Saturday, March 6, 2010

The March 5th Board Meeting

Our friends at the DeKalb Parent blog have provided us with some very detailed minutes from yesterday's meeting. It would be SO nice if the school system would create their own blog and provide parents and citizens with timely, accurate information, but since they don't, we all have to work together to keep each other informed. Thanks so much for the hard work DeKalb Parent Blog team!

Click here to read the minutes in-depth. Below are some highlights that caught my eye:

It appears that the meeting started late due to an executive session beforehand. Then Ramona Tyson proposed a "not to exceed" 6.25% pay cut (by furloughs or salary reduction). Paul Womack questioned the limitation of the proposal - he has already stated publicly that the shortages faced by the system will increase significantly next year. We need flexibility in cutting costs quickly. There was also some confusion as to which proposal they were considering - there may have been two on the table - one at 5% and on at 6.25%.

I will quote the notes on what Redovian said - my favorite part:

Redovian: I can’t vote for anything to take away money for the teachers and counselors if we don’t give them anything back; we need to take away all the paperwork, reports, etc and let them teach. We have to take the load off of them and then they might be more supportive of the cuts, if assured they would have less paperwork. If we are increasing class sizes, reducing staff, we can’t take anything more from the teachers and counselors w/out reducing paperwork. I don’t want to see a counselor having to make a choice between helping a child and filling out district paperwork; kids are more important than papers.

McChesney (addressing Redovian’s comments): much of the paperwork is Federal related, no child left behind, etc.

Redovian: yes, much is, but we keep adding and adding to it; there is no coordination in the central office; no one is asking why and where is it going; there is lots of duplication. eSIS is not the teachers’ fault, but they are paying for it; will support the motion but will not vote on it in May if the other admin/paperwork cuts are not also included.

There was conversation about the Race to the Top federal dollars about to be granted to Georgia. I hope the board is not banking on these funds. I attended a federal DOE meeting last month (and wrote about it in the comments here) where the methodology for acquiring funds was explained. Brad Bryant, our state board rep pretty much stated that DeKalb is not poised to receive what is called "Tier 1" funding. Apparently, there are many rural schools in the state with bigger problems and worse test scores than DeKalb. Our DeKalb BOE may wish to discuss the RTTT funding with Brad Bryant.

To download the March 5 FY2011 Budget Planning Powerpoint, go to this link at the DeKalb Parent blog. There is very detailed information on exactly where the cuts are proposed. Nice job, Ramona! There are additional budget plans and detailed proposals available here and approved budgets available here at the Superintendent's website.

Thanks so much, DeKalb Parent Team!


Anonymous said...

Sarah Copelin-Woods was the one who brought up the Race to the Top funds. The proposed budgets do not include any potential RTTT funds. The conversation was interesting in that it made clear how little Copelin-Woods knows about the budget and the entire process. (She couldn't even name Race to the Top). The fact that she hadn't reviewed the agenda, had no idea what was being voted on and didn't bother to bring her glasses so that she could actually read the documents in front of her showed exactly how much effort and responsibility she takes with her position. I was horrified at how poorly informed she was and the level of ignorance revealed by many of her comments and questions.

Anonymous said...

Sad, but I've found this to be the usual MO for Ms. Copelin-Wood unless, of course, she's railing on and on about how underserved "her" schools are. She got that auditorium (don't call it a theatre) at McNair pushed through in 2 weeks.

It will take an unprecedented effort to unseat her.

Anonymous said...

Redovian says he's "tired of" emails about central office bloat and wants detail separating Title 1 positions from the rest.

So apparently they haven't bothered to look at this issue in detail before.


Anonymous said...

Actually, at the DOE meeting they were talking about a different pot of money that will go to the bottom schools in the country. As I understand it, these funds don't actually exist yet. Congress hasn't approved them and may very well not.

The RTTT funds are already in the approved stimulus and will be limited to Title 1 schools. DeKalb is one of the school systems that has signed on with the state to be part of their application. However, we can't use this money to close the shortfall. We can also expect only the lowest performing Title 1 schools to receive additional resources.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone catch the high hilarity of Walker saying "we don't want to break any laws." Summary: "Everyone laughed."

And I empathize with Redovian when he said that he'd served on the school board for 4 years, but it feels like 400.

Cerebration said...

Very true comments regarding SCW. Here are a few interesting comments from the meeting,

Copelin-Wood: why is the highest percent (6.25%) included, why not 1%, 3% or 5% ?

Roberts: regarding # 19 (elimination of targeted assistance points) – does that include Title I? and what exactly is # 20?

Tyson: #19 – that is money from the general fund; #20 – every year we have graduating seniors or college students serve as interns.

That's a flim-flam. Zepora knows EXACTLY what that program is about - she maintains control of it! She also spoke up against shutting down some program at Columbia -- seems she's all about cutting everyone else but "her" schools and programs.

I am proud of Paul Womack and Jim Redovian for continuing to request copies of all 1099s. These are end of year tax forms that will show just how much money we are paying consultants - who they are and what they do. This will never show on a general budget and could well be a big area of waste.

For example, rumor has it that the recently "retired" Dr. Frankie Callaway working at the Mountain Industrial Center. Anyone know if this is true?

Cerebration said...

FYI - Maureen Downey posted a thread about Fulton's cuts called Fulton faces the budget music: No band. Half of school social workers and all parapros in grades one to three gone.

Cerebration said...

Maureen then posted a response from a local leader - it harkens back to Ella's point she has made here several times - the state is robbing us and sending the money to "poor" counties. I challenge you all to drive around these "poor" counties and check out their gorgeous new schools!

Under the QBE – “Local Fair Share” portion of the 1987 bill, Fulton School Board and Cobb School Board are donor counties to south Georgia. We had to give away $147M last year to other counties. Now we are in a $140M hole. That hole cannot be plugged by cutting our budget so a millage tax increase will have to be used to plug the hole. So in essence, Fulton School Board will have to raise class size, and raise taxes just to give away money to another county for their school system. That doesn’t sit well with me as a taxpayer and a parent of two kids in elementary school.

The state legislature needs to get rid of this “Local Fair Share” or at least cap the amount of money that we are forced to give away especially if we have to raise our taxes to give money away. You can see my email below to our state legislators.

Ashley Jenkins

City Council District 4

Cerebration said...

And big props to Jay Cunningham for this comment -

Eliminate corporate wellness, that’s not a program, it’s a joke;

And for his general bird-dogging old proposed cuts that were never actually implemented and now have disappeared from the options.

Seems to me that they've brought in Ramona as "hatchet-woman" to do the job that Lewis just doesn't have the stomach to do. Fine - you go Ramona! And no way - NO WAY - should Lewis be allowed to slide right back and take over the reins after the fallout!

Anonymous said...

Great post by a teacher in the AJC Get Schooled blog that goes to the heart of the budget. Sounds like this applies to DeKalb. Here it is:

"The most significant consequences of most of Georgia’s school finance system is that too much revenue is targeted toward administering school programs and budgets rather than raising student achievement. More money is allocated towards central office and resource instructional positions than to classroom level instruction. Many of the supervisory and resource instructional positions do not clearly increase student achievement.

It is critical to work toward an education budget process that encourages cost-consciousness at the local level, shifts resources from non-instructional budget categories into classroom-level spending, and truly equalizes per-pupil funding based on the individual characteristics of students."

Anonymous said...

So we have real numbers for our discussion, here are the approximate figures on magnet enrollment. They are from a very reliable source within DCSS Admin:

Kittredge High Achievers - 400
Chamblee MS High Achievers - 294
Chamblee HS High Achievers - 550
Wadsworth High Achievers - 165
Chapel Hill MS High Achievers - 210
SW DeKalb HS High Achievers - 400

DESA - 550
Clifton ES Math, Science and Computer Education Magnet - 160
Evansdale Math, Science and World Languages Magnet - 140
Snapfinger ES Math, Science and Technology - 0
Columbie MS Math, Science and Technology Magnet- 300
Columbia HS Math, Science and Technology Magnet - 400

The schools for which there is a lottery (e.g. not everyone who wants to attend is able to) are bolded.

