Monday, April 12, 2010

The April 12th Board Meeting

Sigh. Something has to change—I'm totally running out of variations of "The Scream". No one liked the tantrum baby - how about Mr. Bill? 
Oh Nooooooo!

Tonight's board meeting was, in a word, disturbing. I am disturbed because this board, even though the budget has been the focus of so many discussions and news reports, almost neglected to pass the "tentative, non-binding budget" due to their inability to get past random minutia that apparently, until tonight's meeting, had gone undiscussed.

The AJC reported the other day that Zepora Roberts stated, “I am on vacation. I have thought nothing about it,” said Roberts, the board’s vice chair. “I just got back from out of the country and I have no thoughts [about the budget].”

She wasn't kidding. In fact, she actually seemed as if this meeting was the first time she had looked at the budget. She even stated, "I received my budget last evening and looked it over today."

What?!! That thing has been posted on this blog since March 26th!

Zepora continued to have one hissy fit after another for the rest of the evening covering topics such as her opinion that the budget cuts are too focused on South DeKalb or the very long debate over the agenda item discussing the committee recommendation to name the Mountain Industrial Center "The DeKalb Schools Administrative and Instructional Complex". She lamented and whined about the fact that she wanted to change the name to the The DeKalb Schools Administrative and McGregor Instructional Complex (after an African-American leader in DeKalb schools).

Zepora went on to admonish the entire board and specifically the committee working on the ethics policy, led by Dr. Speaks, in her childish, tantrum-like complaint that "no one is listening to me!" She then listed her "issues" with 6 different line items on the proposed ethics policy, ranging from her desire for board members to be somehow be allowed to be involved in relatives getting "heard" by the superintendent in the event that they get in trouble. Then she demanded that the language of accepting gifts or gratuities over $50 be changed to include "knowingly", citing the example that if someone delivers flowers to her, she doesn't want to have to ask their worth. (The board actually decided to raise the amount to $100.)

And my favorite—she wanted to continue the practice she says is current board policy, of accepting up to $100 for a speaking engagement or serving on a panel in another district or city as a representative of the DeKalb school board. Paul Womack rightly pointed out that they already get $450 per month for such expenses, however, Zepora droned on about getting paid for her "service" to others. She won that one, but I kept wondering why the rest of the board continues to entertain her in discussion at all. We've all dealt with two year olds—the best way to handle a tantrum is to ignore it.

But beyond the basic premises of these ridiculous debates was the disturbance in my gut. These people argued, fussed and fumed over such deep issues as "define a reasonable person" or taking McGregor "off the shelf" or who exactly can benefit from the summer intern program (which in my opinion is a luxury giveaway program and should be cut). They had an extended debate as to the cost of a meal nowadays relative to the ethics policy discussion, culminating in Dr. Walker mocking Mr. Womack for thinking that $50 was plenty. ("Well, back in the day when you entertained for business, you could probably get a meal for $10—I'm glad you're not entertaining me!") Meow!

Worse, after initially not passing the "tentative, non-binding budget", (containing school closures and no tax increase) Ms. Tyson pointed out in no uncertain terms that the law states that they must operate under a balanced budget and that they are required to approve one by June 30 that can be operating by July 1. Further, the law states that the board must present the tentative budget at least twice for public review before final passage. This is serious. Luckily, they heard what Tyson said and changed their votes to approve the "tentative, non-binding budget".

There is a meeting scheduled this Friday to hash over the details and hopefully remove items like the one discussed on this blog and requested to be removed from the budget cuts by Paul Womack—the demand to reduce planning time for teachers on the 7 period day to only one period.

After fumbling around with her budget, obviously unprepared and uninformed, Zepora promised that she would "have it together by Friday".

Lord, I hope so.

For more: Check out the AJC's report on tonight's meeting.


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Anonymous said...

I have never been as frustrated as I was after watching this entire meeting. The tantrums and hissy fits were an embarrassment to everyone in Dekalb county. The arguments over perks to BOE members was laughable, especially when compared to the amount of time spent on real issues that affect our children. If we think that these BOE members will be voted out, we may be wrong. Their constituency is very strong because the BOE members say exactly what the people in their districts want to hear. It isn't going to be that easy. We have to keep their feet to the fire and force them to be accountable for every penny. (Whether Zepora likes it or not.)

Anonymous said...

I know Ms. Robert's daughter works for DCSS in a non-teaching position. Dr. Lewis requested she get a raise due to the Compensation and Classification study (the very one yesterday's post is about and he refused to move on to adjust the salaries of the overpaid DCSS non-teaching personnel - LOL). Ms. Roberts abstained from voting for her daughter's raise according to BOE minutes.

Does she have other relatives working for DCSS?

What other relatives of BOE members work for DCSS and in what capacity?

Anonymous said...

Great summation! I'm angry that so many parents want to raise the millage rate when we know there are plenty of places that DCSS can cut costs.

How about using a system for demographics and redrawing lines, it was purchased years ago and until two months ago no one at DCSS knew how to operate it?

How about cutting the salaries of every sibling of a former or current board member? One runs PDS24, she is the daughter of former board member, Francis Edwards. Ms. Guilroy(sp?) is paid $114,000+ to run this channel. The current average salary of a production manager at a commercial TV station here in Atlanta is $75,000. Why is she paid so much? Her husband runs the DCSS transportation system for about the same salary. One family makes almost a quarter of a million a year and neither one is directly involved in educating our kids. Can you name one program, produced here in DeKalb, that actually educates our kids? I have never seen PDS24 on in my kids classrooms.

They need to empty out the central office and start over.

The North vs. South debate is an absolute joke! The schools in the north are bursting at the seams, yet one property sits empty, Old Chamblee Middle. The Dunwoody Academy was designed for a lot larger attendance than is there currently. Time to be adults and redraw the lines county wide, so that all facilities are used properly and if not closed and SOLD!

Once again a great summation of a meeting that was a comedy of sorts. If it wasn't so sad I would laugh at these imbeciles on the board.

Anonymous said...

These so-called leaders should be ashamed. They really believe they can escape on the strength of the privileged position they're in as board members.

CAVEAT: What you put out into the world, will come back at you.

I hope it's exponential for the kids' sake.

Anonymous said...

the day that marks the beginning of the end for children
the day that decency died
the day that pure greed rose up unmasked
the day I pray I am one of the 18
the day I am ashamed of where I work

Anonymous said...

It is a sad day for our children in dekalb and at this point i will sale my home and pray that i can get the hell out of dekalb. I will down side and do what ever i have to do get my children into another system. After watching the meeting tonight i could not beleave what a bunch of clowns we are dealing with. They are a embarrassment. I know i am just one person and no one cares if i leave, but these people are sick and i can not let my children be a part of this. I feel so sorry for our kids that they are in this mess and also our teachers.

God help us

Anonymous said...

When is the next school board election? We need to shadow Clayton County and get a whole new school board. We have voted a group of people in that care more about paying attorney fees and high salaries to administrators and people that is still on payroll making an outrageous salary while being investigated then to see people remain in their homes. DeKalb county school taxes have already forced 80% of people into forclosures with the high taxes. They want to blame it on buying a house you cant afford to cause forclosure I beg to differ @ the time you bought the house you could afford but since you bought it the government want all the services to ride on the backs of homeowners so what they do take the easy way out and say lets raise property taxes instead of not being lazy and look @ other areas they can cut the budget in by starting with overstaffing. I have never seen so many people need assistant to the assistants to do their job while they make a huge salary. The parents are quick to say I rather raise taxes than lay-off or cut school services...have anybody done a study on actually how many homeowners in South DeKalb actually have kids in the public school system that number is very slim. The DeKalb County School system have been working with a 785 million dollar budget for years and what have they done with it because this county has the highest drop-out rate and the lowest test scores...ask the board where did that money go because it doesnt seem as though the kids getting educated with it. Stop the madness about raising property taxes and allow the people to keep their homes... that might not seem as if though that a lot of money but it adds up for the unemployed workers and the seniors on fixed incomes that selling everything they have just to come up with their mortgage from month to month.Please the five that voted against a tax increase stick to your vote...dont allow a few board members that shouldnt be there anyway to cause another person to lose their home. Thanks


Why should we as citizens agree to a tax increase when it was the school board that got us into this mess. No matter HOW much money we give's NEVER going to be enough. NO MATTER HOW MANY CUTS, OR SCHOOLS THEY CLOSE....they are too busy mismanaging OUR money!!! I like the tax increase idea VS the school closing idea (kudos to the parent willing to stand up for what is right)...but that money is not going to solve the problem...I'd be willing to place my totally upside down house on the 'south'side of town on it!!! Property values are at an all time lows, jobs are at an even lower low...we cannot opt to 'EAT' anymore of DCSS... BS...PERIOD. I have two things to say about Zepora and her daughter.... 1. Her daughter's children attend school in Dekalb 2. They DO NOT live in the district (ok one more thing) She (Zepora) is totally out of touch with ANY aspect of the community (this includes the Black community) I don't need her to come to the Southside's defense now...She and all of the other 'show'boaters should have done what's right.....A LONG TIME AGO. AND GO THEY WILL.... ALL OF THEM!!!! THEY ALL MUST GO! JOIN ME AND A GROUP OF OTHER PARENTS IN A BOARD REACALL! EMAIL ME AT CORRUPTIONINDEKALB@YAHOO.COM IF YOU ARE TIRED OF BEING SICK AND TIRED!!!! (leave contact information and which district you represent/board member)

Anonymous said... everyone hates the school board members. Who's planning to run against them? I hear a lot of complaining and not much campaigning.

Btw, I think Dr. Speaks and Jim Redovian are great. Unfortunately, I think Jim has had enough and is not running again.

Anonymous said...

I imagine that a major issue holding back potential candidates for School Board is the prospect of working with people like Roberts and Copeland-Woods. It's human nature to avoid pain if you know it's there.

Anonymous said...

When is the board going to realize that their job has nothing to do with fancy dinner or perks.

Their main job and in my opinion their only job is to focus on the education of the children of DeKalb. They seem to have consistently forgotten this.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6am
I agree with you completely about Speaks and Redovian. The others - all of them - need to go.

When I recently read about each BOE member again on the website, i was shocked by the lack of credentials. Several don't even have a college degree. Others have a tenuous knowledge of education. at best. Aren't there any basic requirements for serving on the BOE? Personally, I want my BOE members to be highly educated and to understand issues inherent to education and to DeKalb County and the school system. These should not be random business people, random community members, or folks with a 1980's perspective on DCSS (Womack, McChesney). And frankly, it would be nice if they could all be professionals and know how to behave in public and how to talk, politely, to their constituents.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for changing the picture!

Cerebration said...

I've lived in my home for 16 years and in that time, our taxes have tripled. Even last year, when DeKalb was supposed to reassess values to reflect the new lowered values, our tax bill went up $300. Over 70% of that tax bill goes to the schools - not to mention over half the state budget. And still - we have this kind of behavior from our board. They never quite got around to discussing budget cuts - central office bloat and the cuts that can be made there - or the fact that our teacher's morale is in the tank. Better yet - the fact that our system has the lowest percentage of schools making AYP. No - they are far too concerned about $100 dinners and flowers - spending well over 30 minutes of the meeting discussing such nonsense. The only people with passion about our schools were the parents and teachers who spoke at the microphone for their allotted 3 minutes each during the citizen comments.

Increasing taxes will not fix what is wrong at the core of our school system. Electing new board reps (reps more like Pam Speaks) and cutting the waste and bloat in the administration will be a start. Finding an excellent, no-nonsense new superintendent who is from "somewhere else" and beholden to no one will also make an enormous difference.

Cerebration said...

Jay Cunningham needs to remember his platform. This is from his online bio:

Jesse “Jay” Cunningham, Jr. was sworn into office on January 3, 2007 as a member of the DeKalb County Board of Education representing District 5.
He is committed to four key objectives:
Higher academic standards;
Strategic planning to eliminate overcrowded schools;
Efficient management of tax dollars; and

Were those just "election" words, Jay?

Anonymous said...

Not one board member mentioned adding more central office cuts last night. (Of course, they had a very limited discussion, but it is clear that none are leaning that way.)

Cerebration said...

FWIW - here is a link to the ethics policy that keeps hijacking the conversation away from the schools and the budget (well, this and Dr Lewis and Pat Pope and Heery Mitchell, etc...)

Cerebration said...

Truth be told:

We have plenty of money. Read Marcus Turks financial report from last night's meeting:

Tentative adoption will allow the public review of the proposed budget, public hearings regarding the proposed budget, and other comments from the public prior to the final adoption of the approved budget for the 2010-2011 (FY2011) at the Board of Education Business Meeting on Monday, May 10, 2010.

