Monday, May 10, 2010

The Amazing May 10 Board Meeting

First, I have to say, I simply must start a Twitter page.  By the time the meeting was over, this blog already had about three dozen (pretty witty) comments posted on the meeting announcement thread! I was so happy to see you all paying so much attention!

Let's start - and this meeting was action-packed, so I'll try to bullet point my way through. Click the photo of the proposed budget cuts and print one out if you'd like to follow along. Items proposed as amended to the budget on the table:

  • Kelli Wright told us that the Briarvista Montessori will become a hybrid model like Huntley Hills and Midway, offering regular education in addition to the Montessori. 
  • Womack proposed cutting only 100 paras instead of 200 and deleting the change to the 7 period day altogether from the budget. PASSED
  • Cunningham proposed instead of cutting the magnet transportation completely (as has been the plan since last year when the hub system was implemented), to go to 9 hub locations instead of the current 18. Oddly, they simply cut the savings of that line item in half, but I just can't believe that was logical.  The savings to implement the full transportation cut plan was $4 million - this change won't simply cut that in half - you still have to get drivers to fire up buses to make the trips, regardless of how many hubs you pick up from. Plus, there were other transportation cuts in that line item.  This may be a net zero savings.  But I did understand that if they save the magnet school points, but eliminate transportation, it's kind of senseless. PASSED (Although, I don't understand why Sarah voted on this at all, she had no idea where the satellite hubs were, she seemed totally unaware of their existence, and confused as to what she was voting on.)
  • Jay also proposed cutting only 9 CTSS staff instead of 18 and only 30 media clerks instead of 59. PASSED.
  • Walker proposed fewer furlough days (going with line item 40 instead of 42), going ahead and paying the TSA (using line item 36 instead of 35) and increasing the tax rate 1 mill. FAILED. (Although, Walker, Roberts, Cunningham and Copelin-Wood all advocated to increase property taxes.) This means that the cut will stick; ten month employees (teachers) will have 7 furlough days, eleven month employees will have 10 furlough days and twelve month employees will have 15 furlough days. The dates of those days have yet to be determined, but teacher furlough days must occur when students are not in school.
  • The board also approved a voluntary board compensation reduction of 10% (proposed at 5% by Womack and raised to 10% by Redovian) to show support for the sacrifices they are imposing on teachers.  Zepora vehemently opposed this, stating that "only the rich and famous will be able to serve". Sarah agreed with Zepora, but voted for it, since it is voluntary and she can choose not to do it. (Each board member must submit a request in writing to Tyson and Turk to implement the payroll deduction.) For those interested, the board pay is $1,500 per month plus $450 per month sent as an expense check plus an additional $4,000 travel account (which most don't use in it's entirety). I'm not certain if they receive healthcare or other benefits.
  • The board also found out that the decision they made last year (per Dr. Lewis) to withhold contributions to teacher's TSA accounts was against their own board policy.  They voted to consider a change to the policy (it must lay for a month and will be voted on in June) and promised to go back and make the contributions that were withheld last year against policy when they have the funds. Going forward, after the policy change in June, TSA contributions will once again be withheld next year.
  • Here's a wild card:  There was an agenda item asking to approve the cellular contract with AT&T. Zepora made a speech against this due to the fact that the AT&T community liasion is a member of eduKALB, the group formed by the DeKalb Chamber to vet and endorse new school board candidates.  She claimed any new candidate would be beholden to AT&T due to the "company's" support of that candidate. Redovian and Cunningham agreed, but the AT&T contract PASSED anyway.

Overall, there was a lot of emotionally-charged discussion about the perceived disparities between "north" and "south" DeKalb schools.  Sarah Copelin-Wood, Zepora Roberts and Jay Cunningham heavily complained on this issue (you might even call it political grandstanding).  Oddly, Sarah keeps insisting that 82% of DeKalb's FTE (which basically means students) live in the "southernmost areas of DeKalb".  Huh?  Is she saying that only 18% of all of our 100,000 students live in central and north DeKalb?  I do believe that she really thinks that ALL black students live in south DeKalb! (Even if they did, this would only account for 72% of all students.)  That is so twisted—and so wrong.  Later this week, I will dig through the task force data and report exactly where all of our students live.

That said, these three seem to agree that the schools in south DeKalb are inferior.  They stated that all of the magnets and charters are in north DeKalb and all these poor south DeKalb children "have to get up at 5 am to ride a bus to a decent school, since they are ALL located in the north."  (Seems they are forgetting about DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts, McNair Learning Academy, Wadsworth Magnet for High Achievers, Champion Middle, SW DeKalb Magnet HS, Arabia Mt High's Environmental Energy and Engineering Magnet Program, the new "Leadership Academy" Charter, etc, all in south DeKalb.) Jay made the weirdest point about this. While he pontificated about how they need to work on their under-performing schools, he implored parents in his district over and over to get their children to school on time and dressed appropriately.

To wrap up the meeting, Zepora went off during the board two minute comment time. She literally ripped into David Schutten, President of ODE (Organization of DeKalb Educators). She railed that "the board has no agreement to have to negotiate with him, yet he comes before them every month making false accusations". She called him "untruthful, untrustworthy, negative and disrespectful", stating that she thinks "he is getting bolder and bolder with his nasty antics". Interestingly, David Schutten is a member of that doggone eduKALB board.  Hmmmm.  I sense a theme.


The final tally of the budget cuts was $104,473,918.00.
The final General Fund for 2010-11 was $746,636,912.00
The final Consolidated Budget was $1,037,292,826.00

To read the Megan Matteucci's report for the AJC, click here.
To read the meeting notes from the DeKalb Parent blog, click here.


Dekalbparent said...

Won't the restoration of the Board TSA cut into the cuts? If this is $$ that was "saved" last year, but we have to give it back, that reduces this year's savings by that much - I need to go back and find the amount.

Anonymous said...

What a joke Cunningham and Copelin-Wood are. They say they are not talking about the "North South" issue and then in the very next sentence they talk about how the schools in the north are so much better than the south.

First of all, what's wrong with the schools in the south? If they are so bad and they need additional transportation to get the kids into schools where the education is better, like in the north, it seems to me we need some leadership changes to make those schools in the south better.

Well DUH!

They talk about the Magnet programs and charter schools popping up all over the north.. Well hey BOE, the parents in the north are clearly plugged into the schools more than the south.

Please! Parents you need to take a better roll in your local schools. If you can't and the system clearly won't, then you better elect better leadership. The schools up here in the north are packed! We can't take too many more kids from the south.. You south DeKalb folks need to take a hands on approach. We all work up here too, but we make time for our kids education. The Clinton administration made sure we could get time off to help our kids, that's what I'm doing with my personal time.

Just today I pressured washed, in the rain, our outdoor classroom. Our 5th graders, who are graduating next week, can actually sit down without getting their clothes dirty during their ceremony. Don't expect the county to help you, they will not since there's no money available.

Last week, I spent several hours at the school reading to the kids and helping out the kids at lunch.. Simply put it's called getting involved! You can do it too in the south, just like we are in the north.

We have grandparents of students who come in and help our librarians, excuse me, media clerks in our library. They spend time reading to the younger kids, which gives our teachers time for planning, since DCSS won't.

We're willing to help fill in the cracks. Please folks this is not about North or South, it's about involvement! I know it's tough right now, DCSS does not have the money, well actually they do, but they want to keep programs that are clearly a waste of time, energy, personnel and money.

Ms. Tyson, I do not think enough Central Office Staff are making a sacrifice. How about asking for Robert Moseley's and Alice Thompson's resignation? Those two salaries will account for at least a dozen Para Pros. How about contracting out PDS 24? You can get rid of at least 2 six figure salaried people, who happen to be from a former BOE members family.

DCSS needs to make serious cuts and not in the classroom. Our school's PTA paid for every class to have a Promethean Board with working light bulbs. Plus, this year we are adding HDTV's to every classroom to enhance instruction.

We're doing what we can to make life easier on our teachers since they are the ones getting hurt, working in our school system. We're doing all we can to keep our good teachers. Heck, we even pay to have our bathrooms clean and work properly as well as have air fresheners in them.

It takes some involvement and it can happen. SHOW your kids what it's like to help. You know our President will be expecting big things from your kids in the future. Kids will expected to give hours of service to be able to graduate. As a parent I'm showing my kids what I can do to help right now. It's easy and a lot of fun!

So stop crying about the inequities of the south vs. the north. YOU CAN CHANGE the schools of the south for the better. GET INVOLVED! Stop expecting everything to be handed out to you. Make a commitment right now to give 5 hours of time each semester next year. If every parent did that at every school we would not have to worry about our slobbering, pathetic BOE members, from the south, who are screaming racism and politics North vs. South!

Kim Gokce said...

I am curious: fellow bloggers, what do you consider North DeKalb in terms of a boundary (street or natural feature)?

I've lived in Atlanta for 47 years and all but one year of my adult life in DeKalb. I've lived off Boulevard, off McClendon, off Pleasantdale, off Briarcliff, off Peachtree Industrial and now off North Druid Hills.

I have a pretty clear picture in my head where the "North/South" boundary may be approximated by street names and would love to hear everyone's thoughts on the subject.

I'm just curious how widely opinions may vary on this question and how this my slant our views about the equity discussion about DeKalb public schools.

