Friday, September 3, 2010

New Attendance Data to Review

We've been discussing the new attendance data posted online here, by the DCSS Planning Department. Two new documents are available. One is called Enrollment Report, by school, by grade, which details enrollment numbers school by school as well as capacity and available seating. The other chart is called, "Attendance Area and Enrollment Report, home schools only" and details the attendance numbers as well as the number of students who live in the attendance zone compared to the numbers who transfer in or out of those attendance zones (a process as easy to tackle as herding cats). In fact, there are 550 students from "unknown" locations as well as 465 out of the district altogether.

Other tidbits we can infer from the data:
  • Many schools surprisingly do not have sufficient students in the official attendance zone to support them.  Chamblee, for instance, only has 706 "resident" students (students who live in the attendance zone). Lakeside, on the contrary, has 1,754 "resident" students (with a building capacity of 1,162 and current actual enrollment of 1,811).
  • There are a few elementary schools where literally hundreds of 'resident' students are opting for other choices.  These schools include Cary Reynolds, Cedar Grove, Chapel Hill, Flat Rock, Oak View, Panola Way, Pine Ridge, Pleasantdale and Princeton. Many of them are over-crowded as is, so if all of the resident students chose to attend, we would have to bring in trailers.
  • Middle schools with the fewest resident students include Chamblee, Freedom, Lithonia, McNair, Salem and Stone Mountain. 
  • High schools students transfer out of Cedar Grove, Clarkston, Lithonia, MLK, McNair, Redan, Stephenson, Stone Mountain and Towers. (Many of these are new or newly renovated buildings, so obviously the building does not create an appeal.)
  • The big picture here tells us that on average, nearly 1 out of 3 students in DCSS transfers out of the school assigned to their zone.
  • Elementary students taking the transfer option, appear to be doing so to escape poor performing or over-crowded schools and tend to transfer to another public school with better test scores and a point of differentiation.
  • Theme schools like Narvie Harris and the Academy of Technology and the Environment as well as DESA are popular alternatives. However, it looks like the new k-5 Leadership Academy charter (housed at New Birth Church), in spite of all the hype, was only able to garner 181 takers in the end. According to The Neighbor newspaper, The Museum School ended up with 137 students. No word on Peachtree Hope, but we heard that they had 1,000 applicants. Many may have opted out when they discovered that there was no free transportation. 
  • If you add up all of the "ins" and "outs" you find that there are 4,563 high school students not attending their neighborhood high school (the"outs"). You also find that of all of the regular, neighborhood high schools, there are 1,222 who have transferred "in". That leaves 3,341 students attending other DCSS schools? DSA? Eliz Andrews? Destiny? Alternative? Arabia?
  • We have tabled the addition to Lithonia, however additions are still planned for MLK—which is apparently under-capacity by 673 students who reside in the attendance zone, but do not attend MLK—and Miller Grove. MLK may not need an addition after all, as obviously, the demand for MLK is not strong and Miller Grove's enrollment is currently just at it's capacity of 1,637. 
  • My takeaway from this is that we are all looking for diversity, differentiation and plenty of space in our schools. We also need to offer a variety of pathways through high school. We currently have several alternative-type options for those who 'struggle', but I wonder, if we offered something truly interesting to them in the first place, something that could lead to a viable job, would they in fact 'struggle' or might they actually flourish?

Overall, we are looking toward a vast sea of opportunity for progressive change. Before we head full sail into spending millions on renovating old schools, I would suggest that DCSS organize a think tank, which is hopefully part of the 2020 vision project initiated by Ms. Tyson. Not only do we need to evaluate buildings, structures and capacities, we need to decide what kind of educational system we want to become in the future—that decision would drive the types and sizes of buildings we need. Discussing the bricks and sticks first is putting the cart before the horse.

Education is rapidly changing and we need to offer educational choices—especially in our high schools—that are vastly different in their approaches in order to properly prepare all of our children for active citizenship. High schools can and should be "re-invented" as the old time methods of sending students to their "zoned" cookie-cutter high school with teachers lecturing while students sit attentively, listen and regurgitate answers on a multiple-choice test is rapidly falling out of favor. Hands-on learning, technology and online resources are the future of learning (see Vocational and technical job training is in demand (check out this one in Ohio where they have a waiting list.) High schools need to become more focused on meeting individual needs and interests, making math/science/arts magnets very appealing. High schools should look toward community colleges for inspiration in education as campus-like facilities with greater learning flexibility and a less rigid graduation schedule could be offered.

