Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chamblee Charter High School: Survivor

DeKalb County School System has 26 secondary schools (including the DeKalb Alternative Night School, DOLA Annex at McNair and Gateway to College). All are listed by GaDOE on their AYP report for DCSS, but DCSS does not report AYP scores for DeKalb Alternative, DOLA or Gateway to College.

Of the 26 secondary schools, only 7 – that’s just 27% – made AYP last year. These schools included Chamblee Charter High School, Lakeside High School, DeKalb School of the Arts, Dunwoody High School, DeKalb Early College Academy, Tucker High School and Arabia Mountain High School. Of the recently announced statewide SAT ranking, Chamblee Charter High School was #1 in DCSS and #20 in the state. Only Chamblee and Lakeside were in the top 25 schools in the state – Lakeside was #25.

Why is it – with 67% of DCSS’s schools not making AYP and big problems countywide (including a superintendent and a COO indicted on RICO charges; and internal affairs, finance and human resources departments that should, themselves, be investigated) – some contributors to this blog feel compelled to advocate for shutting down Chamblee Charter High School? Chamblee Charter High School is one of the few high schools in all of DCSS that is working.

Isn’t there plenty of other critical work to do?
  • To right-size the DCSS central office;
  • To pay principals and teachers commensurate to their critical importance to our students;
  • To require reasonable accountability from our principals and teachers – yes – but also to give them the autonomy to lead and to teach; and
  • To rehabilitate schools not making AYP?
Why are some contributors to this blog following the DCSS model of tearing down a successful school instead of doing the hard work of building up struggling schools that are failing our children?

Even before the magnet program for high achievers came to Chamblee High School in 1991, the school – DeKalb County’s second-oldest high school -- did well both academically and athletically. However, as rumor after rumor suggested that CHS might be closed, enrollment of resident students began to drop. People moved or enrolled their children in solid, steady, stationary private schools that were not closing. Later on, school enrollment was negatively affected in the 1980s when teachers were reassigned, by lottery, to “balance” teaching experience across DCSS. Some very experienced, very popular, excellent teachers who embodied the meaning, spirit and reality of Chamblee High School were arbitrarily reassigned to south DeKalb schools. This further fueled the rumors of CHS’s imminent closing.

Fortunately for Chamblee High School, Dr. Martha Reichrath arrived as principal in 1989. In 1990, DCSS suddenly realized that students in the Kittredge Magnet Program for High Achievers were ready for high school but, typically, DCSS had no plan. Dr. Reichrath offered CHS because there was room and because the “resident” students at CHS already were a diverse group with a strong tradition of academic excellence who could hold their own as academic equals with this influx of students. The magnet program was about one-third of the total CHS student body.

It has been a slow, long haul to re-grow Chamblee Charter High School’s resident program student population. The resident program’s re-growth was aided when Chamblee High School was named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U. S. Department of Education in 1996. Subsequently, CHS also was named one of America’s Best High Schools by various national magazines such as Redbook and Newsweek. Then Chamblee became a charter school – approved jointly by secret ballot by the magnet and the resident programs’ parents and teachers – in 2000.

In spite of the terrible condition of the CCHS building; the rats, roaches, rust and mold; the apparent complicity of the fire department and health department inspectors, the EPA and OSHA; the “bait-and-switch” with SPLOST after SPLOST after SPLOST; a very weak and inept principal who is on record as not liking charter schools; and an inattentive board of education member, Chamblee has managed to thrive. Chamblee Charter High School is one of the very few bright lights in DCSS.

But the rumors about closing Chamblee have flared up again. This time the Internet is fanning the flames. These rumors are fueled by this blog and they have gained widespread acceptance by readers of this blog. Even though the CCHS attendance area is growing with young families whose children will be ready for high school in just a few years, none of the advocates for closing Chamblee Charter High School seem able to look past the end of their noses. Talk about closing CCHS sends these families with rising high schoolers straight to solid, steady, stationary private schools where there is no talk of closing.

So, I ask again: Why is it – with 67% of DCSS’s schools not making AYP and big problems countywide (including a superintendent and a COO indicted on RICO charges; and internal affairs, finance and human resources departments that should, themselves, be investigated) – some contributors to this blog feel compelled to advocate for shutting down Chamblee Charter High School? Chamblee Charter High School is one of the few high schools in all of DCSS that is working.

Isn’t there plenty of other critical work to do:
  • To right-size the DCSS central office;
  • To pay principals and teachers commensurate to their critical importance to our students;
  • To require reasonable accountability from our principals and teachers – yes – but also give them the autonomy to lead and to teach; and
  • To rehabilitate schools not making AYP?
Why are some contributors to this blog following the DCSS model of tearing down a successful school instead of doing the hard work of building up struggling schools that are failing our children?


Anonymous said...

Take the magnet program out of CCHS and CCHS is "not working".

Anonymous said...

Why does CCHS get the luxury of having the magnet program to bump up their scores?

Let's move the magnet program, say into McNair or Redan and then hide the high achiever scores amongst the resident students and I will bet McNair and Redan's score go up as well.

Anonymous said...

Let's move the magnet program, say into McNair or Redan and then hide the high achiever scores amongst the resident students and I will bet McNair and Redan's score go up as well.


True but only if the magnet kids's parents allow them to go there.

Chamblee Teacher said...

I appreciate your Chamblee support, Sandy. I'd just like to add, however, that our principal is not "very weak, inept, and against charter schools." She is just as efficient as any of the other principals. Please provide evidence before insulting someone. Regarding student performance, Chamblee is a perfect example of--how else can I say it?--good brainwashing because 99% of the students have bought into the rumor that Chamblee is a great school so they created an environment that lives up to that rumor. Schools that are constantly told that they are failing will live up to their expectations, just as schools that are constantly told that they are successful will live up to their expectations.

Anonymous said...

There are 2 issues here that are totally separate. If the magnet program is moved out of Chamblee, why does that automatically means the school would close? How many of the 1500 students at CCHS are magnet students?

Is this more about losing the scores of the magnet students than actually the possibility of closing Chamblee?

Cerebration said...

According to the new data posted on the DCSS planning website, there are 693 resident students attending CCHS. (749 non-resident students). There are only 25 resident students not attending CCHS. (I find that curious - this must only take into account public school students - as we all know there are plenty of students in that zone who attend private schools.)

Anonymous said...

I don’t see what purpose can be served by breaking up Chamblee Charter High School, other than possibly reducing transportation costs.
Eliminating this school will not fix the problems at other high schools. Their high achieving students will just have to ride the bus a shorter time, perhaps, to a centrally located magnet school. Other students will have a longer bus ride. Transportation savings may not be significant.

We’re just rearranging deck chairs...

Why not put the focus and resources towards making the other high schools attractive to their neighborhoods?

Cerebration said...

I also don't think anyone is taking the effect Arabia has had on attendance in that area. Originally planned as a neighborhood school to relieve over-crowding, Arabia was instead designated a "choice" school, which is a magnet, more or less, as the website states, "Arabia hosts DeKalb Schools’ Environmental Energy and Engineering Magnet Program which is designed to support students aspiring to become engineers, soil conservationists, microbiologists and other environmental related professions."

Also, although Arabia is a "choice" school for students from all around DeKalb, the school itself is located just a few miles from the southernmost border of DeKalb, a few miles from both Rockdale and Henry counties.

click here for the map to Arabia

So, in reality, Arabia certainly is responsible for taking so many students from area high schools. For example, MLK has 760 students not attending the home school and Lithonia has 761 students not attending the home school. Arabia currently has 1308 with room for 300-600 more, depending on which capacity number you use.

So - why are we still planning to spend $10,178,779 on an addition to MLK and $5,874,487 for an addition to Miller Grove? And all the while - taking away promised money for Chamblee? Leaving the Chamblee kids to spend their day in a rotting, horrible building? And now, spreading rumors that the "program" is unfair and needs to be moved to Avondale in order to be "equitable"?!

What is REALLY going on here? Why have they put the brakes on Chamblee's promised construction? Why are they not even willing to discuss any plans for Chamblee - other than to ask the community to support a SPLOST IV?

Anonymous said...

Remember that one of the critiera that will be used in closings/consolidating is the condition of the facility. We know that consultants have said that the Chamblee facility needs to be torn down completely - not renovated. I'm sure this is playing into the discussions.

Cerebration said...

But that's just it -- there are no discussions. Just rumors that "they" want to move the magnet program. Rumors and whispers. That's all. Try getting a direct response from Redovian - someone please ask him, "What are the plans for Chamblee?" Ask him directly and let us know.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure no one knows exactly what is going to happen at this point. Dan Drake is still gathering demographic data. This data has to be gathered and analyzed before any sound decisions can be made.

I'm sure the parents at Gresham Park are just as anxious as those at Chamblee.

Ella Smith said...

I agree if the magnet students were taken away from Chamblee the test scores might look very different. These students are the cream of the crop of students. Of course Chamblee will continue to have the highest scores in the county since so many of the top students in the county are attending this magnet school of choice.

I also agree that it may not be to Dekalb best interest to spend a torn of money on renovations on a building that might need to be replaced.

I think decisions must be made from a county prospective instead of looking at the situation from one district or another. Too much money has been spent unnecessarily by not doing long term planning as to how our money is being spent.

I am not suggesting that Chamblee no longer be a high school. However, I am suggesting that the DeKalb County School System look at the big picture and plan for what is best for all the students in Dekalb County. Having a magnet program like is at Chamblee in the middle of the county make be more cost effective.

Again, decisions need to be made on placing schools as to what is best for all the students in Dekalb County that provide the most opportunity and is the best for the bucks spent. We have to be more accountable to taxpayers also. Too much money is still being spent on transporting students around the county.

Cerebration said...

Then I would have to suggest moving the magnet program from Arabia - as that school is not accessible to very many students given it's location just outside of Rockdale and Henry counties.

In fact, then you should move SW DeKalb's magnet to the same location as Chamblee's - if you choose to move Chamblee. Since SW DeKalb is only 5-6 miles from Arabia, it is almost like "magnet school alley" down there.

Anonymous said...

There has been no offical word about Chamblee closing. The blog in the past has shared good news and information. Let us not turn it into something else. There is no word that the magnet is moving.
Chamblee works. I for one feel that it is a combination of many factors working together that makes it work. High expectations, involved parents, a supportive community and a strong tradition. Any school with these factors has a good chance of improving. Why don't we study the things that make a school strong and try and use those practices in all of our schools? Lakeside does not have a magnet program. Yes, there are many academically gifted students at Lakeside, but there are also a mixture of other students. Look at Briarlake. There is no magnet school there. Every school must demamd excellence. I am an educator. If you want better schools in all parts of the DCSS, parents must get involved. Schools need support and not blame. Let all principals be trained more on methods to increase excellence. If Dr. Beasley's plans have any chance of working, there must be training and respect for the principals.
My nephew was having trouble in high school. His mother, me and my husband went to the school. We made sure the school knew us. We made sure that they knew that we all valued education and would support the school. There were some issues with a teacher. We never discussed those in front of my nephew. He graduated and is now in college doing very well. The expectation was on him and the school. We also made certain that he studied. The schools cannot do it alone.

Anonymous said...

Chamblee's scores would suffer if the magnet program was removed of course. But also the school would loose the "charter" students who are there because the school knows how to set high expectations and the students get a superb education. If the program is moved and now the magnet students would have an Avondale diploma, there would be many students who would not get into quality schools; the Chamblee diploma has weight with colleges and they know that a Chamblee (or Lakeside) diploma means that student's work has made them ready for college. Parents should be outraged that this possibility of moving the program can happen. If this truly is what is best for the "county" and so far the main reason for the move is transportation money (which has been cut already) there needs to be a full investigation of the detrimental aspects of moving the program. In addition, how can DCSS totally change a charter? There should be legal issues.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 7:33

"Then I would have to suggest moving the magnet program from Arabia - as that school is not accessible to very many students given it's location just outside of Rockdale and Henry counties.