For the purposes of the governance of our public schools, I am personally convinced this question of compass ordinals is of no relevance. However, it is clearly relevant to the BoE due to its political nature and I'm afraid we're stuck with it for now.

Anonymous said...

I'd say Memorial Drive is the N-S boundary (or anything south of the courthouse).

Anonymous said...

To clarify my post, immediately above, I assume you were asking about the North-South boundary, and not North-Central-South.

Anonymous said...

Wow! BOE went against board policy in regards to TSA and decided to continue?? DCSS employees at the very least should have social security then. This is another way to hit those in the classrooms. This meeting was a joke! It is high time to get a new BOE. Isn't the north DeKalb dividing line I85, central Memorial Drive? Ms. Tyson tried to rally the troops with her speech after hours...this final budget will not set well with those in the trenches. I do believe David Schutten will receive a lot of phone calls today wanting to join ODE. I can see "bargaining" union being approved by the state of Georgia soon...teachers and others are going to join because this budget is a perfect example of hitting classrooms the hardest. Central office cuts is a joke too. Title I dollars should be back in school house...too top heavy at central office. This is not over! Zepora doesn't like is just beginning...I feel like WWIII is about to begin.

Anonymous said...

Uh oh. You not only owe the money you illegally borrowed from the Board TSA, but interest that the money would have earned by the time you pay it back - good luck calculating that.

Some people keep pushing for Social Security - no thanks. There is a reason we opted out to begin with. That system is broken and it will never be repaired. SS is nearly broke whereas our state teacher retirement fund is fully funded - a recent newspaper article stated GA was one of the best funded and in no danger. So why would I agree to pay even more tax into a BROKEN system????

7 furlough days for teachers? Good luck kids.

Anonymous said...


I know in my school we consider "North DeKalb" as LaVista being the dividing line. So think LHS north. We have always considered Shamrock Middle and North Druid Hills being in Central DeKalb. LaVista to Memorial. Memorial - South is South DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

The furlough days will impact instruction. There are very good school based staff members that use time to plan. Cutting security is a problem. Who are the county level individuals that will be cut? All 12 month people are not administrators. School based custodians and some clerical individuals work 12 month. These people do not even know how much that they will make next year. They have never been given any information about their pay. I am very concerned about the morale in the schools. How are the events of last night going to impact the staff? Teachers are leaving and have left. They have not been replaced. This is not a North South problem it is a county problem. Review the meeting last night? The only thing done for the teachers was there will not be a six period instructional day in four schools. What kind of school year are you expecting next year? We are going to lose some of our strongest educators. Regardless of the love one may have for teaching. People must live. They must feed their families. The board members giving up 197.00 a month is a great deal less than the teachers are being asked to give up. They can keep that and do something for the individuals in the schools. I do not blame Ms Tyson. She inherited this mess. I seem to remember one board member a few months ago explaining the need to give Dr. Lewis a raise. How he had met all the goals set by the board. What were those goals? Were any of them associated with financial needs of the DCSS.

Anonymous said...

As a long time DeKalb observer, it is my understanding that the definition of S. DeKalb has moved as the population has changed, so that in now includes places like Avondale etc when it once didn't.

There are few words to describe what I witnessed last night. Horrible, awful, etc...

Paula Caldarella said...

I think anonymous 6:12 has it right. Having grown up in DCSS, there was always a North/Central/South distinction with georgraphy, not race being the factor. I don't when certain individuals decided to make a racial component of the discussion. It's shameful, really, and an embarassment to us all.

One Fed Up Insider said...

What the BOE and Central Office showed me last night is that they do not care about teachers. Just their back pockets. Well what about mine. I already work 2 jobs to make ends meet. If you know me I am the most thriftiest person in the world. I still drive a car from 1994.

Because I love the energy that students give me I love my job. Now that I look at getting a third part time job because of the short falls (ie, loss of pay from both the state and local level) this may be my last year teaching.

Why you may ask... I can't be a mother. It is not fair to my own childern when I can't be there to help with homework, feed them, give them a bath, watch them grow.

Why does the BOE go after the people that do not and can not have a voice because we have been told that we can't talk for fear of our job.

Did you see all the people in the auditorium last night? Central Office packed it with high dollar salaries and did not give teachers, parents, and tax payers a chance to get in the auditorium.

Cerebration said...

As far as the TSA issue goes, I understood them to say that this is not a Georgia law, but a board policy. The new attorney and a former board member did the research and figured this out. (Josie Alexander apparently approved the move to stop TSA contributions when it was done.) The board policies are apparently very old, antiquated hard to look up according to Womack. He stated one goal they need to set is to clean up and organize the board policy.

The return of the money was not promised in any time frame - it was promised to be returned "when we have the money". Obviously, they don't have the money at the moment.

And as far as the north/south divide goes - I'm totally convinced this is a carry-over campaign tactic perfected by Cynthia McKinney. I even heard a lady running for county commission bring it up recently. I think it's a sad statement about the people running for office when they have to declare their constituents as somehow "missing" out on mysterious better things elsewhere. They always promise to "fight" to get equality - but then once elected, there is no fight - basically because there's no real inequity. Jay as much as admitted this when he kept begging the parents in his district to get their kids to school on time and dressed properly.

Paula Caldarella said...

Here is a thought for Mr. Cunningham, Ms. Robert, Ms. Copelin-Woods: How about actually working WITH the schools you represent. How about making sure there is a strong PTA/PTSO in each of these schools. How about making sure there is a strong Parent Council in those schools, ala ELPC or DCPC. Search our Community Advocates such as Kim Gokce. These types of strong organizations can go a LONG way in getting parents involved in their children's schools. THe more involved the parent/guardian in a child's education, the more successful they will be.

Cerebration said...

I will give big props to Tom Bowen for his amazing ability to push this budget through. He was incredibly focused, articulating each of these "amendments" and allowing the comments to flow, but returning to the task and moving along on the votes. It really was amazing to watch him get this done. I don't think we'd ever get a decent budget passed without him in charge. Good going under extreme pressure Tom!

Anonymous said...

Oonly 2 BOE members left from the day when Dr. Lewis took power are Roberts and Wood. According to BOE minutes, both of them knew that the Ernst and Young compensation audit said DCSS was overpaying 2,500 non-teaching employees by $15,000,000 a year (BOE meeting minutes December 5, 2005).

According to the Ernst and Young audit, 2,500 DCSS non-teaching personnel were/are being overpaid while teachers were/are being paid the right amount. According to Ernst and Young auditors, this was/is costing DCSS almost $15,000,000 a year yet both Ms. Roberts and Ms. Copelin-Wood let Lewis discount the audit and didn't ask him to adjust any of the 2,500 non-teaching salaries.

Teachers - you wonder where your salaries went? Parents - you wonder why your kids are going to be packed into classrooms like rats next year? Ask Ms. Roberts and Ms. Copelin-Wood - they voted to go along with Lewis.

$15,000,000 a year for 6 years is $90,000,000 total. All that money down the drain because they went along with Dr. Lewis.

Anonymous said...

The funny thing is that the idea of raising taxes is both right and wrong.
Right in that, in part, the budget crisis is caused by falling revenues, owing to the economy.
Wrong, very wrong, in that, well "Walker, Roberts, Cunningham and Copeland Wood" all voted for the tax increase. In other words, wrong in that it is impossible to trust that any tax increase will put funds in the classroom (keep the parapros, fund the teachers' retirement, no furloughs) and not be used for, um, other purposes. ZW and SCW can't even commit to a token salary cut for themselves.

As for N vs. S., I thought Ponce was the traditional dividing line? Certainly Clarkston is at least much more "Central" than it is "North" (and being neither "North" nor "South" does tend to leave one poorly represented in these debates)

Anonymous said...

Um, "ZR and SCW",sorry

Anne said...

Thanks for all your hard work and your great recaps. Dekalb parents really appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

Kim @ 2:25 -- The North/South line is fluid, shifting up or down depending on how it benefits those using race as a factor in a particular argument.

Cynical? Yes!

Anonymous said...

If ZP wants to see "nasty, bad attitude, disrespectful", maybe she needs to listen to the rumors around DCSS about her own child, the AP. Does anyone know if they are true?

Anonymous said...

The boundary is not a road but a track, the MARTA tracks. If you have to have a road, I say North Decatur Road. Decatur has their own leadership and school system so you can't really include the Decatur City limits. So basically. everything north of Decatur and everything south of Decatur.

I am appalled at the token 15% cuts at the Central office. What a joke! I can guarantee you once the Central Office cuts are announced, not one of the six figure salaried people will be gone. Come on, Ms. Tyson IS a part of the problem. Her hands are stained since it was her that handled the MIS debacle. Hiring people without experience, giving raises and promotions to BOE members family and then not recognizing the fact that one person did not report to his new job for 6 months. 6 months! It took parents to expose this fact with the help of WSB-TV. You should have heard her on the phone when CLew called her with the parents, of the school where he was hiding,in the room. UH UH UH I had no idea. You know he is the son of the Board Chairman.. UH UB UH JUH... What a joke!

I agree Bowen did a great job keeping the meeting on task and moving along. I loved it when Redovian screamed, "point of order" when SCW was making sure the parents knew that the votes were down "party" lines. Excuse me SCW the only racists I saw last night was you Ms. Coppelin-Wood and a little from Cunningham and Roberts.