Using these figures, there are approximately 1594 students in lottery-chosen magnet programs, and there are approximately 1410 students in non-lottery-chosen magnet programs.

I do not know the enrollment of the magnet programs at Arabia Mountain - perhaps someone else does.

In addition, I do not know planned capacity of the new medical magnet programs at Miller Grove and Druid Hills.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to start by saying that teachers should not be the ones to receive ANY cuts. Cut the micro managers instead, and let the teachers do their jobs!
I've recently started reading the comments here and on the AJC blog. One comment in particular caught my attention - the one concerning doing paperwork or educating the students. There is FAR too much paperwork to effectively let us get our jobs done.
Now upon looking at plan F, I know what F stands for. 18 CTSSes getting cut? Yes, I am one. I've seen the complaints about the amount of time it takes to receive support. I'd like to shed some light on that subject.
I've been to the meetings and seen the bad attitudes. I understand why. We have one responsibility after another piled on our back. So much in fact, that we cannot get time to perform the basic functions of our position. It's tantamount to "busy work", back when I was doing homework 6 hours a night in middle school.
Replacement hardware takes an average of a month to reach us. I've had to wait six months for a new employee to receive their new desktop.
There are days when I work myself sick and bloody with all the things that pile up. The amount of decrepit hardware is astounding and I don't have time to do the necessary maintenance to negate further failure.
Yet upper management has plenty of time to write up my failure in performing all my job functions. eSIS became the four letter word for DeKalb, but now it seems to have changed to "mgmt".
Why not just let all those pesky "workers" go. They cost money, after all. Upper management wants to get richer. Nobody cares about the customers, which in this case is our children.
Such is corporate America, and I'm sick of it. No chance for a career or success. I wish I'd known upper management was the way to go.

Paula Caldarella said...

Here the link to an ACJ article that just burns me and will end up costing school systems a bundle. The lack of cooperation from the state with regards to assisting school systems with investigating the CRCT erasure issue. The systems are going to have reach into their pockets in order to investigate these "erasures". It's like GOSA got all the credit for uncovering this scandal (which they did not and they got the erasure analysis done for free), then washed their hands of it and told the local systems "you go deal with it now with no help from us".

Anonymous said...

MIS management has made the decisions that result in poor service to teachers and students.

I'm puzzled as to MIS personnel above the CTSS levels are not on any list of cuts. Perhaps Ms. Tyson having spent her career in MIS may have something to do with that.

Why is it that this CTSS (see Anonymous 12:15 pm) tells us:
"Replacement hardware takes an average of a month to reach us. I've had to wait six months for a new employee to receive their new desktop."
"The amount of decrepit hardware is astounding and I don't have time to do the necessary maintenance to negate further failure."

The questions parents/taxpayers need to be asking regarding this department of 291 employees that cost us almost $20,000,000 in salaries and benefits annually is:

Who makes these management decisions - network and hardward - that result in such poor customer service?
What happened to the tens of millions of our SPLOST III dollars that went to getting new technology into the classrooms?

In the 5 years Ms. Tyson was head of MIS she added personnel year after year and promoted and promoted with ever increasing salaries at the Bryant Center. Since last fall Tony Hunter is at the helm.

Look below at the salaries of MIS upper management.

I don't think any parent/taxpayer would begrudge these employees their salaries if our classrooms got topnotch service. But it seems we are rewarding these managers for providing our teachers and students with poor customer service:

HUNTER,ANTHONY TECHNOLOGY DIRECTOR $114,627 (with 25% benefits $143,283)
MILLER,JOYCE INFORMATION SERV PERSONNEL $111,835 (with 25% benefits $139,793)
SWING,JOSEPH P IS PERSONNEL - INSTRUCTION SERV $111,835 (with 25% benefits $139,793)
GUIDI,CHRISTOPHER L INFORMATION SERV PERSONNEL $107,904 (with 25% benefits $134,880)
YOUNG,JEFFREY A INFORMATION SERV PERSONNEL $107,039 (with 25% benefits $133,798)
HILBURN,RONALD W IS PERSONNEL - SUPPORT SERV $103,839 (with 25% benefits $129,798)
ROBINSON,JAMES P IS PERSONNEL - INSTRUCTION SERV $100,715 (with 25% benefits $125,893)
PHILLIPS,JOSEPH L INFORMATION SERV PERSONNEL $100,644 (with 25% benefits $125,805)

Our superintendent and BOE should be asking for customer service surveys from classroom teachers and matching performance in the service areas to leadership positions to see if there is a correlation.

Why should taxpayers and parents have to do on this blog what they are elected and paid to do?

Anonymous said...

"Look below at the salaries of MIS upper management.

I don't think any parent/taxpayer would begrudge these employees their salaries if our classrooms got topnotch service. But it seems we are rewarding these managers for providing our teachers and students with poor customer service:"

Take a look at the credentials (degrees, experience) of these overpaid MIS staff and you will see why the service is poor. Many of these folks listed barely have bachelors degrees and were moved up rapidly by Tyson much lower level positions. Many have jobs in the first place due to cronyism and nepotism. Tyson herself, has seen her salary practically doubled in the past 5 years without any additional degrees or credentials. Maybe these folks should be paid according to the teacher pay scale where a masters degree and years experience might lead to a salary of $70,000.

With Tyson in control, I will bet MIS will be well protected.

Anonymous said...

Why don't I see major cuts to MIS?

Why isn't cutting DOLA listed?

E-mail the BOE, and demand they make major cuts to MIS and eliminate DOLA. We should contract out MIS!

Anonymous said...

Who makes these management decisions - network and hardward - that result in such poor customer service?


I don't think any parent/taxpayer would begrudge these employees their salaries if our classrooms got topnotch service. But it seems we are rewarding these managers for providing our teachers and students with poor customer service

There is no documentation for CTSS procedures. We just get yelled at by MIS when we don't do things correctly. These procedures also change without notice. When we ask for the correct procedures, we are told to ask another, more knowledgable, CTSS.
Also, some CTSSes were moved into their position because they knew a little more about computers, such as media center specialists. They don't have the real technical knowledge the position truly requires. Therefore, MIS has to double check everything. Bad hard drive reported? MIS doesn't believe you and has to test it themselves. Even those of us with years of experience and certs are questioned.

MIS loves to micromanage in this fashion, but not in a REAL manner. Wish I could get paid over 100k to not work.

Anonymous said...

I personally will donate to good candidates who run against Copelin-Wood and Zepora Roberts. Both has been on the BOE for years too long and are two of the big reasons why we are in the mess that we are in.
A BOE member told me that it drives him nuts how Copelin-Wood never reads the agenda and other notes they are given before meetings.
Term limits please!

Anonymous said...

Dear Board of Education members, lend me your ears...

1. Trust but verify (get these 1099for all consultants, find out what services these consultants, and the Central Office employees perform)

2. Quit arguing against and nodding "yes". You all look silly!

3. Less pay but less USELESS paperwork is a fair trade.

4. Hire real principals and let them run the school within the law and with fairness.

5. Create a vocational program for students who want it.

6. Quit "hunting" for drop outs to return to school.

7. Direct "drop outs" to GED programs.

8. No more credit recovery. Credit recovery create more mediocre students and demoralizes all students who are working in class.

9. Ask parents to pay a moderate fee for AFTER SCHOOL TUTORIALS for regular education kids.

10. Cap all afterschool faculty meetings, IEP meetings, training meetings to a max of 30 minutes after the final bell.


Anonymous said...

The MIS department can only be protected for so long.

As DeKalb falls even further behind with technology, at some point, parents are going to ask why we have little technology for students and why that little bit doesn't work, especially since tens of millions of our SPLOST dollars have been spent by MIS.

As a technical specialist in the schools said on his/her post. .."The amount of decrepit hardware is astounding and I don't have time to do the necessary maintenance to negate further failure."

Ms. Tyson and Mr. Hunter will argue that DCSS has a computerized system that logs all technical troubles and tracks their resolution between time logged and time cleared. MIS likes to cite their excellent trouble clearance rate.