I must disagree. Arabia Mountain had millions poured into the construction to design it as a science magnet. What would you do with the science facilities and equipment that have millions of taxpayer dollars already invested? It's not like you can move this building.

I'm an avowed magnet proponent IF magnets are used for attracting and educating students with a desire and aptitude for a particular discipline. What DCSS has done is terrible. They have used magnets as a release valve for vocal and involved parents - particularly in South DeKalb where schools are filled with students who are not achieving.

There are many great students all over DeKalb. Just because your parents aren't vocal and involved should not mean you are consigned to a school that has low expectations. These students are the ones who are really being shortchanged as our magnet programs become a haven for students whose parents have the will to apply.

Anonymous said...

The test scores of the non-Magnet students at Chamblee were/are dismal. Thus, the reason DeKalb County SS ceased reporting separate magnet and resident scores. I don't remember if it was Johnny Brown or CLew that made the decision to stop reporting the scores separately.

Let's continue on with the transparency and report those scores separately for ALL the magnet schools.

Ella Smith said...

I agree that the location for a magnet like Arabian is not in the most central location. It appears to be a wonderful program but do to location the access to it for students and parents on the upper half of the county is not very likely.

I would hate to see Chamblee closed. Chamblee has been around for many years and does have a great reputation.

I do think decisions should be made from an overall prospective. I see board members constantly worried only about their district and this hurts the Dekalb County School System.

I would like to see a new high school built just because I think this area deserves a new high school and it might be more feesible than spending a great deal of money on the existing structure.

Ella Smith said...

I agree the scores should be reported separately.

It is important to know how much impact the high achievers are having on the scores at Chamblee High School.

It is also important to realized that many of these students scores would benifit the home schools if they were a part of their home school. Home schools scores suffer due to magnet schools. This is just the way it is. However, I think parents must have choices.

Anonymous said...

This entire discussion should be on the back burner when you have 56% of your school system in non-teaching positions.

Concentrate on trimming the non-teaching positions, expensive ineffective learning programs, and multi-million dollar technology programs that don't produce any Return on Investment. After that is settled, then DCSS can institute changes that directly affect students.

The Central Office and the BOE have us in a situation where we are concentrating on impacting students as cost saving measures and neglecting the main expenditure in the school system - admin and support.

Anonymous said...

This may be off topic with regard to the Chamblee issue, but in hearty agreement with Anonymous 8:16, it is clear that students' best interests are not paramount. Get rid of the excess staff so that we can hire more teachers. How can kids learn when packed into classrooms (including trailers) with 34 kids?

pscexb said...

It's great to see additional discussions about the upcoming consolidation/closure/repurposing that will take place soon. Hopefully additional recommendations will be forthcoming to either tweak or counter those I suggested earlier.

I do feel I need to clarify something that may be getting lost, I recommended closing two high school clusters based on the size of their public school enrollment. In that, I believe the district could realize cost saving in several areas, including personnel, transportation, building maintenance. It could result in reconsidering several expansion projects if additional redistricting would take place. It could both provide relief to some clusters that are overcrowded and allow several clusters to better utilize the seats available. If these savings are redirected into the instructional programs, it can be a 'win win' situation for everyone.

The changes suggested will obviously result in perceived losses for some communities. The Chamblee advocates seem well represented on this blog so let me throw out considerations for those communities that could be impacted by some of the recommendations made earlier yet are not getting their voices heard.

-Avondale has a long and rich history of educating students, even prior to DCSS beginning in the late 40's. Why would we consider closing it down as a neighborhood school?

-The McNair cluster has already seen 3 of its elementary schools combined into one yet others are recomended for closure. Should we look elsewhere before addressing this cluster?

-Medlock is a neighborhood school that suits its community well. Why would we consider consolidating it with neighboring schools if it is working?

-Southwest DeKalb has benefitted from hosting the HA magnet for years, with many of its students participating in the arts (many in the band) and athletic programs. What impact will moving this magnet to Avondale have on the students that remain?

Several HSs have closed in DeKalb over the years. In 1969, Bruce Street, Hamilton, and Lynwood Park closed as a remedy to Brown v. Board of Education. Due to population shifts, Briarcliff closed in the 80's and folded into Druid Hills. When the district went to the junior high model, Henderson, Peachtree, Sequoyah, and Shamrock were converted and their histories went to Lakeside, Dunwoody, Cross Keys, and Druid Hills respectively. I'm sure there are some graduates of the aforementioned schools that harbor some ill will but the decisions were made in the best interest of all students in the district.

Whatever recommendations are made, some community will lose a school they have grown up with. Are we willing to take a big picture view of what is best or will be dig in our heels and protect our turf? These upcoming discussion will be interesting.....

Anonymous said...

We have asked Redovian directly, he said. "Once the BOE votes to move the magnet program, Chamblee will no longer have capacity issues.."

What does that mean, "As soon as the BOE votes to move the magnet."?

I take that the vote is going to happen as soon as that report comes out and they vote in February.

Once again the BOE knows something the public does not. I have a problem with things being a "done deal" before any public input or community meetings.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 8:11. Where are you getting your data? I have a parent on the PTSA in my neighborhood. The separate data HAS NOT been posted on the data wall at CCHS. So please tell me where you are getting your data?!

Anonymous said...

I said it earlier, why can't we have magnet schools in the south and north party of the county? Wouldn't that be more "green", energy efficient and keeping our cars out of traffic?

I'm with others, show us the audit that CLEW hid and cut back our ADMIN and Support personnel. Seems to me too much money is not making it to the schools!

Anonymous said...

But that's just it -- there are no discussions. Just rumors that "they" want to move the magnet program. Rumors and whispers. That's all. Try getting a direct response from Redovian - someone please ask him, "What are the plans for Chamblee?" Ask him directly and let us know.


Anonymous said...

We all understand that no one has said CCHS is closing! However, the report from the committee that met in the Spring is suggesting that the magnet be moved to Avondale. Parents at CCHS have been told this!

I think DCSS would be better off having two magnets, north and south. Why can't this be discussed.

I'd also like to know about the CCHS charter. Can DCSS close it before 2014? I think the Palace wants to create more trouble for the Chamblee area, start a rumor and let it spread.

DCSS leadership tried to take down Nancy Creek after Alice Thompson left. They put in a first time principal, who was more worried about his son's hockey games than school events. Until those parents caught Jamal Edwards hiding out there, the parents got a new principal, Dr. Silvers is now at Montgomery and those parents love her!

I think DCSS leadership enjoys celebrating mediocrity and hate success!

Anonymous said...


Do you remember the North Corridore committee? Perhaps the solution of shared facilities that was advocated by some of the members might have been the way to go. If I recall correctly, you weren't to fond of that option, but maybe hindsight is 20/20 vision.

I would argue that CCHS and CMS doesn't work well for bright students who happen to not get in the magnet program. Until about 2 years ago, the only students who could take foreign language at CMS were in the magnet program.

Last year at CMS there was only one team of 6th graders and there is very little ability to do much differentiation. This year there are two six grade teams, but only because CMS took over 100+ AYP students.

Non-magnet students at CMS have a very different experience than magnet students as do most of the high school students.

When your child went through CHS, not in the magnet program, it was a very different time. It is not the same now.

Anonymous said...

"Why are some contributors to this blog following the DCSS model of tearing down a successful school instead of doing the hard work of building up struggling schools that are failing our children?"

Could it be that we really do not understand the mindset of the majority (the Walker group) of the BOE? My view of this group is that getting glitz (e.g., a $100 million high school)for their constituents is how they show that they are doing a good job. The old one-room schoolhouse from the 1890s had better results than the majority of the schools in DCSS, but their constituents would never accept this.
SCW and Zephora would be screaming racial discrimination at the tops of their lungs.

Secondly, the group is satisfied with,and perhaps only wants, lowest common denominator performance. That is, if everyone would just barely pass AYP, they would be satisfied. Schools such as Chamblee that excel, are an anathema to them since they do not fit into the group game plan. No pupil should be able to do better than pupils from schools in their districts. Maybe that is why they are just letting Chamblee deteriorate with the hope that it will wither on the vine and disappear.

Anonymous said...

My child is NOT in the magnet program at CMS. His entire team 6-A, are NOT magnet students. These are residents who are High Achievers and the majority, all but 2, are in accelerated math.

The 100 who came in are on a different team. I am tired of people making assumptions about resident kids in Chamblee. The 6-A team are NOT magnet kids, the magnet kids are still at Kittredge. The 6-A team are kids who were in Discovery Programs at Montgomery, Huntley Hills and Ashford Park.

I'm so tired of people, on this blog, making blanket statements about the kids in Chamblee and the surrounding areas. These are good kids, who all make great grades and will help CMS and CCHS make AYP in the future.

Anonymous said...

Save your energy. It's not about public input or wishes. It's about gathering 5 of 9 BOE votes, and it's done. It's hard to accept, but that's reality.

Anonymous said...

As to test scores, over half (I will try to get the exact number tomorrow) the students in the graduating class were magnet students who had to place into the program and then maintain certain grades to stay in. The magnet program is playing a huge role in Chamblee's test scores.

As for AYP, Chamblee almost missed it this year, in the economically disadvantaged subgroup, it took going to the confidence interval for them to make it. (This is some kind of averaging formula.)

I think AYP is a bunch of baloney especially in high school, where the entire school is judged on one test that is given only to juniors.

Just like the SAT average, about half the students taking the Graduation Exam are in the magnet program. That is a pretty big advantage for Chamblee.

Anonymous said...

The magnet program at Chamblee has nothing to do with the Charter program. The magnet program is at Chamblee at the behest of the school system. One has nothing to do with the other. Some of you seem to believe that the magnet program "belongs" to Chamblee - it does not.

The hyprocisy of this thread is astounding!! You all critize SCW in a heartbeat when she tries to advocate for her schools, but then when it is YOUR school, it should not be touched.

You cannot have it both ways.

Anonymous said...

One more thing these resident kids on Team 6-A are actually over qualified for the magnet program. Discovery kids and/or High Achievers have to have higher grades and test scores to qualify for those programs. These kids were not "lucky" enough to win the lottery of a magnet education. I for one am glad he didn't. His discovery experience and now his High Achieving experience in Chamblee Middle are "awesome" to quote him. Do we wish that all his teachers are gifted certified? Heck yea! However, he is still getting an excellent education and being challenged.

Anonymous said...

Do you realize that the "Economically Disadvantaged" group at Cross Keys had higher Math scores than the same group at Chamblee?

Cerebration said...

Anon 8:06 PM -- I really didn't seriously propose moving Arabia - just using that to show the absurdity of the idea to move Chamblee. The whispering reason for moving Chamblee HA is to make it more "central" - and in that old, tired, north/south argument. Ironically, the south has it's own very good HA program at SW DeKalb as well as the magnet at Arabia. I'm just not understanding the all out gunning for Chamblee.

Perhaps Chamblee's enrollment would be higher if the building wasn't so dang crummy. You know, build it and they will come! There are a lot of high school students in that attendance zone who attend private schools. I don't think we've considered them and the possibility of their return to public school if their children didn't have to study with rats.

(I'm not making that up - the kids say they see rats around the building.) Come on people. I don't know how on earth the board can put out a PowerPoint entitled "Promises Made. Promises Kept.", when they have broken such a huge promise with Chamblee, year after year, after year.