DCSS is no where near premier, PLEASE LOSE THIS MONIKER, IT'S A TRUE JOKE, like Robert Moseley and Alice Thompson. These self professed "leaders" should hand in their resignations. As long as these jokes are in place DCSS is going no where fast. SACS will be calling sooner, rather than later.

I apologize for calling people out, but folks nothing is going to change until the folks that got us in this mess are GONE!

Anonymous said...

Ms. Tyson just showed up at EDC to give the same speech she did with the schools via the Elluminate session.

However, in this one, she confirmed the "last in, first out" policy.

Anonymous said...

Please enlighten me...I was not aware of this:

"Hiring people without experience, giving raises and promotions to BOE members family and then not recognizing the fact that one person did not report to his new job for 6 months. 6 months! It took parents to expose this fact with the help of WSB-TV. You should have heard her on the phone when CLew called her with the parents, of the school where he was hiding,in the room. UH UH UH I had no idea. You know he is the son of the Board Chairman.."

Anonymous said...

Schools are in the business of educating children. That should be their primary mission. That being said, I am always amazed the the those receiving the largest compensation are the those working the greatest distance from the children............

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:47

Yes. It was a source of much amusement in MIS that Ms. Edwards' (former BOE head) relative was always a "missing in action" CTSS who then got promoted to the Bryant Center. CTSSs in the schools were so upset with these political appointees - Edwards plus some others - that Ms. Tyson had to address all the CTSSs at a CTSS meeting at the Bryant Center and try to smooth the waters.

The parents at the center of the story found out that Ms. Edwards' relative didn't show up for work in Ms. Tyson's group (when she was head of the technical personnel - don't ask - she doesn't have a technical background) for 6 months. These parents called one of the DCSS Area Superintendents, and he placed a conference call to Ms. Tyson. She said she had no idea he hadn't been at work.

Everyone in MIS had a good laugh about it because they knew how no one could ever find him at his school either. He's still at MIS in the Bryant Center ($76,626 including salary and benefits - on par with a teacher of 30 years). He probably goes to work now with all the publicity surrounding non-teaching employees.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:44 am

The best thing you can say about Ms. Tyson is that she knows she's in way over her head and that sooner or later she will be associated with Lewis since she will not be changing anything of substance he did. I'm not surprised she's not anxious to keep the superintendent job. She has 7? or 8? years until retirement. Why not go back and coast on $165,000, retire on 60% of her salary and then get a job with the state of Georgia or consult with one of those expensive learning programs that have sprung up. Many options open to her that are better than being superintendent. She's very politically savvy. You don't get to be Lewis's right hand person and in charge of all Business Operations (including Finance and Human Resources) without knowing a lot of people and being very political. She has the buzz words down pat, but she's just marking time right now.

Anonymous said...

Amen Anon 12:54! Not only am I a South DeKalb parent, but also a South DeKalb teacher. Thank you for your comments. The thing that everyone forgets is that all public school teachers are certified by the same agency--therefore the teachers are more or less equal (in terms of meeting certain educational requirements). The administrators are certified by the same entity--and are therefore more or less the same. The most important component of a successful school is the level of PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT.

South DeKalb has beautiful, state-of-the-art high school campuses, yet some are performing poorly. Our parents must become more engaged and involved in the educational process. I think Mr. Cunningham was trying to articulate this, but was unable to do so without offense.

I know that our parents love their kids just as much as I love my kids. I know that the economic downturn has wreaked havoc throughout the county. However, I guess that less than 10% of the parents at my school show up for Parent Conference Night. I want to strengthen the partnership that SHOULD exist between teachers and parents. I urge our parents to put their children first and get involved! Please help us to improve education!

When our schools perform well, the communities will prosper. Quality schools attract buyers, which in turn raises property values, which results in more revenue for the county, which goes toward supporting and improving our schools.

Forgive the rambling! So much I want to say...Again, I applaud Anon May 11, 12:54 AM.

Oh yeah--I look forward to the exit of Mrs. Z. Roberts. Very spiteful woman.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:55 am

"I am always amazed the the those receiving the largest compensation are the those working the greatest distance from the children"

That's not surprising. If you're a good teacher, you only have time to devote to your job which is teaching students.

Someone has to administer the day to day functions of the school system - that's why they call them administrators. Administrators are in charge of the money. Therefore they pay themselves very well, and make sure they are immune from deep cuts during hard times. That's called self preservation. They are in it for the "career path" (they actually use those words - Ms. Tyson was upset that MIS personnel didn't have a clear "career path" - her term - so she put one in place).

"Upper management" is the preferred term in DCSS. LOL- you would think they are the leaders of a wall street firm.

Anonymous said...

you would think they are the leaders of a wall street firm.

They are. The numbers run into the billions. DCSS is now strictly a business - and looks like Enron. Upper management profits while everyone else gets screwed.

Anonymous said...

And yet, you rarely meet an administrator who doesn't say how much they miss being in the classroom. REALLY!

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:07 says - North/South line is fluid, shifting up or down depending on how it benefits those using race as a factor in a particular argument.

I couldn't have said it better myself. You are spot on with that comment. What the race baiters on the BoE don't realize is that of the 70+% black students in DCSS many of them attend schools on the "north" side of the county. I think the nut jobs on the BoE perceive any school that isn't majority black as being a school on the "north" side.

Anonymous said...

I missed the last half of the meeting. Did they pass the increased class size? If so, was it increased by 1 or 2?

Anonymous said...

Why isn't the Dekalb TV broadcasting the board meeting?

Cerebration said...

The budget was approved as adding 2 students per class.

Anonymous said...

So, if they are increasing class sizes by two, does this mean that the under-enrolled schools will reflect even higher under-enrollments? By doing this are we increasing the capacities of the schools and opening doors for additional schools to be considered? I don't get how this works, if there is a fire-limit on how many students can be housed in a classroom. Can anyone speak to this?

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 3:57 pm

I asked that same question on this blog and apparently some parents checked and the fire marshall doesn't have a limit on the number of students that can be safely put in a classroom. It seem no one cares how many kids you pack into a classroom or a school. I remember when Fairington had more trailers (34) than classrooms. They had so many kids packed into that school that it reeked of urine when you went into the building. Twice as many kids as they had bathroom facilities for. That's why redistricting is so necessary. I know people buy houses based on schools, but it is just wrong to cram so many kids into a school that the facilities are not there for. It's just as wrong to cram them into classrooms.

themommy said...

Yes -- capacities of buildings change as class size changes. Many elementary schools in DeKalb didn't have trailers before Roy Barnes was elected Governor, then they needed them as class sizes were reduced. As class sizes are increased, the opposite will happen.

Lots of kids can be in a standard size classroom before the fire marshall gets interested.

Anonymous said...

The DeKalb Parents site has detailed meeting notes's worth the read!

Anonymous said...

To Anon 8:44AM . I passed along your comment about the $15 MILLION personnel over payment study done by the Ernst & Young accounting firm to BOE member Don McChesney. He asked if I could verify this as he is interested in seeing it. Could you please provide some more info to him directly. Just refer to the DKC School Watch Blog.

Could you post a note that you have done this.
Thank You

Anonymous said...

That line item on the transporation hubs is insane--Cere, you are right. Just cutting the number of hubs in half doesn't cut the cost in half. I hope Jay doesn't run his business like that!

Anonymous said...

I know teachers didn't like him, but Roy Barnes brought class maximums down - e.g. 28 for high school and he would not let the systems average - e.g. 27 in this class and 29 in that class averages to 28. The superintendents of all the counties screamed bloody murder that they couldn't keep the school system running (DCSS may be the "fattest", but there are other "fat" systems out there as well). But they did. They just had to cut back on admin and support and buying expensive learning programs. As soon as Barnes was out and Sonny was in, class sizes went up. If the current Georgia administration had any sense, they would mandate low class sizes. The all these BOEs and superintendents would have to live within their means on the admin and support side. We sure wouldn't have 8,500 admin and support to less than 7,000 teachers.

Anonymous said...

How will we know which board members voluntarily took a pay decrease? This is valuable information for tax payers to know. It will also show which members really care about the kids.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous @ 4:18pm--

"I asked that same question on this blog and apparently some parents checked and the fire marshall doesn't have a limit on the number of students that can be safely put in a classroom."

I'm not sure which parents said that they spoke with the fire marshal, but based upon conversations I have had with the fire marshals that check on my school, I can assure you that there is a limit to the amount of people who can be in a classroom. The fire marshal uses a formula based upon square footage -- one person for every 20 square feet. For example, a room that is 20x20 has 400 square feet/20 square feet = 20 people. A 30x25 room has 750 square feet/20 = 37 people. Just wanted to get the info out there...

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 6:26 pm

Does the fire marshall specify if there are desks and chairs that effectively take up 30% to 40% of the space?

Do you know if there are rules about the egress?

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 6:26 pm

Years ago when I taught at Fernbank Elementary School, the parents were upset when we lost a teacher and their children were faced with packing students 28 to a classroom. They measured the square footage of the classroom in that particular grade and then they went to other schools and measured the square footage. When the area superintendent came to meet with the parents, they had copious charts that showed the impact of placing so many children in a small space. They won - they got the extra teacher (so sorry - a teacher is called a "point" now).

Maybe parents today need to take a lesson from those Fernbank parents. They certainly did their homework.

Anonymous said...