However, as often happens when the people you report to measure you strictly on the data reports given them (can we say CRCT?), they get what they want - not necessarily what's really happening in the classrooms.

For example, if a software program is installed, and it launches, then the install is considered successful - whether the program works correctly or not.

If a teacher puts in a trouble call (an involved process for the teacher), the CTSS or Network person uninstall and re-install the program, and if the program launches, they mark the trouble cleared - again whether it works correctly or not.

When this happens enough times, teachers who are busy teaching grow discouraged and reconcile themselves to poor service and technology that doesn't work.

Teachers are strictly forbidden to escalate any problems to anyone outside the school building (i.e. MIS upper management) per MIS instructions, so who is to know? Chain of command works to the classroom's detriment, but it's a great insulator for MIS personnel at the Bryant Center.

In theory the principals are supposed to be escalating these problems, but most principals have other battles to fight, technology is low on their priority list, and after all how many technology problems do they have the time to escalate.

The data looks good to Ms. Tyson and Mr. Hunter and probably the BOE, but a large percentage of problems don't really get fixed. The troubles only look like they get fixed in the data reporting system because they’ve been marked cleared.

MIS upper management personnel don’t talk to teachers or administer teacher surveys that really measure the effectiveness of the MIS department.

An outside auditor should do this. The present system is working so well for MIS upper management that they have no incentive to question the status quo.

As evidenced by eSIS, Ms. Tyson and Mr. Hunter launched a system that had no classroom teacher input. That attitude permeates this department. Choosing systems without teacher involvement may work for them for them, but not for our students and teachers in the classroom.

This department that costs almost $20,000,000 annually in salaries ad benefits and consumes tens of millions of SPLOST dollars needs to have a close look at the effectiveness of their management personnel. After all, MIS management personnel are the ones who set up the purchase, install, and repair systems that work so poorly. Simply laying off some lower paid employees is not going to solve the problem of our wasted taxpayer dollars.

Anonymous said...

Parents, share your concerns with Ms. Tyson as well as the BOE members. You can reach her by email:

Cerebration has also set up an email link to her above the Recent Comments section on the right hand side of this webpage.

Anonymous said...

eSIS was and is a disaster. it is mind boggling that it first wan't rolled out to a few schools on a trial basis, so all the bugs and issues could be worked out. it is also mind boggling how MIS has so many administrators making six figure salaries + pension and bene's. There is no justification why they can't be making in the $70's or $80's. I'm all for an outside consultant that reports to the BOE, AND the public, to measure MIS effectiveness. And that doesn't mean hiring Judget Thelma Moore for $500,000.

Anonymous said...

Can someone verify that Gwinnett purchased ESIS in the 90's and used it for one year before trashing the whole mess and moving to SASSI software like all the other major systems.

Anonymous said...

I have a good friend who worked for Gwinnett in the 90s and who is a DCSS parent now. She said she didn't think GCSS ever used ESIS but what they do use is heads and tails above what we were using.

It is very frustrating to me that DCSS never seems to network.

Anonymous said...

The High Acheivers magnet program costs over 2 million LOCAL dollars for less than 2000 students. We are spending over 1000 extra LOCAL dollars on each student in the program.

There are no proposed cuts to these programs. Why not?

Anonymous said...

"It is very frustrating to me that DCSS never seems to network."

Anon 5:00, DCSS does network, it's just the friends and family network. Like the DCSS administrator hired on by America's Choice. Smart business move to hire away a high ranking DCSS administrator to secure an initial $8,000,000 fee, plus annual fees.

Sad part is how mediocre America's Choice is. DCSS does trust teachers to teach. Would rather have teachers rotely follow a basic and unchallenging AC curricula. Someone tell me why Gloria Talley and her posse are so highly paid?

Anonymous said...

That sounds like a question you should email the BOE members and Ms. Tyson about.

Use the links above the Recent Comments section on this webpage. If enough people ask that question, the BOE or Ms. Tyson may answer it in a meeting.

Apparently Mr. Redovian has been getting a deluge of emails regarding concerns from parents and teachers that we've seen expressed time and again on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Some people lead by example while others lead by intimidation. There lies the lack of compassion the teachers of Dekalb toward the "Dear Leader".

"Oh, we could dream, couldn't we?"

Anonymous said...

I too am a CTSS with DCSS. We are members of MIS but I take offense to comments that say "teachers in the local school house receive poor service. Many of us take our jobs very seriously by making sure we do whatever we can in the school house to make sure the technology is working for the teachers and students. Many of us are given additional assignments from the principals such as hall monitors, lunch monitors and bus monitors. This often hinders us from doing our CTSS job, but we do it as team players and for the children. I don't see where cutting 18 of us from the budget will make that much of a difference.

As far as the slow or no customer service received by teachers in the school house, I suggest sending every school a survey about the service received by their assigned CTSS and let them tell everyone what type of service they are receiving. I guarantee you 3/4 of the responses will be positive.

Anonymous said...

I have reviewed the budget powerpoint and have some questions.

1. One proposed reduction is to "Eliminate Payment Budgeted for Academy of Lithonia Charter School" for a savings or $2.2 million. Why were we paying that school money in the first place? It must not be legally required if its considered a potential reduction. This proposed reduction is in all five plans.

2. Another proposal: "Eliminate Targeted Assistance Points" for a savings of $3.965 million. What are targeted assistance points? This proposed reduction is in all five plans.

3. Similarly, a proposal is to "Reduce Small Schools Points" (and along with reductions in specials) for a savings of $3.2 million. Small schools points? What are they? This proposed reduction is in all five plans.

Anon 5:05, wouldn't the proposal to reduce magnet points by 20 in Plan I affect the high achievers magnets?

Also note that all five plans include eliminating the corporate wellness program and the summer interns program.

Anonymous said...

For a savings of $4 million, it's pretty certain they're going to fully implement the transportation efficiency plan. I wonder how that will reduce the number of magnet students? This may result in added savings.

Anonymous said...
"If you're the top leader, like my title says I am, you have to lead by example," she said. "It was not anything where I expected others to follow suit. I felt like it was something I needed to do."


"A couple of Fontana school board members have inquired about possibly donating their stipends to the district, she said."


"Rialto Unified School District's deputy superintendent and two assistant superintendents each gave up three contract days."


"Corona-Norco Superintendent Kent L. Bechler plans to donate $50,000 of his $250,000 salary to his district, giving back $25,000 each year for the next two years."


Anonymous said...

Regarding the 1099s - how is it possible that Board members can ask for these repeatedly and they still are not provided?!? Can we not just request them through Open Records? I noticed the DeKalb Parents site had the contact person and instructions for how to submit an Open Records request (under Who to Contact). So maybe we should all just file requests, asking for the 1099s from the last 5 years?

Anonymous said...

@anon 12:04 re magnet numbers.... really, that few, do we know what the cost differential is - another entry suggest $1000 per child. another entry suggests the elimination of transportation for those who leave their home school by "choice" but don't "choose" to take responsibility for getting their children to that school
So, any hope for changes in this area to support the county deficit?

Anonymous said...

This was posted by a blogger on AJC GetSchooled regarding the Fulton County School System,

>>You all are kidding yourself if you think CO staff cuts will make a dent into the over budget crisis. CO folks can have a valuable role if you want paid on time, if you want your technology working, if you want broken stuff fixed, if you want teacher training, if you want legal representation for the district, if you want the Internet at school, if you want principal supervision, if you want federal funds for special programs and a lunch program. You all need to get your head out the clouds. Sure some districts have too much fat but there is a role for CO. Get real.<<

This may have been posted but the early reports are they plan to drop 1000 out of 1200 jobs in their district. This would include cutting the music and arts programs.

We should expect reports like this for other school districts in the metro area and around the country. DeKalb won't be the only bearer of bad news for school system employees.

Anonymous said...

