for pay cuts or early retirement. I am sick of the county elevating principals to county jobs in which they have no expertise! Next look at the magnet busing program. If you choose not to go to your community school, you need to transport your child. Take a look at how our school district is laid out and make some tough decisions! They only did a partial job the last time. They can't even supply decent cleaning supplies to schools and some PTA's are fortunate enough to be able to help supplement what the county will not buy. DO NOT cut the ARTS anymore!!! Take a good hard look at the stipends being paid out and if people are doing their jobs. I have one more child to get through this mess and I hope we both survive.

Anonymous said...

I am an educator in a school. You cannot be around students all day and not take them into your heart. We have a tremendous trust.In the midst of all that may happen, please remember to pray for the educators in our school system. Pray for Stone Mountain High School and the tragic loss that they suffered today.Pray for the family of the student. Life is such a wonderful gift. We need the support of all our parents.Pray that the right decisions are made.

Anonymous said...

The time has come Dekalb. We can no longer afford the costly programs that serve a small number. Yes, that means magnets and special interests. Not just the precious bus transportation that takes children to opposite end of the county. And, the time has come for the costly programs at the county to go - positions and wellness programs. The idea that teachers would face a 5% paycut while these things remain in place is an absolute travesty.. Wake up parents, you will lost some incredibly talented teachers in the classroom if you don't examine the luxury services first. I hope that this blog will provide direct advice on who and how to communicate a lack of tolerance for this prudent approach.

Anonymous said...

It's not about administrators taking pay cuts. It's about dramatically cutting back the number of administrators in the first place.

We're in a vicious cycle. We need to get people living in all the foreclosed and unsold houses in the county to raise revenue, but who wants to live in DeKalb with such a poorly run school system?

All I know is that a tax increase in a non-starter.

Anonymous said...

Martin Luther King High School - is a stinky school.

We need to cut waste and take care of our buildings. This is no surprise to me, but very disturbing after the call for raising taxes.

Our home values will go down further down if taxes are raised.

fedupindcss said...

Notwithstanding the fact that Lewis has a PR tin-ear and should have his pay cut, there is a lot of bloat in DCSS. Not just in the central office (obvious) but the magnet/theme schools eat up a huge amount of money for a small number of students. Do I think the programs have merit? Sure. But when you are faced with state cutbacks and a falling tax base, the icing goes before the cake.

I would also argue that decreasing the graduation credits (DCSS requires more than most colleges ask to matriculate) would save money, too. The state Regents would need to be brought in, but I would rather have 6 solid periods of education than spread the curriculum thinner in the supposed name of "rigor."

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what the reference in the link to 7 period days (4 schools) means? Does this mean Dunwoody will be moving to a 7 period day?

SongCue said...

YES, DeKalb County citizens MUST hold the DeKalb school board and superintendent accountable. They've made disastrous decisions. But we also MUST pay attention to the goings-on at the state capitol! In the middle of the worst recession in years, the general assembly and governor are considering CUTTING TAXES! From what agencies are they planning to make these cuts? They don't seem to connect the success (or failure) of the state and a well educated population. So please, folks, call your school board member and register your ire, but also contact your state legislators!.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to move.

SongCue said...

The arts are essential to a complete education. I'm quite willing to defend their necessity anytime. However, DeKalb high schools who operate on the 4 X 4 block schedule are losing their performing arts programs. Band, orchestra, and chorus cannot exist one semester at a time and most students cannot afford the room in their schedules to take them all year.

We need to work out creative ways to keep students in these classes all year: partner performing arts classes with other classes that would benefit from year-round instruction, for instance (World languages, or math for instance).

We have a lot of problems that require creative solutions, folks. But I urge you to fight for the arts programs at your schools. For some students, the arts define them, like science and writing do for others.

That was the case for me and it made going to school worth it. Not to mention the fact that many colleges offer scholarships in the fine arts.

Anonymous said...

Dekalb teachers heard last week in an emergency meeting there would be no cuts in the "school house". How can you cut art programs and keep the teachers? What in the world will they be doing? Taking over for those ineffective classroom teachers? No way!

The arts may be the only way to give a child self esteem and self worth. If we cut the arts, we are taking away their basic right to a quality and well rounded education.
The Board better do something fast or I'm "outta there" and taking my child with me!!

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable - If you have not taken a look at the power point
( thanks for the link ) you should do so. So,magnet schools and other special interest schools lose " points" and the request is for regular classroom numbers to go higher. In case you aren't aware that translates into a few teachers for them when the ratio is already what at Wadsworth 1-18? Give me a break. Time to level the playing field Dekalb. Teachers deserve more from you, I like the arts and high acheiving programs as much as the next guy but when it comes to tightening the belt, those should be the first to go. Course, they are petrified of those parents and I can't see them stepping up to the plate. Unfortunately, parents will not educate themselves on the inequalities and this will be another snow job by DCSS. Anyone know how much it costs to operate some of these programs? and what % of the Dekalb Co students actually qualify or get them?

Anonymous said...

This is grim, and some teachers may be a little unfocused tomorrow.

What's worth protecting? The stuff that works- high achiever magnet, performing arts magnet, Fernbank STT, art classes. These programs may not reach every student, but they create the differentiated opportunities that a large system like DeKalb needs to be able to offer and merit saving

No mention made here of redistricting or school closures. I thought that would be a big piece of the financial picture. What about furloughs this year to save money for next?

As someone already noted, a weak school system with overcrowded classrooms and a diminished arts and high achiever program isn't going to do anything for sagging property values. Make the cuts outside the schoolhouse.

Anonymous said...

The Sam moss Center is a waste. They have too many people that sit and do nothing. Why would you need
Directors, Assistant Directors, Coordinators, Managers,Skill Trade super,Admin. Assistants, foremans just to name a few. This is why that can't anything repaired at the schools every body is in the office.

Ella Smith said...

Hard decisions have to be made. I do not like for anyone to lose their job but a school system is a business and it should be run like a business. Dekalb County is short on money. The School System in my opinion should change the block schedule to the original schedule and this will enable them to make some cuts in teachers at the high school level. The School System must clean out the bloat at the Central Office. However, the bloat is in certain areas (like Instruction)and not throughout the whole central office. Some departments are much leaner than other departments.

The School Super also gets bonuses I believe which are approved by the school board based on his performance. Dr. Lewis meet 46% of his checkpoints or standards and apparently still received his bonus by analyzing the data provided to us by Celebration. I had heard that he received his bonus and had only meet 46% of the goals. However, this is the first real indication this might be true.

We all need to also remember all the money sent all of the money taken in through our millage rate that is sent to poorer counties. This is money we pay taxes on and our children do not see.

We need a lean school system and the school board need to stop making excuses and make the hard decisions. This may mean individuals may lose jobs. The Dekalb County School System has to be run like a business and our money used wisely for the benifit of the students and not as a employment service.

Hammer Time said...

It's beyond outrageous that a few days after demanding and receiving a phat pay raise, the highest paid employee in DCSS would propose a tax increase or program/pay cuts. This superintendent and his school board have got to go. NOW.

Anonymous said...

In November, a math teacher told me that she had to redecorate her classroom to make space for the “paraphernalia” mandated of the instructional specialist who is coming to make a “focus walk”. What is “focus walk” you ask. Well---it’s a 5-minutes or less “inspection” visit by “instructional specialist” armed with a 5 to 10 items checklist! Wham-Bam-Thank you-Ma’am.

(Does any anyone have a focus walk checklist to share?)

These inspections take place once or twice per semester. Once they are over, the teacher redecorates her room until the next one….. What a waste….What an interruption…and for what?

People: we are paying “instructional specialists” $100 000+ to disrupt this poor teacher’s teaching!

Think about it---If the principal is competent as DCSS claims on high, would she not be able to properly monitor her own teachers? Hire competent principals and “thou shalt not need instructional specialists”!

Vox Noctae

Anonymous said...

Few students qualify for these programs. Theme schools in elementary have a cap at 20 children in a class and kids do not come in and out like a regular school. So a class could have less than 20 if a child leaves. Theme schools, magnet schools, the schools of the arts need to be seriously looked at. We need to ask ourselves if we can really afford these programs, while regular ed classrooms have larger and larger class sizes.

Education needs to be rethought in DeKalb. Right now it is not a priority. We cannot afford to give some kids a private school type education on a public school budget. We cannot afford huge class sizes and schools that are not full. If this happens we are looking at lower property values for our homes. Good luck getting out of the county then.

Anonymous said...

Consider this morale booster:

To save money in 2010, DCSS demotes a $100 000 a year “instructional specialist” from 2009-2010 to a job paying $65 000 in 2010-2011 with a $100 000 pay check for 2010-2011???

So 2010-2011, we have an “ex-instructional specialist” in room A200 making $100 000 teaching Math 2 next to a 20 year veteran making $65 000 in room A-201?

Hmmm…..Where is the savings? Ah, yes—from the “new math teacher” we did not have to hire in 2010-2011.

Vox Notae

Anonymous said...

Anon !
10:02 - Just can't agree with you about fighting for special interest programs that serve a small percentage at high cost. I would think that a greater majority of current and potential dekalb county residents would look for solid achieving schools across the county, not bragging rights for a small percentage of the children. Yes, include the arts and the challenging academics but include them in their home setting.

Anonymous said...

In an effort to allow more DCSS students to graduate on time (is that a NCLB requirement or is it a Superintendent bonus goal?), DCSS is offering much more courses to the students than needed.

a. With the standard 6-period day with 6 classes at 1 credit each over 4 years, a student would earn 24 credits.

b. With the 7-period day with 7 classes at 1 credit each over 4 years, a student would earn 28 credits.

c. With the standard block schedule 8 classes at 1 credit each over 4 years, a student would earn 32 credits.

Supposing DCSS requires 24 credits to graduate, a student failing just 1 class would need summer school or online class to graduate under the 6-period day—right?

Under the block or 7-period schedules, that student can fail and repeat up to 3 classes (teachers & counselors: tell me if I am wrong!!) without having to attend summer school or online school.

Which is cheaper? Provide “built-in” graduation buffers (that is funding 3 more classes per high school student) or provide for if needed/as needed free or subsidized summer school classes for ONLY those who need it?

Vox Noctae

Cerebration said...

SongCue is correct. We need to be really disappointed in the state too. The basic QBE funding they provide per "FTE" (regular ed student) is down to $2,715.64. (The actual amount is higher, due to special education and gifted students who count for a higher FTE.) The revenue from the state makes up 43% of DCSS operating budget. 56% comes from property taxes.

The cumulative loss of revenue from the state due to the austerity reductions of the past 5 years amounts to $109,833,928 and is predicted to go up to $123,998,966 in 2010.

Think about it though. Since Lewis took charge, on top of the decline in FTE contributions, we have lost 2.924 students. Granted, some of them were Katrina victims who have gone back home, but we went from a high of 102,330 students in 2005 to our current 99,406 students. 2924 students X $2,715.64 reimbursed by the state at the lowest reimbursement is a minimum loss of $7,940,531.36 - about $8 million. Somehow, though, the administration has still managed to grow over those same years. Some say this is due to Title 1 jobs, but that is difficult to know.

Bottom line. We have fewer students and are collecting less money per student for their education. This is a recipe for disaster.

The only measures to take involve cuts. Not little bitty pay cuts per person - but actual elimination of jobs and special programs - consolidation of schools - and a severe tightening of the money belt. So far, Lewis seems to have taken the easiest route - take bits from the teachers and staff and cut the transportation.

But this is a short-term solution. We must make and live with the tough decisions - long-term money savers. I hope our board and Lewis have the guts to make the cuts!

It's On said...

I'll pay higher property taxes to support a decent public school system. But DCSS is NOT a decent public school system. The BoE has failed to do it's job. There are way too many 'administrators' making way too much money to do absolutely nothing. And the Superintendent is grossly overpaid and has failed to accomplish anything meaningful during his tenure. If these indecent morally bankrupt degenerates attempt a tax increase to pay for waste, fraud and abuse, I will consider it an act of war. And if it's a war they want, it's a war they're going to get.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 7:34--if you're still here, can you share more about Virtual School, or where to find more?

I'm trying to interpret this proposal to send some 45 administrators to the classroom. As someone pointed out, will they take their administrative salary with them? Not only will that be a morale problem, but the only thing that will be saved is their jobs, not any money. It sounds good, until you realize all that's going on is protecting 45 positions that ought to just be cut (if we don't need these 45 people administrating to the extent they can all be assigned to the classroom, how much do we need these people, and their higher than classroom salaries?)

Anonymous said...

Following my point at 10:26, here's the reference:

"The superintendent’s proposal also calls for 45 administrators in the central office to be transferred to schools, where they will become teachers.

The proposal also calls for cuts in the ranks of paraprofessionals, assistant principals and counselors. Once positions become vacant, they will not be filled."

I don't know about y'all but that reads to me like Crawford just identified, inadvertently, a whole lot of positions he knows full well are unnecessary.

Cerebration said...

I would say that you do what the corporations are doing. Relieve people of their current duties and then they can reapply for a job - at a much lower salary.