The principal at Lakeside said he is expecting class sizes of max 34 next year.

He is expecting 100-120 repeat 9th graders. Some of these will be going on their 2nd and 3rd years in 9th grade.

LHS currently has 97.5 FTE points and next year is getting 84.75.

Square Peg said...

Regarding the disturbing post about repeat 9th graders: Teachers, is there now a state rule that students have to pass Math 1 to exit 9th grade?

I'm guessing there is after finding this verbiage on the Cobb County website "For students enrolling in the ninth grade for the first time in the 2008-2009 school year and for subsequent years, the following requirements must also be met in order to advance with the entering graduating class: ...[to] 10th grade: 5 units, including one full credit each of required coursework in mathematics, science, and English Language Arts."

This is a train wreck. Either schools can cheat and pressure teachers to inflate grades, or they can hold students to standards and fail them - sometimes repeatedly.

I wish our schools (1) could take the time and had the resources to make sure every student gained a solid foundation in elementary and middle school (2) were allowed to bring back non-college-track diploma options and (3) were not forced to use curriculum that isn't well thought out.

Anonymous said...

TSA policy on DeKalb Website under board policies...right side...pending...policy clearly states alternate plan to social is not that old... last revision 2000...board policies are easy to find ever since DeKalb website was designed...been easy to navigate them for at least six years...oops BOE...maybe easy for me since I am a DeKalb Educator. And to the person that doesn't want social security because it is a broken system...please note that this board policy was an alternate plan to social security...if it is not going to be in place...the very least should be social security...lots of teachers where I work totally agree with this...we prefer the TSA...but if not, then social security

Cerebration said...

I found it fascinating that Sarah C-W fought and rambled and defended the bussing for the magnet program (which she obviously didn't understand and only effects less than 1000 students in their districts)- but very easily voted down Womack's change to the reduction of parapros -from 200 to only 100. Wood and Zepora said NO - to saving parapros in everyday classrooms! But yelled and screamed about magnet transportation.

They also both complained quite a bit about taking a small pay cut in order to show solidarity with the teachers and staff they are forcing pay cuts on. Do they realize that they are paid as much or more than a parapro?!! For a job that is supposed to be a community service!?

How hypocritical === and how little they fight for their actual schools. They ONLY fight for cross-county magnets! They have 18,267 elementary students and lord knows how many magnet, theme, middle and high school students attending school in their neighborhood schools - and these ladies voted NO to saving parapros for those classrooms!

Cerebration said...

As a matter of fact, as Walker was making a motion to reduce the number of furlough days for ALL teachers, SCW interrupted to go back to the topic of transportation for magnets. So, now by the time Walker finishes his motion, the reduction of furlough days is also part of the same motion as continuing TSA contributions at 50% and a 1 mill tax increase. Well, guess what - it failed! He never should have bundled the furloughs with those two other items. Funny - they didn't bundle the changes to the hub transportation with anything else!

They did not fight for teachers - or regular classrooms one little bit. They got all hung up on their precious transportation for a small percentage of the students they represent. Pitiful.

Anonymous said...

So, let me get this straight. The Board violated the law when they blindly accepted Superintendent Lewis' recommendation to eliminate Board contribution to the TSA of employees.
It was easy to find but it took them months and they only looked because folks like those on this blog questioned them.
Then they paid and attorney, who knows how much, to find something anyone could find and congratulated the attorneys for finding.
Now they approve repaying the contribution,"when they have the funds", and they think that eliminates the illegal action they took previously.
Folks that are now retiring had better get some good lawyers because the reduced pay the County reported to TRS of Georgia will affect their retirement pay for the rest of their lives.
Paying back when they have the money does not get it.
The County leadership, its lawyers, and Board owe folks some exact info as to how this error will be corrected. And they owe them now.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to go back to the space issue, but this seems like it is really important as a potential way to address the class size. There definitely are limits on how many people can populate a room, this is even true at Universities, and applies to hallways, meeting rooms, etc. Again, if we are decreasing points, and increasing class sizes, we need to examine how these two strategies combine to affect: 1) room capacities and 2) school capacities. Schools who sit in the "consider for closure" list could be impacted by this approach, and redistricting certainly will be impacted.

Anonymous said...


To the folks who keep insisting that Social Security would ever be a viable option . . .

1 - Unlike the Board Sponsored TSA, Social Security is an INCOME TAX. Right now it is around 6%. If teachers are upset about losing 3.9% due to the 7 furlough days, think how they'll feel if you subtract another 6%!

2 - The Windfall Elimination Provision will reduce the amount of Social Security benefits received if you are also receiving a pension from a job where Social Security taxes were not taken out - at any point (that would be all teachers in DeKalb even if you subsequently decided to begin paying back into Social Security). To prevent the Windfall Elimination Provision from kicking in, teachers would have to work a minimum of THIRTY years paying into the system. So teachers who have never paid into Social Security and are close to retirement (within 30 years) - they get screwed. (How unusual for a government run program.)

3 - Social Security will NOT continue to function in its current format. The most current suggestions to fix the system - increase the tax rate from 6%, increase the retirement age, decrease benefits, or some combination of the above. Yeah, I'm just dying to join that system.

4 - Please don't forget that NO ONE IS STOPPING YOU FROM INVESTING 6% PER MONTH ON YOUR OWN. So why don't you do that? You invest your 6% and the rest of us will take care of our own paychecks.

Social Security? No thanks, I gave at the office.

Ella Smith said...

There are regulations on cafeteria areas, gyms, and auditoriums. However, according to my principal standard classrooms can have up to 40 students without having an issue regarding fire code in Fulton County.

I used to have 40 students in my Health classes all the time at Riverwood when I taught there years ago. I suspect there might be some truth to what my principal said.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 9:46 pm and Ella 11:20 pm

I would not trust what a principal says. He/she would not be a principal if he/she bucked the system or questioned what he/she was told from the top. I certainly would not trust this Central Office to tell principals anything but what makes it expedient for them.

I agree that the space issue is very important. Classrooms are different sizes so a blanket 40 kids cannot be right in a smaller than usual classroom. I think they don't think anyone will measure classrooms, but I'll never forget those Fernbank parents measuring those classrooms years ago, and they won. Do older schools have less square footage?

Parents should be calling the fire marshall and measuring classrooms. It actually is not physically safe for students to have those numbers. Bigger students will not be able to move, let alone get out in a timely measure if there is an emergency. And think of the increased risk of communicable diseases.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that before Barnes, GA classrooms could be much larger and they were. Elementary classrooms routinely had 30 plus students and sometimes a teacher and a para.

High school classrooms could approach 40.

Anonymous said...

I remember Ms Tyson's stating that the Board will revisit the America's Choice contract at their June meeting. I guess they're waiting for the 9th grade EOCT scores to see how effective the program was. I hope that the board realizes how much Title I money was sunk into this sweetheart deal of a program in addition to the $8 million contract price. Most of the Title I money in my school was spent on America's Choice 9th graders to the exclusion of other grade level materials. The rest was spent sending APs and Principal pets to lavish out-of-state conferences. Title I is a fcash cow for America's Choice and administrator junkets.

Anonymous said...

to Social Non-Security...
last year and proposed for 2010-2011, the BOE is going against the board policy...that is the bottom line...many DCSS employees are investing in their future...that does not "fix" the issue at hand...Board TSA was and will continue to be cut... against board policy.

Anonymous said... article C. Kenneth Tanner revised 2009 Georgia classroom space...bottom of article mentioned "crowding having a negative impact..." National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities...classroom space

Anonymous said...

What we think about class size increases is now irrelevant. The Board was successful in once again getting DCSS parents to only focus on their own needs and while there were tremendous complaints about magnet cuts, Montessori cuts, transportation cuts, and of course school closings, there were almost no parents advocating to prevent class size increases. The complaints about the cuts to security will start now as well, even though we have a far larger security department than any school system in the state.

Anonymous said...

The complaints about security have started already. Channel 2 is running the story this morning. To their credit, they also gave the number of SRO's in other metro districts....

Anonymous said...

The limits on capacity (# of kids per room) are really high, well higher than any classroom, even an overcrowded one, will ever be. We learned this when our school was flooded with NCLB transfers the first week of school. We had kids packed into classrooms, hallways, even closets, and were told there were not violations with the fire marshall or anyone else.

Kim Gokce said...

I enjoyed reading folks' perspective on the "North v. South" imaginary boundary. If we had to argue the point, I think that E. College Ave and Rockbridge as reasonable approximations of a N/S "boundary."

In terms of DCSS attendance areas, Clarkston and Stone Mountain are "North" in my head and Avondale and Redan just across to the "South." That's completely subjective and perhaps a "legacy" view as I've been around for decades.

I think it is a pointless debate except in the sense that SCW seems to want to make this an issue. In that case, I think it is indisputable in geographic, historical demographic, and the history of racism in our community that much of what is being called "Central" or "South" are truly "North." Heck, St. Mountain was the heart of "Klan Country" not that long ago ...

I just think the BoE comments about this issue are so outrageous and without merit. In fact, they are incredibly harmful and should be ostracized. When will all of the Board members accept responsibility for all of our schools and each student?

Cerebration said...

