Thursday, April 29, 2010

So...DeKalb will close 12 schools in 2 years

How's this for some hard-hitting news -- According to today's AJC,

By Megan Matteucci
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

DeKalb County remains committed to closing a dozen schools over the next two years, the school board chairman said Wednesday night.

Former DeKalb Superintendent Crawford Lewis said two months ago that he planned to close as many as 10 to 12 schools. In the past few weeks, however, school board members have wavered on whether it is necessary to close schools.

On Wednesday, school board Chairman Tom Bowen confirmed that schools will be closed and the list is not isolated to the schools identified by the Citizens Planning Task Force.

We have 11,000 empty seats. We will have a total of 12 schools -- elementary, middle and high -- that will close,” Bowen said. “Just because your school was removed from the list doesn’t mean it won’t be closed.”

The proposed fiscal year 2011 budget includes closing four schools. The closings are needed to help with an expected shortfall of $115 million.

Bowen’s announcement alarmed some of the more than 300 parents, teachers and students who attended Wednesday’s budget hearing.

“The school closing process is just lost. You’ve opened yourself up to litigation,” said David Schutten, president of the Organization of DeKalb Educators. “I really believe the litigation is going to cost more than you save because of the way you handled this process.”


Cerebration said...

Also - be sure to check out the link on the side panel labeled "Mark Your Calendar" -- for an up to date listing of meetings related to DeKalb Schools;

Anonymous said...

The talk of closing schools is the BOE's way of distracting us while they butcher schoolhouse programs across the county. Why was that the only info to hit the news after last night's meeting? Any other tidbits to share?

Ella Smith said...

How about the principal buying all the books of a county office employee. The principal was from Miller Grove High School. The writer used to be the principal at Miller Grove High School. The principal bought $10,000.00 worth of books with taxpayers money without all the red tape. The school is investigating it.

Anonymous said...

It all goes back to leadership. This whole school closing business should have been managed better. If you really look at all of the budget proposals, you might see what I see. There is no way to get $115 million in budget cuts without closing schools AND cutting programs. The schools that are consolidated may actually have more resources and instructional staff than the small schools that are allowed to stay open. All of those budget proposals that were presented earlier this year give the impression that we have some choices to make. We don't!

Kim Gokce said...

I wish Mr. Bowen did not use the "11,000 empty seats" figure again. We heard at ELPC that the real figure is at least 2,000 below that because Briarcliff High School and a couple of other empty schools were left on the inventory at State by County error. Nonetheless, many thousands of empty seats ...

I wonder what smart group of school communities are going to get in front of the BoE and say, "Consolidate our schools!"

I think the Brookhaven/Chamblee/Doraville crowd would be very wise to seriously talk about this as a long-term vision for our area. Can you imagine if our communities actually worked together to present to the Board our vision for a single High School Cluster?

Call me crazy but I'd love to see one Uber HS at Doraville near GM site or at Briarcliff HS or at CKHS. One Uber ES in exchange for Montgomery/Kittridge/HH (convert them to parks/rec centers), keep 4 of the 5 existing big ESes along Buford Hwy, and create a new Uber MS close to Buford somewhere ... et voila!

5 or 6 ESes total instead of 8, 2 MSes brand new, and one honking HS brand new instead of 2 (3, if you count Briarcliff). Who's with me?

How smart would we be? Oh well ...

Anonymous said...

Pertaining to the school closures.
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. More recently was Nancy Creek elementary.
High schools closed and converted to other facilties were Henderson High, Shamrock High, Sequoyah 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 benefited from all of the new construction for years.
I work in one of those new facilities myself in South DeKalb.

School closings are a necessity sometimes.
Putting history aside, the argument over closing schools is distracting everyone from the main issue.
If we took care of the bloat and nepotism at the central level, we might not need to close so many schools. If we are fighting with one another or bringing up a North –South debate as some did at the recent meeting, then that will take away from the main problem we need to solve.
The Board will be happy with our distraction.

Kim Gokce said...

Ack! I forgot about Ashford Park ES in my brillant plan. That's even more savings - 5 or 6 ESes instead of 9!

Oh well ...

Kim Gokce said...

@Anon 9:54

Even though it was a bit earlier, you can add Brookhaven ES and Jim Cherry ES to that list of closed schools in our district. For that matter, the "colored" school at Lynwood Park that served 1-12.

I completely agree with you that the North/South thing is a complete waste of time and politically driven. But not consolidate our school plant?

I just don't see how we can sustain the plant (we haven't before) in the future nepotism or no.

For me, this is not about making the 2011 budget. I am interested in actually making our system modern, cost efficient and amenity-rich.

Kim Gokce said...

It took the system and us 10 years to do half of what is necessary at Cross Keys. When will we finish that other 1/2??? What will Chamblee HS get and when? Dunwoody HS? Lakeside HS?

I am tired of seeing folks move out of this County because of the school plant. I want our communities drawing families and employers that STAY.

Even I cringe when I look at the plant in neighboring counties. I never want to leave Brookhaven but for Pete's sake, how long are we supposed to have second class facilities and find it acceptable?

Dan M. said...

The school closings may be necessary, but will save only a fraction of the $100 mil deficit. It is extremely disappointing and frustrating that Tyson refuses to make the overdue and necessary heavy cuts to MIS, which built up exponentially under her watch. Same goes with the Central Office, school police, and almost all of the staff who report to Gloria Talley and Deborah Rives. Clearly, Ramona Tyson, the other upper high level administrators, and the Board of Ed still don't believe that administration staff and related expenses throughout the system need to be cut much more dramatically than so far proposed.

Heck, some BOE'ers won't even take a small reduction of their stipends.

Anonymous said...

@ Dan M 10:38 pm

Ms. Tyson has the Ernst and Young Compensation and Classification study done under Dr. Brown that asserted that thousands of non-teaching employees are over compensated. Maybe she needs to take another look at it.

pscexb said...

@ Anonymous 12:47 AM

True, she has access to the study however it is woefully outdated. It was said this analysis should be done about every 5 years.

Citizens should request this study be done again. The BOE considered this recently however were apprehensive about making the investment necessary to do this. In part they got feedback from some citizens that this was not necessary and would not be a good use of taxpayer dollars.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if taxpayers saw the study they paid for they would have the chance to make that decision with more information.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the BOE should have GSU do a study, given that their fee is qute a bit less.

Then again, maybe they fear GSU would find DCSS just as bloated as they found DeKalb government (shocking idea, I know).

Or maybe Ernst & Young got the contract before based on "connections," so contracting with someone else would be out of the question (again, a shockling thought).

Anonymous said...

Any news yet on the Central Office layoffs? What are the 150 positions?

Anonymous said...

DeKalb Chamber of Commerce to Announce Important Education Initiative for DeKalb County School Board

DeKalb County business, community and civic stakeholders will announce details of a new education initiative that will affect the DeKalb Board of Education election process. The initiative will address the governance of the DeKalb School System and the academic future of more than 100,000 students.

Please join us for this important news conference at 11am, Tuesday, May 4, 2010 in the Community Room at the Cornerstone Bank, 125 Clairemont Ave, Decatur, GA 30030. Public parking is available in the parking deck off Clairemont Avenue.

Anonymous said...

The school is investigating? Does that mean the subject of the investigation is also the target of the investigation? Or does that mean that the board is investigating?

Anonymous said...

Oh looky:

Looks like Pat Pope will get off scott free

No Duh said...

We don't need to close schools or pay for another compensation study. Here's what you do (and it's completely free)...

Get a piece of paper. Write "Adds Value" and "Doesn't Add Value" on the top and draw a line down the middle.

Ask the teachers which central office staff members actually add value to their lives and which ones do not. Have the teachers use the staff members' names. Write what the teachers say on the piece of paper you prepared.

Rank the names by the number of times they were mentioned -- on both sides of the paper.

Lay Off or fire the people who are on the "Doesn't Add Value" side of the paper -- starting at the top of the list. That way you don't have to lose a whole functional area, but you'll know where your personnel dollars are being wasted.

Hand a raise or a promotion to the people at the top of the "Adds Value" list and hold them up as examples of the types of employees DCSS will keep and nurture in the future.