Quick Summary / Abstract
Presented by: Mr. Marcus Turk, Chief Financial Officer

Consolidated Budget total -- $1,025,968,139

See attached Executive Summary. These are preliminary numbers that are subject to change subsequent to state budget approval.

Financial Impact
General Operations - $735,312,225
Special Revenue - $97,519,184
Capital Outlay - $98,945,619
Food Service and Athletics - $48,783,487
Trust and Agency - $45,407,624





This does not even begin to include the Billion dollars collected by the SPLOST penny sales tax for construction.


Sadly, I simply think that this money is not being spent on the students - it's wasted in all kinds of cracks, crevices, jobs, bloat, special programs, yada yada.

Clean up the bloat and abuse board - and then start rebuilding trust with the community and the schools.

TeacherCreature said...

Three new jobs were just posted on PATS. Our school system is in need of additional basketball coaches. It's business as usual in the school system to which I've devoted my time and energy for 22 years. It's time we hold "try-outs" for our board members. They sure do know how to play THEIR game, but those of us in the schools educating our students are on the losing team, and it's late in the fourth quarter. I believe in miracle comebacks, but it's going to take a lot of three point shots to even come close.

Anonymous said...

Zepora is like school on Saturday: No class.

Mary Kay Woodworth said...

This is surreal.

Ms. Roberts' inaction regarding considering or reviewing the budget - vacation given priority over her job - is reason enough to remove her. As a business person, when there is an emergency, (such as the DCSS budget situation) - that's the priority.

And the race card being played regarding the school closings; give me a break. Visit the schools in the north, south, east and west of the county and actually SEE the number of students in the schools compared to capacity.

I do not have kids in this system anymore but do own a home in DeKalb and care about the quality of the schools. Yes, I'm paying private tuition and DCSS taxes - and am furious about the proposed tax increase when there is so much bloat and waste. $10,000 per student and the cuts are in the schoolhouse? Outrageous.

If the Board had adopted several of the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon task force several years ago, many of these issues would have been resolved. Sure the economy amplifies the problems, but consolidations and redistricting were viable recommendations that would have helped before a crisis struck.

Any mention of C. Lewis or P. Pope last night?

Anonymous said...

Wasn't a school in North Dekalb (i.e. Nancy Creek) already closed? How can board members state that the focus is only on the south when a school in the north was the first to go?

Mary Kay Woodworth said...

That's too long ago for these board members to remember (what,2-3 years ago?), resulting in overcrowding the populations at Huntley Hills and already over-capacity Montgomery.

Also, don't forget that the school wasn't closed, Kittredge was relocated to the building.

Anonymous said...

What is Roberts' daughter's name and what position does she hold at DCSS?

Cerebration said...

"Any mention of C. Lewis or P. Pope last night?"

Nary a word...

Anonymous said...

Z's daughter is an instructional coach........

Anonymous said...

Mary Kay, Nancy Creek was closed! Kittredge is a magnate school and REPLACED Nancy Creek. My kids live in the former NC district and can now attend Montgomery which will most likely get a trailer, if they can find a place for it or have to drop Band, Strings or Art to be able to fit everything in that building.

We warned the BOE of the shotty demographic report, that was designed to show one thing, that NC was losing students. At the time it was, but with several huge multiple living areas opening up in the district, the remaining schools Huntley Hills and Montgomery do not have the space for the growth that is expected.

DCSS never talked with DeKalb Planning to talk about their plans for the future. NO COMMUNICATION!
Plus, DCSS paid a huge sum of money for a computer program that would help in the demographics planning and drawing lines. Of course it was 3 years before DCSS hired anyone that knew how to operate the program.

An empty building still sits just a mile north of Nancy Creek, the old Chamblee Middle. Why wasn't this property the new Kittredge while NC could have remained open? By the way NC was the most diverse school in the DCSS. It seems to me the BOE and CLew have been trying to segregate our schools again.

The BOE is worthless and do not deserve another dime until they can prove to be honest stewards of the money they have now.

Let's pray for new competent leadership for our kids and our counties future.

Anonymous said...

Is this a joke. Board member has gien no thought to the budget because she was on vacation?
Principals are given a Blackberry and expected to be on call 24-7.

Cerebration said...

A good idea -- anyone want to take it on?

Hamilton County, Tennessee (Chattanooga) has the good fortune of the support of a group called the Public Education Foundation-Partners for Strong Schools.

These folks don't just generate money - they generate, attract, develop and encourage great teachers.

To read about one in particular click here.

The mission of the Public Education Foundation (PEF) is to improve student achievement in Hamilton County public schools so that all students succeed in learning and in life.
We do this by:

Partnering with schools to develop plans for transformation that will engage students, keep them in school, and challenge each one of them to reach his or her full potential;

Providing school leaders proven tools for leading this transformational change;

Providing research and training for educators in best practices for effective teaching;

Providing detailed data that allows schools and teachers to understand their strengths and weaknesses and target interventions most effectively;

Creating opportunities for excellent educators to share their skills and knowledge with others, thereby spreading best practices to every corner of the school system.

Our staff includes passionate, dedicated professionals, many of whom are former educators from Hamilton County and elsewhere. They bring intimate knowledge and experience of expert practices in school transformation.

Any chance someone around here has the ability to create a similar force in DeKalb?

Cerebration said...

Forgot - here's the main link to the website

Anonymous said...

If it's true that Z's daughter is an Instructional Coach I now understand why these positions, with salaries in the 90 thousand range, are not being eliminated or downsized. All of us in the school building have been screaming it out loud to anyone who will listen - INSTRUCTIONAL COACHES NEVER SEE THE CHILDREN! They send out reports and forms for already overworked teachers to complete. They do not affect academics in any way! They do not "coach" anyone! They wouldn't even be able to tell you what a third grader should know and be able to do. This is a position made up by CLew and Talley.
Now I know why the BOE refuses to cut them. Zepora at her best - protecting her friends and family instead of your children.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 2:03 pm
Personally, I would not post a BOE or Central office administrator's relative's name. I found the information out in the BOE minutes which are matter of public record. She works in a Parent Resource Center in the Office of School Improvement (that department is under Audria Berry). Perhaps another relative is an Instructional Coach. I only came across that reading the BOE minutes.

Anonymous said...

I think there is a lot of relationships mixed into the business end of DCSS. It seems to be all about relationships. I understand that's in the corporate world as well, but DCSS is not the corporate world - we are a funding source with no recourse by the fact we are citizens of DeKalb County.

Cerebration said...

More corporate resources -

Take your class on a field trip to the Apple Store!

Ask DCSS to dump their "internal" Channel 1 News and subscribe to CNNs Student News!

(Why do we continue to attempt to duplicate something that already exists - and is in fact much better? Example 2: The Virtual Academy - the state's is much better than DeKalb's).

Anonymous said...

Eliminate DOLA completely. Many of the courses are a complete joke.

Cerebration said...

I would bet that eliminating DOLA would save as much or more than closing 4 schools. Anyone know how much DOLA costs? How many people work in DOLA? I know one of our county commissioners teaches a DOLA business course.

Anonymous said...

One of Dr. Tyson's friends, Regina Meriwether, is in charge of DOLA, so may be difficult to dismantle that bloated enterprise.

Dekalbparent said...

And here's something that irks me: KMS currently has 417 students, and is projected to have 419 in the 2016-2017 school year (assuming they keep the class size at 17-18, and nobody has said otherwise).

The school has a capacity of 614. The displaced NC students are in overcrowded schools, while KMS has rooms to spare.

GPB said...

Zepora Roberts' daughter is Chanda White, listed as "Family Services Coor" in the open records and "Parent Facilitator" at the link below: (social work)

(Someone asked for this info in another post, I'm just answering with facts and not judging)

Anonymous said...

ZR also has a daughter Tracey who was an instructional coach which is under the Office of School Improvement. Does anyone know if one of the two Kevin Jones listed, is her son-in-law, Kevin.
He was employed by DCSS at one time.

momofthree said...

How do we get the media outlets to make the information posted and discussed here visible and force the BOE to discuss other options?

Anonymous said...

Oh Dekalb Parent, Kittridge will put any sensible, equality minded person over the top on the "irk" meter. Just that most folks do not want to admit soooooo many things that are off base in the cherished magnet world.
We have talked that matter to death on this blog, but few are willing to try and do anything about it. Oh yes, the red herring, and the "we don't have all the facts" argument..... Oh and that must mean that I am a sore loser. Let's see, what diversion did I miss?

Cerebration said...

We've tried. It's pretty much futile. We've all emailed and chatted with our board reps. We've gone to the mic month after month, along with teachers, pleading for them to cut the classrooms/teachers/schoolhouse LAST. There is much bloat that can be cut, but they refuse to even discuss or address it. In fact, they will tell you that you are wrong when you present them with facts from the state!

We're toast. All we can do now is try to get someone decent to run for school board. It's frightening to think that THIS board will be in charge of selecting our next superintendent.

Actually, I'd be fine if just Pam Speaks and Jim Redovian selected the next super.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Ms. Speaks is okay to continue on, but Mr. Redovian has been a part of the problem for some time. He, like other Board members, consistently "rubber stamped" Dr Lewis' every wish and must go.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 4:08 pm and 5:56 pm

You are right 4:04 pm. 5:56 pm, she was an Instructional Coach. She is now an Assistant Principal.

Anonymous said...

(social work)

Please understand that a "family services coordinator" is not a school social worker.

Anonymous said...

Anyone ever take a look at DeKalb Transition -
Students: 140 to 160
Faculty: 16
Admin and Support: 21

I understand they were recently incarcerated so they need a low pupil teacher ratio, but isn't that a little heavy on the Admin and Support side?

Anonymous said...

I would like to see any one of the board members take on my responsibilities as an English teacher in South DeKalb County. Could he/she last a 90-period block, 2 blocks, a day, a week?

TeacherCreature said...

Anon 4:12 has a great point. How do we get the media interested in doing a nepotism investigation? I imagine that the relationships we've written about on this blog are only the beginning of a very long list. If not the media, perhaps a soap opera angle? Maybe "All My Children (Are Being Left Behind)"? How about "Brothers and Sisters(and Sons and Daughters)"?

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 5:41 pm

Why don't you email or call Maureen Downey:
404 526-5445

......or here are some of the staff writers who have written about DCSS:

Megan Matteucci:

Kristina Torres:

Tim Eberly:

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 3:56 pm and 5:13 pm:

The Family Coordinators in the Parent Centers cost DCSS taxpayers $4,500,000 a year in salary and benefits. They are in 11 Parent Resource Centers. The physical plant, electricity, computers, etc. are not calculated in this cost - that's no doubt a few million more a year.

That is the equivalent of 86 third year teachers (assuming salary ad benefits).

Do these people impact student achievement as much as 86 teachers? 11 schools could each have 8 more certified teachers teaching students for what DCSS is paying for this program.

Is this another Dr. Lewis program that drains educational resources from the classroom and employs friends and relatives?

Below is the description of this program from DCSS website Office - Dr. Audria Berry's Office of School Improvement. It looks like we are straying far from our mission to educate children. We don't even have enough money to hire enough teachers, but we have money for this:
Parent Centers
This premier school system has established eleven Parent Resource Centers throughout the county. All centers are open Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 5:00 pm and one night per week. Centers are also open on Saturdays. You may call for the times. The centers are designed to empower parents to assist their children in maximizing their full potential. Two facilitators manage each center. The centers’ resources are focused on instruction, economics, health, and cultural awareness for students in grades PreKindergarten through grade 12. There are computers available for use by parents, as well as a lending library giving parents the opportunity to take resources home with them, on loan. Parents will benefit from workshops on topics from test prep information for their children to finance for themselves. Resources are developed with the input of all disciplines from the departments within the DeKalb County School System and with the support of the community.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 4:38 - I have to agree with you on Redovian; I anticipate his heart was in the right place to begin with but who could deal with the likes of Zepora and Sarah..... Oh my goodness , they are a total embarassment.
Now, Redovian thinks ( and says ) that we should keep magnets around because those parents are more involved. What ? You have to be kidding me.... Did he really say that? Because , us regular parents couldn't possibly be that involved or our children would be in a high achiever school? Or worse yet, would anyone want to incur the wrath of the magnet parents... What was he thinking?

Dekalbparent said...

Wasn't there a proposal to eliminate the Parent Resource Centers when the budget cuts were first being discussed? It seems so sensible that maybe I'm misremembering, and nobody proposed it...

Cerebration said...

Ok, so Pam then. Do you think we can possibly get the board to just let Pam do everything and make all of the decisions? She'd do a good job, I'm sure. They can even skip the meetings... or maybe phone in their votes.

Just a thought...

Anonymous said...

@ Dekalbparnet 6:48 pm

Well, do you really think theywould put Zepora's daughter out of work. Even if the program cost $5,000,000 to $6,000,000, I'm sure that's off the table. She would rather close schools in her area and eliminate teacher positions.