We have 5 directors of curriculum instruction at a cost of $438,500.00, 72 "Instructional Supervisors" at a cost of almost $6.4 million - plus 473 "Instructional Specialists" totaling $23.9 million, yet we have children who do not have art, music and PE teachers - they're entitled to one of each - they shouldn't have to choose.

These people can be cut out - or at least half of them - and then they can reapply for teaching positions at regular teacher pay. In fact, perhaps we could actually raise all teacher pay - and actually attract the best and brightest teachers in metro ATL. That's the ONLY way to build a "premier" school system - through great teachers. Teachers are the key.

Anonymous said...

Georgia Cyber Acadmey:

Google group:

I have looked that the K-12 curriculum extensively and it is a rigorous curriculum that is better than what I am teaching in my DCSS elementary classroom. You get everything that you need for the year (we're talking tons of boxes). If your child needs a microscope, you get one in your box for the year. Some materials are sent back (k-12 expense not your expense), and others you can keep.

Cerebration said...

Anon - here is the link to the GA Virtual Academy - I know students who have taken courses here. It's much better than DeKalb's online academy.
GA Virtual Academy

Also, a year ago, we posted an article called, Options to DCSS - read here for some affordable ideas -

Options to DCSS

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:29 Yes Lewis is talking of putting high paid employees back into the classroom, but are they going to earn classroom teacher salary or their over priced Central Office salary?

Cere is right. We need to let these people go and allow them to apply for a job at the lower rate if they so desire.

My fear is that we are moving people around and not lowering the amount of money that we are paying for over priced salaries.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Cere

Cerebration said...

Here are some Oct 09 enrollment numbers that require some discussion -

Wadsworth ES - 185 students (with a full admin staff)
Livsey - 357 students
Sky Haven - 308 students
Peachcrest - 333 students

Stephenson HS - 1783 students (capacity = 2200)
Clarkston HS - 1001 students (capacity = 1364)
Towers HS - 1007 (capacity 1430)
Columbia HS - 1294 (capacity = 1474)

Destiny Learning Academy - a very special high school with around 100 at-risk students. Very expensive per pupil cost. ($13,000 or so)

DECA (DeKalb Early College Academy) 200 students

Gateway to College - 100 students

(Could those two be combined?)

Can we sell off some buildings?

The old offices (A/B admin)

Heritage ES

The old DSA/Open Campus on Druid Hills

Close Chamblee and combine with a master campus at Cross Keys - combine construction budgets - they would all enjoy an auditorium then.

Some of the buildings we currently lease for minimal rent?

Some of the elementary schools that were closed within the last few years that are sitting empty - causing blight?

SongCue said...

Well, folks. No matter where you stand on the issues, one thing is clear: we need to take action. If you regularly blog on this site, email 5 friends and ask them to read the AJC article and the posts on our blog.

Then, you and your five friends write a letter to your board of education representatives (remember you have two--one local and one at-large). Be specific about what you want. Jay Cunningham, Jim Redovian, Sarah Copelin-Wood, Zepora Roberts, and Eugene Walker are all up for re-election.

Contact your state legislators, as well.

Please inform your neighbors, as well. Even if they don't have children in the school system, they deserve to know that their taxes are not being spent well.

Finally, attend or watch the school board meetings. Sign up to make a public comment at the first meeting of each month by contacting the school board office at 678-676-0011. My brain is not fully engaged and I can't remember the name of the school board clerk. Perhaps someone else can post her name and email address.

Also, besides the budget, today's called BOE meeting dealt with the crowds (!) they're expecting at the combined Work/Business meetings scheduled on February 8 and April 12. Both meetings will be held at the Brad Bryant building on Lawrenceville Highway, not the usual school board room. (Normally the Work Sessions are held the first Monday of the month, often at sites around the county).

Our schools need our support! Let's be productive for the sake of our children and their teachers.

Anonymous said...

On the budget proposal, 4-day week during June & July for 12-month employees, why not 3-day weeks for DCSS central office administrators making over $100 000 a year?

One they never worked a full week; two, they do not need any more days to make a ton of UNNECESSARY work to surprise teachers during pre-planning in 2010-2011!!

Come on! Do they really need the summer cheerleading camps for Assistant Principals and Principals that they put on at the Evergreen or other venues?

Vox Noctae

Anonymous said...

Burrell Ellis wants to raise the millage rate by 1.86 and Lewis wants to also raise it by .5 to 1.0. So our leaders are talking about a substantial tax increase.

The administration claims that 127 jobs were eliminated last year but I thought many of those were empty, unfilled FTEs and part time staff. Someone might file an Open Records Act request to obtain a list of the 127 positions that were eliminated.

Does anyone know for sure whether a $100,000+ administrator would still make their full salary if they returned to the classroom? And frankly, if they have been gone for any length of time, I wonder how successful they would be as a teacher. C Lewis seems to still be trapped in his bubble world that DCSS is a "family" and those who surround him need to be protected. It is a huge business for crying out loud. If 45 folks are not needed in admin, then many of these just need to be let go.

And how does the DCSS teachers' retirement work? Do teachers get a typical retirement check plus an annuity check? Plus healthcare?

I "might" be willing to pay more taxes but first I need a whole lot more information about why main office positions are not being eliminated.

Anonymous said...

Good job O&T--thanks for contributing real numbers on Talley's "supervisors" etc. WTF do those people do that is so damn important as to require all taxpayers to raise taxes and teachers tolose pay and retirement?

We need a legal defense fund for the Southeastern Legal Foundation to sue these people again.

Cerebration said...

"The superintendent’s proposal also calls for 45 administrators in the central office to be transferred to schools, where they will become teachers."

I'm very curious. Really, do they keep their pay and cause more morale problems by teaching side by side with veteran teachers making less?

Also - do we actually need 45 teachers? I haven't seen postings for teachers anywhere lately. What are they going to teach?

Are they perhaps replacing the soon to be displaced parapros???

I'm not following this one.

Anonymous said...

What we were told in our meeting is that if you are moved down to another position with a lower pay, you will be able to keep your upper money pay for 1 year. The next school year 2111-2112 your pay would go own to match the position that you are doing.

Anonymous said...

OK. I have reading this blog for a long time and have never commented. I just used it as a way to educate myself.

Here is what I see that really hurts me as a parent, tax payer, and especially a teacher. I read go ahead and cut arts, go ahead and cut magnet (ok, have to agree with you there), the system needs to cut the bloat (still have to agree).

But I notice that Cere and OT and Dunwoody Mom are regular bloggers and there are many anon's (I am one too but I am a teacher). No where do I see anyone saying that they are going to email their board member monthly, weekly, daily, hourly. I am not trying to name you out. I think what you are doing is awesome. We just need to get it out to more people.

In fact, there are several board members that do not read this blog. They know it is there but they do not read it.

Take what you find and can prove and email them daily. They have to listen to us or they will lose their jobs.

I don't care if your friends are private or public. We all pay. 70% of our taxes go to the schools. I have friend who moan and complain about their county tax bill, but they quickly forget that only 30% goes to the county.

I am sorry but it is to easy to say, I leaving the county, or I am going the private route.

We are the United States of America and we are here today because we fought for our freedom. Why are so many of you going to take this budget cut lying down? Where is your fight?

Yes, I email my reps weekly. It's my money I would like to know where it is being spent. I do not see it in my childs classroom. Nor mine.

Here are some links for you to make it easier to email you board rep.

For your School Board Reps.

For State Sen. Fran Miller

For State Sen. Mike Jacobs

Paula Caldarella said...

So,magnet schools and other special interest schools lose " points"

I agree with this one. So, Kittredge will lose one of their band teachers. I think that's fair. Why should Kittredge have 2 when others schools have none? These magnet schools and theme schools should not have access to more than the "regular" schools.

Paula Caldarella said...

However, DeKalb high schools who operate on the 4 X 4 block schedule are losing their performing arts programs. Band, orchestra, and chorus cannot exist one semester at a time and most students cannot afford the room in their schedules to take them all year.

This, along with the lack of year-round Math, were the common complaints I heard among Dunwoody HS parents at the December meeting that was held to discuss scheduling options.

themommy said...

I think they expect that many of the 45, whom I sure they will select in large part based on their eligibility to retire, will quit rather than teach.

If they don't retire, then they will have one year at their current salary before it readjusts. Then they will retire. LOL

It seems like a lot of teachers to replace, given that we aren't growing and there are going to be 50 Pre-K teachers out of work as well.

DCSS (and other school systems across the country) had seen a real decline in the number of teachers retiring/quitting the lats two years. While the quitting part probably won't change, there aren't many jobs out there, with the improvement in the stock market, many eligible to retire might once again have the confidence to do so.

That said, I know that there are schools with unearned teachers out there who were suppose to be moved to other schools this year and positions were never found. They had contracts and DCSS honored those contracts. If they do the same thing this upcoming year, it will really cut into the savings.

Even with a one MIL increase in property taxes, I think the situation is grim. It is a new reality for schools across the country. I read an article about one state where education funding is being cut to levels not seen since the 1980s. Wow.

As an aside, from what we see so far, the cuts to the central office staff are not nearly deep enough. There should be far fewer secretaries, bookkeepers, and yes even people in HR, since we will be doing less hiring. This might be layoffs, but that might just be required.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom:
"So, Kittredge will lose one of their band teachers. I think that's fair. Why should Kittredge have 2 when others schools have none? These magnet schools and theme schools should not have access to more than the "regular" schools."

I think I need some education on this one.

I have long been of the opinion that not much about the magnet/special interest areas of DCSS are " fair ". The magnet schools ( I thought ) have always had a significantly different level of access to many things than us so called " regular folks". By that I mean, foreign language, music, after school tutoring, and the ever important teacher/student ratio.

I may be misinformed but I think that the ratio is in the teens ( 18ish at Kittridge and Wadsworth ) while we regular folks can have in the 30 range. Something about this just doesn't make sense.... And yes, the parents will, no doubt, protest loudly to lose one music teacher.. This needs to be examined closely, I am not sure that Dekalb can truly afford to make expensive " school choices " anymore.

Can someone please post what the ratio is and what the expenditures are for these schools?
Yes, these are very difficult decisions. But these are difficult times...

Will parents allow their class sizes to increase, watch as their minimal level of art and language disappear while a small number of students get it all ? When it comes to administration, if there is a group that they are reluctant to cross it is this group. Perhaps the comment about the areas being cut ( Pre k , magnet and arts ) were designed to make a tax increase more palatable ? This first comment might have been rather on target?

Paula Caldarella said...

I believe the Pre-K positions being eliminated would be the para-professinals? What do the para's for Pre-K do? The Pre-K classes are a max of 20 students, do the teachers really need assistants?

themommy said...

I would never ever send my child to a pre-k program with 20 kids and one teacher. It would be utter chaos and in fact, I don't think it is allowed under day care standards in GA. I actually think that GA Pre-K pays an amount that, in private day cares, pays for two teachers. DeKalb has chosen to pay pre-k teachers the same, or about the same, as other teachers, thus the issue.

They are proposing to eliminate half the classes -- Cobb eliminated Pre-K last year, Gwinnett has never had it in the schools and Fulton has only had it on a space available situation, so it has never been at all their schools.

Paula Caldarella said...

DeKalb has chosen to pay pre-k teachers the same, or about the same, as other teachers, thus the issue.

Do the Pre-K teachers have to actual certified teachers? If so, I can understand paying them the same amount as other teachers. They are in school the same amount of time.

themommy said...

If you want to get really ill, up until this year, KMS had two band teachers, two orchestra teachers, and two art teachers (not to mention 3 German teachers). There were to lose one each of band, art and orchestra. Two went to other DeKalb schools, one was unable to find a job and remains.

There are about 100 Magnet teachers in DCSS. These are positions that totally funded by local dollars. (This means that these are above and beyond state earned positions so no state funding.) Using Dr. Lewis' average teacher salary as 65K, this means magnets points are costing 6.5 million at a minimum.

On top of this, there use to be extra per pupil dollars spent on magnet students. I do not know if this remained in last year's budget.

DCSS is still spending over 2 million a year on choice transportation.

To me, it isn't as much about dollars (though it is now) about the inherent inequities when so many schools have done without. There are about 10 elementary schools that don't have music this year. Dr. Lewis will (and has) said that those schools have a choice of how to "spend" those points, but when a principal is choosing between a reading specialist or a music teacher, that isn't a choice.

When these discussions have occurred in the past, magnet advocates have always screamed about waste in the system. They are right. Far more than 45 positions need to be cut from the central office. Layoffs of personnel may be necessary. (Sorry, but it is true.)

But at the end of the day, we need minimum standards for all our schools before so few benefit from so much.

Anonymous said...

The great John Heneghan made it very, very easy for us to e-mail the Board of Ed. Go to this post on his fine blog:

At the last paragraph, click on "stay engaged", and it will pop up an e-mail with all of the BOE addresses ready to go.

Thanks John!