I would even go so far as to change the phrase "Teaching and Learning" to "Guiding and Learning", as in the future, it will be the students who will drive the learning process. Teachers of the future will provide guidance, mentoring and modeling of good thinking skills as we wean away from the "Trivial Pursuit" method of "teaching" the answers to standardized tests into a life-long training in thinking and learning skills.


Please download the files and add a comment as to how you interpret the data. We'd love to hear your reactions.


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Paula Caldarella said...

Perhaps "unknown" locations are homeless students? I don't know as I thought there were more than that in DCSS.

Anonymous said...

What is the definition of "residents not attending home school?" For example, in the Henderson Mill Elementary area there are 116 residents not attending home school. A handful go to Kittredge and perhaps a few to the magnet program at Evansdale and a few might be in special education programs elsewhere, but I can't imagine how 116 students from my neighborhood could have transferred to a different DeKalb school.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the data, I think the current numbers to justify ideas that are "out of the box". Combining Chamblee and Cross Keys in a new, vibrant, building with an auditorium, plenty of fields for baseball, softball, soccer and a great new stadium, where you can have football games in the fall, soccer in the spring and graduations in May.

Whether it's the GM property or a combination of parcels that would be available in the Chamblee/Brookhaven/Buford Highway areas. Something needs to be done.

Also remember when looking at these numbers, the Chamblee area is now full of young families, just look at the Elementary Schools and you would see that. I know, Dunwoody Mom, not everyone will be headed to public schools, however, if DCSS could provide a wonderful Accelerated, High Acheiver program at the "New" High School, it could very well compete with the St. Puis' and Marist's of the area.

The current Cross Keys building could become a Technical School, which DCSS is in dire need of, especially on the north side of the county.

The current Chamblee High property could be sold for a nice price and help fund the purchase of the other group of parcels or GM property.

Mr. Drake has done a great job with these numbers. now all we need to do is get Robert Moseley out of the way, so we can start looking forward instead of, "the what's in it for me?" mantra of the current DCSS leadership.

When you look at the current Cross Keys map I'm amazed how it looks like a 12 mile corridor with the school sitting at one end of it. Not so smart, if you ask me.

I see wholesale changes coming and there will have to be a huge parental buy-in, this includes everyone! Including Dunwoody and Tucker folks on the north end.

When it comes to the south what amazes me is that there is overcrowding at any school! With Miller Grove, McNair, Arabia Mt. SW DeKalb, Lithonia, Columbia and MLK. Couldn't these schools balance attendance zones by redrawing lines and get all the schools equally full and close to capacity?

The 40 million SPLOST 3 funds available, as well as selling other unused DCSS properties could provide the amount needed to build a great new High School on the North side, combining smaller districts as well as begin to compete with the private institutions that exist!

Let's do it! Let's do something!

Paula Caldarella said...

These statistics plus the demographic information from Metrostudy should go a long way in guiding DCSS into a long-term plan as far as redistricting, consolidations and closures.

pscexb said...

To Anon 1:03, your assumption is correct regarding 'Residents Not Attending Home School'. That plus resident attendees equals the total student residents.

I believe the total number reflects 'current public school students' NOT all students in that attendance zone. If my assumption is correct, the total numbers could be slightly higher.

Take a look at Chapel Hill ES which has almost 600 children in its attendance zone not going to that school. Many of them are probably going to Narvie J Harris Theme school. Flat Rock is one of the newest ESs yet still has the largest number of students in its attendance zone. About 1/3 of its students go to other schools and it still has the largest enrollment.

I would have thought the McNair cluster sends more students than it does given Ms. Woods comments at Board meetings. It is interesting looking at the total students for the McNair Discovery Academy knowing it is made up of 3 former schools, LJ Steele, Terry Mill, and Tilson.

Good data, Dan!!!

Anonymous said...

While DCSS has guidelines for enforcing proof of residence requirements, they are basically "on paper." Parents with limited or no documentation are supported by our county office to the chagrin of local school personnel.

