Saturday, February 27, 2010

So, what about the DCSS budget and school closings?

Sadly, DeKalb schools have been front page news at least three times this week - and not for reasons we can be proud of. As we all stopped to gawk at the train wreck our central office has now become, we took our eyes off of the very important tasks at hand.

There are a few people who have the strength to avert their eyes from the Lewis/Pope crisis and stay focused on the issues that effect our children and our communities. Let's try to be in this group - let's stay focused.

Maureen Downey brought us a very good report on the discussions surrounding school closings at her AJC blog, "Get Schooled". This is the most information I have seen about that issue - ever. Thanks, Maureen.

In addition, our friends at the DeKalb Parent Resource blog have been desperately trying to remain focused on the work needing done for our schools. They offer links to all kinds of resources and detailed notes from the meetings they attend. Good job guys!

But as far as I can tell, this latest debacle has stalled discussions about budget cuts. Teacher contracts remain in limbo. The meeting Friday where Lewis was going to propose cuts was canceled and it doesn't look like the board has time to turn their attention back to the issue. And now, the Lewis 'situation' looks like all it will do is add more financial liability to our already broken budget.

We need to communicate to our board reps that we want them to focus first on getting the school system and it's budget back on track. We want them to communicate the plans for teachers and staff clearly. And we want communities elevated to a level of partnership and included in discussions. We can solve our problems - we have so many caring, dedicated parents, teachers and community leaders willing to roll up their sleeves in DeKalb.


Anonymous said...

I think you have a very good point - lets focus on the real mission. The BOE is likely feeling like the "walls are closing in on them" as the investigation is now moving from the "corrupt facilities/construction" person on up the chain of command and could potentially now embroil them - the BOE - in the investigation.

There is a long list of real business to be done and unfortunately the "folks in charge" are distracted by all the drama that really is not, day to day, relevant to the business at hand, providing our children a solid eduction and future. The day to day business is diminishing by the week as the drama escalates.

Anonymous said...

Yes, please, let's keep our focus on education.

BTW, the teacher contract issue affects not only DeKalb teachers - it affects the teachers statewide. I was in a meeting this morning in which a Fulton County elementary school teacher was in attendance. She is really scared at this point - they were told contacts could be delayed until May 15th and that both music and art is going to be cut in the elementary schools in Fulton.

Anonymous said...

But at the end of the day, Fulton has such involved parents that they will never cut art and music. In DeKalb, it seems, unless a special populations' programs are cut or it is your piece of the pie, so to speak, regular parents are slow to react.

Anonymous said...

DeKalb's new interim superintendent has 2 years teaching experience and was an Education Instructional Specialist for IBM before returning to Dekalb's MIS Department according to an article in the AJC today.

Today the AJC reported that the interim superintendent Ms. Tyson had 2 years in the classroom from 1987 - 1989 as a Business Ed teacher, 4 years as an Education Instructional Specialist for IBM from 1989 until 1993 and then back to DeKalb where she was in the MIS Dept. from 1993 until last fall 2010 when she was promoted by Dr. Lewis.

AJC quote: "Tyson's experience in corporate America may help with handling the school system's deficit, which could grow to $115 millio by July.
'Her corporate experience will be a major asset,' said Leonardo McClarty, president of the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce."

As an Education Instructional Specialist at IBM, she could not have been responsible for generating revenue or reducing expenses, the two areas DCSS desperately needs our leaders to be proficient in.

The paper also said she was recommended to the board by Dr. Lewis.
AJC quote: "Dr. Lewis recommended Tyson take over Womack told the AJC"

She sounds a lot like Dr Lewis - short on educational experience, short on business experience.

I'll grant Ms. Tyson managed MIS for the last 5 years, but the service the teachers and students got from MIS do not show her to be capable of a fair Return on Investment for taxpayers. eSIS woes, poorly installed and maintained computer equipment, an enormous support staff (300 employees and $24,000,000 in salaries and benefits) all happened on Ms. Tyson's watch.

Ella Smith said...

We must get back to business of educating our children. I could not agree more.

However,the Fulton County School System are making drastic cuts and many positions will go. Some of them will be music and PE positions. Fulton is over 100 million dollars in the red and with the republican members of the board taxes will not be raised. Cuts will be made to balance the budget. When money is not available the school system does not have a choice.

I think some think people pull money out of a hat. But Fulton County currently does not have a hat to pull money out of just like Dekalb. The money being spent to other poorer counties is handicapping the metro counties. While the rural districts keep their property taxes low we continue to pay the maximum to pay for their children in the rural counties education. I for one am getting tired of this.


Again, I believe the rural counties need to increase their tax base by increasing their ml rate. Just because you live in the rural area does not mean you pay a low ml rate. Just because you live in the city you pay a high ml rate to pay for the education of children in rural Ga. Something is wrong here I think.

Contact your Dekalb Leg.

Anonymous said...

This is the point about magnets, This occurs right under our noses in Dekalb County; Tax dollars are used to support enhanced services in magnets ( language ? daily , music several times a week ) and provide for a very low teacher student ratio ( 1-18 ) while the budgets ( points that are used to determine staffing decisions ) in regular schools are cut,
This is not equitable ; I am convinced that parents know this and do care but are so frustrated by the lack of response from BOE and Admin that they just don't speak up anymore....

Anonymous said...

Ella is correct about the big picture. (Anon this has absolutely nothing to do with magnets, which are miniscule in comparison.) The BIGGEST chunk of money that DCSS has lost is due to the way the state apportions funds to counties. A portion of our DeKalb tax dollars are redistributed to "rural" counties such as Gwinnett County. But these counties are not raising their millage rates to pay for their education deficits.

Contact all the state legislators and complain. However, DCSS looks bad to the state because we have so many "empty" seats thus we lose state dollars for construction. That is one of the reasons for consolidation.

