Monday, March 1, 2010

The Board Meeting at Peachtree MS and the Budget

Well, I was out of town - can anyone post a synopsis of the meeting? So far, we have the following commentary from another thread -

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.

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.

Oh - and totally from left field - who is Alduan Tartt, who has been hired by the school system to lead a parenting seminar? I mean, a free breakfast and door prizes?! Who's paying for that? (And, FWIW, can we please stop referring to it as "Premier"?)

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 companies.
Door prizes will be awarded at the conclusion of the conference!

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

The Budget, Finance and Building Committee is now a CALLED BOARD MEETING and will take place at 10:30 on Friday, March 5 at the board offices - boardroom in Building A.

They will be discussing possible salary cuts and furloughs for teachers. According to the posted agenda, there will not be any public comment period. The agenda is available by clicking here.



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Anonymous said...

On the agenda for the March 8 meeting: approval of the America's Choice contract.

Anonymous said...

How can we stop this from being signed? We cannot afford this program!

Anonymous said...

Again? For 2010-2011?

Anonymous said...

One aside from Zepora: "her" district has schools that need maintenance while "this school" (PCMS) looks so nice. THE ENTIRE SCHOOL SYSTEM HAS SCHOOLS THAT NEED MAINTENANCE. This silo mentality is part of the reason we have so much infighting. We're in a battle for the DeKalb School system - ALL schools and EVERY student need our attention.

Anonymous said...

I've always thought that the children of DeKalb were OUR kids. There are many schools that need repairs in the district. The sadness continues.

I had hoped that things would change with the events of last week, but sadly we're back to normal.

Anonymous said...

If you don't want America's Choice $8,000,000 expenditure, email all BOE members.

Cerebration has provided a link named "CLICK HERE to Email the entire DCSS Board of Education" above the Comments section. Clicking on this link will reach all BOE members with one email.

Email everyone you know in Dekalb County and ask them to email all BOE members (you can give them the DeKalb Shool Watch web address with the "CLICK HERE to Email the entire DCSS Board of Education" link).

Don't neglect retired people (I am one). Remind them their property values are aligned with the school system.

Anonymous said...

Things will not change until we get rid of all the corrupt people on the board. Don't fool yourself in thinking the board did not know what was going on. And if they didn't know then that should tell us that we have a bunch of people who do not understand what they read, remember a person must be able to understand what they read. I think the board and others spend more time making sure that they get as many relatives and friends jobs and high salaries.

Lewis not being there is not going to change anything. The same things will go own. The waste will not stop and in the end they will be back to there old selves again. I will pray that things get better for our children for they are what we should be about.

M G said...

The real questions are
1) How much is Dr. Tartt being paid for his appearance?

2) How many parents will attend?

3) Are there ANY efforts being made to reach out to the parents that aren't already involved in their child's school? Sending home the flyer in all the students' folders isn't what I mean.

M G said...

On the textbook issue - the $7 million is not all Language Arts textbooks -

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

Anonymous said...

I said it last week. How in the world can the board bring CLew back, whether he is guilty or innocent? How can he be an effective leader after these poor decisions, hire Pat Pope, whine to the DA to investigate and then ask to discontinue it, which Ms. Keyes did not do! How could the board extend his contract? The board runs the show along with their puppet (place current super. name here) The board and Clew must go and I hope the voters in DeKalb districts realize they hold the power of the board. The friends and Family plan of CLew&Co. has come to an end. Ms. Talley certainly showed her arrogance today, I don't care we're buying the books and I'm leaving in June. I say the board should show her the door today! Time for change! Real change! NOW!

Anonymous said...

Is this Dr. Tartt a relative of the mother and father who worked for the system?. If so here we go again paying out money we don't have. If this is the same person i heard about a year ago. It was a joke.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it amazing. Now that parents are asking serious questions, school board members are finally starting to question some of the items being presented to them.
About time they did their job, but may be too little too late.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Ms Roberts should have voted against spending $300,000 for TV lighting if her schools are in such bad shape.

Paula Caldarella said...

OMG, LOL, as my children would say. You don't think the school system should be paying for textbooks? You don't think our children need the most up to date information?

I did not take it as Ms. Talley patronizing Mr. McChesney. I think she was shocked, as I was, that anyone would question the purchase of up to date textbooks for our children. The other board members agreed with her - we can't not spend on the resources inside the school.

FYI, the county has not purchased World Languages textbooks in 12 years.

Paula Caldarella said...

It's amusing to see how much some of you leave out in your reviews.

As part of the lease-purchase agreement with the textbook company (already approved by the BOE), money has to be paid anyway, so DCSS might as well go ahead and get the textbooks since it has to pay anyway.

Anonymous said...

If the Board really wanted change, it would:

i.) put some strong, retired principals and/or administrators in charge (people know who they are).

ii.) collect opinions from seasoned, respected veteran teachers in the system about what needs to be done to change things in a meaningful way (again, people know who they are).

iii.) start real external searches for new administrators who have experience with helping failed school systems.

I all likelihood, the Board will do none of the above. Business as usual will mean that they decay in the south Dekalb schools will continue. Property values will fall even more. It is a vicious cycle.

Paula Caldarella said...

Budget meeting on Friday.

Anonymous said...

How nice PCMS was just a show. The school systems does this at every school the week before a school board meeting. PCMS got al their carpets cleaned, a new paint job, floors stripped and rewaxed, and moldings that just did not look right got replaced.

STOP DOING THIS DCSS. Let the board see the real schools. They way the students and teachers have to use them every day.

I just wished the boys could be there. The ones that have figured out if they go into the bathroom and flush the toliets on the 8th grade wing at the same time and cause a sewage back up. That would have been great.

Anonymous said...

"One aside from Zepora: "her" district has schools that need maintenance while "this school" (PCMS) looks so nice. THE ENTIRE SCHOOL SYSTEM HAS SCHOOLS THAT NEED MAINTENANCE. This silo mentality is part of the reason we have so much infighting. We're in a battle for the DeKalb School system - ALL schools and EVERY student need our attention."

Anon has a point. PCMS is a relatively new school so it better look nice. But Ms. Robert's comments are no different than many of those on this blog that continue to compare their schools to Arabia Mountain, which is the newest school in the county.

As Anon said, the entire school system has schools that need maintenance and the silo mentality has to stop.

Anonymous said...

Good analysis @ 6:42 & 6:45 Dunwoody Mom! Ms. Talley was shocked by the question about McChesney asking a question about an already approved purchase he should have known about.

themommy said...

Title 1 funds come with a bunch of strings. One is the parenting seminars type things. Each Title 1 school is required to send X number of parents. So it is on the principal and counselor to recruit.

I attended one a few years ago, not as a Title 1 parent but rather as someone interested in the topic. (I think the speaker at the time spoke about motivating your student.)

My mother was a teacher. In the early years (maybe decades) Title 1 funds could be used to pay parents to come to parent-teacher conferences and PTA meetings. And many school systems across the country did this.

Title 1 comes with a lot of strings. That is why some states have held serious discussions about doing away with it. But these are primarily states with very few poor and at-risk students, so they get very little money anyway.

Title 1 monies cannot be used to replace what the school district is required to spend. Each year, the Feds audit Title 1 spending and schools. DCSS must be in compliance or the funding is revoked.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps reactions to Talley's tone are akin to those blind guys discovering an elephant. She was definitely dismissive. And McChesney simply asked whether the ELA textbooks could be pulled out of the $7 to save for the near future. He asked if their purchase could be delayed a year or so rather than the entire 5/6 year cycle. It was a good question.

Paula Caldarella said...

Well, let's just say we have different views and leave it at that, shall we?

Anonymous said...

One other comment about the textbooks. I have been at several earlier meetings where this was discussed. I think Ms. Talley was shocked because she had answered these questions over and over again. (And she probably thought the issue was settled.)

Even with the lease, the system didn't have to get new ELA books, they could have moved onto the next subject on the list. But what Ms. Talley has said, and I have heard from some teachers, is that there are only teachers at one or two schools who are satisfied with the current materials on hand. (A larger question that might warrant asking is why is this? What are the P'tree teachers doing that makes them feel so differently than other ELA teachers?)

I have children in the system for a long time. My oldest went through the later years of elementary school using 20 year old language arts/ grammar books. They couldn't bring the books home, because there weren't enough.

Students at newer/larger schools had access to no grammar books at that time. My child attended an older school and the teachers were pack rats, so they had held onto things.

This is why Franzoni pushed so hard, after he was elected, to make sure that if DCSS adopted textbooks they actually purchased them.

As to technology, it sounds great in concept. This is a school system that has a tremendous number of very poor students. I spend the first 1/3 of this year rounding up computers for some friends of one of my children who didn't have them -- only to learn that most of their parents have such poor credit that they can't get internet access at home.

Anonymous said...

The lease contract was for a set amount and time. McChesney was pandering to his constituents, I believe. He is a smart man, he knew that they had a contract. (Gee, let's break that one and have some more legal fees, shall we?)

Anonymous said...

Some folks on this website sure seem to have an attitude.
They are condescending in every reponse they make.

Anonymous said...

The PCMS teachers use BOOKS rather than rely on the excerpts and odd selections in the language arts textbooks. Those are considered supplemental to reading books and therefore an unnecessary expense for the county. The school continues to invest in classroom sets of literature in both Language Arts and Social Studies classrooms. As a parent, I value this strategy because otherwise many kids wouldn't read nearly enough (or be exposed to such a wide variety of content).

Anonymous said...

Oh - where do the funds for the classroom sets come from? Grants, donations by parents, savvy spending of scant dollars. As a Charter, PCMS works hard to bring in funds for these kinds of student resources.

Anonymous said...

the mommy said, Title 1 monies cannot be used to replace what the school district is required to spend. Each year, the Feds audit Title 1 spending and schools. DCSS must be in compliance or the funding is revoked.

I believe this is the department that Dr. Audria Berry heads. She's probably the one that also got in trouble a few years ago when it was discovered that some schools did not spend all of their Title 1 money.

Say what you want but here is a lot of compliance involved when a school system accepts federal dollars. There are several positions that are responsible for making sure the school district spends the money and delivers the services as required.

The Parent Centers are also funded by Title 1 dollars. While some are not utilized as much as they should be, I'm not sure if these could be eliminated.

Anonymous said...

It's not like this everywhere. For the teachers like myself that continually read and experience this on a daily basis - it is frightening.

I have taught in both California and Colorado and find this very disturbing that it has continued since I moved here (3 years).

People told me before moving that the south is "slow", I thought it was the 'charm', there is nothing charming about robbing children of the greatest opportunity in their lives.

Slow is right, slow to adopt needed change.

I am disgusted.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have an e-mail address for Talley? For someone who is leaving in a few months, she sure is pushing this $7 million textbook purchase.


"Dr. Alduan Tartt, a practicing psychologist and accomplished author, community servant and humanitarian"

Community servant and humanitarium???

And I'm not sure sure "The Ring Formula: Your Inspirational Dating Guide Towards Marriage", makes him an accomplished author!

He sure is a selfpromoter.

But here is why DCSS likes him:
"How exactly, does the school go about promoting high expectations and improved test scores when kids have low motivation to learn and uninvolved and even hostile parents?"

HOW TO MEET & EXCEED AYP (Annually Yearly Progress)
Systems for Improving Student Motivation To Learn Without Parental Involvement
There is more pressure on school administrators than ever to produce school improvement in record time. Across the nation, principals must deal with the reality of producing school improvement or being demoted, reassigned or even fired. Ensuring that children make AYP (Adeqaute Yearly Progress) can be extremely difficult when you there is a school culture of unmotivated children and low parental support. How exactly, does the school go about promoting high expectations and improved test scores when kids have low motivation to learn and uninvolved and even hostile parents? Answer cannot.

Anonymous said...

Please, please, please DeKalb voters: be smart enough to vote Zepora Roberts out of office!!

The Queen of Silo Mentality. Enabler of John Evans, convicted felon. Keeper of the South DeKalb vs. North DeKalb flame.

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine the number of high quality teachers and school administrators looking for opportunities elsewhere!!
How in the world could Dr. Lewis and the Board let things get to this point?

Anonymous said...

Alduan Tartt is the son of Fannie Tartt, Dr. Fannie Tartt, former Executive Director of Elementary Education for DeKalb. In 2004 Fannie Tartt was part of the Blue Ribbon Task Force along with Dr. Lewis, Mr. Mosley, etc.

Dr. Tartt formed a consulting company after she retired and she is listed on Linked-In as an Independent Education Management Professional. I believe Dr. Tartt may have been one of the employees the state got so upset about because she was working in excess of 19 hours per week for DeKalb as a retiree (please correct me if I'm wrong on this fact posters). Does she currently do work for DeKalb Schools? Maybe another poster knows this.

Dr. Tartt also has a son Sean Tartt. He is a principal at Narvie J. Harris.

DeKalb has long hired and promoted based on relationships.

Anonymous said...