Anonymous said...

I hope this info is used for making decisions for school closings, school improvements, and such. I am not counting on it, as this would make sense and that is not how things are done in DCSS.

Anonymous said...

I know the parents of Nancy Creek screamed for redrawing lines and using accurate data. However, Moseley trotted out a fraudulent demographers report, which was a cut and paste from a Fairfax, VA report. We even spent more for ours than did Fairfax.

Now we have Mr. Drake, who actually knows how to track data and using the software that DCSS purchased years ago!

However, I am sure the leadership will take Drake's data and make sure it fits the narrative that they create! While I have trust in Drake to compile accurate data, I have no trust in Tyson, Moseley, Thompson, Mitchell-Mayfield, Ramsey, Beasley or anyone else in the current leadership to use that data effectively and make our system great once more.

Zepora's rant the other day, at the BOE meeting, should be a warning that the BOE will make sure not to use Drake's data correctly and it will become a political hot potato to try and save her reelection!

Anonymous said...

Sorry if this is a dumb question, but where is Arabia Mountain? It's not ALL magnet is it? Shouldn't it be on the attendance zone map and list the number of students?

Paula Caldarella said...

What exactly was Ms. Robert's "rant" about?

Cerebration said...

Arabia is waaaaaay down in the little piece of DeKalb that juts out into the corners of Rockdale and Henry counties. It's only about 2 miles from either border. It's also very close to College Park. Here's the mapquest -

Here's the Arabia website -

Arabia does not have an attendance zone - it is officially called a "choice" school. It hosts DeKalb County School System's Environmental Energy and Engineering Magnet Program (9-12). You have to apply, write an essay, wear a uniform, attend Saturday school, etc - it's a commitment. Some students are in one of the magnet programs, some are not. But all must adhere to the rules, so it's not like our other high schools in that sense.

Current enrollment is apparently 1,311 (capacity is shown as 1,687 - leaving 376 seats). They also have an "annex" at Lithonia for AYP transfers - there are apparently 165 students enrolled there. (I'm not sure why they can't just go to Arabia - there's obviously room.)

Anonymous said...

It wasn't Ms. Roberts who ranted, it was Ms. Copeland-Woods and she is already worked in to a frenzy about school closings.

Anonymous said...

And I want to add, that SCW holds no sway over the BoE. If anything, it is likely that schools in her district will surely close. First, because they need to and second, because she has no credibility with anyone on the board.

Paula Caldarella said...

Thanks for the clarification.

Cerebration said...

Too bad the cameras weren't on that day - we've certainly heard about Ms. Wood's bad behavior from several sources who were there. She was actually calling out employees and trying to address them and their job performance - which violates school board policy. The school board has one employee - Ms. Tyson.

Good news though! There's another opportunity to watch a board meeting next Tuesday - I have posted details on the "Mark Your Calendar" page. Either click the icon on the side panel, or copy and paste the link below -

Tough choice - the Libertarian party is hosting their “Citizens Auditing DeKalb Schools” (CADS) meeting the same night. And theirs will be held at the Famous Pub - which is more my style!


Cerebration said...

A Note to Add -- There are still 8 slots available for speakers at Tuesday's meeting. To address the board for a 3 minute time period, send an email to

and ask to be added to the speaker list.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Cere.

Anonymous said...

There is an apartment complex in Tucker that straddles the Dekalb/Gwinnett line. Students who live there go to Tucker High (some as transfers to Arabia) even if they live in the Gwinnett part of it. However, when you look at their drivers licenses, the state classifies them as living in Gwinnett. If you enter their home address in the USPS zip code finder, the postal service puts them in Gwinnett. So clearly DCSS made a deal with the management company of that complex to take all the students who live there, in order to make it more marketable to renters (indeed, if they try to enroll in Gwinnett--and they do, recognizing that DCSS in going downhill--they get booted to DCSS). It's pretty screwed up out there.

Anonymous said...

Actually, DeKalb probably didn't make a deal with the apartment complex, rather the way the addresses are entered in the DCSS system at registration aren't being kicked out.

What a shame.

Anonymous said...