Anonymous said...

Retirement now!

Without regards to guilt or innocence, to free the DCSS leadership to move forward, Dr. Lewis should take retirement now.

Otherwise, decision makers may fear being second-guessed on every major policy decision upon the possible return of Dr. Lewis. In other words, the interim superintendent and her staff will have to walk the line rightly or wrongly traced by Dr. Crawford.

The BOE can sweeten the pot to encourage retirement by offering UP TO the amount of 90-120 days of salary as legal fees.

The Board of Education should also let SACS know that they are going to provide more adult supervision now that inexperience is at the helm.

Anonymous said...

Out of a 23-year professional career in Dekalb County interrupted by 4 years at IBM (corporate America)as an Educational Specialist, the IBM years are this person claim to fame? Wow...only 2 years in a school/classroom--the first 2 years of this wonderful career.

Unless she was way up there in the IBM technology department or in the executive has to wonder what does this mean.

Do you think? Do we manufacture people or what...

Hire real seasoned principals who have toiled at all levels to run schools...

Cerebration said...

I think this harkens back to when IBM was promoting the "Writing to Read" program. Remember that? It was determined to not be an effective program and was scrapped.

Anonymous said...


Why make such a big deal about the IBM years?????

Where is the school experience, all I see if a person who worked in the periphery of education.

What is going on here. Get a retired neutral principal to take the wheels. The sinking is continuing.

Anonymous said...

major experience in PE, Business Ed, Elementary Ed.... receipe for disaster...

Cerebration said...

Sorry, I thought it was reported in the AJC as being the deciding factor - I'm not making a big deal of it really. She's temporary - or at least she needs to be. We need someone fresh from somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

I think we are all getting ahead of ourselves since Ms. Tyson is simply in an acting position. However, I respectfully disagree with anyone who thinks the Superintendent of a school system the size of DeKalb should be a professional educator or a former principal. The next superintendent should be someone with years of experience in very large businesses. It must be someone from outside DCSS. It should be someone who has led a successful downsizing.

Now, I believe that Gloria Talley's job should be filled with a professional educator with lots of experience in the classroom.

But most important is let's get back to the budget.

Ella Smith said...

Anonymous being a classroom teacher is great experience for being a super. I do agree it is nice to have this experience. However, I also agree with you that running a school system is big business and needs to be run by someone with a ton of leadership experience.

School business is big business and big money. School boards are the top employers in the nation.

Anonymous said...

Acting super or not, this job should be given to someone with the capacity to carry the load.

Some of you seem to imply with should send a businessman to lead the army in Afganistan.

The business of Dekalb County Schools is to EDUCATE not to MANAGE. Sure, in order to educate, the superintendent has to have some business skills but he/she MUST be ABOVE all an EDUCATOR.


Anonymous said...

I don't think we'd want the CEO's who ran Wachovia, GM, and Chrysler for superintendent.

Frankly, in the present economic situation from sea to shining sea, the last person I would hire is a full-fledged businessman.


Anonymous said...

@ Anon 10:07 -- Bullseye.

Vox 10:24, sorry, this is the 1st time I think I've disagreed with you.

A senior business person has the acumen to hire where he/she is has short commings. Likely he/she would bring in an exceptional educator to lead Instruction, and as importantly an effective CFO to manage the $1B+ aggregate budget to make sure efforts are maximized in the classroom.

DCSS is too big, too many dollars, too many employees, too many federal and state regulations to comply with for someone with only a teacher or principal's training to manage effectively. DeKalb County School System is a very complex government regulated organization and from a revenue and HR perspective one of the largest businesses public or private in the State.

A senior executive knows that organizations become stronger when weak players are dismissed. Employees that remain show increased commitment and pride, and they enjoy their jobs more. Those perspective employees considering joining the team find doing so more even more attractive after a RIF since the organization has demonstrated their commitment to excellence. They want to be part of that.

Bring in a pro or it's status quo.

Anonymous said...

Public schools don't generate income. They are consumers of income.

And the rules and regulations are what prospective administrators learn during their study for a Leadership Certificate.

The life experience a true professional acquires during his/her professional life in the classroom, in school administration, in the district makes for competent superintendents.

Running Coca-Cola has little to do with education.


Anonymous said...

Personally, I want Herman Cain as superintendant for 5 years.

Anonymous said...

I think local Superintendent should be elected offices. This is a great way for the candidates to tell the public what they are made of and prove qualifications. I think a retired military commander would be perfect, they know how to forecast, well trained and most are abreast of all educational forms. And we know they don't mind cutting the fat where it is needed. And BTW sometimes the interiem is voted in as a permanent replacement...and personally I think the BOE should not be taking any recommendations from CLewis about anything. He needs to remain silent until these matters are resolved. I almost believe they are incompetent if they can't pick a suitable replacement on their own....they should have had Mosley step right in if he wanted the job or not..after all he's being paid as an assistant witht the most seniorty...while we are discussing pay...will the acting Super be paid the full salary while in that capacity?...Please someone check on that and update us...

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 10:07 & 11:00, both of you are right on target! With no disrespect for former principals, running a billion dollar enterprise with over 10,000 employees is a tremendous task. Many who have come through the ranks in education have become superintendents and done so successfully. By the same token, some have done so and failed miserably. I'm not sure if there is a profile that would indicated someone would be successful in this job.

I disagree with Anon @ 12:10 more so I don't have confidence in our citizens to elect the most qualified person. I understand this was at one time, if not in Georgia but other states. I believe making this a political position may create conflicts between the Board and superintendent. The solution for this is for the citizens to elect better Board members who would in turn select the most qualified leader for a school system to run it.

Anonymous said...

@ 5:32 -- While we're at it let's make the board seats appointed rather than elected. Many states due this already.