Posted by Greenie (can't remember my login!)
when I was at my daughter's school discussing budget with her teacher, who retired from a district out of state and now teaches here (and she is so good), she pointed to shelves of barely-used textbooks (social studies and LA) and told me - they replace those every 5 years, but we hardly use them. We do NOT need new textbooks now. Online or CD textbooks cost more - can you believe that? it's an additional expense to the classroom materials, that's why we wont' be getting them any time soon (I got this straight from the company when I was able to select my dd's textbook on the website login, but then not access it)

Re: Tartt - the minute I saw his website I recognized his MO, b/c I know someone else doing the same thing: they've found a way to touch the "at risk" community and become self-promoters. he's much more about promoting himself than the real nuts and bolts needs of his audience. He wants to jazz and pizazz, and apparently he has found the right approach for the people whose job it is to "serve the Title I community." He's what I call a one-hit wonder. He'll come in with lots of catch phrases and superficial workshops and the person who hired him (probably knows him from church or got taken to lunch by him) will feel like she did a bang-up job getting him for this program.

Anonymous said...

Anybody else see this on the Feb 2010 Human Resources Report:

The Department of Human Resources reports the employment or change of employment status of the following relatives of Cabinet Members:
David E. Mitchell, Interrelated Teacher, Son to Dr. Felicia Mayfield (I'm sure this is Felicia Mitchell)

Anonymous said...

As a long time employee of DCSS, I have seen lots of consultants who are usually paid $3000 a session to come speak to various groups. These folks are friends or relatives of administrators who are promoting a self-published book. Usually the school principal buys a copy for staff you get paid to speak and sell your book!

Paula Caldarella said...

The information about David Mitchell was stated at the meeting last night, as it always is when relatives of current DCSS employees are hired.

Anonymous said...

@ Dunwoody Mom
Does stating Mr. Mitchell's relationship with Dr. Mitchell make it right to hire based on relationships?

That's probably DeKalb's worse problem - hiring based on relationships, especially at the higher levels.

Paula Caldarella said...

Do you know that David Mitchell is not qualified for the job for which he was hired? You know in the corporate world, people are hired based on relationships all the time - even the company I work for - a large world-wide company allows the hiring of family members, as long as they don't work in the same department.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the trust level of the Central Office is so low right now, he could be the best person for the job, but will always be questioned.
If I were a parent employed by DeKalb schools I would sure suggest my child go somewhere else. Not worth the abuse and working in such a poorly managed system.

Anonymous said...

@ Dunwoody Mom
Indeed, I do not know about Mr. Mitchell's qualifications.

BTW I worked for the largest company in the U.S for many years in a revenue producing capacity so I do understand the value of personal relationships in hiring decisions.

However, DeKalb is a public entity, and if you get a job with DeKalb, it's more or less "for life" or until you choose to leave. At AT&T where I worked, you may have gotten your job through a personal relationship, but if your department did not make its numbers, you were terminated.

That is not the case in DeKalb. The perception of nepotism and cronyism in DeKalb is bad public relations with regards to taxpayers. There has been too much relationship hiring in DeKalb and too little "weeding out".

I believe most posters on this blog will agree that many of the financial problems DCSS is experiencing are based on poor expenditure decisions and shoddy customer service. If this was the corporate world, heads would be rolling, relationships or not.

Cerebration said...

I'm certain that the people who are related/friends with board reps or central office staff are qualified for the job they are hired to do - initially. The thing is - just watch as these people are catapulted to levels and pay scales beyond expectations. I would like to know just how many other qualified people applied for this job and were either told no - or not called in for an interview at all. I've heard of many, many people like this.

Paula Caldarella said...

That's life in the real world Cere - in a lot of cases, it's who you know. I don't find nepotism inherently wrong - though, the perceived abuse of it by DCSS, real or not, is an issue, I agree.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:16 AM is right. DCSS hires a lot of consultants for various events and programs, the fees range anywhere from $500 to $5000, and many times its a friend of an administrator. If they want to operate like this, there has to be some way to measure the effectiveness of the program/event/speaker. And in really tough times, this is an easy linbe item to cut.

Anonymous said...

I don't think DeKalb should discount electronic delivery of textbooks so fast.

And it doesn't necessarily have to be student issued laptops with Internet access.

There are many wireless reading devices such as the Kindle or here are some more:

These are fairly inexpensive and require little maintenance (good since DeKalb’s technology support is so poor), and all books could be loaded on one device.

I wouldn’t ever suggest that every student in DeKalb has this, but a trial of one or two schools could be done and the ROI determined. I’m just amazed that the lack of support for any instructional technology for students in DeKalb. Many DeKalb students do not have internet access at home, but I have never talked to a high school students who doesn’t have a personal email address so they must be getting access to the Internet somewhere.

Read this article about e-textbooks in California as one of their ways to balance the budget:

We seem to have $8,000,000 for America’s Choice every time it comes up for renewal + $8,000,000 annually in salaries and benefits for the 80 non-classroom staff (Instructional Coaches) who we are told are necessary to facilitate the program. And there is very little teacher buy-in for this scripted teaching program.

The DeKalb administration always seems to be looking for ways to spend Title 1 money. I know for a fact that they can spend it on technology equipment.

DeKalb administration is still using 20th century tools to teach 21st century learners.

Open+Transparent said...

Local governments find nepotism very wrong. Any well run county or city has no nepotism policies.

As Cere said, a relative/friend may or may not be a qualified hire, but the issue in DCSS is how those hires rise meteorically, position-wide and salary-wise. Marcus Turk being a chief example. He went from an entry level hire to being the financial guy for a billion dollar operation. I would much rather have an experienced financial guy from a smaller (or similar-sized) school system be hired.

I've seen Zepora Roberts throw fits (crazy insane fits) when someone mentions nepotism to her. Because she's a BOE member who's been part of it. She sees no problem with it; it's almost like she believes she is entitled to it.

The thing that gets me, there are so many school systems and jobs in metro Atlanta, any board member or administrator with any sense of personal ethics would have their family members work for another system, to be beyond reproach. If you want to be a teacher, staff member, custodian, administrator, etc., metro Atlanta is the place to be. Gwinnett is still opening schools at an incredulous pace. Even the systems with flat enrollment need to replace retirees and those leaving the system.

But again, here in DCSS, if you get a family member in the door, it is easy for a board member or administrator to make sure that person rises quickly through the ranks, i.e. Frances Edwards daughter Philandra Guillory, and her son-in-law David Guillory, who has no prior experience in school transportation.

Nepotism and cronyism happens everywhere, but it's frowned upon by the best run organizations. Look at the Cobb Energy scandal and how nepotism and cronyism are at the heart of it.

Things must change at DCSS, and stopping nepotism and cronyism is an areea that needs to be addressed.

Anonymous said...

@ Dunwoody Mom

"in a lot of cases, it's who you know. I don't find nepotism inherently wrong"

I don't think you will find many posters who agree with this statement. Most use the term nepotism as a negative for our school system.

Most of us are more interested in our doctor's "what she knows" than "who she knows" if we have a medical problem. We feel the same way when it comes to teachers, administrators and others we trust with our hard earned tax dollars.

Taxpayers deserve results, and this rarely happens when initial and continued employment rests on "who you know" versus "what you know".

Paula Caldarella said...

Taxpayers deserve results, and this rarely happens when initial and continued employment rests on "who you know" versus "what you know".

I take your statement to mean that if you are a "who you know" hire, then you automatically don't know how to do your job? I respectfully, disagree.

Anonymous said...

The problem comes when "who you know" becomes more important than "what you know."

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, have you ever worked in a situation where one person was "under" or on a par with you, and their relative was "over" you?

Say that person doesn't do a good job or even does something unethical. Who do you tell? How do you broach the subject?

In many, many situations, a bad employee stays a bad employee because of a relationship.

Nepotism is a bad idea in corporate America, in the United States military, and in DCSS because it puts many people in very awkward situations.

That's why the ethics statement MUST include that relatives cannot be employed if they share a chain of command. Extend that to they cannot be relatives of Board Members or senior Central Office administrators, the ultimate chain of command.

I remember participating in the development of an ethics policy for a start-up company. We decided that if it COULD be a problem, the hire would be inappropriate. Didn't matter if it was a good employee, bad employee, intern, fill-in - we wanted no opportunity for morale-lowering problems.

Paula Caldarella said...

Nepotism is a bad idea in corporate America, in the United States military, and in DCSS because it puts many people in very awkward situations.

I disagree. As I stated before I work for a company that will employ family members, albeit not in the same department, and it has never been an issue.

Anonymous said...

Ah, then, Dunwoody Mom, your experience applies to all situations.

Nope - if it can be a problem, it is a problem. And DCSS has proven that nepotism is a BIG problem.

Paula Caldarella said...

Misconstruing what I wrote - so I will take my leave as I can see where this is going.

Anonymous said...

Nepotism is also problematic on the "other" end of employment. One of the reasons it's so hard to trim DCSS admin staff back to where it needs to be is because this literally will involve laying off relatives of top DCSS staff and past and present BOE members.

It's not just that they got their jobs because of who they know, it's that they keep their jobs, regardless of their own effectiveness or the state of budget, because of who they know.

Anonymous said...

May not solve all the problems but one way to eliminate a lot of them is to elect all new board members and demand they set up governing policies that address much of what is wrong.

Cerebration said...

On the issue of Zepora and her sense of entitlement - I recall at a board meeting, Paul Womack asked to review the application procedure for the federally funded summer intern programs. Zepora hit the fan. She has forever hand-picked who gets those summer jobs and she feels entitled to continue. I would bet my next paycheck that virtually all of these recipients are from her own district. Vote-buying paid for with tax dollars - good deal for her!

Anonymous said...

Hi folks, I wonder if we could please get back to the topic? I'm sorry I missed the meeting, but would love to get some bullet points about any comments provided by the Board or administration about the budget issues.

Was there anything new on the budget? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom

Is this company privately or a public entity? I own my own business. My children will take my position when I retire.DCSS is a public owed entity. In that situation nepotism is a problem.

Anonymous said...

How much authority does an interim superintendent have. Does Lewis really believe he is coming back?

Anonymous said...

I take your statement to mean that if you are a "who you know" hire, then you automatically don't know how to do your job? I respectfully, disagree.

In the case of Dekalb County School System...yes it does!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, did not at all mean to imply that a "who you know" hire ("whom"?) by definition would not do a good job.

I meant that a "family" hire has more latitude to be less effective, given that the same connections who got him/her the job could be expected to protect that job.

Anonymous said...

@1:09 -- If that's true, Zepora is committing a major SACS violation that could cause the district to lose accreditation.

Hopefully no superintendent has allowed this to happen.

Anonymous said...

And that's what worries me the most right now. SACS could come down on us like a bag of wet cement. While we have to make our problems transparent in hopes they'll be fixed, we're also making our problems transparent to the bureaucracy that is the SACS. Very powerful group. Very negative consequences for our school system.

Anonymous said...

Is it totally out of the realm of possibility that some of that Title 1 money Dr. ewis spends so freely for Springboard and America's Choice could be spent on a trial of electronic textbooks in a few Title 1 schools?

Perhaps we could see some savings with the use of technology. Isn't that a 21st Century concept?

Our world and our views on the world change rapidly, yet our textbooks keep information frozen in time for 5 or 7 years (whatever the textbook purchasing cycle is).

It is disturbing that Gloria Talley, the instructional leader of DeKalb Schools, knows so little about instructional technology that she would totally discount e textbooks as if it were a "fringe" idea.

California has mandated electronic textbooks in all subjects because of their budget woes. It was considered last year and mandated effective Jan. 1, 2010.
See website address below for a well balanced report:

Anonymous said...

Interesting strand this morning in Maureen Downey's Get Schooled blog entitled:
"The $164,000 question: Is DeKalb really cutting back on its spending?"

To quote Maureen:
Many Georgia parents get into the nitty-gritty of their school systems, but I would have to say that DeKalb parents and teachers are among the most vigilant. In responding to the budget crisis, I have received many thoughtful e-mails raising issues about DeKalb’s spending and where possible cuts could be made."

A blogger expressed his opinion that Maureen should concentrate on Gwinnett County versus DeKalb, and here is what she responds to him:
"My judgment is based on the district’s academic performance, especially in comparison with systems dealing with the same demographic shifts."

I would venture to say that Maureen has received an incredible amount of emails from upset and disappointed DeKalb parents/taxpayers versus a much smaller number from Gwinnett.

Dekalbparent said...


I also remember that exchange - Womack was new on the Board, I think. Although Ms. Roberts did not come out and SAY she hand-picks the students who get the jobs, she DID say that the jobs have always gone to students at her school. The implication was clear.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, I am sick and tired of people thinking that technology is the answer to a better education.

We should be concentrating our efforts on producing students who are problem solvers and thinkers. We are not.

Our students need to be provided with ways to utilize the information that they know and use it to solve problems.

Buying Kindles, lap tops and other devices for our children is not the answer. Our students need to step away from technology as it will always be there, and learn to utilize their brains and deep thinking.