Dekalbparent said...

OK, I am crazy. Went back and reviewed plans A,B, C, D, E, F, G, H and I and I couldn't find a specific reference. Perhaps it was mentioned in a discussion of cutting programs.

But we're going to keep it - I'm sure no research has been done to prove its worth.

When they have the public hearings, how much public input (not just "comments") will be allowed? Will any action be taken on anything the public says? If, for instance, the public overwhelmingly wants to drop DOLA completely or restore the magnet point cuts or SELL OFF SOME PROPERTY, will they consider it?

Or is it just another joke?

Anonymous said...

Redovian is a big supporter of magnets - his son, who died of unexpectedly in high school, was a student at DSA. Redovian and his family continue to be huge supporters of arts education throughout town (Alliance Theatre, Stage Door) and have endowed scholarships at a number of arts institutions.

I have to agree that it is important to keep some magnets and special programs. These programs help to retain high achieving kids in the schools system. Keeping smart kids in the system is critical, not because their parents are or aren't more involved, but because these kids challenge their peers. And DCSS CAN AFFORD TO DO THIS if they cut first the enormous waste in Central Office administration. Established magnets and special programs should be eliminated only after all the bloated admnistration is slashed to the core and after all the pockets of hidden waste have been revealed.

M G said...

The way the public hearings have been run the past five years or so:

The CFO goes through a presentation of the budget.

30 speakers (who sign up that night) are given 2 minutes each to speak

If they choose, the board may make comments. Sometimes they do, sometimes the don't.

End of meeting.

Anonymous said...

Redovian also has a granddaughter at DSA, so we know we will get little support in reigning in magnet spending from him.

Anonymous said...

DeKalb Parent,
First of all there is no way KMS can hold 614. I was a Nancy Creek Parent and can tell you 614 would explode the building, unless of course you included the gym.
The media could care less about DCSS. Several parents at Nancy Creek did huge document dumps with AJC's Kristina Torres, funny thing, about a week later the parents heard that Crawford knew everything they had told Kristina. How did that happen? Kristina does not care about parents.

Fox 5 I Team were given all the documents too. No story. WSB did do a story, but their producer told the parents this story is hard to tell in 3 minutes. These documents showed mostly that DCSS was not communicating with DeKalb Planning and the "demographers report" was tailored to show that Nancy Creek as well as two or three schools in the south were underpopulated. They were, but the public housing in the NC area was torn down to be rebuilt and it is open today, that's why the remaining schools are now bursting at the seams.
My guess is that someone is leaking material in and out of DCSS and I bet one of them is the superintendents spokesperson, if you ask me. I think he used to work for Fox 5. HMMMMMMMMMMM.

5 years ago WSB did interview CLew about nepotism and CLew told them it did not exist! HA HA HA

I think it's time to clean house at the Central Office!

Anonymous said...

Dekalb County does no research or follow up on magnet students to see if the programming makes any difference in their learning.

The community meetings will be a farce, the decisions will already be made with a back up plan in case of bad publicity. For example, when they introduced consideration of eliminating magnet transportation, they knew that a back up plan would be the hub system. Get it?

Anonymous said...

@Anon 7:50 Cannot agree with you on retaining magnets. These schools are a self created environment of those who score above the 75th percentile. Are they really challenging each other? Perhaps, if the really top achievers were identified and entered into a system that did not get more resources than others....The real challenge for all children is for them to be educated in their home school. Teachers are already expected to teach at all levels - how is this different?
No matter, for many reasons, this will not be altered in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone challenged the board on paying legal fees for Screwus Lewis? He should be covered for things that happen within his job duties. He is being investigated personally for criminal activity against the what we have here is the board paying legal fees for someone committing crimes against the board. Is that double dipping? I know I'll go rob a bank and see if they are willing to foot my legal bills. LOL

Anonymous said...

Almost every discussion thread on this board has at least one reference to the "bloated administration". Maybe it is, and in fairness, maybe it isn't.


Clearly we just don't get it, and if it hasn't been apparent by now we are looking for an explanation. You really do owe us one, and if it's reasonable history has shown that we'll accept it.


Anonymous said...

While my kids do not and will not attend DSA, I am happy that DCSS has a performing arts magnets. Many of the kids who enter DSA are not at the top of the class academically, yet they seem to thrive at DSA and have higher academic achievement overall (SAT and other test scores). DCSS needs to preserve these programs that are working and cut costs elsewhere first.

Ella Smith said...

There are some new groups out there who are intending to back school board members in the next elections to clean up this mess.

I talked to one of these individuals in one of these groups tonight. These groups want to back ethical professional individuals who will change the prospective of the school board.

Change is a good thing.

Anonymous said...


What is a "new group out there"? I'm over the smoke-and-mirrors thing and am ready for honesty.

Anonymous said...

There has been some confusion on this blog about whether the Dunwoody addition is going forward. there was a meeting tonight at DHS where the final plans and construction schedule were presented. The addition is going forward -- including the auditorium. Construction begins in May and is projected to be done by the end of November of this year.

Anonymous said...

Pertaining to the "North/South" debate, school closures happen in cycles. Some history...

In the 1980's and 90's, all of the schools that Dekalb closed were in the north end. Elementaries included: Skyland, Northwoods, Dunwoody, Shallowford, Tucker, Rehoboth, and I think "Warren"(in Chamblee- not sure about this one but visited there when they were packing up the place. More recently was Nancy Creek elementary.
High schools closed and converted to other facilties were Henderson High, Shamrock High, and Briarcliff High.
There may be others and if I am inaccurate on any, please correct me.
(Thanks to "Vince" on the AJC Get Schooled blog on March 18th for some information.)

Now it may be necessary to close schools in the South area but the South area has benefitted from all of the new construction for years.

I work in one of those new facilities myself in South DeKalb.

Anonymous teacher said...

I'm sorry to see so many people trashing magnet programs, arts programs, and the like. To me, our goal should be to bring up all programs to the level of some of these, not to look at them like THEY are the problem! They are not the problem: magnet programs are part of this County's good achievements and show what can be done with resources, involved parents, and smaller schools. Plus, they are a feature of many school districts across the country and the idea, at least, is here to stay.

Let's not succumb to the temptation to eat off our own feet, no matter how much the dysfunctional board makes us want to self-cannibalize. I think the biggest part of the problem is in the excessive Administration budget and the very inefficient way the schools are run. We need to reduce waste in the schools, and do need a mechanism to get rid of poor teachers, as well as poor administrators and poor tech staff. But we also need funds to attract high-quality people, including administrators, to DCSS.

The magnitude of the shortfall is great, and it's hard to see where money will come from if taxes aren't raised. I don't have any kids in public school, so in a sense I get "nothing" for all my school tax money. But what I do get is this: an educated society. And that's worth a lot, to all of us. I would pay the slight bit more that a millage increase would cost.

What about outsourcing bus service? Outsourcing financial services? These have been tried in several other districts (like Detroit), with big cost savings.

Anonymous said...

The way DCSS operates magnets makes it impossible to replicate outside of those programs. These are very expensive programs....

Anonymous said...

My main concern about raising taxes is that with the equalization law much of those taxes will end up in "rural" areas (like Gwinnett) and not benefit DCSS students. We are really maxed out tax-wise. At the point we are at now, new tax dollars will flow out of our county and to other counties - not fair, but it's Georgia law.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous teacher said...
Let's not succumb to the temptation to eat off our own feet, no matter how much the dysfunctional board makes us want to self-cannibalize.

I agree. We must focus on the waste and corrruption at the county. All programs could be salvaged a the local schools if we got rid of the hidden layers of nepotism at the county.

I am afraid that nothing will ever change until SACS or a higher authority (who?) steps in.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU, Anonymous Teacher! couldn't have said it any better myself.

Let's work to preserve and grow the good aspects of the DCSS and get rid of the waste.

Without excellent and innovative programs, we will lose excellent students and excellent teachers. We may be left with a balanced budget but with complete mediocrity.

Anonymous said...

Communities with excellent public schools pay more in taxes. We, in Georgia, pay low taxes and we get what we pay for - poor schools, higher infant mortality rates, lower life expectancies. I suspect those unwilling to pay more for schools are also opposed to healthcare reform. Time to leave Georgia.

Ella Smith said...

I do not necessarily see raising taxes as the cure all answer right now. I wish the answer was this simple. However, I am afraid it is not.

We currently already do not get the property taxes paid by our residences for our schools. This is the biggest problem. Local tax money should fund local schools. This is a local issue and a local problem. I do not see a problem sending some money to poorer counties. However the percentage going out of our county is way to high and our students in Dekalb, Fulton, and Cobb are all suffering. This needs to stop. Local governments and tax payers need to step up to the plate and pay their fair share.

I had an opportunity to listen to concerned citizens regarding the elementary schools closing in their area. There is concern about the property tax declining. I did not even think about this. This would be interested to research and see if there is any truth to this.

I also heard that these schools being closed may be small but because they are Title I schools they bring in as much money as some of the larger schools. However, in keeping these school open we are losing money to keep our infrastructure up-to-date.


Anonymous said...

I just watched the first 2 stories on Channel 11 news. The first about DeKalb and the recommendation of school closings. Parents were upset and showed that they didn't want the cuts made in their backyard. The Fulton parents hired an expert on music and arts and it's impact on education and were focused on the education of the children. Which district looked better? Not DeKalb.

The citizens of DeKalb need to ban together and stop making the education of the children in DeKalb a black/white issue, a North/South issue, but a quality of education issue. Until the focus is on the quality of education, by the parents, administration, and school board, our schools will stay in the same shape that they are in currently and parents who want their children to receive a quality education will continue to leave the county or send their child to private school.

Wake Up DeKalb! Your children need you to focus on them, their education, and their future.

Square Peg said...

Contrary to widely held belief, equalization doesn't send our local property tax dollars out of Dekalb County. The handout to Gwinnett comes out of other state funds. See the second half of the following article, which was linked on the "Equalization or Robbery?" thread:

It's doubtful, though, that DCSS leadership in its current condition would use a millage increase efficiently and wisely.

Also wanted to share a tidbit that underscores the point that an educated society is worth a lot to all of us. A new study from Britain calculated that one year of extra education reduces property crimes by 1-2%, and that the cost of the extra schooling is outweighed by the benefits of reduced crime. The authors sorted out cause and effect by looking at crime rates of youth who were forced to stay in school longer because of a legal change in the dropout age. (Stephen Machin, Olivier Marie and Suncica Vujic - Royal Economic Society 2010 Conference) See end of the article at

Square Peg said...

left an extra parenthesis on that second link; s/b

Anonymous said...

If you want to get the attention of Roberts and Woods just offer them some free food and they will be johnny on the spot. Other than that they only care about there relatives jobs, and in the end i can assure that none of there relatives will lose there jobs.

This board stoped careing about the children in dekalb a long time ago. The reason Dr. Brown was let go is because he had found out about all the waste and he was going to clean house. Lewis was all for them to get rid of brown.
How do you think he got the job?

Things will not change until we get a new board and i hope they will do a search for a new super, because if you get some one from with-in you will be right back where you started. No Where

Anonymous said...

Magnet programs cost a little more to run, not a whole lot more, at least not at the local level. My understanding from the school I taught was that the extra budget was $6,000 for the school in equipment and supplies, plus a $2,000 stipend for the coordinator. That's less than the cost of a single student. But what about Magnet points? Each point is a teacher, but those students have to be taught by someone, even if the program goes away. Ten years ago, a Magnet point might cost more because there was a strict limit of 25 Magnet students to a class. Five years ago that was no longer the case, and a Magnet point was the equivalent of a regular ed teacher in terms of workload. The total number of students wouldn't change at all across the district, so the number of teachers needed wouldn't change much. There is a cost, but some could easily argue the benefit, especially for the high achiever's Magnet program, is huge.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:42

Most magnet schools/programs get extra teachers that are totally funded locally. That is why cutting 20 magnet points will save 1.2 million dollars. I am a magnet parent, the extra $ you spoke of for equipment, etc is gone, but not the extra money for staff.

I have been attending the budget committee meetings religiously. There will be 52 magnet points left -- for a total cost of about 3 million.

What remains beyond frustrating to me is the fact that the board has not once ask the administration to go back and cut the central office more, or at least justify why they can't.

Anonymous said...

Many of my Futon County friends are horrified that this group hired an consultant to save elementary school band and strings. Rather, they are concerned about class size increases and teacher pay.

It is an example of what happens when affluent parents are forced to advocate for their schools. The consultant isn't free.

Anonymous said...