@1:06 p.m

The GM property is not a viable solution. You need to read the engineering reports and the reports that the proposed developers submitted to the County (which would have been on the "positive" side) it is estimated that it would take 3 years to conduct the environmental remediation and clean up the property. It would be extremely costly and time consuming.

DCSS has an urgent need for another high school on the north side where the population growth is projected. It has neither the funds to clean up the GM site nor the time to do this.

The GM site is not an option.

Cerebration said...

Well, that could be included in the 2020 Vision though. And - we do still have the Druid Hills property, which would make an excellent magnet program for math, science and the arts - all in one place.

Molly said...

Too bad the cameras weren't on that day - we've certainly heard about Ms. Wood's bad behavior from several sources who were there.

Actually, the cameras were running. I filed an Open Records Act request and received a copy of it on DVD. I don't know if it will be added to the website, but it was recorded.

Anonymous said...

"These schools unable to entice area residents include Cary Reynolds, Cedar Grove, Chapel Hill, Flat Rock, Oak View, Panola Way, Pine Ridge, Pleasantdale and Princeton."

Numbers can tell us a lot about what is going on in our school system, but this data doesn't tell us why parents are moving their children to different schools. It only shows that there is movement. To find out why parents are using school choice options you need to survey the parents who make use of these programs.

Pleasantdale is a Title I School of Excellence with many talented and dedicated teachers. Please look at your data more carefully. Pleasantdale's capacity is listed as 587 students. Your data indicate that there are 888 students currently enrolled with 1,234 students living in the attendance area. The data also indicate that 381 students are attending other schools. Note that these numbers don’t add up correctly because the numbers on both documents don't match.

Any parent faced with an overcrowded school who has other good school options in the area may indeed opt to transfer their child to another school. Why subject your child to a year or more in a trailer, large classes, and possibly a very early or very late lunch? Evansdale is 2.5 miles from Pleasantdale with a good reputation and a magnet program. Oakcliff Traditional Theme School is perhaps 3 miles away. Pleasantdale is probably lucky that there are some other school options for students in its attendance area. Can you imagine all 1,234 students trying to learn in this overcrowded situation?

Anonymous said...

Molly, any plans to put the video on YouTube? If you do, please share the link for everyone to see.

Anonymous said...

Elementary theme school spots are allocated by how crowded the feeder schools are. If those spots are not taken, then the theme school has failed in its primary task, relieving overcrowding at those neighboring schools.

The original traditional theme schools were the first new schools constructed in S. DeKalb after the desegregation settlement. Instead of redistricting, they were choice schools for those communities. Nothing wrong with this, I suppose, but it started the pattern of a system paralyzed to make attendance line changes.

Anonymous said...

I apologize for the error on the rant. Sometimes Zepora and Ms. Woods can be intertwined with a controversy.

Indeed it is Sarah C-W who ranted on Drake.

Please vote her out in her district, as well as Zepora. We need honest and good people to sit in those seats.

Anonymous said...

As we look at redistricting, and understanding that there is a global picture, I have a question. What do the families who purchased a home in an area because it was in a school district that they wanted their kids to be in do if the lines are drawn and they are moved into a zone with a school they purposely did NOT want to attend? This is a very real possibility, and in this housing market has very real implications for a number of families.... How is this handled in redistricting? The way that consolidation was approached this last year adds to consternation.

Will planned shifts in zoning be announced in a timely manner so that families who are are unsatisfied will have enough time to make appropriate adjustments? The Super seemed to state that changes ARE coming for the fall 2011 year. I am hoping that the communities to be affected will be given more than 2-3 months notice of shifting zones. Does anyone have insight as to how the promised consolidations and redrawing of lines will proceed? I'm really interested in the process questions.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone please identify what Woods' issues with Drake are, other than she doesn't like him or data?

Anonymous said...

What do the families who purchased a home in an area because it was in a school district that they wanted their kids to be in do if the lines are drawn and they are moved into a zone with a school they purposely did NOT want to attend?


DeKalb hasn't done a lot of redistricting. In other places, maps are redrawn and the general public is given time to review the plan and make comments before it is finalized.

