Friday, March 19, 2010

They Just Don't Get It

"Board members Eugene Walker, Zepora Roberts, Sarah Copelin-Wood and Jim Redovian said they are looking at raising the millage rate by amounts varying between half a mill and 2 mills."

Unbelievable. They don't get it. And they don't want to.

The school system actually has less students now than it did when Crawford Lewis took over as superintendent. So what happened under the Lewis administration? He hired over 1,000 more administrators and staff during his tenure. The Board of Ed looked the other way. Why not? Property tax revenue was flying in.

But the Lewis way is unsustainable. Over $20 million per year and 290 employees for the formerly Ramona Tyson-run, with no measure of effectiveness, MIS. Millions for large staffs at Human Resources, school police, the Central Office, etc. A large number of highly paid instructional supervisors and coaches, yet our teachers complain that they only recieve busy work from them, like how bulletin boards in their classrooms should look (?). More administrators making six figure salaries than ever before, more than any other school system in the state, yet the first cuts to be made are to the schools and teachers.

A property tax increase is not the solution. It addresses the symptons, not the disease. This is the opportunity for the BOE to "right the ship". To out the focus back on the class, the teacher, the school building. Not on $300,000 lights for televised meetings. Not hundreds of thousands to repace an already decent parking lot, at you guessed, the new Central Office HQ. Not for the weak $8,000,000 America's Choice curriculum, which makes teachers into autobots, and the AC company conveniently hired a high ranking DCSS administrator to grease the wheels for the purchase.

It has to end and end now.

More than four out of five households in the county do not have children in DCSS. Yet Board members, led by Gene Walker, want to increase property taxes instead of reconstituting the system. Long-time board members Sarah Copelin-Wood and Zepora Roberts, who has no problem with nepostism and cronyism, since its benefitted her, have no problem with having a thousand more administrators and staff than we do teaches. They would never consider a lean and mean administration. Nope, DCSS is a jobs program. it's disappointing to hear that Jim Redovian may favor a property tax increase, as he has stated before there is too much admin bloat in the system.

"Board member Jay Cunningham said he is undecided." Say NO, Jay Cunningham.

We all need to demand to the Board of Education that everything needs to change and change now. We will no longer accept the bloat, the waste, the departments that expand and expand yet don't serve teachers and students. Say NO to a property tax increase. treat the disease, not the symptoms.

To look up your own state legislator, follow this link.

Big surprises on possible DeKalb closure list, including Kittredge
DeKalb schools deficit nears $115 million; targeted school list released

As DeKalb County school district learned its projected deficit had soared to nearly $115 million, budget committee members weighed in Thursday on possible tax hikes and program cuts and agreed on sweeping staff cuts.
Meanwhile, the Citizen Task Force charged with selecting four DeKalb elementary schools to close in a cost-cutting move, released its short list of targets.
The school board is split down the middle about raising property taxes but has decided to save some popular programs and cut staff deemed “fat.”
Board members said new state funding cuts have increased their shortfall for the fiscal year 2011 budget from $88 million to $115 million.
That means cutting even more jobs and programs, or raising taxes, they said. But with a 22.98 mill tax rate, the school board has little wiggle room. The state legislature caps school tax rates at 25 mills.
“If we don’t cut, we’ll be right back here anyway,” board member Don McChesney said. “A millage increase is a short-term solution to a long-term problem.”
While the board expects figures to continue to fluctuate, Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson said, “To be really prepared and sustain the organization in the next fiscal year, we have to target ourselves somewhere between $115-$120 million.”
Those who said they do not want to raise taxes are McChesney, board chairman Tom Bowen and members H. Paul Womack and Pamela Speaks. Board members Eugene Walker, Zepora Roberts, Sarah Copelin-Wood and Jim Redovian said they are looking at raising the millage rate by amounts varying between half a mill and 2 mills. Board member Jay Cunningham said he is undecided.
While undecided on a tax hike, the board’s budget committee agreed Thursday to cut staff and keep some popular programs, including pre-kindergarten, magnets and Montessori.
Tyson said she reviewed proposals from parents and decided to maintain, but cut staff from, the magnet and Montessori programs.
For Adriana Gaffga, maintaining Montessori means she will keep her two children at Briar Vista Elementary School next year instead of putting them in private school.
“I came into the district just because of that program,” she said.
The budget committee also agreed to cut at least 427 jobs, including 200 paraprofessionals, 150 administrators, 59 media clerks and 18 technology specialists. The majority of the jobs were deemed “fat” in the budget, McChesney said.
Bowen said that in DeKalb —the state’s third largest district — staff growth has outpaced enrollment.
“My preference would be no tax increase this year and use the tough budget to make the reductions that are long overdue in terms of getting the organization to be most efficient,” he said.
A half-mill increase would add about $33 a year to property-tax bills for owners with homes valued at $200,000.
“If the economy ever improves, we can roll the millage back,” Walker said. “This constitutes in my mind that we can spread the pain across the county.”
The board is scheduled to vote on the budget next month.
One parent, Ronda Ward, said she is willing to pay more taxes if it means her son could stay at Meadowview Elementary, one of four schools being considered for closure to save about $2.35 million.
“If there is a half mill that can solve this situation or 2 mills that can solve this situation, I implore you to do it,” she told board members.
Task Force to consider school closings
The task force charged with recommending at least four elementary schools to close next school year has trimmed its list of possibilities.
Earlier this week, it eliminated 62 schools from consideration.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained the list of 21 schools still under consideration on Thursday.
The panel will consider these schools on Tuesday. A public meeting will begin at 6 p.m.
The recommendation is due next month to the school board, which will vote on the final closures.
Closing four schools will save about $2.35 million, officials said.
These are the schools being considered:
Ashford Park Elementary
Atherton Elementary
Avondale Elementary
Bob Mathis Elementary
Briar Vista Elementary
Briarlake Elementary
Clifton Elementary
Flat Shoals Elementary
Gresham Park Elementary
Kelley Lake Elementary
Kittredge Magnet Elementary
Knollwood Elementary
Laurel Ridge Elementary
Meadowview Elementary
Medlock Elementary
Midvale Elementary
Peachcrest Elementary
Rock Chapel Elementary
Rowland Elementary
Sky Haven Elementary
Wadsworth Magnet Elementary


Anonymous said...