I find it difficult to believe that a magnet school with a class size of 1-17/18 and three German teachers for a population of 400 ish kids doesn't cost more to deliver. Add to that the millions ( what is it 4/5 million ) that it costs to transport these children from one end of the county to the other. Then let's throw in the salaries, etc for the magnet staff at the county office.....
I have not seen comments disputing the benefits of this setting. No one seems to be " trashing" the magnets.... I have only seen comments on the inequality of distribution of shrinking resources. It is incredibly frustrating to be asked to pay more taxes for the county to mismanage what they have and offer programs that we cannot fiscally afford.
It is not necessary to fight over crumbs but it is important to be allowed to state a disagreement with allotment of funds that are county generated and utilized for a small number of children.

Anonymous said...

I think there is also the idea that if magnet parents are pushed against the wall like other parents are in the regular schools with rising class sizes and less schoolhouse services, they will begin to advocate loudly and fiercely for more cuts to the admin and support side. There is the feeling that an extremely vocal and involved group of people have been neutralized by keeping the magnet programs.

Dekalbparent said...

We have to agree to disagree on magnets, but to re-re-repeat what others have said, we need to look at Central Office and School Board first.

If Central Office expenses are examined and information is made public, we can see if significant savings can be achieved.

Look at transportation costs.

Look at costs to retain closed properties. (By the way, someone made an EXCELLENT point that if a building is re-opened after a period of time, it has to be renovated per ADA standards - more costs).

Look at costs and benefits of externally-developed programs and software (e. g. eSIS). It actually makes a lot more sense to cut your losses on something that isn't working than to keep it just because it cost a lot.

THEN look at the educational offerings in DCSS. Who knows, there may be enough savings from doing the above to allow us to expand upon the magnet ideas and offer the advantages more widely.

Square Peg said...

According to the FY2010 Approved Budget Book (actually 2009-2010):

Per-pupil expenditures (last page)
2003-2004 $7,197
2004-2005 $7,216
2005-2006 $7,789
2006-2007 $8,468
2007-2008 $9,170
2008-2009 $8,975
2009-2010 $8,584

Multiplying this by the number of students shows that these figures are General Operations only. These per-pupil expenditures do NOT include the hundreds of millions of special funds expenditures (Title 1, capital outlay, etc.) as described on page 7 of the budget book.

Suppose we returned to a 2004-2005 level of general operations expenditures. $7,216 per student times 97,690 students = $705 million. That would be a cut of $146 million compared to the 2009-2010 general fund budget. Problem solved, with around $30 million to spare. With that extra $30 million, we could serve 7 times as many students as now at magnet staffing levels.

I wouldn't mind making the "sacrifice" of returning to a 2004-2005 budget. Do other parents or teachers think Dekalb schools have significantly improved since then?

Square Peg said...

Correction - we could serve 8 times as many students as now at magnet staffing levels (adding the 30 million to the 4.2 million Anon 6:31 calculated for magnet points). This was only intended as a playful example, but I didn't want to leave a math error out there.

Cerebration said...

Let me dig up and repost some data to show how well our current board and administration is doing with regards to improving our schools.

Georgia school systems percentage of schools making AYP:
Forsyth Schools: 100%
Fayette Schools: 100%
Gwinnett Schools: 99.1%
Cobb Schools: 94.7%
Cherokee County: 94.3%
Clayton County: 81.7%
Fulton Schools: 94.6%
Atlanta Public Schools: 80%
*DeKalb Schools: 77.8

(source: state of Georgia Department of Education website:

Cerebration said...

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 70%
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.

Ms. Tyson and the BOE want to keep these programs while cutting teacher positions. I guess they don't look at these numbers. They should - these are not just numbers - they represent students losing their educational opportunity.

Cerebration said...

DCSS SAT Scores – Who is accountable and what does this mean for your children?

2004 – Verbal 464 Math 459 No data
2005 – Verbal 465 Math 457 No data
2006 – Verbal 462 Math 451 Writing 452
2007 - Verbal 457 Math 443 Writing 446
2008 - Verbal 452 Math 443 Writing 444
2009 - Verbal 451 Math 441 Writing 442

DCSS lost 13 points in Verbal, 18 points in Math, and 10 points in Writing on the SAT between 2004 and 2009.

Dr. Lewis increased the admin and support levels to 8,800 while cutting teachers positions to 7,000 (soon to be 6700 per Ms. Tyson). Is it any wonder our SAT scores are going down?

Cerebration said...

Our schools continue to suffer and lag in performance, yet, our leaders continue to reward themselves --

Here is a comparison between 2004 salaries and 2009 salaries:

NAME - 2004 salary - 2009 salary

LEWIS,CRAWFORD $112,074 - $287,991.63
REID,PATRICIA A $100,010- $197,592.50
CALLAWAY,FRANKIE B $106,698- $165,035.69
MOSELEY,ROBERT G $106,698- $165,035.69
TALLEY,GLORIA S no data available - $165,035.69
TURK,MARCUS T $75,558 - $165,035.69
TYSON,RAMONA H $99,960- $165,035.69
WILSON,JAMIE L $85,502 - $165,035.69
SATTARI,DARYUSH $49,451- $147,539.80
MITCHELL,FELICIA M $96,354- $125,284.87
FREEMAN,TIMOTHY W $106,598 - $124,049.27
GILLIARD,WANDA S $102,594 - $124,049.27
THOMPSON,ALICE A $99,960- $124,049.27
NORRIS-BOUIE,WENDOLYN $100,060 - $122,345.84
DUNSON,HORACE C $90,606- $122,195.84
SEGOVIS,TERRY M $93,888 - $122,195.84
SIMPSON,RALPH L $95,826- $122,195.84
WHITE,DEBRA A $90,426 - $122,195.84
RHODES,CHERYL L $88,804 - $121,202.40
FREEMAN,SUSAN L $85,578 - $120,844.00

Anonymous said...

A letter to the school board

Dear Board Members and Acting Superintendent:

I was shocked to find that school performance was not a consideration on the closing list. Don't take your eye off the ball. If you have to chose between a school that has made AYP for five or more years and one that hasn't-it should be a no brainer decision. It would be wrong and embarrassing to close a school that had made AYP for the last five or years and keep one open that failed to make AYP.

Square Peg said...

Isn't America's Choice paid for out of Title 1 money? Title 1 is "Special Revenue," not "General Operations," so those millions of bloat in General Operations must have gone somewhere other than America's Choice.

Responsible use of Title 1 money is another issue.

Anonymous said...

Cere - You comparison of 2004 and 2009 salaries speaks volumes, and makes me sick every time I see the numbers. Of course, Ms. Tyson has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of this over-promotion so I am sure she doesn't want to touch this issue. What kills me is that many of these folks don't even have advanced degrees (Tyson) but are being paid well above the level of a 20yr teacher with a PhD.

Cerebration said...

Yes, it's also interesting to compare salaries for similar job descriptions at the state - or even in the corporate sector. DeKalb is extremely generous.

Clio said...


For Anom who complained about all the money spent to the Magnet kids - do you feel we spend too much on other special ed kids like those with disabilities? Many kids are so severe they have one-on-one car, all day. They have a special bus as well. Keep in mind, so called 'gifted' kids are considered special education, just as are kids on the other end of the spectrum. Using your logic, kids with a handicap should have one teacher, with 28 in a classroom.

Anonymous said...

And of those with advanced degrees, many are worthless online degrees.
In one of the grade changing scandels, wasn't Horace Dunson caught on tape lying about having copies of the teacher's grade book?
No consequence for lying?

Square Peg said...

Plato's Republic, we don't hold a lottery to allocate special services for kids with handicaps. But the majority of gifted kids are not in the magnet program. (Since I still have the budget book open - 184 gifted kids listed at Chamblee Middle, versus 186 at Henderson plus 104 at Peachtree plus... and at that point I stopped counting.)

But as I posted a few minutes ago, a rough look at budget bloat indicates that there should theoretically be plenty of money to expand magnet programs. This should not be an issue.

Unknown said...

Cere - as long as you are reposting numbers, do you have something on the ratio of administrative staff to students or teaching staff in the other metro counties? Also, do you have the information of the cost of the gradation coaches and instructional supervisors (coordinators). I think I have seen this information flow by, but I thought before I go digging, I would see if you have it at your fingertips.

Momfirst said...

That is something to make you sick to your stomach. I just emailed Ms. Tyson and the board - those salaries are RIDICULOUS!!! Guess I know where I should've gone to work!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Board Members and Acting Superintendent:

I was shocked to find that school performance was not a consideration on the closing list. Don't take your eye off the ball. If you have to chose between a school that has made AYP for five or more years and one that hasn't-it should be a no brainer decision. It would be wrong and embarrassing to close a school that had made AYP for the last five or years and keep one open that failed to make AYP.

Anonymous said...

Here is a comparison between 2004 salaries and 2009 salaries:

NAME - 2004 salary - 2009 salary

Just so you know several people on your list have already left DCSS and their positons have not been filled. Some others on the list were principals in 2004 and were promoted to admininstration. Others have changed admininstrative positions (promoted).

SongCue said...

Anon 8:50am. I'm sure you didn't mean to lump magnet parents together in your statement. But if you've been to any budget and general school board meetings you've seen magnet parents getting up to--yes, advocate for their own schools--but to call out the school board on wasteful spending, too.
I'm a magnet parent. DSA, not high achieving. I've written each school board member and Ms. Tyson ad nauseum about cutting the Central Office before the school houses.
I resent all of the us v. them rhetoric. It's not useful and is very divisive. I have a very global view of DeKalb County schools. So please stop this nonsense and put your efforts into informing your neighbors, fellow parents, and everyone else you can think of. Be sure they're informed of the absolutely dire straits our schools are in and how they can help!

And remember that the state legislature is just as guilty of underfunding our schools. So contact them and the governor, too.

Cerebration said...

If you click on Mr. Potato Head on the side panel of the home page, you will link to the research Kim and Ella did last year comparing DeKalb's admin costs to other districts. They did a very in-depth report.

As far as graduation coaches go - the 2008 Salary Report downloaded at the state's website lists 40 "Graduation Specialists" at a total salary cost of $2,350,872.21 (Benefits are additional) and expenses reimbursed at a cost of $6,338.07.

However, the 2009 report shows those numbers increased to 49 graduation coaches with salaries totaling $2,778,980.31 (before benefits) and expenses of $7,032.52

In 2008, we had 65 Instructional Supervisors at a salary cost of $5,705,441.79 (benefits are additional) and expenses reimbursed at a cost of $105,138.56

2009 shows 64 Instructional Supervisors at a total salary cost (before benefits) of $5,813,863.76 and expenses totaling $129,390.28

*** So, the increase in cost for these two areas totals $561,476.24 PLUS benefits -- ironically, about the same amount we will save by closing a school!


For more data and info published around this blog, check out the PAGES on the side panel called Facts & Sources or Budgets & Budget Suggestions -

Or visit links to these posts

Open Letter to the Board

Budget Suggestions

Could it be? The Money is Actually There?

Anonymous said...

Great numbers cerebration! Not really great but good information. Someone needs to stand before the board and start reciting the numbers. This is awful. Scores down, salaries up and most of these folks are pencil pushers and make our teachers lives a living hell.

I'm sure CLew is very proud of these numbers, he got a raise and new contract just last year.

Just the other day my oldest in 5th grade had to correct a teacher when she told her class that the USA was a democracy and NOT a republic. He corrected her with articles and web sites and after two days she had to make a correction in front of her class.

Folks it's time we look at these education programs that were bought as well as the central office salaries, cut there first. PLEASE!

Let's go to this Friday's meeting, of the BOE, with signs that have these scores and salaries that cerebration found. No words just stand in the back with the posters as the BOE decides to close schools, cut para-pros, and furlough teachers.

My BP is of the chart but Cerebration thanks for your work on finding these awful scores and salaries. A mind is a terrible thing to waste!

Square Peg said...

We haven't begun to figure out where the money went. The budgeted number of pupils was about the same in 2009-2010 as it was in 2004-2005. The per-pupil expenditure went up from $7216 to $8584. That's well over $100 million of increase in General Operations.

The salary increases listed on this thread (excluding the one for whom there isn't 2004 data) total about $1 million.

Cerebration calculated that salaries for extra graduation coaches and instructional supervisors grew by a little under $600K in one year. If they grew the same amount all 5 years, that's only $3 million.

America's Choice would have come out of Title 1 funds, not General Operations.

We can explain another million here and million there, but what happened to the other $100+ million? The citizens and the board ought to be able to understand where the increase went.

Cerebration said...

Let's continue -

2008 lists 200 people in security, at a cost before benefits of $8,654,494.89 plus $16,246.62 in expenses

And in 2009 we spent $9,859,889.30 on 216 security personnel (before benefits) and $17,427.23 in expenses.

This is a $1.2 million INCREASE in one year! (Before Benefits!)

(I did count SIX officers at the board meeting the other evening.)