Someone brought up a point about the downsizing Crawford was trumpeting a while back. I heard that not nearly as many employees took early retirement as expected. I do not recall any updates about this from the Superintendent. Just like he brought up re-districting, and nothing came of it.

Our Board of Ed enables this waffling. Crawford Lewis "talks" a fine game, but never produces any results. if you are associated with a neighborhood association or any such organization, please invite BOE members to come speak at your meetings. They need to come to us and justify if they are going to raise our property taxes.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, the link to his blog is:

Anonymous said...

A lot of people don't know about this blog, but they would be furious if they found out that their property taxes were going to increase for a school system that has a shrinking enrollment and an expanding number of administrators and out of control nepotism.

Pleae spread the word out this post and blog. No property tax increase!! And sell surplus properties!!

Anonymous said...

I would not mind a tax increase if I thought they would spend the money responsibly, but history says that they will not!

Cerebration said...

Yes, they do need assistants in Pre-K. In fact, I've never seen a private preschool with a classroom of 4 year olds with just one teacher. They all have an assistant. These 4 year olds need a lot of extra support. But - the lottery only funds the teacher, not the para - so - DCSS decided not to fund the para. Basically, because they don't have to.

As far as Kittredge goes, think of it this way - kids labeled "gifted" are in a category protected by federal law - almost like special ed. The school system has to offer them an advanced program of some kind - so if you shut down the magnet, you will have to send a teacher around to individual schools to offer additional support.

And, speaking of special ed, I see there are some cuts to that department, but they had better tread carefully - there are a lot of laws protecting these kids (rightfully so).

And - thanks for pointing out that we need to be proactive, Anon and SongCue. We have published the email addresses for the board members many times here - in fact there's a link to that web page in our favorite links list on the right.

I'll list the email addresses of the board here so that you can copy and paste and send an email. Be nice. They're under a lot of stress and we need to make our thoughts known - but we don't want to become antagonists.;;;;;;;;;

If you would like to address the board (they give you a slot to speak for 3 minutes at the microphone at public meetings) send an email to

and ask to be put on the speaker list for the next meeting.

Cerebration said...

I guess the point I'd like to drive home is - don't let them draw us into a battle over who gets a bigger slice of the pie. The administration needs to leave the classroom alone. I simply don't believe any more cuts should be asked of our teachers. I mean - we're in the business of educating children here. Bottom line - this can be accomplished by just one teacher. It's the heavy administration that needs to go. But they aren't making the tough cuts there. As usual, they are asking it of the hard-working teachers and then encouraging debate between how much each school is allotted.

Don't fall for it. Demand that the cuts be made in administration and in unloading extra properties and combining schools. EXAMPLE: We have several very small programs that each have their own principal. That's unnecessary. Combine them and utilize one principal. Don't ask the teachers to take the cut.

Anonymous said...

"As far as Kittredge goes, think of it this way - kids labeled "gifted" are in a category protected by federal law - almost like special ed. The school system has to offer them an advanced program of some kind - so if you shut down the magnet, you will have to send a teacher around to individual schools to offer additional support. "

There are many " gifted " children and high achieving children in regular classrooms of DCSS.

Yes, in order to obtain additional ( federal ) funding you must provide a certain number of gifted services for them. In other words, it is beneficial for a school to identify a child as gifted.

Therefore, having a school with a large percentage of labeled gifted students only adds to the inequalities of pouring resources into a small group.

But, remember not all children in magnets are gifted and frankly, unless you consider the 75% percentile high achievers, I am not convinced that all of the group is indicated for such a setting.

Bottom line, it has to be more cost effective to support these students in their own schools than to operate separate buildings and staffs. Take the resources ( stafffing and expertise ) of magnets and special interests and make all of the schools better, not disproportionately allocate shrinking county monies.

themommy said...

I don't want to hijack this thread so I will keep this brief. Gifted preschool, elementary, and secondary school children have very limited protections under state and federal laws. Unlike Special Ed students, parents of gifted students have no federal recourse if they feel inadequate services are being offered/delivered.

In many states gifted services don't begin until secondary school.

I am guessing that they will use stimulus funds to make up for the cuts in special education.

Paula Caldarella said...

Totally, totally, totally, agree anon 9:18.

Cerebration said...

One reason they won't cut out special programs is that these programs get recognition for the school system (which Dr. Lewis takes credit for and uses to demand a raise for himself). Kittredge, for example, always gets noticed by the state. Chamblee Charter HS is well-known by college recruiters.

This is from the DCSS home page -

State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox announced last week that 327 Georgia public schools are being recognized for improvement and achievement during the 2008-2009 school year. Among these are 17 schools within DeKalb County School System.

The schools are being recognized under Georgia’s Single Statewide Accountability System (SSAS), which awards schools based on their performance on state curriculum exams and Adequate Yearly Progress status.

DeKalb’s Kittredge Magnet, Austin, Vanderlyn, Fernbank, Livsey, Wadsworth Magnet, Oak Grove, Evansdale and Montgomery Elementary Schools; and DeKalb Early College Academy, Chamblee Charter, DeKalb School of the Arts and Lakeside High Schools have been recognized for Highest Performance.

Additionally, Montgomery and Bob Mathis Elementary Schools, Academy of Lithonia Charter as well as DeKalb High School of Technology-North have been recognized for Greatest Gain.

Paula Caldarella said...

themommy, you are not hijacking the thread - you bring much needed information and insight to the blog. I appreciate your input.

Cerebration said...

My point, which I guess I didn't make well, is that the "gifted" argument is exactly what they hope we have. If the administration can pit the "people" against each other as we fight over the meager scraps they drop on us unevenly here and there, perhaps we won't notice that the administration is sucking the lifeblood out of the system.

Just don't make the magnet issue such a big deal. Look past it and insist that they make the cuts to themselves - not to the teachers and classrooms.

Paula Caldarella said...

But, what DCSS won't tell you is how the "non-magnet" students are doing at CCHS. It's not pretty, from what I've heard. In fact, I have talked with people who do not realize there is a non-magnet population at that school.

Anonymous said...

Take Another Look All...

The hardest hit department will be Instruction - which means Instructional Coordinators (who directly support teachers)! This is not widely publicized.

Meanwhile... ESIS, America's Choice and the Office of School Improvement and its 300 strong department will go untouched! Any department or program tied to federal funds will remain. What does this say about the district's priority?

The public needs to know what they are asking for... and what they are getting.

Cerebration said...

Exactly! We need to watch that man behind the curtain. That's what I mean about fighting over magnets. Yes, we can send them all back to their home schools, but it won't just blanket save the money they currently cost. They still need a teacher, classroom, books, etc.

That Powerpoint is the wimpiest communication I've ever seen. It is sorely lacking in detail. There is no way to assess the plan - they have provided no numbers.

I'm very afraid that once again, teachers will take the hit.

themommy said...

You are right Cere, but for years I have advocated for a baseline for all DeKalb schools.

Here it is:

Music, PE, and Art (for small schools might not even be full time) for all elementary schools

Foreign language (at least one) music, art and PE for every middle school

All of the above and adequate AP courses plus strong vocational options for all high school students

Then, and only then, do you endow so few with so many riches.

Back to the topic at hand though.

The full force of outrage needs to be focused on the fact that Dr. Lewis' budget only cuts 45 central office personnel.

Every person reading this blog ought to be writing emails to every board member "screaming" about this. You have got to be kidding me.

Paula Caldarella said...

Here is what I don't understand about the BOE. Dr. Lewis works for them, they don't work for him. The BOE ought to be demanding of Dr. Lewis to make dep cuts in that central office staff before anything else is even discussed.

Anonymous said...

To elaborate on points made by Dunwoody Mom, and Anons 7:50 am and 9:18 am...

The ONLY reason there was a Magnet Program was that DCSS lost a discrimination suit years ago, the "fine" of which was to provide 100 extra teachers paid for with local tax dollars while the district was under court order to get things fixed. The court order was lifted and satisfied a long time ago. These 100 teachers ($6.5M in expense) should go too, unless citizens want to continue to pay for them. If so, the public should be given a voice in where to place them. Back in the local school house would be a good start.

These "extra" teachers placed in select schools is a continued source of frustration. Especially in schools like Kittredge where the high achieving population earns extra funding (read as: "teachers") based on the State Funding Formula which pays a bonus per high achieving student. In short, schools like Kittredge already are rewarded with more teachers per student based on their population, to give them even more under the guise of Magnet points is simply ridiculous.

Want to improve your local school? Kill the Magnet program and move the kids, and teachers back to their home school. Year-over-year school wide test averages will improve when the A and B students return. The home school C students who were previously given A's due to grade inflation will get a reality check, and will need to learn to get an A from now on. Former Magnet teachers reassigned to the home school will be able to model techniques they learned to existing school house staff and hopefully raise the bar for everyone.

Surrounding all of DeKalb's children with bright aspiring peers is necessary for systemic change.

Anonymous said...

I am really beginning to wonder what Dr. Lewis was thinking. He could have just said Central Office cuts and while we would all be wondering what cuts/how many etc -- we would be thinking he was on the right track.

Instead, he reveals 45 eliminated positions. HELLO! What was he thinking? Now we all know that the central office cuts are for show and are basically meaningless.

Scratching my head now...

Cerebration said...

TheMommy at 9:49 AM - I couldn't agree with you more! This is why we need to demand that no more cuts be made to teachers or classrooms. If we need to consolidate programs, fine. However, asking teachers to take more cuts or to increase their class sizes or to cut out art, music or PE is absolutely ridiculous.

What are the schools in business for anyway?

Demand.Integrity.Now. said...

I have not seen this addressed in this blog: Is there a procedure by which we as DeKalb County taxpayers and voters can initiate a recall of ALL the DCSS Board members? Is there a procedure by which we as DeKalb County taxpayers and voters can request a federal criminal investigation of Crawford Lewis and his top "management" cronies at DCSS?

I Got It !!! said...

Here's the plan that should satisfy all the folks on this thread AND the BoE AND Crawford Lewis:

(1) Shut down all magnet schools.

(2) Eliminate all out of area transportation.

(3) Eliminate all Arts and Music instruction.

(4) Raise property taxes as high as possible.

(5) Cut teacher pay every year.

(6) Continue to reward Crawford Lewis with increased salary and benefits every year. (And keep all his cronies employed in $100K do nothing jobs in central office.)

There. Everybody should be happy with this. For the few who don't like it, it's simple. Move your kids to private schools or move to another school district.

Paula Caldarella said...

Why is it that people want to post silliness in the midst of a good and useful conversation?

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:00 and Dunwoody Mom,
Anon 9:18 here. Thank you for your comments. You made an excellent summary of the magnet issue. This allocation of points and resources has been an injustice in our system for many years and parents have tolerated it for several reasons.
First, I think that the majority of parents truly don't realize how the dollars are spent and are uninterested or unavailable to learn about the issue. Next, yes, I do think that the DCSS gets kudos for the exceptional scores out of the magnets, Well duh??? How hard is it to realize where the scores came from when you pull all of the top performers from the feeder schools???. I dare say, if you look at the top scorers from many schools , they would have similar scores.
I don't buy that DCSS wants us to fight over the magnet issue and deflect attention from other areas. I believe that they will try to take the path that causes them the least political fall out.

It is long over due to demand that the resources of the county be distributed for all schools, not just a select group. Even if it makes C Lew look good or even if the parents complain loudly.

I too apolgize for a focus on this issue. But, the dialogue has to be good to allow for discussion on areas of potential cuts. I am a bit surprised that many of us seem to have a similar thought pattern on the " brain drain " as it has been put.

Anonymous said...

i agree with Anon 10:51

why won't CLew shut down the magent program, magent busses, save money, and send the kids/money back to their home schools? Why?

Anonymous said...

to Anon 10:00

Will you go and present your statement at the 3/1/10 meeting?
I will stand up and clap if you do...

Then we will all begin to know who the anons are on this thread and topic.

Better yet, anyone interested in putting together a review group to present a united front to the board?

greenie said...

DCSS is hosting a School Choice Expo this weekend:
School Choice Expo This Weekend, Applications Now Online!

This weekend DeKalb County School System will host several hundred parents
and students at the 2010 School Choice Expo. Scheduled for Saturday,
January 23, 2010 at 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Mall at Stonecrest in
Lithonia, the information fair will provide parents with the opportunity
to browse displays of DeKalb’s many School Choice programs and speak with various DeKalb teachers and administrators on site.

Anonymous said...

Are we in the public works business or the education business?

Out of 13,000+ employees, only 7,600 are teachers. Does it seem logical that over 40% of the employees in DeKalb County schools are not involved in direct instruction?

91% of our budget goes to personnel costs, while the rest of the metro school systems have an 85% personnel cost. We spend 6% more of our budget for personnel, but our students do not have a lower pupil teacher ratio than any of these systems so obviously our personnel expenditures are not going to hire more teachers. The logical conclusion is that DeKalb County employs too many support personnel.

While 6% may seem like a small number, 6% of a billion dollar budget is $60,0000,000 every year. That might be a start to help balance the budge. In the AJC, Dr. Lewis said he wants to lower this 91% percent expenditure on personnel to to 87%, but if he cuts teachers even further, we'll have the worse pupil teacher ratio of any metro system.