Cerebration said...

Right on, No Duh! It ain't rocket science to cut the darn budget...

Say - Anon 2:03 PM - what's up with the Chamber? This is fascinating!

Ella Smith said...

I just wonder what that meeting is all about.

Could it be that they are going to get more involved and invest in our children's future with their donations to make changes.

Ella Smith said...

I do not know about the investigation about the books. I just heard about it on the news and thought it was interesting.

Teacher said...

Without denying that we have too many administrators, I as a teacher am very concerned over how the layoffs of people who work in DCSS are being handled. There is no excuse for delaying telling the 150 people which ones will lose their jobs. Except for the top administrators at the new and improved County Office who are often in the news and are occupied fulltime with doing absolutely nothing that benefits the kids, most of the Central Office staff who will be fired are just regular people doing a mundane job, with no pdecision-making ower, and with the same right to respect as anyone.

Also, I was shocked to discover that teachers at Fernbank Science Center, who provide direct science education to thousands of children each year throughout DCSS, have not yet been offered their usual contracts like all the other teachers in DCSS. They, too, are waiting for the ax to fall.

It can't be legal to treat this one small group of teachers differently from all other teachers in the County, by withholding their contracts.

Board and Administrators! You already know who's going to be fired--or else you couldn't know how much money you will "save." Bite the bullet, man up, and just TELL THE DCESS EMPLOYEES WHO'S GOING TO GO!! There's a hiring freeze everywhere near Atlanta for teachers now, so the Fernbank teachers have lost that opportunity. How much longer will you make Central Office staff wait?

Anonymous said...

The Dekalb Chamber has had enough of how the problems with the school system are affecting the business climate and property values.

They are going to do what was done by the Atlanta Chamber a while back and create a non-profit whose purpose is to find, vet, educate in proper governance, and endorse school board candidates.

I'm a bit distressed that none of the regular posters to this blog knew about this effort--something similar was very effective in turning around Atlanta City Schools some time back.

Cerebration said...

I'm wondering why none of us knew about this effort either. If anyone knows of something written about it that we can publish as a post, please email it to us -

I will say - I'm relieved!!!

Ella Smith said...

I did say something Celeb. The group I talked to you about is this group.

Cerebration said...

Ok, thanks Ella. I wondered if that could be who this group is... glad to hear it! Tell them to send us any info they want known publicly. We'll be happy to publish.

Anonymous said...

@ Teacher 5:49 pm

The top administrators at the Central Office are politicians, not educators. They are waiting to see which way the wind blows.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Anon, 5:49, for pointing out that the last few months have been really stressful for the hard working Central Office folks who still don't know if they have jobs. And you are correct that no one at Fernbank Science Center has been told if they will be employed in a few months. Many of these folks are teachers and I suspect some may be pursuing employment elsewhere. So, after all this, DCSS my lose some of its strongest science educators. And I would guarantee that losts of Central Office adminstrators will still be employed.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8:35 pm
I don't believe the 29 Fernbank Science teachers (as contrasted to the 33 support personnel at Fernbank Science Center) will be going anywhere. The affluent Fernbank community has a lot of influence. Those groundskeepers will keep a pristine green space for the Fernbank community.

Anonymous said...

My former principal bought cookbooks published by Sanders-Butler and inspirational books by Lonnie Edwards

Anonymous said...

I know several really talented teachers in DeKalb, at schools and at Fernbank Science Center, who are intending to leave careers in teaching. They are so fed up with the way the budget situation has been handled and drawn out, that they are taking higher paying jobs in the private sector. I can't really blame them but am very worried about who will be teaching my kids in the coming years. Good teachers will leave and our kids will be taught by Central Office administrators who have been forced back into the clasroom. Really sad.

Cerebration said...

Sad to hear that - but I must say - they are lucky to find a higher paying job in the private sector - the private sector's been burning out for quite a while now...

Anonymous said...

There are jobs out there, and it is not hard to beat a teacher's salary, especially after a 6% pay cut. Several folks have jumped to private schools, too.

Anonymous said...

I recently sat in on a presentation to a group of elementary school students by a Fernbank instructor. Underwhelming is the most positive word I can use to describe the situation. Even the kids were bored.

To the comment about the central office, when the decision was made to layoff 150ish employees rather than 38 displacements, jobs were not longer guaranteed for those laid off. In face, first year teachers were given contracts, after initially being told that they wouldn't be because the system needed to accommodate those displaced central office employees.

Anonymous said...


Do you or anyone else know or have the link to the story about the 10,000 book purchase made by Miller Grove High school Principal S. Thedford. The books were books written by Miller Grove High former Principal R Simpson and very personal friend.

Anonymous said...

The state of science education throughout our country, is mediocre at best, and in the state of Georgia, it is downright bad. Yes, there are some very good science teachers out there but in general, there are many, even some teaching AP and IB classes who do not have a good grasp on the material and cannot teach it effectively to the kids. If you look at math and science IB and AP scores across schools, they are lower, on average, than scores for AP/IB English and History. We cannot afford to lose any qualified science teachers and we need many more!

Anonymous said...

10:47. I agree- science education in DeKalb is dismal. My children have not had a decent science teacher since 6th grade. Many of our high schools do not offer some of the AP science courses because there is no one certified and qualified to teach them.

ALL the Fernbank Science Center teachers need to be in our middle and high schools teaching biology, chemistry and physics and mentoring the other teachers in those schools. Our students are suffering.

Anonymous said...


Ralph Simpson is more than a former principal (that makes it sound like he is retired), rather is an area superintendent still working for the system.

I think it was on TV rather than the AJC as I think that was what I understood from the person who was telling me the story.

Title 1 monies were used, so I am sure that will be the excuse.

I wonder if the feds have a Title 1 ombudsman, someone that we could ask for an audit?

Where will I be Teaching next year? said...

In a recent meeting, teachers at our high school were told that the county plans on cutting about 12 teachers from our staff. Other principals were given the same information to share with their staff, I'm sure.
Just what will be done with these teachers ? Who knows??????
The county seems to be waiting until the last possible date to inform employees of career/ life changing decisions that we have no voice in. What's the hold up?????????

Anonymous said...

A group of parents has asked repeatedly if teacher contracts would be honored until June 2011. We have been told yes over and over again.

Additionally, there is a distinct impression that resignations/retirements/now-renewals were far below hoped for levels. So, there are more teachers (at least at the k-8 level) than earned points.

I am less clear on the situation at the high school level, but keep in mind that at middle and high school, certification matters. So if the system finds they have 6 extra high school English teachers (in other words, teachers that are unearned), but needs 4 high school math teachers, it isn't a wash. The math teachers will have to be hired.

Of course, this doesn't mean that every teacher will be working where they are this year or where they want to work. It also doesn't mean that as teachers quit during the school year that "unearned" teachers won't be moved to fill those vacancies. (They will be.)

This is why Fulton, Cobb etc are laying off teachers. As a parent, I am hopeful that not much will change next year in terms of numbers of adults in most buildings, but I am very concerned about 2011-2012.

Anonymous said...

If we don't keep the pressure on Ms. Tyson and the BOE, they will cut teachers to the bone and our students will be left with enormous class sizes. She really doesn't get that parents want a higher ratio of teachers, not a higher ratio of administrative and support personnel. She also doesn't get that parents want personnel OUTSIDE the schoolhouse to decrease not INSIDE the schoolhouse where she plans most of her reductions.

The AJC said the Ernst and Young auditors told the BOE that over 2,500 out of 7,300 DCSS non-teaching staff were being overpaid.

Why doesn't she adjust their salaries so be competitive with the marketplace and keep teachers?

Or why doesn't she just tell all non-teaching departments to cut back by 10% and then keep our teachers?

Email Ms. Tyson and the BOE with these suggestions.

Anonymous said...

I've been hearing talk of non-renewals to eliminate teachers. My son's school has teachers who have 10 and 15 years of service with DCSS and have always gotten good evaluations - he has had some of these teachers and they were excellent.