Cerebration said...

BTW - EXCELLENT viewpoint Square! This needs to be investigated... Anyone up to it?

Cerebration said...

You're correct, Anon 11:16 AM - many of those large salary increases were due to promotions. Some of the new positions were even created by Dr Lewis and approved by the board in order to catapult someone. (Ex: the Former Principal - New Health and Nutrition "Executive Director" - promoted OVER the perfectly fine "Director" already in place.)

Cerebration said...

I only bring up these costs and increases in Non-Classroom areas because I am bewildered as to why they stay and the board chooses to release parapros - people who actually make a difference in the lives and education of our children.

Anonymous said...

So new positions were created so existing folks could be "promoted" into them. So there are 2 issues - What justifies having so many high level admin positions? and what justifies moving unqualified staff into them?. Are teachers the only personnel in DCSS on a salary schedule? Are there comparable schedules, with steps, and salary determinitation by degree and time in service, for other personnel in DCSS (including admin)? How does this compare to other metro school systems?

Cerebration said...

mmm hmmm ....

Here's a little start to answering your question Square Peg - it's posted on the Facts & Sources Page (under Pages on the right panel)

I downloaded the 2008 audit at this link at the State DOE website - and it's strictly financial, however, I did find this statement interesting -

"In total, net assets increased $111.2 million to $1.164 billion. This represents an 11 percent increase from 2007. This total increase was due to governmental activities since the Board has no business-type activities."

Now, I find it fascinating that the 'assets' increased 11%, when student population declined from 100,526 in 2007 to 99,778 in 2008 (a loss of 748 students).

Additionally, "General Administration" just about doubled - from $10.6 million in 2007 to $20 million in 2008.

"Improvement of Instructional Services" went from $53.4 million in 2007 to $56.9 million in 2008.

But the budget for "Instruction" itself barely moved - from $631.4 million to $639.2 million.


But you are correct to ask the question SP -
"What happened to the rest of the $100 million?"

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 12:28 pm

Establishing and standardizing pay grades for non-teaching personnel was the goal of the "Compensation and Classification Study" begun under Dr. Brown and completed under Dr. Lewis.

Reading the BOE meeting notes and The Dispatch, Johnny Brown's internal newsletter (posted on the Internet), the $341,000 "Compensation and Classification Study" by Ernst and Young results were:

1. DCSS paid for a study that was supposed to collapse job titles based on functions and pay salaries based on marketplace value. In the end, salaries were left the same and even job titles for non-teaching personnel were impacted very little (see BOE notes - Financial Impact: None).

2. The Titles of 99% of the jobs outside the schoolhouse were not collapsed. They just changed the title of the job from one title to another.

Here are some examples of the job title changes of jobs Outside the schoolhouse:

Assistant Director of Professional Learning became Director of Professional Learning

Lead Teacher for Exceptional Educational Education became Exceptional Instructional Specialist

Clerk, Dispatch became Dispatch Clerk

3. The way DCSS Human Resources went from 1,400 job titles to 400 was primarily in renaming schoolhouse positions.

Here is one example of the renaming of jobs Inside the schoolhouse:

Paraprofessional, Special Education; Paraprofessional, Pre-School Special Education; Paraprofessional-Spec Ed (Mild Resource Project, Mild Resource, Mild/Moderate Resource, Moderate Self-Contained Project 126, Moderate Self-Contained Project 50, Moderate Self-Contained Project 58, Moderated Self Contained, Severe Project 48, Severe Project 50, Severe Project 54, Severe, Warren Technical School, Assistive Technology ....
All of these job titles became Paraprofessional (Exceptional Education).

4. The original goal of grouping job functions that were similar in order to standardize and decrease personnel cost and establish pay grades was not realized.

5. DCSS should make the original Ernst and Young Compensation and Classification recommendation that taxpayers paid for ($341,000) public. The only document posted on the BOE website is the DCSS version which renames the titles of employees (see above). It is entitled "Compensation and Classification Position Titling Convention and Position Specifications".

Square Peg said...

Didn't somebody on this blog keep a salary spreadsheet from 2004-2005, the source for the data on increases for specific individuals? (The state website only has downloadable salary and travel data from 2008 and 2009.)

Does the 2004 data allow you to compare total salaries in 2004 and 2009 across categories, e.g. SECURITY PERSONNEL/SECURITY OFFICER?

Unfortunately it wouldn't be broken out as Title 1 versus General Operations, so we wouldn't be able to tie it precisely to the per-pupil spending increase.

Cerebration said...

Emory Lavista Parent Council
Join us at 9:15 am
(refreshments begin at 8:45 am)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Coralwood School
2477 Coralwood Drive, Decatur, Georgia 30033

State of the Schools Revisited

Town Hall Meeting with
Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson

To receive our notices, send an email to
or visit our web page

Dan M. said...

Parent Resource Centers need to be eliminated. They are a luxury that we can no longer afford when facing a $100+ budget deficit. Please ask your BOE rep's to make this easy budget cut.

If anyone has it, I'd love to see a list of every family member of current and past BOE members now on DCSS payroll.

SongCue said...

I'd like to see the data on how much the Parent Resource Centers are used. Does anyone know where I can find that information?

Anonymous said...

@ Platos - First, gifted children are no longer within the special education area. They both do have mandates about some degree of required services but a magnet school is not one of them.
Pretty different populations, your comparison doesn't hold water.
@ Square Peg - Thank you for the lottery clarification. Yes, pretty different scenarios...

Dekalbparent said...

Cross-posting from another blog entry - The parents in Hawai'i are taking drastic action to express their opinion of Governor's budget cuts:

Anonymous said...

@ Dan M 6:40 pm
"Parent Resource Centers need to be eliminated. They are a luxury that we can no longer afford when facing a $100+ budget deficit. Please ask your BOE rep's to make this easy budget cut."

Parent Centers - $4,500,000 a year in salary and benefits. They are in 11 Parent Resource Centers. The physical plant, electricity, computers, etc. are not calculated in this cost - that's no doubt a few million more a year.

Like that's going to happen to this - Zepora Robert's daughter works in one of them.

Millions and millions while we shutter schools and don't fill teacher positions.

Look at Zepora's picture in their newsletter:

Anonymous said...

@ Square Peg 2:48 pm

Does this help? There was a $6,000,000 increase in Title 1 funds allocated to DCSS between 2004 to 2008.

Georgia DOE most recently reported 2007-2008 Title 1 DCSS allocations:
Carryover from Previous Year:

2004-2005 Title 1 DCSS allocations:
Carryover from Previous Year:

2007-2008 DOE website:

2004-2005 DOE website:

themommy said...

Parent Centers are in Title 1 schools. While I can't attest to their usage in DeKalb, I can tell you that they are proven school reform tool.

Several years ago, I interacted with the staff at one of the centers and I was impressed by them and the resources they have to offer. Again, I can't tell you if they are being used.

Many, many school systems use Title 1 funds for parent liason type positions. In the early days of Title 1, at least as my mother remembers, funds were actually allowed to be used to pay parents to come to parent-teacher conferences.

I think some of the positions that are being attributed to parent resource centers are actually prevention and intervention specialists which are (or were?) paid for by another federal title program. I know that there were far more of these positions a few years ago.

The state Dept of Ed. labels jobs as federally funded or state funded. It is time for DCSS to do the same.

Cerebration said...

ok, I dug up the 2004 salary schedule sent to the blog by a regular poster - and found that in 2004, from my count - we had 164 employees with "security" in their job title - totaling $6,406,549 - giving us an increase of $3,453,340 (approx 30%) from 04-2009 with Dr Lewis at the helm.

Cerebration said...

I did a little research on closed/vacant buildings in DeKalb - here are some numbers on the year built and the acreage of some DCSS vacant buildings. If anyone is aware of others, please add...


Forrest Hills (1954) 11.7 acres
Terry Mill (1958) 18.1 acres
Tilson (1958) 10 acres
N. Shallowford (old Chamblee MS) (1968) 9.4 acres
Heritage (1968) 10.5 acres
Open Campus/old Briarcliff HS (40-60 acres?)

SOON to close:

The "East Campus" (A/B blgs?) (1979) 20 acres
Old Sam Moss (1970) 26.4 acres
Bryant Center (1963) 10.2 acres

Anonymous said...

IMO Theme, magnent and Art schools are luxuries that DCSS can NO longer afford. For years moneave been poured into admin cost which lead to hiring more staff. This is why Building B has acquired so many people....and now they move to a new building with CLewis done up in all white leather furniture. Too bad the didn't keep the receipts...and a full bath like in your home....WTH. Now they can hire as many people as possible and no one would know because u can't get in any departments unless ur card is approved for that area. Why don't the children get this type of security? Can someone answer this......

Anonymous said...

@ themommy @ 8:52 pm

"Parent Centers are in Title 1 schools. While I can't attest to their usage in DeKalb, I can tell you that they are proven school reform tool." .....

Are these Parent Centers worth the 87 teachers we forgo hiring? That's how many teachers the salaries and benefits these parent Resource Coordinators cost us - and that's not even including the money spent to maintain these centers. These 87 teachers could work directly with students, even if hired with Title 1 funds.

Where are the statistics showing an increase in student achievement directly attributable to DCSS Parent Centers?

That's a real problem - we start these multimillion dollar programs, and then we just keep funding them with absolutely no accountability because they sound really great and employ a lot of people. I read an interesting study recently that says all educational programs have success "somewhere", but it's very difficult to replicate most programs because they generally depend on:
1. The specific circumstances in which they are initiated
2. The enthusiasm of founders of the program

The single most reliable factor that improves student achievement is pupil-teacher ratio.

"...think some of the positions that are being attributed to parent resource centers are actually prevention and intervention specialists"

I don't think that's possible. I looked up the 10 highest 10 paid personnel in these parent centers to see if they were certified teachers, and here are the results:
FAMILY SERVICES COORDINATOR $109,091.12 Not certified
FAMILY SERVICES COORDINATOR $81,075.68 Not certified
FAMILY SERVICES COORDINATOR $72,736.52 Not certified
FAMILY SERVICES COORDINATOR $65,048.47 Not certified

One of the NOT CETIFIED personnel has the last name of GUILLORY (sound familiar - how many of Frances Edwards relatives are there in DCSS anyway?) making more than $70,000 - more than a Masters Level DCSS teacher with 30 years of experience.

I wonder how many BOE members and former BOE members relatives are in this multimillion dollar program.

Cerebration said...

Employing all these highly paid "parent resource" people - while getting rid of teachers and paras?

That's just wrong.

Anonymous said...

Now the "Family" in DCSS Family Services takes on a whole new meaning. How many other family members are tucked away in that multimillion dollar program?

Kim Gokce said...

Not easy keeping pace with you fellow commenters ... 129 and counting! Ok, I'm going to besmirch my reputation as a DCSS hawk on the questions of the Parent Resource Centers ...

These are mostly in-school resources and I'm not comfortable saying they are a luxury and should be dumped. I would love to hear from Title I school teachers who may have more experience than I do with these but ... I would be saddened to see them stripped from Cross Keys cluster schools.

What do they do? Well I'm sure there is an entire host of sophisticated arguments about that but I can tell you a few simple examples I know of ... they provide parents with access to a computer. A computer they use to access the beautiful, multi-million dollar parent portal information about their own kids because they don't have PCs at home.

They have a book lending library for parents who need material to help them or their pre-school children learn English ($200/mo. for my kid's pre-school ... these kids are staying at home and not ready for K). There are many, many very primitive things we take for granted that these Centers are providing for the truly poor in our County to help them be better, more informed parents who can better manage their child's education.

Somewhere up the thread someone asked about Title I money helping get parents to parent-teacher meetings - yes, that still is the case. Cab fare vouchers are purchased to provide to parents with no private transportation. Again, these are things we take for granted that many of our families cannot.

Are these and other things being done in Title I schools working? I can't speak for the macro results but I can tell you that in the past four years, the graduation rate at Cross Keys HS has gone from barely 45% to over 80%. Something is working ...

So, as much as I agree that we should be examining all the "fancy sounding" programs dreamed up at the central office, I would like to put the ones that are actually operating inside the school house at the bottom of the list just like teaching resources.

Focus on the management and operations that do not sit in a school and that do not have any direct interaction with our families!

Anonymous said...

Southwest DeKalb, MIT grad returns home to tutor math students

Anonymous said...

@ Kim Gokce

I too would like to hear from Title 1 teachers about the Family Services Coordinators.

If we giving teachers more students, we need to evaluate each program from the ground up. Do any of the schools have 2 or 3 of these Coordinators? If so, could the ones with teaching certificates be sent back into the classrooms to teach while the others take up the slack. Could the counselors in the schools take on some of the duties of the Family Services Coordinators. A lot of what you're describing sounds like what counselors used to do.