Anonymous said...

Hypocrite? I just wish Sarah Coppelin-Wood could lay off calling me racist. However, once again why should we settle for mediocrity? How many of SCW schools have made AYP?

Cerebration said...

We have had interesting brainstorming sessions here with ideas such as a shared campus with Cross Keys (like a small college atmosphere) - they can have their own buildings for various programs and share an auditorium and athletic fields. Or - same idea at the Druid Hills location - only share with DSA here... Either way, it involves new construction to accommodate the Chamblee students.

Anonymous said...

The reason the families in the Chamblee attendance area send their children to private schools has nothing to do with the building.

Remember Kim Gocke's comment a day or so ago about it being "ghetto"?

themommy said...

Dr. Martha R. was the ultimate insider, a friend of Dr. Halford who really let her, and many other principals in the system, do what they wanted to. Not only was he hands off, he rewarded the schools where his friends were principals with tremendous extra resources.

How do I know this? Because when Roy Barnes became Governor, he began to enforce existing rules about spending on schools. All of sudden, schools who had the same number of students the previous year, saw an huge increase in staff, while other schools lost staff. There really were huge inequities in the system at the time.

Dr. R. is still a fabulous educator, though I disagree with her on GA's math curriculum, but I wonder how she would have done if DCSS wasn't run the way it was back then.

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify, Kim did not make the comment, it was made to him.

Anonymous said...

The SW DEKalb program would be moved as well and I would like to think, based on the published numbers that Arabia Mt. would become a neighborhood school with a small magnet program housed in it, since the facility is there.

No one is suggesting that SW DEKalb wouldn't move.

Anonymous said...

@ 6:41 p.m. Please stop promoting incorrect facts.

The engineering report does not say that the CCHS building should be torn down and rebuilt. The report says that some of the building systems (i.e. HVAC and electrical) are near their useful life and need to be upgraded and/or replaced. The report says that the $11.1M allocated for the addition is not sufficient to correct the deficiencies in the building infrastrucutre. The building needs either a thorough upgrade like Lakeside is receiving OR a new building.

Anonymous said...

Stop calling the kids in Chamblee "ghetto" I guess you haven't been up here lately, have you?

This talk is ridiculous. How would you feel if someone called your kids or successful school "ghetto'?

DCSS would love for CCHS to become a ghetto, I guarantee you that. but the parents I know are doing everything we can to provide a great education to all the Chamblee kids whether they are white, black, hispanic, asian or anything else.

I'm so tired of people injecting race into the conversation. Obviously, a SCW or Zepora Roberts supporter, since they're famous for their racist comments. We have proof too!

Anonymous said...

There is a lot of misinformation on this thread. Anon 8:44, parents HAVE NOT been told by the administration of a potential move. However, Paul Womack did tell me, when I called to complain about something else, that the magnet program will be moved in an effort to centralize all magnet programs. I thought he said that it would be moved to the N. Druid Hills Road property, which would indicate that the move is years down the road. Maybe I misremember and he did say the magnet program would be moved to Avondale.

Anon 8:44, you "think DCSS would be better off having two magnets, north and south." There is a high achiever magnet in the south, as Cere pointed out, at SW Dekalb.

As the parent of a magnet student at CCHS, I don't care if they move it. As a DeKalb County taxpayer, I hate to see the BoE destroying Chamblee.

Cerebration said...

Don't pay attention to that kind of baiting. People who say outrageous statements like that are insensitive or just looking for a reaction. We all know the kids at Chamblee are great kids! (Maybe they meant that the 'building' looked like a ghetto - that has a ring of truth.)

Also, interesting - moving SW DeKalb's program - so that ALL high achievers would be in the same place. That could be better. I was misinformed. I thought I heard rumblings that they wanted Chamblee to be central - as in - not in the north. I can't stress enough - ALL of the choice/theme/etc and most of the charter and magnet programs are already in south DeKalb. (Sarah tries to raise her concerns about how the proliferation of those types of schools has harmed her neighborhood schools - but she just can't seem to make her point cogently enough for people to hear her. She comes so close so many times...)

Anonymous said...

I cannot help what other people say - this is a comment that was made by a Chamblee-area parent about how they would not send their chidren to CMS or CCHS. I did not make this up. I'll see if I can find the post it was made under.

Anonymous said...

I think the ghetto comment is harsh. Now everyone values diversity and that is just the way it is. Chamblee is more than 50 percent African American, while whites make up only about 30 percent.

I will say that many of the private school parents that I know who live in the Chamblee attendance zone live there because their children were always going to go to private school and Chamblee is convenient to Marist, OLA, Hebrew Academy, St. Martins and St. Piuss. I certainly may have left some out.

I also know of several families who have pulled their kids out when they didn't get in the magnet program. But I also know some Chamblee area private school families who put their kids into CCHS when they did get in the magnet program.

Anonymous said...

Sandy, you are losing your mind. And you are discrediting this fantastic blog.

I personally talked to a BOE member who was furious at you for unbacked allegations you've made, and that BOE member refuses to look at this blog because of you, even when sane minded people like Kim Gocke, Ella Smith, Dan Magee, Shayna Stenefld, etc. make very cogent points on the blog.

No one is talking about closing CCHS. Sane people realize that the facility there needs to be torn down and rebuilt. You come across as an incredible whiner who only focuses on CCHS. Not sure how an adult can read this blog and come up with a conspiracy theory about a movement to close CCHS. You're fabricating something that has no truth to it. Seriously, it's a big boy/big girl world. If you want to be taken seriously, then be serious.

Anonymous said...

That was harsh!

Anonymous said...

I agree with 10:05. Sandy, whenever you speak to anyone from the Central Office and/or BOE, please don't mention this blog, 'cause most of us posters aren't off their rocker.

You're going to get Cere in even more trouble with the lawyers for C Lew, Pat Pope and the school system, who's already been harassing her.

You've been incredibly aggressive towards Womack, even though he's part of the problem, as is every BOE member. Look in the mirror, Sandy, before going off the deep end accusing posters on this blog of trying to close down CCHS. LOL.

Cerebration said...

Oh, be nice to Sandy. The problem is that we just don't get information directly from the school leadership. This creates whispering campaigns, gossip and misinformation. (I'm guilty of misinterpreting much on this topic about the Chamblee "move" myself!) What we need to do is discuss it directly with board reps and the folks who are looking at redistricting. I think it's pretty clear that moving the magnet portion of CCHS would leave a high school with very, very low enrollment. We'd have to have some big discussions about where to put those 600+ kids.

This is a very looooong way from a done deal as I see it. I thank psc for starting this conversation and for showing us that we are just as passionate on the consolidation issue as the parents in Sarah's district. I think we're all going to be making some big sacrifices in the future.

I harp on the Arabia issue, as I think that area is still attempting to double-dip into SPLOST money. They have enough "seats" for all of the students in those zones if Arabia is included in the count. Yet, since they refuse to include Arabia as such and keep it's capacity as "magnet" seats, then they think they can still grab the money for the scheduled additions to MLK and Miller Grove, which would not be needed if Arabia seats were used for area students.

We need to have BIG, over-arching, long-term discussions about redistricting and consolidation. My concern is that the current board is much too focused on 'north/south' balance to make good, long-term decisions. We need board reps with much less baggage at the table - people who will make decisions because it's the fiscally, educationally sound thing to do. Period.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the current board is to focussed on north/south balancing, rather SCW and ZR are.

Neither of these women have much influence on the board.

If a vote is split, they are almost always on the losing side and ZR has repeatedly tried to influence changes in policy and ethics policies with little to no success. In fact, she has tried to stop the changes in total and failed miserably there. NOT one board member seems to listen to her.

Dr Lewis seemed to listen to ZR. I think he often wanted her to support him which she did, blindly. She wanted her children protected after all.

The Board often has votes that are 5 to 4 and generally the 5 are Bowen, Redovian, McChesney, Speaks and Womack. Occasionally, Cunningham and Walker would fall on their side.

Anonymous said...

Not all of the non-resident enrollment at CCHS are magnet students. They have also Charter attendees and NCLB transfers. We don't really know the exact number of magnet students, though I have heard it is around 400.

Anonymous said...

Unless they are shrinking the program, it should be around 145-150 a year. KMS starts with about 138 students per grade and expands in 6th grade. I don't know if there is an other expansion in 9th grade.

Anonymous said...

You can apply for the Magnet program at CCHS without having attending Kittredge or Chamblee Middle School.

Anonymous said...

I would agree that all of the MS/HS - Magnet programs should be located in one "central location". How many kids are there in total, that attend HA/magnet programs--1500 - 2000? It seems that a campus the size of say Arabia or MLK that is centrally located would work. It should have all the science labs, performance space, & athletic fields, etc required to house the programs.

Anonymous said...

Not everyone from Kittredge continues on to Chamblee. A lot go to private school. I don't know Sandy's background - I am fairly new to all of this. But I don't understand the desire to tear down Chamblee - both literally and figuratively. It is the top high school in the county - why would we want to mess with it? And who cares if it is the top high school because of the magnet program being housed there? The fact that the high school's profile is being raised can only lead to better things. Why does there seem to be this laser focus on the top end instead of the hundreds of other problems that are in beyond bad shape - top-heavy central administration, Title I funds going to programs instead of teachers, schools (other than Chamblee) in disgusting conditions, a board that seems to think they are doing a good job, a used car salesman as the head of curriculum, an interim super who is personally responsible for the disaster that is eSis (who cares how she is doing as interim, she couldn't do her core, skilled job well with eSis as her signature), an imminent, major resdistricting effort, and the disaster that is SPLOST IV. Those who are responsible for the long list of messes are thrilled we are bickering over moving CCHS. What a nice distraction.

Anonymous said...

Why should moving the Magnet program to a more central location be destructive to Chamblee High School?

Anonymous said...

Tha academics at CCHS are great. But the facility is falling apart and is not worth a renovation.

It's just time for a new, LEED certified, modern facility there in the exact same location or somewhere close by. The current location has fairly good access from 85, 285, Buford Highway, Clairmont, etc. It's just very tough to drive by the $70 mil new Tucker High and then drive by Chamblee High (or Lakeside, or Sequoyah, or Cross Keys, or McClendon, etc.).

Trust me, most posters on this blog are very supportive of CCHS, and all the good things happening there!!

Anonymous said...

The BOE needs to vote to take the interest freestimulus bond money and build a new Chamblee HS. However, the stimulus money is only 58 million and must be spent in 3 years. Now construction is lower and we have a new creq overseeing it maybe we could build a 71 million dollar school for 58. That would leave the other remaining 35 million in SPLOST to fix roofs and air conditioners accross the county.

Anonymous said...

Why would the BOE approve the funds to build a new school for an area that eschews the public school and sends their children to private? Look at the resident enrollments at both CMS and CCHS and tell me that community deserves a new school over a community that supports and sends their children to the public schools?

You can claim all you want that the neighborhood is young, repopulating, blah, blah, blah. The truth is that the Chamblee neighborhoods have been re-populating for 5 to 10 years already. Those people are simply choosing to send their kids private.

The data does not lie.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:45
What do have against the success the top school in the county? Once we see the data split between magnet and residents we need to reserve our thoughts. What neighborhood do you think deserves a new High School?

Also, the parents in Chamblee have been screaming to redraw the lines to allow more students to attend Chamblee. Build the new building, balance the attendance zones, make Cross Keys a VoTech school and combine the Cross Keys and Chamblee residents into one new vibrant school.

Once again I ask, what do you have against success? DCSS' new motto, we punish success and celebrate mediocrity!