This year those same teachers have been getting Needs Improvement marks and put on plans of improvement. What the administration wants to change I don't know, and I'm really a little concerned that the principal would want to change a successful teacher. I'm wondering now if same of these teachers are being set up to not get renewed so they can legally "thin the ranks" of our teachers.

I think the DCSS administration planned this last fall by telling the principals and APs to give more Needs Improvements during their observations. Using those Needs Improvements they can get rid of teachers they deem excess personnel. Parents aren't as dumb as they seem to think we are.

DCSS administration considers teachers excess personnel, parents and students consider them our teachers. The difference in how we describe these individuals speaks volumes.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the info,and yes I know he still works for dekalb. I meant he was the former principal for Miller Grove High. will try and fine it. If you have a link please post it.

I am writing a letter to the district attorney and SACS requesting an audit.

the former bookkeeper was transfer for question funds being spent on things like this with more personal gain to employee friends than the students at the school.

He opened Miller Grove High. He came back for my son's graduation (class of 2008)

He should have donated the books. The school has a much bigger need for books and material for required reading by the state for graduation credits.

That money could have better been served for literature books.

It is unethical if not illegal

Anonymous said...

They paid out Lewis contract so they should pay out the teacher contracts for these schools that are closing.

Pat Pope is still on payroll living out her contract

Cerebration said...

Anon, 10:36 PM, I caught the story about the books on the television news recently, but haven't been able to find anything more online. Will keep looking. It's a blatant misuse of funds... what on earth would they need 10,000 copies of a book for? Maybe it was only 1,000? Let's keep looking for the real story on this.

Cerebration said...

As far as pay scales go - we discussed this looooong ago in the Mr. Potato Head post (click on PH on the side panel to read the report by Kim & Ella). It's very obvious that our employees are well-paid even when compared to state employees with similar job functions. I do think this needs addressed. Apparently, the number reported in the original AJC article amounts to about $5000-6000 per position. The solution is simple - identify overpaid staff and stop any increases to these folks until their pay scales are equalized to the market.

Anonymous said...

Not sure Cere that is why I am trying to find the story. As a parent at Miller Grove High who has spent very close to $100 for required readings in AP British Lit I am furious. I believe it was 1,000 books at $10 each totallying 10,000 in Title I money

Dr Simpson was an awesome Principal and is a great motivaitonal speaker. They kids love him still, but I do not think school funds should have been used to purchase his books.

This was just another example of how Dr Thedford misuses the power and authority that come with her position.

He bailed out the school some years back by writing a check out of his personal fund to pay for yearbooks.

Thedford should have done the same if she wanted to pay the favor back or score some brownie points for the numerous times he has used his influence to save or butt after she screwed up.

Anonymous said...

But Simpson shouldn't have allowed the purchase.

Again, if anyone hears of teachers having contracts revoked, please let us know. As I stated earlier, parents have asked repeatedly and been assured that for the 2010-2011 school year, all contracts will be honored.

As to the closing schools, assuming that a teacher wasn't non-renewed for performance, they were given a contract and will be moved to another school.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:45
That's the point of non-renewals. Just non-renew a teacher's contract and then don't replace them. Problem solved for the administration, but not for our students. This is exactly why the administration pressured the principals go give so many Needs Improvement (NI) marks. That way they would non-renew and everything would work out in that teachers would be gone from the school and positions not refilled. Very efficient and very cost effective way to decrease the teaching staff who instruct our kids with a lot of cover for their rear ends - just say this teacher was not effective (and show NIs to prove it), don't renew his contract. Then they also don't fill that vacant teaching position. Very slick move on the part of the administration. They don't have to say they cut anyone. They just weren't renewed for non-performance. They'll give their kids to the remaining teachers which pumps up the class size. But they figure the remaining teachers won't dare say anything and parents will never figure this one out.

You should see some of the teachers who are getting Needs Improvements. This has been happening to CTSSs as well. Notice that CTSSs are another group of school based employees who are getting their ranks thinned. I'll bet many will be let go for "non-performance" due to Needs Improvement. Less lawsuits and less hassle for the administration. I know the school based group paraprofessionals are being cut too.

CTSSs and parapros and teachers - have you guys noticed an increase of Needs Improvement (NIs) and Contract non-renewals in your schools as well?

Teachers, CTSSs and parapros are the hardest hit groups (of course the very people who work in the schoolhouse with our kids). Are you guys seeing this practice of giving lots of NIs and then using that as a basis of non-renewals in your buildings?

Anonymous said...

About those teacher contracts. My first principal used to stand up in faculty meeting and remind everyone that they were signing with the school system and not the school. If the school system determined that their services were needed elsewhere they would be reassigned. It does happen occasionally.

When a school has more teachers than are needed, the principal is notified that a teacher needs to be transferred. The principal is also given a list of schools where the teacher might go. Principals usually ask for volunteers first. Sometimes an experienced teacher will volunteer, if there is an opening at a school she would like to work at. If there are no volunteers, the last person hired in the subject area is transferred.

This is an unusual year. This process may be different this year because of the large number of teachers who are being displaced.

The other thing to keep in mind about contracts is this. Teachers are hired to work from August through May. Their 10-month salary is divided by 12 months so that teachers get paid during the summer. Teachers have filled their contracted teaching time when school ends in May. DCSS is not paying out any contracts for classroom teachers.

Anonymous said...

That seems very unfair to teachers. It would have been better to cut a teacher is he is being un-renewed as an end run around problems for the administration. If he goes looking for another teaching job, he will have to answer in his employment application that his contract was not renewed. I would not want to work for a school system I could not trust.

Anonymous said...

I was one of those last hired first moved teachers in the 80s (retired now - thank goodness). However, I did have a job, and more importantly for the kids in DCSS, they had a 4th grade teacher since my position was not eliminated from the county.

It's not right though to increase the non-performance ratings so you can let a lot of teachers go and then not replace them. Ms. Tyson can then say truthfully that she didn't cut teachers. No - she didn't cut teachers - she just didn't renew their contracts and then didn't fill their positions.

The numbers work out the same for students - too many students with too few teachers. That's the bottom line effect, it's just less political pressure for DCSS administration to do it that way. I guess she figures parents won't figure that one out.

That is the opposite of transparency. That's called "pulling the wool over someone's eyes". It's certainly makes a good sound bite for the media "we didn't cut any teachers". No - you just got rid of a bunch of them through resignations, retirement, and non-renewals and then didn't give the children anyone to replace them.

Anonymous said...

Gwinnett is supposedly doing a ton of non-renewals on top of not giving teachers with less than 3 years experience contracts.

Rumors about non-renewals are rampant across the state. The AJC has put forth a call for non-renewed teachers to come forward and tell their stories for an article. I imagine though that there won't be any talkers.

My understanding, as of a few months ago, was that principals had recommended about 200 teachers for non-renewal and that the central office folks whittled the list down to below 150.

I don't have the answers. As a parent, I am looking for an exit strategy from public school for my children by the end of next year. I am gravely concerned about class size and moving to a strong school system will no longer solve the other issues.

Cerebration said...

In answer to your question way up at the top there, Kim - I'll suggest some ideas for consolidation in my area --

Sell Heritage to the county for a park.
Redraw attendance lines for Oak Grove - there are natural boundaries for attendance - Oak Grove Road and Lavista. Oak Grove is extremely crowded - send those east of Lavista and north of Pangborn to Briarlake, send those west of Oak Grove Rd and south of Fair Oaks to Sagamore and then put the pre-K and K in the Coralwood facility - it's a very nice, large school with only 75 students as far as I can tell. It would be a great experience for everyone.

Cerebration said...

There was also a discussion at the ELPC meeting about the possibility of selling Druid Hills HS to Emory and building a brand new, campus-like facility on the North Druid HIlls Rd (former Briarlake HS) property. This property includes Adams Stadium and has better access for commuters. This property could also include a performing arts school (with an auditorium for community events as well). There's a whole lot of land here. Not a bad idea actually...

Anonymous said...

I'm a parent with a question for teachers about the rules: if a teacher was offered a contract in March and signed it, can he/she be nonrenewed now? Or if a teacher who already signed a contract has less than 3 years with the system, can he/she be laid off at this point?