I agree and I always wonder why no one else on the board ever calls out Sarah, Zepora or Jay on this nonsense. Gene Walker even publicly stated that he looks at everything through a racial lens. I give Jim Redovian credit for calling a point of order on Sarah when she went off on some tangent about the tax issue being a political issue - that Republicans on the board are playing politics - that it's not a race issue - it's a Dem/Rep issue... She was grandstanding - campaigning - while our children and teacher's lives and livelihoods hung in the balance. I've never seen such transparently selfish motivation. Jay and Zepora were just about as bad.

Kim Gokce said...

@Cere: "I always wonder why no one else on the board ever calls out Sarah, Zepora or Jay on this nonsense."

That one is easy: because they'd be lambasted publicly as racists. It is an indisputable dynamic of our politics, sadly.

From a purely political perspective, it is hard to blame those that use it because it is like the "Neutron Bomb" of modern politics - the perfect weapon to decimate the opposition.

Kim Gokce said...

... and that is why I am so frustrated with the fundamental structure of our public system. Best efforts have not removed hardball politics from governance.

Anonymous said...

"The complaints about security have started already. Channel 2 is running the story this morning. To their credit, they also gave the number of SRO's in other metro districts.... "

Did DCSS's own PR department get them to run it per Ms. Tyson's instructions?

Cerebration said...

Interesting report at WSB -

Through the Freedom of Information Act, Channel 2 Action News reporter Darren Moore obtained monthly crime reports from the district's public safety department, and Channel 2 Action News reporter Richard Elliot spent the day adding up all the numbers.

The reports for the 2009-10 school year, which include August to February and exclude October, show SROs found 104 weapons on campuses and dealt with 348 assaults, 259 thefts and 63 burglaries.

SRO's estimate thieves stole $374,383 worth of school property, and, the report shows officers arrested 1,037 juveniles and adults, both during and after school.

Boy - they've certainly been keeping our school crime issue a secret! That said, the report also states -

Still, some people believe 83 school resource officers for 99,000 students are too many, especially when compared to other Metro Atlanta school districts. Georgia's largest school district, Gwinnett County, has 160,000 students and only 22 school resource officers. The Clayton County School District doesn't employ its own police force for its 50,000 students. It uses only 18 county police officers.

To clarify - here at the blog, we have reported on the bloat in the entire department - not the school campus security! We are very concerned about the security apparently assigned to places other than our school buildings. There are over 200 jobs in this department.

We reported on it here -

Did you Know? DCSS has a pretty darn large police department all it's own?

We sorted our files to reveal the top salaries posted at Georgia Open online for DeKalb school security. The DeKalb police officers will be knocking down our doors to apply for these jobs after they read this. There are many jobs in the $30k range, however, the actual average is $45,437.

We're not certain what campus resource officers do in the summer and during the holiday breaks.

There are 13 people labeled "security officer" making over $70,000 in this department, with the top salary being $92,263.20, Twenty-one people make in the $60s, 49 make in the $50s and 26 in the $40s. The majority - 86 officers - make in the $30s.

Additionally, there are two directors of school safety:


Anonymous shared that the department's total $11.3 million budget for 2010 breaks down like this:

2 Administrators (Directors)
5 Supervisors (1 Lieutenant, 4 Srgnt)
63 School Resource Officers
9 Detectives
4 Civilian (Secretary)
120 Campus Supervisors

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonow back with a question:
How many persons might owe their employment at the Sam Moss center to our current school board?
Protests to cuts in bus contracts, transportation routes by school board members? Might it be because it lessens the chance for jobs through the friends n family plan? Nothing happens by coincidence with this bunch.

Anonymous said...

Too many DCSS security people! Just part of the bloat outside the classroom. Never hear anyone complain about too many teachers, do you?
The service center has always been a joke around the school system. If you are an administrator who messes up, you get promoted to the service center. You get paid a lot of money for doing nothing.

Paula Caldarella said...

I guess we in DCSS should count our blessings - there seems to be a total teacher blood-letting in Cobb County.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom once again you are jsut so right in your post. We in DCSS should count our blessings. We are so fortunate to have Ramona Tyson leading our district right now. We are so lucky to have Jay Cunningham and Jim Redovian and Zaporah Roberts and Sarah Copelin-Wood leading our School Board right now. When you stop and think about it, we in DCSS have an embarassment of riches!!!

Cerebration said...

As far as security cuts go, we have only advocated for cutting staff that are not assigned to a middle or high school - there are apparently plenty of security staff who are there to protect Lewis and crew, etc. Not sure what else - not sure why we have two high-paid security administrators. But just like with MIS - the cuts are proposed to staff in the schoolhouse. The only MIS cut we have seen so far is cutting 9 CTSS employees - people who directly help teachers in the school house. That is wrong. Cutting security who directly support students in the building is wrong.

Someone who cares said...

As a concerned parent, I can agree with and relate to the issues & concerns voiced re: some of the members & actions of the BOE.

For starters, I agree, the solution is NOT to get our children into schools that offer a "better education", but instead to HELP create schools that will better educate our children. In an effort to create schools that will better educate our children, we must 1st take a look at those WE put in leadership roles.

Copelin-Wood is not a good representation of S.Dekalb County. She does not represent us well in person, on TV or in the written media!!

Just the other day, I had the pleasure to meet & converse with a gentleman that will & can represent us well! His name is COREY WILSON and he is campaigning for a seat on the Dekalb County School Board, District 3. He is someone who cares; and he understands that PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT is KEY to the betterment of our schools and our children. So much so, that he created the organization: (F.B.I.) Fathers Being Involved at Oak View Elementary and has tried to spread this concept throughout Dekalb County Schools.

I don't believe that 1 man can correct what has taken the BOE years to create; but I do believe the future of our children depends on us not only stepping up & getting involved but putting the right people in the right positions so that our voices are heard & our children are better represented. And after speaking with him and hearing his views, I think Wilson replacing Woods would be a step in the right direction.

Good Luck Corey Wilson!
You definitely have my vote in November!!

Cerebration said...

Hurrah Corey! So glad to hear that people are starting to toss their hats in the ring! We have SO many good people in DeKalb county. I am always so impressed with the wonderful cross-section of thoughtful people whenever I have jury duty...

You all know who you are - let's have a few more Coreys!!

Anonymous said...

DCSS teachers received an e-blast ("News Flash" in FirstClass) from Jamie Wilson this afternoon. It gives the link to a survey where we are to choose our 7 (seven!) choices for next year's furlough days. The choices are:

Aug.2 (pre-planning)
Aug.3 (pre-planning)
Aug.4 (pre-planning)
Aug.5 (pre-planning)
Aug.6 (pre-planning)
Oct.8 (Staff Dev.)
Jan.4 (Teacher Workday)
Feb. 18 (Staff Dev.)
May 25 (post-planning)
4 parent conference nights (which count as 1 furlough day)

Anonymous said...

Some of the teachers being put on the transfer list are not those who were "last in." They are being told that it is ultimately up to the principal who is on the list. Do they have any recourse or is this another example of the county saying one thing and doing another?

Anonymous said...

If teachers in Dekalb had any courage, they'd all select August 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 (5 days) & 4 conference nights & 1 staff develpment day.

That way R. Tyson, the BOE could get ready for school. Also, please make them sign that they can't work on these days...

Aug.2 (pre-planning)
Aug.3 (pre-planning)
Aug.4 (pre-planning)
Aug.5 (pre-planning)
Aug.6 (pre-planning)
Oct.8 (Staff Dev.)
Jan.4 (Teacher Workday)
Feb. 18 (Staff Dev.)
May 25 (post-planning)
4 parent conference nights (which count as 1 furlough day)

Anonymous said...

If we fill out the survey to choose furlough days, we will then be told we had the choice when we complain about not having time to prepare our rooms for our students. Another no win situation.

Anonymous said...

Corey Wilson has been hand picked by Don Speaks ( Pam's husband..another REPUBLICAN). Sorry but this District is strickly Democratic. By the way, "Someone who cares" Fathers Being Involved has been in South DeKalbs schools for over ten years and was started by 100 Black Men of DeKalb. I don't want a car salesman not a real estate agent as my Board member. Let,s find other candidates are capable of representing our children rather than being another follower of Paul Wommack. They are out there.

Ella Smith said...

I can only again beg the board to please stop making racial comments from their board seats. It really only hurts the image of the Dekalb County School System. We are a diversed school system. Together we make up Dekalb County. Regardless of the color of a child's skin, the religion, whether the child is rich or poor or regardless of their ability level it is our job as citizens of Dekalb County to see that these Dekalb County children get educated. So please Dekalb County School Board Members get back to the job we pay you for which is to make decisions regarding the education of our children.

Anonymous said...

No. If DCSS and the BOE had any b@lls, they would put the 7 furlough days during the instructional day school year.

Oh yeah that is right, the parents would then moan and complain about finding babysitters.

I personally picked Aug. 2 and 3 and the last 5 days. Why did I do that? Because my students need me and I can not start another year off behind the eight ball per say like I did this year. It was nearly the 4th week of school before I was caught up because of eSIS. At least I could get my room ready and lesson plans complete before the students walked into the school.

Anonymous said...

Well of course, Anonymous at 9:30, The first 2 days of pre-planning and then the last 5 days are the most logical choices for teachers and their students.
Hopefully most other teachers see it that way too.

Anonymous said...

As a parent, I am ready to demand that at least a couple of the furlough days are student instructional days. As soon as the state board approves the flexibility tomorrow, I will begin a petition and email campaign.