5 of the board members are up for re-election this fall, including property tax increase champion Gene walker.

Anonymous said...

"A property tax increase is not the solution. It addresses the symptons, not the disease."

Bingo. How right you are.

Let's say they raise the millage to a break-even point where every dollar is spent (i.e. no money goes into reserve at the end of the year), what's the BOE's plan for next year?

Next year employees are going to look for their earned step increases as well as COLA adjustments. How are you going to pay them then BOE? Raise the millage again?? What's your long term plan?

Treat the disease, not the symptoms!

Anonymous said...

I have to say I was VERY disappointed by this mornings article in the AJC - Ramona is recommending a cut of school house staff and only 150 Central Office staff. If the graphic on the home page of this blog is correct - the number of Admin folks has grown by ~41% since 2008 while the number of teaches has SHRUNK while the student population continues to shrink !! The BOE needs to act NOW - this is a business - one where the "deliverable" is the eduction of our children and while the people doing the work of the business is shrinking the "management" layer continues to grow !!!

Anonymous said...

Has anyone every compared property tax rates in DeKalb with those in communities, outside of Georgia, with truly premier schools?? In Georgia, we get what we pay for - mediocrity. Our state legislature won't even raise taxes on cigarettes but is considering levying taxes on hotels for a new stadium. Glad they have their priorities in order. Guess we should not be surprised when our Lt Governor doesn't even have a college education.

Anonymous said...

Teachers just received contracts today with the 6.25% salary cut. Are central office personnel facing a similar (or larger) cut?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have a list of relatives of board members with non-classroom positions?

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:18 am
Ms. Tyson and the BOE have no plan. They would be happy to put 40 kids to a classroom. It doesn't impact their day one bit. Don't be surprised if Ms. Tyson asks for over 34 as the class size. She's already asking for 34, but she'll have to go "back to the well" to get more kids packed in like sardines.

The BOE decided to keep the Canine Units, but cut teacher positions - ironic isn't it?

DCSS really needs a superintendent with instructional experience or business experience or preferably both.

Anonymous said...

When you talk about money you have to remember that federal and state monies are different. They are used for different things and the two don't cross. America's Choice is federal not local. You can't take America's Choice money and use it for salaries or benefits.

Anonymous said...

Not sure about the Central Office staff but all school administrators received the same 6.25% reduction.
It is even more important to remember that no employee can trust the Superintendent or Board in light of their not honoring their committment to contribute to their retirement. That is a huge loss depending on how long a person has to work and how the investment may have grown.
No doubt all the school systems have problems, but it seems that DeKalb leadership has truly lost it.
Still have not heard one single Board Member ask about more cuts in the Central Office.
How could any current or future employee ever trust them?????

Anonymous said...

Bingo! They don't get it and don't care if our children receive a quality education. Raising taxes isn't the answer with so much unnecessary spending. Real leadership needs to be found for our schools.

Anonymous said...

Our board members need to be told that extreme pain needs to be felt in the central office before the classrooms. They keep saying that if they cut too deep in the central office that it will bleed over into the classrooms. I can speak with certainty that a teacher would much rather have a broken computer that takes MIS 2 weeks to fix b/c they are understaffed than 3 more students in his/her classroom. Teachers would much rather go home and fill out reams of paperwork on their own time than pay intructional coaches to bother them during work hours to complete them. Show up at the next Budget Committee meeting and speak your mind. Don't wait until they have all of the budget work done. They will not start all over in May. Get in touch with them NOW.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 11:00 am

America's Choice is funded by Title 1 money (federal money). Dr. Lewis and the BOE were not forced by the federal government to buy America's Choice for $8,000,000. Nor are Ms. Tyson and the BOE are not forced by the federal government to pay millions as it come up for renewal.

In the 80s and early 90s, DCSS Title 1 funds were used to supply EVERY Title 1 school with a Title 1 math TEACHER. The Title 1 math teacher(s) in each school worked daily with struggling math students. The Title 1 Math teachers were directly responsible for improving the math achievement of these students.

In the early 2000's principals were using Title 1 funds to hire reading tutors to work directly with struggling readers.

That's before Dr. Lewis moved most of the Title 1 funding decisions back to the Central Office.

The $30,000,000 + in Title 1 funds that DCSS receives anually because it has low income students has become a "piggy bank" for programs the Central Office wants. These programs have not proven efficacious for DCSS students. In fact, these programs are not embraced by the teachers who are forced to use them.

From America's Choice came the "need" to have 62 Instructional Coaches (this is not even counting the Graduation Coaches, Literacy Coaches, and ELL Coaches).

The 62 Instructional Coaches needed to support America's Choice account for $96,405 per employee. They don't teach students. They are a source of excessive paperwork for teachers, draining even more instructional planning time from our students.

The point is DCSS needs "boots on the ground", not more personnel who don't teach and millions a year for programs that teachers don't support and that have not proved effective for DeKalb County students.

Ms. Tyson and the BOE can use those tens of millions of Title 1 funds to pay for personnel who directly teach students in Title 1 schools just like the DCSS administration and BOE did in the 80s and 90s. Ms. Tyson can allocate the Title 1 expenditure decisions to the local Title 1 schools. Ms. Tyson and the BOE don't choose to do that. Working directly with students and giving the schoolhouse input over the educational funds for their students are not priorities.

(source: state Salary and Travel audit 2009 - Instructional Coaches are listed As Staff Development Specialists if you do a data sort. Benefits number is assumed as 25%)

Anonymous said...

Quote from the AJC article:
"The budget committee also agreed to cut at least 427 jobs, including 200 paraprofessionals, 150 administrators, 59 media clerks and 18 technology specialists. The majority of the jobs were deemed “fat” in the budget, McChesney said."

200 paraprofessionals who work directly with kids, actually teaching struggling readers and math students in small groups and individually are the "fat" according to McChesney.

62 Instructional Coaches who do not work directly with kids and are a constant source of distracting paperwork for teachers are not considered "fat".

Paraprofessional's average annual pay (with 25% benefit included): $32,508

Instructional Coaches average annual pay (with 25% benefits included): $96,405

The cost of the 62 Instructional Coaches are very close to the cost of the 200 Paraprofessionals.

Which group do you think teachers say help them teach students?

Which group is really the "fat"?

I guess the "fat" are the employees who work with our kids.