My elementary students do not need more videos, virtual lessons, computer games, and the like. They need to spend more time thinking and solving problems.

Many of the families in Title I schools do not have internet access. Yes, high school kids have email addresses, but they use their friends computers, or the computers in the school library to access them.

Technology can always be learned and is always in constant change. Being able to solve problems and think deeply is a skill that is priceless and will help you in many more ways.

Anonymous said...

My judgment is based on the district’s academic performance, especially in comparison with systems dealing with the same demographic shifts."

In otherwords, Maureen would have a difficult time getting any information out of a Gwinnett system that Alvin Wilbanks controls with an iron-fist. Whereas, Maureen can get all of her info free form this blog.

Anonymous said...

The text book issue is something that I do not understand. How do you pay a textbook company a fee for books each year, when you are not sure what companies books you want to use? When I have been in charge of adopting text books for other districts, I had every single text book company send in samples. The teachers looked at the samples and discussed which books they wanted to adopt. This entire textbook purchasing contract, sounds like another family member or friend who made money off of DCSS.

Parents we are in a financial crisis. We are at least 88 million dollars in the hole and it really could be more, if you read between the lines of what people are saying. Before another dollar is spent or contract is signed in DCSS, we need to make a list of needs and wants.

I do not understand how we are spending money or have signed multi-million dollar contracts for services in the future that we may or may not need.

New text books would be nice, but if it means loosing music and art classes, as a teacher, parent, and taxer of DeKalb, I'd prefer the art and music classes to new text books this year.

Do you all need budgeting classes? We need to be spending money, as the financial situation looks even worse next year. Our property values are going down with each newspaper article. New text books, especially the way that DeKalb adopts them (with little actual teachers training and support) isn't going to improve your child's education or what they learn. There could be new info in that book, but if it's not a standard don't expect it to be taught.

We need to look at how we can save money. Our district is in big trouble on so many levels. It appears to me that we do not have diligent people in office of the board of education or working to make the budget that will be good stewards of our money. Right now as Dave Ramsey would say, we should be in Rice and Beans mode until we can figure out how we're going to give our students what they need without having 30+ students in a classroom. Technology and textbooks should not be on the list of needs.

Cerebration said...

Anon, 4:20 PM - I think Maureen is referring to the fact that the DeKalb school system only has a 77% passing rate for AYP. Gwinnett, on the other hand, has a 99.1% AYP passing rate for the schools in their system.

themommy said...

Hey Guys

Maureen wasn't talking about DeKalb in that comment, rather she was commenting on a blogger's comment about Gwinnett. She was talking about Gwinnett.

endurin said...

Here's hoping the Board has the cajones to do away with America's Choice. Please, please, please!!!

It's an shoddy example of the inability of all that high priced talent in the central office to come up with their own creative plan to improve student performance across the district.

Hey novel idea--they could've even asked for input from teachers, who could have even gotten some input from their students!

But no, no, no, no. At 8 million, it's a little less than 10 percent of the current deficit.

America's Choice has it's own 9th grade textbooks, next year AC will have its own tbs for 9th and 10th. The rest of the English textbooks are in decent shape, and teachers have become familiar with them. I know though, that the world lang books are seriously outdated. We surely don't need to buy as many of those as we would for all English classes, so we would could reduce the 7 mill expenditure sufficiently.

America's Choice is an unproven product. It's done it's own self-research.

Please let the teachers use what they've painfully learned this year under the incompetent tutelage of the "coaches" later if they find it useful, and just let it go. It's not worth the money and the misery.

In the words of Barney Fife, "Nip it, nip it in the bud!"

Anonymous said...

Would be nice if the DeKalb School Budget website had more useful information on it.
Right now it is of little value, but then to be realistic I don't think the Central Office or Board want to hear from anyone.
How about posting all the suggestions folks have been sending in to them!!

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 4:13 pm

You're right. Technology does not solve all our problems. However, technology has brought efficiencies to our world in the way nothing else has. Our DCSS students are 21st Century learners in a 20th Century classroom. Students do learn differently today.

Assign students (elementary, middle, high or college) a research project or a research paper, and how many go to the Internet versus the library? (yes - I'm quite old and remember teaching my students how to use the card catalog).

Would you rather grade a paper that is typed using a word processor or one that is hand written?

If your students knew how to use an Excel spreadsheet to analyze and evaluate historical information or economic information, or solve a math problem would you consider that using lower level thinking skills?

If students had access to take a test online, and the test is graded instantly for you, would that give you information regarding who in your class knows the material rather than you having to administer the laborious benchmark tests every 6 weeks and being responsible for the scantron entry of each test. Need I remind any teacher that we spent $4,000,000 for the eSis system versus SmartWeb so that the coordinators could data crunch the benchmark tests and CRCTs - That system provides too little, too late, too time consuming. Not a help to teachers. And how much a year do we spend to maintain it?

Have you seen some of the emails, text messaging and Facebook posts? This is the result of "Technology can always be learned and is always in constant change."

I taught many students for more years than many of you have been alive. I am not a proponent of "more videos, virtual lessons, computer games, and the like". I totally agree that these technology tools without teacher guidance do not encourage critical thinking skills. I also lament the lack of deep thinking on the part of students that the current NCLB AYP situation has brought us (Although if it's any consolation teachers, I've seen fads come and go in education for 40+ years and this too shall pass).

We have a $30,000,000 fiber optics system. How fast and reliable is it for teachers and students? We spent millions more on interactive boards. Was the installation smooth, were they given to teachers who wanted to use them, and was the training in depth?

We spend $24,000,000 a year in salaries and benefits for MIS, yet we have little educationally to show for it as far as students are concerned. That's a huge budget problem from my experience. Maybe that's one we could all agree to address.

Anonymous said...

The technology that DeKalb has is not being utilized because the system does not work properly. I cannot see spending any more money on technology when the millions that we've spent so far are not working the way that they are supposed to. Continuing to throw money and more products at the problem isn't going to work. We need to be careful on how to spend our money right now with the current budget crisis.

Anonymous said...

All things considered...America's Choice is hated by our teachers. If the stakeholders don't buy in the project, it is doomed.

themommy said...

America's Choice is being paid for by Title 1 monies that are part of the Stimulus package. In another year, those monies will be gone. While not spending the money will make zero impact on the deficit, I think it is fair to ask board members what they will do when the stimulus monies are gone.

We have used (and dropped) America's Choice once before because of lack of money. When system administrators were asked about their long term plan, I think they believed that the economy would improve and perhaps there would be money for the system to purchase it on their own.

This clearly won't be happening. It is time to ask the Board to justify the renewal of this contract.

Anonymous said...

The students that work in the summer are admin. children. They always get the jobs first. I know employees that have tried for years to get there kids jobs. They pay them between $12 or $14 an hour.

I hope Dr. Tartt has improved since i last heard him. We all almost went to sleep. Every time they offer anything it is always somebody's family member.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 6:45 pm

If the technology systems and equipment in our 100,000 student, 140+ school system do not work and are in disrepair, why are we paying $24,000,000 in annual benefits and salary for MIS personnel? Isn't this a department we can trim and not see negative consequences since so little works anyway?

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, I am a Language Arts teacher and we DO NOT need new textbooks, especially now in the midst of this monumental financial crisis. Have you actually looked at the ones we are currently using? They are terrific, practically brand-new, with fabulous stories covering all genres, beautiful illustrations, differentiated instruction resources, and technology (on-line textbook). Someone needs to start seriously listening to the people in the trenches before decisions such as this one are made. Parents should be much more concerned with the proposed increase in class size then getting new books.

Anonymous said...

Alduan Tartt is the latest example of the friends and family program at work. It never ends. Son of former big-wig Fanny Trtt and brother of a current principal in the system. I wonder how much is being spent on this charade?

Anonymous said...

I am a first year teacher in DeKalb and I have honestly feared that I wouldnt get a contract, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that I need to stop worrying about my own skin all the time and worrying about the kids in my class (all 145) of them and focus on their education.

I have been a long time lurker of this blog and frankly the attitude expressed by some of the people on this board is appaling.

I understand that those attitudes are highly justifiable, believe me, but I will tell you that teachers as well as students in my school do read this blog and ask me all the time "Are you going to lose your job?" "Please dont leave, I enjoy having you as a teacher." That motivates me to claw and scratch for every kid to succeed despite the consequences.

I know it is very difficult to remain positive in these circumstances, but I would like to challenge the people on this blog to not only "vent" about the shortcomings of DCSS, but please just keep in mind good is still going on in our school and a little positive information on this blog would be beneficial for not only the parents and teachers, but the students who read this. They are honestly scared to death that they are going to lose the teacher they enjoy the most. I am honestly concerned because I truly love my students. They are so meaningful and can be knuckleheads, but so can adults.

Please lets focus on the positives as well as the concerns in our school system. I feel like I could make a career in this system and I hope to stay here for a while despite the problems. WSB-TV is doing enough to run DCSS into the ground, lets not accelerate it please.


High School
10th Grade World History Teacher

Anonymous said...

Dear 10th Grade teacher, I agree with most of what you say, but I find it difficult to support the statement that WSB is the one running DCSS into the ground. DCSS got itself into trouble, not the TV station. It is only recently that the dirty laundry is being aired.
an even more concerned parent

fedupindcss said...

DCSS could save a lot of money if they utilized the state online high school courses and scrapped DOLA. Florida is making a concerted push to getting more kids into online classes: it opens up course opportunities and it saves on classroom and teacher costs. The state courses are well taught, have excellent, easy to follow syllabi, and the counselors are great. If each school in DCSS had a lab where the kids could come to take their online courses between their regular classes, it would be fantastic.

However, for reasons that escape me, DCSS insists on keeping DOLA, which is rife with technical glitches (hello, Ramona?) and has had teachers quit halfway through the year. It is also redundant.

Anonymous said...

Anon- 9:30
I agree with the WSB-TV comment. Got a little too passionate at the end :-). DCSS is a tight situation, but I got to try and stay positive in light of all the allegations.

WSB-TV to me just has this air of arrogance and negativity that just irks me a little.

-10th Gr. Teach

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:07 pm

I am a regular contributor to this blog, and I spent 30 years in DeKalb. I felt the same way about my students you feel about yours - I enjoyed teaching them every single year and every single day. (although you too will find your energy level declines when you get older so it comes a time that the oldsters need to retire and let the youngsters take over).

When young teachers ask me for advise, I tell them to do what right for kids and they can never go wrong.

There has been virtually no criticism of teachers on this blog. I believe that parents are incredibly worried that the classroom teacher and her students will bear the brunt of the budget cuts. They are extremely upset to hear their children's teachers express discontent with the programs they have been given to teach (Springboard, America's Choice, Instructional Coaches, etc.) This has shaken them to the core.

What you perceive as anger is also fear as parents are fearful that their children will not get the education they deserve.

Quite frankly, many of our parents have experienced a good deal of economic dislocation this past year. Their tax dollars have become very dear as many struggle just to pay their mortgage. This makes them scrutinize every dollar to see if it is being spent in the classroom on their children.

Personally, I don't feel the posts on this blog are inappropriate. The moderator does a good job of taking inappropriate comments away. A blog is the free speech of others - no matter how much we may disagree with it. That's a lesson in democracy in and of itself.

A number of very pertinent facts and information has been uncovered and disseminated here as well as opinions not backed up with facts. That's going to be in any conversation.

I'm sorry your students have been upset, but this blog is fairly innocuous.

If the information presented on this blog galvanizes parents/taxpayers to write the BOE and encourage them to leave classroom personnel intact, it will have fulfilled its purpose.

If you want to see more positive messages, I would reference you to the "Personality Traits to Admire" strand in February.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone on this blog had a high schooler take an on line course either through DeKalb or the state? I am curious, because earlier this school year we (being my child and I) looked into an online science course when it looked as if there was going to be a problem with his schedule.

Frankly, the work looked overwhelming. Even as compared to the block, the amount of time estimated for each lesson and homework was far more than we would have expected. It would take a tremendously self-disciplined student to truly be successful.

Now on to real life experiences. One friend's child took the PE/Health course online in the summer to facilitate him being able to take orchestra. It was a pain but not overwhelmingly difficult and certainly manageable.

Another friend's child is taking an advanced foreign language class through the state virtual school, because her school didn't offer it. (This is the intention of GA Virtual School, not to save school systems money but rather to offer students opportunities that aren't currently available in their home schools.) It is killing her and she is as good of a high school student as I know. Tutoring twice a week is the only way she is getting through it. Some courses may not really lend themselves so well to online after all.

Anonymous said...

If you really believe it's the TV (WSB2) station or AJC's fault for the bad press, please leave this blog now.

Most of us posting are serious about our attempts at articulating the issues in hopes to get them resolved. The problems weren't created by the media, but the problems are real.

Cerebration said...