Does it seem right to cut 50% of pre-K programs as well as student instruction and classes just so you can have no one lose their jobs? Is DeKalb County Schools in the education business or the job creation business?

Dr. Lewis stated he has two primary goals:
1. Full employment with no layoffs
2. Try not to raise the millage rate

He has it wrong. The primary goal should be to provide our children with a quality education. Everything else should be subservient to that goal. This economic crisis will eventually subside, but our children will never regain their opportunity for a quality education.

Students and teachers should be the last people impacted. This is what education is all about.

Why not look at outsourcing some of our support services? If some departments were outsourced, the most productive workers could still be hired by the outsourcing company.

The people that created the ESIS mess would be a good place to start. Fulton and Cobb already outsourced their Information Systems group. And for good reason - if they are not responsive, they are replaced. ESIS, non-working equipment, lack of access to technology for students, an expensive and vastly underutilized email system, etc. would be fixed or DeKalb Schools could get another company else to fix those problems. Ask the teachers their opinion of the Information Systems department. I'm sure you'll get some candid remarks.

Sam Moss Center is another area that DeKalb should look at outsourcing for some of their functions. Sexual harrassment allegations, months long wait for classroom repairs, etc. make this department an embarrassment for our county.

Nothing should be off the table when it comes to protecting what goes on in the classroom between teachers and students. The relationship that exists between the teacher and her students cannot be endangered by this vast public works program.

Anonymous said...

My spouse forward this email to me last night. Just had a chance to blog today.

To: All DeKalb Employees
From: Dr. Crawford Lewis, Superintendent
Subject: Budget FY2011
Date: 20 January 2010
Attached: Budget FY2011

As you are aware, the budget challenges facing DCSS are not unique. School districts throughout metropolitan Atlanta, the state of Georgia, and across the nation are forced to make difficult decisions in the wake of shrinking funding sources and high-stakes student achievement requirements. Relatively speaking, we, as school districts, are all in the same situation. Examples of such similarities can be found in California, Michigan, Maryland, and Georgia. Specifically, it has been reported that Georgia’s overall budget will need to be reduced by billions of dollars in order to be balanced. We are constantly reminded that K-12 education makes up 42% of the state budget and have been admonished to expect steep reductions again during this legislative session.

When dealing with the projected deficit, there are two primary goals: to maintain employment for all employees with NO layoffs and do the absolute best not to raise the millage rate. The district has maintained the millage rate at 22.98 mills for seven consecutive years. As promised, I will reinstate the Board Tax Sheltered Annuity contribution in July 2010 for all eligible employees. This equates to 5% of each eligible employee’s salary. I will present a balanced budget that includes reduction of positions, reduction of programs, and possibly a reduction of a certain percentage of pay or work calendar days. But no one loses employment. In order to do this, some employees will be offered a different position. If employees are offered a different position, they will retain their current salary for one additional year through June 30, 2011 with the exception of any Board approved salary cuts or changes to the work calendar. If a 12 month employee assumes a 10 or 11 month position, they will be required to work a 12 month calendar to include summer school, curriculum rewriting, teacher training, and other identified work assignments.

We have been working for months to determine the best ways to reduce the budget without negatively impacting student achievement. The goal, again, is to balance the budget without layoffs.

Presented today in a work session for DeKalb County Board of Education were three budgetary options for the Board’s consideration, plans A, B, and C, which included reduction of positions, reduction of programs, and possibly a reduction of a certain percentage of pay or work calendar days. Plans A, B, and C are attached.

It is important to know that continued reductions in state and local funds, a stagnant economy, and less than optimistic outlook for the coming year are all contributing factors in determining the $56 million dollar shortfall. This shortfall could grow. There is much weighing on what happens in the General Assembly and with the DeKalb County Tax Assessors office, which has the authority to set property values.

Employees are encouraged to continue to send suggestions to The deadline to send suggestions is January 29, 2010. We will collate all suggestions and publish the results on the website by February 2010.

Thank you for your continued efforts to provide the best education for the students of DeKalb County.

greenie said...

Fight for PreK
It's a well-known fact that kids who attend PreK are much better prepared for kindergarten and I know that makes the teacher's job easier.
To cut such an excellent academic program over the cost of the parapros is insane. they only get $20-30K/year and the rest of the cost is borne by lottery funds.
AND, which programs to cut? you can bet the parents in the better schools that would send their kids elsewhere if they don't get into PreK will fight tooth and nail for the program, when it's most needed where kids would otherwise be at home or in basic childcare programs.
I HOPE they'll keep PreK on the books, b/c the savings vs. reward seem to be pretty small, IMO.

Anonymous said...

You must be kidding !
" school choice "
So many laughable factors around that one, not sure where to start.

greenie said...

Anybody read the budget?
The grammatical problems alone (yes, I'm sure he rushed it) make me lose confidence in our administrator AND his bloated staff

greenie said...

Budget reductions to 7-period day
That is specifically referring to moving the block schools to a full day.
Seven periods includes the teachers' planning period. Supposedly, with this schedule, they get more productivity out of each teacher - I think they said (at the board work session) 83% vs. 72% - something in that range

Anonymous said...

Would love to be a fly on the wall today at the Principal's meeting.

Anonymous said...

I suppose I'm repeating what others have said, but just look at this taken verbatim for Crawford's email:
"When dealing with the projected deficit, there are two primary goals: to maintain employment for all employees with NO layoffs and do the absolute best not to raise the millage rate."

Until we have a superintendent and BOE who consider children and education, not jobs and taxes, as the most important concern for a school system, we're never going to get anywhere.

Paula Caldarella said...

I can appreciate that Dr. Lewis does not want to layoff anyone off, with the way the economy is. HOWEVER, Dr. Lewis, your job and the job of the school system is very simple, it is to educate the children of the DCSS.

Get this idea out of your head about no layoffs and go into this budget-making process with no pre-conceived ideas other than keeping the BEST teachers, getting rid of the BAD teachers, providing the best resources and best facilities for our children. If it requires massives layoffs at the central office, so be it.

Anonymous said...

My first post ever. There is one key thing that has to happen to trigger reform of the DCSS. Recruit and support quality candidates to replace current BOE members. They are supposed to represent us, and they are asleep at the switch and have been for years. The BOE has failed. Even if you personally like your BOE members representing you, they have to go. They clearly aren't delivering for the children and their teachers. They are the heart of the problem, and it's the only thing we the people can control.

It's almost like we need a tea party movement for DeKalb Schools.

Treat the disease, not the symptoms.

Cerebration said...

You hit the nail on the head, Anon 11:44 AM.

"Uncle" Crawford thinks he is personally responsible to hand out jobs to everyone he cares about and then fight vigorously to keep them. That's crazy!! The private sector is bleeding jobs. Let the free enterprise work it's magic. Cut out the jobs programs - in admin, in Sam Moss, eSIS, etc - and let private businesses flourish. Outsource services to new businesses that will compete for the business and provide a better product for a better price, most likely.

This economic turnaround is NOT temporary. We are about to embark on a new, leaner, meaner way of life - and the folks who do not prepare, by scaling back and trimming the fat - will not survive.

Lewis DOES NOT get it. It is not his job to save people's jobs - it is his job to ensure that our children get a good education - and harming teachers in order to save other jobs is wrong, wrong, wrong.

The BoE has FAILED said...

Treat the disease, not the symptoms.

Demand.Integrity.Now. said...

Crawford Lewis has little-to-no interest in educating children. Nor does he plan to go anywhere else as a superintendent. His likely goals are:

(1)To maximize two consecutive years at the highest possible salary (which he will get if his contract extension stands)so he can retire with the maximum amount of pension.

(Go to the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia pension calculator found at:

(2)To work with the Georgia Department of Education under the Employees Retirement Plan at full salary (after the required year of retirement).

Crawford Lewis is interested only in employment and taxes because he believes that as long as he can keep his cronies employed and not raise taxes, he will be safe until he can retire. He is banking on the people he knows in GaDOE to find him a job there when the time is right.

Further, he is counting on the fact that people's memories are short and there is no real investigative reporting in metro Atlanta.

The only way he can be stopped is through a complete recall of the board AND a federal criminal investigation (federal because some of the monies that DCSS receives are federal funds).

Anonymous said...

I think they BOE and CLesis are aftaid of possible lawsuits in regards to many unnecessary expenses. For those of you that don't know or may not recall.....allow me to recount the ways we came into this budget shortfall...
1. Pope created the green school and the whole green campaign. I screamed and stated to the masses that this plan was not thought out properly and going green is an expensive campaign; especially for an old school system at least the way they were going about it.
The DCSS purchased all this going green material, had brochures and newsletters printed which sat in the service center collecting dust.....and we saw the invoices....they cost a lot to have them done outside DCSS. The custodians collected trash in those expensive recycle boxes everyone had in his/her office throughout the DCSS. But here's the kicker...the recycled materials was treated as was dumped behind the Sam Moss Service Center...thousands of our tax dollars wasted.
2. They bought into going to court and sueing Heery and Associates.

3. It appears to me that no one in leadership actually thinks..or do any research before making financial decisions.

4. There is no way to save if you retain all the DCSS employees we currently have. The email sent by CLewis is misleading to everyone...but don't trust this non-layoff approach...maybe he's playing Jedi-Mind Tricks to keep the moral up by lieing about not laying off staffers.

Unknown said...

The magnet and Montessori programs are easy targets, for sure. But as a family who has benefited from both, do not think for a second that eliminating these programs means those students and teachers will move to neighborhood schools and improve the education for all. Most families will either opt for private school or move out of DeKalb. Many teachers will look at other positions outside of DeKalb County. It is extremely frustrating to see programs that do meet the needs of some children cut before serious downsizing happens in other, more bloated areas.

Take your shots at the magnet parents all you want but when your home school cannot meet the needs of students who perform in the highest percentiles of the ITBS, it is time to investigate special programs such as the magnet program.

And for the last time...Kittredge was supposed to lose their second band teacher but DCSS had already offered him a contract. No other school offered him a job, so he remained at Kittredge. This is not an example of Kittredge getting special treatment. This is an example of DCSS not managing personnel properly. It's time to find a new example of how Kittredge gets an unfair advantage.

Anonymous said...

Cere, I agree with you on everything you said in respose to my 11:44, but I think we have to be VERY wary of giving this board and Crawford too much leeway in outsourcing. Outsourcing is a great way to awards contracts to friends, family, and campaign contributors.

Paula Caldarella said...

Take your shots at the magnet parents all you want but when your home school cannot meet the needs of students who perform in the highest percentiles of the ITBS, it is time to investigate special programs such as the magnet program.

What about the parents who have gifted students who cannot get into a magnet program simply because their number was not drawn or they didn't harass their BOE member until their child was admitted?

And for the last time...Kittredge was supposed to lose their second band teacher but DCSS had already offered him a contract. No other school offered him a job, so he remained at Kittredge. This is not an example of Kittredge getting special treatment.

Why did Kittredge have 2 band teachers to begin with when 10 schools have none? Why does Kittredge have 3 Germans teachers when some schools have zero foreign language instruction?

The problem is not with Kittredge itself, it's that what is at Kittredge should be available to all students.

Unknown said...

We were not picked for the magnet lottery for years, so I understand the frustration. I actually have no problem with significant changes to both the magnet and Montessori programs as long as serious reductions are in place at the county office as well. To drastically change these programs while continuing to have large numbers of instructional specialists, cronies, etc. in management is what I find distasteful.

Paula Caldarella said...

I agree, Andrea. There should no cuts at all to anything to do with the schools themselves until a signficant work-force reduction has taken place at the Central Office.

Anonymous said...

I just got this from my spouse again. What is wrong with this picture. I thought the school house was not suppose to be effected.....

Plan D: Option from Board Member
1. Central Office Reductions $4,254,919
2. Reduction of Programs $0
3. Reduction of Schoolhouse Positions
4. Utilities Savings $1,000,000
5. Furlough Days OR 5% Across the
Board Reduction
6. Furlough Days OR 3% Across the
Board Reduction
7. Furlough Days OR 1.25% Across the
Board Reduction
8. No Millage Rate Increase
9. ½ Mill Rate Increase
10. 1 Mill Rate Increase
11. 2 Mill Rate Increase $40,000,000

Reductions in the school house(teachers?) is 13.5 million and central office is only 4 mil. Am I crazy or does more need to be cut?

Paula Caldarella said...

Reductions in the school house(teachers?) is 13.5 million and central office is only 4 mil

Sigh....they just don't get it....

Anonymous said...

I talked to a friend of mine that works in Central Office. What I was told is that if a teacher quits or retires this year they will not be replaced.

Anonymous said...

If magnets went away - those families would not likely go to private schools or leave dekalb county. The majority would return to their home schools and improve that school. There are many high achievers on the ITBS that remain in " regular schools " and do just fine.