I would like to see at least two of the days be instructional days (for example the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week.)

I think there is a pretty diverse group posting here -- I am curious as to what you all think of this idea.

Dekalbparent said...

Anon 9:51

I agree. The teachers need the work time without teaching responsibilities during the year. Most people are able to devote time to work tasks without distraction if they need to, but teachers have no choice about interacting with others - it's the nature of the job.

Anonymous said...

Hey teachers: want to get GA & Dekalb to keep plucking you? Keep on working for free.

Begin the year by working for free or end the year by working for free AND FOR SURE there will be MORE FURLOUGH days next year.

Make it painful on everyone else too (7 days WITHOUT pay is REAL PAIN) and there will be no more.

Anonymous said...

"If we fill out the survey to choose furlough days, we will then be told we had the choice when we complain about not having time to prepare our rooms for our students. Another no win situation."

This is "typical spouse syndrome":you are taking the blame for GA & Dekalb NOT paying you to get ready to teach students.

Don't be an enabler.


Anonymous said...

I agree it's time to look at fewer instuctional much time is wasted a few more days off won't make a difference. The Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving have always been a waste of time. Half the students are gone anyway.

Anonymous said...

I agree. The Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

FWIW: Did you see the report on Channel 11 tonight about the cost of the "new digs" at the Mountain Industrial Complex?

For a few years now, my spouse has had to be content with a beat up desk that doesn't lock and a scratched up plastic cafeteria chair. The furniture that was left behind at Bldg. A & B is 100 times better than what the teachers are supposed to use.

Anonymous said...

The Grim RIF-er visits the Central Offices starting today (Thursday).

Anonymous said...

As a parent and a teacher, I agree! Cut at LEAST two days of instruction, and give teachers time to plan! Would you send a lawyer to court without giving her time to prepare her case? Would your send a surgeon into an operating room without time to learn about the patient's medical condition? NO!
Also, let me throw in an AMEN to Ella @9:22.

Anonymous said...

survey...days? matter the results which probably will not be published...R.Tyson already stated that we would have two preplanning days...I bet one is the day we register students...Oh! excuse me...the day we have open house...and a mandatory all day staff meeting to be updated on curriculum, instruction, ethics, our classrooms...I doubt it...most teachers will probably say take away the parent conference nights...after hours...but when will the conferences be held?...after school on other days with no pay...furlough days are a joke especially when you have to sign that you will not step foot on school grounds...most teachers work two weeks setting up classrooms...R Tyson and central office bloat will not be setting up classrooms...I don't see how any of this will benefit students...and as far as looking around to other counties...we are in DCSS...we need to be concerned about our own house

Anonymous said...

My understanding about the conferences is that Faculty Meetings will be canceled in order to have them.

Cobb County shortened their year to 175 days yesterday.

Anonymous said...

Just watched the 11Alive video. ARE YOU SERIOUS!! $2,000on a chair. New furniture! What was wrong with the old furniture? A shower in the superintendents office!

Wow Crawford Lewis was really planning on living it up! Executive at Turner Broadcasting system (A private Corp) does not spent $2,000 on chairs for their executives.

Do these chair have fingers? Do they give "warm" back massages while you sit in them. The massage manicure/pedicure chairs at the spa only cost 1,800.

Raping and pillaging of school funds and tax payer dollars.


Eugene Walker sitting up there like a FAT CAT getting even fatter on the perks. I still can not forgive or forget that board meeting where he argued the dollar amount of gifts a board member could receive.

I am glad Crawford Lewis did not survive in his position to enjoy his little set up.

We now need to get rid of the rest of his cronies.

Anyone connected with Lewis needs to get the boot!

Dont let them enjoy a minute of their dirty deeds.

Kiaser needs to make them give bak the money for the wellness center. They need to sue the school system.

The money was to be used for wellness centers in two schools where it would benefit the students and the community and not in the administrative building where two schools are implemented.

These two schools do not even have a sport or physical education program.

They could have done the right thing and used that money in A school like Towers on the south side of Dekalb and either Crosskeys or Lakeside on the north side of Dekalb.

Crawford Lewis so needs to go to jail!!!!

My daughter is a junior, so I dont want SACS to come in but I think it is inevitable with all the GROSS MISUSE of taxpayer dollars.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 12:25 am
Those being RIF'd are not the positions that are obvious bloat!

Anonymous said...

Folks, I seriously disagree with cancelling a single student instructional day for a furlough day.

Do all of you want Georgia to really be 50th in education? Because that is where we are headed and fast.

Our students need a LONGER day and more instructional days; especially those who are struggling. And YES, teachers should be paid for these instructional days.

I can't believe how you lecture the "south" part of the county about how they need to take ownership for their failing schools and then advocate for taking instructional time away from our students.

Anonymous said...

When you take away the classroom and lesson preparation time, you ARE taking away from instruction. Are you sure you're not more worried about losing some free babysitting?

Cerebration said...

I agree that students need more time in school - however, these budget cuts don't allow for that - and we can't simply demand that teachers do their prep at home on their own time (they already do enough of that). I would vote for the Thanksgiving week idea - those are a couple of wasted days. Most people would like that whole week off, and many already take their children out in order to go visit family out of state for Thanksgiving. Also - can we make bad weather days furlough days???

interview with Kathy Cox

Paula Caldarella said...

What about a furlough day the 2nd day of school? There is not much instruction going on those few days and it would give parents time to read and sign all that paperwork that comes home. It would also give parents and students time to gather the necessary school supplies and the students time to organize their notebooks, etc.

The Thanksgiving week? That's a no-brainer, as it seems many students take off that Monday and Tuesday anyway.

Anonymous said...

I just watched the 11 Alive video on the $30,000,000 Central office renovation:

It will make you nauseous. All those $2,000+ chairs are nothing compared to the rest of it. A shower in the superintendent's office.

And it only houses the Finance and Human Resources personnel according to the report. What do Finance and Human Resources have in common. Well, these are the only 2 departments under Business Operations. What kind of Business Operations Manager approves expenditures like this?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I think everyone is moving into offices like that... the moves just aren't completed yet.

Anon 7:47 am, You are way off base. Teachers aren't going to be paid for 7 days next year, that has already been decided. DeKalb parents were to busy worrying about Montessori, magnet, transportation, school closings to note what was happening to teachers.

So, now it comes to this. As a parent, I don't believe the burden should fall on teacher's alone.

I do agree with you about much of what you said, but not for next year, not now.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 7:53 a.m.

My child is in high school and does not need "free babysitting."

She needs instructional time to cover the honors and AP course materials so she can compete with the private school kids for college.

If you consider academic course work as "babysitting" students then this attitude is a key part of the problem.

Paula Caldarella said...

You want to know some of the "real" babysitters? The SRO's that have to stand out in the weather, along with the children, and chaperone those children that get dropped off at school by their parents an hour + before school starts before the school building even opens.

Cerebration said...

I don't think anyone at all disagrees with your point, 9:44 AM. It's just that cuts have to be made (apparently) and you just can't expect that instruction time won't suffer—it will. Regardless of whether or not your child is in class, the teacher needs time to prepare, etc. If the teacher is unprepared, how much instruction will your child actually receive? You can't make cuts to teachers and not have it effect students. That's why we've hammered so hard on cutting non-teaching staff to the bone instead.

The administration will tell you that many of these staff positions are Title 1 funded - but your response should be - then put Title 1 support teachers into the school buildings to work directly with the students you are taking paras away from. Put Title 1 support staff in the classroom, working with small groups to bring them up to speed. These people do not belong in an administration building - they belong in a classroom.

Dekalbparent said...

@Anon 6:29

Bravo! I could not have stated it better.

Anonymous said...

To Anon. @ 9:44 a.m.:

"My child is in high school and does not need 'free babysitting.' 

She needs instructional time to cover the honors and AP course materials so she can compete with the private school kids for college.

If you consider academic course work as 'babysitting' students then this attitude is a key part of the problem."

Touched a nerve, did s/he?

When do you think teachers are going to adequately prepare for your child’s honors and AP classes?!? The burden of the DCSS budget woes are being thrust upon teachers (which in turn will have a negative impact on the students.)

themommy said...

Keep in mind that DCSS high school students are performing dismally on the new state math curriculum. Next year, teachers will have no time to receive additional professional development unless they are pulled out of class.

Please don't be so short sighted to think that removing planning and professional development days won't impact what happens in the classroom.

It will.

As parents, we need to rally to our teacher's support. It is only fair that there is some shared sacrifice.

By the way, AP exams are given the same day across the country. Many, many school districts don't start school until after Labor Day. Those students take the exam with MANY fewer weeks less instruction in those classes than DeKalb (and most other Southern) students and they do better.

Anonymous said...

In reference to "Anonymous March 12 @8:39"-
I do not want to turn this into an electoral debate as this is not the forum, and the focus here is & should be about our children. However, lets get some facts straight.
Fact 1- Corey Wilson was not "handpicked by Don Speaks"; He has been on this journey since 2006, but due to some putting family first issues, he did not run.
Fact 2- This is a Non-Partisan race & there has not been any declaration of Democrat or Republican made. The ONLY declaration there should be is- to put OUR CHILDREN FIRST! A declaration that Corey Wilson has made! Not to mention his serving as PTA president for the past 3 years and having 2 young, school-age children in the system, further serves as proof that he has a vested interest in a better DCSS.
Fact 4- As far as one's profession- "a car salesman, a real estate agent", I DON'T CARE! We need someone who is going to represent Dekalb County in a positive light & put our children first
Fact 5-I am well aware of the previously established FBI programs that are out there, but there was not one implemented at Oak View and continuous efforts have been made by Mr. Wilson to to make FBI and similar parental involvement programs ACTIVE; not just at Oak View but also within DCSS. A necessary concept that I think we all will agree has been voiced in numerous blogs.