I feel your pain, Concerned, however, you certainly realize that the old adage is true, "Don't shoot the messenger." We at the blog simply discuss the "news of the weird" that seems to stream out endlessly from DCSS. We did not personally pour the "wrong gas" into Dr. Lewis' car, or sell him that car from "surplus" at 30% of book value, or ask the DA to investigate Pat Pope, or send 200 people to Hollywood, or spend $8 million on a program for Title 1 schools that teachers do not enjoy using, or create too many bloated, expanded jobs at the top, causing the rank and file (teachers and staff) undue pain to their own pockets, or leave some students with leaking roofs while others enjoy Taj Mahals, or pay $400,000 to a retired judge to investigate bullying, even though investigating is not a judge's job, or pay $3.5 million for a "study" to determine just how much to countersue Heery Mitchell for and then spend another $12 million to date prepping the case or promote a former principal to a made up job title of "Executive Director of Health and Wellness" when there is a perfectly qualified and respectable "Director" of H&W, and then spend a $250,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente on a "wellness" and work out facility that - lo and behold - was built in the new central offices.... yada, yada, yada.

I know it's hard to listen to us discuss these issues, but unless and until we replace as much of the current leadership as possible, the people currently in power - not WSB - will drive this system into the "ground". We are working to SAVE your job! Now take off your rose-colored glasses and teach your 10th graders a lesson in good old American grass roots efforts for CHANGE.

Anonymous said...

Thank you , you are very right wsbtv and ajc just told what is the truth. Now we know so let's work to remove all the corrupt people so we can get back to was is best for our children.

Anonymous said...

Most parents and teachers I know are delighted at that the AJC is shedding light on DCSS problems and parental concerns.

I'm an old timer (30+ years in DeKalb, retired from the school system). I started working for DeKalb in 1972 when it really was "Premier DeKalb" except we didn't call ourselves that - everyone just knew we were. We were not top heavy with coordinators - we had one per content area - math, science, language arts, and social studies.

We had around 70,000 students then (source: Freeman versus Pitts landmark case) versus 99,000 now. The incredible growth in admin and support at the expense of teacher positions has brought us to the unsustainable situation of almost half of our employees actually teaching (source: DCSS website Fast Facts page).

We must make deep cuts in all levels of admin and support personnel while making much more modest cuts in teaching positions. Only in this way will we balance our school system ratio of admin and support to teachers in a manner that provides our students with a reasonable pupil teacher ratio.

Dr. Lewis and the DeKalb BOE have placed DeKalb students in a most precarious academic situation.

I would argue DeKalb School's administrative decisions are more egregious than Clayton County Schools which received a lot more press than DeKalb has received.

In 2009, 82% of Clayton County Schools made AYP versus 78% in DeKalb (source: GA DOE website). The demographics of both systems are very similar, with slightly higher median income in Dekalb.

However, the per pupil spending is almost 20% higher in DeKalb Schools than in Clayton County Schools.
(source: U.S. Department of Education

Where is this extra per pupil spending going to? Not to teacher salaries. Comparing Clayton who has 20% less per pupil expenditure to DeKalb, we find that Clayton starting salaries are $1,000 lower for a teacher starting with a Bachelors and $1,300 more for teachers starting with a Masters - so salaries are comparable between the two systems.

The 20% extra DeKalb spends on per pupil can only be going to admin and support since 91% of our $900,000,000 budget is spent on personnel salaries and benefits. 20% of almost a billion dollar budget is enormous. That more than meets our budget shortfall.

DeKalb parents are fighting for the life of their schools. DeKalb parents have been very good at ferreting out information and sharing it via email and blogs. They are angry and getting organized.

Perhaps if the DeKalb administration had been more forthcoming with parents, we would not have seen such tremendous anger directed toward the BOE and the DeKalb Schools administration.

The budget missteps of this DeKalb administration and BOE are huge as are the stakes for almost 100,000 Georgia students. That's worth reporting.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many of Concerned's students have difficulty reading, and how many of them don't take the "discipline" system seriously?

There is a clear link between the embarrassing mess in the central office and the sorry conditions in so many of Dekalb's schools.

Time to clean house and bring in some serious outside leadership.

Anonymous said...

Now take off your rose-colored glasses and teach your 10th graders a lesson in good old American grass roots efforts for CHANGE

Wow, way to disrepect that teacher. All this teacher asked for was a little good news and he/she gets bashed. I think this blog has really outlived its usefulness. It really is all about critizing - there is very little concrete suggestions or adult conversation, with perhaps the exception of Kim Gocke. If you really want to make a difference, rather than becoming known as a blog of malcontents, perhaps this blog should be turned over to someone who can moderate the comments and keep the discussions upright and adult.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing that Anon 6:51 says someone is disrespectful and then they go on to be equally disrespectful of the person who has taken the time to oversee this blog.
Anon 6:51 is likely an insider who feels things are just fine.
Some of the comments are out of line and I would agree that name calling, etc is not appropriate, but many folks provide some useful information.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:51 am

Would you rather only good things are said on this blog? The DCSS administration has a newsletter called Kaleidoscope:

Only wonderful things that happen in DeKalb are reported. I would suggest you check this out.

Kaleidoscope is published by the DCSS administration, and is only positive.

Unfortunately, cutting teacher positions in DCSS is real and not positive. Dr. Lewis cut 275 teacher positions last year by simply adding more students to each classroom and not filling positions of teachers who resigned, retired, etc.

Neither you nor your kids should worry. I don't think they will fire teachers. We have lots and lots of teachers leaving DeKalb each year through resignation and retirement. Simply not filling those positions and allowing all of the remaining teachers to take on additional students will decrease DCSS expenditures on salary and benefits. That is what Dr. Lewis has proposed. It worked well financially for DCSS last year. He many cut teacher pay also, but there will be teachers available to teach students.

Of course, this has been going on for a number of years which is why the pupil teacher ratio has been getting steadily worse.

I was a 4th grade teacher for close to 30 years, and what a difference it made for my students when I taught 33 all year versus 23 all year. I made the same amount of money, and I kept my job, but the impact on students and how much I could help them individually was very different.

That's really the focus - the impact on students when the pupil teacher ratio is increased to the size that is being proposed.

If it takes some anger and protesting by parents and taxpayers, it's worth it to ensure the students get a fair shake in all this.

Let's have some teachers weigh in on this.

fedupindcss said...

Anon 10:15--my child took courses both with DOLA and the state virtual school. DOLA was a disaster--one was a simple tech course, and half the links didn't work. The teacher ended up telling us to skip most of the assignments. The other DOLA course was an AP course that our school didn't offer; again, the links didn't work, and the teacher would never respond to e-mails. Turned out she was not only teaching at her regular school all day, she was the department chair, running some sport, and trying to do DOLA. We finally got permission to finish the course second semester with the state, and it was fantastic. Yes, the work was hard, but my child said it was the first course she had ever taken in her career with DCSS that she found really good. She thought this was because all the students participating really wanted to be there, but it was also because it was crystal clear what was expected in the class, and the tech issues were nil.

It may be that the state courses are hard for our kids because they are the first real classes they have encountered, where half the class was taken up with crowd control.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your perspective Anon @ 9:07. From my observation, most on this blog 'support the teachers' with few isolated situations of frustration with a few here and there. Thank you for your service.

I personally hope you and more of your fellow co-workers would participate more to ensure bloggers are mindful of the perspective of teachers. That would be one way of achieving the balance that you are requesting.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for your insights. The child who is struggling in the language class is actually a Fulton County student who works very hard.

It never occurred to me to think about the problems you mentioned related to DOLA. I am so glad we decided not to go this route.

Anonymous said...

A question for all of you. At the Board Meeting on Monday night a speaker said it only takes 3 teachers to teach SST at Fernbank. However, Fernbank Science Center has a staff of 38 scientists and science teachers. (You can check the DCSS audit report, they are listed as other instructional). Their salaries total nearly 3 million dollars.

Can someone explain this?

Anonymous said...

It is true that nepotism and cronyism exist in DCSS. There are employees at the central office AND school level who have gotten their jobs because of relationships or are keeping them for the same reason. This is nothing new - it has gone on forever and happens in every public and private institution. The only thing that changes over time is the faction in power.

However, the perception that employees at the central office level are doing nothing is incorrect. Most are hardworking individuals who genuinely care about children and supporting the schools. With a few glaring exceptions, the incompetent principals who were pulled out of their schools and "promoted" to office positions have retired. The majority of those working today are experts in their fields with a passion for their work. When they are gone, parents will be shocked at the types of things they did behind the scenes that will disappear as well.

To the poster who compared the number of central office staff in 1972 to today and all those who are thinking along those lines, I would say this:

In 1972 DeKalb's demographics and our federal/state laws were completely different. Here are some of the things that did not exist or had very little impact on us at that time. They must be addressed now, and that requires staffing:

1) The percent of below-poverty level students in DeKalb has increased dramatically. That was the case well before our current recession. The majority of schools in our district are now designated as Title I. As a previous poster said, that comes with a great deal of strings attached and a huge amount of necessary guidance and monitoring.

2)Special Education laws and parent-driven litigation have increased exponentially. Again, this requires a large amount of oversight.

3) The percentage of non-English speaking students and parents has also seen a huge increase in DeKalb. Like special education students, their needs must be met.

4) NCLB and AYP. The mandates of this law are far reaching in terms of finances, transfer options, making AYP for certain content areas, providing additional assistance, etc. It's a logistical nightmare in a district this size.

5)Technology. In 1972 this did not exist. There was no need for a career technology department. We had home economics and auto shop. There was also no need for MIS as teachers did everything by hand and there were no computers in the classrooms. If you want the modern conveniences you have to accept on some level that a support staff must come with it. Whether you agree with a particular program's effectiveness or not, it must be understood that some type of oversight is needed.

6)Aging Infrastructure. The majority of our schools were built in the mid to late sixties (baby boom era). They were built by reputable, competent contractors and crews. As they have aged, more upkeep has been needed. Newer buildings have aged less gracefully and also need ongoing maintenance and repair.

These are just a few of the things that are not being taken into consideration by posters on this blog who are calling for things to go back to the "good old days." I am not saying that there is no fat to be trimmed. However, we should think long and hard about wholesale elimination of jobs (people) that are needed to keep the district running legally, efficiently, and effectively.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:15, I second what fedupindcss said about DOLA. I would only consider DOLA if your child already knows the material well and is only trying to get a credit on his/her transcript. That was our situation when my kids took DOLA courses on two occasions.

In our experience, DOLA did not operate in a way that would have facilitated learning. There was almost no explanation or feedback from the teachers, and assignments were not graded promptly. It took a month or two for one teacher to get around to grading written assignments. Her tests, though, were multiple choice, and students could retake each test twice for a better grade. My child, who knew the material, sometimes needed all 3 chances to get an A because a few of the questions had mistakes in them, so it took several tries to guess which wrong answer was "correct."

In other words, to my kids DOLA felt like shoveling assignments into a hole and crossing one's fingers that an appropriate course grade would eventually result.

Anon 9:18, the STT program needs more than 3 but fewer than 38 teachers. The students are divided into class-sized groups, and each group rotates through units on different subjects, spending about 4 days with each teacher.

STT is taught in the morning. In the afternoon, the teachers teach Advanced Studies classes open to older high school students.

Cerebration said...

I agree that DOLA can be cut - it is redundant - the state offers a superior virtual academy and the credits transfer seamlessly.

BTW, I meant no disrespect to Concerned Teacher, I really think there is an opportunity here to teach her students about grassroots efforts - the one thing that is truly an American value. This is what we need to treasure about our country - not worry about it or try to silence criticism because it's hard to hear. In fact, I would also recommend that Concerned show the entire John Adams mini-series to her class. There's more eye-opening history in that doc than any textbook.

And, I agree with two other comments - if you only want to hear PR and good news, go to the DCSS and read the Kaleidoscope newsletter - and yes, Kim is a person with much more insight and determination than I. No doubt - he is top dog in my book. I am always interested in his posts and comments.

Cerebration said...

Anon, 6:35 AM as to your point about the "usefulness" of this blog having expired, in our defense, you may be interested to know that our "unique visitors" as tracked by Google have tripled in the last 3 months. To me, that shows that people are finding something useful here.

Anonymous said...

DeKalb Schools should go to a "zero-based" budgeting approach rather than the traditional method. Under the traditional method, managers just justify increases over previous years.
With "zero-based" every department function is reviewed comprehensively and all expenditures must be approved. It requires a budget request to be justified and starts from a zero base each year. It is based on needs and benefits.
More time consuming but eliminates the problem with doing what you have always done regardless of the value add.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:17 posting again. When you think about cutting DOLA, you need to think what effective means you'd put in place for credit recovery. My impression was that, in practice, that was the main function of DOLA. It's a way for students who earned a 60-69 grade to retake and get credit for a class so they can meet graduation requirements. That would explain why students get three tries at the online multiple choice tests. DOLA seems to be a way to go through the motions so students can get a psssing grade in a class they've already taken in person.