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 12:46

Unfortunately, teacher contracts only run one way in Georgia. If you sign a teaching contract and then want to break it, you are bound to the county unless they decide you can break it or you can have your certificate revoked. If you sign a teaching contract and the county decides to break it, they can break it with no consequences.

A few years ago Gwinnett overestimated the number of teachers they needed. After school started, they broke contracts right and left as they laid off teachers. I read about it in the news, and my daughter who was a new DCSS teacher had two friends who were teachers in Gwinnett that this happened to. It worked out okay for her friends. One got a job in Clayton Co., and one got a job in Atlanta Public. Their new jobs were closer to what they originally had wanted in grade level and content area.

I'm a retired teacher from DCSS and in in the 30 years I taught I didn't know that the contract only worked one way. I was shocked.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 12:33 pm

You and lot of parents are looking for an exit strategy, and looking at our decreasing numbers of students (101,000 down to 97,000). As student numbers have gone down, teacher numbers have gone down. What has gone up? Admin and support numbers.

At this point DCSS has 8,500 admin and support and 7,000 teachers and media specialists (per superintendents fact sheet on DCSS website.

That's 1.21 admin and support employees for every teacher. Do you think your children and their teachers get great support from this incredible number of admin and support? I guess the answer is no since you and so many others are looking for an exit strategy.

Anonymous said...

The story on Carol Thedford can be found on the WSB-TV 2 website. I found it on the right hand side under popular stories. You must scroll down to locate the title beginning with Principal and both pictures are shown. (Thedford and Simpson)

Ella Smith said...

Actually teachers break their contracts after signing them all the time. It can be done but it must be handled appropriately.

Special permissions are given for teachers to break their contract as long as the contract is broken before I believe July 1st. After July 1st it becomes much harder to break a contract as a teacher however it can be done with special permission and a letter from the school system you are leaving. A teacher does need a good cause to break a contract but it can be broken with cause.

I have heard for that the numbers are higher than 2,000 because of all the small grade schools with small numbers in certain areas of the county. However, the numbers you guys have may be correct.

I am curious also what the big announcement will be on Tuesday. I suspect I already know but I am curious to find out the truth about the announcement.

Anonymous said...

The problem with teacher contracts is that they do a good job of protecting schools and school systems. There really isn't much protection for teachers. They can even lower your salary under certain conditions.

Anonymous said...

I think the question was whether a school system can break a teacher's contract, and the answer is yes. They can decide they have too many teachers.

Cerebration said...

Well ain't that some stuff...

here's the link -

There we are, wedged between the report on the dead guy they posed on his motorcycle at his funeral... the cop who had the husband of his lover arrested and jailed on false pretenses... and the guy who says he hasn't eaten in 70 years.

Good company, eh?

Dekalbparent said...

Today we received the results of the Georgia Work Ready test my child took at DHHS about 3-4 weeks ago, and I question 1)why a part of the instructional day was spent administering this test to the entire senior class, 2) who decided it should be done that way and 3) is this driven by the state or by the county? Either way, it is our tax dollars that pay for it. The test is a product of ACT, so not only did we pay to purchase it it, we are most likely paying a yearly renewal fee.

I have posted about the Work-Ready program before - I think it is quite worthwhile if potential employers accept the results as proof that a person is capable of meeting the requirements for a job.

I have the same questions about giving the PSAT to everybody.

Anonymous said...

I saw the video and it seems to me that whom ever is involved should go. Our school district cannot afford to make such purchases in the financial condition that we are in.

I am tired of underhanded spending like this. This time it's been exposed. How many times, have purchases like this gone without notice?

Anonymous said...

If Miller Groove had any kind of money to spend, one would think the money should have been spent helping the students pass their EOCTs and GHGTs, bringing up their SAT scores and improving their general all around academic position(tutors). This is not a top-notched school. This idiot buys books from a “friend” – the students and teachers do not use the ones that they have.Those parents at Miller Grove need to demand that those books are returned and money is refunded. I am so sick of the Southside parents not acting on things that they know are wrong and the administrators on the Southside doing stupid stuff when they know it is our kids who are going to suffer the most.

Ella Smith said...

I think taking the PSAT early is important to students. However, I think parents can also pay for it early if necessary particularily in tough economy times. It really does help the students in preparing them for taking the SAT. Other counties did this long before Dekalb to try to pull up their SAT scores.

As far as giving NI to teachers and letting teachers go. It is my understanding that their has been a possible trend in giving NIs to older teachers with big paychecks. Some of these teachers have never had bad evaluations before. After two years the school system can let them go and pull in younger teachers who cost them less money. Now I do not know if this is happening. I surely hope it is not. However, I do see signs of funny things happening in Fulton County. Teachers with 22, 11, 15, years of experience have a bad evaluation year and have never had this before and get RIF letter or let go. I have totally been in shock. I have team taught with some of these teachers. Some of them are fine Science Teachers that I would love for my son to have as a teacher. I am in shock.

It is no longer true that a principal cannot get rid of a bad teacher. After two years of bad evaluations a teacher can be let go also. The principal just has to document. In Dr. Lewis' defense I do know he was after principals to document any teachers that were not proforming. This is one thing I know he was doing well.

I think we have some fine Science teachers in Dekalb County. However they do not have adequate material in their classrooms to teacher science. I am extremely supportive of the Fernback Science Center. However, I am more supportive of appropriate science material in every classroom so every science teacher can teach science appropriately. Now I am at a Charter Science High School and when I go to my son's high school science labs I am in shock. My son goes to Lakeside. The teachers at Lakeside do not have the facilities and definitely do not have the material. I know. I used to team teach at Lakeside in Biology.

I agree that the teachers at Fernback need to know. However, if they are going to private schools to teach I bet they are taking a cut in salary. Public school teachers 95% of the time make more money than private school teachers. Most public school teachers cannot afford to teach in private school if they are teaching because they need the money. The salary is normally significant lower in private schools.

I know many teachers who want to go somewhere else right now. In fact most teachers are unhappy and want to go somewhere else. The moral of teachers is horrible everywhere currently. Something has got to be done about how we get our tax money to run our schools so this does not happen again.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 4:47 pm

The news report said Miller Grove is a Title 1 school. Was Title 1 money used to purchase these books?

This is really nothing new in DCSS. People often buy good and services in DCSS from friends and relatives. Look at Fanny Tartt's son Alduan Tartt hired for big bucks as a motivational speaker. DCSS is never about competence. It's about relationships.

Anonymous said...

Miller Grove High is the Taj mahal compared to Cross Keys and Lakeside.

Dale Davis of course blamed the $10,000 on Crawford. Well, at the time, Ramona Tyson was in charge of Business and Administration, and marcus Turk was the CFO as he is now. How in the @#$% did this shady purchase sail by them without anyone blinking an eye?

The new super needs to entirely clear house, including Tyson and Turk. And carol Thetford better be fired.

Cerebration said...

I know, I had trouble focusing on the story because I was so overwhelmed at how gorgeous the facility is at Miller Grove. Folks, for comparison, watch the MG video

and then watch our slideshow of the Cross Keys facility -

and then tell me how these two schools can be in the same school system - under the same leadership?

Anonymous said...

Notice Bishop Eddie Long's name on the front cover of the book? It appears that he wrote the Foreword.

Anonymous said...

Ella Smith is correct. The moral of Dekalb teachers is at an all time low. The biggest problem in Dekalb right now is that the BOE has many tough decisions to make and they are too weak to decide anything. Instead, of making tough decisions and sticking to them, they appoint a "special task" force to make decisions for them. Instead of choosing whether or not to cut Pre-K programs they sent all Pre-K teachers a letter in March instead of a contract. The letter stated that the county was "re-evaluating the salary" for the Pre-K teaching position and that Pre-K teachers would get a contract in April. Hence, there were 100 or so certified, highly qualified teachers with various years of experience in limbo for a month while the board twiddled their thumbs. They eventually gave those teachers the same contract with 6.25% pay decreases, but unneccesarlily made them suffer and worry and look for other jobs that just aren't out there for almost a month. They also made parents and schools worry over school closings that still haven't been decided upon. They aren't decided on what to do with the art and music programs being cut or reduced to half time across the county. They are undecided about which paraprofessionals will be leaving. Since paras don't sign contracts they may not know if they have a job until they walk into school in August. Parents, teachers and other staff are unable to make crucial life decisions. We must put our lives on hold and sit and worry while the board sits and twiddles their thumbs.