Let McChesney know by email that schoolhouse personnel are not the "fat". Demand cuts in non-school support personnel and deeper cuts in the 1,239 Central Office staff. Let him know who parents consider "fat".

Anonymous said...

It is important to discuss school system issues with your state representative and state senator (avoid double dipper ROn Ramsey though).

The state is really affecting us in a horrible way by increasing class size limits. Now that school system administrators aren't bound by having a good teacher to student ratio, they are cutting teachers.

If the class size limits remain reasonable, it forces the Ramona Tyson's of the world to cut back admin and support staff and budgets. The last place to cut is classroom teachers, but since the state has loosened up the class sizes, now it's the first place where the pencil pushing bureaucrats are cutting. Ramona (who built up the massive MIS budget and staff) and Crawford Lewis aren't forced to cut the ridiculous Central Office, Human Resources, school police, horrible instructional coaches, etc. They aren't forced to contract out HVAC, grounds, etc.

Tell your state rep and senator to force school systems everything but the classroom by keeping class sizes reasonable.

Dekalbparent said...

There is a terrible irony in the decision to not touch any magnet programs, but rather increase the number of students in "regular" classrooms.

DCSS And the Board care more about using our "wonderland of school choice" to prop up the illusion of "premier", than it cares for the quality of education for the vast majority of the children.

DCSS and the Board don't trust the principals of Title I schools to make good decisions - they would rather make the [very poor] decisions for them. Are they saying the people who they promoted to principal are not able to handle the responsibility?

I am so disappointed - there is no way I am going to remain in DeKalb County one more minute after I sell the house.

fedupindcss said...

At first I was shocked to see Briarlake on the list (not because it isn't small enough, but because the parents are so insane). Then I realized the committee will have to pick at least one school on the north side to close, to counter any criticism (whether the closing makes sense or not). That is probably why Briar Vista is on the list--it will be the goner, not Briarlake, because even though it has a Montessori program, the parents will not be as problematic.

Anonymous said...

The BOE can't back down if a school has parents who will freak. It needs to be an objective decision, not subjective. If Briarlake and/or Briar Vista are the schools that need to be closed, then so be it.

As someone posted earlier, this decision will be the final statement on if this BOE is willing to make a tough decision, and let the politics be damned.
I don't ever see them standing up to the Lewis/Tyson machine and cutting the Central Office, but maybe they've seen the light, and will start making the hard choices that they've avoided for the past ten years or more.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen the list of which Central Office staff will be cut?

Anonymous said...

@fedupindcss: Laurel Ridge and Medlock are both on the list, also in the N/Central part of the county.

DCSS needs to close schools. This should have been done long ago. No one wants their schools to close but these small schools cannot be sustained. Several decades ago, DCSS closed many schools, including several high schools (Briarcliff, Shamrock, and Henderson). Demographics change and schools have to adjust. The BOE needs to make this happen and not be swayed but the parents who yell the loudest.

Cerebration said...

12:11 PM, very well said. I'm surprised that McChesney would refer to teachers as "fat" - he was a teacher in DeKalb and Gwinnett for many years. Ella never would have referred to teachers as fat - that's for sure. I'll have to give him the benefit of the doubt and hope that he was quoted out of context.

I have added a link to find your state rep in the body of the post - before the AJC article. We do need to ask our legislators to please step in and limit class size as well as a 65% minimum spending directly in the classroom (with definitions as to what that means.)

You all have made excellent points here. Please keep writing your board reps and your state reps. This is an emergency, IMO.

Anonymous said...

Tell your friends and neighbors (even ones without kids - they're taxpayers too) to write Ms. Tyson, the DCSS BOE, and their state representatives. We need everyone to make their voices heard.

Anonymous said...

Everyone who doesn't have children in DCSS, whether seniors/retirees, young adults, no child households, households that send kids to private school or home school: You are paying 70% of your property tax bill to the DeKalb County School System, and you flat out are not getting return on investment. Demand that the school system be run in an efficient manner, which performance measurements. There is so much waste and nepotism, and it took decades for it to build up.

Now is the opportunity for real change. But residents/taxpayers have to speak up. I'm amazed by how many of my neighbors and friends know nothing about the school system, and they assume their property taxes go to the county gov't. We have to hold the BOE and administration more accountable.

Cerebration said...

If people don't approve of the garbage pick up - they complain. The performance of the school system can and does effect the actual value of your home. (I suppose not picking up garbage for a long time would have an effect also.) The school system is a bloated jobs program that has not been able to pass AYP ever. This is a travesty - and will decrease property values. Increasing taxes on decreasing property values is no solution. Improving school performance by investing heavily in the classroom is a much better solution.

Anonymous said...

Just because schools are on the list doesn't mean they will be closed.

Use this chart to find the enrollment of a school. Then, step back and look at this map.

See if there are enough nearby open seats to accommodate the number of children at the school that you closed.

Having attended several task force meetings, I can tell you that it is sometimes hard to separate what the public is saying from what the committee is saying. It is clear that this committee is concerned and deliberate. They have no intention of busing students all over the place.

Cerebration said...


FWIW, the county closed Heritage ES (near Lakeside), which was recently used as a special education school, was one of the neighborhood schools built back in the late 50s — These were tiny – Heritage only has 18 actual classrooms, a cafeteria, some restrooms, no gym, and only 40 parking places. If the system would sell the property to the county for parkland (as our district has far, far less parkland than anywhere else in the county) they would recover as much money as consolidating these schools. But they won’t consider it. Even though there is park bond money in the bank waiting to be spent. (Read Jeff Rader’s article on park funding if you care to – )

Also, if any one of the newly added schools on the list were to close, there would not be a place to send them, unless you distributed them among at least 6 other schools – which would involve serious transportation costs. I noticed that there are schools in South DeKalb conspicuously not on the list – Wadsworth, for example. This magnet school has only about 165 students. Certainly, it can be reconsolidated into another school (a magnet within a school as it used to be). How about “Destiny Academy”?

At any rate, these are the latest numbers I have for racial make-ups (for those who claim this is a race issue) and capacities of the schools listed -

Laurel Ridge Elementary- 406 students-Capacity; 487

Livsey Elementary – 357 students-Capacity; 312

Ashford Park Elementary -423 students-Capacity; 462

Briar Vista Elementary – 389 students-Capacity; 487

Midvale Elementary-420 students-Capacity; 512

Kingsley Elementary – 462 students- Capacity; 475

Hawthorne Elementary- 443 students- Capacity; 450

Briarlake Elementary – 434 students- Capacity; 450

Medlock – 313 students – Capacity 425

BTW - Those numbers represent diversity.
Welcome to NORTH DeKalb!