After viewing the various budget proposals, I noticed that there was no mention of eliminating positons of the former retired Dekalb administrators that have been rehired by the county in various non-teaching capacities throughout the county. When is DCSS going to stop that waste? The board is very much aware of these people, but nothing is ever mentioned about them.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 11:00 pm

"You all are kidding yourself if you think CO staff cuts will make a dent into the over budget crisis. CO folks can have a valuable role if you want paid on time, if you want your technology working, if you want broken stuff fixed, if you want teacher training, if you want legal representation for the district, if you want the Internet at school, if you want principal supervision, if you want federal funds for special programs and a lunch program. You all need to get your head out the clouds. Sure some districts have too much fat but there is a role for CO. Get real."

You must not have been reading this blog. We are real

Currently, in DCSS - technology is not repaired on time, too many administrators, Internet is slow and hit or miss, AC and heat, toilets, and everything else is broken, legal representation is awful - $12,000,000 for a $500,000 lawsuit, etc.

What do we have to lose? Nothing I can see. What do we have to gain by cutting the Central Office? Millions of dollars for the classroom.

Anonymous said...

If DeKalb is not going to pay into your TSA, teachers need to ask the ODE if they can help them get back into Social Security. DeKalb employees voted out of it in 1978 and they can vote back in. If they vote back in, DCSS would have to pay a greater percent 6.25 versus 5% (TSA rate), right away to the first year teachers (no waiting for 3 years) and the Feds don't let them suspend Social Security.

Why isn't the ODE checking on that? That's your supplement for retirement. The BOE paid TSAs as we voted to not pay into Soc. Sec. in 1978. This was to be a supplement retirement since we lost Social Security.

Someone needs to have the ODE start the process. I'll bet the BOE would back down in a hurry if they knew they were going to have to pay more with Social Security.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:30 pm wrote :I suggest sending every school a survey about the service received by their assigned CTSS and let them tell everyone what type of service they are receiving. I guarantee you 3/4 of the responses will be positive.

If my kid comes home with a score of 75% on a test, I let them know very clearly that I expect them to do better than that. Would you buy a new car with a 75% customer satisfaction rate? Eat at a restaurant than earned a 75 on its health inspection? If the best you can say about the CTSS is that 75% are doing a good job, than I see a big problem.

Anonymous said...

1. One proposed reduction is to "Eliminate Payment Budgeted for Academy of Lithonia Charter School" for a savings or $2.2 million. Why were we paying that school money in the first place? It must not be legally required if its considered a potential reduction. This proposed reduction is in all five plans.

The charter has been rescinded, releasing DCSS from its financial obligations.

2. Another proposal: "Eliminate Targeted Assistance Points" for a savings of $3.965 million. What are targeted assistance points? This proposed reduction is in all five plans.

These are points that are awarded to schools with challenging populations (high poverty, high ELL, etc). In many cases, these points are going to the same schools that receive Title 1 money.

3. Similarly, a proposal is to "Reduce Small Schools Points" (and along with reductions in specials) for a savings of $3.2 million. Small schools points? What are they? This proposed reduction is in all five plans.

Small school points allow schools with smaller populations to have music, p.e. and art teachers. Based on student numbers, these schools don't earn enough points to staff these areas. Without small school points, these schools will have to share special area teachers or do without. (In many cases they already do share. My child sees the shared art teacher once every 2 weeks, assuming the schedule isn't disrupted by testing, field trips, assemblies or teacher absence. It is easy to go a month or more without art in this situation.)

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 1:17, I thought the lawsuit was to recover over $100 million dollars? Let's give DCSS more credit than to spend $12 million dollars on $500,000.

Anonymous said...

I think it's funny that DCSS begged for budget suggestions, but then used very few of those suggestions. More proof that they really don't care what we think; they're going to do what they want to do anyway.

Here's what employees suggested with the percentage that suggested it. I've bolded the items that Tyson did not accept into her budget proposal:

Move to a 4‐day work week/alter school calendar

Increase millage rate 11.51%

Use resources more efficiently (utilities, paper,
repairs, volunteers) 11.02%

Furlough/salary reduction/benefits reduction 11.02%

Reduce programs/testing expenses 10.53%

Other (Items resulting in additional costs or
unallowable uses) 7.13%

Reduce/delay textbook purchases 6.65%

Reduce marginal/ineffective/overstaffed personnel

Generate revenue (surplus
sales/ads/property/grants) 4.21%

Offer early retirement options 3.40%

Reduce transportation offerings 2.43%

Utilize job sharing 2.27%

Consolidate small schools 1.30%

Enact student fees 1.30%

Reduce professional travel/regular travel 1.13%

Anonymous said...

the magnet points proposed for reduction are strictly related to the proposed closures of the Clifton, Columbia Middle, Columbia High and Evansdale programs. High achievers and arts magnets are untouched in the current budget proposals.

Anonymous said...

Next year Chamblee Middle is projected to have only 800 students. Will the non-magnet students there even have electives?

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:17.. The lawsuit is now over 15 million dollars in legal fees. For a bill that was only $500,000. Heery-Mitchell is suing us for $100 million for liable and breech of contract.

Square Peg said...

Anon 7:52, with the exception of world language (resident students take Spanish and magnet students take German), I thought the Connections classes at Chamblee Middle were not segregated into magnet/resident. Am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:23.. Your post is another classic example of misinformation. Take a look at this investigative article from Atlanta Unfiltered in November..

Was their research incorrect?

Molly said...

The only way to measure the value of the magnet programs is to compare test scores of those in the magnet with scores of those who applied for the magnet but didn't get a seat. Same initial qualifications, same family motivation, different school placements. Unfortunately, DCSS has never bother to do this evaluation. (I know, because I've done open records requests and spoken directly to the data guy in the research and evaluation department.) It would be very simple to track magnet applicants and then measure any differential in outcomes so we could know what we get for all the money spent on the magnets.

Cerebration said...

Anon, 8:23 AM, you have your info reversed. The School System is suing Heery/Mitchell for $100 million for breech of contract. Basically, the school system says that they overpaid this much in construction costs because H/M did a poor job of oversight. From what I've seen, this is true in some cases - but they are also holding H/M liable for ALL change orders, etc. This is very, very complicated.

The school system has spent millions on attorneys already and an additional $3.5 million to a company who researched the projects and suggested the amount of $85-$125 million in damages.

It will be very very difficult to seat a jury who can decipher and thoroughly understand all of the evidence. Basically, as I understand it anyway, when Pat Pope came on board, as she was reviewing the H/M claim for $500,000, she flagged a lot of these charges after reviewing the projects headed by her predecessor, Stan Pritchett, and of course, approved by the board of education. The enormous counter-lawsuit against H/M was filed.

But now, the school system's key witness, Pat Pope has lost almost all credibility - and ironically, it was Dr. Lewis who asked the DA to investigate Pope. And worse, now the DA is investigating Lewis! H/M will use this to diffuse any and all evidence against them.

Here's a quote from the Atlanta Unfiltered article -

“… a key component of Heery/Mitchell’s defense is that its termination as SPLOST II program manager was pretextual, in that the School District’s actions to remove Heery/Mitchell from involvement in the selection, deployment, and coordination of architects and contractors and to facilitate the ascension of a DCSD employee now under criminal investigation over her role in discharging Heery/Mitchell’s former duties …”

Anonymous said...

Another experiment would be to compare students who got into the magnet program in 4th grade with those who got in later. Some outstanding Chamblee High students didn't get into the magnet program until middle school or later. You might conclude that the outcome depends more on the individual student than on the benefits Kittredge confers.

Neither Molly's test nor this experiment would be apples to apples. Families of very bright students - or families who already have a child in the magnet program - might be more frustrated with their home schools and therefore more persistent about entering the lottery year after year and more motivated to make their child leave his/her friends and go to Chamblee if he/she eventually does get drawn.

I expect that magnet versus nonmagnet would not affect my daughter's test scores, but magnet offers more opportunities, more encouragement to excel, and perhaps better teachers. My daughter is self-motivated enough to learn anyway, so when she got drawn in 10th grade, I was OK with her decision that it was too late to be worth changing schools and leaving her friends.

Anonymous said...