I don't know "Anonymous"... Seems like we should be careful how we classify people. Have u checked his voting record? Are u sure Corey is a Republican? Sounds to me like another Copelin-Woods,-speaking before all the facts are known. It's statements like that, which have put us in the predicament we have found or should I say voted ourselves into.

I agree with "Someone who cares"! Corey Wilson does represent our children & in the November election- He has my vote!

Square Peg said...

Why are we getting all testy with each other about comments about furlough days and instructional time? I think we basically agree that they are going to negatively affect teachers and students. So will larger class sizes, etc. I think we all want the same thing: quality classroom instruction supported by competent support staff and decent infrastructure.

Yes, I'm very worried about the quality of education next year, but I agree with Dunwoody Mom's remark from yesterday: count your blessings. Cobb made their budget cuts in a far more hurtful way. Cobb has a roughly similar number of students and employees. They are cutting their $127 million by eliminating 579 teachers, 56 paras, and 99 other jobs, on top of furloughing teachers five days and shortening the school year five days. It's horrible.

Somehow DeKalb has supposedly cut $104 million without doing what Cobb did. I (reluctantly) have to hope that enough teachers chose to leave that the DeKalb budget numbers, some of which assumed cost reductions through attrition, work out as planned.

themommy said...

The teachers didn't choose to leave. There are hundreds of teachers that will be in DCSS schools next year that weren't budgetted for. No one is talking about this.

No layoffs of teachers are planned, and frankly I think that this is good news for students. It will keep some of the intended class size increases from happening.

Had DCSS waited until other systems had started talking about their budget woes, you can bet there would have been layoffs. But being first out of the box, Dr. Lewis didn't want the scrutiny that talk about laying off teachers would bring.

One of Kathy Cox's top people said that the school year should be shortened next year. Then all kinds of people jumped all over the comment and KC backed down. But it is true, this budget has been balanced on the backs of teachers and everyone in the entire state needs to fill the pain.

Dekalbparent said...

I thought I was following the budget vote pretty closely the other night, but it was certainly difficult to do.

What was the ultimate resolution on these issues:

1)Teachers have 7 furlough days, right?
2) Will there only be 100 paras cut rather than 200?
3) What about Media Clerk and CTSSs? Any fewer of them being cut?
4) There will be 8 or 9 transportation hubs, correct (BTW, it is fuzzy thinking to say this expense is still only half of that for 18 hubs, because we are still transporting roughly the same number of students to the same places. There will just be longer rides, but I can't see total mileage changing a lot. There will be half the number of Resource Officers required, because there will be fewer hubs, but, again I don't see this as a HUGE cut in expenses. Parents will have to drive longer to get kids to the hubs, so perhaps some of the gas cost shifts to families rather than DCSS, but, again, not much.)
5) The 5/7 day remains as is, correct?
6) No actual change in Bd TSA, correct? They will give back what they took against the rules last year when they can, but did the 50% contribution Walker proposed didn't get approved, right?
7) They did not change pre-k to high needs only, did they?

The more I try to remember and sort out the notes, the more murky it becomes. It felt like a shell game, sort of, so we may not actually know what was approved. And perhaps the BOE doesn't, either

Cerebration said...

I'll try to answer your questions (using my notes)

1)Teachers have 7 furlough days, right? --- RIGHT - this was posed as an amendment by Walker to reduce it to the 4 day choice (line 42 instead of 40) but no one seconded it - so he bundled it with Jay's suggestion of changing TSA contributions from 0% to 50% (line 35 to 36) and a 1 mil tax increase - that motion FAILED.

2) Will there only be 100 paras cut rather than 200?
Yes, Womack made this motion and it PASSED. Womack also made the motion to eliminate the 7 Period Day change completely. It PASSED, with only Zepora voting against.

3) What about Media Clerk and CTSSs? Any fewer of them being cut? --- Yes, cutting only 30 rather than 59 media clerks and 9 rather than 18 CTSS - Cunningham bundled this motion with his hub change idea from eliminating all 18 hubs, to eliminating only 9. They used funny math on this though, saying it would be half as much savings as discontinuing the service altogether - that won't pan out. Discontinuing would have a zero cost. Adding 9 hubs will have a full start-up cost - you will need to employ drivers, SROs and buses, where you wouldn't have.

4) There will be 8 or 9 transportation hubs, correct (BTW, it is fuzzy thinking to say this expense is still only half of that for 18 hubs, because we are still transporting roughly the same number of students to the same places. There will just be longer rides, but I can't see total mileage changing a lot. There will be half the number of Resource Officers required, because there will be fewer hubs, but, again I don't see this as a HUGE cut in expenses. Parents will have to drive longer to get kids to the hubs, so perhaps some of the gas cost shifts to families rather than DCSS, but, again, not much.)--- You are completely correct. This is a big expense benefiting a few children, as we've pointed out in the post about north vs south.

5) The 5/7 day remains as is, correct? Yes, the change to 6/7 was dropped, per Womack's motion (see above). Zepora voted against - wanted these teachers to teach 6/7.

6) No actual change in Bd TSA, correct? They will give back what they took against the rules last year when they can, but did the 50% contribution Walker proposed didn't get approved, right? -- CORRECT - WALKER's motion to change line 35 (0%) to line 36 (50%) FAILED. HOWEVER - there was a confusing point where Walker tried to add this to Cunningham's transportation/media clerks motion - and I did find myself wondering if it passed with those. Someone may want to review the tape to check that.

7) They did not change pre-k to high needs only, did they? Zepora made a BIG deal about having the courage to do this... but as far as I could tell, it never came up for a vote as a motion. (Obviously, she thinks transportation across the county is more important than pre-K.)

themommy said...

Almost all of ZR's elementary schools are Title 1 so changing Pre-K to just high risk schools wouldn't impact her community.

While I actually suport a means test for Pre-K, there are poor children spread out across the county, many not in Title 1 schools. DeKalb County has the longest waitlist for pre-k slots in the state, so the state has a vested interest in helping DCSS be able to offer pre-k moving forward.

Anonymous said...

I teach at a non-Title 1 school and our pre-K has children from all kinds of back grounds.

Anonymous said...

fyi -- I understand that the 5/7 day stays the same but that the points will be allocated as if it is a 6/7 day -- I'm not quite sure how the schools are going to figure this one out -- you actually need enough teachers to teach 5/7 but only get teachers based on 6/7 at 36 (or 38) kids per class. I'm not convinced that the numbers work. I also understand that gifted classes (with the 22-25 groupings) will be minimized. All hearsay.....

Cerebration said...

Sort of off-topic - but with the class sizes increasing, staph infections and other kinds of viruses will transfer more easily. Next fall and winter, please ensure that children have access to soap and water at our schools as well as some kind of anti-bacterial lotion if possible.

I came across this report in the AJC and want you all to be aware -
Dramatic surge seen in kids hospitalized with MRSA

I share this because I had a case of MRSA infection - after a trip to Cabo San Lucas - (from a zip line harness.) It was icky - and if I hadn't gone to the doc as early as I did, I hate to think of how widely it could have spread. I still have a small scar from it. Check your children over carefully for signs of MRSA pimples or boils and if you find any, get treatment early and avoid hospitalization.

Cerebration said...

Here's a tax increase no one ever mentions -- how about charging those retirees some actual property taxes for schools? Do you know that they get a BIG break on their property taxes? Education cannot be paid for simply by the younger generations - education benefits society as a whole and should be paid by everyone. I can see a small break - but the breaks we currently give to seniors could quite possibly fill the gap.

I'd like to see Paul Womack suggest that one!

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration, 6:06 PM
"Here's a tax increase no one ever mentions -- how about charging those retirees some actual property taxes for schools? Do you know that they get a BIG break on their property taxes? The breaks we currently give to seniors could quite possibly fill the gap."

Cere -- you cannot possibly be serious or you have not read the DeKalb County tax code. See below:

70 years of age or older
If you are 70 years of age or older on January 1st and the Federal Adjusted Gross Income (based on previous year's tax return), plus municipal bonds, of both you and your spouse, does not exceed $77,340, you may be entitled to the Special School Tax Exemption. (H9)

65 years of age or older
If you are 65 years of age or older on January 1st and the Total Georgia Net Income of both you and your spouse does not exceed $10,000 (based on previous year's tax return) excluding Social Security benefits and most retirement income up to the maximum allowable under the Federal Social Security Act ($55,752 for 2009), then you may be entitled to a Senior School Exemption. (H4)

Or, if you are 65 years of age or older on January 1st and the Total Georgia Net Income of the household does not exceed $15,000 (based on previous year's tax return), excluding Social Security benefits and most retirement income up to the maximum allowable under the Federal Social Security Act ($55,752 for 2009), then you may be entitled to a Senior Homestead Exemption. (H6)

Or, if you are 65 years of age or older and the Gross Income of the household does not exceed $16,000 (based on previous year's tax return), you may be entitled to a Senior Partial School Exemption. (H8)

62 years of age or older
If you are 62 years of age or older on January 1st and the Georgia Net Income of your household does not exceed $10,000 (based on previous year's tax return) excluding Social Security benefits and most retirement income up to the maximum allowable under the Federal Social Security Act ($55,752 for 2009), then you may be entitled to the Senior Homestead and School Tax Exemption. (H3)

Or, If you are 62 years of age or older on January 1st and the Gross Income of your household does not exceed $16,000 (based on previous year's tax return), you may be entitled to a Partial School Exemption. (H7)

If, however, Cere, you are serious and think it would be a good idea to go after seniors with the limited (and probably fixed) incomes described above -- did you know that DeKalb County residents who are 100% and permanently disabled also get tax breaks? Did you know that disabled veterans and the un-remarried spouse of a disabled veteran or a veteran killed in action also get a tax break? Wait. There's more! Un-remarried spouses of peace officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty also get an exemption. OMG!