Just because a program does some good does not mean it shouldn't be evaluated and streamlined every year.

We're cutting teaching positions. We can do without 275 teaching teaching positions this year and 300 more next year, but not without some of the Family Services Coordinators? Is this what we're saying when we think this and that program is great - so let's just trim some more teachers here and there.

Classroom instruction is the single most important component in any educational system. Nothing should be off the table to preserve teachers for our students. Without teachers, we don't have an educational system.

Any program that costs $4,500,000 in salaries and benefits must be evaluated in the light of cutting teaching positions.

Kim Gokce said...

Well, if it's Parent Resource Centers versus Teachers, I'll take teachers, too. But I'd rather have the debate stay on school house cuts versus central office/operations cuts.

Anonymous said...

Edwards has a daughter, son and son-in law. Walked in the door with key positions. I think the granddaughter works in the intern program also. She still has power in the system. The son-in-law is over the transportation dept. with no experience. He came in as a admin and the next thing we knew he was over the entire dept. In the pass the person had at least been a former teacher or principal.
It is not what you know but who you know in the friends and family school system.

Anonymous said...

Cere, where did you hear that the Bryant Center is "SOON to close"? Last I heard they were planning on moving the computer systems out of the central office on N Decatur to the Bryant Center.

themommy said...

It is the Central Office that is closing when the new offices are complete on American Way.

I think it would help this blog tremendously if we could understand how Title 1 dollars work. As I said yesterday, parent resource type things have been a focus of Title 1 since its inception.

I believe that Title 1 dollars can't be used to replace existing spending of a school system. In other words, you can't hire 87 extra teachers with Title 1 dollars and replace 87 non-Title 1 funded teachers, if you are paying for those same positions in non-Title 1 schools.

I do think that DCSS has taking to much control away from the Title 1 schools on how they spend these monies. However, as recently as a couple of years ago, DCSS sent back at least a million dollars of Title 1 monies because it wasn't spent by principals on time. (And no one lost their job over this -- though Dr. Lewis claimed he issued warnings about what would happen if it happened again.) In part, this happens because of gross incompetence and in part this happens because many of our whole school Title 1 schools are very small and have so many resources that the principal just never got around to spending it.

I am going to try to get some solid information on Title 1 today and bring it back.

Anonymous said...

themommy @ 8:52 pm said,

"Parent Centers are in Title 1 schools. While I can't attest to their usage in DeKalb, I can tell you that they are proven school reform tool." .....

The Parent Centers are also FUNDED with Title 1 dollars NOT out of the general budget. There are also strings attached with the use or Title 1 dollars. Parent Centers are a reform tool targeted for LOW INCOME families. As Kim said, they provide access to resources that some of use take for granted. These resources can be used by ANY DeKalb County citizen. Kinda like the libraries throughout the county....

Before people casually throw out statements about what needs to be closed or the value they bring, you need to understand the funding sources along with any mandates that come with them. Title 1 has some very strict guidelines. You also need to consider those who would be impacted by closing resources like this. Making cuts should be done in a strategic manner.

Cerebration said...

Hmm. Maybe I'm wrong about the WBBC. I had been told that the whole building was moving to the Mtn Industrial Center... but maybe not.

Molly said...

Kim has pointed out that the Parent Centers provide computer access and a lending library. Don't our public libraries provide the same things with far more generous evening and weekend hours? Why spend money duplicating services that are already available in the community?

Individual Title 1 schools can and do budget for cab vouchers to transport parents to conferences and school events. Individual Title 1 schools can and do provide ESL lessons for parents. Individual Title 1 schools can and do provide many of the same parent outreach activities offered by the parent centers. I'm not sure what the parent centers are offering that isn't already offered by the public libraries or the local schools.

Clio said...

If Title I funds are used for a program, including salary, does DeKalb pay for their benefits, including being part of the retirement program?

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous

"The Parent Centers are also FUNDED with Title 1 dollars NOT out of the general budget. There are also strings attached with the use or Title 1 dollars....Title 1 has some very strict guidelines. You also need to consider those who would be impacted by closing resources like this. Making cuts should be done in a strategic manner."

Who has looked at our students packed into classes like sardines? Was that a strategic measure?

I don't know why people keep insisting Title 1 in DCSS is the the way it is because of federal rules.

Title 1 dollars can not be used to supplant regular education teachers, but they absolutely can be used to hire teachers and tutors to work with struggling math and reading teachers. In the 80s and 90s every elementary school had Title 1 teachers working in small groups with students - thus the names -Title 1 Math Teacher and Title 1 Reading Teacher. This was before the days of expensive "Coaches" who do not teach students and drain teachers' time from the classroom with excessive paperwork, stilted scripted teaching, and numerous meetings.

Many school systems use Title 1 resources to hire teachers wot work directly with students.

As to the efficacy of the Parent Centers, I can't say. All I pointed out is that any multimillion dollar program that doesn't have direct instruction of students (i.e. teachers who work directly instructing students) needs to be evaluated for budget cuts before we gut our classrooms.

Nothing can replace direct instruction of students, and anyone who tells you that has never taught kids. Directly instructing students is the heart and core of our business.

Anonymous said...

@ Platos Republic

Title 1 dollars do not pay for the benefits for the "Coaches" and "Family Service Coordinators" or any of the personnel who have salaries funded through Title 1. Millions and millions of dollars of benefits paid out of local taxpayer dollars. DCSS pulls the wool over taxpayer eyes about Title 1. It's become an administrative piggybank under Lewis and Tyson is continuing it.

Parents in Title 1 schools should be up in arms asking that Title 1 dollars come back to local schools for the decision making. Title 1 funds should be apportioned like gifted funds - schools with the greatest number of gifted get more gifted money - it should follow the students as much as possible.

Mary Kay said...

Cere, I'm sure that I saw that mentioned in a news article recently too.

Anon 4/13 12:21 - The point I was making was that in some board members' eyes, the school building itself was never closed down, it's use was changed to accommodate Kittredge. So in that warped interpretation, the school wasn't closed. My nephew attends Montgomery, and when I heard they were considering the shifting of kids to MES and Huntley Hills, I couldn't believe it either, with the growth in that area.

Square Peg said...

We don't need to consider Title 1 to make a strong case about the budget. Focus instead on General Operations.

2009-2010 projected FTE student count 98,465; budgeted per pupil expenditures $8,584. Total: $845 million.

2004-2005 actual FTE student count 98,334; actual per-pupil expenditures $7,216. Total: $710 million.

Difference: $135 million. The number of students is virtually the same, and SAT scores dropped despite the extra expenditures.

(Source: FY2010 Approved Budget, last page.)

Now go to page 7, Executive Summary. General Operations is budgeted at $851 million. This is only a little off from the $845 million I calculated by multiplying out the per-pupil expenditures. This shows that THE SOARING PER-PUPIL EXPENDITURES ARE GENERAL OPERATIONS. General Operations does not include Title 1 (part of "Special Revenue," $88M), SPLOST ("Capital Outlay," $187M, and "Debt Service," $95M), athletics and school nutrition ("Enterprise Fund," $49M), or the employee retirement plan ("Trust & Agency," $45M). If you include these funds, the actual budget is $851M + $465M = $1.3 billion.

So cutting JV athletics or teacher retirement contributions or parent resource centers or America's Choice has NOTHING to do with getting a handle on the $135M growth in General Operations, as far as I can tell from the budget.

Cere, I sorted the 2009 salary spreadsheet by job title.
PARAPROFESSIONAL/TEACHER AIDE salaries totaled $13,284,460.11.

GIFTED ELEMENTARY TEACHER P-5 through GRADES K-5 TEACHER salaries totaled $230,790,666.50.

(That includes regular classroom teachers and gifted classroom teachers. I left out kindergarten, special ed, and ESOL teachers because they aren't alphabetically contiguous. And there are federal funds for special ed and ESOL, according to p. 164, so they wouldn't entirely be General Operations anyway.)

Very curious - what did DCSS spend on salaries for PARAPROFESSIONAL/TEACHER AIDE and classroom teachers with "G" titles in 2004? I bet that $135 million increase wasn't classroom teachers.

Square Peg said...

If anyone is wondering whether I included middle and high school teachers - yes, I did. The titles included in the $230,790,666.50 are


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what the parent centers are offering that isn't already offered by the public libraries or the local schools.

Are you a parent in DCSS? If so, you should know what is offered. Materials covering these centers are sent home with the students. There are all types of classes available that cannot be found at a public library.

Kim Gokce said...

Yes, the classes, but also specialized instructional games and software tools ... this is not the mission of our library system.

By all means examine the program! The center at Cross Keys averages 200 appointments per month with parents from the entire region - mostly with ES students. They seem to be having a positive affect on parental involvement and, frankly, competency of parents.

We have to remind ourselves that it is a rare student who will succeed without the competent support of at least one parent. The system has been loudly announcing their intention for years to build a partnership with parents to increase the success of our students in these categories. They are not talking about the parents at DCPC or ELPC. They are talking about parents who have no idea how to partner with their schools to educate their children.

It seems to be working at Cross Keys cluster so I don't know why we'd want to target direct service programs like Parent Resource Centers on the one hand while complaining about lack of parental involvement in Title I situations.

And before someone says, "If that same kid doesn't have a teacher, it doesn't matter," let me say I get the point ... we shouldn't be cutting teachers. That is not an argument I am making.

This Center has been here since 2005 and in the four years since, our graduation rate has literally more than doubled. There has not been a significant change in the faculty or instruction that I am aware of ... no major change in demographic. Is it possible that something DCSS is doing is actually working?

With so many areas of expense and waste that have absolutely ZERO in way of direct contact or service to our students and parents, why are we focusing on Parent Resource Centers as a way to keep teacher head count?

Please, please keep the eye on the prize and let's find overhead positions and operational waste before we talk about dumping a program that actually seems to provide results where they were so badly needed.

Mary Kay said...

I absolutely agree with Kim regarding the resource centers. Are stats available for all of them, re: number of users, types of uses -- and corresponding information about improvement in test scores, parental involvement, graduation rates,etc.?

We are always talking about the schoolhouse having to be teacher, parent, social worker, and that the better performing schools have active parents. If this program moves parents to become more active in their students' educations, it is worth the price in the long run.

Anonymous said...

@ Kim Gocke

No one is talking about "dumping" a program. It seems to me that all programs should be evaluated in terms of:
1. Is the program effective for students and how do you quantitatively measure that?
2. Are there overlaps with other programs (i.e. are other programs performing some of the same functions)?
3. Are the salaries of these non-teaching personnel comparable to what they greater market would compensate them?

I've posted the same thing about:
MIS ($19,000,000)
Security ($12,000,000)
FSC ($7,000,000)
America's Choice ($8,000,000)
Springboard ($1,400,000)
eeSIS ($4,000,000)
SchoolNet ($$7,200,000)
Instructional, Literacy and Graduation Coaches ($12,000,000,
Instructional Supervisors ($7,000,000)
Human Resources ($4,500,000)

These programs alone have expenditures of over $82,000,000 in salary and benefits, employ 761 DCSS personnel, and with the exception of FSC, do not directly instruct students.

It's hard to believe that there is no room for cuts in these programs, yet we are asking our classrooms to swell with students, forgoing renovations in schools that desperately need it, provide little in the way of science and technology equipment, and share textbooks.

As for Central Office cuts, I totally agree that there should be steep cuts in that area.

I saw where Dekalb County Development Department has just been outsourced.

"DeKalb now spends $6 million a year on the development department, but generates only $3.2 million a year in revenue. The county plans to pay the vendor less than $3 million. The bulk of the savings will be in pension and benefit costs, Simama said."

Ms. Tyson and the BOE refuse to even look at outsourcing as a possible cost cutting measure. We need to remember that benefits make up approximately 25% of our total personnel cost and 90% of our entire budget is personnel. So this is a significant figure.

Dan M. said...

Look at these salaries:
FAMILY SERVICES COORDINATOR $109,091.12 Not certified
FAMILY SERVICES COORDINATOR $81,075.68 Not certified
FAMILY SERVICES COORDINATOR $72,736.52 Not certified
FAMILY SERVICES COORDINATOR $65,048.47 Not certified

There is NO JUSTIFICATION to any pay parent resource center admin staff more than teachers.

And even if the salaries are funded fully or in part by Title 1, that still does not cover pension, benefits, ancilliary costs, etc.

Hard, painful cuts need to be made. There is a $100 million hole that needs to be filed. Heavier Central Office cuts are a no brainer. eSIS and America's Choice are more no-brainers. And while parent resource centers may serve a purpose as Kim G stated, PSC's cannot simply not be prioritized over the classroom. Equally as important, Parent Reource Centers can't be a place for jobs for Cental Office admin and BOE friends and family, and it's CRAZY to pay PRC staff more than our teachers. There aren't even any metrics to show productivity of PSC's. The insanity has to stop.