Disappointing and Typical that the magnets are left untouched in DCSS cuts -
I, frankly, am disgusted that my child will have more children packed into her classroom and still we allow this inequality to exist. Parents, the board will probably still not listen to your feedback ( how sad is that ) but please communicate with them if you have an opinion about millions, and millions of dollars being spent on a couple of thousand children in magnet programs.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 7:43, I sent in more suggestions on ways to cut the budget that were not published. I don't think the BOE/Lewis/Tyson ever cared what we thought; they wanted us to think they did.

I'll take a furlough or pay cut any day over losing my job, but it's still a tough pill to swallow. Even harder when I know there are so many who earn more than I do - the figures about maintenance workers was a slap in the face. It's one thing to take a pay reduction but couple that with the outside distractions (Will I get a contract? When? CLewis' drama, eSIS taking up my class teaching time, malfunctioning computers & copiers, being chided for ridiculous things, etc.) that has put me over the edge - I think this is true for most every teacher.

Things that are usually not that important are magnified because everyone is under so much stress.

I don't mean to sound like a martyr, but we do so much as it is.

I know things are still going to get worse before they get better. Which is why I will be getting out of DCSS. I am very afraid that DCSS schools are going straight down the can.

Dekalbparent said...

Looking at charts under the School Closings Task Force info, I found:

Kittredege Magnet ES

FTE count Oct09 417
Projected Enrollment 2010-11 417
Projected Enrollment 2016-17 419
Capacity 2010-11 614
Capacity 2016-17 614
Seats Available 2010-11 197
Seats Available 2016-17 195
Portables Oct 2009 0

Dunwoody ES

FTE count Oct09 727
Projected Enrollment 2010-11 743
Projected Enrollment 2016-17 747
Capacity 2010-11 1176
Capacity 2016-17 1176
Seats Available 2010-11 433
Seats Available 2016-17 429
Portables Oct 2009 0

Someone on the blog tossed out housing KMS in DES - it would be tight, but in theory, it could be done. It would present a problem as to music, band/orchestra/art, though - you really couldn't funnel all those kids through as frequently as they do now, I don't think.

Wadsworth Magnet ES

FTE count Oct09 165
Projected Enrollment 2010-11 165
Projected Enrollment 2016-17 165
Capacity 2010-11 525
Capacity 2016-17 525
Seats Available 2010-11 360
Seats Available 2016-17 360
Portables Oct 2009 0

All these figures raised my eyebrows.

Paula Caldarella said...

IMO, Dunwoody Elementary will be converted back to a traditional K-5 school and that will take care of any under-enrollment issues. With both Austin and Vanderlyn still overcrowded, there is no reason not to redistrict and convert DES.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing MAGNET about WADSWORTH MAGNET FOR HIGH ACHIEVERS other than the name. There is on 22 4th graders.
DCSS is going to mess around and become just like Clayton County School System.

Anonymous said...

In all honesty, as a high school teacher in DeKalb, I really can't imagine what "paperwork" is going to be lifted from the average teachers. We can't stop grading papers. We can't stop doing special ed paperwork-- it's federally mandated. We can't stop giving benchmark exams. I'd love for DCSS to make my job a little easier, but what in the world is going to give?

Anonymous said...

A large number of admin. in the county also get extra money for gas. If someone could check you will probably find out they that add miles down from home and back. If all the other employees have to pay for there gas they should also. They go to lunch and shopping and put down miles for that also. Take away there gas accounts and i am sure you will save a lot of money. Let's make sure the fat cats have to tighten there belts also.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:17 pm

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.

Anonymous said...

I agree that DES will be converted to a K-5 and probably sooner than thought. This will serve the initial purpose but DCSS Admin and BOE were too afraid of unhappy parents to do it without getting their buy in. After it is established as being as good as the feeder elementary schools, parents will not complain as loudly.

Next, Kittredge at DES. Might be a good idea but never gonna happen. Bottom line, if DES parents had that type of inequality of services right under their noses. They would , you guessed it, be very unhappy and would , right again, complain loudly. As long as they don't fully realize how shorted on the magnet deal they are, they will not be as involved.

Anonymous said...

The main differences I saw in high achievers Magnet vs resident programs as a former teacher of both in HS.

1) involved parents. They were so involved that the school made sure that...
2) the best teachers teach magnet. it keeps the parents calm knowing their child is in good hands.

But the number one factor for magnet student success (IMHO): the value of being in a program with other students who collectively bring up the bar, who allow the teacher to set higher challenges. I never worried about the EOCT, the kids were going to pass anyway, so we did lots of extras, lots of activities, lots of computer time, higher level stuff. There was more "work" and my tests were harder because they could handle the challenge.

The one thing I did not see much of: increased resources. Some, yes, but not much. The magnet budget was spent across the board to many teachers, and it really wasn't used then to buy anything that wasn't already in the building.

Seriously, the top tier kid will excel anywhere...but take a good kid and put him in the same class with a few top tiers, and you will see that second tier kid push himself. OK, the complaint from some of those tier 2 kids (and I think its valid): What's the value of me being in this program to get A's and B's when I could coast pretty close to straight A's if I was in all resident classes? The answer: college. You'll appreciate all the hard work later, when this stuff becomes easy for you.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, the top tier kid will excel anywhere.

Actually, they won't. If you take a look at the research, you'll find that kids who are gifted drop out at rates similar to their "average" peers. No doubt, many have spent years in classrooms that have bored them to tears and finally give up because school is more about keeping a seat warm than actually learning anything.

Anonymous said...

But at Kittredge and DESA there are a tremendous amount of extra resources -- extra teachers.

Chamblee High School has 9 extra teachers because of the magnet program.

Paula Caldarella said...

Why are "Tier 2" kids even in a magnet program? Shouldn't a magnet program be for really gifted students, GPS 3.5 or higher, 95% or above standardized test scores - not just for the so-called high achievers? Though, I fail to see how an 80 average and 75% on ITBS qualfies as "high-achiever". Again, all of the opportunities provided at these magnet schools should be available at all schools - not just for a lucky few whose name is drawn or they "know the right person". Until as such time this is possible, these magnet programs need to be disbanded. If these programs are kept and other students are deprived because of it, I would not be surprised to see more lawsuits against DCSS.

Paula Caldarella said...

Next, Kittredge at DES

I suggested a while back to move Kittredge into the Chamblee Middle School building. CMS only has 800 students and since Kittredge "feeds" into CMS, why wouldn't this work?

Anonymous said...

If the Board cannot make the tough decision to eliminate the Magnet program they could at least reduce the Magnet points by 20.
The savings are significant ($1,300,000).

Anonymous said...

The savings from the 20 points come from the proposed closure of the magnet programs at Evansdale, Clifton, Columbia Middle and Columbia High Schools. The magnet points at the high achievers programs and arts' programs have been left untouched!

Dekalbparent said...

The question I wanted to toss out was that both these buildings are underutilized and will stay underutilized because of the cap on class sizes. I haven't gone back to the chart - would KMS fit into the CMS building with enough room for extras?

Anonymous said...

How much more could be saved if all Magnets' extra points were eliminated?

Paula Caldarella said...

DeKalbparent - why does there need to be extras? They are both Magnet Schools, so they both have an over-abundance of "extras". Just merge resources and utilize the "extras" for both programs. To cut costs even further, have one set of administrators. I'm just trying to "think out of the box" here really.

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

I just noticed a link to the Citizens Planning Task Foce on the DCSS Web Site under "Public Engagement.

The meeting minutes are quite interesting.

Anonymous said...

Magnets should not continue ,particularly if they continue at the dollars expense of DCSS children. I can accept a montessori approach if it is an approach choice and does not
" short change" other students.

This is an obvious issue and I am incredulous that no cuts are proposed... What is wrong with these people?

Dekalbparent said...

By "extras" I meant music, band, orchestra and art. Sorry I was not clear. I agree that they could be shared, but we are talking about grades 4 - 8 (which is what KMS originally had), so I don't know how many teachers/how much space that would take. Might have to cut down the number of days the students get music, band, orchestra and art...

Anonymous said...