Military veterans get room and board while serving and most peace officers and firefighters work a second job -- sometimes a third -- so they all should have been able to set aside a significant amount of savings. Unless, of course, they have been living high on the hog.

Cere, what were you thinking?

Cerebration said...

Yep - check out that 70 or above rule -- I have been house-hunting - and many of the houses we look at have taxes set at about $1200 or less - due to the fact that over 70 YO's live there. If we were to buy that same house - the tax would be about $3,600.

Cerebration said...

Maureen Downey has an interesting post about a Harvard study showing that class size has no impact on education -

Latest study: Reducing class size doesn’t benefit student achievement

Here's the link to
The Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University

BTW - as far as the property taxes go - just want you all to consider that raising property taxes only burdens a certain portion of the population - I'll bet you thought it was more equitable than it is.

I still say - the money is there - if our school system can't function with a little over a BiLLiON dollar budget - something's wrong.

Cerebration said...

Here's a quote from the Harvard study -

The study, conducted by Matthew M. Chingos, a research fellow at Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance, analyzed student-level data provided by the Florida Department of Education to follow all students in grades four through eight who took the state reading and math tests between 2001 and 2007. During this time, average class size was reduced by about three students. Chingos found that students attending schools that were required to reduce class size did no better on state math and reading tests than students attending schools that were given funding to spend as they saw fit. The study also showed no discernible impact on student absenteeism and behavior problems.

“We do not know from this study whether giving districts more unrestricted state funds has positive effects or not,” Chingos said, “but the study strongly suggests that monies restricted for the purpose of funding class-size reduction mandates are not a productive use of limited educational resources.”

Cerebration said...

It appears at least, that our county commissioners may be "getting it"...

DeKalb panel votes to freeze positions

DeKalb County commissioners say they will not raise taxes to hire back hundreds of workers retiring this month.

Last week, county administrators asked the commission to refill 47 percent of the 826 county jobs that are being vacated as part of an early retirement program. That would be 391 positions. County Chief Operating Officer Keith Barker said those jobs are “critical” to county services.

But not according to the county commissioners, who will vote on a tax rate next month.

On Tuesday, the commission’s audit committee voted unanimously to freeze all vacant positions except for those in public safety, the courts and the tax commissioner’s office. The vote includes positions vacant from Dec. 15 through the early retirement, which goes into effect May 31. The number of positions that could be filled wasn't released Tuesday. The full commission still must approve the freeze.

“The goal is to not raise taxes and be disciplined to only fill positions that are essential to county services,” said Commissioner Jeff Rader, chairman of the audit committee. . . .

County commissioners asked for the reorganization after a study by Georgia State University last month found DeKalb is bloated and recommended that DeKalb lay off 909 employees and consolidate some services.

So - county administrators want to spend, spend, spend, but we actually may have a commission in place to keep them under control. We'll see how the vote goes - email your commissioner and let them know how you feel about the bloat and spending.

Cerebration said...

On a related note - it seems we have continued silly shenanigans with our CEO and the former police chief (Bolton - the one he fired).

DeKalb CEO adds 24-hour security to his home

Worried about what a former police chief might do, DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis has pulled several officers off their patrols to guard his Stone Mountain home.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 10:02 AM

Before taking this study as gospel, it would be good to know more about Florida's state tests -- have they been dumbed-down annually like Georgia's? Are they nationally normed? I am wary of any tests that are not nationally normed. How does Florida rank on the just-released NAEP?

Anonymous said...

While I agree that competent teachers are more important than class sizes, at a certain point you simply will not attract competen teachers if class sizes rise to unacceptable levels. For example, very few competent teachers will want to run labs with 30+ students and parents should be wary of anyone who doesn't read the studies on lab accidents rising dramatically with lab sizes over 24 students.

Class sizes of 34 and 35 will make teaching unattractive for competent teachers. Competent teachers are not found on every street corner. They will come into or stay in a field that is not an attractive situation. Please reference the extremely high attrition rate of Teach for America program.

If you want to attract competent, top notch people, you must attract them, not discourage them. It doesn't take a Harvard study to know that. Just ask any employers. If you don't show your best employees you value them, they will move on.

Anonymous said...

This may provide a strong argument for vouchers which should be paid directly to the schoolhouse -- the school then keeps, say 2/3 of the funds and the other third goes to administration (some formula along these lines). Infuse competition into the situation. Allow the vouchers to be used for public and private charter schools, and, gasp, private schools but at lower percentages with some percentage going to the local school and local adminitration. Give this a try for 10-15 years and see if it can't be better -- it can not, under any situation, be any worse.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:13 PM

Allow the vouchers to be used for public and private charter schools ...

ALL charter schools are public schools!

Anonymous said...

Cere --

More numbers for your consideration:
(1) According to the U. S. Census, DeKalb County has 1,838,062 children between the ages of 5 and 18.

(2) DCSS has 96,907 students and Decatur City Schools has 2,659 students. This totals 99,566 students in public schools in DeKalb County.

(3) That leaves 1,738,496 students who are not in public schools in DeKalb County, but whose parents pay property taxes to DeKalb County. And, yes, even renters pay property tax. It is figured into their rent.

Something is really, really rotten here.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:43 pm

Here is a link to US Census for DeKalb County:

Population: 747,274 (including childen)

Anonymous said...

Oops! Thanks, Anonymous 11:13 PM!

You are right. I'm not sure where I made the math error, but it was a biggie!

Nevertheless, there are still at least approximately 25,000 students whose parents pay property tax, but who did not attend DCSS or Decatur City Schools. Much of that tax money goes to support DCSS.

That doesn't count retirees and others who have no children in or entering DCSS.

So, I still say that something is very, very wrong here.

Anonymous said...

This math seems to ignore the dekalb county kids who live in Atlanta city limits and thus go to APS schools.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 10:01 am

"Maureen Downey has an interesting post about a Harvard study showing that class size has no impact on education"

This study looked at the difference in standardized test scores in Florida when it was mandated that school systems reduce class sizes by 3 students from 23 to 20. Please tell me I am not the only one who thinks this study is not applicable to our situation of DCSS raising class sizes to 35.

Just to share what happens to students when you increase DCSS class sizes to those projected by Ms. Tyson:

My daughter went to Kindergarten at Briarlake Elementary in DeKalb Schools in 1989. It was and still is an affluent, close-in neighborhood with well educated parents. At that time schools could place 31 students in a class with a paraprofessional. As these students progressed through 3rd grade (4th grade she went to Kittredge Magnet School), every year there were 3 teachers to teach 90+ students. Her Kindergarten and second grade teachers were okay. Her first grade teacher was not so great. Her third grade teacher was very good.

My daughter excelled. As a teacher in a nearby school, I worked with her all the time, read to her every day, took her to plays, concerts, puppet shows, traveling, took her to the public library every week, and looked at every concept she was learning in school and made sure she understood it. She had no developmental delay or attention problems. By December of First Grade, she was reading chapter books. She scored in the 99 percentile of the nationally normed Iowa Test of Basic Skills in math and reading every year. She became a voracious reader. She was successful in college, grad school, and is successfully employed in a professional capacity.

Sounds wonderful. Class size and teachers don’t really matter. No, it doesn’t matter – Not to my daughter, and to many of her classmates, class size did not matter.

But 31 primary students were almost overwhelming to the teachers. One child slipped out of school on a regular basis, and raced into LaVista Road in front of traffic. Another was very aggressive to other children. If the teacher sat him apart from other students because he was disruptive, he urinated in his seat. You could say there were more than a few distractions that wore the teachers out. How much energy did they have for the children that just needed a little individual attention?

Does anyone ever look at the children who slip through the cracks? My daughter and her Briarlake classmates are now 25, and I can look at some of the kids (still kids to me) who are her age who had problems in the early years – they weren’t special ed or behavioral problems – they just needed some extra help to get them up to grade level. To this day, I can see where these same young adults have had problems (more than a few could not make it through college), and I can trace it back to these huge class sizes and the inability of teachers to be able to provide the help they needed.

This study doesn’t look at what happens to students 20 years later who did not receive the attention they needed. These students weren’t in any disaggregated group who would show up on standardized test results. And there are enough students like my daughter to pull the scores up to high levels.

Schools are supposed to prepare students for life. I’ve seen what happens when classrooms are packed with 30+ students. Why anyone would advocate this is beyond my comprehension.