Anonymous said...

More bad news about math education in the US:

U.S. Falls Short in Measure of Future Math Teachers
America’s future math teachers, on average, earned a C on a new test comparing their skills with their counterparts in 15 other countries, significantly outscoring college students in the Philippines and Chile but placing far below those in educationally advanced nations like Singapore and Taiwan.

Kim Gokce said...

Folks, some of you are clearly looking for an argument where I have none to offer.

Yes, yes our teachers are our most critical resources. Yes, yes we should be rigorously managing budget decisions. Yes, yes we should be squeezing nepotism out of our system. Yes, yes we should keep the smallest class sizes possible.

Who can argue with these propositions? That is not an even interesting debate and just sounds like rhetoric.

If you are asking me to agree that cuts should be considered everywhere before teaching resources as a constraint, yes!

But please stop using my simple information sharing as a straw man for an argument I don't have.

Kim Gokce said...

... another quick point ... in another comment I have said that I personally believe that the entire process of the DCSS budget is faulty and there is a better way.

I personally believe it is a bit silly that the BoE and hundreds of parents are all bickering about what particular program or job titles to cut. The leadership should simply send a demand for a straight percentage cut across the board and leave teachers out of it.

Every department and every administrator has to decide where they get their cuts. There isn't a department in the Central Office that couldn't find 10-15% that would not reduce teacher head count or class size.

Why isn't this a real option? Why can't we demand this of our system leadership? All of this lobbying is wasting time and money and good will.

Kim Gokce said...

Pitting Magnet vs non-Magnet parents, Title I vs non-Title I, North v South, Black vs White, Everybody vs Immigrants, etc. is part of the problem, not the solution.

The only fair thing to do is for everyone outside of the teaching force to take a flat rate cut in whatever way their own team leaders devise.

But then, what would we have to complain about to each other, to the press, to our leaders, and via this blog? No fun in that ...

Kim Gokce said...

Art and Music versus required curriculum, physical education vs everything else, argh! The list of interests is endless ...

Please can anyone feel my pain here? Can't I hear an "Amen" from the named and anonymous bloggers here? What is wrong with taking a straight haircut across the board?

Why can't we all say in unison, "Cut everything but teachers at the same rate!" ???

Anonymous said...

@ Kim Gokce 2:11 pm

Straight cut sounds fine with me. Makes the most sense of all. Has anyone even advocated that in front of the BOE or has everyone been trying to figure out what to cut and what not to cut?

I'm personally glad these anonymous bloggers brought all these non-teaching expenditures to our attention though. It brought home your idea that there is plenty of room to make a 10% to 5% cut in non-teaching expenditures.

Anonymous said...

You could not be more correct. I've said before the solution to this crisis is actually pretty straightforward:
1. Cut non-classroom budget by large %
2. if there is still a shortfall, repeat step 1
3. if there is still a shortfall, raise taxes
4. if there is still a shortfall, repeat step 1
5. if there is still a shortfall, cut classroom budget

School closures, magnet vs. mainstream, north vs. south are all red herrings distracting us from the main issue. THE BOARD AND DCSS HAVE MISMANAGED THE BUDGET FOR YEARS. It's time for a new board, fewer friends and family on the payroll, and a focus on the classroom.

Mary Kay Woodworth said...

Kim, let me be the first - AMEN!

"Cut everything but teachers at the same rate!" would be a start - then take a breath and make serious changes.

Kim Gokce said...

I have not heard anyone advocating the flat cut but I haven't followed the comments closely. If it hasn't been said, it needs to be. The first meeting I can get to, I'd be glad to state it plainly - all the rest is lobbying and politics.

Is there even a way to articulate what the "Non-teaching resource" portion of the budget is in dollars in cents?

Kim Gokce said...

I'm a simple man and here is how I would like to see the argument made ... as an algebraic formula:
$100,000,000 =
PercentageCutRequired x (TotalNonDiscretionaryBudget - TeacherTotalWeightedCost)

Solve for PercentageCutRequired and go home ...

Kim Gokce said...

... sorry, I meant, "TotalDiscretionaryBudget" ...

Cerebration said...

I continue to take issue with the upside-down payscale. Parent centers may be beneficial - but why are we paying these people such high salaries (far more than a veteran teacher)? Because it's an easy placement for friends and family.

Keep the program, but cut those salaries to reflect a market value (are these even 12 month employees?) I know many, many corporate people who do not command this much money. Same for state employees.

On the other hand - maybe I'll apply! Think they'd hire me?

No Duh said...

In advocating cuts to the Parent Centers, one of the anons said, "Nothing can replace direct instruction of students..."

But, one thing can complement direct instruction perfectly, and that is informed/involved parents. I, too, think the PRCs are adding value. But, like Mary Kay, I'd like to know how much value (usage, success stories, etc.). Classic DCSS is to implement nulti-million programs without quantifiable goals and measures. That would NEVER float in the corporate world -- right, Mr. Womack? As a CEO of a corporation, Mr. Womack, did you ever allow your teams to purchase/build/staff/implement programs, products, etc. without a pre-approved agreement as to tangible goals, etc. I doubt it.

And, Mr. Womack should know that most corporations cut budgets as Kim has suggested 10 percent (or whatever is necessary) across the board. The problem with doing this in DCSS is policing of which functions actually cut any spending. They can all submit budgets indicating a 10 percent cut, but they WILL NOT implement it if their lives depended on it! And no one could ever prove the cuts were or weren't made because you can't trust any of the numbers coming out of the finance department. Departments would immediately start changing oranges to apples (job titles, functions, duties, etc.) so you could never compare apples to apples or oranges to oranges. That's how we got in this mess.

Now, if we had an outside auditor overseeing the reductions...that's another story!

Anonymous said...

In lean times, you drop the frills and focus on the basics. Leave the teachers alone. The worst move in DCSS would be to increase class size. Put the coaches and co-ordinators back in the classroom at teacher salaries. Cut the fat in the bloated administration. Don't ya'll know how stupid we look to have more chiefs than indians?

Anonymous said...

Most of these coaches and coordinators in their current jobs because they did not want to be in the classroom. Many have been out of the classroom for years. Do we really want them teaching our kids? I don't. I would rather have my kids in a large class with a good teacher than in a smaller class with a teacher with a bad attitude.

Anonymous said...

Even the best teacher has to struggle when her class is overloaded.

Anonymous said...

Every teacher that I have ever spoken with ( who was candid ) would say that their effectiveness in the classroom is heavily influenced by two factors. 1) the number of students and 2) how varied the students are in their level of ability. It must be very difficult to teach from a high achiever to a struggling student in the same classroom.
However, the younger the child , the less likely that those at the same levels are taught together. I am not sure if this is compacting or inclusionary teaching. But, the more students, the harder this must be for the teacher.
More kids in a classroom, not a good idea.
Oh wait, is this a red herring?

Anonymous said...

The worst teachers my kids have had are those who obviously don't want to be there, who are biding their time until they can afford to go elsewhere or retire. Some of these have been for small, gifted classes yet the kids have learned the bare minimum. I don't want friends of Ms. Tyson back in the classroom.

Anonymous said...

Kim, Early in this process I proposed (twice) in communications to the BOE that they require every non-teaching department to examine themselves and propose a 10% reduction in their own budget. The cut could be FTEs (staff) or programs, or a combindation of the two. I agree that it has been a ridiculous process to have BOE members (who seem to know less than many of the bloggers about departments and programs) trying to pick and chose between specific cuts. I received no response to my emails, one of which I sent very early in the process.

Kim, have you tried communicating your proposals to the BOE and if so, did you get any response?

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, I am expected to stay after school for staff meetings, trainings, PTA, bus duty, athletic events, dances, parent conferences, etc. Note: I said "expected." I routinely purchase supplies, clothes, pay for field trips for students. This is out of my pocket and my time. I certainly don't know how many panels ZR or any of the other board members "choose" to participate in......But she wants to be compensated for her service. I'd like to see a board member vounteer to chaperone a pep ralley!

Kim Gokce said...

@Cerebration: "On the other hand - maybe I'll apply! Think they'd hire me?"

Ditto that! These are very nice salaries and benefits we are talking about. No doubt about it.

However, I still believe that a salary "audit" or "competitive adjustment" is a valid but different debate than I'm engaging in. The debate I'm trying to encourage is about a strategy for how to cut, not what to cut at a micro level.

Why do folks keep beating the class size / teacher ratio drum on this comment thread? There isn't a single voice I've heard on this blog espousing that we cut teachers.

@No Duh: "Now, if we had an outside auditor overseeing the reductions...that's another story!"

Then call Deloitte and let's get started ... If that is the only way we can get and enforce ethical and uniform cuts, then so be it.

This, sadly, would be yet another expense in the efforts of the public to get what it should already be getting for its investment.

@Mary Kay: ""Cut everything but teachers at the same rate!" would be a start - then take a breath and make serious changes."

I do not see any other practical way to move forward. We are wasting precious time and good will with every day that passes and every public meeting (night of the long knives).

Working on a slogan ... Cut clean, cut fair, cut fast, cut no teacher. Is that simple enough?

Who knows what the "discretionary" number is for the total DCSS budget? How much of that $1b + is not cost of teachers?

Do you remember the Pizza Hut commercial, "Five bucks." That was the answer to every customer question. We need the same for departmental budget cuts ... 10% or whatever it needs to be.

Kim Gokce said...

Athletics? 10%
Security? 10%
MIS? 10%

yada, yada, yada ... why not?

Can y'all tell I've lost my patience with the politics of the budget? We have to get past the politics, lobbying, and opinions. We can come right back to the in-fighting when we have a $900m budget.

Cerebration said...


Monday's board meeting is being replayed on Channel 24 right now... they are still in the community speakers section.

(6:30 pm)

Anonymous said...

@ Kim Gocke 2:23 pm and Cerebration

"Is there even a way to articulate what the "Non-teaching resource" portion of the budget is in dollars in cents?"

Here's a fair estimate.

A good place to start is to take a look at what Ms. Tyson says she can save by eliminating teachers. She places an annual value of $65,000 per teacher. I'm sure this includes all the degrees and years of experience and benefits for teachers. For example she says eliminating 20 magnet points (each teacher is a point) is worth $1,300,000 which is $65,000 per teachers. Eliminating 8 DECA points is worth $520,000 which again is $65,000 per teacher. And so forth....

Now take the 7031 teachers and Media Specialists that the Superintendent's Fact sheet says DCSS has and multiply this by $65,000 = roughly $457,000,000 is spent on all schoolhouse personnel who are teachers and Media Specialists. This includes all the Special Ed, Art, Music, PE, etc.

Let's back out the teachers paid for by Title 1 since Title 1 funds aren't going to decrease and aren't listed in the Mr. Turk's budget figures. The state DOE site for DCSS says that around $16,000,000 out of $30,000,000 was spent for Instruction the most recent year available (2007-2008). So let's back out that figure (I'm assuming that the Coaches, certified Parent Facilitators, and some other teachers are paid with by Title 1 funds since that's what DCSS keeps saying).

So $457,000,000 minus the $16,000,000 that Title 1 pays gives us $441,000,000 DCSS expenditure for teachers and Media Specialists.

If you want to add in:
Principals - 154 of them - $18,000,000 - (includes 25% benefits)
Assistant Principals 272 of them - $26,500,000 (includes 25% benefits)
Counselors - 245 of them $22,500,000 ($84,000 each with 25% benefits - much pricier than teachers)
Paraprofessionals - over 600 for $20,000,000

I think this about covers everyone in the schoolhouse who works directly with kids - i.e. the instruction of students.

So our totals are:
Teachers and Media Specialists: $441,000,000
Principals: $18,000,000
Assistant Principals: $26,500,000
Counselors: $22,500,000
Paraprofessionals: $20,000,000
Total: $528,000,000

$528,000,000 for schoolhouse personnel INSIDE the classroom out of a $1,000,000,000 budget (per Cerebration re Marcus Turk's report). $441,000,000 of that is for teacher's salaries and $87,000,000 for Principals, Assistant Principals, Counselors and Paraprofessionals.

According to Cerebration (10:51 am), we have a Consolidated Budget total -- $1,025,968,139
Financial Impact
General Operations - $735,312,225
Special Revenue - $97,519,184
Capital Outlay - $98,945,619
Food Service and Athletics - $48,783,487
Trust and Agency - $45,407,624

That would leave DCSS as spending $542,000,000 OUTSIDE the classroom. Based on these figures (obtained from state and DCSS websites), DCSS spends approximately 54% of every dollar OUTSIDE the classroom. The state of Georgia recommends (but does not enforce) 65% of a school system's expenditure should be INSIDE the classroom while DCSS is averaging around 46%. (Minnesota, who ranks #3 in the nation in SAT scores, already spends 69.2% in the classroom.)