Anonymous said...

hey! I think we need to stop with the argument. We have a mis-understanding going. There are several classes in team 6-A at CMS. There are two which are full, the majority, are residents while the other two are the transfers. I think the parent on here talking about his son's class is mistaking his son's class and the entire 6-A team. Once again, there are 4 classes amongst team 6-A and two are the majority residents, while the other two are transfers.

Hope this clears it up. However, I would like to ask the same thing, what does the poster have against CMS? Whether students are residents or transfers, if they're getting a solid education why fight success? The students education should be the main mission, unlike the DCSS leadership's which is how many friends can I get hired and when is my next raise?

Sandy Spruill said...

@ Anonymous, 10:51 AM

Thanks for your support of Chamblee Charter High School!

I am a long-time parent volunteer who, among other things, chaired the committee to convert Chamblee High School to a charter school. I also chaired the committee that established Chamblee Middle School. And I was co-president of the Dunwoody Chamblee Parents Council.

If you would like to get in touch with me, please e-mail me at I will keep your identity confidential.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Amen! You're preaching to the choir here, but the haters will never see it your way. Stay the course!

Anonymous said...

We absolutely do not need to take those bonds. They will have to be repaid with operational monies if SPLOST IV fails, which it might.

The risk is simply to great.

DCSS does need a plan for Chamblee. I support a new school that can accommodate both Chamblee and Cross keys and a strong vo-tech program at the existing Cross Keys Campus.

If we are going to continue to fund magnets above and beyond traditional schools, then we need a true high achievers magnet that requires essays, interviews and test scores, the way KMS and Browns Mill did back in the day and the way Arabia Mt. does now.

Anonymous said...

We haven't seen scores so we don't know what gap between magnet and resident scores exists, but don't use a gap as an excuse to attack CCHS. First, magnet students must meet test score thresholds to qualify for the lottery; resident students naturally represent a broader distribution, so one would expect the averages of the two groups to be different. This is not a failure on the school's part. Second, residents get priority for half of any magnet spaces which become available during middle and high school. Not that this applies to a large number of students, but at least one of my son's very bright friends changed from resident to magnet in around 9th grade, removing his high test scores from the resident pool and boosting the magnet average. No doubt there are others.

My son was lucky to be drawn for the magnet program in 7th grade. We are extremely grateful for the care he got from the staff at CMS (in the old facility!) and CCHS. A number of excellent and caring teachers, counselors, and administrators made a big difference in his life.

By the way, I am against using essays and interviews as criteria for magnet program entry. Because they are evaluated subjectively, they are too easily manipulated.

Anonymous said...

I still cannot get an answer: Why are some so afraid to have the magnet program removed? It will not cause the school to close - this is just noise that some are throwing out there....

If the magnet program is moved, will the truth be revealed about the 2-tier educational system at Chamblee? I think that is what is really concerning some of you.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous 10:51. We have many more pressing problems than magnets being moved. Those problems are draining all of our classrooms of much needed resources.

Anonymous said...

From Chamblee's own Charter document:

CCHS seeks to narrow the gap between the high achiever magnet program and the resident and charter student programs by making benefits of attending CCHS available to resident and magnet students alike to enhance the educational experience for every student. These benefits include access to the best teachers, high teacher expectations for resident and charter students and effective action to improve the low performing students. In addition, CCHS will separately measure and track results for magnet and resident/charter students for PSAT, SAT and GHSGT.

Where are the breakdown in scores?

Be True to Your School said...

@ Anonymous 2:09 PM

Why do you care?

You clearly are not a CCHS parent. CCHS parents support Chamblee Charter High School and work to make it the best it can be. The same may be said of CMS and feeder school parents.

There are plenty of other problems in DCSS that desperately need fixing -- and would welcome your help. CCHS is not one of them.

Be True to your School said...

Do you want a magnet program for high achievers in your part of the DeKalb County ... in your neighborhood high school?

Then stop whining, get busy and START ONE!

Anonymous said...

Do you realize that the magnet programs get extra funding? As recently as 2008-2009, DCSS has 100 plus locally funded manget teachers. These programs cost money.

My understanding is that the extra teachers have been cut to 50. We will have to wait until the FTE counts to ask for current staffing levels in a few weeks.

Don't forget the system is also spending $3 million a year for magnet transportation.

Be True to Your School said...

What is the plural of Anonymous? Anonymi? Anonymooses? Anonymooses seems to fit.

Hey -- all you Anonymooses out there: DCSS has serious problems and serious people are needed to fix them. Your fifteen minutes of whining about Chamblee Charter High School are up!

Move along! Move along now! Lots of hard work ahead waiting for you. No excuses accepted. Report back when you have actually accomplished something.

Anonymous said...

Be True

You are about as obnoxious as they come. Have you heard the legal expression in court "Judge, they opened the door"? Well, Sandy did just that. She put it out there and this is what happens. You can't very well expect everyone to agree all the time can you?

Anonymous said...

Each year, Magnet students are pulled out of their zone schools to attend Magnet Programs and Theme School Programs around the DCSS. When this happens, it takes away from those high test scores that would have been their had they not left. Furthermore, in my opinion, the GPS really remain the same; therefore, Magnet should be taken out of all schools. Rigor should be in every classroom. Often times, teachers need a mixture of student levels. It helps those students who are behind because they see/observe students that are excelling, those high level students can work with lower students, and it overall helps the classroom and school environment. Yet, if you keep taking the Magnet Students, especially out of those schools that are not meeting the mark, your doing more harm than good. Many schools like McNair are left with the lower scoring students.

Theme Schools are good, but what do they solve other than releiving overcrowded in other local schools. They are a prime example of draining local schools of high level students.

Every school should be Theme or Magnet. This would require more Parent Accountability. Parent Accountibility is missing in our schools. When students show up late daily and miss 10-15 minutes of instruction, Who's to blame? When Parents do not participate in PTA or other Parent Activities, who's the blame? When parents come to the school and complain about the teacher and "dont even know the teachers name" Who's to blame?

Therefore, it is my belief that we need more PARENT ACCOUNTABILITY-just as we need Accoutability among our top administrators.

Anonymous said...

"The BOE needs to vote to take the interest free stimulus bond money and build a new Chamblee HS. However, the stimulus money is only 58 million and must be spent in 3 years. "

I watched Mr Redovian at the last BOE meeting. He seemed to be salivating to take the $58 million in bond money and add it to the CCHS SPLOST budgeted $11 million. FREE money!! Whoopee!!

I don't really think that Jim understands that someone (taxpayers) has to pay back the principal. Also, are the bonds interest free or just 45% reduction in the interest, like the bonds for the GM project?

Does anyone know how much money out of the current operating budget goes for debt service? How much principal is owed on existing bonds?

Anonymous said...

The issue here is Accountability. Parents send their students to Chamblee, via the Charter route, assuming they will get the same education that the magnet students do. Sadly, they do not. The county has allowed Chamblee to run a 2-tier educational system within the same building. It's shameful and it needs to stop.

Anonymous said...

As I recall existing bonds were all paid off with SPLOST I. While this lowered property taxes all those years ago, it also took a big chunk of those revenues all those years ago.

Anonymous said...

Be True,
You are right! We need to see that audit from 4-6 years ago. Do a new audit and follow the directions, where it sends us. Our Central Office gravy train needs to be derailed and we need to direct those funds back into ALL classrooms.

We need to retain the good teachers and fire the bad ones.

November 2nd, is a big day for the future of our BOE. Let's vote out the incumbents and see if we can do any better. We must stop what we have been doing and change the course of our system.

Enough of the whining already, CCHS is not going anywhere for the time being and most likely will get a new building or renovation. Like someone said earlier.

it's time we stop celebrating mediocrity and celebrate success!

Anonymous said...

Okay, everyone who wants the magnet taken out of Chamblee, do you also want it taken out of every other resident magnet school, like Evansdale? If all high achievers are put into one building, there will be a disproportionate (as compared to all of the other schools) number of gifted. It is the GIFTED that get the extra funding, not magnet specifically. So, the one shining gifted school will get a ton of extra funding that will only benefit that one building. Won't the same people who are on here complaining about the "2-tier" system at Chamblee be complaining about the "2-tier" high school program in DeKalb? I'd rather have these resources and extra funding spread out rather than stuck in one building. Whether you like to admit it or not, the resident magnet programs benefit the entire school.

Anon 2:08 said...

3:28: specifically which classes are the problem with the education the charter students get?

My perception was that the high school magnet classes weren't as small or intense as one might think. For instance, one year there were 32 students in my son's magnet English class, and the material covered and work expected were weaker than in his sister's gifted English class at the home high school.

Where I suspect that the extra magnet funding makes a big difference is by making it possible to offer lots of AP classes, even if the class size is small. But aren't these AP classes open to resident and charter students as well as magnet?

Maybe the two-tier complaint is really about a difference between general and advanced classes. That is a hard problem to solve; it is not limited to Chamblee. At my daughter's non-magnet school, she has experienced a big difference between AP/accelerated/gifted classes and general classes, but it isn't necessarily because the higher level classes have better teachers. She had the same teacher for general civics and AP history, but he taught a lot more to the more motivated group of students.

Anonymous said...

Sandy, you are aware that CCHS would not have made AYP without the Confidence Interval calculation for the Economically Disadvantaged subgroup???

In fact the "Economically Disadvantaged" students at Cross Keys scored higher on the Math portion of the GHSGT.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the 2009 QSCAB / Qualified School Construction Bonds from the FEDS:

DCSS has not revealed any details regarding the specifics of the bonds.

Here is the link for information to QSCABS.

Dekalb County was allocated $27,832,000 in 2009. That is it. I think the DCSS is doubling the number for an additional $27,832,000 allocation for 2010.
I did not see any 2010 allocation on the website.

As you can tell, we didn't apply for the 2009 allocation.
That is the same as our State of Georgia funding also.

The real person who knows is at the State DOE for Georgia. Her name is:

Laura Givens / Grants Program Consultant.
Her work number is 404-656-4522.
Her email address is:

I think it would be good for someone to figure all of this out (TURK) and relay the CORRECT information back to the public.

Turk was the person who had the information regarding the bonds.

From what I know from a previously attended DCSS BOE meeting, when they discussed this for 2020 Vision, The question was asked "Where is the money going to come to pay off these bonds?"

This was Turk's answer:
"We could include it in SPLOST IV or we could defer payments until 2015."
We could do this or we could do that is not the correct answer.

I interpreted that answer as,
"I don't know where the money will come from and we definitely don't have any money in our current budget to meet these payments! But we sure could spend the money!"

I don't think the DCSS leadership has ANY idea what to do or who is going to do it in the future.

For DCSS to apply for funding without a plan or "2020 Vision" is reckless and risky to us taxpayers.
They do not think about the funds they are wasting, nor do they think it is wrong!

Let's do the redistricting and consolidation homework first and then we can figure out what to fix, how to fix it and where the money will come.

I'm going back to work.

Sagamore 7

Anon 2:08 said...

Anon 4:19, are you aware that Tucker and Lakeside only made AYP on appeal? I say this not to denigrate Tucker and Lakeside, but to point out that the complaints being made about Chamblee are problems that are hard to solve in any of our high schools.

Time to get down to constructive, hands-on work to try to solve the hard problems.

Be True to Your School said...

@ Anonymous 3:28 PM

ACCOUNTABILITY! Yes, it is time for the BOE and DCSS upper and middle management in the central office to be held criminally ACCOUNTABLE.
ACCOUNTABLE for the millions in tax dollars they have stolen and wasted.
ACCOUNTABLE for the student lives they have so carelessly thrown away without a second thought or the slightest twinge of conscience.