Thanks for the descriptions of state virtual school experiences and Cere's tip about the credits transferring seamlessly. It might be what my high schooler needs. We will look into it:

Cerebration said...

For anyone struggling with their school possibly not being a good match for a student, but without the means for private schooling, we once posted an article called "Options to DCSS" - it can be accessed by clicking the photo with that title on the right panel of the home page or by copying and pasting this link -

Cerebration said...

Anon, 6:35, I have some positive news to share!

From the Lakeside High School PTA Newsletter, March 1, 2010 Georgia, DeKalb and Lakeside Receives AP Honors! Georgia has the 12th Highest Percent of Seniors Scoring a 3 or Higher on AP Exams according to The College Board's AP Report to the Nation released last week. This report measures progress of the class of 2009. State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox recently named more than 125 Advanced Placement (AP) Honor Schools. Among those 125 were eight DeKalb County high schools: Lakeside, Avondale, Chamblee Charter High, Cross Keys, DeKalb School of the Arts, Druid Hills, Dunwoody and Southwest DeKalb.


Anonymous said...

Not sure if this is still the case, but DOLA used to be a receiving school for NCLB required transfers. This kept the few high schools that did make AYP 2 years in a row from getting slammed with transfers. If this is still the case I don't see eliminating DOLA as a viable option.

Cerebration said...

Do you mean Open Campus? I don't see how they could make an online school a full transfer.

Anonymous said...

Actually, students could elect to do DOLA full time as a NCLB transfer in the library of their home school. I wonder if any students did this?

Anonymous said...

3/5/2010 Board meeting has an action item to discuss budget options for contract renewal. Recommends contracts go out with no more than 6.25% salary reduction, either in furlough days or salary reduction.
Will be interesting to see if Board has any meaningful discussion about this.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:13 - are you a member of DCSS Central Office or the School Board? Your insights are interesting, but your assertion that posters are "ignoring" the information you cite is specious. If you read postings historically, we do indeed "get" much of what you say. It simply doesn't do enough to explain away mismanagement and Central Office bloat. People can work hard and still be wasting our tax dollars.

Anonymous said...

These are the options apparently being proposed as it relates to salaries/furloughs.

Furlough Days OR 5% Across the Board Reduction $26,500,000.00 15 days for 12-month, 10 days for 11-month, & 7 days for 10-month

Furlough Days OR 3% Across the Board Reduction $16,500,000.00 10 days for 12-month, 7 days for 11-month, & 4 days for 10-month

Furlough Days OR 1.25% Across the Board Reduction $6,500,000.00 2 days for 12-month, 2 days for 11-month, & 2 days for 10-month

Anonymous said...

The proposal on the Board meeting agenda states the salary reduction would be maximum of 6.25%. Does not match with the previous info.
Guess when the deficit increased they had to get more from the employees.

Anonymous said...

Except that the information I posted came from the attachment to that agenda. Who knows? Maybe someone made a type-o?

Friday's meeting should be interesting.

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

Not sure where this goes, but another lawsuit against DCSS - this time a federal civil rights suits claiming the IB program at Shamrock discriminates against blacks because it is in north DeKalb. Sheesh...

Anonymous said...

You have got to be kidding me. Actually, it doesn't surprise me and given that this is at least the second OCR complaint filed against DeKalb over choice, isn't it time for DCSS to change its approach. At what point, do we stop spending money on legal costs.

Open + Transparent said...

Wow, thanks for the info Dunwoody Mom.

Shamrock is not "in the north" as the ridiculous Phyllis Austin portents. It's in Central Dekalb and easily accessed from 285.

Not sure from her website if this is a stunt for her to sell books.

“It’s clear cut racial discrimination,” said Phyllis Austin, founder and CEO of In My Shoes-The National Parent Education Center.

Way to play the race card, Phyllis.

Anonymous said...


This is a GIMMICK to increase graduation rates. The student learns NOTHING. The student spend a semester DOING NOTHING in class. Teacher gets HARRASSED to teach, reteach, accomodate, give no-ZERO so the kid ends up with a 60 (failing grade). The district sends the kid to DOLA to pass.

A kid like that DEMOTIVATES 10-15% percent of his/her class.

"It's a way for students who earned a 60-69 grade to retake and get credit for a class so they can meet graduation requirements. That would explain why students get three tries at the online multiple choice tests. DOLA seems to be a way to go through the motions so students can get a psssing grade in a class they've already taken in person."

Anonymous said...

You go, Cere! You practically had me standing and cheering. I am also a teacher and look forward to reading this blog every evening. A colleague introduced me to it and I thank her often. This is the ONLY place in Dekalb County were the truth is actually spoken not spun. Thanks for all you do and to all who write in with important, verifiable information.

Cerebration said...

Thank you! We all simply want this school system to get back on track - and soon! Bring all of your friends - community knowledge is power.

Cerebration said...

Wow, those people are really tunnel-visioned. Shamrock was 60% African-American back in 2005-06. I'm certain that percentage is even higher now.

DeKalb is less than 10% white, just about 10% Hispanic, around 4% Asian and about 75% African-American or more. In fact, a vast majority of our administration is African-American. The Board is majority African-American. The teachers and staff are majority African-American. There is absolutely no way the system can be discriminating against African-Americans.

However, Hispanics are suffering greatly. Now, they have a case!

No Duh said...

I don't know much about Ramona Tyson. But, I'm ready to stand behind her as long as she puts the children first, is willing to cut deeply into staff and useless programs, listens to teachers and taxpayers, and only puts gas in one of her vehicles.

Perhaps we are poised to turn DCSS upside down. Shed the stupid "premier" (but please don't waste money on new letterhead!)and start rewarding problem solvers and innovative thinkers.

BTW, this blog REALLY annoys our BOE members. And, I can see their point when incorrect information sometimes get legitimized. HOwever, BOE are free to start their own websites or blogs to give us all an education on the facts.

Anonymous said...

Yet another unnecessary and distructive distraction. Attacking the IB program at Shamrock as racially unfair only endangers the survival of another example of a successful program in DCSS. The fact is that Shamrock, as school where white students are in the minority, received certification for IB after years of hard work by a dedicated school administration and faculty. There are currently 3 IB high schools in DeKalb, all 3 in the mid to south parts of the county (Druid Hills, Tucker, and MLK). The program at MLK has only 6 seniors enrolled - sounds underutilized to me?? Comparitively, the program at Druid Hills currently has over 35 seniors of all races enrolled. Hard to see anything unfair or discriminatory here.

Cerebration said...

Right on, No Duh! I constantly harp on the fact that the school system and/or board need to produce a blog. I've seen many board reps across the county do so. Getting correct information out to the public right away will nip a whole bunch of problems in the bud.

It's so easy to set one up -- which board rep do you think can take it on? I vote for Pam Speaks, she's the most balanced and patient member of the board.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:13 am

I’m going to do two posts back to back since this is over the word limit.

It's good to see that Central Office employees are reading and responding on this blog.

Your conclusions are:
"The perception that employees at the Central Office level are doing nothing is incorrect……The majority of those working today are experts in their fields with a passion for their work. When they are gone, parents will be shocked at the types of things they did behind the scenes that will disappear as well.”

I agree with the facts you cite. I don't agree with your conclusions that the current level of Central Office staff is justified based on these facts.

I will attempt to address each of your justifications for DCSS’s high number of Central Office staff:

“1) The percent of below-poverty level students in DeKalb has increased dramatically.”
“3) The percentage of non-English speaking students and parents has also seen a huge increase in DeKalb.”

The student populations you cite – low income areas, special education, and ESOL students are the very students who benefit the most from being in regular education classrooms with a reasonable pupil teacher ratio. As DCSS’s student population has risen in the area of low income, special education and ESOL students, the need for lower pupil teacher ratios has risen exponentially. Administrators in DeKalb tell teachers they can meet the individual needs of 33 students just as effectively as they can meet the needs of 25 students. This is simply not true.

“2 ) Special Education laws and parent-driven litigation have increased exponentially.”

As DCSS class sizes increase, teachers have less time to give individual attention to Special Education children. Many parents of students with disabilities feel they have no choice but to seek legal redress to gain individual attention for their children in the classroom. The more the personnel imbalance tilts away from teachers and towards administration and support, the greater the pressure including legal recourse on the school system from parents whose children have special needs. As a result, 504 Plans have exploded in number in DCSS the last few years.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:13 am (contd.)

“4. NCLB and AYP.”

NCLB and AYP is a burden to any school system, but in particular to school systems that have large numbers of students who do not make AYP. If DCSS’s administration had implemented policies that improved student achievement, then much of the NCLB paperwork would be gone. I know from firsthand experience the tremendous amount of paperwork that is involved if a school DOES NOT MAKE AYP. Consider the MADE AYP rate for DeKalb over time (source Georgia DOE):
2003 - 2004 86%
2004 - 2005 77%
2005 - 2006 71%
2006 - 2007 79%
2008 – 2009 71%
2008 - 2009 78%

So we are no better off than 2005 and 2006 and much worse off than 2004. The huge expenditures for learning programs such as America’s Choice, Springboard, HSTW, etc. that have been chosen by Central Office staff and tried in the 5 last years have not worked if measured by AYP figures. Dr. Lewis took the helm in January, 2005, and AYP numbers have decreased since then. Accountability should work at the highest levels.

“5) Technology. In 1972 this did not exist.”

Technology did not exist in 1972, and in most of our content area classrooms, technology still does not exist at any meaningful form. These content area classrooms are the ones that drive all of AYP under NCLB regulations and secure DCSS federal money including Title 1 funds.
Consider that we have only 2 classroom computers for 25 to 30 students, one technology lab for 500 to 600 elementary students (middle and high have even less access to lab settings), interactive boards for 20% of our teachers, and virtually no wireless access laptops that are not tethered to carts. Nor do our teachers have laptops like Fulton, Cobb, APS and Forsyth.
This department is notorious for its poor service, high personnel numbers, and high salaries. Consider that $24,000,000 in salaries and benefits is spent on this department of 291 employees (source: state Salary and Travel audit). That equates to $82,474 in salary and benefits per MIS employees, considerably more than the average teacher. Please chime in here teachers to tell us about the access to technology you and your students have and the level of service you receive from this department.

“6) Aging Infrastructure.
Literally hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars representing the lions share of SPLOST I, II and III have gone to construction. This has probably been the most mismanaged area of all. Construction delays, cost overruns, negative publicity for DCSS, and even a DA investigation have become commonplace. This area should not be one to cost justify Central Office staff.

Paula Caldarella said...

If high school students in the "real" north of the county, i.e. Dunwoody, want an IB program, they have to pay the out of county tuition and go to Riverwood.

Dekalbparent said...

Re: the civil rights complaint.

I'm thinking if it has statements such as those on the website, it probably isn't going to go far, but it still upsets me.

Now, when we desperately need to ALL come together to address the needs of the whole school system, when we need to present a united front to achieve NO Needs Improvement schools,
we get this inflammatory (and inaccurate) rhetoric:

Simply put, in the Dekalb County School System, High Quality Academic programs known as Magnet High Achievers and IB programs are at a current ratio of 7 on the Northside of the
County to 2 on the Southside of the county.


Additionally, the way Dekalb County School System determines access to the programs are based on priority being given to the home attendance area students in the case of the IB programs,
which has a 6 to 1 ratio. Six on the North end of the County and 1 on the South end of the County.


In reference to the Magnet High Achievers programs, which uses the lottery system, on the surface it may look as if equitable access is given. However, it isn't. Because of the lack of IB programs on the South end of the County and priority given to home attendees on the North end, the Kittredge and Wadsworth High Achievers' lotteries are escalated to impossible odds for Students on the South end of the County to give them a significant opportunity to access. And again, the South end of the County's students, who are overwhelmingly predominantly Black, are negatively impacted the most.

Wadsworth is not in the south end of the county?


Probably, if your child falls in one of these categories?
1. Did your child apply for an IB program?

2. Was your child planning on applying for an IB
program but the location deterred you?

3. Was your child label ineligible to participate in the lottery
program for Kittredge or Wadsworth?

4. Is your child's ITBS scores at least in the 70th percentile
or higher in reading, math and/or both?

5. Under NCLB were you eligible to choose a school,
but the choices offered did not meet your child's educational needs?

6. Did you apply for a school choice under HB 251
because the school your child is to attend is way beneath your child's needs?

7. Did you apply for a school choice under HB 251
to meet the educational needs of your child?

8. Was your child eligible to apply for school choice under NCLB,
but instead you applied under HB 251 because the choices under NCLB did not meet your child's educational needs?

9. Did your child attend a high academic school during the 2008 - 2009
school year and was forced to attend a very low academic school or school on the NI list this school year 2009-2010?

10. Is your child interested in attending the Dekalb School of the Arts, plays in the orchestra, high academic but does not have access to a orchestra program in their current school?

11. Do you believe your child is very smart based on
ITBS scores (NOT CRCT) and grades?

12. Do you believe that the educational program your
child is in is way beneath your child's ability?
13. Is your child attending home school or a private school because the educational programs are beneath way beneath your child's academic ability?