Sure it'll create some conflicts, but it will help remove the "my schools" mentality so prevalent in DeKalb. If the board members didn't have to worry about showing their electorate how they're caring for "their schools" maybe they could focus on the district as a whole for a change and begin to make decisions that could benefit all of DeKalb's kids.

Naaah, who am I kidding it'll never happen.

themommy said...

Appointed by who? In some school systems, the mayor has taken over the schools (Memphis and New York City come immediately to mind). Do you think Vernon Jones would have appointed well? Maybe Burl Ellis would do a good job.

Or should the Superintendent appoint the people who set his salary, determine his contract, etc?

Local school boards are very vulnerable because constituents don't pay attention. If DeKalb voters only pay attention in one or two districts, then it does no good. Or they do pay attention, in some places, ultra conservatives who want religion back in school, school vouchers, etc have taken control of school boards to try and force their agendas.

In addition, voters are almost never able to see the big picture (Vote for me because I promise to get your high school back to the way it was 30 years ago, is very appealing to someone who believes that that is possible. It isn't.)

Add in the fact that it really is a pretty miserable job (even when things are going well) and you have a lethal combination.

There is some research out there looking at whether we should even have local school boards. I will look for it later.

Anonymous said...

Funny with budget woes at $88 million, DCSS was the only system conducting interviews at Saturdays MRESA Job Fair. No contracts have gone out yet DCSS was conducting interviews? How do you interview when you're closing 4 schools? What do they know that we don't? Teachers in DCSS feel trapped because we want out but there are very few places to go. I teach in Dekalb and I am a great teacher with excellent test scores. However, I am doing everything I can to get out of Dodge as fast as I can!

Anonymous said...

You are right on with your point about DeKalb tax dollars flowing to other counties. It is particularly galling that Gwinnett still gets these funds slated for "rural" counties, but as long as Gwinnett's delegation at the statehouse is predominantly part of the majority party and ours predominantly part of the minority party that won't change. The simple fact is that Atlanta--DeKalb and Fulton, to be precise, has been the good old boys' cash cow for generations, and that ain't gonna change anytime soon.

As for tending to our own garden, I for one don't object to a tax hike, but only if we do 3 things first:
1. Trim non-teaching staff to the level that is average in most counties. As we've all read on these boards numerous times, that may save about $50 million
2. Sell or lease excess properties--at reasonable prices and duration of lease terms to make them attractive to renters
3. Make extracurricular activities self-sustaining. I don't like it either, but it's hard to justify busing the team if you don't have money to heat the classroom.

We have to make some serious cuts, but we need to make them in the right places. DCSS is not an employment program, nor a realtor, nor a community/athletics program--it is an educational system. In a time of tight money, we need to concentrate on the essentials.


Anonymous said...

Other things that need to be done: Board of Ed needs to be cut to 5 Members who are all "at large" elected and not by District -- this would get rid of most of the "my school" or "my neighborhood" mentality. It is appalling that CLew was able to direct his replacement -- perhaps Martha Reichraft (sp?) should be tapped as interim? This is a business operation with Millions of taxpayer dollaras -- the educators can be high up but a business-minded person needs to be in control or the educator needs an MBA from a school that's highly ranked and has been around a while (e.g. not "on line")(My opinion). It's also appalling that we don't get any "input" from folks with experience from out of state (particularly from states with really successful urban school systems). The business of "equilazation" at this stage of the game (what Ella is speaking about) has got to change -- DeKalb is really burnt on this and in this economy we, DeKalb, taxpayers, pay at the high end of the mil rate while other counties, including Gwinnett, take a huge portion of what we pay in, based on some agrarian landscaping and we, DeKalb and Fulton, are penalized becuase we are so commercial and are taxed at such a high level (how I understand how it works) -- if you get the details -- you'd be amazed and appalled at how many dollars (millions?) go to the other counties, including Gwinnett, in equalization.

Anonymous said...

It was $50,000,000 flowing out of DeKalb in the 90s as equalization. I don't know what it is now. Does it really go to Gwinette? We have so many more Title 1 schools than they do. That's amazing and terribly unfair. We have a very needy school population.

Anonymous said...

Interesting "discussion". Posters who said that the Super should have experience as a teacher, now say that Tyson is unqualified because she had so little teaching experience. If a teacher with 25 years experience would have been named some of you would have complained. You don't care - you just want to complain.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 9:36 am
I'm not surprised DCSS is the only school recruiting at MRESA. I went on PATS last week and saw they are advertising generic positions, particularly in science and math, anything to get teachers. This seems surprising since DCSS has said they are going to eliminate so many teacher positions next year by increasing the pupil teacher more than any other school system and switch from block to 7 periods to pack more students into the school day.

The only conclusion I can draw is HR must be expecting an enormous amount of teacher turnover next year as experienced teacher (particularly science and math) are planning to leave the county. Experienced science and math teachers are alwYs able to find jobs. Science is particularly critical as the state is moving to up the number of science classes student must take while producing very few science teachers. 3 years ago figures came out about the number of science teachers graduating in GA. The figures were 3 physics teachers, 9 chemistry teachers, and 40 biology teachers.

I would like to see the teacher turnover rates for the last 5 years and also the anticipated teacher turnover rate. This needs to be considered when the BOE is weighing budget cuts. I'm willing to bet we've lost 50% to 70% of our teachers since 2004. I was trying to compare teacher salaries from 2004 to 2005 and it was shocking. I could hardly find any left from 2004 to 2005. All the administrators were there though.

Anonymous said...

" DCSS was the only system conducting interviews at Saturdays MRESA Job Fair. No contracts have gone out yet DCSS was conducting interviews? "

The Human Resources folks in Building A & B have to justify their high paying and multiple layered jobs. So they held interviews knowing that there are NO JOBS.

Now, imagine what every other Building A & B employee is doing all year long: they create USELESS and MEANINGLESS work for teachers that have little to do with teaching kids---what they do is on many occasions CONTRARY to teaching kids.