SHAMEFUL is having only 27% of DCSS high schools meet AYP!
SHAMEFUL is the the two-tier system being run by the DCSS BOE and their sole employee, Ramona Tyson, for whom education is so far off her radar screen that she has to be reminded to talk about it at a community meeting.
SHAMEFUL is the black-on-black racism in a school system that is majority black -- passing students from grade-to-grade-to-grade when they don't have even minimum skills.
SHAMEFUL is DCSS taking the easy way out by shipping students from school-to-school-to-school instead of taking other NCLB-approved, time-intensive, but proven effective, options to remediate students' academic deficiencies before it is too late.
SHAMEFUL is DCSS gleefully spending Title I federal tax dollars on everyone and everything except the very students those dollars were supposed to help.
SHAMEFUL is DCSS, with a $ billion dollar budget, failing our students, robbing them of a better life.

You want to talk ACCOUNTABLE? You want to talk SHAMEFUL? I will take you on any day. But, don't be pointing your finger at Chamblee Charter High School. CCHS is not failing its students. But DCSS is -- big time!

Where are the feds when you really need them?

Cerebration said...

Gaps exist in every school. Once, we aggregated the scores at Shamrock MS. The published "average" CRCT was in the 70s, however, when you really picked apart the scores, you found that 70 was not the average - it was the mean - the exact middle of the range. Most scores were concentrated in the 30s and 40s and then again in the 80s and 80s. It was an inverted bell curve.

Numbers are never to be trusted. They can be presented to encourage a particular thought by those interested in manipulating them.

For instance, this article in the NY Times called, <a
href=">Fibbing With Numbers</a> introduces us to the book,

The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception
By Charles Seife

Check it out - a sample:

<i>Seife emphasizes that numbers impress us. They carry authority. Joe McCarthy, for example, didn’t simply allege that the government was infested with Communists; he held up a sheaf of papers and claimed it contained the names of 205 members of the Communist Party working in the State Department. The specificity of the accusation made it seem more believable. So what if the number soon went up to 207, then shrank to 57 a day later when McCarthy wrote to President Truman? What mattered is that the numbers intimidated McCarthy’s critics. As it turned out, he never had any list and couldn’t identify a single Communist working in the State Department. None of that stopped him from rising to national prominence on the back of his numerical lies.

Falsifying numbers is the crudest form of proofiness. Seife lays out a rogues’ gallery of more subtle deceptions. “Potemkin numbers” are phony statistics based on erroneous or nonexistent calculations. Justice Antonin Scalia’s assertion that only 0.027 percent of convicted felons are wrongly imprisoned was a Potemkin number derived from a prosecutor’s back-of-the-envelope estimate; more careful studies suggest the rate might be between 3 and 5 percent.</i>

Anonymous said...

"I'd rather have these resources and extra funding spread out rather than stuck in one building. Whether you like to admit it or not, the resident magnet programs benefit the entire school. "

That is true. The question is how do you stop the "brain drain" that happens when parents of high achieving and gifted students find out their school has very few peers in their classes and seek to transfer them to a public school that has a lot of gifted peers and teachers to serve their needs? I hear that time and time again on this blog.

These are questions that many school systems have addressed with varying degrees of success - some have been quite successful. DCSS is famous for doing things "the DeKalb way" with little regard to what has worked/is working in other school systems.

Instead of trips to the Bahamas and Reynolds Plantation with female staff members, maybe Dr. Lewis should have been traveling to see what other districts do to meet the needs of high achieving and gifted students who are in the midst of a sea of struggling students.

None of Dr. Lewis's Cabinet members who were supposed to be addressing this problem were doing their jobs either. That's why we are in this mess with the transfer students and overcrowding and annexes.

DCSS's upper administration did not developed well thought out strategies for meeting the needs of high achieving and gifted kids in failing schools. They did not do the hard research and apply critical thinking skills to this problem. They've just shuffled students around and reacted to individual lawsuits. Parents of high achieving and gifted kids in failing schools have been left to scrape and scramble for options.

Anonymous said...

There are high achieving students succeeding in most DCSS schools, but since the beginning of M to M, the message that DCSS consistently delivers is that a choice is available and you should take it.

I object to the fact that there are high schools with no AP physics classes, even though students want it. I object to the fact that we have high schools with no chorus class nor the ability to put on a musical.

We must have larger high schools in DCSS. We must have a master plan so that as we move forward we know that are on a path that makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Cere, speaking of numbers, can you please address the question of how it is that the transfers into Lakeside are causing the overcrowding? Given that the enrollment figures show that the net transfers to lakeside is only 54 kids? I believe you have posted multiple times that overcrowding is caused largely by transfers into lakeside but I'm not seeing the data. Can you explain your analysis behind these statements ?

Anonymous said...

The magnet students at CCHS are receiving a fine education - but these students would most likely be performing the same at their home schools.

The non-magnet students at CCHS are being left out to dry.

Anonymous said...

Lakeside took in a wave of kids in 2008-2009; some of these kids are still at Lakeside.

Anonymous said...

"Be True" take a look at the test scores for CCHS - specifically the Economically Disadvantaged and tell me again, with a straight face that CCHS is not failing a portion of their student population.

Some of you only want to see CCHS as a "high achievers" school. That building also houses everyday, regular students and they are being virtually ignored. Even the CCHS charter admits they focus on the high-achievers.

Anonymous said...

Be true,
Shameful is so right! Incredible post and so true! Thanks!

Cerebration said...

Good question Anon September 20, 2010 6:23 PM.

I know that Lakeside used to take in about 150-200 students per year from NCLB and then many more regular transfers. (There are a lot of people in Lakeside who have parents who work for the system or who got some kind of special permission or who simply use someone else's address or who are homeless and can choose their school) -- but the last couple of years, Lakeside has been exempt from having to take AYP transfers I think, due to the upcoming construction.

At any rate, two years ago, the principal calculated that there were a few hundred students who do not live in the attendance zone attending Lakeside. Here's the info she shared -

The AS400 grade level enrollment summary is currently:

9th grade - 621
10th grade - 454
11th grade - 318
12th grade - 323
Total = 1716

New enrollments include:

139 students (No Child Left Behind Choice Option)

554 students (new to attendance area) - 315 of these came from Henderson Middle (the attendance zone students).

This makes a total of 693 students new to Lakeside.

And here's info from her October 16th report

Enrollment Update

Total students by grade level:

9th grade: 585

10th grade: 460

11th grade: 308

12th grade: 337

Total: 1690

Students enrolled under the No Child Left Behind Choice Option:

9th grade: 78

10th grade: 32

11th grade: 12

12 grade: 2

Total: 124 (This number has decreased from the 139 students enrolled in August.)

Total ninth graders: 585

Number of ninth graders enrolled from Henderson: 314

Number of ninth grade retainees: 86

Total number of trailers: 21 (all fully operable)

Cerebration said...

At any rate, you can at least see why I used the "herding cats" cartoon as the graphic for the school attendance data. It's virtually impossible to know for certain where everyone is coming from.

I think it's terribly sad that so many students feel the need to transfer to Lakeside. Lakeside is just an ordinary high school - with big arms to take on so many extras. But ordinarily, a school attracting this many transfers would be some kind of magnet or special program. But Lakeside is neither. But apparently things must be so bad elsewhere that so many are willing to travel across town to experience "ordinary"... (IMO)

Anonymous said...

I think that we should keep several things in mind. First, as a parent who raised a gifted child and one that was not gifted, every child deserves a challenging educational experience. Second, gifted children are not more worthy of a good school and lots of interesting classes than average students, or for that matter below average students.

I've seen gifted students who drop out of college and average students who go on to earn advanced degrees and hold respected positions in their communities. Many gifted students who do not receive special or enhanced instruction do very nicely without it.

I would like to see DCSS work on providing the same instructional opportunities at every school. Why should the students at one school sit in small classes when the children in a neighboring school are in large classes? Why can an elementary student study art at one school and not at another?

As for redistricting, every school, every neighborhood, and every program needs to be on the table for review. That doesn't mean that these programs should go away, but everything needs to be considered. This is especially important because the school system leadership has indicated a need to close some schools. Let's be fair and proceed with the needs of every child in mind.

Cerebration said...

On the issue of the magnet and the "possibility" of moving the Chamblee magnet students, have you ever noticed that when the heat gets really hot in the "boardroom" they toss out the little "magnet" bomblet to get us arguing and taking our eyes off what's going on behind the curtain.

Call me cynical - but I think every time this "magnet" issue is introduced, we need to stop and think, "uh-oh, what are they really up to?"

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. It looks like 239 Lakeside students are from sending schools. Am I misreading the chart? And where are the students of admin personnel who live in other counties listed on the chart?

Anonymous said...

I'm confused as to why anyone objects to moving the magnet programs - all of them to a central location?

Or why no one from Chamblee wants to address the inequities in educational experiences in the building. Talk about noise...

Anonymous said...

Cere at 7:14,
I don't see anything "terribly sad" here. Nearly as many kids transferred OUT of lakeside as into it. There was a net gain of 54 students which is negligible for a school of 1500+ kids. So obviously plenty of kids felt their educational needs could be better met somewhere other than Lakeside and opted to go that route. Nearly the same number of kids from outside the lakeside district transferred in to lakeside for the opportunities there. That is school choice and it seems to be working fine at lakeside. If anything is terribly sad it is the way some folks on this blog try to blame the overcrowding at lakeside in the kids transferring in.

Anonymous said...

I think you are partially right. The overcrowding at Lakeside isn't caused simply by the transfers in, but rather those students simply contribute to make it worse.

However, the elephant in the room is this: If the system is going to try and get Lakeside down to its capacity, do the non-AYP transfer students get to stay? To me, this is a policy decision that needs to be determined by the BoE.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 7:22 and 7:54

"There was a net gain of 54 students which is negligible for a school of 1500+ kids. So obviously plenty of kids felt their educational needs could be better met somewhere other than Lakeside and opted to go that route."

Go back and look at the charts (Non Resident high School Student Matrix and Attendance Area and Enrollment Report) again. Both show a net gain of 54, but not all the data adds up the same. For example, in the Non Resident High School Student Matrix the second most popular school for Lakeside resident transfers is Elizabeth Andrews HS. However, if you look at the Attendance Area and Enrollment Report, Elizabeth Andrews High School is not even listed.

Elizabeth Andrews takes the third most transfer students (after Arabia and Chamblee HS) but it is nowhere to be found on the Attendance Area and Enrollment Report. Doesn't Eliz. Andrews serve as an annex for Did not Make AYP transfers? Why are 44 Lakeside students going there? There's something odd about this data.

Are those 44 students from Lakeside to Eliz. Andrews overflow from the Lakeside transfers?

This is bizarre - these appear to be non-resident students transferring to Lakeside - then listed as Lakeside resident students transferring to Eliz. Andrews.

Where are the out of county students that go to Lakeside - children of the administrators? Where is that on this chart? They are there.

Anonymous said...

We are also aware of a number of folks at LHS who have children attending there who believe they belong there "just because" and they are using all sorts of means to qualify. These means include: (1) grandparents' address in LHS distrcit (even though grandparents aren't paying property taxes and the kids really reside in Stone Mountain or out of county; (2) distant relative works for county, including in such capacities as in bus driver; (3) they went to Sagamore and are in the DHHS side of the line and make a lot of noise such that they feel entitled to go to LHS so they get special permission to attend LHS; (4) they are graduates of LHS so they feel forever entitled to attend LHS; (5) you rent a garage apartment or other type of apartment or box so that there's an address within LHS; (6) the list is remarkalbe and hard to comprehend if you're don't actually see it in action. It is very sad that folks feel so compelled to do so many things to be at this school. The kids fall out -- just look at how many are in 9th grade versus how many graduate -- year after year after year -- it consitently hovers at around 50% graduating of the number starting in the freshman class if you really pay attention.