We didn't get a lot of notice (6 months?) on the Lakeside/Henderson merger. What I learned from the experience is that schools are what you make of them. Keep in mind that, if you have to change schools, some your friends and neighbors will be coming with you. Your presence changes the status quo at the "new" school. Show up for meetings, speak up when necessary, and do what you can to improve the situation you are in. Lakeside was a different school after the families from Henderson joined the school community.

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees when you buy a house. Schools can and do change over time, even without attendance line changes.

Anonymous said...

To 10:13 p.m. The real answer is tough luck. That's why it's so hard for the BOE to redistrict.

It would ease the pain, and perhaps strengthen the system if families would adopt a high school centric view. In DeKalb there are usually 5 or so elementary schools that feed to a single MS and single HS. Parents go psycho if their elementary lines are redrawn. They forget that all the kids will be together starting in 6th grade, and will remain together through 12th.

Admittedly some will go to private school in middle, but the bulk will stay the course.

If everyone could join together and put their energies to the common (forbid!) MS and HS in their neighborhood instead of fighting the inevitable elementary redistricting good things could result.

Cerebration said...

I understand your concerns about Pleasantdale, Anon. I checked the state DOE's website and it lists Pleasantdale as Non-Title 1. I wonder why that is...

But you are correct, the school has made AYP and appears to be pretty darn good. Sorry for painting schools with such a broad brush.

Anonymous said...

Pleasantdale and most of the other schools that have large number of students going elsewhere are being "relieved" of their overcrowding ty the theme schools. If there was simply redistricting into the theme schools, instead of the choice option, you wouldn't have the number you have.

Anonymous said...

A lot of the schools sit in single family residential neighborhoods, but their attendance boundaries reflect the insane amount of apartment building that Dekalb has comitted slow suicide with. The Pleasantdale neighborhoods are beautiful. I know quite a few people that live in the area. None that I know of send their child to Pleasantdale. Quite a few go to Oakcliff, and some use relative's addresses to escape the apartment dump.
We have to lean on both components of Dekalb's leadership to correct it's problems. It's corruption and nepotism on the side of the school board, and the rewarding of tax breaks,and legal fees via the housing authority to the friends of the comissioners and CEO.
We can redraw attendance lines all day long and it won't help until we make our leadership do the honorable thing and tear down vacant, foreclosed complexes.
We've had 4 decades of lies about how the "renovations" will "help this time." Time to call the comission and CEO out on it.

Anonymous said...

Our Dunwoody elementary schools are bursting at the seems. The six elementary schools (Austin, Chesnut, Dunwoody Elem, Hightower, Kingsely and Vanderlyn) have 3911 students enrolled with only 3391 capacity. In particular, Chesnut and Hightower had a huge increase in kindergarten students this year. Even with redistricting we are still short 520 seats. We desperately need the redistricting but there will still be shortage of seats.

Anonymous said...

While I grant that there are issues with uncontrolled development, can we be careful to respect the dignity of our students who live in apartments? I happen to live in a single-family house, but several of my daughter's good friends live in apartments, and they feel the stigma.

Anonymous said...

I understand your concerns about Pleasantdale, Anon. I checked the state DOE's website and it lists Pleasantdale as Non-Title 1. I wonder why that is...


That is interesting. Pleasantdale is definitely a Title I school. You can always contact the school, if you want to know more about the program.

Anonymous said...

Many families don't have the financial resources to own a home. That doesn't mean that their children are poor students, or have behavior problems. There are many bright, even gifted, children in our communities who live in apartments.

Anonymous said...

Here Here. I have no illusions that as an apartment dweller until recently, my (very high) rent did not reflect a portion of the property's property tax bill. So it is a fallacy that multi-family residents "don't pay property taxes". And as it happens, my sons were the most well-behaved upstanding citizens in the schools. Transience with multi-family living comes in many forms. I recently lived in a city adjacent to what's becoming the largest military installation in the United States. Military families are "transient", but those families chose to live in my apartment community because it was in the part of town which offered the best public education had to offer. And they were willing to put their children in that community and pay into the system, even while they were paying in other ways -- some of those fathers didn't come back home from the wars. Let's be very careful. "Apartment dumps"? Seriously?

Kim Gokce said...

The vision of many for DeKalb has been "Pleasantville" for decades ... a place where there are no apartments, no "ethic" people, no low income or working class people, no businesses other than soda shops and it never rains on parade day.