Cerebration said...

Great comment from the AJC blog -

Our School has struggled and relies mainly on PTA Fundraising to offset the “Budget Cuts”.
I was appalled after hearing about the Proposed School Closings which comes not long after an article in the Washington Post Which Read:
“And, for the first time in 45 years, the White House is proposing a $4 billion increase in federal education spending, most of which would go to increase the competition among states for grant money and move away from formula-based funding. ”

– Washington Post – By DORIE TURNER
The Associated Press
Sunday, March 14, 2010; 7:25 AM

I for one find it hard to believe that anything has been done aside from “Talks” of Reform in education and Healthcare, but when the Insurance Companies, The Banks, The Automotive Co.’s were in trouble our Government was Apt and Swift to rise to the occasion and offer a “Bail Out”
Now that the Education System needs a Bail Out Where is our Government.
“By the People and For the People” seems more and more to Be “By the Corporations, and For the Corporations”
When the Slogan “Change” was thrown around as a new Battle Cry, We all listened and Hoped.
51 million in Deficit -turning to 81 million while we sleep.
We Suffer, While DFCS and Local Pediatricians Have working together to commit Medicaid billing fraud.
Super attendants on the Board of Education commits “Creative Bookkeeping”
Yet Still our “Government” Turns a Blind Eye and Deaf Ear.
We as Society have actually been at fault, We were too trusting, too busy to get involved or pay attention.
No Longer Can we sit Idle as our very Democracy is Silenced, and our Votes no longer count.
I urge ALL people to get involved, everyday, pay close attention, put the pieces together and make a change.
“We” are the only “Change” That can be made.
Support You Local Government, Write your Congressman, Be “Active” in Society.

Cerebration said...

Here is the link to the most recent enrollment and capacity chart the task force is using -

Anonymous said...

FYI: We Laurel Ridge Elem and Medlock Elem parents proudly consider us as Central DeKalb!

Anonymous said...

@Anon 12:11 and Cere 1:15 -- How can the BOE not see that all the "fat" is in the Central Office. After all isn't that the reason they built them a wellness center? (Sorry... I just couldn't resist.)

Anonymous said...

While they pit North and South Dekalb against each other, the 8,800 admin and support are busy cutting teacher positions all over the county. It doesn't matter to the Ms. Tyson and the BOE where the teacher positions are - they will cut the classrooms to the bone. If they cut 400 teacher positions, we'll be below 40% of our staff teaching our kids.

Write Ms. Tyson, your BOE members and your state representatives.

Ask your state representatives to hold the line on class sizes. Drive class sizes down, and you'll see how fast the real "fat" is cut from DCSS. If they can't legally pack too many kids into the classrooms like sardines, they'll be forced to cut on the top heavy admin and support side.

fedupindcss said...

I didn't really consider LR and Medlock central Dekalb, but as compared with Briarlake, their parents could be rolled by CO. Also, Briar Vista, with its high profile Montessori program, would be more likely compared to Briarlake for closing purposes.

Jus' thinking like a DCSS administrator...

Cerebration said...

Here's a thought! How about balancing some of these enrollments??? Notice that Briarlake ES - on the list for consolidation - has 441 students and a capacity for 450. If you close Briarlake, where would you send the kids? Well, not Oak Grove (nearby) - with a capacity of 475, Oak Grove currently has 645 students! Gee - could we possibly think that maybe we could send some of those OG kids to Briarlake? Create some balance??? What's the magic number for full funding from the state? Let's just shoot to have that number in as many schools as possible. It's not a matter of closing schools with low enrollment - there is often no where to send them. So - send some from the crowded schools into the under-enrolled schools.

Why has the board not done some of this - just balancing enrollments by a little juggling here and there could maximize our collection of state dollars...are there reasons why they have not been doing this all along? Why would we consider closing a school like Briarlake when there is nowhere for these 400 kids to go? Or, is the plan to cut the kids too? I'm beginning to think the administration would like to just see them disappear. Geeesh.

Anonymous said...

Parents please dont forget that library media clerks are also in direct contact with your child(ren). The library clerk and the media specialist work together as a team, to successfully run a media program for an entire school so that your child can become a 21st century learner. It would be extremely difficult for a media specialist to do this alone for an entire school.

Anonymous said...

Close Briarlake?! The county just spent millions of dollars adding a classrooms addition on the damn school building. DCSS is totally lacking any long range planning. If they actually closed Briarlake there are no schools nearby able to accomodate the displaced. What really needs to happen is redistriciting to balance out the student numbers. Oak Grove is busting at the seams. But it will never happen, not enough backbone in the central office.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to repeat Ceres comments we must have been typing at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Cere, great minds think alike. Maybe the BoE considers the Briarlake kids to be "fat". There is a childhood obesity epidemic going on you know :-)

Cerebration said...

Well said, Anon 4:16 PM. WHY are they cutting the classrooms so heavily? Because teachers have no power. Parents have no power (Moseley will tell you we are just "background noise"), and most of all, students have no power.

Cerebration said...

You got that Anon -- there are a lot of great minds here -- so - who wants to run for the board??? The deadline to file your intent to run is sometime in early June, I believe -- does anyone know for certain?

Who's had that little voice in the back of their head saying - I know I should do this - I'm qualified and I have the right heart - one that only focuses on educating kids - not increasing my own personal power or creating high paying jobs for my friends and family.

Think about it - You know who you are!

Anonymous said...

Bob Moseley said we were background noise?

Anonymous said...

Let's get to the chief cause of the problem. What we are dealing with is self-seeking vested interests who pretend they have our childrens' best interests in mind. Many may not agree, but I believe there should NOT be any governmental pressure on our educational system. Take a look at the Obama administration usurping the AUTO and potentially the HEALTHCARE system in this nation. Governments are not "efficient" at doing nothing other than stealing and ledgering OUR MONEY. All of it is OUR MONEY. Going from one administration to the next only produces more confusion in EDUCATION. The only way to effect REAL CHANGE is for the people to standup to this crap and demand there be a change from TOP to BOTTOM.