Anonymous said...

"Personally, I want Herman Cain as superintendant for 5 years."

We needed a good joke. Here is a better one yet----why don't you bring Rod Paige with $500 000 annual contract. He will repeat the magic he was responsible for in Houston Public Schools.


Anonymous said...

Correction to former post . When I tried to comapre teacher salaries from 2004 to 2009 I could hardly find any teacher that were on the payroll and still there 5 years later. High teacher turnover is a clear signal that something is wrong. It's the canary inthe coal mine.

Anonymous said...

"You don't care - you just want to complain."

This tells you that we care enough to articulate (hoping the Board of Education reads these posts) what our vision of the qualifications of an effective superintendent.

For my part, I think the superindendent should be an educator first and foremost having held positions in the classroom, in high school administration, and at the district or state levels as an administrator. The cumulative experiences (in Dekalb or outside of Dekalb) would inform and facilitate the education functions of public schools.

The so-called business savvy to wisely use public funds would be provided by an appointed "Dekalb School Manager" with a salary on par with what a 150 000 city manager commands.

The Board of Education that supposedly represents the citizen of Dekalb would provide the supervision as it was intended.


Anonymous said...


...with a salary on par with what a city manager of a city of 150 000 citizens commands.


Dekalbparent said...

It appears that there is some consensus on this blog that there needs to be someone with extensive educational experience and someone with business experience. (IMO, it is imperative that the person have experience outside of DeKalb - preferable outside of Georgia, and the business person have a track record of solid and prudent fiscal management as well as no connections with anyone in DCSS.)The only question is how to structure this.

The two people must be able to communicate and negotiate with each other - if the education person wants to do X, the business person should be able to determine whether X is feasible, and, if so, how to do it. The education person has to be able to accept an answer that it is not feasible.

Anonymous said...

Having someone with classroom experience and experience running a multi=million dollar business sounds almost impossible to find.

What we need is a superintendent who is in charge of the budget and making sure that money is spent properly and not squandered. One who stop the law suits and ensure the construction projects are completed on time, within budget and with quality workmanship. Then we need a second person who works to ensure that the children are receiving a quality education, that the train the trainer model is ended and real training takes place.

Arne Duncan, our secretary of education, has NO classroom experience what so ever, he played professional basketball in Australia. I am not joking, read his bio.

As a teacher, having a person who has worked in the classroom is not important. We need someone who can manage money, has an honest heart for the kids, who can listen about wants and desires of the teachers and not administrators and ask questions to help clarify and come up with the best possible way to make things happen. We need someone with common sense and fiscal knowhow! There are a number of administrators who do not know how to be fiscally responsible with their own finances, how do you expect for them to be responsible with tax payer dollars?

Anonymous said...

I came to the education field after being in corporate America and I do believe that a good leader for our county could be someone from the outside. Why? They bring a different perspective and maybe a more professional atmosphere that I see missing in the education system. A strong leader will appoint those with the skills required for their positions. I don't think every principal needs to be promoted to the county office because frankly some of them do not have the skill sets for the job. It's time current teachers and parents think a little outside the box!

I also urge the Parent Councils get more involved to positively promote for their feeder systems and help come up with alternative solutions. If they see us working cohesively as group and not against each other, we may be heard more clearly!

Right now we need to focus on the kids and teachers. Do you realize that when they make it public about which schools will close, it will be just before the CRCT. As a parent and an educator, I do not want children stressing about their school before this mandated test.

Anonymous said...

I spent 7 years as a teacher in DeKalb, left for the corporate world to spend 8 years with AT&T as a large accounts salesperson selling data and telecommunications equipment and networks, and then returned to DCSS to teach.

At AT&T I had to make my quota every month to remain employed. My job involved extensive cash flow analyses for customers taking into consideration their income statements, balance sheets, revenue goals, and current expenses in order to cost justify expenditure proposals for telecommunications equipment and services. I immersed myself in their business operations in order to fit my product mix to their particular needs.

Showing a solid understanding of their business needs, projecting an ROI based on mutually agreed upon goals, and careful followup to make sure the implementation was smooth and the cost savings were real were all part of my job.

When I returned to the classroom, my viewpoint was forever changed by my business experience.

The lack of business acumen that was pervasive throughout the school system administration was truly astounding.

No one cared if the doors were left open because the air conditioning thermostat (centrally located to run all schools) was set too high.

No one cared if a program chosen by the Central Office cut into my instructional time. IBM was my major account and I had learned from them that time is money.

No one cared if a program chosen by the Central Office actually produced the results or ROI promised. The executives I worked with at Fortune 500 companies lived and died with the ROI of their decisions.

No one cared if the wrong materials, equipment or supplies were ordered or a program purchased did not fit my students' need. I was used to doing extensive interviews with line employees to see where bottlenecks in communications were, and the decision makers were always interested in efficiencies that would increase revenue or decrease expenses.

No one cared if my computers were fixed or if I had the hardware and software I needed to make my job more efficient. I was used to using technology to return time to me so I could re-employ it into my job.

I'm retired now, and I read about DeKalb County woes. I'm not really surprised. Business acumen coupled with educational experience is a must for running a school system the size of DCSS. Is there anyone in the Central Office who has been in a business position that required him/her to be responsible for revenue generation and expense reduction?

A business person could possibly run DCSS, but only if he(or she) immerses himself in the nuts and bolts of the classroom and made understanding the core business which is the classroom a priority.

Strictly speaking education is not a revenue producing entity. However, the goals of the entity are very specific. And there is an enormous need for the efficiencies that lead to expense reduction and cost re-allocation. There are many business basics needed in DCSS in order to generate greater productivity on the part of the employees in all areas.

Anonymous said...