Can DCSS take the $118,000,000 (isn't that the latest figure) out of the $542,000,000 they spend OUTSIDE the classroom?

It will take salary decreases, layoffs, consolidation of jobs (cross training) and outsourcing, but it could and should be done. That $118,000,000 represents about a 21% decrease in spending OUTSIDE the classroom.

That would bring us to $442,000,000 OUTSIDE the classroom which would DCSS to still be spending around 50% outside the classroom (far short of the Georgia recommended 65%).

Instead of trying to figure out how to get DCSS through this recession and keep the current "Job program"intact, Ms. Tyson and the BOe should be crunching the numbers to keep the classroom intact.

Cerebration said...

Wow - Anon 8:25 PM - great math! Hopefully, you are a math teacher!

Seriously - we need to think about this - we are upside down in our spending as far as the classroom goes -

No more cuts to the schoolhouse! There's no need!

Anonymous said...

Significant "point" reductions were announced at many Dekalb schools yesterday and today. One "point" = one teacher, so the implication here could be the loss of teachers and thus larger classes as well as the loss of classes designated advanced. Why was this done without any prior discussion? Where are the accompanying significant reductions across the board in the numerous non-teaching departments? This latest maneuver needs to be publicized and discussed.

Mary Kay Woodworth said...

How do we get this message to them FAST? Make those cuts now across the board to solve the immediate problem.

Once that is completed, go back in right away and enact a lean management plan, finally obtain good demographic info and identify schools that should be consolidated and redistricted, and cut the fat in central office?

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 9:07 pm

No parallel reductions to non-teaching positions. 275 teaching positions lost this year and over 300 next year. It seems only teachers are expendable in DCSS. If they could figure out a way to decrease their student total, they would.

Cerebration said...

If you are all interested in seeking and supporting replacements for our 5 current board members up for reelection, please visit the Yahoo Group below set up by one of our regular participants solely for that purpose -- I hope you'll join the group!

Cerebration said...

Going back-- here's a press release about the offices being moved to the Mtn Industrial Center - and no, it doesn't include the WBBC...

To improve upon best practices and maximize efficiency, DeKalb County School System
is consolidating its administrative buildings and is relocating its central offices and Board
of Education boardroom to a new administrative complex on Mountain Industrial
Boulevard in Stone Mountain.

The new complex, which also houses two DeKalb high schools – DeKalb Early College
Academy and Elizabeth Andrews High School - is located at 1701 Mountain Industrial
Boulevard, Stone Mountain 30083. The departments that will be located in the complex
include, but are not limited to, Superintendent and Board of Education Offices, Area
Assistant Superintendents Offices Assessment & Accountability, Copy Center, Finance,
Governmental Relations, Human Resources, Instruction/Office of School Improvement,
Magnet & Theme School Office, Office of Internal Affairs, Professional Learning, Public
Relations, Research & Evaluation and Student Assignment. These departments were
previously located in four separate locations: DeKalb’s Jim Cherry Center, Clarkston
Center and Robert R. Freeman A/B Administrative Center locations.

DCSS believes the relocation will prove economically efficient through a streamlining of
facility operations. Also the school system anticipates that the relocation will lend itself
to an added accountability within business services as well as strengthened customer

Dekalbparent said...

Anon 5:14 -

I also proposed that they cut a percentage of every non-teaching department. Repeatedly. To each and every Board member. To Ms. Tyson. Via emails and the Budget Suggestion email. Plenty early enough for them to consider it.


I have heard back from Board members when they feel I have insulted or slighted them, or when 'lil 'ole me didn't understand the "Whole Picture".

Never when I made a budget suggestion.

Jeez - every responsible company II have heard of has told department heads, "cut N% - we don't care where - just as long as it has the least effect on the functioning of the company".

According to today's AJC, here is part of what Gwinnett is proposing:

# No salary increases and three furlough days for all employees except bus drivers and food service workers. Savings: $15.6 million.
# Cut district-level operating expenses across the board by 7.5 percent. Savings: $7.5 million.
# Continue a district-level hiring freeze, except for critical need positions. Savings: $8.5 million.

Cobb is considering transportation cuts:

Cobb's school board also discussed plans to cut as many as 200 school buses and require students to walk if they live within 1.5 miles of the school. The district would sell the buses, Sanderson said.

Not shining examples, but they are at least thinking outside the schoolhouse. (Although Cobb is also talking about cutting teachers and cutting the school year by five days.)

Dekalbparent said...

BUT, I have given up believing the budget deciders are listening to anybody.

So, even if we mount a successful effort to replace the 5 BoE members, and get a new Super (with some good deputies) it will be too late to stop the damage. We can only hope it isn't too far along to begin to reverse it.

To borrow a phrase - C? Y?

Square Peg said...

Proposed General Operations budget: $735,312,225. Divide by 97,690 students. That's approximately $7527 per student, which takes us back to a level of spending just under what was spent in 2005-2006, and a bit more than in 2004-2005.

Simple solution: in each department, cut general operations funding back to its 2004-2005 budget level. Seems to me we had an adequate number of teachers then, especially compared to the number we'd have under the budgets being discussed.

Anonymous said...

From 2005-2007 we grew admin and support as we decreased teachers until they are only 44% of our personnel. All 5 of Ms. Tyson's proposals will reduce them further until they are only 41% of DCSS personnel. At the same time our student achievement dropped. I guess they don't see a correlation.

I agree with Kim Gocke. Give the department heads a set figure to reduce expenses - 15% to 20% - they can do it however makes sense for their department, and leave the classroom intact. We'll still have less teachers than we had in 2005 before Lewis came on board, but at least our students will have what they did last year.

Ms. Tyson is a notorious micromanager and Dr. Lewis consolidated a tremendous amount of power in the superintendent's office (witness his grip on Title 1 expenditures rather than the money following the students), so DCSS citizens should not look to her to give any leeway to her department heads.

Anonymous said...

The Parent Resource Centers are the pet project of Mindy DiSalvo (salary: $111,835; travel: $3.563). It is the one thing she talks about in terms of her accomplishments at DCSS. She should be able to supply detailed usage statistics. Her e-mail address is: She also has a web page:
Strangely enough there is nothing there!

Meanwhile, you may want to read Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries.

This study is based on the first large-scale study of who uses public computers and Internet access in public libraries, the ways library patrons use this free technology service, why they use it, and how it affects their lives. It was conducted by the University of Washington Information School and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

For the full report, go to:

This study contains the kind of information that Mindy DiSalvo should have to justify maintaining the Parent Resource Centers.

Anonymous said...

I believe we've already documented that the Parent Resource Centers are far more than just "internet" cafes.

Anonymous said...

Watched the broadcast of the Ap 12 Board Meeting last night. Tom Bowen must be a saint to stay so composed...Some of those on earth are they able to get people to vote for them?

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 11:58

The turnout for BOE elections is very low. In addition, most BOE contenders do not have very deep financial pockets. Name recognition is what many voters go on. When they go to the voting booth, they often vote for whatever name they recognize.

Anonymous said...

If all of GW's meals cost $50, he must have really deep pockets or a huge appetite.

Anonymous said...

I found it very interesting that members of the board felt so strongly about voicing their personal opinions, when we as teachers, are told not to talk to the press and to express only positive comments about DCSS.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 1:48 pm

Walker indeed has deep pockets. While running for DCSS BOE, Walker received substantial campaign contributions from Sembler Company. See AJC article:

Anonymous said...

Lewis has been fired. Now let's work on the BoE and we might have a shot at saving DCSS.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 11:09 AM
I believe we've already documented that the Parent Resource Centers are far more than just "internet" cafes.

And your point is?

My point is that NOTHING regarding the Parent Resource Centers has been documented. Nothing measurable -- not even usage -- has been reported to justify the expense.

The national report I referenced (did you read it?) documents and describes, in detail, how libraries are used and who they serve in the digital age. It appears that DCSS is simply duplicating what is already more widely available and DCSS is not doing it as well. Libraries can go even further in what they offer.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 11:58:
I agree that Bowen must have nerves of steel: ZP's whining; GW 's hungry; JC's clue
less; And I'm not even sure how to describe S C-W ???

Anonymous said...

@ Kim Gocke
re Cross Keys:
"I can't speak for the macro results but I can tell you that in the past four years, the graduation rate at Cross Keys HS has gone from barely 45% to over 80%. Something is working ...
Graduation rates have gone up, but SAT scores (a nationally normed test) have gone down. Why are SAT scores down from 2005-06 if the Cross Keys students are achieving so much more? What does this say about the integrity of the graduation rate in DCSS and in particular Cross Keys?

2005 - 06: Math and Verbal - 895
2006 - 07: Math and Verbal - 929
2007 - 08: Math and Verbal - 868
2008 - 09: Math and Verbal - 852

Kim Gokce said...

@anon 2:50pm: "The national report I referenced (did you read it?) documents and describes, in detail, how libraries are used and who they serve in the digital age."

I read it and it reports many wonderful uses for Library Internet resources. Providing web access isn't what the Parent Resource Centers are there for - please don't latch onto one item mentioned and make it a case.

The Parent Resource Centers are also training resources. They offer coaching and classes in parenting skills, in how to interact with the public school system, in language, and other areas that support successful student performance by empowering parents who are less than prepared to succeed.

Which library offers this? I go to Brookhaven, Chamblee, and the newly renovated one near Toco (very nice!) and haven't seen anything like these resources in DeKalb libraries.

"Nothing measurable -- not even usage -- has been reported to justify the expense. "

The Parent Resource Centers do report the type of usage data you are talking about on a monthly basis. I'm sure if you really need that data compiled for your use, you can get with a diligent and patient effort.

My cursory investigation at my school house makes it pretty obvious to me these are valuable services. If you would like to met me at the school for a follow-up discussion, I suspect the staff would welcome the interest.

How valuable is this program? Well, I guess that is why this debate exercise with few facts seems to continue ... some think "a lot value," others think "none at all" but no one has facts.

Is to! Ain't! Is! ... Is this really a useful discussion?

Kim Gokce said...

@anon 10:01pm "Why are SAT scores down from 2005-06 if the Cross Keys students are achieving so much more? What does this say about the integrity of the graduation rate in DCSS and in particular Cross Keys?"

Well, those are good questions. You have a couple of things in there all at once but here goes ...

I am not privy to any special information but it seems to me that the more at risk kids that stay in school, the more likely your average SAT scores are going to dip. Isn't this intuitive?

By having a higher retention rate of our freshman through to graduation in recent years, we are by definition testing students that in past years were dropping out of the school and the test scores. While I'm sure many of these kids do just fine, I have to believe that the average SAT among these groups would be lower.

How's that? That's all I've got to offer on SAT at CK. I just don't have data.

As far as what Cross Keys students are accomplishing, it is an extraordinary thing to witness first person. Every school has standout students and Cross Keys is no different in that regard - why should it be?

What is unique about Cross Keys is the diversity and the incredible learning environment created by the students and the faculty. And this, in a facility condemned universally, in a cluster plagued by poverty and other challenges. I have yet to meet a person who, after taking time with the students, has not become a complete zealot for these young people.

This school has done much in obscurity and is now getting some long overdue respect and love from the "outside." Am I biased? Hell yes ...

Kim Gokce said...

One other thought on graduation rates vs SAT trends ... how about this ... you don't need a SAT to graduate, you need a GHSGT score. I suspect the focus has been on the GHSGT to help kids "move on" rather than on SAT prep which "only" helps them look better to colleges.

I don't know but I suspect if we pull the GHSGT data for the same years, they will show a trend upward.

We really, really need to take in the whole picture of our public schools before jumping on one data point.

Kim Gokce said...

Oh! And one other thought on the aggregate SAT averages you shared, Anon. During those same years, the number of ELL students of Mexican origin also climbed. I suspect that had an impact on the SAT results, especially for English.

Cross Keys is a really, really complicated case and unique in DeKalb - perhaps not useful as an example for DCSS writ large. Don't look for an easy explanation for anything here. It took me about a year of weekly interaction to figure out this reality.

Dan M. said...

Parent Resource Centers are a LUXURY when the school budget is in a $100,000,000 deficit!!

The smart solution, if we had a smart BOE, would be to fund them with foundation and grant money. AppleCorps in Atlanta is the best example in the state. Our BOE has a duty to set up something similar in DeKalb. We can't expect our property taxes and a penny sales tax to fund every single school system need. And whomever writes grants for DCSS is NOT GETTING THE JOB DONE!

Yes, PRC's have value, but they cannot take precedence over the incredibly unproductive Ramona Tyson startegy of increasing class sizes.

If we're going to have Parent Resource Centers in DCSS, they better be fully or partially funded by by outside sources.

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