Cerebration said...


And, yes, Moseley said this a number of years ago. To protest, some parents made and sold shirts that said "Background Noise???" to wear to board meetings - there are many of us who won't ever forget how he truly feels. I still wear the shirt on occasion...

Anonymous said...

I don't know about other teachers, but I felt totally powerless, more so than ever in my life, when I was presented with my contract this morning. A 6.25& cut with a statement that this salary may be lowered by the County.

A sad day in Dekalb.

Give us the right to bargain collectively!!! Repeal Georgia's antiquated, anti-worker, redneck right to work laws!!!!

Square Peg said...

Parents of the 5,084 students at MLK, Lakeside, and Chamblee: have Ms. Tyson and the board heard from you about how your students will be affected when their teachers are cut back to 1 planning period? This is a classroom cut that spares block schools but hits 7-period schools hard.

Anybody at the middle schools know if this proposal affects them?

As I recall, it has been pointed out on this blog that Fulton county teachers get only one planning period. I looked up the first 3 Fulton high schools - Alpharetta, Banneker, and Centennial - and according to material on each school's website, they have a 6-period day. At those three schools, at least, the teachers teach only 5 periods, the same as our 7-period teachers do now.

Anonymous said...

Teachers will never have any power (collective bargaining or not) until the focus of the administration is on educating ALL children to the best of their ability.

Cerebration said...

I see that the Organization of DeKalb Educators is electing new officers --

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what happened to dekalbparentsareunited site? It had great notes. I wonder if they quit or if the site is just down?

Cerebration said...

They're still with us -- they moved to a wordpress blog

fedupindcss said...

Sorry to be all socialist and everything, but the teachers in Dekalb (and GA) will get squat handed to them on a platter as long as they belong to a "union" that refuses to collectively bargain--and strike. Yes, parents, I know that means kids aren't getting taught when that occurs. But it isn't an accident that the states with the strongest unions have some of the better student stats. The teachers get planning time, class size, etc. in their contract.

BTW, I don't consider ODE a union. Not sure what it is, but it doesn't seem to represent much of anything.

M G said...

Just to clarify, it is illegal for any school system to collectively bargain with teachers.

Any teacher who leads a "strike" or "sick-out" is committing a violation of the Code of Ethics for Educators and as such can lose their certification to teach.

ODE has elections for officers every two years.

Anonymous said...

Square Peg, I emailed all the board members about the 6-out-of-7 scheme just this week. Only three replied: McChesney, Redovian, and Womack. All three of them told me, with various levels of politeness and sympathy, that teachers were just going to have to suck it up. One even said "We do not want to do anything to hurt our educational studies, however, we must look at all possibilities."

At least they realize that the choices they are making now will negatively impact the education that our children will receive!

The thing that makes me crazy about this 6/7 is that one board member even said that there "...are only... 4 schools in the county in this situation." Exactly! Why are ONLY four schools expected to take this on the chin? There has to be some equity.

Don't you think that some teacher will find a way to file a discrimination suit if he or she gets paid the same (pitiful) amount of money to do 20% more work than other employees in the same district?

Anonymous said...

ODE is just a way for the NEA to collect more dollars for lobbying.

Square Peg said...

Anon 8:15, thanks for sharing the nature of the replies you got. Glad they had some substance and was actually specific to the issue, unlike the few very brief replies I've received.

It makes me crazy too that board members don't even acknowledge the inequity of this 6/7 plan. I guess that more of us in the background need to be noisier.

What is the 4th school?

Anonymous said...

Square Peg - it's Dunwoody. Those poor saps chose next year to switch to a 7-period day. I'm sure if they knew what they know now, they would've stayed on the block schedule.

Anonymous said...

It was Tucker that chose to go to a 7-period schedule.

Cerebration said...

if you have 30 kids per class and teach 6 classes per day - that's 180 students. If you only teach 3 classes per day - that's only 90 students. I'm no math whiz, but it looks like that amounts to DOUBLE the amount of work - not 40% more.

Yes, I think this will easily set the stage for yet another lawsuit. Let's see - add to that the fact that taxpayers can sue for diminished property values and we will have a waiting list of people filing suit against DCSS (after the Heery/Pope/Lewis debacle, of course).

This has all become beyond ridiculous.

Cerebration said...

Yes, it's Dunwoody, Lakeside, Tucker and Arabia.

Anonymous said...

What exactly are the teachers going to sue over? They are not hourly employees. The contract does not state how many classes one teaches, or students, or number of minutes. Stop being crazy. I'm sure the many teachers in Fulton County that are going to lose their jobs would love to have such a problem.

Anonymous said...

Try Chamblee, Lakeside, Arabia, Tucker, MLK

Cerebration said...

Feel free to go back and read our post on the subject of the 7 period day -

Cerebration said...

They will sue for inequity. Equal work for equal pay. I don't think Fulton has this problem. You really can't ask people with the same pay grade to perform double the amount of work as others at the same pay grade.

Sad about Fulton. Sad about everything about our current economy - but mostly to witness the greed at the top as they use their power to save their own jobs and those of their power base at the expense of teachers and students.

Cerebration said...

Oh yeah, Chamblee and MLK. Sorry. (I'd better just go to bed.) Actually, I think Tucker and Dunwoody are going to some kind of "modified" 7 period day - not sure exactly what the plan is.

Anonymous said...

Those of us who live and work in DCSS must put forth a concerted effort to ensure that all the board members who are up this year for re-election are voted out of office. The very nerve of them wanting to increase property taxes, but they have cut my salary 6.25%. How am I, as well as others expected to pay the additional property taxes when they are constantly taking away from those of us who work extremely hard in the various schools throughout the county. They have wasted an enormous amount of money this year alone; CLewis increase, Esis, America's Choice, sending the coaches, administrators to LA, etc. Now CLewis is sitting at home doing absolutely nothing, collecting his salary increase, driving the county car, and having his legal fees paid by the board, but every teachers salary has been cut 6.25%. IT IS TIME FOR THE ENTIRE BOARD TO GO!!!

Anonymous said...

So the Dekalb Board of Education lied? Did they not say that the contract would include a 5% salary reduction for teachers? What they did is simply REDUCED the salary of teachers by 6.25%.....

Lies and more damn lies...

Anonymous said...