Actually, yes, my child is. She qualified for the High Achievers' Magnet Program, but was not admitted...


Anonymous said...

Re IB lawsuit at Shamrock

What I have heard ad infinitum on this blog are posts from parents who are upset with the inequity of their children not getting the benefits of magnet programs.

Their concerns are valid in that there is an inequity of resources between magnet and non-magnet schools, and thus an inequity among students in magnet and non-magnet schools. BTW - my child went to Kittredge and Chamblee Magnet lest you magnet parents think I am biased against magnet schools.

I would guess that most posters on this blog are not parents of students who go to magnet, theme, or schools with the IB program. There has been much discussion about closing magnet and theme schools since they serve such a small segment of the DCSS student body. Doesn't that argument extend to the IB program as well?

For example, Druid Hills' IB program has a limit on the number of students in IB classes - I believe it is 17 students. The regular classes "double up" and have as many as 32 students per class to accommodate the small IB classes since the per pupil ratio is based on total number of students divided by the number of total teachers.

Who would not want their child in a class of 17 versus 32? So is the IB program in the same class as the magnet program - some students receiving a disproportionate portion of resources just like the magnet programs? Twice the number of teachers for an IB program is twice the per pupil cost (remember most of our cost is in salaries and benefits).

Like the magnet versus non-magnet dispute, this lawsuit appears to also be about inequities in resources for students. Perhaps this parent is trying to use this lawsuit to leverage their child into a better situation. That's not surprising given the state of many of DCSS's schools, probably the school this child goes to.

If all DCSS schools had reasonably sized classrooms with competent teachers and abundant access to cutting edge science and technology resources, would there be such heated discussion of magnet versus non-magnet or lawsuits against IB programs?

This is just another example of as Cerebration called DCSS being "a Third World county" where the few resources that trickle down to the end users are fought over as the people at the top remain above the fray.

SongCue said...

Just a point of clarity on IB programs. There are three levels: Primary, Middle Years, and Diploma. The Primary and Middle Years programs (found at Fernbank ES and Shamrock MS, for instance) are focused on the learning process and a well-rounded education. Fernbank was approved for the Primary Years Programme several years ago, Druid Hills got its certification to offer the Diploma programme, and Shamrock just recently was approved for the Middle Years Programme.
Our school system doesn't quite conform to the grades of the programs. The Primary Years Programme is geared toward children ages 3-12; Middle Years ages 13-16; Diploma ages 17-19. Primary and Middle Years Programmes are school-wide. Students at the high schools that offer the Diploma Programme must apply if they want to be in the program. Otherwise they can be on track for any of the other diploma choices offered by DeKalb County. The kids who work toward the IB Diploma must pass the IB exit exams to earn the Diploma and some of them don't pass. But they earn a DeKalb County Diploma.
I'm not sure how many other DeKalb County elementary and middle schools are IB schools.

Anonymous said...

With respect to IB being an exclusive program similar to magnets, I respectfully disagree. On the elementary level, IB is school-wide. Everyone in the building, including special ed, benefits. Middle schools begin the shift from school-wide, and high school students must qualify, like AP (would you do away with AP, too?). And, unlike magnet, the honor of being IB is not bestowed by a county but rather an international organization. It isn't given lightly, nor should it be taken away lightly.

SongCue said...

Right, anon 9:56. The IB story, as I understand it, goes like this: diplomats in the 1960's, who were sent around the world with their families, were having trouble finding consistently good schools for their kids. Thus, the beginning of IB schools, which are all regulated and approved by a body in Switzerland.
Go to for more info.

Dekalbparent said...

@Anon 9:28.

There is no class size limit on IB classes in high school. There are currently 17 - 18 kids per class in the IB classes at Druid Hills because there are 35 kids in the program. Nobody else wanted to be in it - if there were 60 kids in the program, the classes might well be 30. This is different from the resource question we have discussed regarding magnet programs. (BTW, the only the High Achievers magnets have the mandated small class sizes.)

IB is difficult - there are certain classes that are recommended as prerequisites in 9th and 10th grades - namely accelerated rather than general level, as well as AP World History. (These are the same classes any kid would take to compile a good-looking college resume.) However, a student can enter the IB Diploma program without having taken these classes - no one is barred.

Anonymous said...

At many high schools, there are AP classes with 16 or fewer students because kids do not sign up for the courses. Currently, the high school IB Programme in the south part of the county, at MLK HS, has only 15 juniors and seniors enrolled total, presumably because kids (and their parents) don't choose to participate. The opportunity is there for the taking.
The IB Diploma Programme (high school program) is recognized worldwide as a topnotch education, It is not only for high achievers or gifted students but requires motivation, curiosity, and willingness to work hard. Having this program has put DeKalb County on the map. It would be a terrible shame to kill it.

Anonymous said...

FYI - has some links to the school closing documents. Seems the County has posted lots of new detailed info and maps, with specific school closing "scenarios" for the committee to review.

Anonymous said...

@ Dekalbparent
You state there are only 35 kids who signed up/qualified for IB and there are only 17 to 18 per class because of that. Does that happen every year or are there some years that there are 29 or 30 students per class depending on how many do or don't qualify. If you don't know, I'll ask a Druid Hills teacher.

The fact remains that when some IB classes have 17 or 18, the others pick up the slack. The same happens with AP. If only 12 sign up, then other teachers pick up the slack.

My point is that the 17 or 18 students per class for IB or the 12 for AP are not bad. The other classes are allowed to go to 32 and are forced to do this if IB classes are small. IB classes do not have teachers who are above the allotment.

I'm not out to destroy magnet or IB schools. I think the class size for regular ed is too high and if they make it higher still, you'll find more pressure from parents to take out programs that are not under the same rules and resources their children are.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:18

The links to those documents were posted here a few weeks ago.

Those documents are guides and as I understand it, the committee has requested much more information before decision making.

The example was just so that Mr. Drake could show the committee what his recommendation would look like and also get feedback from the members on additional information they might need.

Anonymous said...

Some interesting enrollment details. Dunwoody Elementary is more underenrolled than total attendance at some other schools.
Guess they can use it as an "opt out" school in the future.
Does show what a poor decision the School Board and Dr. Lewis made when you look at overcrowding at other nearby schools.

Paula Caldarella said...

Dunwoody Elementary is more underenrolled than total attendance at some other schools

You do realize Dunwoody Elementary is 4th and 5th grade only? And I do anticipate DES being converted back to a traditional K-5 school in the not too distant future. Just good luck with that redistricting.

Anonymous said...

I am aware that Dunwoody is just 4th-5th grade since the early discussions of the school. It was a bad idea then, but the Board and Dr. Lewis took the easy way out rather than the right way.
If they had set it to be a full elementary school from the beginning, they would now have another high performing school in the area.
Of course they have enough empty seats at the school to move Kittredge there as a school in a school and save money.

Paula Caldarella said...

If they had set it to be a full elementary school from the beginning, they would now have another high performing school in the area.

Are you saying that DES is not a high-performing school? Based on what criteria?

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, not at all. I think Dunwoody Elementary is a high performing 4th-5th grade school. I just think full elementary schools, that is K-5, are a better way to go. If done this way in the beginning, they could have relieved overcrowding at nearby schools as shown in the chart and I believe that Dunwoody Elementary would still be performing at the same high level they are now.

Paula Caldarella said...

Well, I think most people would agree that DES should have been a K-5 school to begin with, but I don't think DCSS wanted to go through the nasty redistricting battle that would have ensued. It has to happen sometime, so might as well, bite the bullet and do it.

Cerebration said...

Hey, you could be on to a good idea, Anon. Merge Kittredge into Dunwoody ES. Are there really about 400 available seats in the building? The OCT 09 FTE count for DES was 726. What's the capacity of the building?

I always felt the same way about DSA - merge it into Lakeside and let everyone enjoy a nice auditorium, etc.

Paula Caldarella said...

Not a bad idea, cere, but you can bet a civil rights lawsuit would follow.

Anonymous said...

The charts posted on DeKalb website shows Dunwoody Elementary with enrollment of around 730 and capacity of 1176.
If they are looking at closing schools that are under 400 then most folks would expect them to also look at unenrolled schools. The chart shows Dunwoody Elementary unenrolled by over 400 for the forseeable future.
I agree with Dunwoody Mom that it would cause a stir, but I think folks would be pleasantly surprised at how well the school would do.
It would also eliminate the need for capital improvements for new classrooms at the overcrowded schools.
With the economy sinking housing right now anyway, maybe folks would better accept that this is the time to get the attendance areas adjusted. They have seen how great Dunwoody ES is and I would think could agreed that it would do well in the future.

Anonymous said...

Hey lawyers out there: Would Phyllis Austin receive any monetary damages if she wins this lawsuit? On the surface, it seems easy to question her motivation. What am I missing here?

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that the committee is not comfortable with the capacity numbers that Mr. Drake is using. Right now, the numbers that were used count every single classroom. So no music, art, technology, special ed, ESOL rooms are allowed for. The only rooms that were excluded were the media center and gyms, which is ridiculous. Even if you don't have art and music, IDEA requires rooms for special ed and ESL is difficult to teach without a room.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Ms. Austin would receive a map, so she can locate North DeKalb and Shamrock and determine they are two different things

BTW, there are two IB candidate middle schools as well--Tucker and Salem. Looking at an actual map, neither appears to be in North DeKalb (by which I mean Dunwoody area)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

It's funny, but in this same thread are the Shamrock "discrimination" lawsuit and accounts of Zepora assigning internships only to students from "her" schools.
To me, the latter sounds more like discrimination than the former.

Cerebration said...

Exactly true. My son would love one of those summer internships, but due to Zepora, he's prevented from even knowing the program exists. (Only learned about it from Womack bringing it up a a board meeting.) Notice that none of the other board members went to Womack's aid. They just let Zepora dress him down and be on her merry way with her "program".

Anonymous said...

This complaint is full of it. As I understand it, the entire school at Shamrock is IB. (There is no program within the school like SWD's magnet program.)

No preference is given to anyone within the school. If you are a student at Shamrock, then you are in IB.

Give me a break.

Dekalbparent said...

@Anon 12:56.

Having trouble with the logic, here - help me out. First, I'll answer your questions as best I can.

You state there are only 35 kids who signed up/qualified for IB and there are only 17 to 18 per class because of that. Does that happen every year or are there some years that there are 29 or 30 students per class depending on how many do or don't qualify.

There are 35 seniors and 40 or so juniors in the program right now. The class sizes are functions of how many kids sign up, and I know for a fact that DHHS would be overjoyed if more kids signed up - they would LOVE to see an IB group of 180 juniors and seniors. As I stated in my previous post, there are no requirements for IB besides a willingness to work. It is definitely better to have taked accelerated classes in 9th and 10th grades, but not having done so will not keep you out - you just have to work harder. There is no "qualifying" for IB, so it's different from the High Achievers or DSA programs.

The fact remains that when some IB classes have 17 or 18, the others pick up the slack. The same happens with AP. If only 12 sign up, then other teachers pick up the slack.

My point is that the 17 or 18 students per class for IB or the 12 for AP are not bad. The other classes are allowed to go to 32 and are forced to do this if IB classes are small. IB classes do not have teachers who are above the allotment.

This is where I'm having trouble following. The size of the IB or AP classes is a function of how many kids choose to take an IB or AP class - my child's AP World History class had 34 students in it. If only a certain number of kids make the choice to take on the extra work, the classes will be smaller. Conversely, if the number of kids who choose General level classes is high, then the class sizes will be high - this, of course, is what we would like to prevent by being able to hire more teachers and have enough classrooms, but right now, we are focused on reshaping DCSS so that we can at least top out class sizes at a number that allows the teacher to teach. (BTW, the IB teachers do not get any higher level of pay than they would if they were teaching general level, nor do the programs offer "perks" in terms of extra arts, field trips or enhanced lab facilities. In fact, we have to furnish some of the books and materials our kids use.)

As far as I can see, eliminating IB and AP classes might bring average class sizes down, but it would do irreparable damage to the school system - we need to be able to keep offering programs that challenge kids to think higher and prove to themselves that they don't have limits.

I just want these programs to be available to every kid who wants to participate in them, not just those who hit the lottery.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 11:56 am

Thanks. Good ideas and good information.

Just one question.

If there are so many empty seats in the IB program because students do not sign up for the classes, then why is there not a way for parents not in the DHHS area to bring their children into DHHS to participate in the IB program?

If the transportation is provided by the parent, and no additional cost is incumbent upon the school system, why are other students not allowed to come into the IB program until the maximum number per class is satisfied?

Not trying to rock anyone's boat. Just asking if this is a viable idea to utilize all resources for talented kids.

I used to teach gifted so I know there are many talented kids whose parents would love a shot at the IB program and would be glad transport them.

Dekalbparent said...