I am a magnet loser on several occasions. Initially , I must admit I wanted to have "magnet loser sour grapes ". But, fortunately what I learned over time and through this blog, was that it isn't just about my child. It is truly about the children of dekalb county , not just a few......

At least the instructional specialists have some ability to benefit the classrooms of dekalb county, whether participating in the classroom or performing in an eduational capacity. Frankly, there is clearly no benefit to the majority of children in dekalb county from the magnet staff. The same for transportation for magnets.

Sorry, I know that will make folks mad. But, I think when you are looking a fat to trim you have to look at administrative and classroom fat.

Cerebration said...

It certainly seems that there is room for cutting here -

72 "Instructional Supervisors" at a cost of almost $6.4 million - plus 473 "Instructional Specialists" totaling $23.9 million

Anonymous said...

We have 5 directors of curriculum instruction at a cost of $438,500.00, 72 "Instructional Supervisors" at a cost of almost $6.4 million - plus 473 "Instructional Specialists" totaling $23.9 million, yet we have children who do not have art, music and PE teachers - they're entitled to one of each - they shouldn't have to choose.

A math lesson:

Directors of curriculum instruction average salary $438,500 divided by 5 or $87,700 a piece.

Instructional supervisor's average salary equals $6,400,000 divided by 72 or $88,888 a piece

Instructional specialists average salary equals $23,900,000 divided by 473 equals $50,528 a piece.

$56,000,000 short fall

Solution layoff people and “cut the bloat”

Alternative One: Lose those high paid administrators

Take each administrative position that equals $100,000 in salary and be sure to add in benefits.

Benefits = 30% of salaries

Then to achieve $56,000,000 in cuts then you would need to eliminate

$56,000,000 divided by $130,000 worth of positions or 56,000,000/130,000 = 430.7 positions

So all we have to do is eliminate 430.7 positions of over $100,000 salary- Wait, wait-Are there 430 people in DCSS making over $100,000?

Alternative Two: Eliminate positions we question
Let’s try laying off all the people Cerebration named-5 directors of curriculum instruction at a cost of $438,500.00, 72 "Instructional Supervisors" at a cost of almost $6.4 million - plus 473 "Instructional Specialists" totaling $23.9 million.

That would total $30,738,000.

If we add 30% to that total we would have another $9, 900,000 and still leave $16,000,000 more to cut. In other words, if DeKalb Schools laid off the 550 people enumerated we would still need to cut the budget another $16,000,000!

Alternative Three-Too many administrators

Another way to look at the numbers is that according to the Georgia Department of Education (see link below for source)

Last year DeKalb County had a total of 541 full time administrators. This would include principals and assistant principals at 125 schools.
These administrators averaged according to the state $88,254 in salary. Using the benefit calculation of 30% we would only need to layoff 488 administrators (leaving 72 of our schools without a principal and all of them without an assistant principal).

These are only numbers. In this or any other economy I relish depriving 431 to 550 people of their jobs and health care. I am sure the 400 to 500 foreclosures that would result in this county won’t affect my property values too much-especially when the alternative might cost me and extra couple of hundred dollars in taxes each year. Maybe it won’t affect the merchants where they buy clothes, groceries, or any other part of the economy too much. I am retired why should I worry about the economy?

Is there waste, sure there is. But if you think cutting every bit of waste will fix our schools then you are naïve. The awful truth is that once the waste is gone we will need more money for a quality education. One thing most people do not know or talk about is that DeKalb spends a lot more on programs at the school house than the state will support. Local tax payer dollars go to those art, music, and PE teachers at many of our elementary schools. The choice and magnet programs cost more money. The three Montessori schools cost six million dollars more because of extra teachers. They serve 600 students. The extra programs DeKalb provides cost between $24,000,000 and $30,000,000 that comes completely from local tax dollars (no state support).

Every one of these programs has an advocate but perhaps in times of trial the special programs that serve the few may have to go. On the other hand, if it means another $20 to $40 a month in taxes to have art, music, and PE, Walker has my vote.

Anonymous said...

Crawford Lewis is brilliant. By sending a letter to all DCSS employees, he knows that they and their families and friends will push hard to support a tax raise.

And one of the reasons he built up a massive staff of non-classroom/non-school administrators is for loyalty and political support. They and their families and friends will fight for a tax increase.

We fell asleep at the wheel. Crawford and Marcus Turk were able to spend, spend, spend without increasing the millage rate when property values were doing well and new houses were still being built. But now his irresponsible spending has forced his hand. He is unwilling to cut bloat, and wants a property tax increase to go along with his salary increase and phat expense account increase.

Please do not let this fester into a magnet school/no magnet school debate, or a pre-K/no pre-K debate. Crawford wants to take away all focus on the huge amount of Central Office staff.

Cere rightfully talks about Gloria Talley's army (72 "Instructional Supervisors" at a cost of almost $6.4 million - plus 473 "Instructional Specialists" totaling $23.9 million). Eliminate those positions. No more America's Choice and other fad curricula.

There is also bloat in Info. Systems, the Sam Moss Center, Ron Ramsey's mini-dept., etc.

Keep the pressure on your BOE members to eliminate non-teaching, non-school administrators and staff. I think it's clear we want good teachers, good front office staff, good art & music teachers, good bus drivers and cafeteria staff.

We don't need a Corporate Wellness Dept. We don't need directors becoming Executive Directors. We don't need some of the surplus properties like Heritage that are just wasting away. We don't need half of the Central Office staff we have now.

Please contact your BOE members and demand change, and demand no property tax increases.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:56 is related to an administrator. What a crock of baloney. Hey Anon 3:56, many of these positions didn't even exist ten years ago, when we had even more students in the school system. Enrollment is DECREASING, yet Crawford Lewis added and added positions instead of downsizing.

It's just not the salaries, Anon 3:56, but it's also the benefits, health insuarance, pensions, non-county resident staff being able to bring their children to a DCSS school without paying county property taxes, etc.

Sorry Anon 3:56, but a boatload of non-teaching administrator and staff positions need to be laid off. You might be the only person willing to pay more in property taxes for an underperforming system with a shrinking enrollment.

Anonymous said...

Even if there is a property tax increase, we will be losing hundreds of quality, experienced teachers. I have talked to many teachers who said that we should expect a mass exodus. It's a combination of so many things, eSIS, the busy work from curriculum/instructor coaches, classrooms and school buildings with celeing leaks and other maintenance issues, etc. But I've heard it time and time again, teachers feel like Crawford's demand for a raise was the last and final straw. Teachers have really taken it personally.

So even if Crawford manipulates the BOE into raising taxes, too many of our good teachers are out the door. Gwinnett, Fulton and Cobb will have open jobs. I've even heard some teachers say that the Clayton is finally getting back on track and they may look there. When experienced teachers even consider Clayton over DeKalb for one second, we are all in big trouble (students, parents, and taxpayers).

Anonymous said...

While we're offering ideas of places to cut costs let's not forget about the bloated DeKalb School System police department. Really, how many corporals, sergeants, lieutenants etc are needed to protect kids in a school building? Why the big pay for all the brass? It has to be the cushiest of all police work out there.

Then there is the topic of police dogs and their handlers. Is it still true that the DeKalb School System has more police dogs than the DeKalb County Police Department?

Finally one has to wonder why DCSS employs a police department at all. Aren't we already paying County taxes for a police department? If it's so important to put a cop or two in a building, let the County provide them... or reimburse the school district for providing them themselves.

Anonymous said...

Crawford's friend Judge Thelma Moore back in the news for dubious reasons:

Thelma Wyatt Cumming Moore, a former judge who represents the faction that wants Trammell and Gordon reinstated, even though "allegations the two men diverted at least $569,000 to bank accounts they controlled."

Way to pick them Crawford.

Anonymous said...

Cere, do you have any info. on the DCSS "school police"? Would love to know what the budget is and number of personnel.

Anonymous said...

I can't help to wonder how the BOE would have been different if Ernest Brown and Ella or Marshall Orson were elected. Walker, Womack and were these clowns elected?

Cerebration said...

Interesting thoughts on the cost of school police. The ones at Lakeside always seem to just stand around. Good idea to look into that, Anon. I have never seen a line item budget on this.

Also - very interesting article Anon2 about the embezzling of SCLC funds and Judge Moore's defense of the crooks. I wonder if she's still charging $350 an hour, or if that was just the school system 'discount'...

Anonymous said...

I love the Washington Monument analogy. That is awesome.

The CEO has proposed a tax increase of about $145 a year for county services (on a 200K) home.

If DCSS does the same, that is a 300 increase for a decrease in services both at the county and school system level.

DCSS (and the commissioners) must show that they have cut the fat -- really cut the fat and only then should they ask for a tax increase.

Anon 3:56 you are so wrong. Do you know that City of Atlanta has tiny classes at most schools? Do you know that Fulton County (and Atlanta) offer foreign language at all elementary schools and Fulton has a dedicated science teacher at every elementary school!

Cobb has many, many extras in all their schools. Only Gwinnett has schools as bare boned as DeKalb's in Metro Atlanta but the residents there pay a lot less in property taxes.

You are right we could shutter the Central Office and still not have enough funds to make up the shortfall. But cuts could still be much deeper at the central office then currently proposed.

By the way, alarge percentage of central office personnel don't live in DeKalb!

Anonymous said...

Cere and Anon 5:03pm, I found the proposed budget on the police, but not the dogs. DCSS employs 203 people in that department at a proposed cost of $11.3 million for 2010.

There are:
2 Administrators (Directors)
5 Supervisors (1 Lieutenant, 4 Srgnt)
63 School Resource Officers
9 Detectives
4 Civilian (Secretary)
120 Campus Supervisors

My, my how the department has grown!

Anonymous said...

The police budget can be accessed from the main DCSS web page, choose "Superintendent" tab in left column, then "Budget" in the pop-up window, then from the right column under the heading "Detailed Budget Forms" select the "Support Services" section, and viola! there, beginning on page 157 (of 232) is the police stuff.

Square Peg said...

Nobody has pointed out any problems with Anon 3:56's math (yes, Anon did estimate the cost of benefits) or explained how to save $56 million by cutting popular targets.

Yes, those in charge have allowed bloat and waste and costly mistakes, and they have a huge sense of entitlement. Yes, I expect to see the bloat cut before I'd consider voting for a millage increase. Unfortunately, the cuts most of us bloggers want to see won't be enough to balance the budget. Let's not deceive ourselves that this is easy.

Cerebration said...

Oh my! I had no idea we had such a large police force in our school system - it's larger than the city of Dunwoody's by far!

Are there ANY cuts proposed to this department? How about cutting Ron Ramsey - he takes 2 months off a year to "work" at the Capitol as it is...

Dekalbparent said...

I fear muddying the waters here - posting with trepidation...

Is the Ga Pre-K program not supposed to be supported by the lottery? Is there not a percentage of lottery proceeds that is mandated by law to be dedicated to the Pre-K program and HOPE? Has that percentage actually gone to Pre-K and HOPE - as I recall, it has not, but there have been some impressive bonuses paid to lottery.

If my memories are correct, then the State of Georgia is contributing to DeKalb's reduction of a program that has been proven to help the children.

Anonymous said...

Re the high-achiever magnet programs --

I cannot say for certain that this is still happening, but as recently as five years ago, there was a full-court press at Kittredge to get every kid classified "gifted", even if it meant testing them with every possible test (including the STANDARDIZED test of creativity - an oxymoron to me). All this because the law requires that the ratio for a gifted class in elementary school is 1:17. Apparently, there is elasticity allowing the class to be kept at 1:17 even if there not all the kids are "gifted", but it can only be so many. This was necessary because there were some kids that they could not make come out "gifted" no matter how hard they tried.

There are lots of paths to a "gifted" classification, but in most of the schools, they are not used.

Anonymous said...

I think the issue of what is available to the magnet students is relevant. If there were room in the magnet program for every child who qualified and wished to attend, then the extras they get would not be an issue. This is not the case - selection for the magnet programs is a lottery, subject to manipulation. It isn't a fair situation, and we are about the best education for all children, which implies a level playing field.

Currently KMS has
one vocal music teacher,
one orchestra teacher,
two band teachers (the reason already explained above),
one art teacher,
three German teachers,
two PE teachers (not one teacher and one para),
two teachers per grade level for each of the four core subjects,
three Collaborative Action Teachers whose purpose is to "offer enrichment and support activities across all teams and grade levels. They teach in the Enrichment period, within the regular classroom in a team-teaching situation, and through small group pull-out sessions for advanced and enriched content studies."

Wadsworth Magnet School has
One fourth grade math teacher and one fourth grade science and social studies teacher,
one teacher for each of the four core subjects in fifth and sixth grade,
two Spanish teachers,
one vocal music teacher,
one band teacher,
one orchestra teacher,
one art teacher,
one PE teacher

Compare this to the staffing of your own local elementary school.

Cerebration said...

Standardized Creativity Test - you're right, Anon - that IS an oxymoron!

I remember when Johnny Brown came to town, he insisted that Kittredge serve it's original intent and purpose - integration. So he went around to every single elementary school - and like a modern day Noah - and picked two kids from each school with relatively decent scores. Many of them were not gifted and most had not applied but they bumped gifted students who had applied. This is when the watering down of the gifted label at Kittredge began.