Cerebration said...

My terribly sad comment was about the fact that Lakeside is just an ordinary school, yet people seem to clamor to get in... This is the best we can do?

Anonymous said...

I could not agree more with the magnet smokescreen theory. They did this last year with the budget cuts - they threatened to cut magnets that are not the entire school + Montessori. That created a furor that went on while they approved budget cuts that included paras, increasing class size, cutting media clerks, butchering small schools (which, I agree, are inefficient, but it is the county's responsibility to manage, not punish) etc. all the while they knew they were not going to do anything significant to the magnets or Montessori. I think the BOE is pleased we are all arguing over butchering the top school in the county, reviving a have/have not argument and distracting us from the 10,000 other REALLY bad things going on.

Anonymous said...

Folks, something is going on at The Palace. We need to watch their left and right hands. I feel there are some posters here who are actually feeding the frenzy. Something is about to happen, maybe a full blown SACS investigation. Maybe wholesale changes with Consolidation and Redistricting.

November 2nd I hope we vote out the incumbents, however what decisions will they be making while they are lame ducks? There is a lot of decisions to be made all right in the middle of an election. This should have us all wary and very watchful!

In regards to CCHS, I'm a resident of the area and I have asked for all kinds of data to find out about both programs at CCHS and I'm yet to hear back from the principal. My child will be headed there in two years and when I heard THE RUMOR that the magnet program COULD BE MOVED, "after the BOE voted on it". I sent an email to the principal asking for the data about both programs. If I get a reply I will certainly pass it along. A poster here says that a sector of the school is NOT being taken care of. Well, I ask that poster to show me their data? How do you know this is happening? Where is your proof?

Anonymous said...

Pardon the grammar.. in the previous post. I did not look it over before I posted. Should have read.. There are a lot of decisions to be made in the middle of an election season. (-5)

Anonymous said...

This is all true, but I think the election year factor is the least of it.

I know someone who went to the head of testing for DCSS and was told that disaggragating the test scores of students at magnet programs housed in schools. However, Johnny Brown did it during his tenure. So, it was possible in the early 2000s to do this, but not now?

Anonymous said...

Opps, I posted to soon.

There is a lot to get through with policy changes, redistricting and consolidation and what promises to be a very difficult budget season.

I do think that the way the budget process was run last year was inexcusable. You start at the ground and build up. Then if there is money for extras that is when you fund them.

This year, there must be significant and painful cuts to the central office and by that I don't mean bus drivers and roofers, rather I mean salaried personnel. In addition, and I hate to see anyone lose their jobs, no one but high level executives have secretaries anymore. Trim those positions as well.

Then, DCSS officials must justify every position that is left.

Anonymous said...

I also want to add one more thing. I was with an economist this weekend, and he said that the need for governments to trim their staffs is certain, but there are not jobs for these new unemployed people to obtain and in many places, like Atlanta, if the layoffs are massive, then the economy will continue to suffer. As with many researchers, he didn't have the answers, just identifying the problem.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused as to why anyone objects to moving the magnet programs - all of them to a central location?

Or why no one from Chamblee wants to address the inequities in educational experiences in the building. Talk about noise...

Anonymous said...

It's amazing that many are questioning the data driven suggestion of closing Chamblee because it has a high school attendance area less than 700 (2-3 times smaller than most high schools) yet are not offering suggestions of their own. This would impact the fewest number of students, especially if you get to a situation AYP transfers are limited.

I thought Sarah Woods was bad in protecting her schools despite the data but people here are taking the same NIMBY attitude.

Anonymous said...

OK, AYP is not really a good way to see how a school is doing because either you make it or you don't. No in between. My school missed AYP by about 40 students, and of those 30 or so were within 2 points of being called proficient. The problem we faced last year (I don't know if this will be the case with the new math test) is that passing was 16 points lower than "proficient." How are you going to motivate a student to retake a test in the summer that he or she already passed? When we missed the mark in just one area, does this mean the school isn't doing well? Think about this also, in K-8, the second indicator is attendance. How the heck can a school be responsible for that? In 9-12, it's graduation rate. We're pretty much told for AYP, we have to do everything we can to get the students through in 4 years, but if they're not ready, it will show up on GHSGT when they're juniors. Although I won't sit here and argue there aren't problems, we need to look beyond the broken measure that is AYP. One final note - this is where anyone reading this needs to be on the phone or email with your congressman because if ESEA isn't fixed, by 2014 one student failing the test will cause an entire school to be labeled as not making AYP.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 11:52 - what does your child going to CCHS have to do with the Magnet program? You do realize that even CCHS attendance zone students have to qualify and enter the lottery right? Just because you are in the CCHS attendance zone does not automatically get you into the magnet program.

Again, while CCHS is allowed 50% of the slots, the magnet program DOES NOT belong to them.

Anonymous said...

To Anon @ 6:39 A.m. and all your other posts:

Chamblee Charter High School is an excellent school (not the physical building) and that is why it is always the first choice for transfer students, charter students, etc. I have two students currently attending the school. How many do you have?

Parents do not feel a need to respond on a blog to ridiculous baiting comments by a serial blogger.

The only individuals who have suggested moving the magnet and closing CCHS are a blogger (psc) and Paul Womack. I agree with Cere that this is a non issue and the TRUE issue that our interim superintendent and BOE seem to be ignoring is why the majority of our high schools have made little to no academic progress for so long and why has so little been done to improve academic performance in these schools.

Anonymous said...

The magnet program is good, not excellent. Quite frankly, there is nothing offered at CCHS that is not offered in many other high schools in the county.

The non-magnet program at CCHS leaves a lot to be desired. For the school system to continue to ignore this is a crime.

Anonymous said...

Folks, Redovian has told several parents in the Chamblee area that the magnet could be moved. This is NOT a rumor.

A few weeks ago when the overcrowding at CCHS was being discussed. Redovian told a Huntley Hills parent, "Once the BOE votes to move the Magnet to the center of the county, overcrowding at CCHS will not be an issue." His words folks.

After I heard what he told this parent I did some research and called some folks, who were involved with the committee, in the spring, that discussed consolidation and redistricting. This person told me that there are serious discussions about moving the magnet programs to Avondale.

You can believe me if you want but when a BOE rep tells you something like the comment above, what are we suppose to believe?

November 2nd folks! Vote out incumbents to save our system. If you attend any candidate forums, ask the BOE candidates about the magnet as well as consolidation and redistricting. This is going to be some of the most intense discussions, besides the search for the new Super, our new BOE will tackle after the new year.

Anonymous said...

Is keeping the magnet at Chamblee your litmus test?

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time, the magnet program at CCHS offered significantly smaller classes and a wider variety of them. As demand for more AP and advanced classes has increased across the county, the variety issue has been diminished. Class size differences have disappeared as well, as the state has loosened requirements.

Anonymous said...

The entitlement of the Magnet parents rears its ugly head.

Yeah, SCW you have to close your schools, but hey, DCSS don't close mine...

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon. 9:10
4 years ago SCW said we had to be equitable and close a school in the north, since they closed three schools in the south. They closed that school in the north and now the three remaining schools there are over capacity!

I want a discussion on why the magnet move would benefit the county. How can we help ALL the students at CCHS. Is the "charter" at CCHS being followed properly by ALL parties.

I love it how some folks come on here and just say, CLOSE IT! IT'S NOT FAIR! EVERYONE IS NOT BEING TREATED FAIRLY! There is no litmus test here. SCW called the school that was closed, mentioned above, a "white" school. That school, at the time, was the most diverse Elementary school in the county! Yet SCW and Zepora kept injecting race into the conversation as the parents were showing them data and facts that Clew and his leadership was trying to hide.

I want an honest, factual debate when it comes to closing any school or moving any programs. That's why I am glad that Dan Drake is on board. For too long we had no one at DCSS that knew how to use the software that Drake uses to pull out the facts for consolidation and redistricting. He might be one shining light at DCSS right now.

It's time for change at DCSS, business as usual has got to stop! Our tax dollars are obviously NOT getting to the classrooms and that's my number one concern right now.

Cerebration said...

So true, Anon. The DeKalb school board has so many issues to deal with in the future - the criminal trial of Lewis, Pope, etc - the search and decision on a new superintendent to lead our system into the future - redistricting and consolidation - and SPLOSTS 3 and possibly 4.

Who exactly do we trust to make these very serious decisions? I think we have some candidates who are very good possibilities to change the level of integrity and professionalism of the board. There really has never been a more important election for DeKalb school board.

November 2 - VOTE FOR CHANGE.

Anonymous said...

The charter school at CCHS and the Magnet Program at CCHS are totally separate entities. Quit confusing the subject.

Moving the magnet program from CCHS will not cause it to close.

Quit clouding the issue.

The magnet parents are right up there with DCSS in clouding the real issue.

Why do you care where the program is as long as your children are in the magnet program?

Is it because if the magnet program is moved from CCHS that it will be revealed that the non-magnet students have not received the same type of education?

Anonymous said...

CLew and Pope are no longer employees of DCSS - their fate is in the hands of the D.A's office. The school system has moved on from these 2 - this has nothing to do with the school system.

Cerebration said...

In fact, I would go so far as to say that unless and until we get a new superintendent (or even better - start out with a new interim who is a tough 'house cleaner') - who will CLEAN HOUSE we will see absolutely no change.

We cannot expect change when we leave the same old upper level administrators in place. These people are trying very hard to lay ALL blame on Pope and Lewis - but IMO, they are ALL complicit and need to be replaced.

Debora said...

"Quite frankly, there is nothing offered at CCHS that is not offered in many other high schools in the county."

Actually, some I can think of off the top of my head are multivariable calculus, AP Physics C, and a very active math team beginning in middle school. These opportunities are available at top schools in other metro Atlanta districts but not, to my knowledge, at other schools in DCSS.

"Once upon a time, the magnet program at CCHS offered significantly smaller classes and a wider variety of them. As demand for more AP and advanced classes has increased across the county, the variety issue has been diminished."

If DCSS has been allocating resources to allow other high schools to offer more than they used to, that's great. I am very passionate about the point that there are plenty of students who need challenging classes but are not in the magnet program.

Not entitled, just very grateful for my son's experience at CCHS -- and worried that students will lose opportunities everywhere in the county. Keep the focus on students, all students.

Anonymous said...

"Actually, some I can think of off the top of my head are multivariable calculus, AP Physics C, and a very active math team beginning in middle school. These opportunities are available at top schools in other metro Atlanta districts but not, to my knowledge, at other schools in DCSS." Why should this only be available in the magnet program?

Anonymous said...

The BOE that hired Lewis and the "Cabinet" members that Lewis hired is also responsible for the mess we are in. Does anyone really think Lewis made all of these bad decisions by himself?

Have we seen changes for the better at the classroom level?

Anonymous said...

And this is why we need larger high schools -- so that all students can access these kinds of courses.

Look around at Cobb, Fulton and Gwinnett schools and you will find much more consistency in course offerings. This is where DCSS needs to get to.

It may mean that the Physics C teacher has to be itinerant because the demand isn't at every school, but we must get to this point.

Debora said...

AP Physics C, etc. would be available to resident and charter students at Chamblee.

I think students from other schools could take AP Physics C through the Fernbank Advanced Studies program. Their webpage calls the course "calculus-based physics," which implies the C level.