Parents outside of the attendance zone CAN get their kids into the DHHS IB program, since it is a choice program, just like the other 2 IB high school programs. There are a good number of kids in the senior IB program whose home schools are not DHHS. I can find out the exact number if you are interested.

Anonymous said...

@ Dekalbparent

No. I don't need the number. Thanks for the very good info.

Just one additional question since you appear to know so much about IB classes in Dekalb.

I read in the paper if you're not zoned into DHHS you get put into a lottery if you want to go to the IB program. Obviously, since the IB seats are only half full even after the lottery, every child in the lottery must get in. Why even bother with a lottery?

So why is this parent suing DeKalb saying Shamrock MS would not take his kid into the Shamrock program because he was outside the zone?

This doesn't make any sense. If there are too many empty seats because so few students even enter their names into the lottery to go to the IB program, why wasn't this child automatically taken into the program?

It seems that's the pertinent question here.

Anonymous said...

@ Dekalbparent

BTW - 34 students in an AP class in DCSS. Is that legal? I have friends who teach AP and they say their legal limit on AP students per class is in the 20's not 30's.

I'll ask them the rules and regulations for AP classes, and let you know on this blog.

Is your son's principal not aware of the class size for AP? That's a huge problem since class size and success on the AP are directly related - thus a more severe limit on class sizes in AP classes. Going over the number of students allowed in AP is detrimental for all students in the class.

Anonymous said...

High school IB is not meant for every child. At Norcross High School, where they have one of the oldest public high school IB programs in the state, for every 50 students who take IB courses, only 5 receive an IB diploma.

At Norcross, at least once (sometimes twice) a year, the school administration puts on information sessions explaining IB and AP and discussing how parents/students should make the decision to one or another or BOTH.

Is Druid Hills, Tucker or MLK doing these meetings? Several DeKalb high schools have investigated IB and discovered that there wasn't enough parent/student interest and didn't pursue it.

Someone has to be accountable to make sure that parents and students understand the options. The head of the magnet program makes over 100,000 a year. What exactly does she do with her time?

Anonymous said...

The IB program at Shamrock is full school. Only in high school, do you opt into IB.

So, there has to be room at Shamrock to get in.

themommy said...

Here is the information from Shamrock's application last year:

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP) is a full-school initiative. All
children at MYP schools are IB MYP students. Acceptance through the DeKalb County School System
Regional School Choice is based solely on seat availability.

Cerebration said...

I could be wrong, but I read the complaint to mean that the programs are only available in MS in the "north" (which we all agree is actually "central"). And that the seats are offered first to in-district students, leaving no seats for transfers. And even if they did transfer, it is unfair to have to travel so far for a quality education.

They extended the theory to the Kittredge lottery - which we can agree never gives preference to an attendance zone. In fact, like Arabia HS, Wadsworth and DSA, Kittredge has no attendance zone - it's totally magnet transfers.

Anonymous said...

So my understanding is that Shamrock MS's IB program is full since every single child is considered to be IB in middle school.

But at DHHS the program dropped to only 35 students. That's quite a drop rate.

There's a lottery to fill those empty IB seats up to 64 (32 per class - one poster said class sizes are not limited to less than the maximum that other teachers have), but so few students participate in the lottery that there are many, many empty seats every year.

I'm also assuming since DHHS has students in the IB program that are not from Shamrock, attending and being successful in the IB program being an IB student at DHHS is not contingent on attending a middle school IB program.

This is a question I am posing:
How cost effective is it to have an IB program for all middle schoolers in a school 1,100 students when less than 35 of those students continue in the program in high school?

I think it is rather disingenuous to say there is no question of resource allocation with the IB program which makes it unlike the magnet programs. Are the costs of the IB program part of DeKalb General Funds, Title 1, or a grant?

I did some research and here are some typical costs of an IB program in a school:

A. Initial Startup Costs
Purchase of official IBP publications
Teacher training
Cost of staff site visits to existing IB schools
Cost of the required Diploma Program Coordinator
Cost of the additional secretarial staff
Office space for IB staff
IB school application fee
Full cost of accommodation, travel and incidental expenses of IBO staff authorization visit

B. Ongoing IB Cost per school
IBO annual school basic fee
Examination fees
Covered by school, state, parents
Additional postal charges for sending student work overseas to be graded
Required teacher training workshops, regional and heads of schools conferences
IB specific classroom materials
IB specific library materials

(source: eduwatch

DeKalb has 7 IB schools (3 elementary, 1 middle and 3 high schools).
They have a coordinator (salary + 25% benefits - $132,768)
Here is the link to the DCSS website:

Before anyone gets upset, I'm not saying the IB program needs to be eliminated. I don't know. I just think any program that takes additional resources over and above those offered to all students needs to be evaluated. That's been said time and again on this blog.

If 1,100 students go through the IB program and less than 35 come out in the end with an IB diploma, doesn't that deserve a little scrutiny (I don't even know the IB diploma rates for MLK or Tucker).

Would students be better served with additional resources for AP classes which are in every school?

Any business person would ask this question.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 3:05

Good research, web citations and question! As some of the Huntley Hills advocates indicated at the 3/1 Board meeting, if you have already made the start up investments, are the continuing costs any greater than at any other school? If the answer to that is no, then there is no reason to eliminate this program.

Let's hope 'equity' does not play a part in eliminating some of these programs, assuming one can show there is no additional cost with retaining them. You would hate to see a program closed simply because it isn't offered elsewhere in the school district.

Anonymous said...

Just to be clear:
though they are still waiting on accreditation, Tucker and Salem Middle Schools are also apparently following the IB curriculum.

So in other words, both the supply and the demand appear to be growing

Anonymous said...

IB is not a curriculum but a framework within which the curriculum is taught. It is a different method of teaching the same lessons that are taught at every school. At our IB elementary there were no additional staff hired for the program (the existing gifted coordinator became the IB coordinator). The costs on the list you post were either not needed or very minimal. Our PTA held a fundraiser to fund the teacher training. IB is very different from the magnet programs. At the high school level IB costs should be comparable to AP costs - definitely NOT a resource drain. IB is more comparable to AP classes than to a magnet progam.

Anonymous said...

Framework not curriculum. You're right of course.
One should never type faster than one thinks .:)

Anonymous said...

I have been watching this blog for weeks now. I cannot believe the singular processes of some people who would prefer to see the school system get rid of magnet and IB programs that parents and communities worked to pass through. Many of these programs receive the support of the parents and the communities to fund many of the initiatives through PTA and donations to ensure the programs work. Why don't parents and communities who do not have these programs work to GET them in their schools, to enhance student success rather than trying to remove them from schools were successes are being noted. Nothing should stop parents who are truly motivated to ensure their kids success in getting involved in their schools and their kids homework and reading to their kids. But, instead of spending their time in this way, they work to rip the successes of other communities away. Why oh why do people strive to tear others down rather than build themselves up.

Anonymous said...

As long at they can prove these schools cost no more to operate than other schools, that is, the cost per pupil is the same, then fine. If not, then they must be brought back in line and operate at the same cost as all other schools.

Anonymous said...

The benchmark for success of the HS IB program is not obtaining the diploma but completing an integrated curriculum of rigorous coursework. Like in AP, students take externally graded exams after each class, and if they score highly, they can obtain college-level credit. Colleges give credit for high scores on both AP and IB classes. Receiving the IB diploma is a nice honor but is not awarded until July and thus not a factor in college admissions, unless the student is applying to schools overseas. The IB coursework emphasizes analytic thinking and writing, and students who complete the courses, regardless of the grades they receive, or whether they are gifted, high achiever, or not, will tell you that the IB coursework is incredible preparation for college and for life. Isn't this what we want our schools to do??
As for costs of the program, after the initial application and designation, these are quite minimal and probably equivalent to AP. At Druid Hills, involved parents assist with some of the IB tasks which probably helps to defray costs and further enhances the sense of community.
Instead of questioning and bashing IB, it should be held up as a model for education throughout all our schools. If we want Georgia schools to rise up from worst in the nation, we have to support and maintain programs like IB, AP, advanced science coursework, and the like.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:53

I couldn't agree more - IB is a wonderful cost-effective enhancement and I would hope that more schools will be interested in certification due to the minimal cost coupled with improved learning retention.

Anonymous said...

So, if the parents' and PTA and communities want to contribute to school success, we should kick them out and only allow the schools to operate on the costs of the budget provided by the schools. We should also prohibit the volunteers that come into schools to read to the kids who are not excelling, prohibit donations to allow all students of a school to benefit from activities that they would otherwise not have had access to because the parents and communities of other schools choose to not get involved. Why don't we also prohibit parents from doing homework with and read to their children because other parents opt out.

Again, why not work to raise all schools up rather than to bring successful schools down, unless it is the destruction of others' success that makes you feel good. Some folks would much rather spend their time filing lawsuits and spending their time to reduce the success of others when they could just as readily engage in proactive rather than destructive behaviors.

Anonymous said...

A few points to clarify what’s really going on at Shamrock:
• Every child who attends Shamrock participates in the IB program.
• The IB Middle Years Program teaches students how to really think – not just regurgitate facts.
• Shamrock is busting at the seams because they accepted so many students through school choice last year. There is not an unlimited amount of seat space.
• The parents and other community stakeholders are supportive in numerous ways of maintaining the program.
• The faculty, staff, and administration have worked for many years to become an internationally recognized school. Years, and years, and years…..
• The students love the program because it’s exciting and engaging.
• The program is nothing more than “best practice” – the kinds of things ALL schools should be doing. If the program weren’t successful, there wouldn’t be hundreds of students seeking admission.
• Any student who is not in attendance zone, which is NOT “predominantly non-African-American” as stated in the AJC, can apply through school choice to attend.
• The cost to maintain the program is a mere drop in the bucket of the school system – it’s actually a fraction of one percent of the total school budget. Is that too much when kids are REALLY learning how to think?
• Discrimination of any sort is the antithesis of the IB philosophy.

The parent who filed the law suit should be ashamed as this is a case of nothing more than sour grapes. How dare she waste my tax money in having the school system defend a frivolous lawsuit? No wonder DeKalb County Schools have no money!

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the lawsuit will be quickly dismissed since the argument is completely wrong - Shamrock is predominately African American so to claim discrimination is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

The schools in the Tucker cluster that are considered for closure also have a higher proportion of nonwhite than white students. I am not from Shamrock, but offer full support for that school.

The fact is that active parents who read to their kids and are involved in their schools help schools to promote learning.

To the poster who indicates that all schools should be spending the same amount on every student, I would like to suggest the same. The same amount of money should be provided to students who are gifted as is to those who are contributing to schools not meeting AYP. So, all that money that goes to extra programming for those performing below average should be equally spent on those who are exceptional. ESL programmatic funding should also be balanced out to ensure that students who do not speak a second language coming into the schools do when they leave. We need to provide those students with the same resources to compete in the world market as well. That way, kids who are raised speaking English get a second language in the same way that those who must learn English are getting a second language.

Yes, let's make sure that there is balance across EVERY student, those who come prepared as well as those who do not.

Anonymous said...


... is the head of the Office of School Improvement. Both she and the Office need to go. Someone wrote that OSI was necessary because it deals with Title I funds. DeKalb has been dealing with Title I funds for quite awhile before AUDRIA BERRY and OSI arose. AUDRIA BERRY is/was Crawford's "friend," and Crawford gave his "friend" her little fiefdom and protected her. How about that time a couple of years ago when the principal at Cedar Grove High School, Joanne Williams-West, made disparaging comments about AUDRIA BERRY and OSI at a conference. A day did not go by before Crawford contacted Williams-West and made her go personally apologize to AUDRIA BERRY! Why so thin-skinned, AUDRIA BERRY? Can't take the heat cause you'll melt? Afraid that the word will get out about what a worthless bunch of do-nothings you lead over there at OSI? You call attention to yourself when you make such noise about people calling you out. Come on, AUDRIA BERRY, come on out from behind Crawford's shadow and speak up. Tell us all just what you do do! Here's what I would like the Board to do: Have all the individuals who comprise OSI under AUDRIA BERRY's leadership (I use that word lightly) keep a running diary in 15 minutes increments detailing just what each and every one of them does. That would be enlightening! I suggest the BOE flush OSI and allow two or three secretaries (oops, I mean, administrative assistants) to run the papers back and forth for Title I funds. They would probably be more effective.

OSI. Doesn't that sound like a good old Nazi acronym? Just like the SS Hitler used to maintain order in Germany and the subjected lands. Well, the Title I schools are the subjected lands, and AUDRIA BERRY is DeKalb's Hitler. Annually, AUDRIA BERRY sends out her cohorts of really intelligent staff to the various Title I schools where they run around with clipboards and checklists and rate everything. They then sits for days and days analyzing (LOL) the data (LOL) they have gathered from which they develop a document that proves they have done something. It is so worthwhile....NOT.