I may be missing a lot and can stand to be corrected, but in looking at the new Plans E-I, it seems amazing that the Central Office reductions do not change. They represent 12.6% of the reductions in Plan E, but only 9.7% of the reductions in Plan I.
I did not see any comments that the Board has seriously questioned why more cuts are not being made at the Central Office.
Some Plans eliminate Paras, CTSS,and media clerks, all of which help in the schoolhouse.
All plans rely on not paying the Board TSA or only 50% of it. Has the Board even considered that this may not be legal to do, since the Board agreed in 1978 when opting out of Social Security to do this.
I wonder if teachers realize how much impact the Board not contributing to the TSA has on their retirement income. Depending on how long you have to work it could be major.
Also, Plan E seems to be a "non-starter" since it is based on a 2% millage increase.
One Board member wanted to eliminate teacher's paperwork, but what is he talking about? How much paperwork does he want to eliminate to equal his approval of pay cuts and TSA reductions.

Dekalbparent said...

Correct me if I'm wrong also, but when the Board TSA contribution was dropped last year, I thought the promise was made that the contributions would be made up this year (back when they were assuming everything would get better this year). And at the Chamber of Commerce meeting, Lewis said it again - that when the TSA contributions were resumed, what was dropped would be restored.
Did anybody else hear this, or am I hallucinating?

Now, it seems a slippery slope - letting the owed contributions build up, but does this promise make a difference in what looks like a dicy decision vis a vis the Social Security issue?

Cerebration said...

FYI --

The Board of Education will meet tonight March 8 (Business Meeting): District Office Board Room, 3770 North Decatur Road, Decatur (one interesting item to note: America's Choice Update - Quick Summary / Abstract - Presented by: Dr. Deborah Rives, Deputy Director, American's Choice Program)

Two more items include the Code of Ethics for the Board and a Resolution to reduce the size of the board to 7 members.

There is also a request to approve the architect for the addition to Miller Grove HS - an addition that I still don't see as necessary. Please - focus on the schools that REALLY need the SPLOST projects!!! Miller Grove reported enrollment of 1650 students and the building has a capacity for 1572. This is not an emergency! Don't start working on this until you take care of Lakeside, Chamblee, Dunwoody and Cross Keys!


The The Citizen's Planning Task Force will meet Tuesday, March 9 at 6PM at the Bryant Center on L'ville Hwy


The Budget, Finance and Facilities committee will be meeting Wednesday, March 10 at 8:30 a.m.

Anonymous said...

At one of these meetings I would like to see the Board have the courage to demand that Ms Tyson and others working on budget reductions find another $12 million to cut from the Central Office and present the implications to the Board, as well as daylight them to the taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

@ Dekalbparent 12:12 pm

The board contributions to the Dekalb Board TSA were voluntary after 1978 by the DeKalb BOE in lieu of the Social Security contributions they were formerly making to Social Security (1978 is when DCSS employees voted to opt out of Social Security).

The question is... can DCSS employees opt back in? If DCSS employees were able to opt back in through voting, then the DCSS BOE would be in a very bad financial situation. DCSS would have to pay at the current rate (higher than 1978 percentage which is what they were paying for the TSA). In addition, they would have to start from Day 1 when the employee is employed. The Board has delayed the TSA contribution for the first 3 years of an worker's employment.

I have no idea if DeKalb employees can legally opt back into Social Security or if they would vote to do this. Surely the lawyers that DCSS pays for have investigated this possibility.

Dekalbparent said...

My question is whether it is legal for the Board to not contribute to the TSA since it is in lieu of Social Security. I know the employees opted out, but the TSA was the legal replacement, so if there is no SS and no TSA, where doed DCSS stand legally?

The employees did not opt out of retirement altogether, I don't think, so can DCSS get by with promises to put the contributions back "later"?

Anonymous said...

“The only way to measure the value of the magnet programs is to compare test scores of those in the magnet with scores of those who applied for the magnet but didn't get a seat.”

Another cruder way of looking at magnet program effectiveness is to compare test score results of the different magnet programs over five years. Of the many magnet programs only Kittredge, Chamblee MS, Chamblee HS, and DeKalb School of the Arts (HS) show dramatic levels of achievement. No data exists on Arabia Mountain. The rest of the magnet and choice programs show little difference from system wide results. The only other program that rivals these is Fernbank’s STT and AP classes.

Molly said...

Another cruder way of looking at magnet program effectiveness is to compare test score results of the different magnet programs over five years. Of the many magnet programs only Kittredge, Chamblee MS, Chamblee HS, and DeKalb School of the Arts (HS) show dramatic levels of achievement.

This sort of comparison isn't valid. The other magnet programs don't set minimum test scores for entry. Of course the programs that exclude average students from attending will have higher test scores than those that take students without regard to test scores. You still don't know whether the magnet programs have any value above what those students would have received in their home schools. You have to look at those who applied and were denied seats to see if there is any additional value obtained.

Anonymous said...

The budget didn't touch the $7,5000,000 for 80 instructional Coaches that the teachers don't want and say generate an enormous amount of busy work for them.

These 80 Instructional Coaches are not Central Office personnel. Rather they have offices in the schools as they facilitate the America's Choice program. I'm sure everyone is familiar with America's Choice - the $8,000,000 scripted learning program that the BOE purchased at the behest of D.r Lewis and Gloria Talley. Now we're paying $7,500,000 to employees who don't teach children to administer it in the schools. I guess DCSS has money to burn when it comes to programs Dr. Lewis recommends.

I know the Instructional Coaches do not teach students. As far as I can tell, they instruct teachers how to teach and manage the paperwork involved with America's Choice.

Teachers, please tell us exactly what the Instructional Coaches do.

The average cost in salary and benefits is $94,000 for each of the 80 Instructional Coaches. (source: state Salary and Travel audit - be sure to sort for Staff Development Specialists).

Most everyone has read some of the posts about these personnel and their effectiveness in the schools.

The DeKalb School Watch February strand entitled Clarity on the "Instructional Specialists" vs "Instructional Supervisors" has a lot of particulars about the function of the Instructional Coaches and the tremendous expense of this program Dr. Lewis really pushed for. Here is the address:

I think you would find most teachers cheering if the county disbanded this particular group of "helpers".

Teachers weigh in here on the Instructional Coaches in your school. Are they worth the $7,5000,000 a year we pay (or $94,000 each)?

If Jim Redovian wants to help teachers reclaim some instructional time for our children, he will push to consolidate or eliminate many of the Instructional Coaching positions. DCSS could use them to staff the classrooms and help offset our rising pupil teacher ratio.

Maybe some parents/taxpayers would like to email the BOE and Ms. Tyson asking why these Instructional Coaches will remain in their positions while the paraprofessionals the teachers and students really need are being let go. I'm going to do just that as soon as I finish this post.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:58
You have to email your BOe and Ms. Tyson regularly.
Their email boxes need to be full on a daily basis, asking these questions. Keep any responses they give you.

When November comes, if they have not made the choices that would impact students the least, then you need to campaign and/or contribute to elect a new BOE.

I know this sounds harsh, but you need to campaign against the passage of SPLOST IV if the same fiscally irresponsible decisions are being made. So little will trickle down to our kids that there must be a better way than SPLOST IV. Lawyers, shoddy contracting, broken computer equipment, etc. is no way to spend our SPLOST dollars.

Anonymous said...

Whether the high achievers magnet program is effective or not is the wrong question. The right question is how to solve the $88 million shortfall with minimal pain to students.

Yes, I think the magnet program is effective. I get almost sick when I think of what my lottery winner child would have missed at the home school. I am thinking not of expensive extras, but of school attitude and some relatively small things that simply aren't important to the home school.

I am sad that lottery losers are not valued. My lottery loser child has had a very few inspiring teachers and classes, but not many. Most of the teachers are just concerned with getting the bulk of students through the basic requirements.

I'm also sad when I think of the average or struggling child who doesn't qualify for the lottery, but who also deserves good teachers, inspiring lessons, and a caring environment.