Cerebration said...

Well, they are not twiddling their thumbs, they really are under a lot of stress and pressure. The problem is that too many of these decisions could have political repercussions and five of them are up for reelection in November. So much of what they say and do is simply political posturing and ends up simply wasting time.

You are right, they need to go ahead and make some tough decisions - but in my opinion, they are just going after the biggest, easiest, lowest-hanging fruit to pick - teachers. They need more in-depth data regarding how many non-teaching employees there are, what they contribute to the education of our children and cut accordingly. Sadly, the last time an audit with this purpose was proposed, the board "tabled" it - knowing that once again, it would be a political hot potato.

I'm very sad about the board's pettiness, indecision and lack of focus. It's looking like they are not going to make intelligent, cost-saving decisions that will be in the best interest of our students. They only pander to political demands. They will simply make wholesale cuts to the classroom - and the bloat elsewhere in the system will continue to exist.

Kim Gokce said...

Ella: "I think I know what it is ..."

Ok Missy! No one else called you out on that tease but I am!

What do you think the Chamber is going to announce on the 4th?

Kim Gokce said...

@Cerebration: "Taj Mahal"

Pretty impressive building! And, they seemed to have grass still surviving out front. Someone shared this aerial of CK with me today. It's the best one I've seen. It pre-dates current construction but does the best job of representing the grounds of any photo I've seen to date:

CK Aerial

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 8:31 pm
Then they can't figure out the data on their own, then they need to go ahead and get an audit started. The last one took 7 months from start to finish. It showed millions in salary over payments for non-teaching personnel. That BOE listened to Lewis and allowed him to table it. That BOE (with the exception of Zepora Roberts and Sarah Copelin-Wood) is gone. Maybe a new BOE will look at the millions in taxpayer dollars spent in overpayments to non-teaching personnel.

We desperately need a new BOE (no one from the Lewis days) and a superintendent from outside of Georgia.

Cerebration said...

Actually, after the 2004 study and Brown's departure, Lewis got that board to believe that the over-payments were much less than reported. He also stated that he did not plan to correct them, and they allowed it. That study has never been made available in it's entirety to the public. All we've seen is some kind of overview.

Cerebration said...

Lewis proposed another audit at a board meeting late in 2009 or so. The price was $350k and the board voted to table it. Lewis actually recommended that they do it - saying it should be done every 5 years. The board voted not to spend the money right then.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 11:24 PM

I think Lewis missed his chance to bring salaries in line in 2004. His suggestion for a new audit was because he knew that the over payments in salaries for thousands of non-teaching employees would be the only way to balance the budget. His house of cards was tumbling.

Cerebration said...

You can't protect the friends and family when the piggy is empty.

Anonymous said...

This week the cuts to staff based on points was announced. Besides the expectant cuts to paraprofessionals schools are losing full time music art teachers. More shocking is that schools with under 450 student may only have a part time library media specialist.
The reductions are such that they almost seem like they are setting these schools up to fail

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 6:42 am

Ms. Tyson and the BOE are not balancing the budget on the backs of the teachers as much as they are balancing it on the backs of the students. Cuts need to be deep OUTSIDE the schoolhouse. Not one parent/taxpayer would object to that. Why do they not care what parents/taxpayers have to say?

Where are the cuts to MIS staff at the Bryant Center (still close to $20,000,000 in salary and benefits even after letting those lower paid 18 CTSSs go). MIS contracts out the equipment to Dell to install and maintain which is millions more we pay for this department with the awful service (and that doesn't include the millions for eSis (over $4,000,000) and the new Student Data Management System (over $7,000,000 they put DCSS on the hook for). We're still paying for eSis and the Student Data Management System until 2012 - millions. If DCSS is paying Dell to millions and millions a year to install and maintain the computers and Activboards, what exactly does MIS do for almost $20,000,000 in salary and benefits for 291 employees?

Are we still going to have 61 employees in Human Resources and spend $4,500,000 on them? Who do they need to hire - not teachers.

Are we still content with these figures on security personnel:
Gwinnett County Schools with 150,000 students to our 100,000 has 49 Security personnel for a cost of $2,500,000 in salary and benefits. This is an average of $51,000 per Security employee.

DCSS has 218 Security employees at a cost of $12,500,000 in salary and benefits. This is an average of $57,300 per Security employee.

Do you think there is any way to look at Central Office salaries that have swollen over the last 5 years? Yeah, I know Lewis and Callaway are not there anymore - but there's many more to add.

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

Are we getting our $7,000,000 worth from those 36 non-teaching personnel at FSC while only 29 actually teach students?

Are parents/taxpayers comfortable that Kitchen and HVAC mechanics make more than teachers - and I think we've heard from enough teachers as to the service level of this group?
This is straight from PATS (they were actually hiring HVAC a couple of months ago):
Position: Mechanic, Air Conditioner/Heat (HVAC)
Educational requirement: High school diploma or GED
Experience: 3 years
Salary: $43,111 to $58,665

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8:35 am

I agree and I think most of us parents would. Too many employees who don't teach with too high of salaries.

Cerebration said...

Good points, 8:53.

Interesting though - one person on your list of inflated salaries is a teacher at Arabia -

SATTARI, DARYUSH - GRADES 9-12 TEACHER - $147,539.80 - then look up the email using the admin tab at the DCSS website - it turns up Arabia.

Not sure what's up with that. Dr. Pringle, the principal at Arabia only makes $112,152.12.

How many more items like this would turn up if we did an audit?

Audit, please!

Cerebration said...

On the subject of Lewis over-spending and getting us into this pickle (in addition to the loss from the state and county taxes) - a similar thing happened in Miami - only their super went down yelling:

08.29.08 / FL: MIAMI $88 MIL IN THE HOLE
When AASA supe-of-the-year Rudy Crew
finally presented his 2008-09 budget
yesterday, a week after school started
--after no-showing at called board budget
workshops--and admitted to his board that he
overspent by $66.5 million last year, leav-
ing the district with only $4.8 mil in reserve,
trustee Marta Perez (R) commented "I can't
begin to express my frustration. For the past
four years, I've said we're spending too
much, and now we're seeing the fruit of this. I
certainly lay the bulk of the blame at this
administration's feet.'' Visibly angry, Crew
yelled at Perez, ''Do not talk to me like a dog!'
Do not! Do not get in the habit, ever!'' at
which point--God bless him--board chair Gus
Barrera told Crew that Perez had the floor.
Barrera had to shout to be heard over Crew.
(SOURCE--KathleenMcGrory / Miami Herald)

Anonymous said...

In order to be in compliance with SACS, I believe that the principal's salary has to be the highest in the building. It doesn't have to happen until the year of SACs review though.

I wonder if this rule is still in effect. I will contact SACs tomorrow and try to find out.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 9:18 am

Dr. Lewis knew the audit downgrading the salaries of 2,500 employees was going to be very difficult to accomplish - especially coming on the heels of Dr. Brown's dismissal. So $14.8 million in annual over payments to 2,500 non-teaching personnel morphed into "only $1.8 million in over payments" and suddenly instead of 233 employees being underpaid, over 1,600 were overpaid based on DeKalb Schools Human Resource department calculations. This had the effect of "neutralizing" the independent auditors report.

When the books became too unbalanced because DCSS couldn't keep getting more property tax revenue from increasing property values, the house of cards came down. The problem was that Lewis had disputed the findings of the Ernst and Young independent audit back in 2005 and essentially gutted the findings of the auditors.

How was Lewis to justify looking at cutting thousands of non-teaching personnel without an audit? Of course - ask for another audit.