Paula Caldarella said...

Does anyone know what group is using the old Shallowford ES/Chamblee MS gym? I driven by there several times in the last couple of weeks and there are cars in the parking lot and people going into the gym. If it is not a DCSS group, I hope they are paying rent.

Paula Caldarella said...

After Columbine, I am not going to complain about police services and their costs.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, let's be real. One cop in the corner of one school, even if it was Columbine couldn't have stopped the situation in time.

Let's use our limited funds to pay for good teachers instead of 200+ cops who should be coming from the County in the first place. It would be interesting to see the growth of that department over the past 15 years. I don't think in-schoolhouse crime back then was substantially higher than it is now with the $11+ million investment in DCSS funded security. Just more CLew friends and family enjoying the ride...

Paula Caldarella said...

Well, anonymous, I am being "real" as you say. You don't know that police presence in the school would not have made the 2 think twice about their plan. Again, I have no problem with police/security in the schools. Why should the County pay for this?

Square Peg said...

Regardless of what the right number of school resource officers is, we can hardly expect the county to start paying for them. The county has its own budget issues. And since my school tax and county tax are assessed on the same bill, it doesn't much matter to me which entity pays their salaries.

Anonymous said...

More instructional coaches were added this school year. When I asked where the extra money came from I was told that it was stimulus money. I think that we could all find a better use for stimulus money. I checked the salary for some instructional coaches. They were in the 80's-90's range. This is just one example of how poorly stimulus money was spent. I heard that Dekalb got 3 to 4 million dollars in stimulus money.

themommy said...

Can't comment on the salaries but the stimulus monies for education were very limited in how they can be used. Basically only for Title 1 schools and special ed and they are to be used to supplement not supplant existing services. Initially, the President had announced a boatload of money to be used to prop up all public schools. In the end, that wasn't approved.

The instructional coaches job descriptions were very clear that when the stimulus monies go away their jobs go away. (I know -- you can stop laughing now. This is DeKalb after all.)

themommy said...

So I spent a while "studying" the state website for Pre-K and while it is far from transparent (surprise) and I couldn't find numbers, what I did discover was that pre-k teachers' salaries are reimbursed differently based on certifications. I need to look further into it, because I can't imagine that GA Pre-K doesn't pay for paras.

I have a phone call into a friend who works for the state Pre K office. Hopefully, I will have a better handle on this tomorrow.

Cobb Country dropped it a year ago, though, so I am thinking there must be savings for school systems not to offer it.

Anonymous said...

The comment that was made about all the waste at sam moss is very true. They have Directors, Assistant Directors,Managers, Assistant Managers, Coodinators,Skill Trade supers, Foremans, Admin. Assistants, Accounting Clerks, Payroll Clerk, and they still can't get out to the schools and solve problems. Like the one at MLK. Our schools still have leaking roofs, sewage back-ups, broken windows, roaches, rats, old kitchen equipment, old hvac units and many more. Problem every one is in the office. You have employees taking two hour lunches and now that pope is gone i bet they are really playing.

Sexual Harrassment has been a on going thing out there, 9-out-10 cases were dismissed.

Again who hurts the students. Until
they get someone out there who knows how to run that center, our schools will suffer. Dr. Clark Britt was the best thing they ever had. Everyone did there jobs and you didn't have all that playing around. No he was not perfect but at the end of the day everyone knew what was expected of them and it was done. That center is a embarrassment and waste.

Anonymous said...

While KMS has attracted the creme of the crop from alot of the elementary schools, I have always questioned the fairness of enrollment. How can the same family get more than one student in at the same time. I know of at least four families through the years whose children have succeeded in getting in. If things were really fair, I would support it.

As much as many of us hate the word redistricting, we really need to look at this factor. From the central to the northern part of the county has not seen significant redistricting in over 20 years. I live in the Tucker area and my husband was raised here and this area with its growth has not seen it in over 40 years. There was a minor move between Idlewood and Brockett. We need to be honest and say let's do this. Transportation costs are not going to go down and busing all around the county needs to stop. What happened to the days when families stayed in their community school to make it work.

We also need to take a good hard look at teachers in the classroom who are just waiting to retire and have given up in the classroom. Principals need to be empowered to manage their schools according to the makeup of their community.

I am a frustrated parent who stays involved in her community but it is starting to be overwhelming. I strive hard to get people in my community to see the assests of our public schools but this is making it impossible!

Anonymous said...

I must agree with Andrea on the magnet schools. I think some people may have lost sight of the orignal focus of this blog, i.e. that there should not be any cuts to the school house or student programs until after all cuts have been made to the main office, services that don't affect students and teachers are cut. Sure, Kittredge and Wadsworth could stand a little trimming, but not elimination. Fulton has excellent magent programs and they would never dream of eliminating them; APS would never consider eliminating the magnet journalism program at Grady. These are valuable student programs.

"Elimination" is for the bloated main office administration. Instead, our superintendent proposes moving 45 friends (who may or may not have current teaching skills) to our kids' classrooms along with their high salaries. This is wrong. Cere had the best idea of all- these folks should be allowed to bid on teacher openings but should have to interview and meet all requirements.

Elimination is also an option for grossly underutilized and chronically underperforming schools.

Our do nothing, say nothing Board members need to step up to the plate and loudly and publicly insist on administration cuts that truly eliminate positions- not just move the chairs on the Titanic.

Anonymous said...

A little tid bit from the Principals meeting today.

This is what CLew is going to take before the board.

1) Cut Pre-K. We pay the teachers not the state. From what I gathered the state pays for the curriculum only. And the food that the kids eat. They get breakfast for sure is paid for. The kids may have to purchase their own lunch.

2) Cut the Montesorri program. They are gone for next year.

3) End after school transportaion at the high school level. Meaning that if a kid plays football at Chamblee and lives in Lithonia, mom and dad are now going to have to come and pick them up.

4) Summer school for high school will be all online and the kids are going to have to pay for it. I agree with having to pay for it, but if a kid couldn't get it when they were in the classroom, they sure as heck are not going to get it online

5) Principals and Top Admins are going to have to take 15 furlough days or a 10 percent pay cut.

6) AP's and other are going to have to take 10 days or a 5 percent pay cut.

7) Teacher's are going to have to take 7 days or a 5 percent pay cut.

I know that there are a few more but I simply can not remember them at this time.

But I find it funny how CLew is telling parents all these great options, but he already has an agenda and is not going to listen to anyone else.

Anonymous said...

I fail to understand why the Montessori program "needs" to be cut. The Montessori manipulatives have already been purchased -- they are sunk costs. Montessori does not require anywhere near the amount of consumables, such as workbooks and worksheets, as a traditional school. I don't understand how it axeing it would save any money.

It's been underfunded for years, with lamentable teacher in-service training. Why bother to outright kill Montessori? Just let it limp along --it's not bothering anyone.

Anonymous said...

$11.3 million for 2010:
2 Administrators (Directors)
5 Supervisors (1 Lieutenant, 4 Srgnt)
63 School Resource Officers
9 Detectives
4 Civilian (Secretary)
120 Campus Supervisors

Wow, that's a massive number. What metrics are used to measure their performance? 9 detectives? 4 secretaries?

I know for a fact that it is MARTA Police that are dealing with many of the problems with the Dekalb Aleternative School (which is out of control). it is MARTA Police who are picking up so many truant students from that school. The school police are nowhere to be found. 9 detectives? Seriously, what do they do!!!

Molly said...

There is some question as to how much the Montessori program actually costs the county compared to a traditional classroom. As an earlier poster pointed out, the materials have already been purchased, and don't get repurchased each year. The program has been limping along with limited parapro support for several years now. Montessori students don't get any additional special area teachers nor do they get any transportation services if they aren't zoned for the school.

The Montessori parents have fought this battle once before. One thing we learned from that experience is that the Montessori program is far, far cheaper on a per student basis than Kitteredge, Wadsworth or DeKalb School of the Arts.

I would like to understand the rational for shutting some of the magnets but leaving these programs intact. If it is necessary to eliminate magnet programs to meet the budget, why isn't that burden being shared equally? As a parent whose children qualified for seats at Kitteredge but never got lucky enough to go, I've had to work hard not to be bitter about the fact that my kids were being excluded from the magnet program and all of its resources. When every other magnet program is being shut down, it creates an enormous inequity. While I don't want to shut the high achievers program down, I don't think that those programs deserve special protection either.

themommy said...

Anon 10:37

That doesn't sound right about pre-k unless we have classes that they are labeling at GA Lottery Pre-K classes that aren't really lottery funded. I do think that what DCSS pays is probably substantiallly more than what Kids R Kids or other day care centers pay, which is probably the scale that DCSS uses to reimburse. As I have said before, Cobb dropped the pre-k program last year so I am guessing that there must be savings to be realized here.

I think the summer school is a huge issue. This Fall, I helped a student who was suppose to be taking a credit recovery course online because his family didn't have a computer and the mom's credit was shot so they couldn't get internet access at home (even with a computer). The high school library doesn't let students use the computers during school (even lunch) or for very long before or after school.

This will be a true hardship for needy high school students.

School police had some cuts last year. CL wanted more but there was a public outcry. (I think the drug dogs are gone from that round of cuts.) Any time an incident happens that warrants police investigation (ie a student's purse is stolen) the resource officers/school police get involved. You may think this is overkill. I do, but I don't allow my children to take anything more valuable than their rinky dink cell phones to school.

However, I have friends whose daughter's have had purses stolen or son's had I-Pods stolen and they want the police involved. They have no confidence in the school administrators. In addition, when a parent is known to behave badly, having a school resource officer there for security is essential. I have friends who volunteer in school offices and the stories they can tell. It doesn't happen frequently, but it happens. Not to mention that we have some schools in some of the worst neighborhoods in Metro Atlanta that need protection. Sorry, but it is true. A few years ago, a high school had a problem with non-students entering campuses pulling students off campus and beating them up.

Anonymous said...

Cut Pre-K. We pay the teachers not the state. From what I gathered the state pays for the curriculum only.

That is not correct.

Cerebration said...

While I had the salary file open, I checked the pre-k teacher salaries

Seems we have 103 pre-k paras with a total cost of $2,703,566. Although most earn in the $20s, the salaries go as high as $44k.

We also have 113 "Lottery Pre-School Teachers" totaling $4,931,267. The salaries range from the $30s to $72,500.

I am assuming that since the job title includes "lottery" that these positions are lottery funded.

The "pre-school parapros" do not mention lottery in their job title.

Unknown said...

If the complete elimination of the Montessori program is true, I fail to see how this saves a measurable amount of money. Those teachers are certified in either early childhood ed and/or content areas, so unless their contracts are not being renewed, where is the savings? As many have already said, the materials are already purchased and the vast majority of materials that are replenished are purchased by the families enrolled. I certainly hope if the Montessori program is eliminated, the county sells the materials to a private Montessori school or schools to recoup some of the initial expense. A giant DCSS yard sale perhaps!

From the start of the CL administration, he touted school choice while making it clear he did not like Montessori or magnet programs and it certainly appears he has found the perfect cover to destroy both of them.

Anonymous said...

Andrea, if you want to keep Montessori, you and others who agree with you need to contact your BOE members and demand that the cuts come from the bloated Central Office and bloated DCSS Police Dept.

Crawford Lewis is going to try to go after Montessori and magnets while keeping his empire of administrators and massive police dept.

Cerebration said...

I don't understand the savings either. These kids will still need a classroom, a teacher, books, computers, etc.

It really does seem a bit of a red herring. There's really no savings in eliminating Montessori. Unless he's closing the BUILDINGS - and consolidating schools.

Unknown said...

Don't worry, I contact my school board members when needed...not that I think it has ever done any good. The frustrating part of this particular debate is that I think the current economic situation is going to provide an excuse to do the wrong thing. Like I said yesterday, if the central office staff was greatly reduced, empty buildings were sold and other painful cuts were already made, I would not be so upset about looking at special programs.

However, we all know that no one is talking about great changes at the county office. The timing of the raise given to CL looks even worse now and still the board is sticking to their rationale. I will certainly be at that March 1 budget meeting but having been in DCSS for years now, I am not convinced stakeholders can stop this action, mostly due to an ineffective school board.

Cerebration said...

I too, contact the board with little confidence. My rep is Paul Womack, who practically told teachers in his WSB interview "If you don't like it, we have a line of people waiting for your job."


Paula Caldarella said...

I sent 2 emails to Jim Redovian last school year. No response.

Paula Caldarella said...

I'd love to see John Henegan run for school board, but I know he has his hands full with the City of Dunwoody. He would be perfect for the job.

Anonymous said...