Hyperbole aside, Cross Keys attendance area is the mother of all apartment zones with something like eighty. The majority of them are perfectly nice places and are a huge asset to the DeKalb community overall. Buford Hwy is the highest population density area of our County and one of the most loved for its diversity of locally owned businesses.

There are also a few very run-down and crime-plagued complexes in our attendance zone. But I have to quickly add that some of our top students come from families in these "undesirable" complexes.

When you go through the check out line at Kroger, who do you think is bagging your groceries? When you go through the McDonald's drive-through, who is bagging your child's Happy Meal toy? It is our CK kids - I'm embarrassed to say I'm on a first-name basis with the Chik-fila, Taco Bell, McDonald's, Wendy's, etc. drive-through staff in the Chamblee, Brookhaven, Doraville area as a result.

Our Valedictorian very well may be from the most notorious set of apartments in our area this year. Our top students competing for this honor this year represent the cultures of Mexico, Bulgaria, Zambia, and Vietnam. One of them is on the verge of becoming the 4th district representative to the U.S. Congress' Youth Senate and is likely Ivy League bound next fall. All are dreaded apartment dwellers.

How much more, then, should we be impressed with these young people and their families rather than pigeon-hole them? These young people get a bad rap in the more broad community because it is easy to lump them into a nice, neat stereotype than to divine their true character.

For every "troubled" kid you show me from our apartments, I'll show you a hundred that are on the straight and narrow. In fact, my personal experience is that our apartment-dwelling, transient kids are superior on average in their character and maturity versus their more affluent and "in-transient" neighbors.

Apartments are not a problem for our system. Attendance area management is because the system is driven by the worst of backwater politics.

Dekalbparent said...

I think I know what Anon 8:37 is talking about, and it's the fact that huge tax breaks have been given to "friends" of people in DeK county government to purchase apartment complexes of batches of foreclosed houses. The landlords just let them run down and collect the profits with no care about those who actually live there.

All kids start out as an empty slate, and giving each child the opportunity to become a happy contributing citizen is what all right-minded people want to do. This is why teachers go into teaching. I absolutely believe there are no kids born bad.

Unfortunately, some of the kids who have to grow up in these blighted areas are deprived of their opportunity, and the landlords who allow the blight to occur are a big part of the problem. The friends who give them the tax breaks and advance notice of sales are a big part of the problem. This stuff has to stop.

As Kim testifies, the circumstances do not have to doom the kid, but extra support in terms of caring family, community members, and teachers make the difference. These are obstacles that not every child has to overcome. We can't blame the existence of apartments for the problems in the schools.

pscexb said...

Some tidbits of information you can say you heard first on DCSW...

Stan Watson's monthly meeting was short today, partly due to the holiday weekend. They recognized Buck Godfrey, head football coach of Southwest DeKalb HS for his years of contributions to the community. Attendees also heard from Dr. Sandra Ford from the Board of Health. She touched on the need to be diligent with emptying sitting water as they can be breeding grounds for mosquitos. There is a reported case of West Nile Fever in DeKalb thus she wanted to raise awareness of this.

Dr. Ford also shared information about the demographics of the County. According to her, DeKalb is the largest refugee resettlement community in the Southeast, with many of families living in the Clarkston area. She mentioned her offices provides services using over 120 different languages for the over 700,000 residents in DeKalb. When you consider the obligation of the school system in educating some of these children, one can understand how we may have more translators (non teaching positions) than other school systems in the state. This is worth a follow up.

Gwen Keyes Fleming spoke to the group about her new assignment with the EPA. Her analogy was that she is moving from a role in protecting the community by enforcing the criminal laws to protecting the community by enforcing the environmental laws.

The interim DA is Yvonne Hicks White. Some of you may remember her husband, Karl 'Karl with a K' White who ran for school board in 2008. She indicated she is only serving until the special election In November. Though we did not discuss specifics in a private conversation, she did indicate they are moving forward with the case against Dr. Lewis and others. Current Solicitor Robert James attended the meeting and announced his candidacy for the DA position.

Several Board candidates attended the meeting along with Ms. Roberts. A public service announcement was made for citizens to become engaged sooner rather than later with the upcoming superintendent search and school consolidation effort.