Lewis knew all these cuts couldn't possibly come from the schoolhouse because of the enormous pressure he was getting from parents/taxpayers. He really doesn't like it when people think badly of him. One thing he did judge correctly was how upset parents/taxpayers are about schoolhouse cuts. I don't think Ms. Tyson knows how upset parents are yet, but she will have the opportunity to experience that as schools are closed, students are packed into classrooms, and there are no parapros or library aides to help the children. She should be making deep cuts to the non-teaching personnel numbers and salary outside the schoolhouse. This would go a long way towards salvaging her and the current BOE and it is the right thing to do for kids.

Anonymous said...

Sorry - correction:
.."suddenly instead of 233 employees being underpaid, over 1,600 were overpaid based on DeKalb Schools Human Resource department calculations."

Should read:
..suddenly instead of 233 employees being underpaid, over 1,600 were underpaid based on DeKalb Schools Human Resource department calculations.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone catch the interview on Friday afternoon on Fox 5 with Tom Bowen and Ernest Brown? I found it at

and thought it was an interesting discussion.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 9:18 AM

More information on Sattari:
"Dr. Daryush Sattari is a blind teacher living in Georgia. For two years he has taught earth sciences in Jonesboro. All six of his performance evaluations give him the highest rating, and his supervisors have consistently indicated that he is a good teacher. However, a new principal has been assigned to the school where he teaches. Shortly before this convention, Dr. Sattari was informed that he will not be retained as a teacher because there are problems with his classroom management. Although all other teachers in the school received a letters from the district superintendent requesting that they continue to teach, Dr. Sattari was told to pack up and leave. We are working with the teachers union to file a complaint of discrimination. The union is with us; it recognizes unfairness; and it is prepared to fight. Good performance demands recognition, and we intend to get this for Dr. Sattari along with a renewal of his contract or damages for discriminatory behavior."

I don't know the outcome of the discrimination complaint.

This is from the Presidential Report 2000, National Federation of the Blind.

Arabia Mountain, which I thought was under-enrolled, has 12 science teachers and 1 parapro. The Science Department chair, Dr. Fred Okoh, receives a salary of $83,177.

Anonymous said...

The are NO UNIONS in Georgia for State employees!!

The UNIONS you hear about are national corporations or Federal agencies like UPS-Delta, Air trafiic controllers, USPS.

Strong states are not afraid of unions. They don't make laws against unions and collective bargaining. But as you can see these states are not #50, 49, 47, and 46 in public education.

Cerebration said...

Arabia has just over 1000 students - with 13 science teachers and a para. Lakeside, with over 1700 students has 12 science teachers - and virtually no lab equipment.

Interesting history on Sattari. This still doesn't explain why DeKalb is paying him so much money.

Cerebration said...

Interestingly, Arabia offers "Saturday School" for students to make up zeros or low scores on assignments and projects. Haven't heard of that before - sounds like a good idea. Who runs Saturday school? Is there a cost associated with it? Overtime? What administrator covers the building? Just curious how this is accomplished. Anyone know?

Anonymous said...


BACK IT UP NOW Anon! Miller Grove is a Top Notch school. Miller Grove class of 2010 had some of the highest GHST test scores.

There are some great students and awesome teachers at Miller Grove. The problem is the crupt principal who uses the power that comes with her position for as you can see personal gain and vendettas.

She has retailated again her staff, students and parents.

Parents have been complaining. We were told unofficially that she was going to be transferred to MLK.

Rumor was that no one would take her because she has so many law suits against her that no one wanted to bring her mess in their school. So we got stuck with her.

Parents who complaint get their access restricted or escorted off the round with threats of arrest for criminal trespass.

The school former bookkeeper who questioned purchases like this one was suddenly transfered to Dunair.

She filed a complaint with Internal Affairs and was told by Internal Affairs that it was too late for anything to be done.

How can Internal Affairs complete an investigation without allowing the complaint the opportunity to present their evidence.

Complaints have been sent to the PSC and the OCR. Nothing has been done because of Thedford's close "personal" ties with Simpson and Crawford Lewis.

Thedford, or Thugford, as the kids call her, has some big bed fellows under her skirt.

An audit is definitely in demand.

The former principal of Redan Elementary was asked to step down for the same violations.

Lets see if the board of Tyson do the same with Thedford.

I still cant find the story.

Someone post the link PLEASE!!!!

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 1:08 PM

BACK IT UP NOW Anon! Miller Grove is a Top Notch school. Miller Grove class [sic] of 2010 had some of the highest GHST [sic] test scores.

Please cite your source for this claim.

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify...

We (the schoolhouse employees)all signed contracts and sent them in but the county has not countersigned them and returned them to anyone.
Nothing is binding yet.

Anonymous said...

I'm a first year CTSS. I got 2 NI marks on my review. I signed it. If I get let go due to performance, I don't care. I won't EVER want to come back if it happens. I'm currently doing the job of two CTSSes. I'll fight in court if they try to deny me unemployment. Let HR take the heat for stripping 600 employees of their support. The real world corporations and companies look beyond shady downsizing procedures and focus more on the person themselves.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 11:18 am

I really don't understand why only MIS schoolhouse personnel are being let go - unless you guys are the only ones with contracts (I know that Bryant Center employees -NLSs, SEs, etc. don't have contracts).

Maybe Ms. Tyson and the DCSS administration feels with all the NI's they have had principals give this year, it will be easier and more convenient to let people go with documentation.

Someone in the Central Office was thinking ahead when the number of NI's by principals was upped. I guarantee it doesn't have anything to do with trying to get quality employees - it's all about money and the budget.

I think this is probably happening all over DCSS in the schoolhouse, but not outside of the schoolhouse. Maybe that's why Ms. Tyson is gutting personnel inside the schoolhouse and not the admin and support outside the schoolhouse. Clever idea - not so clever for our kids though.

Are there other teachers or schoolhouse employees out there that have seen an inordinate number of NI's in their building this year?

Anonymous said...

At risk of giving myself away, I work in a school AND a center. The school was fine with my performance. The center was not. We CTSSes do not get contracts.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous May 2 1:08 pm

I don't know about your principal, but the data shows your teachers are some of the lowest paid in DCSS - just spot checking the Georgia DOE website salary averages for a number of DCSS high schools for 2008-2009.

Low teacher salary averages in the same school system generally mean you have a lot of newer teachers which can indicate a high rate of teacher attrition and turnover. Does Miller Grove High School have a high rate of teacher's that leave each year? Look at a few of the schools I pulled the data for:

Miller Grove HS:
Average administrator: $84,715.20
Average support person: $60,547.93
Average teacher: $51,888.49

Chamblee HS:
Average administrator: $90,066.00
Average support person: $61,915.64
Average teacher: $57,758.93

Dunwoody HS:
Average administrator: $75,439.20
Average support person: $63,193.85
Average teacher :$55,197.26

Druid Hills HS:
Average administrator: $89,395.20
Average support person: $64,731.36
Average teacher: $53,934.38

Avondale HS:
Average administrator: $83,671.20
Average support person: $56,617.71
Average teacher: $56,053.81

McNair HS:
Average administrator: $87,484.00
Average support person: $64,489.70
Average teacher: $55,162.47

SW Dekalb HS
Average administrator: $86,884.00
Average support person: $55,651.20
Average teacher: $57,135.11

Lakeside HS
Average administrator: $76,392.00
Average support person: $65,061.88
Average teacher: $58,973.71

Stephenson HS
Average administrator: $89,028.80
Average support person: $59,880.69
Average teacher: $55,636.63

Teacher turnover is a huge problem for students. That is an administrative issue. Administrators should be judged in part by how they decrease teacher turnover. If I get the time, I'll look at all of the high schools in DCSS and post the salary averages of the administrators, support personnel and teachers.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 12:22 pm

So I guess the idea of gutting the schoolhouse personnel has no real justification except to gut the schoolhouse. In a way, that's even worse.

Cerebration said...

Anon, 1:08 - we had posted the link earlier, but here it is again -

I don't think anyone said anything negative about the student or teachers at Miller Grove but I'll re-check the thread.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 12:45 pm

I was looking at your averages. Are teachers always the lowest paid employees in DCSS? I'd love to see the rest of the schools' averages.

Anonymous said...

Teacher turnover is a huge problem for students. That is an administrative issue. Administrators should be judged in part by how they decrease teacher turnover.