There is absolutely no evidence that Dr. Lewis appointed his temporary replacement. If anything, I think he would have chosen Robert Mosley over Ms. Tyson anyday.

Ms. Tyson had recently taken on the responsibility for the budgeting process. I suspect that the board choose her because she was already knee deep in it, so to speak.

Anonymous said...

That may be true. However, it does not mean that Tyson is competent. Unless one sees this "business" from the inside, I think it is difficult if not impossible to understand just how corrupt, nepotistic, cronyistic, and harmful to the alleged task at hand it really is. Red ink is red ink. The problems have reached such a magnitude that the ship will continue to sink, unless drastic action is taken. Yet the Board refuses to bring in proven, competent outsiders capable of drawing up an interim budget as a prelude to a thorough house-cleaning. Unfortunately, the quality of public education tends to reflect the priorities of the community. Does the Board have any clue whatsoever just how far behind so many of the children of Dekalb county are? Does it care?

Anonymous said...

Well put, Anon 2:13. Why not bring in a couple of seasoned, retired principals who thoroughly understand the system? Task them with closing the budget gap and streamlining the administration. Then conduct real external searches to restaff the entire leadership. No fraternity and sorority ties. No church ties.

Anonymous said...

anon 2:25


Anonymous said...

There are plenty of very sharp, dynamic educational professionals out there who understand the problems in systems such as ours (look at the KIPP model). Maybe the crisis is an opportunity? Unfortunately, the administrative culture in Dekalb is so bad that such a change in leadership would be tantamount to a revolution. Most of our current administrators are very far removed from Dubois' "talented tenth" ideal (and I say this as an African-American). There are, however, some excellent retired administrators out there who could act in a caretaker role. It would be nice to see the Board step up to the plate and do something meaningful, but I won't be holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 2:00 pm
"There is absolutely no evidence that Dr. Lewis appointed his temporary replacement."

Why would you say that?
Listen to what an AJC article said:
"Dr. Lewis recommended Tyson take over Womack told the AJC"

If a BOE member says Dr. Lewis recommended Tyson take over, and then the BOE approves that person, isn't that the same as appointing that person?

If you think the AJC misquoted Womack, email Womack and ask him. I'm sure he'll answer you back. he answered an email I sent recently within a few days.

Anonymous said...

These recent comments are good. I wonder if the Board reads them? One of the members claims to have a Ph.D. in history from Duke. If true, surely this person is capable of thinking? As a community, we need to understand that our educational system is at a crossroads. It can either be changed drastically and get better, or it can be allowed to rot away. If we take the second way, the African-American part of Dekalb especially will pay a heavy price in lower living standards and economic decline. It is up to us to begin the process of change. We need to get together and prove the folks who say we don't care about education wrong.

Anonymous said...

Our Board had been so bad for so long that I doubt anything drastic will happen unless the Board gets confronted with even worse facts. And by then they would be even further behind the curve. It's kind of like George W. Bush and his policy of denial. I can't figure out why it's this way, but it is. I guess one theory is that the corruption is so broad that everyone at the top is afraid of turning on anybody else.

Anonymous said...

Let's all take a break and watch Team U.S.A.! BTW, I saw Randy Lee from a distance at Perimeter mall yesterday....if only we had him around these days!

Cerebration said...

Anon, 11:14 AM, don't just post a comment at this blog and hope the board reads it -- we all need to make our voices heard by emailing the board and telling them what you want to see happen and what you think of their decisions.

We have provided a link on the homepage (just above the "Recent Comments" where with a single click you can generate an email to the entire board - I hope you are all using it!

Anonymous said...

KIPP schools sound great, but if you think teacher turn over is high now in DeKalb, take a closer look at teacher turn over at KIPP schools (18-49%). Teachers need to be available to answer student questions about homework via telephone daily, work on Saturdays and work a much longer work day.

DeKalb doesn't need any more fads. What the teachers need to do their jobs is to be able to hold students accountable for their work and turning it in on time, being able to give a zero when it's been earned, and holding all students to high standards, quality student data needs to be collected with time for teachers to be able to use it to drive instruction, and emphasis needs to be on teaching above the standards instead of to the standards.

Anonymous said...

Cerebration is right. I emailed every BOE member. Three of them emailed me back. I also went to the DCSS website and sent in budget suggestions. That's the most effective way to let them know what their constituents are thinking.

This blog is a good way to keep everyone informed. There is some misinformation, but other posters generally provide the balance necessary to filter out the errors.

I know that many employees in DeKalb from the lowest to the highest levels read this blog. And teachers discuss what is said on this blog among themselves.

About the BOE as readers of this blog, I don't know that.

So please use the link Cerebration has created above the Comments section. This makes it easy for you to write one email that goes to all BOE members. We need to fill their email boxes.

Dekalbparent said...

I, too, have been emailing the BOE on a regular basis. The idea is not to harass them or make them think we are looking for them to trip up, but rather to let them know that a LOT of people are aware of what is happening in the school system and are thinking about ways to solve the problems.

They need to know that we are out here and we care - keep writing.

Ella Smith said...

Adminstrators today go through extensive training.

I have learned so much in the classes I am taking. It gives me such a difference propective to discuss issues. I do believe the superintendent has to be a certified educational leader. There is too much to know about education in running a educational system. This is real different than running a major company.

However someone from the outside of Dekalb County would be nice. It would not have to be outside Ga. The good old boy/girl system needs to be broken up at the county office and things done above board and for the children and taxpayers of Dekalb County.

Nonni said...

@ Anonymous 5:03 PM
"Cerebration is right ... We need to fill their e-mail boxes."

How many times do we have to say the same thing to BOE members? Albert Einstein once said "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".

Think about this quote for a second and ask yourself, does this quote apply here? If the BOE was going to do the right thing, they would have already done it.

The BOE now must be met with an eerie, stone-cold silence. They have had their chance. Because of the BOE's inaction, it's too late to save this school year and probably too late to save next year.