Sure the magnets are effective, so effective that I would like to see many, many more children able to take advantage of that type of program. Of course that won't happen, especially in a cost-cutting environment.

Anonymous said...

@ Molly 2:18 pm
You could look at scores from before students went into a magnet program and compare scores to after they're in the magnet program.

It's something you'll never get the Central Office to admit, but achievement scores for most kids on a normed test like the ITBS do not change all that much unless you have individualized instruction in the form of tutoring or a teacher who has a small enough class to work with students individually.

For example, if I'm scoring at the 75 percentile in math at second grade, then generally I'll score around that percentile in 3rd and 4th grade. Scores rise and fall on occasion for individual students, but for most students those scores remain constant. That's how the state of Georgia was clued into figuring out some schools were cheating on the CRCT (although they won't tell you that because they have a lot invested in the idea of high stakes testing).

It takes pretty drastic measures to truly raise scores for the majority of your students - not something that can be done if you're busy raising the pupil teacher ratio - sorry, that's just the way it is.

The ITBS is a much better test to measure the effectiveness of a program such as magnet programs if you're going to use standardized testing. It is so much more difficult to "teach to the test" with a norm referenced test like the ITBS than the CRCT. A norm referenced test like the ITBS also has a lower and higher threshold which means you can see if a child is reading on a 2nd grade level in 5th grade or on a 12th grade level. I believe the ITBS is one of the areas that Ms. Tyson has recommended cutting for certain grades. I don't think she realizes the educational implications.

I taught over a 1,000 gifted students, and probably reviewed tens of thousands of ITBS results over an 11 year period. In that amount of time, you see how difficult it is to effect real changes in achievement results without individual intervention, something DeKalb has never been able to do because of our class sizes. I think that's often one of the strongest attraction of magnets - the smaller class sizes.

Anonymous said...

DeKalb isn't able to do individual interventions, because the staff doesn't know how to do them. Class size has nothing to do with it.

There are schools all over our country, with class sizes similar to DCSS and the teachers are able to do interventions, because they have been properly trained. And those with the training from outside of the district are not valued.

Anonymous said...

Again, Lewis and Tyson are brilliant threatening magnet and motesorri cuts. It takes away focus from Central office and administrative cuts. It will drive parents to the point of supprting a property tax increase, instead of cutting the bloat for ince and all.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 3:55 pm

Why would you say that? Educational research has shown time and again that the single most important factor impacting student achievement is class size. Anyone knows you cannot give the attention to 34 students you can give to 20 students.

I've worked with thousands of students all over the county and small classes are so more efficacious than large classes. I've gone in buildings in DeKalb where the students are packed into classrooms like sardines. The physical space alone does not provide enough room for that many bodies. What kind of an environment is that for children?

It's hard to believe anyone who teaches all day would say that class sizes are irrelevant.

Teachers, what do you say? Do you think you're just as effective with 34 as 20?

Parents, what do you say? With the same teacher, would you rather your child be in a classroom of 34 or 20?

Anonymous said...

Why is Wadsworth Magnet so small? Is the administration limiting enrollment or are parents not applying?

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 3:55 pm

And let me guess - you must be one of those trained outside the district getting paid to teach our teachers how to weave gold out of straw?

Anonymous said...

Many posters have posted complaints about the magnet programs and demanding that the programs be ended due to their high cost (though I suspect that some of the posters may have ulterior motives for wanting to dismantle the magnet programs, especially those that require high standardized test scores for entry into the program.) Yet no poster has divulged how these programs are costing more or what they actually cost or how they are funded.

O.C.G.A. § 20-2-161
Quality Basic Education Act(Used to determine state funding of Local Unit of Education; i.e., DCSS, et al.)
(a) . . . The amount of funds needed by each full-time equivalent student in the base program, in order that such program can be sufficiently funded to provide quality basic education to all enrolled students, shall be known as the "base amount" and . . . the General Assembly shall annually establish through the General Appropriations Act the base amount to be used . . . .

(b) As the cost of instructional programs varies depending upon the teacher-student ratios and specific services typically required to address the special needs of students enrolled, state authorized instructional programs shall have the following program weights and teacher-student ratios:
(7)Middle grades program
(8) Middle school program (6-8) as defined in Code Section 20-2-290 - - -1.1213 weight and 1 to 20 ratio
(16) Program for intellectually gifted students:
Category VI - - -1.6673 weight and 1 to 12 ratio
(note: See O.C.G.A. 20-2-152(d)(6), Special Education Category VI are intellectually gifted students.)(You can reference the O.C.G.A. for all 19 programs and the weights / ratios assigned by the state.)
The base rate in 2009 was $2,698.50, so a gifted middle school student was funded at $4499.21 and a regular education middle school student was funded at $3025.83 (using 1.1213 weight) resulting in the state providing DeKalb County $1473.38 more for each student identified as gifted.
Because most students enrolled in High Achiever Magnet Programs qualify as gifted, these students, and therefore the magnet programs, are funded at a higher level than regular education students by the STATE to compensate for the increased educational costs of educating such a student. Ending a High Achiever Magnet program will not allow the county to divert funding (provided by the state for the special needs of the gifted student) to solve our financial woes.

Anonymous said...

And all this time I tought the students of Dekalbs Schools were who the Board members were refering to when then said "for the children". Based on the tantrums board members demonstrated last night, THEY are the only "children" present. That was, it was disgraceful and showed a lack of respect for the positions they hold. We find ourselves in the worst economic situation in recent memory and the focus and arguments are about protecting their truf????
Can someone please forward a copy of the meeting last night to each board member? WAKE UP!!!!!, BOARD MEMBERS.....THERE ARE OTHER ITEMS THAT NEED YOUR ATTENTION RATHER THAN YOUR SELFISH INTERESTS...!

Anonymous said...

ANON 12:23

The data is out there. Magnet transportation still costs about 2.5 million extra a year.

Based on documentation from the central office, operating the high achievers magnet schools cost the system over 2 million dollars ABOVE what the state reimburses.

Waiting on the data about the Arts programs.

The extra state dollars are used to reduce class size. Right now, KMS class sizes are below the state funding minimum. The state funding difference allows for this. If you increase class size at KMS, you will lose the extra funding. Same with the Chamblee Middle program.

It is all the extras that are funded by the local system that we all object do. Shall we review for you?

KMS has 430ish students. They have TWO PE teachers, TWO band teachers, THREE German teachers, ONE (was two until this year) orchestra teacher, ONE art teacher, and when every other school their size had to lose their media clerk this year, KMS got to keep theirs.

Wadsworth is another unbelievable resource drain. It is far to small.

Keep in mind, that as of this year, the magnet office alone commands about $300,000 in salaries and this doesn't include the fancy very expensive books that they continue to publish promoting the programs.

Given the small enrollment at Wadsworth, does anyone else wonder what the staff in magnet office does all year?

Oh yes, they answer lawsuits, at least two in the last year over KMS.

If you really care, take the time to review the DCSS budget from this year.

You can find it here...

Scroll down to the section where the schools are listed. Look under local points. See magnet-- that is the LOCALLY FUNDED points that the school system provides to the schools because they are magnets.

Then come back and share with us how the magnets don't really cost anything.

By the way, the cost of the high achievers magnet programs is about the same as what we will save by closing 4 schools.

Anonymous said...

KMS also has 3 "CAT" teachers - 1 per grade - that provide "enrichment" to the students, as well as pulling out students who are doing better than the rest in order to work in small (4 or 5 students) groups.

The total in salaries to KMS is $2,712,374. This does not include custodial staff. Plus 25% for benefits, it is $3,390,467.50, How does this compare to Ashford Park, Clifton Elementary, Laurel Ridge or Midvale, all of which are roughly the same size?

And, Anon 12:23, would the gifted student funding not follow the child? I fail to see how the county would lose this funding.

I am not against the high achievers magnets. I would like to see them go back to serving the real high achievers - 95th percentile and higher, by principal recommendation. No fudging. Do not allow special cases to be argued. Make both elementary magnets offer exactly the same programs(I recall a poster saying that the Wadsworth magnet was not equivalent to KMS). This may eliminate the need for a lottery. I would also like to see them operate at the same cost to the county as other schools do.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 12:23 am
The Gifted funds for Gifted children will not go away if you did away with KMS or any magnet program with a high amount of gifted students.