And administrators should also be judged on how well they are able to rid their schools of poor teachers.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 1:01 pm
"And administrators should also be judged on how well they are able to rid their schools of poor teachers."

That's a more difficult index to measure quantitatively. How would you measure that?

Having taught under many principals, I think a good principal is as important to a school as a good teacher is to a classroom of students. A poor principal can literally wreck a good school. Good teachers will leave in a heartbeat. You may be in an affluent area and not see it reflected in the standardized test scores, but then standardized test scores are very 2 dimensional. Development of critical thinking skills and a love of learning are byproducts of good teachers.

In a low income area with performance issues, a poor principal has an even worse impact.

So who picks those good principals who can then attract and retain good teachers for our students?

The buck has to stop somewhere. Where does that buck stop in DCSS?

Paula Caldarella said...

Just curious, where did you get your data and who is considered "support" personnel?


Anonymous said...

Just curious, where did you get your data and who is considered "support" personnel?

Yeah, really. Who is considered support? I, as a CTSS, make 34k. not near 60 or over.

Anonymous said...

@ Dunwoody Mom
I got it from the state DOE website. Here's the link to the Dunwoody HS page.

I don't know who is considered support. I see they are 194 day employees as contrasted to teachers who are 191 day employees. Administrators are listed as 220 day employees.

You could email the DOE and they can tell you that. I'm sure all content area (math, science, social studies, and language arts) teachers would be considered teachers.

All of the personnel on the list are "certified personnel" so they must have a valid teaching certificate.

Another question for the DOE - are all of these school based employees - not Central Office or Bryant Center or Sam Moss based. In other words, what constitutes support in Dunwoody HS? Are they support personnel assigned "on paper" to DHS or are they physically located at DHS. That makes a big difference in the support students receive.

Paula Caldarella said...


Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 1:39 pm

I thought CTSSs are on the Bryant Center payroll even though they take up - a teacher point? half a point? Is that right?

I'm pretty sure there are BOE minute notes that talk about CTSSs being moved to the Bryant Center payroll - although apparently frm these posts CTSSs get their evaluation from the principal. Do CTSSs have to serve 2 masters - the Bryant Center and a schoolhouse? Obviously, CTSSs know more about their reporting pyramid than I do.

Paula Caldarella said...

That same chart under Personnel also shows the years experience - it's the last set of data.

I think Support Personnel are Counselors?

Anonymous said...

I have no idea about the points, but in a sense, I serve 3 masters. Let me explain. Since I work in a school and a center, HR and everyone had a hard time trying to figure out which payroll I belonged on. For the most part, it is on the center's, even though there is some time reporting done in the school. I am not on the Bryant Center payroll at all. However, I serve the principal of the school, the administrator of the center (which I consider my main supervisor), and I'm not 100% on the capacity of WBBC, but they apparently have some managerial control over me as well. Oddly enough, my supervisor's supervisor has to come to an agreement with WBBC over some things regarding me. It's a nice big political mess I stay out of, but it does cause problems.

Anonymous said...

"ALL the Fernbank Science Center teachers need to be in our middle and high schools teaching biology, chemistry and physics and mentoring the other teachers in those schools. Our students are suffering."

Fernbank teachers AP courses and advanced study open to any HS student in DCSS. The success rate for these courses over the past 3 years is better than the rest of DCSS AP science courses with the exception of Chamblee (the science magnet). More importantly you do not have to attend Chamblee to get them. Fernbank's success rate for Biology and Earth Science (STT) again open to any student other than a magnet student is the best in DCSS with a 99.5% pass rate on the end of course test.
And by the way Fernbank’s "pristine green spaces" are the classroom for special Ed students from Warren Tech who are then hired after graduation by greenhouse, nurseries, and landscaping firms.

Finally Fernbank teachers do teach other teachers on a regular basis.

Let's disperse a center of excellence and level the playing field so we can make all our students mediocre or worse.

Dekalbparent said...

To add to Anon 3:17's post - let's also dispense with the idea that Fernbank Science Center has anything at all to do with a)Fernbank Elementary School (a DCSS school), b) Fernbank Museum of Natural History (a museum run by a Board of Directors having nothing to do with DCSS) or c) the residential area surrounding the FSC.

I have seen "socio-economic-baiting" comments posted to the tune "nothing will happen to FSC because the Fernbank/Druid Hills people are rich and they won't let their private area be touched."

The Fernbank/Druid Hills people ARE rich (I ain't one of them), but they have no ownership of FSC, and they pay the dame nominal fee to get in as anyone else - everybody can enjoy what FSC has to offer.

Anonymous said...

Chamblee is not a science magnet school.

Cerebration said...

To clarify a bit - The Fernbank Science Center STT program does require and application and recommendation from an 8th grade teacher. Everyone who applies does not get in. Transportation is provided for those who do. I believe the other programs are not during school hours and students must provide their own transportation. I'm not certain about the sign-up process. If you wouldn't mind, please provide details - it's not easy to find on the DCSS website.

Cerebration said...

Mark your calendars - Cinco de Mayo Budget Meeting!


The DeKalb Board of Education Committee on Budget, Finance & Facilities will hold a meeting on Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 11:00am in the DeKalb
County School System's Robert R. Freeman Administrative Center, Building A, J. David Williamson Board Room, 3770 North Decatur Road in Decatur.

The purpose of the meeting is to review Board policies and system-wide operations as it relates to budget, finance & facilities.

... The agenda simply lists the presentation of te budget - and citizen comments - so in order to sign up for your 2 minutes at the mic - send an email request to

Anonymous said...

The sign-up process for the Fernbank Advanced Studies program is at School counselors have brochures.

Students provide their own transportation.

Cerebration said...


Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 3:17 pm and Dekalbparent 3:36 pm

Fernbank is a beautiful area of green space in the middle of the Fernbank Community taken care of by not just special education students, but also landscapers and gardeners paid for by DCSS.

I live near FSC and found it extremely convenient to take my daughter there for weekend and summer science classes, and the classes were very nice, but how convenient and accessible is it for the rest of the county? It's not like it's just off the interstate.

Although STT is open to all students in the county, only 90 students a semester go to FSC for SST, and of course you must qualify. Exactly how many AP science students are served by FSC? These are questions we need to ask.

Is FSC worth the $7,000,000 ($5,000,000 in salaries and benefits alone) that DCSS must pay every year?

Personally, I think DCSS taxpayers need to look closely at the gas prices we spend to transport students to and from FSC. That is an enormous cost for a county the physical size of DeKalb.

When gas prices (currently around $3 a diesel gallon) go to $5 or $6 a gallon, will anyone be amenable to looking at the economic efficiency of transporting thousands of students into FSC?

School buses get 5 to 6 mpg in town and 10 to 12 on the highway so let's split the difference and say 8 mpg per trip. DCSS pays the transportation costs of these - is it thousands? - of buses to FSC each year.

Do you know what DCSS pays for a bus driver for each of those 3 to 4 hour trips? And - yes, DCSS pays them while they are driving to and from and while they are sitting there waiting for the FSC class to be conducted. I asked a teacher who recently took a field trip and he said the pay is up to $36.00 an hour for bus drivers for DCSS - he got those figures from the internal DCSS webpages when he went to figure out what to charge the kids. I guess people think it's free because DCSS picks up the tab for FSC buses. Perhaps someone else can give us a good handle on bus maintenance costs.

Then there's the environmental impact from all those buses transporting thousands of students for a once or twice a year experience at FSC. Is this an environmentally sound way to deliver science education to students?

If I'm a student sitting on a bus for half my time to go to FSC for a class, is this a good use of thousands of instructional hours?

How much science instruction do I really get out of a trip to FSC once or twice a year? The average class lasts - what - an hour and a half - maybe 2 hours?

I've never seen so many angry posters as when the economic and educational efficacy of DCSS continuing to maintain Fernbank Science Center is questioned. Many posters rant and rave. It's like - don't you dare question this program. We've decided it's untouchable.