Sue for "theft".... Theft of retirement and theft of labor...

Where is the SOCIAL SECURITY administration police?

Gwen Keyes---I want my social security paid..

fedupindcss said...

Well, if as MG said, a teacher cannot engage in collective bargaining because it is against the teaching code of ethics, it would stand to reason that they shouldn't sue over a little thing like inequitable work.

I am not sure what the teachers in my school district were doing when they walked out when I was in middle school. Sure seemed like they were striking, before they engaged in a collective bargain with the school district (I remember them standing outside with "Honk if you stand up for teachers" signs--and all the parents honked). They got more pay, two days off in the fall to attend the state teachers' convention, and half days to hold school conferences, among other things. And I had a really good education.

Anonymous said...

Certified staff received contracts today with a 6.25% cut across the board regardless of the position [teacher, school based support staff, system-wide staff]. No additional monies cut from 6 figure salaries.[one plan mentioned 15 furlough days for 12 months, 10 for 11 months and 5 for 10 months] No mention of anyone's position being cut other than media clerks and paraprofessionals. Four budget plans proposed and discussed. What was the point? Now more schools? Where are the huge cuts in system staff positions? Certified school staff signed contracts today largely in part to the fact that there are no jobs out there, not in Georgia, not in U.S.

Anonymous said...

Teachers get 6%+ decrease, Dr. Lewis gets an increase to do nothing. And Mrs. Pope (if that's her real name) sits on the sidelines collecting $200K plus of taxpayer money each year.

Call me crazy.

Cynical? Yes!

M G said...


Collective bargaining is illegal in the state of Georgia for public employees.
From the 1970's:
Chatham Ass'n of Educators v. Board of Public Education for Savannah & Chatham County
School boards have no authority to enter collective bargaining agreements with representatives of their employees and any such agreements into which they enter are void and unenforceable.

From the current Georgia Code OCGA 20-2-989.1 20-2-989.10. ( bargaining not permitted or fostered

Nothing in this part shall be construed to permit or foster collective bargaining as part of the state rules or local unit of administration policies.
Strikes are illegal for public employees, as well. Read in the Georgia code ( OCGA 45-19-1 through OCGA 45-19-5. The public employee who engages in a strike loses his/her job. Any non-employee who encourages a strike by public employees is subject to a fine and/or one year of imprisonment.

And just to make sure that teachers in Georgia don't plan a sick-out, the Code of Ethics for Teachers in Georgia defines Abandonment of Contract as Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to:2. willfully refusing to perform the services required by a contract. You can read it here

Here's an interesting paper written by a student at UGA Law school that discusses the Georgia law in depth

Anonymous said...

Does any know what is happening to the pay of the other workers in DCSS? What type of cuts will their contracts reflect?

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that Dunwoody and Tucker both signed paperwork to go off block scheduling. Teachers, principal, parents, and school councils all provided input into the decision.

Anonymous said...

At the budget meeting, they indicated that this was MLK, CCHS, LHS and Arabia Mt. Dunwoody isn't going to 7 periods anything -- but some kind of 8 period something. Not sure about Tucker, but I though in our other discussion about block here, they were going to some kind of 7 period modified block, which would still give teachers a longer planning period occasionally at least.

Anonymous said...

Board of Education members: Men and women of honor do not say one thing and do another.

Contracts were to have language that permitted a 5% reduction for teachers, 6.25% for administrators, or for furlough days.

The contract my wife showed me this morning is nothing more than CONSTRUCTIVE UNEMPLOYMENT.(Look it up, Dekalb County lawyers!)

With a good law suit, the Dekalb County tax payer will owe millions later to the teachers who quit and later sue under that doctrine.

Where is your honor, Board of Education?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if DCSS is planing on contributing to teacher's retirements this year? I know that CL said DCSS would, but I haven't seen anything in writing. If DCSS doesn't pay retirement, isn't there a lawsuit waiting to happen - no retirement, no social security...I thought the district had to pay one or the other..

Anonymous said...

Contracts were to have language that PERMITTED a 5% reduction for teachers, 6.25% for administrators, or for furlough days.

This contract did not permit, it ESTABLISHED a new salary in VIOLATION of the previous contract.

Liars and damn liars...

Anonymous said...

And the news just keeps getting better and better.

Could a teacher post the exact language about the pay decrease? Having attended most of the budget committee meetings, I want to see if it is in line with what the Board was told.


Anonymous said...

On the 6 of 7 period teaching day, it doesn't matter whether a school is going on straight 7 period day or a modified 7 period schedule. The requirement will be that the teachers only get ONE planning period per day. If Dunwoody or Tucker is going on a modified 7 period day, the teachers will still only have one planning period a day.

However, a modified 7 period day softens the blow by a little. Teachers could have one 50 minute planning period 4 days a week and a 90 minute planning period on the rotating block day. However, they will still teach many more students than teachers on the 4X4

BOE should not be punishing the schools that recognize the significant academic benefits of a non 4X4 block schedule.

Anonymous said...

It would be great if we could get any planning time. America's Choice schools eat away at planning with meetings. Oh gives the coaches something to do!

Anonymous said...

They don't give a $%##* about the fact that LHS & Chamblee put the needs of the students first...

Since the LHS/Chamblee teachers were so altruistic, they are getting screwed again.

"BOE should not be punishing the schools that recognize the significant academic benefits of a non 4X4 block schedule."

Anonymous said...

Maybe they're just trying to level the playing field and the only way to do that is to pull down the top performers.

fedupindcss said...

MG--this goes a long way towards explaining why GA schools generally suck.

We have a friend who relocated here years ago when UPS was lured from CT by GA. The employees were thrilled that they could now buy houses (when, in CT, they could only afford condos or rent apartments). Then they went to enroll their kids in school. The first thing they noticed was no school nurse. It went downhill from there.

It would be interesting if the entire teaching staff of a school system of size (oh, like say, DCSS) just said screw it, walked out, and then see what happens. Where are they going to get that many teachers? And will the parents let it happen? Will it be like Reagan and the air traffic controllers? Wow, it would be fun to watch.

Square Peg said...

So 4 = 5, or maybe 4 = 6.

Budget Plan A-C says "Reduction of Schoolhouse Positions thru Attrition... 7-Period Day (4 schools)"

Tucker's latest proposed bell schedule for next year assumes a 6/7 period day for teachers. See

As Anon 10:34 said, the problem is number of students per teacher.