Anonymous said...

Kim, I agree somewhat with what you're saying. Sonofawcomeonnow here ( got lazy on identifying myself on my prior post about the apartment dump).
The point is less an indictment on the residents coming form apartments, and more against those that have justified the continual non-stop overbuilding of them.
I don't know what the current county wide vacancy stats are, but after the overbuilding that occurred between 1983 to 1988 we had close to 15,000 units standing vacant ( out of a total of roughly
110,000 in the county). The high amount of vacancies were in 1990.
Four years later, we were down to five to six thousand vacant units. The reason we managed to fill them up is that the CEO at the time ( her name escapes me at the moment) signed off to give tax credits to many of the vacant, then foreclosed complexes.
It drastically affected the schools: 11,700 free meals in 1988
in DCSS, 35,400 in 1994. During this time, there was essentially
no home building going on in the county.
Believe it or not, I like areas where there are a mixture of incomes, races, and places of origin. BUT it works much better when there's not an profound oversupply of transient housing. This is particularly true when the owners of said housing all too rarely maintain it. Read the online review of Dekalb complexes and weep.
It's also true when scheming politicians, legal firms and bond financeers look upon them as an opportunity to make a quick buck, churn some legal fees, or reward patronage to deep pocket campaign contributors.
The persons you see bagging groceries, et al in your community are community. As such, it would be nice if they were able to not be surrounded by predatory persons in their complexes. Editing the number of units or number of complexes would help do this, by tightening up the supply, vs the current all too common system of taking anyone with a pulse once the vacancies get high enough.
The opportunity is to improve an area by shrinking the amount of units in them, or bulldozing them.

Anonymous said...

The state does have Pleasantdale as a Title 1 school..

Anonymous said...

Kim, I couldn't agree more regarding apartments! Nancy Creek Elementary (Theme School, in name only. NCTS) was the most diverse school in the DCSS. We had no majorities. My wife and I marveled as kids in PreK & K, and could not speak a word of English, by 2nd grade they would be walking across the stage, accepting their reward of being on the Principals Honor Roll. Also, the Hispanics and Asians were the most well attending students in the school.

Nancy Creek had four huge apartment complexes feeding into it as well as several smaller ones. Of course one of the larger complexes, Johnson Ferry Homes, was closed due to redevelopment. Which caused the largest drop in attendance rates and eventually NCTS met its' demise by a fraudulent demographers report. They also redrew the lines by sending the apartment kids to Huntley Hills and Home dwellers to Montgomery.

Another point I would like to note, Kim, is that DCSS professes it has gang related issues in most of the High Schools. I believe one of the reasons is because DCSS has done it's best to re-segregate the schools by attendance zones line drawing. My son, who is at Chamblee Middle School, was so happy his first day because he reconnected with a lot of the Hispanics, African-Americans and Asians that had been moved to Huntley Hills, while he was drawn into Montgomery, after the closing of NCTS.

The main point here is elementary kids do not see race! They only see kids of different colors and nationalities at school for an education. I know from personal stories that some kids who attended mostly white schools were nervous when they moved into Middle and High Schools, due to the race make-up of the schools. However, I can speak from experience, the kids that went to NCTS have thrived in Middle and High Schools and have many friends of all races.

I do believe the race issues in DCSS have been created by adults (leadership & parents) while our kids just want to fulfill their duty, get a good education and be a success in life!

My wife and I are thankful we moved into a diverse community like Chamblee. I think our kids have been exposed to the cultural differences of many nationalities that live in our area, and they have embraced their diverse friends and families!

I for one look forward to the discussions of combining Chamblee and Cross Keys High Schools, if it means we'll get a beautiful new state of the art building and grounds to house students from the most diverse area in our county!

Anonymous said...

Nancy Creek was one of many diverse elementary schools in DeKalb. There are indeed many that are all African-American or other minorities and there are a few that are majority white, but off the top of my head, I would list Brockett, Smoke Rise, Midvale, Evandsdale, Medlock, Henderson Mill, etc would all easily be called diverse.

In fact, when the lines were redrawn I am shocked that no one from Nancy Creek protested how all the minority students were sent to HH.

