Emory-Lavista Parent Council meeting last April when Ms. Tyson first addressed the group in the midst of the budget cuts. I found the comments interesting, in that, of the promises made, I don't see many that have come to light. Read what I've copied and pasted and see if you think these comments have been adequately addressed over the last 4 months. I find these issues particularly troubling: There was only an $88 million budget shortfall, but as we all know, the board made $104 million in cuts in anticipation of further cuts by the state. (When those cuts come, lets remind them that they have already been accounted for.) Also, the plan was to consolidate schools (stating that we have 11,000 'empty' seats) in order to recover state funding (this has not been done, as we all know, due to public outcry and Sarah Copelin-Wood's meddling). Tyson states here that 152 central office positions were going to be cut. Were they? Or did these end up being cuts to the schoolhouse - as in, technology, parapros, media clerks, etc. Cuts were made to central, but 152? Lastly, she stated that the BOE would be communicating with the public, and as we are all painfully aware, virtually no one has communicated with the public (unless you count threatening to 'slug' a reporter).
Interim Superintendant Tyson, described herself as a dedicated DCSS professional of 22 years who had experience with IBM at the request of the DCSS administration. She noted her commitment to her family, especially as a mother of two elementary school aged children. She stated that her goal was to do the best job possible while staying focused on the core business of DCSS and the students of DCSS. Specifically, she shared her goal to rebuild the trust of all stakeholders and especially the morale of DCSS employees.
She noted the pressing matter of balancing the budget for FY 2011 by June 30. DCSS BOE must approve a balanced budget noting the dire circumstance of the current economic situation. After the budget is approved, school consolidation must be addressed, and then the transition issues of current students in addition to preparing for the new students. This all must be done with a “laser-like focus on day-to-day operations.”
Ms. Tyson noted that there is presently an $88,000,000 shortfall and a DCSS proposal to reduce spending by $115, 000,000. This greater cut is in anticipation of historical state education funding cuts that occur during the summer time and negatively impact county budgets. While, DCSS prepares budgets, Ms. Tyson highlighted that ultimate decision making rests with the DCSS BOE.
Ms. Tyson spent some time clarifying information about DCSS employees. She noted that there are 15,859 employees of whom 13,873 are FT and 1986 are PT. She noted that 14,620 are school based employees and 1239 are in the central office which translates to approximately 7.8 % of central office employees. Of the central office employees, 982 are paid out of the general budget with local dollars and 257 are paid with federal dollars. Proposed budget reductions include the lay-offs of approximately 152 central office positions by 6-30-10.
While noting that budget reductions are necessary, compliance issues must be met to ensure funding and adherence to laws and standards. Ms. Tyson reiterated that her administration and the board would address these matters. Even after initial cuts, Ms. Tyson noted the on-going need to examine the central office structure from a business perspective in order to determine the need for additional cuts.
Interim Superintendant Tyson directed the audience to examine the school consolidation plans that are posted on the DCSS website http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/redistricting/. She noted that because of 11,000 empty seats in DCSS there is a corresponding loss of state entitlement dollars which places an undue burden on the district. She noted a recommendation to transition from middle and high schools having 2 planning periods per day to one planning period (i.e. from a 7 period day to a 6 period day) as a significant cost saving recommendation. Additionally, she noted that during this trying time that testing integrity has been a priority.
For the next 3-6 months, an uphill climb will continue with distractions. Ms. Tyson reiterated her commitment to improve integrity and keep distractions separated from the core business of education. She noted that the BOE will be communicating with the media and that she will be focusing on day-to-day operations.
Plan to attend the next ELPC meeting and ask Ms. Tyson to respond to questions regarding the progress of her promises.
Emory Lavista Parent Council
Join us at 9:15 am
(refreshments begin at 8:45 am)
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Oak Grove Elementary School
1857 Oak Grove Road, NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30307
Our guest speaker Ms. Ramona Tyson,
Interim Superintendent for DeKalb County Schools,
presents the State of the System
UPDATE: Ms. Tyson has already visited with the Dunwoody-Chamblee Parent Council. Dunwoody Mom has a report available at her blog, Dunwoody School Daze.