Time to stop asking the BOE to do what is right and start planning for their complete demise at the polls. Let our silence put them on notice: "Enough already! You are through."

Anonymous said...

My prediction? Ramona Tyson, with her extensive "corporate experience" in staff development will FINALLY listen to the people in the DCSS Finance division who have been ignored by CLew. They've predicted and tried to get ahead of all of the financial woes of the district. Their track record is 100%, but no one would ever know it. Tyson has no budgeting experience and knows it. If she listens to the people who KNOW what is going on in the financial world (unlike Lewis, time and time again) she will come out smelling like a rose. This budget situation should have been remedied more than a month ago, but CLew kept trying to pacify his board members. Fat lotta good that did him.

The AJC and the school board will end up lauding her for "keeping the district from disaster". It will seem as if she came in and masterfully created a plan to get DCSS out of the $88 million deficit. The solution has been on the table for a while. No one has paid attention. Remember that when they hail Tyson as the savior.

Anonymous said...

I think all elected officials who are facing the voters tend to be swayed by emails. Contacting your representatives is critical. Email makes it so very easy to contact them. If they are not responsive, then there is the election this fall for 5 BOE members.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 7:47 pm

Ms. Tyson was Deputy Chief Superintendent Business Operations. Marcus Turk, DCSS Chief Financial Officer, was under her. The Finance Department reported to her during this current debacle so she has much to answer to.

Dr. Lewis was purchasing America's Choice for $8,000,000, adding expensive non-teaching personnel, sending 180 employees on the controversial Hollywood trip, and making other disastrous financial decisions on Ms. Tyson's watch.

In addition, for 5 years Ms. Tyson presided over the MIS Department which swelled in personnel (almost 300 employees costing $24,000,000 in salaries and benefits) while giving teachers and students an unprecedented level of poor customer service.

I urge you to ask any teacher how they like the eSIS online gradebook system recommended by Ms. Tyson and the installation and maintenance of the technology in their classrooms and school.

Do you really think Ms. Tyson will morph into a business leader in today's unprecedented economic crisis? There is nothing in her background and performance to suggest that. On the contrary, she was picked by Dr. Lewis according to Paul Womack, BOE member (see AJC article). That alone should cause us concern.

Anonymous said...

MIS has $24,000,000 in salaries and benefits and around 300 employees? That comes out to $80,000 per MIS employee. Wow! I bet our teachers don't have that as their average pay. Are they more important than teachers?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember this law?
HB 1505 - School administrators; impose teaching requirement I could only find the House bill, but I remember this was a law for a while:

All administrators were required to spend the equivalent of 3 days a year as the sole teacher in a classroom in order maintain their certificates.

It was really comical. The DCSS administrators freaked out. They kept finding ways to get other experiences to count as classroom experience because their many responsibilities precluded their spending 3 days a year with kids.

We have 200 employees that are Instructional, Graduation, and Literacy coaches or Instructional Coordinators. In addition perhaps we have maybe 400 more that are principals, APs or have other titles in the Central Office.

Wouldn't it be great if they subbed 3 days a year?

Here is the law:
"The General Assembly finds and declares that it is in the best interest of Georgia's elementary and secondary students to be educated in schools administered by persons who spend some time teaching in a classroom setting each year. Required minimum classroom time for school administrators would ensure that everyone connected with a child's education be focused on teaching.

"In light of the findings and declarations of subsection (a) of this Code section, there is created the school administrator teaching program. A school administrator shall be required each school year to spend the equivalent of three full school days teaching in a classroom as the sole teacher in order to maintain his or her certification. The school administrator teaching program shall begin with the 1998-1999 school year. Any school administrator who has not completed the minimum three days of classroom teaching by the end of the 1998-1999 school year, or by the end of any subsequent year, shall have his or her certification revoked."

I googled but couldn't find out if it was repealed, but it must have been because I haven't heard about it in ages.

Anonymous said...

Why all the worry about what Ms Tyson can do. The reality is that Dr. Lewis will still be making all the decisions. There are, no doubt, multiple phone calls between Board members, Dr. Lewis, and Ms Tyson on a daily basis.
Nothing changes.

Cerebration said...

That is a very interesting law, Anon. As far as I can tell, it's still on the books. Attorneys - weigh in!

Anonymous said...

Most of the school administrators spend way more than the three days in a classroom, just filling in when teachers cannot find subs, handling a class when a teacher is taken ill, and many plan things such as doing a math or reading lesson for the teachers at various times during the year.
Once you get away from the school, I suspect that same cannot be said.

Anonymous said...

Do Central Office people go into the classrooms and spend a full day teaching as the sole teacher 3 days a year? I know they don't. This law was designed to ensure they do have some feel for what it's like to handle a classroom. And it is a rare principal that I have seen ever take a class for a day. Generally, APs cover. It's an interesting law.

Anonymous said...

The bill never became law.

Anonymous said...

Every principal in the Decatur school system has to audit one class per day. They know every student by name, they know the needs of every teacher and subject. It's a whole lot easier for a science or PE teacher to get the equipment they need, because the principal sees the need and advocates for it. Principals have so many demands on their time, but this is a smart policy.

DCSS would be an infinitely better system is career bureaucrats like Tyson, Talley, Moseley, Ramsey, Turk, Guillory, Pope, etc. were all required to audit a class every year at the elem, middle and high school levels. The Sam Moss higher-ups should all be made to spend time at Cross Keys. Heck, make them mop up the Lakeside rest rooms once a year.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. DCSS lost its focus years ago, when working at the Central Office became the goal for almost everyone, and staying there mean for some no holds barred, elbows flying battle. Only the saviest and most political moved up to the highest paying jobs (Ron Ramsey!).