And you know what else. These INSTRUCTIONAL COACHES who need to be placed back in the schools from where they were plucked. Well, they cause such dissension and strive and turmoil in the Title I schools because AUDRIA BERRY is in charge of them. If they are going to be kept in schools, they should be managed by the INSTRUCTIONAL COORDINATORS who have some modicum of instructional content knowledge. AUDRIA BERRY has no content knowledge, so her INSTRUCTIONAL COACHES are left with the mistaken idea that they are supervisors of teachers. The INSTRUCTIONAL COACHES pick and choose various teachers to pick on so that the INSTRUCTIONAL COACHES are able to report back to AUDRIA BERRY that they are conducting worthwhile things in the school and improving instruction...OSI. It's just CYA time, folks. Throw them out!

Save bundles of cash for DeKalb taxpayers. Get rid of Crawford's "friend," AUDRIA BERRY, and all her ineffective hoard of hangers-on who couldn't improve schools if their lives depended on it.

AUDRIA BERRY's salary could pay for three secretaries (oops, administrative assistants), and they would more than likely do a better job of managing Title I funds than AUDRIA BERRY does.

Anonymous said...

First, it wasn't a lawsuit, rather a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights. It seems to have no merit.

Second, the state provides extra money for gifted students, it also provides extra funds for special ed and Level 1 students. The feds kick in a big chunk for Title 1 schools and LEP students.

The funds that most are talking about are locally provided. It is great that your schools get 1/10th of 1 percent of the system's budget for something that you love, but there are many other schools that have needs going unmet.

I get that you all love _____ (fill in your piece of the pie). I also KNOW that DCSS must cut spending at the central office to the bare bone. At the end of the day, the inequities caused by this program and that program need to be addressed.

Anonymous said...

So, let's cut what works so we can bring all schools down to failure and see more students who contribute to success moving out of the system, rather than working to cut programs that do not work and integrating programs that do.

What pot of money does the "how to parent" free breakfast program come from? What about the funds provided to programs found on the website that are providing assistance to parents and not students. I'm assuming that you are saying that these are funds coming from the feds?

These are serious questions because I do not know.

I really stand behind the other poster who noted, however, that we should be moving to make improvements to bring schools up rather than tear successful schools down.

I would argue that the budget cuts should include discussions of school performance, not simply enrollment. Doesn't it make sense to move students out of a school that is underperforming into schools that are performing. Doesn't this give those students a better chance of success?

Paula Caldarella said...

What pot of money does the "how to parent" free breakfast program come from? What about the funds provided to programs found on the website that are providing assistance to parents and not students. I'm assuming that you are saying that these are funds coming from the feds?

Yes, these funds come from the Fed - Title 1 funds are used for the items you referenced.

So, let's cut what works so we can bring all schools down to failure and see more students who contribute to success moving out of the system

Some of us look at it a different way - how about redirecting funds that benefit only a small number of students and redirecting those funds so that all students can succeed.

jane said...

The k-3/4-5 concept in Dunwoody is working. Why not redistrict the K-3 schools including Kingsley and make Kingsley a K-3?

Anonymous said...

So interesting that Shamrock is now seen as desirable, as lots of kids from the feeder elementary schools every year bail out to private schools after 5th grade. Also interesting that one of the main reasons there is an IB program there at all is that the African-American principal at Shamrock worked hard to get the certification. And the few neighborhhood parents who have stuck by the school, worked hard with PTA and volunteering, while their friends have moved on to private schools, are now accused of fostering an unfair situation.

Dekalbparent said...

@Cere -

Don't have time to find citation, but Tom Bowen stated to AJC that DCSS had plans to offer the MS IB program at Tucker and Salem MS, but the programs are being held off right now due to budget. There is some training required for IB teachers, so I'm guessing this is the holdup.

@Anon 1:10

Yes, DHHS does a full presentation on IB for 8th graders and their parents/guardians, another one for 9th and 10th graders where they have the attendees hear a presentation and then attend 3 panel discussions - one with current IB seniors, one with parents of current IB seniors, and one with IB teachers. I don't know about Tucker or MLK.

I know that not everybody who goes through IB gets an IB diploma, but IMO, just going through the program is benefit enough. DHHS has had 50 - 7o% of the kids get the diploma, however, if I remember correctly. They are, of course, shooting for 100%

@Anon 1:07

I am sure it is bad for the students if AP is overcrowded. I was not aware that there were limits on AP class size - I remember looking it up, and there are limits on "Gifted" in GA, but I couldn't find the same for AP.

@ Anon 1:06

As far as I know, there is no lottery for the IB program at DHHS. The DCSS brochure ( - (page 29) does not mention a lottery in the selection criteria, instead it says it is based on an interview (which pertains to all candidates, whether they are in the DHHS attendance zone or not) and it does mention a lottery for other magnets.

Anonymous said...

"Some of us look at it a different way - how about redirecting funds that benefit only a small number of students and redirecting those funds so that all students can succeed."

I agree. I’d love for all of that Title 1 money to be evenly distributed to every school. Throwing money at failing schools is not, and has never been, the answer. The answer lies in supportive parents, competent administration, and allowing teachers to do what they were trained to do.
Why are some folks trying to change one of the few remaining things in DeKalb that actually works? If other schools wish to work toward IB accreditation then they should seek to do so. However, they need to be prepared for the rigor and commitment that it requires. The people of Shamrock are a good example of what can happen when students, parents, teachers, and administrators work together towards the common goal of ensuring that every child in the building receives a top-notch education. This isn’t about funds – it’s about commitment.

Anonymous said...

Shamrock isn't being accused of anything. This beef is with DCSS. Go explore her Ms. Austin's website. It is clear she is just looking for a way to make a point. She picked an invalid example though.

Title 1 monies come from the feds. The extras that people fight so hard to keep in DCSS are from local dollars. In DeKalb, the problem remains that many of our schools really do without, while others benefit from extras provided with these local dollars.

I don't want IB to go away, I just think DCSS has to learn to operate these programs in a nearly cost free way -- that is what other school systems do.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 4:12 pm

"I cannot believe the singular processes of some people who would prefer to see the school system get rid of magnet and IB programs that parents and communities worked to pass through.......But, instead of spending their time in this way, they work to rip the successes of other communities away. Why oh why do people strive to tear others down rather than build themselves up."

I'm not trying to destroy the IB program or any magnet programs. My son went to Kittredge and received a very good education.

I just asked about the efficacy of the IB program as it relates to expenditure. Every program should be evaluated in this budget crunch. This includes how we spend Title 1 funds to asking if data shows that America's Choice, Springboard, HSTW, or Instructional Coaches are producing the results for the millions we spend for them.

Personally, I'm more concerned about admin and support numbers and cost as compared to teacher numbers and cost. Those numbers are even more important in taming the budget than special programs (magnets, theme, IB, Montessori, etc.) because they have been allowed to become so unbalanced. Unless this administration rebalances the budget to pour resources into the classroom special programs will continue to be on the endangered species list.

Resources are finite. That is a fact that this administration has not grasped. They have totally lost their educational focus.

School choice should:
1. Be open and available to all children who meet the qualifications of those programs.
2. Proven to be efficacious to the education of those children who attend these programs.

School choice should not be:
1. A pressure valve that relieves the administration of the unpleasant task of confronting the most involved and vocal parents.
2. Asking one group of students to do with less resources in order to provide another group with more resources.

Anonymous said...

It's true that a surgeon's scalpel is needed in this budget crunch to determine which positions and programs are viable and which ones are not.

Taking an ax and lopping off 15% of all salaries may be convenient and seem "fair" as our Ms Tyson stated, but this is not an effective way to run a business or a school system.

Careful evaluation of all positions and programs is necessary to put us on the road to recovery and solvency in monetary and educational terms.

Ms. Tyson and the BOE seem to be in the mode of retrenchment, hoping that an economic recovery will preclude hard work and hard choices. They believe that if they can just squeak by with everything intact, then the rising tide of the recovery will glaze over the fundamental problems of DCSS.

Anonymous said...

Budget for Fernbank Science Center falls under Central Office. Let's hope that in this time when the US is so woefully behind the rest of world in scientific aptitude, knowledge, and accomplishment, DCSS won't choose to kill a valuable scientific resource that benefits all kids throughout the county.

Anonymous said...

Fernbank Science Center has 38 science teachers. After elementary school, could you tell me how every student in DeKalb benefits from FSC?

Without doubt, science instruction in DeKalb's high schools is consistently uneven at best and horrid at worse. Tell me how FSC having all those resources helps with this?

Anonymous said...

Many FSC teachers spend lots of their time at high schools, in all parts of the county, in classrooms at all grade and achievement levels, providing special programs for the students. They haul in equipment that the county cannot supply for every school and from what I hear from my kids, teach great, dynamic classes. Many of the teachers are super energetic and have advanced degrees in their field. FSC also offers a wide variety of after school, for credit courses, that are open to ALL high school students in the county. In these classes, students have opportunities for labs, hands on and outdoor learning. Teachers there coordinate and run important science enrichment activities - Science Fair, Science Olympiad, Robotics Teams, etc. And of course there is the STT program for 9th grade which draws kids, fairly, from all parts of the county.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8:02 pm
"Let's hope...DCSS won't choose to kill a valuable scientific resource that benefits all kids throughout the county."

Anonymous 8:16 pm
"Fernbank Science Center has 38 science teachers. After elementary school, could you tell me how every student in DeKalb benefits from FSC?"

Let's look at EOCT science results for fall, 2009 for DeKalb County students.

Number tested: 3,161
Pass rate: 52% (Georgia 64%)

Physical Science:
Number tested: 2,536
Pass rate: 63% (Georgia 71%)

I think the numbers agree with Anonymous 8:16 pm.

Why don't we re-employ those 38 Fernbank science teachers to help with our students in the 8th and 9th grade classrooms in the schools that obviously need great science teachers the most?

Anonymous said...

Fernbank is the entity that travels to the schools to provide science information and projects. It offers programs to bring teachers up to the task of teaching science.

From what I can see of science curriculum in Dekalb, without even more of our students would fail the science section of CRCT, if that matters to anyone.

As to IB, I'm not sure how you can argue that just some of the students are ES it is all of the students in the school who benefit. Perhaps at the upper levels IB is not a good idea, but I cannot see how it should not be promoted at the ES level.

As to the Title I monies, how do these funds benefit the gifted (or for that matter performing) students in those schools. It is my understanding that they are directed to help students at the bottom succeed. Why not use these funds to facilitate IB types of programs in these schools? It does not appear that the current programs are working. Why not think outside the box?

Anonymous said...

@anon 8:40 - so what do you propose? - firing the sub-par science teachers in the schools with failing EOCT scores and replacing them with FSC teachers? Not sure that can be done.
Many kids will tell you that their experiences with FSC teachers and programs showed them that they liked science or inspired them to pursue a career in science. Fact is, DeKalb can't afford to provide excellent science education all day to every school so why not support providing excellent science that can at least touch every kid some of the time?

Anonymous said...

I just checked with the crew of high school students (all AP/gifted type) who are here in a study group and they can't recall ever seeing a FSC teacher in their classes.

In fairness, I have seen them at our local elementary school. And I know they do the sex ed for the 5th graders. (The students go there though. One way to save money, might be for the teachers to travel to the elementary schools.)

I still think there is nothing in the data that indicates that FSC is making much difference. And I for one, think that having those teachers in the high schools would be a real gift.

If your child has been in STT, I am certain you probably disagree. However, step back and think how you might feel if your child had suffered through biology at your local high school?

Anonymous said...

Teachers at all the schools can schedule FSC teachers to come to their classes. Some teachers schedule the programs frequently, others do not. Many FSC teachers spend much of their time at high schools in the southern part of the county.
It would be a tragedy for DCSS to let these teachers go as most have much more science education and experience than the average teacher. Many gave given up more lucrative careers in the private sector or at universities to work in DCSS. If the decision is to cut FSC, DCSS will lose these valuable teachers and be left with the status quo and probably worse.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8:54 pm
"Fact is, DeKalb can't afford to provide excellent science education all day to every school so why not support providing excellent science that can at least touch every kid some of the time?"

Thank you. At least you are being honest which is more than this administration is being. As long as we spend half of our budget on admin and support this will be the reality of DeKalb for students. Now can we get Ms. Tyson and the Central office to admit this?

Anonymous said...

Title I money in our school has been literally lost and misspent. The County, which is dilatory in examining each purchase order, has frustrated timely receipt of material. This has caused our school to lose the Title I funds earmarked for specific orders because those orders were not processed within the fiscal year.

County Title I asks our school to justify certain orders and our departments are never given notice to provide timely justification
-- thus Title I money is lost because we didn't spend it when we were supposed to.

Once our school gets money, there seems to be little rhyme or reason in how it's spent. It's often not spent on anything that benefits instruction. You may think I'm generalizing, but it's happened many times.

I'm afraid a next big scandal will arise from a USDOE audit of Title I, not if, but when we're audited.

Anonymous said...

At least some of the science teachers across the county are here through the Visiting Foreign teacher program. They can (and will) be sent home at the end of their contract. At my child's high school, there are at least two of these teachers in science and they are terrible teachers.

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