Gifted funds follow the gifted child to their school. When gifted children pull out of a school to go to KMS, that school loves the FTE money including the extra gifted funding. The reverse is true when gifted students go back to their home school. So gifted funds are a zero sum game for magnet programs. Having all teachers certified in gifted does mean KMS can collect some additional money for additional units of time that gifted students are served, maybe 25% more. This 25% "bump" in gifted funds is important because every dollar is so scarce withing the schoolhouse (not in the admin and support are unfortunately). However, the 25% additional gifted funds they gain because all MS teachers are certified as gifted do not cover the additional cost of magnets.

Transportation costs, physical plant and facilities costs, coordinator salaries, and extra teacher points above the FTE and gifted funds money provided by the state, and additional custodial, counselor, and administrative costs are what drive the cost of magnets above the cost of a regular neighborhood school.

Cerebration said...

12:23, we have discussed this funding several times here at the blog. We try to determine if closing a magnet like Kittredge would actually save money. Dr. Lewis is very, very proud of the fact that DeKalb offers so much school choice. However, that choice is not always necessarily available to everyone and we really do have to question whether or not the act of funding extra programs is actually harming others in regular classrooms.

And no, I don't think people have "ulterior" motives for questioning the costs - they are just very concerned that these programs are taking resources away from their own children. That's a parents job - to protect their child's world.

Anonymous said...


Dekalbparent said...

Is DCSS paying ANYTHING at all for the Instructional Coaches? If yes, then we need to reduce salary to what the stimulus money pays, as is proposed for the graduation coaches (reduce to the amount the state funds).

If not, OK for now. But what about when the stimulus money is gone. Does DCSS keep them and pay with school funds? Need to be thinking ahead, and make a plan. And tell the public about the plan so we don't keep running around the same topic.

Anonymous said...

The plan for instructional coaches should be put in place, so that we do not end up paying these salaries after the funding runs out. I agree that they should not be getting more than the stimulus funds allow.

I wish the budget and how money was spent was more transparent. There seems to be so many questions about funding and how people are paid. I wish that the board was asking these questions. The public has a right to know where all of their money is going and how much things actually cost.

Anonymous said...

anonymous @ 5:50



1. Sit and talk to the other coach (English to Math or Math to English).
2. Stand around and talk to the other coach (English to Math or Math to English).
3. Hide in their office all day and work on college classes for an advanced degree on DeKalb's dime.
4. Write e-mail with pompous terms and layer after layer of educationalese to make it appear they are doing something.
5. Constantly pop in and out of teachers' classes in a breathless manner to spy on teachers and report back to real administrators, especially if the teachers are ones they dislike.
6. Promote the most worthless teachers of the bunch, typically newbies who know little about the workings of schools and teachers' rights, so that these teachers become their cheerleaders.
7. Plan for their attendance at the next America's Choice conference.
8. Go out for lunch daily. Teachers get maybe 30 minutes. How many minutes do the instructional coaches get, huh?
9. Snack all day long.
10. Ensure that teachers teach the worthless America's Choice curriculum that is less rigorous than if a deaf, dumb, and blind person were teaching off the cuff.
11. Demand written responses to the incredibly worthless test data accumulated every three weeks on these worthless assessments they, the instructional coaches, devised, but that they, the instructional coaches, deny having had a hand in devising.
12. Provide criticism to teachers for improvement of their teaching without regard to the fact that, in most cases, they, the instructional coaches, have taught many less years, have lower degrees, and are offering insight to high school teachers based on middle school experience.
13. Complain to AUDRIA BERRY about any perceived threat to their power and control.
14. Demand professional treatment from teachers without offering similar professionalism to the teachers. (That is called hypocrisy.)
15. Parade around the school in wondrous "bad" rags to make themselves appear much more important than they (or their clothes) are.
16. Demand adherence to their agenda at collaborative meetings where everyone is supposed to be an equal and, heaven forbid, if a contrary idea is floated, react in such negative fashion that all collaboration is stifled.
17. Require teacher signatures for every last thing.
18. Talk to students in teachers' classrooms while the teachers' are actively trying to teach the students, attempting to obtain negative info from the students about the teachers, for instance, "does your teacher teach anything?" or "have you learned anything in this class?"
19. Spread dissension among the teachers by talking about teachers to the teachers' peers behind the teachers' backs.
20. ....


Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that ALL CHOICE bus transportation (including that for magnet students) will end this year so you magnet student haters can stop harping on this.

Maybe we can focus on the real issue about the need to first make all cuts possible in non-teaching and non-academic areas.

Anonymous said...

I am not a magnet school hater, I just want ALL students in DeKalb to be offered a quality education and not just a few children.

Anonymous said...

LOL....instructional coaches....

20. Make certain teachers's bulletin boards are in compliance.
21. ...


Anonymous said...

Response to ANON 6:35AM

“The data is out there. Magnet transportation still costs about 2.5 million extra a year.”
[Out there where? Where can this data be located?]

“Based on documentation from the central office, operating the high achievers magnet schools cost the system over 2 million dollars ABOVE what the state reimburses.”
[What documentation? – Regardless, ALL schools cost MORE to operate than what the state contributes, not just magnet. The state only contributes 43% of the total local budget.]

"It is all the extras that are funded by the local system that we all object do. Shall we review for you?
KMS has 430ish students. They have TWO PE teachers, TWO band teachers, THREE German teachers, ONE (was two until this year) orchestra teacher, ONE art teacher, and when every other school their size had to lose their media clerk this year, KMS got to keep theirs."
[Shall I review for you? KMS had 39 “points” to spend. Isn’t it the Principal’s discretion as to what positions these points provide? So is your problem with the points or the way they are spent? Make sure you look at all the non-magnet schools that get "local points" also.]

"Keep in mind, that as of this year, the magnet office alone commands about $300,000 in salaries and this doesn't include the fancy very expensive books that they continue to publish promoting the programs."

[You are kidding right? This is the problem? This is NOT a problem in the Magnet Schools, it is a problem at the county level – where there are numerous problems – see the other 5,000 postings on THAT topic.]

"If you really care, take the time to review the DCSS budget from this year. You can find it here...
Scroll down to the section where the schools are listed. Look under local points. See magnet-- that is the LOCALLY FUNDED points that the school system provides to the schools because they are magnets.
Then come back and share with us how the magnets don't really cost anything."
[I’m back . . . I looked . . . I compared a few schools… and I’m ready to share.]
Chamblee Middle School (w/ a Magnet program), received 5 Locally Funded points. Columbia Middle School (w/a Magnet program), received 2 Locally Funded points Avondale MS, (NOT a Magnet program), , received 4 Locally Funded points.

McNair MS, (NOT a Magnet program), received 6 Locally Funded points.
[So do you want to close Avondale and McNair? They are getting an awful lot of Local Points!]

"By the way, the cost of the high achievers magnet programs is about the same as what we will save by closing 4 schools."
[Good, hurry up and close the 4 schools and start some more magnet programs.]
March 9, 2010 6:35 AM

Anonymous said...

Anon March 9, 2010 8:50 PM, that was the best ever post on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Anonymous Mar 10th, 8:07PM

I see you are still at it. If you repeat something often enough, people will actually begin to believe it. They won’t verify it, they’ll just accept it as truth and act on it.

To everyone with the inclination, look at the article “The March 5th Board Meeting” and scroll down to Anonymous March 9th, 6:35am – then look at the response posted March 10th, 12:00am.

Unknown said...

Wow......Interesting conversation on Instructional Coaches. Sounds like someone has a personal experience. I happen to have obtained a copy of the IC's job description. Anyone interested?

Dekalbparent said...

Me -

Sometimes posts get buried behind posts on more recent articles- I had not seen yours.
You betcha I would be interested in the IC job description. Perhaps we can post it on a more recent article so more folks would see it.