Let's get back to basics. Make sure we have some of our best teachers with economically disadvantaged students. Make sure we have math and science teachers with advanced degrees that DCSS pays for. Put the focus back on the school building, not the Mountain Industrial mega-complex.

- Schools with a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students have teachers with less experience and fewer credentials.

- New teachers are placed with students who are academically behind those of more experienced teacher both across and within schools.

Anonymous said...

The Premier DeKalb County School System Office of School Improvement
The Year of The Parent
Together We Can Make a Difference
A FREE half-day Parent Conference

Saturday, March 13, 2010 from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Avondale Middle School, 3131 Old Rockbridge Road
Avondale Estates, GA30002

A complimentary breakfast will be served at 7:30 a.m.
Dr. Alduan Tartt, a practicing psychologist and accomplished author, community servant and humanitarian, is the keynote speaker. He will speak on the topic
“Effective Parenting in Today’s Society”. Dr. Tartt will also present two workshops on parenting. In addition, a variety of workshops focusing on test-taking strategies will be offered to assist parents in the facilitation of student achievement.
The workshops include: Mathematics and Reading for all grade levels, Special Education, Early Childhood Workshops, and Transition from Elementary to Middle and Middle to High. Middle and High School students will have an opportunity to participate in a panel
discussion with various community members. Poet Hank Stewart will be guest moderator for the panel.
Language translators will be available for some workshops and child care for school age children
will be provided. We will also have exhibits featuring the DeKalb County School System, various community agencies, and educational
Door prizes will be awarded at the conclusion of the conference!

For more information, call Jackie Marshall at 678-676-0376.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Parent Conference at Avondale Middle:

Check out one of Dr. Tartt's websites:

One Fed Up Insider said...

Will Ernest Brown run. He is just awesome. If you just missed him on the school board meeting you really missed a true passionate parent.

Blue Sky said...

If you think the BOE or any of their members are gonna listen to our soap boxing in a blog...well to put it nicely...they could care less about our complaints and ramblings.


Anonymous said...

They've listened before. I'm sure that sending high paid district office peple to classroom at high salaries for a year was quashed by this blog.

BOE, give us a sign that you are listening.

Anonymous said...

I think the influence of this blog is that voters emailed their BOE members. That's the single most important way of influencing any elected representative besides voting members in and out of office. An onslaught of positive or negative emails or telephone calls lets elected officials know the general tenor of their constituents.

Playing Bongos with Lewis said...

Sure, listening and doing are two vastly different things.

The BOE is a group of elected officials, they fear us as taxpayers, OR SHOULD, since we can change the coarse of action with a majority vote.

Everyone on this blog says we should focus, and that we should stay on track. Really! This has been going on for years. There are plenty of ideas and concepts on this blog, but it does nothing like real 'community' action.

Until WE ALL stand up and take action this group of BOE miscreants will continue to destroy the future of our children.

Why do you think you see more and more other mom's driving around with their private schools tickers plaster all over their cars? Because they GAVE UP! They said we'll just suck it up for a few years and pay for our kids to be taught the right way. If you that thought is comforting, then you are part of the problem. Don't you realize you are PAYING to put your kids in TWO schools? That's right your property taxes pay for public (whether you send your kids or not) and then you pay again the tuition for private.

Stop following the heard and help to enforce some change.

Anonymous said...

OK...a "relationship" doctor? Any relation to Dr. Fannie Tartt who was with DCSS for many years?

Anonymous said...

I believe a son. Another son is a principal at Narvie Harris Theme school.

Anonymous said...

That is the DCSS Way....keep the money in the family!

Anonymous said...

Just left the Board Meeting at PCMS. OMG. Favorite moment: McChesney asking Talley WHY we're buying Language Arts textbooks when teachers have said they don't need them. She patronized him, dismissed him, basically told him in tone and manner that his question was . . . well, stupid. He pushed, she pushed back.

He's right. She's wrong.

$7 million on textbooks. Sigh.

Mary Kay Woodworth said...

Playing Bongos with Lewis said...

I can name a dozen "moms with private school stickers on their cars" who remain involved, trying to right this ridiculous situation. And I darn sure know that I'm paying two tuitions - and made the decision to go private after my husband and I spent close to twenty years involved in this system, dealing with Johnny Brown, Bob Moseley, Stan Pritchett, Crawford Lewis and school boards who deteriorated over that time.

I watched as the status quo school board remained that way - and worked hard to change it and elect competent BOE members. And be sure that I - and other parents who left DCSS out of frustration so that our kids could receive a good education and not have to put up with these games - will continue to support strong BOE candidates.

I agree with you. Until WE ALL stand up and take action this group of BOE miscreants will continue to destroy the future of our children.

Anonymous said...


This is upsetting. This is not a need! I am a teacher and we cannot be spending money on things like this right now, unless the district is going to seriously cut positions. I do not see that happening either.

Having new text books will not get our students a quality education. The higher ups just do not get it.

Once again, our kids are going to be the losers.

Anonymous said...

Talley made it very clear that the textbooks will be purchased, no matter what the board thinks. What the heck?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the BOE approve the expenditure for the textbooks? For $7,000,000 why aren't they looking at textbooks online? So sad that Gloria Talley says she knows nothing about technology. 20th Century leaders with 21st Century students.

Anonymous said...

McChesney asked "so you're telling me that this is done, even though we haven't voted on it?" She spoke lots of words but said nothing. Then scathingly said that the board had already approved a leased textbook program so they might as well pay for the textbooks. Cunningham mentioned electronic textbooks "in the future", but agreed with her, saying of course we have to stay current in the meantime.

Anonymous said...

Can you say kickback? Very common with textbook purchases.

Anonymous said...

AJC reporter was there - left shortly before the discussion about the ethics policy. Which they were going to discuss, then decided just to email each other their comments. Big question: "how much will this ethics policy cost the taxpayer?" Gee, no ethics policy has cost us plenty already.