In general, though, the question "why should this only be available in the magnet program?" is an important one. For me, one of the benefits of the magnet program is that it has helped me see what, specifically, students are missing at our home school. That is the first step toward working to fill specific gaps.

Anonymous said...

The kids have to get themselves to Fernbank -- it really limits who can take it.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 9:48. As long as OUR tax dollars are being spent to defend Clew, he is still a big part of this DCSS mess. If the leadership has moved on then maybe we need to demand the BOE tell Clew we are no longer going to pay for his defense.

Cere is right! The entire leadership, Tyson, Turk, Moseley, Thompson, Mitchell-Mayfield, Hunter, Ramsey, Berry and the rest need to resign. As long as they are there nothing REALLY is going to change. These folks had to know the stuff going on and did nothing about it.

The only thing that will bring sunshine back onto DCSS is a thorough disinfectant cleaning of the current leadership at the Palace! We cannot wait much longer, especially with all the decisions about to be made that will shape the future. Do we really want these folks shaping the future of DCSS? They have certainly placed our past in the muck of discontent and academic failures, while the budget continued to explode!

Anonymous said...

What gives you the idea that DCSS is paying for Clew's defense?

Cerebration said...

I think there was a $100,000 limit on the defense of Lewis (most likely put into a retainer with his atty.) But there are costs associated with the trial (mostly going to Alexander and Asbill/Brennan). Add that to the extraordinary costs associated with the civil case against Heery Mitchell (instigated by Lewis), and you have a whole lot of tax dollars going to lawyers.

In fact, does anyone know exactly how much? We've heard $12-14 million or more! Oddly, these fees never show up as line items in the budgets - we can't figure out where they are paid from. Perhaps this is why they are so disinterested in the Online Check Register! Heaven forbid that the taxpayers would actually get to see copies of the checks written to the law firms.

Anonymous said...

See Anon 11:08, just a question gets you facts at this blog, plus more questions if anyone has the exact figure. How come we have to ask?

I remember there were fees paid to the Clew defense and Cere was able to back that up. 100K is alot of money, a couple of teachers salaries for a year? 3 paras, a few copiers?

I hope the first thing the new BOE does, in 2011, is put the check register online. So many school districts are doing this now around the country. Just think if we had it a few years ago? Total transparency is what DCSS needs in 2011. If you are not for total transparency then you are obviously a friend or family of the corrupt leadership at DCSS..
That's right I said corrupt! All one needs to do is look at the problems of our system it's obvious!

Anonymous said...

Once Clew was fired from DCSS, any legal obligation the board had to pay for his defense went away.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 11:30 Are you sure about that? I think we're still on the hook for the 100K and some other things.

I'm searching through the BOE Meeting minutes to double check. I seem to remember some of Clew attorney fees are being picked up by DCSS, pending the outcome of the trial. Will report back if I see anything different from Cere's post. These minutes are such good reading!

Anonymous said...

The fees that DCSS will incur have to do with providing lawyers to current DCSS staff that may be called to testify in the trial. DCSS will not be paying any legal feeds for CLew.

Sandy Spruill said...

May I suggest that people on this blog who are serious about resolving the critical issues facing DCSS -- i.e., only 27% of DCSS high schools could make AYP; 2 of those on appeal -- ignore the serial blogger who is quite obviously blogging at the direction of DCSS/BOE.

This person's whole job -- geez! we are probably paying that person's salary! -- is to keep things stirred up over non-issues to take attention away from huge and repeated DCSS/BOE failures and criminal malfeasance. So, let's "fire" that person and ignore the serial blogger whose only purpose is to distract. Responding only encourages this sorry, sad excuse for a real person with a working conscience.

DCSS has serious problems and serious people are needed to resolve them. So, bye-bye serial blogger. You are wasting our time.

Anonymous said...

Part of Clews recently renegotiated contract had DCSS paying a large sum of lawyer fees.
It seems that our BOE renegotiated the contract and took away the clause that would have paid him for the remainder of his contract, an additional 2 years severance (approx. $450k) and gave him 4 months severance. ($75k). Then they agreed to put in the legal fees of an additional $100k.

If I'm on the board and part of the renegotiation is a HUGE defense fund, I would be a little skeptical to agree to it. But, they did save us his previous HUGE severance payout.

BTW, it was the same contract that Johnny Brown had and the BOE approved for CLEW. Johnny Brown left with an additional few years of severance with his termination.

This BOE has GOT TO GO!

Sagamore 7

Anonymous said...

Quick question: How many admin transfers are at Lakeside, and CCHS? I was told by multiple staff members that Lakeside used to receive a number of admin transfers as apporved by C Lew. Not sure if CCHS got many.

Cerebration said...

There's no way to know this. A board member (Redovian maybe?) asked for this info once and I don't think received it. Also, a voter who cares asked and was given a very large price to dig up and copy the info for a FOI request. Pretty much shut her down.

Personally, I don't think they know who is where and why...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps some clarity. Without the magnet, CCHS and CMS don't currently have enough resident students to justify their existence. There are three solutions:
1. Move the magnet elsewhere (or discontinue it), close CCHS/CMS.
2. Redistrict CCHS/CMS and bring in more kids.
3. Let it be, perhaps with a little redistricting to bring numbers up a bit.

I vote for 3. It keeps a successful magnet program intact, makes use of buildings we already have (granted CCHS needs help) and serves the needs of a growing community.

Anonymous said...

So, is that what we do now? Keep schools open - especially one that is crumbling and falling down, by "importing students" from across the county.

That seems just so non-sensical.

Anonymous said...

This BOE had nothing to do with Johnny Brown and they saved us a huge amount of money in terms of buying out Lewis. I am not defending them for bad decisions, but please keep the facts straight. The only board members around when Brown was let go were Sara Copelin-woods and Zepora Roberts.

Sagamore 7

I have to ask, because of your name, are you part of the Sagamore group that wants to be districted out of Druid Hills?

Anonymous said...

Part of the master planning process is going to be looking at what size schools make sense.

This is key to making any decisions.

Anonymous said...

Just so you know Fernbank Science Center has a very high success rate for AP physics. It helped to have it available because some schools don't offer it and in some cases the schedule wouldn't work at the home school. Any time we offer more rather than less we are makng progress.

Anonymous said...

Risk? The real risk is if we do not invest in our crumling schools and our students. Take the bond money and build the school. This is not about neighborhoods. It is about a successful magnet school that is also open to neighborhood kids. Magnet schools are a fact in our nation. They work. Our task is to bring the rest of the schools up. This isn't a zero sum game-if we do not find a win win for everyone then we all lose.

Anonymous said...

The magnet school will be successful whatever building it is located in. Quit making this about CCHS.

There are CCHS neighborhood students who qualified but were not chosen for the Magnet program.

They are now at either St. Pius or Marist.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 3:35: How does the Fernbank AP program work? It looks like the classes start at 3, but high school does not let out until 3, so how do the kids get there in time, if you are coming from, say, Dunwoody high school? It looks like a great program, but I am curious as to how it works as a practical matter.

Anonymous said...

The Fernbank course replaces a student's last period class. If a school is on the block schedule, there is plenty of travel time. The timing is tighter for students on a 7-period day, but Lakeside and Chamblee students are making it to their Fernbank classes.

Anonymous said...

The Fernbank teachers are often flexible to allow kids who are coming from other schools. The physics class, AP level C, is a calculus based course. It is offered at Chamblee and sometimes at Lakeside, but cannot sustain numbers at other schools. I hear the AP scores are typically high and know that there are kids this year from several high schools, including Dunwoody and Tucker.

Kim Gokce said...

"You're only paranoid if they aren't out to get you."

Everyone knows this quote but I thought it appropriate for this blog entry because I think it captures where Sandy is ...

I don't think she is paranoid. I think there are serious discussions happening about our region because there should be. We barely have one decent high school's worth students enrolled in our schools. (no large school rant coming, relax)

Right before the final contract on Cross Keys was signed the same kerfuffle happened vis-a-vis Cross Keys and there were serious discussions about ditching the reno and closing it. But guess what, they knew no one wanted our kids and even if they did there was no room in surrounding buildings.

But now, the eve of decisions about CCHS' building reno, they have the same proposition but in reverse - there would not be as much resistance to CCHS kids moving around and the enrollment from the attendance area is 60% of the size of Cross Keys' ... but they need a building.

All this is to say, of course they are thinking about it! That is their job, right? Condemning the CCHS building is a far cry from condemning the school or the students. I know families in every school in the Chamblee attendance area. These are good schools and good families.

What I take issue with is the denigration of my area schools by too many in the Chamblee attendance area ... (continuing below)

Kim Gokce said...

I have personally experienced this for many years and confront it every day. It does not define CCHS but it does reflect poorly on those with the posture of superiority at the expense of "my kids."

I'm a competitive person. And I'm also very protective of the kids of the Cross Keys attendance area. Not because they are better than CCHS kids; not because I don't support the kids of CCHS - because "my kids" are the subject of so much derision and lack of respect and have had such a dirth of community support for so long.

Some posters up there have mentioned multiple times about how "our kids" actually out-perform the non-magnet kids at CCHS. On many, many measures, Cross Keys kids and faculty out-perform their peers in CCHS. Yet until I stuck my neck out and started being a barker for these deserving folks these facts were beyond the imagination of some in CCHS-land and anathema to Chamblee area realtors.

Sandy and fellow bloggers, do not take my boosterism for Cross Keys as anti-Chamblee. I have a mighty big chip on my shoulder about these kids and with reason. They get (got) no respect. They got dumped on and passed over ... over and over. When I started advocated and organizing for Cross Keys I heard from Chamblee area civic association leaders and from CCHS attendance area principals a common theme: "I hear your trying to get Cross Keys attendance area restored to its former size. We would like you to know we'd be adamantly opposed to that." This is what I learned day one. Since then, I've learned that "my kids" are better off in many ways by NOT being in CCHS attendance area. The environment at CK is fantastic and the faculty is peerless. To quote the CCHS boosters: "Why mess up a good thing?" (some friendly ribbing there, folks!)

(yes, there's more ...)

Kim Gokce said...

Lastly, on the taboo subject of race. I'm am sorry my white brethren but I cannot act like I haven't heard the things said that I have heard said. The comments about CCHS having a "ghetto" element are by a Chamblee area parent with Chamblee-enrolled kids that will not make the trip to the high school for this reason. I think that referring to the poor or working class non-white enrollment as "ghetto" is about the most disappointing thing I've heard in ... well, weeks. I hear similar comments about "my kids" on an ongoing basis and mostly from "west of Peachtree." I'm sorry to report it but it is true and I've become a big fan of "truthiness."

Sorry for my rant. There you have it - I am a booster for Cross Keys attendance area kids and unashamedly so. I have many, many fine upstanding friends and neighbors with children in CCHS attendance from Montgomery, Ashford Park, Kitteridge (Nancy Creek!!), Huntley Hills, Sexton Woods MS (oops! Chamblee MS), and CCHS. I totally respect what has been accomplished at CCHS and hope that access to advanced studies can be made available to MORE students in Chamblee attendance and all over DeKalb. Your talking to someone who would bankrupt the public trust with education spending if I were in charge.

Kim Gokce said...

Oh! One last thing (this is a 150 comment thread I'm catching up on - cut me some slack!) ...

The "Growth" in our area .. I'm very skeptical that this will turn into public school enrollment for many, many, many years. Folks have voted with their feet and it has been breath-taking to watch the scramble by area parents to find a way around the public schools. I have to believe that the "average" profile of young couples well enough off to buy ITP will "settle" for public schools in their current state in DeKalb. Even if they could get past the "demo" (cough, cough), look at what the area private schools look like!