Why is the support of Fernbank Science Center not to be questioned, yet we all seem to be so eager to close schools that children go to every day of their lives. Each one of these schools we're closing will save us just a fraction of the annual cost of FSC. On the most recent DeKalb School Watch article (Brown and Bowen Discuss School Closures), Bowen states closing 4 schools will save us $2,000,000. Well, running those numbers, I guess everyone has decided FSC is worth 14 local schools.

Have you ever heard the term Sacred Cow? Look it up - it's definition is: As a metaphor, an object or practice which is considered immune from criticism, especially unreasonably so.

Anonymous said...

Question re Advanced Studies: How are kids supposed to get down to Fernbank by 3:00, which is when the classes start? They don't get dismissed from school until 3:00.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 4:41 pm

This is what says about transportation to FSC for the SST program. Whoever wrote the article really likes the program. It sounds great for the 180 kids who get in.

"Like any magnet program, the bulk of the cost of STT is the expense of busing students to FSC in the morning and to their local school when STT ends at 11am. The cost of materials and supplies is similar to those of traditional science classrooms."

Dekalbparent said...

Anon 5:14

Actually, I was not defending FSC - I don't know where I stand on it...

I wanted to remove the idea that has been floated here that it is somehow connected to/property of the elementary school or the residential area surrounding it. This has been used to fuel the North/South arguments on this blog.

Also, much of the grounds keeping is done by volunteers - the maintenance of FSC gardens and composting demonstration is a project of the DeKalb Master Gardeners and there are people who volunteer to FSC itself. In addition, the Warren Tech students are working for free until they graduate.

I put these things in not to defend FSC, but to make sure were are using the facts in our discussions - I am always warning my kids to be able to back up everything, or they will have little credibility.

Like you,I have a great big question about STT - there are at least 15 buses used to transport those 180 students the entire year - one trip to FSC and one trip back to school. That's a whole lot of gas and pollution. In addition, the selection process is not always fair - sometimes it's who the 8th grade science teacher likes.

The Advanced Studies classes begin at different times - some not until 4:00. They are also only one or two days a week, so the kids are not under pressure to get there every day.

Anonymous said...

I agree that some of the classes start at 3:30 or 4 -- but some of them also start at 3. Who are these for? Is there a high school adjacent to FSC whose students can avail themselves of these earlier classes? Or do some high schools get out at 2? I am seriously curious because I know it would take at least 40 minutes to get there from some DCSS high schools.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone watching the board meeting? I just turned it on. What is SCW talking about? A reconsideration of how schools are going to be closed...

Anonymous said...

The Board apparently caved. They will not be closing elementary schools.


I am guessing that Womack had to trade votes to get the 5 out of 7 periods kept the same.

Anonymous said...

Not closing schools should not be an option.

This school board is not capable of doing its job. Very sad, as the kids will probably have more taken from them now.

Anonymous said...

Why is closing FSC not an option? Why is cutting an inefficient department like MIS not an option? Why is cutting an overstaffed Security department an option? Why are deep cuts to the "bloated" Central Office not an option?

It's so much easier to cut the classroom. Just don't fill teacher positions here and cut the TSA there. We already have the worst teacher to admin and support ratio in the metro area. Let's just get a little worst.

Anonymous said...

Regarding start times of Advanced Studies at Fernbank - I think that students who are taking a Fernbank class don't have a class during the last period of the day at their home school. They get out early, and that's how they can get there in time.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...


My daugther goes to Arabia. Saturday school is ran by parent volunteers. It is held about once a month. Dr. Pringle is usually the adminstrator present. Parents have to complete at least 10 volunteer hours a year at the school. The school send a robo call when your child's teacher has assigned them saturday school for missing or failing assignments.

Anonymous said...

Let's make sure we keep those 8,500 admin and support people while we cut our 7,000 teachers by not filling positions of teachers who leave DCSS. Those 8,500 employees don't teach our kids, but it's a great jobs program.

Anonymous said...

"We (the schoolhouse employees)all signed contracts and sent them in but the county has not countersigned them and returned them to anyone."

There is a presumption that since DCSS calls all the shots on the contract without any input from the other party (teacher)and "offers" the contract to the teacher, DCSS cannot changed its mind unless the teacher modifies any portion of the contract!

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Tyson,

Do you feel it is OK to ask teachers to stay at school in order to talk to you via "Elluminate" on Wednesday or Thursday starting at 4:30PM? Can't you talk to them during the "usual & customary" contracted hours of instruction. These times are 7:20AM--3:30PM for elementary schools and 7:45AM-3:45PM for high schools. I'd like to have my mom home so she can help me with homework.

DCSS is really enjoying its new toy---How much does this "Elluminate" thingie cost?

By the way, respecting your employees personal times would show real respect better than the silly teacher appreciation emails DCSS sends.

Signed "Home Alone"

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8:34 pm

Eluminate is not cheap. Something else MIS dreamed up for administrators rather than spend the money for technology for students. MIS will scuttle around getting every ready for Ms. Tyson, but where are they when teachers and students need service?

Anonymous said...

Any more news from the Board Mtg? Was there any mention of America's Choice?

Anonymous said...

I know teachers would be glad to get rid of America's Choice. Is that a possibility?

Cerebration said...

Thanks for the info on Saturday school, 7:24 PM. Sounds like a pretty good idea.

I'll start a new post about tonight's board meeting - what an interesting twist.

Anonymous said...

Re Advanced Studies: I am not sure how this works. If the student misses their last period of the day in order to attend a 3:00 class at FSC, they are losing out on one carnegie credit (assuming the high school is on the block, which most are) but each FSC only earns one-half a carnegie unit. This does not make any sense to me.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the school counts them as being there.

Anonymous said...

@ 8:34 PM

What Elluminate meeting after school? (And what’s Elluminate, anyway??) Is it for all teachers at all schools? No one said anything about it at my school. How (and when) were we supposed to find out about it before personal appointments had already been made, and/or children’s after-school activity carpools already arranged? Typical of the county office. Always last minute, and unhelpful. I’m sure whatever it is she feels compelled to say could be done in an email, or posted on the website for viewing when it’s more convenient.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:33 pm

Are teachers aware that there is an overtime rule in DCSS that any employee that is asked to work as much as an hour overtime must be paid time and a half? The only exceptions to this policy are certified employees in the schoolhouse.

Anonymous said...

@ 10:43 PM

Are you saying it’s reasonable to ask teachers (certified employees) to wait around until 4:30 so they can “watch” a meeting, or were you simply clarifying the difference between classified and certified employees??? I must have missed your point.

I think it’s not a smart idea to call a late meeting after everything else that’s happened this year, and especially NOT during “Teacher Appreciation Week.” But that’s just me.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 11:00 pm
I'm saying if teachers were paid overtime, Ms. Tyson would not be asking teachers to wait around until 4:30 to hear her speak.

I really don't know how DCSS can get away with saying certified employees outside the schoolhouse can only work overtime if they are asked to work beyond an 8 hour day, but certified employees inside the schoolhouse are not.

Sorry if I was cryptic.

Anonymous said...

"I really don't know how DCSS can get away with saying certified employees outside the schoolhouse can only work overtime if they are asked to work beyond an 8 hour day, but certified employees inside the schoolhouse are not."

My bad. Should have said:
I really don't know how DCSS can get away with saying certified employees OUTSIDE the schoolhouse must be paid overtime if they are asked to work beyond an 8 hour day, but certified employees INSIDE the schoolhouse are not.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 11:00 pm

LOL - Do you think Ms. Tyson is calling this meeting and making teachers work overtime when they have their own families and doctor appointments, etc. just to say how much she appreciates them for Teacher Appreciation week?

I'll bet her pals at MIS dreamed this one up - "Wouldn't it be cool and wouldn't teachers be impressed with your speaking to them online?"

Anonymous said...

At least Johnny Brown had enough sense to stage his pep rally during business hours.

Anonymous said...

You are being so petty here. The big boss wants to hang 1 hour and 10 minutes after dismissal to hear/see her for 20-30 minutes.

What's wrong with that? If they already took %6.25 of your annual salary, why shouldn't they take 1 hour and 30 minutes from your life!!

At Waffle House my manager makes come sweep the floor on my day off...