Annie said...

A few comments in general ...

(1)Teacher Contracts. I am sickened by the "forced" contract signing by our teachers and schoolhouse staff with a 6.5% decrease in their salary. There has got to be a way around this.
(2)Charter Conversion. When Chamblee Charter High School was converted to a charter, it was an attempt to get out from under the hobnail boots of DCSS. Autonomy with accountability! Unfortunately, a combination of a continuously watered-down charter in order to get subsequent renewals from an incompetent BOE and a series of weak principals (after Martha Reichrath) and a weak, do-nothing governance council have left CCHS no better off.
(3)Block Schedule. The 4x4 block schedule was thoroughly researched and debated by the committee that converted CHS to CCHS. Input from CHS teachers was invited and it played a significant role in the decision NOT to go on the 4x4 block. One of the major issues with the 4x4 block was that it left students inadequately prepared for AP exams.
(4)Re-districting. The reason why DCSS is now unable to re-district is because of the 20-year federal court supervision of DCSS as a result of the court case concerning integration. Re-districting, as well as building new schools, was not allowed by the federal court. As a result, the knee-jerk reaction to re-districting by the uninformed voters who gave us our incompetent BOEs over the years is that re-districting is somehow a subversive plot. In reality, it is a way to responsibly, prudently manage resources -- something the BOE knows nothing about.
(5)NOW can you stop advocating writing to the BOE members and Ramona Tyson-Lewis? They feel invincible and they don't care what you think. Time to have serious, face-to-face, one-on-one meetings with our elected representatives. Time to go to the U.S. Attorney, Sally Yates, because, if nothing else, Tyson, Ramsey, Lewis and Pope have played fast and loose with federal funds. And Gwen Keyes Fleming doesn't have the expertise or guts to do her job.

Anonymous said...

At least you got a contract! Pre-K teachers just got a note that said we are reviewing your pay scale.
Teacher contracts don't specify a grade level or even a school. I'm an employee like every other teacher, and I feel like they just told me thanks for nothing.
If I request a grade level change, then what? Someone newer to my school who has already received a contract will get moved down?
If they are seriously considering bringing Pre-K teachers pay scale down to the state supplement, there are sure to be a hundred of us asking to switch.
They surely didn't think this through (shocker!)

Anonymous said...

They don't give a $%##* about the fact that LHS & Chamblee put the needs of the students first...

Well, the magnet kids at Chamblee have their needs put first by the Chamblee administration - the same cannot be said of the resident students.

Anonymous said...

The 7-period schedule does not seem to have helped MLK students.

Anonymous said...

The needs of magnet kids are not compatible with the needs of non-magnet kids. That is why there should be 2 schools...

The PE & art classes are the same.

Dekalbparent said...

We're still getting sidetracked here (magnet/non-magnet, north/south) from the elephant in the middle of the room:

the fact that the school district has been fueling this disaster for a long time, but they were able to cover it up, and the BOE didn't dig too deep.

the fact that DCSS has been the personal piggy bank/sandbox of a bunch of arrogant miscreants with no moral compass (despite their faithful church attendance - shame, shame) and nobody noticed.

the fact that near-crimes have been committed, but they are skating just under the wire on that.

what the he## are we going to do about it? it's time for someone with legal expertise to weigh in - we bloggers can certainly do all the research they need - is there anything we can do to get some quick action to move DCSS in the right direction? if we can actually gt rid of the abusers, the other cards (their little empires) can follow on, and the system can start to heal.

we gotta get the money back in the hands of the people who need it. we gotta get the decisions back in the hands of those who should be making them - in the SCHOOLS.

Anonymous said...

The contract issued by Dekalb County states: Pursuant to the terms, conditions, and agreements hereinafter expressed, which are mutually acknowledged to be of good and sufficient consideration, The Board hereby agrees to employ the Employee, and the Employee hereby accepts a contract salary for the 2010-2011 school year at the salary rate of _______ annually. This contract salary may be decreased according to any decrease in the State Salary Schedule or any significant decrease in funds from any source due to unforeseen shortfalls in revenue below revenue amounts projected at the time of this contract so as to justify a reduction in the amount for salaries. The rate is also subject to an adjustment upward or downward according to the GA Quality Basic Education Act, applicable to the classification and type of service to which the Employee has been assigned. The Board shall have no obligation to make up any deficit beyond such sum as may become uniformly applicable to all employees of the same group, classification, type, and length of service. The Board and the Employee agree that the salary shall be subject to an adjustment on a pro rata basis for the number of days the Employee does not work during the scheduled days of duty due to late employment, temporary relief from duty by Board action, absence without approval, non-compensated absence with approval, absence when there is no accumulated leave to cover such absence, early separation, or adjustment in official work schedules by Board action.

Anonymous said...

The memo that accompanied DCSS contracts is as follows:

On behalf of the DeKalb County Board of Education, it is a pleasure to forward you an employment contract for the 2010-2011 school year. Your principal or supervisor has recommended you for contract renewal. The Governor has issued the fiscal year 2011 (FY2011) recommended budget. Included in the Governor's recommendations are significant cuts to the education budget. As a result, the net effect to the DCSS is a substantial decrease in funds provided by the state, which will result in less funding to operate the school system. Additionally, due to a declining property digest in DeKalb County, it is anticipated that the district will receive less funding from property taxes. Therefore, due to extreme economic conditions, my recommendation to the BOE will not include a cost-of-living adjustment nor a step increase for the 2010-2011 school year. On March 5, 2010, the BOE granted authorization to execute employment contracts with a salary reduction of no more than 6.25% for DCSS employees. Please be advised that the salary printed on your contract reflects a 6.25% reduction. In the event the BOE reduces the percentage pay cut from 6.25%, upon final adoption of the FY2011 budget, you will be notified of such action and your salary will be adjusted accordingly. Supplement for athletics, literary programs, and various instructional activities are excluded form the annual employment contract. The principal assigns these supplemented activities on an annual basis. Employees are encouraged to give serious consideration to the meaning of signing an employment contract. A release from contract (after the return date stated on the contract) will only be considered with written documentation under the following stipulations: personal health problems that require the educator's full time care and attention, family situation that requires a move out of a reasonable commuting distance of the contracted position, spousal transfer and relocation out of reasonable commuting distance of contracted position, promotion within the field of education. YOu contract offer is valid from March 19, 2010 until March 29, 2010. Failure to return your contract by teh March 29, 2010, deadline will considered as your notice to terminate your employment with the DC BOE at the end of your current contract of employment. Thank you for your contributions to the DCSS.