They are prep heaven and if my kid could get into that resort-like by hook or crook, why wouldn't I try as a parent? I don't blame a single one of them. Have you been to Marist? Westminster? GAC? Even modest St. Pius is a palace compared to our high schools.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget, Kim, that big redevelopment will be coming to parts of Buford Highway as the economy improves. Even if new apartments replace the older ones, the reality is the number of students in the CK zone will decrease. By how much, is probably debatable, but until we know what kind of development, we won't really know what to expect.

At our school , when the two worst apartment complexes in the distict were torn down, it took at least 18 months before anyone was living in the new ones. The amount of children from the new, more upscale complexes is significantly less than the 100+ elementary students that were coming from those older, cheaper complexes.

Cerebration said...

"kerfuffle?? I swear, every time you post, Kim, I have to look up words...

Kim Gokce said...

Anon: "Even if new apartments replace the older ones, the reality is the number of students in the CK zone will decrease ..."

Well, the biggest risk is to the elementary schools, not the high school. CK has a ridiculously long attendance area that encapsulates the highest density population in DeKalb County - it will be decades before the re-development of Buford Hwy reaches THAT level of impact.

But you have a valid point more immediately for the ESes. Woodward ES has nearly 1/3 of its enrollment within a 1/2 mi and in just 2 or 3 complexes. So, there are some tough questions for DCSS coming in spots.

I tried to avoid the large-school format mantra but you force my tongue ... larger schools with larger attendance areas minimize the impact of gray field development and there's going to be a whole lot of that in the Brookhaven-Chamblee-Doraville areas for decades to come. DCSS is going to be on the rack until they wise up and consolidate.

Kim Gokce said...

Cere, it was that one year at private school that did it ...

Cerebration said...

No - I think it was the fact that your mother was a teacher! Lucky you!

Kim Gokce said...

True that! Twenty-seven years Fulton County English Literature! I helped her grad papers from Russell High School and later Tri-Cities. Her experience with the leadership (as in, lack thereof) during her career formed my frame of reference for DeKalb public schools. Number one problem: Inadequate discipline and lack of support for teachers. Number two problem: Domineering parents who bullied administrators into getting what they wanted for their kid.

I have been outed! :)

Kim Gokce said...

"grad papers" ... that was funny!

Anonymous said...

Kim, I'm a huge proponent of your ideas and proposals. I'm for Cross Keys becoming a Technology School. I'm not talking Wood Shop and Engine mechanics either. Those are fine and should be included.. I'm talking IT, Airplane Mechanics, Art, Culinary, Electrical Engineering, as well as Business skills. The metro Chamber of Commerce has been screaming for something like this on the north end of DeKalb.

Think of the business partners in the area. PDK Airport, IBM, CDC, Buckhead Life Restaurant Group and others. Not in the direct area, Coke, Turner, Ga. Tech, Emory, etc.. Just a quick jump via 85.

Redraw Chamblee into a larger district. We all know there has to be redrawing of zones. It must happen! Buy the Chamblee Plaza, make it a huge Athletic Complex, Baseball & Soccer Fields, new Stadium, parking. When that is complete, build a new larger school on the current fields and stadium site. When those buildings open, tear down the old one and put up a new large state of the art Auditorium, (graduations anyone?). This way the Chamblee kids have a place to go while building is happening and transition can take place over a summer.

Let's also look for another parcel that would be large enough to house a school, athletic fields and auditorium. NOT GM! Too expensive and will take too long to clean up!

Kim, I have many friends who went to Cross keys many years ago, they're execs at Turner now. That area is changing but it will take time.. Just like the Johnson Ferry/Ashford-Dunwoody area. That public private partnership has had some tough times but the next phase is now underway and more kids will be coming into Montgomery from there. It's taken longer than expected due to the economy, but we must think forward so we don't have the Dunwoody overcrowding issues in the future.

Paula Caldarella said...

Let me add to what Kim has spoken about with Cross Keys...

The overwhelming majority of DCSS high schools in DCSS saw their SAT scores fall - some quite dramatically.

However, the scores at Cross Keys were up by 47 points, 27 in reading, 15 in Math and 5 in writing.

Cross Keys had the highest gains in SAT scores in DCSS.

This to go along with their "Fox 5 High School Team of the Week" award for this week.

pscexb said...

Well said Kim!!! As Dunwoody Mom said, congratulations to the Cross Keys football team for their win this past week!

Kim Gokce said...

Anon: 12:22a "Kim, I have many friends who went to Cross keys many years ago, they're execs at Turner now."

Ok, now I want names :) ... there are Cross Keys alum dotting the entire Atlanta metro landscape. In its heyday, there were 2,200 kids in that building ... 2,200!

Anyhow, I appreciate the kind words about my "proposals" but I have to say I've been dealing more in the realm of "concepts" ... the decisions DCSS must make are complicated and will have very tangible and emotional impact on many, many people. I think our job as "the community" is to give them as clear a picture of the future we'd like to see and tell them to figure out how to get there.

Kim Gokce said...

Dunwoody Mom, pscexb: Thank you both for the generous words about our kids - there is no more hard-working group in DeKalb.

Regarding the Team of the Week - this is their first victory on the field in four years. For many of the young men, it may be their first and last victory on the field in their entire lives.

For a fair and insightful profile of the coach and team, see:

Friday Night Lights It Ain't

For those not working 9-5, Fox 5 will be broadcasting live sometime at or after 9am from CK gym for a mini-pep rally. What a great story, great head coach, and group of young people!

Regarding the mission of Cross Keys Foundation - we are committed to these young people. We were committed to them when they were in a dilapidated building, we are committed to them in their renovated building, we are committed to them when they win or lose, and we'll remain committed to them no matter what school building the walk into in the mornings.

It's about the children folks! Not attendance lines, not municipal pride, not property values ... children. We should be ruthless in our judgment of everything DCSS does using this metric alone: what does it do for our children today and tomorrow?

Kim Gokce said...

I heard from a CCHS magnet parent today that their child is in some classes with 40 students ... that is crazy!

Kim Gokce said...

These kids! Right on cue vis-a-vis my comments about "no respect" and just as CK won the popular vote for "Team of the Week" versus Georg Walton Academy, some posters over there on Fox 5 started trash talking our kids.

This is par for the course, or course, for the students at Cross Keys - any time they accomplish something some are suspicious how "those" kids could manage it. Then, today, Jordan Barnett, class of 2010, one of the hardest working kids in her class, posted this for the world to see and I thought I should share it with this blog's audience because she says it in first person testimony better than a 1,000 attempts by me (cont.) ...

Kim Gokce said...

"Wow. Seriously? Why is it that Cross Keys cannot even win a contest like this and be accused of cheating?

CK may not have a lot, but we sure have heart. We have dedication and drive that a lot of people do not. Picture this: you are a prized art student with incredible talent. You have won many art contests and are very well known in your school and your community. You aspire to be an art teacher and change the lives of children, just as the art teachers in your high school changed yours. There’s only one problem. You cannot be awarded the money or recognition that you so painstakingly worked for. You cannot travel on an airplane. You cannot attain a driver’s license. You cannot vote. You cannot even feel comfortable traveling to the grocery store right up the street from your house for fear of being pulled over and deported. You cannot go to college unless you pay out of state tuition, and that’s only in certain schools. You are an undocumented citizen. Now what does this have to do with the team of the week you ask? Well, the situation described here is actually the lives that a lot of our students are living today. A lot of us came to this country at a very young age, and because of that, do not have citizenship. This means that no matter how brilliant a student is, they will not match a student of equal or lesser knowledge who is an American citizen, simply because they do not have documentation. A student of this nature sees the world in a whole different perspective. And the students who are documented; well our eyes have been opened up to a whole new way of life. We recognize and understand the troubles of our peers, and we learn, at a young age, to never take anything for granted. Because CK does not have as much money as a lot of other schools out there, we have to work hard for our funding. Without constant drive and persistence, a lot of sports teams, clubs, and other school activities at Cross Keys would diminish.

FACT: CK has not been renovated in over 50 years until earlier this year.

Even with all of the asbestos and mold in our ceilings, students, teachers, and faculty alike still come to school each and every day to learn, teach, and educate our community. For something like “How many computers do they have at Cross Keys and was any teaching being done today or just voting?” to be said, as quoted from Melinda Snell Franklin, it just shows the immaturity and ignorance of others. I know others feel this way as well, but until you have walked in our halls and sat in our desks, you know nothing of what it’s like to be a member in the community of Cross Keys High School.

Just because you have championship banners strung across your newly built gymnasiums does not mean you have heart. Just because you have enough money to fund a booster club, does not mean you have heart. Heart comes from within. A lot of people may laugh in our faces when we celebrate our first victory in football in almost four years, but we do not care. A victory is a victory, and it means something to us. If anything, being a student and recent graduate from Cross Keys has taught me to take nothing for granted. This school has opened up my eyes to a culturally- diverse way of life. This school has taught me to appreciate what I am given, and to work harder to prove someone wrong when they say that we cannot do it.

I know that if Cross Keys had not won team of the week, not a single dirty comment would be made about another school. If you come from or support a school that has those championship banners and those booster clubs, then why not support those schools that do not have as much as you have been privileged to have? Why not spread the wealth and allow those their moment to shine, too?"

Anonymous said...

How can anyone know what is "working" at CCHS? As the mother of a magnet student who would also have been a resident student, I tried for years to get the school board to break the numbers out so I could see how well the resident population was doing without the magnet muddying the water. The request fell on deaf ears (what a surprise). Hence it was impossible to know exactly how well the magnet was doing, as well as the extent to which the magnet was propping up the overall numbers.

Anonymous said...

I requested those scores directly from Anthony Eitel. He claimed several times they cannot separate the scores. That is a lie. CCHS' own charter indicates that the scores for the magnet and resident students are to be kept separate. There is also a separate valedictorian for the magnet and resident program.

There is a reason that these scores are not made public.

Anonymous said...

It will probably take an Open Records request to get the scores released.

Anonymous said...

Tony Eitel is now gone. He took a job with the state DOE.

Anonymous said...

Who took his place?

Cerebration said...

Jordan Barnett - remember that name! She's a beautiful person - inside and out! People can be so rude and mean - I hope Jordan is learning how to defend her case and let their comments just wash around her like the water in a stream washes past your feet.

You are going somewhere girl -- keep you eyes on the prize!

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone has taken Eitel's place yet. In fact, I think his departure is fairly recent.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 12:25

"Tony Eitel is now gone. He took a job with the state DOE."

Georgia DOE - home of the retired DCSS administrators. No wonder Georgia is in so much trouble.

Kim Gokce said...

Cere: "Jordan Barnett - remember that name"

Yeah, solid gold. She was one of the favorites to receive the inaugural CKF Scholarship 2010.

She captured in her essay the experience of many of our students regardless of immigration status. For example, a couple of our girls walked down to the Brookhaven Boys and Girls Club to volunteer today. While walking back, a dude in a Jeep honked and flipped them off. One girl was wearing a hajib - that's nice.

Kim Gokce said...

The perfect storm appears to be forming for CCHS! An election year, federal largess, and business as usual in DeKalb Public School politics very well mean a new school for Chamblee attendance area.

As far as I can tell, the BoE is about to make a hasty and uninformed decision to grab that federal bond opportunity and pour the proceeds into Chamblee. Now that is one big hush puppy!

Kim Gokce said...

... and once they do that, there'll be no rationale for moving Magnet after investing all that money. So, I think we can put the Avondale rumors to bed. I suppose there is still a wild (and I mean WILD) possibility that they would build a school large enough for the 1700 kids in CK and CCHS combined and still move Magnet ... but that has a snowball's chance in my opinion.