This comment is coming from a parent that just moved into the Dekalb county school district from another state. I'm a parent of a 4yr old and when I moved here my son didn't get into any of the pre-k lotteries in our assigned area because he wasn't picked. Therefore I ended up paying $500/month for him to attend a private pre-K.
As he is entering Kindergarten next year, I am predicting that he will not get selected for any of the theme and/or magnet schools in our "assigned" area, therefore I will have the choice of either sending him to one of the dirty, low performing achools (I've already visited them) that are in our area or paying for a private school.
I feel that the magnet and theme schools give kids that either live in that area and/or are picked for the lottery an unfair advantage. My child has already been described as over-achieving by his pre-K teacher, however; I doubt he will receive the benefit of attending a theme or magnet school.
Therefore, I feel that the resources that go to this small number of schools should be distributed evenly to the other schools. I believe that this would benefit home schools and give children attending home schools more of an equal value.
I would also like to mention the fact of the transportation issue. From what I understand, there are now drop off points where children must be dropped off and picked up by their parents. My child will be in Kindergarten-5 yrs old, how in the world can I drop off my child anywhere and expect him to get on the bus by himself. This is ridiculous. Therefore, I will have to drive and pick up my child directly to/from school. Don't the magnet/theme schools get bussed to their schools, even long distances?
I am just outraged at this school district.

Anonymous said...

Why is the Information Systems Department that gave DeKalb the ESIS mess is totally out of the picture for budget cuts.

I beg you to ask any teacher in DeKalb if they are pleased with the level of educational technology provided by this department and the customer service they receive. No one has bothered to ask them, probably because they're afraid of the answer. Plus most Central Office instructional personnel are notoriously illiterate when it comes to educational technology.

There are a large number of technical people at various central locations (some of them are BOE children and Harold Lewis used to be employed there). In addition, almost every school has a CTSS (Certified Technical Support Specialist), and DeKalb has 120+ schools.

Some of the CTSSs do an exemplary job (lots of technical know how and good response time), but too many of them are nowhere to be found when teachers and students cannot access computers or other technology due to technical problems.

DeKalb has far less technology resources for students than every other Metro system (and most rural ones).

DeKalb has less student student computers, interactive whiteboards, LCD projectors, and other technology teaching tools. Walking into most DeKalb classrooms is like walking into a 1955 classroom! Yet we have far more technical people than other systems.

Why does DeKalb have more technical people than other systems to maintain less equipment?

Enduring It said...

Not only with the possibility of less pay, but Cross Keys folks had to deal with a ruptured sewer line and a hallway and two classrooms flooded with sewerage during class time yesterday. Apparently, the evacuation of the area went well, kudos to the great kids and staff who endure stuff like this daily.

Folks at Cross Keys are using a fifty year old infrastructure that has had minimal, if any, maintenance. In a county with Arabia Mountain and Tucker showplaces, this is disgraceful.

These may sound like the "same old same old" complaints but there are students and teachers who live and breathe this every day. And, sadly, I'd bet these are the best students in Dekalb in terms of motivation and behavior, and they're working their asses off on achievement with a heavily stacked deck against them.

Cross Keys is a sorry example of how DCSS has deserted the needs of its students!

Cerebration said...

"Cross Keys is a sorry example of how DCSS has deserted the needs of its students!"

You got that right, Enduring.

Actually, the same thing happened at Lakeside a couple of years ago. They had to close down 2 restrooms because the sewage had backed up -- I'm talking - on the walls. Disgusting!!

Anonymous said...

Cross Keys teachers, as long as the overstaffed, inefficient, and incompetent Central Office, Sam Moss, and MIS departments suck up the tax dollars, you will never get your school fixed.

Let Central Office, Sam Moss and MIS personnel try to do their work in such an awful environment, and it would be fixed in a heartbeat.

Cross Keys was a decent facility, but it is now nasty, unhealthy, and falling down. What utter disrespect that is for teachers and students.

Only 7,500 DeKalb School employees are teachers in a system that employees over 13,000. Does DeKalb really need 5,700 people to support 7,500 teachers?

Cross Keys teachers, do you think the Central Office, Sam Moss Center and MIS give such great customer service that you want to give up your pay to secure their jobs?

This is a good time for DeKalb to trim the fat and put their taxes to work for the students.

The following should be DeKalb's STUDENT BILL OF RIGHTS. Every child deserves to be in decent, clean, safe environment. Every child deserves to be in a classroom with a reasonable pupil teacher ratio. Every child deserves competent teachers who are not underpaid and overworked (or spending their time fighting with ESIS). Every child deserves to have abundant access to science equipment and technology that actually works.

Call me crazy, but why can't the BOE fund the above STUDENT BILL OF RIGHTS and then use what's left for support personnel? Employing 5,700 people out of 13,200 that are not teachers will never let this happen.

Enduring It said...

It would be cool if some students could get put together such a proposed Bill of Rights and go before the board with it. It would be super uncool PR for the board to ignore something like this.

Anonymous said...

In one of the classrooms at LHS two years ago, raw sewage began seeping down from the ceiling, eventually dripping on the students. The room was evacuated and sat empty for at least two weeks. After the problem was "repaired," they discovered that the sewage had dripped on a TV/DVD cart for the entire time of the evacuation. The sound never worked right on that TV again, and the smell when it was rolled into a room was overpowering. However-- there wasn't money to replace the TV/DVD cart, of course. We just made do.

Anonymous said...

That's a terrific idea.

Don't you think all parents and students want their educational system to put into practice the ideals embodied in those STUDENT BILL OF RIGHTS?

What's so sad is that parents work so hard to achieve these same rights in their local schoolhouse when they should be expending their efforts at Lewis's and the BOE's level. They are spinning their wheels at the local level. Lewis and the BOE make the all the decisions that can give students these rights.

Look at these rights closely. You'll see that teachers can make none of the decisions that will grant students these rights.

I wish some parents and students would read these Student Bill of Rights at a BOE meeting.

Anonymous said...

"The hardest hit department will be Instruction - which means Instructional Coordinators (who directly support teachers)!"
My department's instructional coordinator is the only one at Central Office that deserves to stay! She works tirelessly for teachers (never turning down a cry for help) and students. Meanwhile, we have others there that come up with unnecessary busy work (like preparing for their focus walks) to justify their own positions. Teachers are professionals; we do not need coaches or supervisors. We have principals who evaluate us every year, and if we meet their expectations, then everyone else needs to get out of our way. Trim the fat at Central Office-keep the instructional coordinator and get rid of everyone else.

Anonymous said...

John Heneghan is a fine, fine person. Dunwoody is doing fine. If and when you see him, please tell him we need him on the Board of Education desperately!!!!

John Heneghan, Ernest Brown and Elle or Marshal Orson would be an all-star team for BOE!

Anonymous said...

“Seven periods includes the teachers' planning period. Supposedly, with this schedule, they get more productivity out of each teacher - I think they said (at the board work session) 83% vs. 72% - something in that range”
Greenie January 21, 11:33AM

Classrooms are swelling up to 35 students; we know/feel that block schedule is ineffective; we prefer 7-period days for our children.

So far so good? Let’s go on….

Do we really want teachers to teach 6 out of these 7 periods each day?

That is 210 students per day? (6 X 35=210)

Come on! If you found out that your Petsmart dog trainer had 210 dogs to train per day, would you bring your dog in for training?

Hmmm…..Let’s look at my 9th grader’s Biology syllabus.

Would this teacher have to fairly grade 210 homeworks 2/3 times a week, 210 quizzes every week; 210 projects every 3 weeks, 210 exams every 4 weeks……

And then answer parents’ e-mails, show up to sports events, sponsor a club, coach a sport on a salary cut?

Wow-----I want my 9th grader to be in such a teacher’s class where his talents, his aspirations, and his “kinship with sardines” will be nurtured during these 7 fifty minutes periods.

Vox Noctae.

Cerebration said...

Great comment, Vox. Love the PetSmart dog trainer analogy.

Anonymous said...

I guess that analogy means our dogs are treated better than our students. Sadly that is true in the DeKalb County School System.

Anonymous said...

Reading through the comments, I have to point out one thing. Switching from 4x4 block to 7-period will actually increase costs because as a teacher, I will be able to see about 30 fewer students per year (150 compared to 180) and we will have to pay to purchase double the number of textbooks -- which at $70 a pop add up very quickly since we have to have 1 text book for all 400 in each grade level versus half that since half take a course in fall and the other half take it in the spring.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1258

It is my understanding that next year teachers on the 7 period will only have one planning period rather than two.

But even without that change, schools that offer 32 credits have to have more teachers than schools that offer 28.

The biggest savings that could be seen is to drop back to a traditional 6 period day and add zero periods and real summer school for credit recovery purposes. This is what many schools in Gwinnett do.

Anonymous said...

Ok, this makes me laugh. This is a quote from Crossroads

“We should work that plan for the next decade,” he said. “If we are going to move people out of central office, when times are better we should not come back and stack the central office again. If we do that we are not going to be where we need to be. If we are serious about savings when the economy gets better, this system stands to gain millions of dollars if we just hold what we have.”

Who stacked it? Dr. Brown had made huge strides in eliminating unneeded positions. You are kidding me right? Finally, eliminating 45 positions is NOTHING! Please stop trying to convince anyone that you are actually doing something. (I realize Halford built the central office into a monster but Brown was wittling it down, then he's gone, Lewis is in and the rest, is well, bad news when it comes to the central office.

As we saw across the county this year, if teachers, who weren't earned at their current school, weren't able to find other positions, they were allowed to stay. THERE WAS NO SAVINGS.

How in the world is he ever going to place 50 pre-k teachers? That is huge, not to mention the paras.

By the way, be sure and drop your legislators a note this weekend asking them to consider looking hard at Sonny's proposed education cuts. This isn't just an DeKalb problem.

Anonymous said...

The above quote was from Dr. Lewis, by the way.

And Gene Walker is nuts. We don't need a 2 percent millage rate increase.

Anonymous said...

Instead of furloughs and tax increases, why isn't DCSS looking into shortening the calendar year and extending the school day (like other school systems are doing)?

And just a comment about Sam Moss - not all employees sit on their butt and do nothing. There is an issue with not having the right equipment and not enough materials to do the job.

Also, Sam Moss employees that are fixing the schools are not allowed to fix anything without a ticket. Some employees do to help the schools out and some don't. Just an FYI.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous January 23, 2010 5:39 AM & January 23, 2010 12:58AM

6-period day is the way to go. No more than 150 students per day for middle & high school per teacher.
DCSS should get rid of its “prescriptive” and “creativity-killing” curriculum laced with data walls and records keeping that neither proves nor means anything!

DCSS should significantly reduce the number of “educational-political-industrial” complex tests requirements. Free AP or PSAT test should be free to needy student/family who have less than 10% absenteeism and at least a 2.5 GPA.

Extend springbreak with the furlough days.

Vox Noctae

Cerebration said...

I'm sorry, I don't even understand Lewis' comment at the end of the article - it's nearly incoherent.

Walker said this -

Walker offered up the higher tax increase option in an effort to offset cuts of $44 million in program reductions; salary cuts, and or furlough days for all staff, except bus drivers, food service workers and custodians.

“I tend to believe that the sacrifice should be all across the board,” Walker said. “I don’t think all the sacrifice ought to be on our employees. I think the citizens of this great county need to share in the education of our children and we need to ask them if they are willing to make a sacrifice.”

I have said for a long time that we will eventually need to raise taxes in order to really offer quality schools. That said, this administration hasn't proven that they have been good stewards of our tax dollars and have absolutely no public trust. Who's to say they wouldn't spend the money on themselves? Another personal health club initiative? How about a massage staff?

Unless and until they clean the house at the the administrative level - they have no business asking for more money.

The ONLY way I would vote for the tax increase was if it was accompanied by that "Student Bill of Rights" one of our brilliant bloggers proposed.

The Student Bill of Rights should state -

Every child has the right to a to be in decent, clean, safe environment.

Every child deserves to be in a classroom with a reasonable pupil teacher ratio. (list specific ratios)

Every child deserves highly qualified, competent teachers who are paid well and have school house support staff and technology.

Every child deserves to have abundant access to state of the art science equipment and technology equipment.


Add your ideas people! We'll wrap our proposed Student Bill of Rights and send it to the board.

Anonymous said...

Imagine cutting the massive administrative bloat, contracting out certain needs like HVAC, Info. systems, grounds, etc., imagine personnel and forensic audits so we don't get into a situation like our way too big shool police dep. and Gloria talley's ineffective, bloated army on curriculum administrators and instructor coaches.

Imagine a Board of Education that demands a very, very efficient school system with a mean and lean administration, resources centered on the classroom and well maintained school buildings, and a system that gets grants and awards from foundations and corporations (which the City of Atlanta School System is doing now thanks to Apple Corp). Imagine that, and our school property millage actually going down a little?

It is very, very possible, just not with this Board of Education, Superintendent Lewis, and his inner circle of Talley, Moseley, Turk and Ramsey.

P.S. Cere or someone, please tell me Ron Ramsey is a 10 month employee, as he misses more than two months per year as a state senator.

Anonymous said...

I don't live in DeKalb and have no overt or hidden agenda, but I'd like to encourage each of you to stay focused. While the comments on specific programs, offices or departments are very much appreciated and useful, I think of the entrenched system culture which led to this discussion in the first place.