Anonymous said...

Could someone please post a quick summary of today's budget meeting?

Anonymous said...

My understanding about the ELA textbooks is that they heard from teachers at only P'tree Middle that they weren't needed, while teachers at other middle schools are desperate for them.

As a parent who totally recalls what Talley said about DCSS getting so far behind on textbook cycles, I appreciate the fact that someone is staying on top of this.

That said, this lease-purchase deal that we signed back in the Fall isn't revocable. We owe the company 7 million a year regardless if we actually use the textbooks.

By the way, except for the condition of the world language textbooks, which I would guess would be pretty bad after 12 years, I am thinking that the languages themselves haven't really changed. The books should still work.

Anonymous said...

Gene Walker objects to every budget cut, which I guess makes him look like a good guy to some. But exactly how does he propose to save 88 million dollars. (He isn't a proponent of laying off folks either.)

themommy said...

There was no budget meeting today. There was the regularly scheduled board meeting.

I think they are giving Ms. Tyson a few days to get on her feet before delving into the budget again.

Anonymous said...

My son's Spanish textbook has a copyright of 1995. That 15 years ago. The research and the language pedagogy were probably 5 years before that.

All in all, thats 20 years. It's time in foreign language.

Anonymous said...

The question was about the English/Language Arts textbooks. Pretty sure those excerpts from literature haven't changed ANY.

Cerebration said...

That guy's (Dr. Tartt's) website is absurd! Almost as absurd as Wayne Chelf's latest escapades -

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't want to be BOE members who have approved and approved so many expenditures - ELA textbooks at $7,000,000 a year whether students need them or not, $8,000,000 for America's Choice, $8,000,000 for Instructional Coaches who don't teach students, millions on lawsuits, $4,000,000 on eSis,....and the list goes on.

Now the bill is coming due. They BOE will soon be scrambling to figure out how many students they can pack into a classroom (35, 36, 37) or students per day (200, 210) in order to keep paying for these mistakes.

Makes me glad I'm retired from DCSS.

Anonymous said...

The 7 million included multiple subjects

For a cost of (a) $2,400,000 the 9th – 12th grade ELA;(b); $2,000,000 Kindergarten – 12th grade world languages;(c) $774,827 11th - 12th grade mathematics; (d) $2,001,436 6th – 8th grade ELA students and teachers will receive a new textbook series which is fully aligned to the Georgia Performance Standards and will serve as an instructional resource for at least five years.

Anonymous said...

How about $24,00,000 a year for an MIS Department that provides not only poor customer service, but actually impedes the learning process:
- eSis system
- broken computers that never get fixed
- benchmark tests that must be laboriously scanned by hand circa 1950s
- $30,000,000 network that runs slowly
...and the list goes on....

$24,000,000 per year for 291 MIS employees comes to $82,500 per employee in salary and benefits.

Are we getting our moneys worth with this department?

Do teachers make anywhere near this yearly income average for teaching our children?

Anonymous said...

Teachers please weigh in on the new ELA textbooks for $7,000,000. We want to hear from you.

M G said...

Remember, there are other subjects included in the $7 million -

For a cost of (a) $2,400,000 the 9th – 12th grade ELA;(b); $2,000,000 Kindergarten – 12th grade world languages;(c) $774,827 11th - 12th grade mathematics; (d) $2,001,436 6th – 8th grade ELA

The world langauge are definitely needed - the current books are at least 12 years old. The Mathematics are needed since they're for the new Math III and Math IV classes that are being implemented.

I would question the need for Middle and High School Language Arts books - but we need to hear from middle and high School teachers about the condition of their current books.

Cerebration said...

To Ella's very viable point - we once ran a post on this issue - reallocating funds to "poor" counties in Georgia. I drove by some schools in those "poor" counties and I was floored! Their schools are gorgeous!!!

Anonymous said...

"Gene Walker objects to every budget cut, which I guess makes him look like a good guy to some. But exactly how does he propose to save 88 million dollars. (He isn't a proponent of laying off folks either.)"

Gene Walker likes increasing property taxes. He has no problem with the waste & bloat, the huge amounts for MIS and school police without any measure to show they are performing. Tax, tax and tax again is the Gene Walker way.

Dekalbparent said...

Interesting blog entry about raising student achievement in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It involves a public-private partnership, and it took a lot of work to put together, but it made me imagine bringing this idea to DeKalb. Sure seems applicable - and it is NOT a N. DeKalb/S. DeKalb issue.

Anonymous said...

We have the Georgia HOPE scholarship.

The Kalamazoo Promise does appear to have wider eligibility: one becomes eligible just by graduating from high school, it only requires maintenance of a 2.0 GPA at the postsecondary institution, and its FAQ doesn't say anything about immigration status.

Dekalbparent said...

The other thing is that HOPE is controlled by the state, while the Kalamazoo program is funded privately. This could be good or bad - vulnerable to politics on one hand, dependent on participation of businesses on the other.

HOPE does not necessarily cover all costs, even less so if it is cut in the budget - I read that the Tuition Equalization Grant (which Sunny wanted to fund from Lottery, potentially depleting HOPE money further)has been restored to the proposed budget after having been dropped, but that again shows that $$ is subject to politics.

Anonymous said...

One of my gut "anti" tax mil rate increase responses is "why bother" if the increase is just going to be subjected to the equalization reallocation -- in a way, we just need to send a very strong message to the state that they need to tackle that reallocation formula (DeKalb should not be at the top of the mil rates and tax values and sending money out while other counties barely tax on their real property and receive money from us) -- this is escpecially true when our short appears to be the same as our reallocations in the past few year. (Must say that against this analysis is the substantial amount of waste, bloat, misuse, nepotism, croynism, and corruption that appears to have sent dollars in the wrong direction and the other dollars sitting in SPLOST accounts not being spent as promised).