I hope I didn't have too many typos.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much.

Now it is time for the parents in DCSS to get angry and take action.

Let your board member know immediately (use the link on the first page of this blog) that this i unacceptable. Central Office staff needs to be cut deeper (next time they need help buying furniture -- oh yeah, every other school system does it themselves), programs need to be stripped to be restored until a later time, reduce the security force to be more in line with other metro systems (our schools are no less safe than Atlanta or Clayton, why are we spending so much more per student), etc etc etc

It is no longer about whether they want to be reelected but what kind of schools we will have next year.

Please take action immediately.

Anonymous said...

After reading this entire thread, I'm beginning to believe therein lies one word were not paying very close attention to as a strategy: ATTRITION.

Anonymous said...

@ 8:54 -- No, two words: Private school

Anonymous said...

@9:26 PM -- Good assessment! DeKalb County, Georgia is in trouble. With the tax base plummetting, budget shortfalls, etc., the future looks bleak. My thinking with respect to ATTRITION goes something like this...If there is an OVERPOPULATION of workers and "limited resources," what's the next move? Voluntary cuts, then involuntary cuts.

Since DeKalb CEO Levetan (sp?) left, the county has been in a down spiral. If I recall correctly, DCSS was once the best school system in the State of Georiga. What happened? It seems once Black folk take the reigns, we gotta mess it up. Vernon Jones, DeKalb Police Chief's comp time mess, Johnny Brown, Pat Pope, Crawford Lewis, who else at the central office? The proverbial handwriting is on the wall. It's time to move on.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:23
Your racial comments are incredibly offensive, not productive and not welcome on this blog. Please remove your post.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:23 pm

I started in DCSS in 1972 so I do have a long term perspective.

It was Dr. Hallford (white) who began the incredible increase in the Central Office personnel, Dr. Brown (African-American) who thinned them out before he was fired by the racially diverse BOE, and Dr. Lewis (African-American) who added them back.

Our current BOE is racially diverse, and yet they have all been compliant in adding the admin and support personnel who are choking our school system.

This is absolutely NOT a black and white issue, and all parents/taxpayers have to present a solid front when standing up for our kids and the classroom.

If this degenerates into a racial issue, all parents/taxpayers and children will lose.

Keep your eye on the ball. 8,800 admin and personnel versus 6,600 teachers (5% decrease in teachers proposed) is what we need to worry about.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 10:53 PM

Incredibly offensive? Maybe. True? Most definitely.

In addition to Crawford Lewis, think Ronald Ramsey, Frankie Callaway, Marcus Turk, Pat Pope, Zepora Roberts, Sarah Copelin-Wood, Eugene Walker ... By their works you shall know them.

The DeKalb County School System and the DeKalb County Board of Education must be led by honest, talented men and women of unimpeachable character who take great care to be above suspicion and work collaboratively for the greater good. So far, I am not seeing anyone at DCSS or the BOE who fits that description.

Anonymous said...

Under Halford things were really messed up, the hiring of non-certified teachers was out of control, the friends and family plan was exceptionally well used, etc.

This is mostly just an example of poor governance and unfortunately it happens everywhere, especially in local gov'ts and school boards.

While I am concerned about the impact of a no-pay policy for local school board members, I believe it is the direction that we need to head. But for at least one of our board members, it isn't about the money but about keeping their children employed.

Anonymous said...

Why does it keep getting lost that those that push for elimination of the block are also pushing for reducing the number of teachers? Ella has said that Fulton teachers already teach 6 out of the 7 periods. Which students will get more attention, form the teacher that has 75 students per semester or the one that has 150?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have a list of friends and family of our Board members who are employeed by DCSS and what positions they hold?

Cerebration said...

Thanks for sharing the contract info, Anon. I wonder if the system went ahead and sent these out with a March 31 deadline because they are fully aware that Gwinnett is in major "hiring mode" - and out to steal our best teachers - again.

Gwinnett just built and opened two new (gorgeous) high schools - which serve all students in an attendance zone - not just "special" students in a magnet program like Arabia. Science teachers - you wouldn't believe the labs. If you have to teach science at Lakeside and then walk into this facility - you will think you are Rip VanWinkle.

Gwinnett is aggressively promoting their job fair - which isn't until April 24. (An aside - they also have a really nice website and logo...)

Anonymous said...

Nobody has asked this:

Why were Wadsworth and Kittredge taken off the list? Both are under 450 and both have a large number of empty seats.

Anonymous said...

Gwinnett is not in full hiring mode. The job fair is a ruse. In fact, GCSS is laying off teachers as I write this under the guise of performance issues.

Anonymous said...

The DeKalb County school board will vote on a budget with at least 427 layoffs, seven teacher furlough days and at least four school closings.

On Friday morning, the board’s four-member budget committee adopted a tentative budget with $115.8 million in cuts and no tax hike.

Board members H. Paul Womack, Don McChesney and Jay Cunningham voted in support of the budget. Board member Eugene Walker voted against the proposal, saying he wants to raise taxes.

The budget includes laying off 200 paraprofessionals, 150 central office employees, 59 media clerks and 18 technical specialists.

Anonymous said...

@ anon 11:19

Don't worry about Kittredge and Wadsworth. Don't worry about the Citizen's Advisory Committee. It's all a charade.

In the end, DCSS and its BoE will ignore the reccomendations of the committee and the citizen input and do what they were going to do anyway. That's the way DCCS always does things.

Anonymous said...

Medlock, Laurel Ridge and Briar Vista all have nowhere else for the students to go. Any one of those closing will result in increased bussing costs and travel times for the kids who have to cross major roads to get to other schools. Fernbank is overcrowded, and anyone who lives in the Medlock area knows that any shortages of students at Medlock are because kids who live within walking distance to Medlock are being bussed to Fernbank. Move the lines to more common sense borders and end the overcrowding at Fernbank and fill up and improve Medlock. I am sure other schools have the same issues, even them out and reassess with common sense districting instead of random destruction based on meaningless numbers.

Anonymous said...