The Focus? Educating children with a reasonable system budget. So while most of the players here -- BOE members, super, administrators -- are just unlikeable, let's factor that out. DeKalb has a history of serving many different factions in the "education business" (hate to use that term), and it's gotten away from what is referred to as the line function: educating children.

Example: Do you know the number of student discipline referrals, suspensions, expulsions, special considerations, etc. which spawn the need for all of that central office instructional bloat? I don't know the number, but I imagine it's pretty high. If the culture of the system is that credence and takes-forever follow up is given to every situation, then I'd say those folks are pretty busy. The question is, doing what?

I can think of other areas for fodder, but the bigger point is this: until a system gets back to the basic business of educating children, there won't be any meaningful cuts because the foundation for avoiding the cuts isn't going away.

Do pretty brochures need to be printed for every new idea? No. (Do you NEED a new idea every six months? No.) Do instructional support people need to spend their time addressing every flaky schoolhouse issue coming down the pipe? No. Do service center directors and managers need to spend their time playing politics with school zoning, transportation, and telephone time with people who want to create specialized solutions for every concerned raised? No. When you address what's causing all that wasted time, you'll find that you don't need all those people who can now justify their workday. But support to make those cultural decisions must come from the higher-ups and the board members who will be forced to grow some intestinal fortitude to handle the impact of the culture change.

When you look at the budget, you also need to look at the inventory of board policies, the ever-creative "administrative procedures" which are spawned from those policies, and the student handbook. Seriously. The culture isn't hard to glean with all those things together.

Finally, when you discuss a Tea Party-like movement vis-a-vis BoE members, keep in mind that they are individuals who by themselves can't "fight city hall". (That's why the state legislature made it a 'board' and in DeKalb's case, staggered the election cycles.) But each of them must have the individual fortitude to take the collective deep breath. It's only then that culture change will come -- which will impact the line function and thus the budget.

And let's face it -- you only need five of them to take the collective breath. Since it's impractical to "throw them all out", pick your best five and tell them that across board districts and in the face of the great hue and cry, you'll support their collective breath. Remember, much of what represents the system's largesse literally lives next door to that board member. That's the reality.

Cerebration said...

Great post, Anon! And we do plan to make a very serious effort - here at the blog - and as a group of like-minded taxpaying individuals - to identify and support the BEST 5 people we can find to run for school board in November.

5 seats have terms that expire this year. We need quality people to make the commitment to turning this ship around. We will identify and SUPPORT these 5. We SO want to have a board that only considers the educational needs of our children.

Be thinking --- you know who you are!

Anonymous said...

For the Bill of Student Rights

How about:

Every child deserves equal access to any DCSS programming that he or she is qualified for, to maximize every student's learning potential.
( What a concept, a level playing field across the county and system )

Or How about:

Every child deserves equal access to educationally enhancing services such as foreign language and the arts.
( Once again, a principal should not have to make point decisions in a " regular " school that don't have to be made at special interest schools )

Cerebration said...

Good ideas, Anon --

Keep adding, people!

Anonymous said...

Below is a Elementary STUDENT BILL OF RIGHTS drafted by Mark Pullen, a third grade teacher in Michigan. I got these off his website (see website address at the end of this post).

Interestingly enough many of the rights he lists coincide with the ones the commentators of this blog have put forth. (Maybe what the parents on this blog have to say is commonsense!)

I really loved #5:

1. All students have the right to learn from a teacher who deeply understands her subject matter and who deeply cares about each individual student in her classroom.

2. All students have the right to be safe throughout each school day.

3. All students have the right to meet their own physical needs during school hours (e.g. bringing a snack, getting a drink, being allowed to use the restroom, etc.).

4. All students have the right to enjoy an unstructured recess time at least once a day.

5. All students have the right to be taught by someone who is not reading from a script.

6. All students have the right to be assessed based on improvement, not just raw performance.

7. All students have the right to be appropriately challenged across all subjects.

8. All students have the right to have some measure of choice with regard to at least some of the topics they will study and the assignments they will complete.

9. All students have the right to receive cutting-edge instruction and to spend significant in-class time focusing on current technologies.

10. All students have the right to maintain a vibrant life outside school without being burdened with large quantities of homework.

His website address is:

Pretty interesting perspective from a third grade teacher.

I agree with you Cerebration.

Why not start with funding that ensures a STUDENT BILL OF RIGHTS is in force in the classroom?

The classroom needs must funded first, and all other funding should be addressed only after the classroom needs are accounted for.

Anonymous said...

Interesting Bill of Rights and does seem to hit on all of the big areas ( Instruction, Safety, Being treated with Dignity and Respect, Assessment, Qualified Instructors, etc. )

Is it possible to take the major areas and apply the specifics of DCSS?

For example:
Safety - How many schools, How many staff members per school, How many incidents per year , Cost comparison and quality comparison of on staff " vs " rent a cop.

Instruction - How many students, How many schools with enrollment over and under thresholds, How many special interest settings serving how many students

Why this is indicated... -Real life application of these basic rights is largely based on perception ( perceptions of those in the decision making area and those impacted by the decisions ) . Specifically, DCSS Admin and the BOE would undoubtedly counter that they already respect and implement this Bill of Rights concepts ( such as described ). Whereas, those impacted ( parents, teachers, etc ) would likely disagree with that "perception" across the system.

So, some levels of specificity as to areas for review ( magnets, montessoris, security force utilization , positions in the county office, etc. ) is not just allowing ourselves to be divided as a group or being petty. It actually will have to happen at some level because you have to offer collaborative and specific solutions in any demand to be herad and acknowledged than other than a bunch of whining parents ( what is the term Moseley used " background noise? ) . If you don't then, the decision makers can just make decisons and state that they are well aware of and have implemented such " gray " standards as a bill of rights.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous January 23, 2010 1:01 PM

Excellent ideas! It is critically necessary to establish standards by which parents can measure the performance of Lewis and the BOE.

It would be good to establish quantifiable, measurable objectives that answer the question:
How do parents/taxpayers know each item in the STUDENT BILL OF RIGHTS is being met?

Are there any measurable standards that are publicly available for parents/taxpayers to assess the performance of DeKalb County's administrative office or the BOE?

Currently, the administration will tell you that they derive their measurement of success from the students' performance. However, teachers are the only employees who have student performance on their evaluations.

The 5,700 employees who are support personnel should really have to account for and align their performance to classroom needs.

You would be missing the boat however if teachers did not have input into evaluating these departments. You can't just ask the administration or support departments to evaluate themselves. That's currently what they do, and it's not working for children. Teachers should be part of the evaluation process (very radical idea for Dekalb!)

Teachers should be able to log into Community Net (I believe that's the name of their online system) and answer survey questions that help gauge if the STUDENT BILL OF RIGHTS is being met. This should very easy to automate.

For example, cleanliness of the classrooms and buildings, timely repairs, teacher-pupil ratio, adequate technology for students, timely and effective repairs, security and safety of the school, etc. are areas teachers should be evaluating the administration and all support personnel in.

Some questions would apply to some departments and some questions to others, but ultimately Lewis and the BOE can measure their success on all areas.

If the support personnel were held to a high level of measurable and published standards, then you would see a lot more responsiveness from those areas. Teachers would also have a voice. That is something that is sadly lacking in our schools.

Measures of success can be established with pupil teacher ratio (what really is the optimal at each grade level for students), access to technology (e.g. set number of students per computer,etc.), safety of students (number of incidents reported during the school year) and so on.

This would establish an equalization among schools that so many parents are lamenting in this blog. The controversy over who gets in what school or program (Kittredge, Montessori, etc.) is most often a complaint about unequal resources from school to school.

These inequities currently pit parents against each other and obscures the real issues that are bogging down our schools. What my child has should not be what your child loses.

Cerebration said...

Mark Pullen, third grade teacher in MichiganMark Pullen, a third grade teacher in Michigan, you are our new hero!

Great suggestions people. Keep it flowing... we'll figure out how to make it all into "something" later. Right now, just keep brainstorming!

Good points about ensuring a way to assess the adherence to the SBOR.

Anonymous said...

The comment about the sam moss center. Are you saying that the workers cannot make a repair unless they have a ticket? Then what can of system do you have that can't print a ticket? As a parent I would like to know. Is that the reason it took so long to repair the problem at MLK?.

Mark Pullen said...

Wow. I am thrilled to have my post used in this context. May all of our schools always put the students' needs and rights above all else.

Anonymous said...

The great Pat Pope put in a new system when she did her lay-offs.
So is my understanding that automation would be better than having a PERSON so maybe that is the problem.

Demand.Integrity.Now. said...

Anonymous 10:54
P.S. Cere or someone, please tell me Ron Ramsey is a 10 month employee, as he misses more than two months per year as a state senator.

I believe State Senator Ron Ramsey is a full-time DCSS employee because he "heads up" (I use that term loosely)the DCSS Internal Affairs office.

It is unlikely that Ramsey has enough vacation time to be away from DCSS for the entire 40-day legislative session each year. It is not known if Ramsey takes any unpaid leave or if permission to miss 40 days of work annually was written into his contract with DCSS.

Ramsey's reported DCSS salary for 2008 was $112,743 + $4,158 for unspecified miscellaneous activities. His reported 2008 salary represents a 21.8% raise over 2007. (Ramsey’s 2007 salary was $92,5291.)

If Ramsey does take unpaid leave, who does his job? If $112,743 is what remains after Ramsey takes unpaid leave for those days away from the DCSS office during the 40-day legislative session, then his actual salary must be in excess of $133,241.

As a state senator, Ramsey also earned $17,341 in 2008; $8,356 in 2007.

If Ramsey does not take unpaid leave, but continues to accept payment from DCSS for those 40 days he is in legislative session, as well as payment for being a state senator, this raises a serious ethical – possibly criminal – issue.

To further draw a curtain over his employment by DCSS, Ramsey mentions nothing about it in his State Senator online bio. In fact, he serves on the Education Committee, which seems to be a definite conflict of interest.

Senator Dan Weber serves on that same committee. Weber’s wife is employed by DCSS, so Weber must surely know who Ron Ramsey is. We do not understand why Senator Weber has not taken any corrective action in this situation.

Of the 28 pieces of legislation sponsored by Ron Ramsey in 2009, 14 (50%) were merely to recognize, commend, honor or offer condolences. Three bills were to create study committees and one bill was to request an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. None of his sponsored legislation was passed.

In short, Ron Ramsey’s legislative “contributions” do not justify paying him a full time salary for part-time work at DCSS. Plus there are serious ethics considerations -- possibly criminal acts -- if any of Ramsey's double-dip salary comes from federal funds.

Cerebration said...

Important info on Ramsey Anon.

Let's also not forget that he made a passionate speech at the Capitol when the city of Dunwoody incorporated and called for a total boycott of all Dunwoody businesses. (This is all available on video - I don't have the link, but I remember watching it all online right after it occurred.)

How are we to trust that he is going to do the right thing when it comes to Dunwoody's schools if he has such a disdain for that community?

I'd also really like to know that if it's true that Ramsey has a school system-issued car, does he drive it to the Capitol every day?

Cerebration said...

Also - on the issue of a "ticket" - I think they mean to say "work order". I was told that Sam Moss won't send out maintenance unless the principal files a work order. In fact, when several parents complained that Lakesides' needs had been overlooked in the SPLOST Needs Assessments and that the building was decrepit and in need of major renovations, we were told by Dr. Lewis - in person - that the only problem we had at Lakeside was a "principal problem". You see, the condition of Lakeside was all Mr. Chelf's fault.

Enduring It said...

Ouch! Sen. Ramsey is the very gentleman who lectures all DCSS employees on ethics in a mandatory staff development! The irony is just too cool.

Anonymous said...

Sorry guys but this page is getting luke warm. I used to visit it often trhough the day. There are some grave issues going on in DCSS.

What about the 250 teachers that picketted the board meeting last week.

What about the protest at the Stte Capital today.

What about the teachers wearing black n protest.

These things are important too.

Anonymous said...


Cerebration said...

It takes a team to run a blog -- If a teacher would like to write an article -- I'll be SO HAPPY to post it here for you.

Send it to me - either as an email or attach a Word Doc - if you'd like to remain anonymous that' perfectly fine - Here's the address:

(I'm not a reporter - I don't go out and cover the news...I actually have a real job and do this for "fun"... ha ha)


Cerebration said...

BTW -- Maureen Downey (a real reporter with a paycheck to show for it) has some VERY interesting conversations going on at her AJC Get Schooled blog.

This one talks about what Gov Perdue is doing with the lottery funds

And this one talks about the 200 page application for the "Race to the Top" money -

Anonymous said...

"Ramsey's reported DCSS salary for 2008 was $112,743 + $4,158 for unspecified miscellaneous activities. His reported 2008 salary represents a 21.8% raise over 2007. (Ramsey’s 2007 salary was $92,5291.) "

HOW DOES ANYONE IN DCSS GET A 21% RAISE??? A $20,000 increase in salary in one year?? WTF??!!

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