In Dekalb, we have such an elementary centric view that we are slowly killing our middle and high schools. Look at the house ads in Cobb and Gwinnett, they are almost all by high school district. Then look at the ads in DeKalb,if they even mention schools, it is usually an elementary school!

Kim Gokce said...

Agree that a mix of housing stock is best and I understand that we have too often been victims of corruption in govt. But even with that said, it was the decisions of DCSS fueled by parent snobbery against apartment dwellers, low income families, and browner populations that created the attendance area anomalies and goofy transfer management. As for a "mega school" for brookhaven-chamblee-doraville, i don't know why this hasn't been the plan all along bcos it has made sense for at least 20 years. Best case it was pride in local neighborhood HS; worst case, nobody wanted the kids of Buford Hwy.

Cerebration said...

The interim DA is Yvonne Hicks White. Some of you may remember her husband, Karl 'Karl with a K' White who ran for school board in 2008. She indicated she is only serving until the special election In November. Though we did not discuss specifics in a private conversation, she did indicate they are moving forward with the case against Dr. Lewis and others. Current Solicitor Robert James attended the meeting and announced his candidacy for the DA position.

Hmmm. I think I have a problem with this. Karl with a K was pretty chummy with Dr. Lewis and Zepora, from what I witnessed sitting in a restaurant where they happened to also be having lunch one day during those 08 elections. Add to that, the Leadership DeKalb connection and I don't think Ms. Hicks White could be our best choice for this corruption trial against Lewis.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why the Dunwoody elementary schools on this chart show such a huge amount of children transferring out. Most of the Dunwoody elementary schools (Austin, Vanderlyn and Chesnut) are k-3 schools -- are there really that many K-3 graders transferring out of their home Dunwoody schools? Where are they going? There are no "theme" schools anywhere near there.

Paula Caldarella said...

I will actually submit to you that Chesnut Charter School in Dunwoody was/is the most diverse school in DeKalb County. Chesnut is a marvelous learning environment that I am proud to say that both of my children attended.

Anonymous said...

Re the Dunwoody elementary schools. The system is having a computer issue and is unable to code the students who are at Dunwoody Elementary School separately from their k-3 schools.

Those 'transfer' numbers are actually the 4th and 5th graders at DES.

Anonymous said...

@ Dunwoody Mom,

I completely agree with you. I have a child at Chesnut and the diversity is wonderful. I do not know how the person who is always posting that "Nancy Creek was the most diverse school in DCSS" has made that determination... I am not sure you could really get too much more diverse than Chesnut, which has a wonderful mix of white, hispanic, african american, asian, indian and on and on. We could not be more thrilled with Chesnut (and sooo grateful to be in the Chesnut district rather than certain other nearby districts where people seem kinda anti-diversity).

Anonymous said...

Kim, I could not agree more about apartment complexes.

One of the things I want for my son is that he is in an extremely diverse school. Dekalb County Schools are becoming extremely diversed. This is one of the great things about the Dekalb County Schools. I am tired of the racial tension that Roberts, Walker, and Woods cause on the board. We are a diverse county and everyone should try to get along. Race should never be discussed openingly as a school board member from a school board members set. Issues should be votes on for every student in Dekalb County regardless of the color of the skin or their religous believes, sexual orientation, or disability.
When a board member admits that they see color and consider color before making a decision we have a problem on our school board. This is a conflict in interest in itself.

Another things has also changed in the last few years in Dekalb which has affected the school system and the number of Title I schools in Dekalb. Investors in Dekalb are buying properties and turning them into Section Eight Rentals making money also off the government. These checks are sent directly to the investor in most cases so the investor gets their money so it is a win-win situation for the investor. I know because I have rental property and I have actually taken these classes to qualify to rent my propety as Secton 8 property. However, I still have not rented my property as Section 8 rental property yet here in Dekalb.

As housing project closed in Atlanta investors have bought property in Dekalb and used it as Section 8 rental property. This can be single homes or complexes. There is a great deal of money to be made and the investor gets paid their rent monthly without having to go looking for it. They even had a big dance last year I believe. This has had an affect on Title I Schools and funds coming into the county. However, it has nothing to do with how well students can achieve.

It is my understand that there have been several apartments complexes bought up in the Plesantdale area for Section 8 housing. This politically started happening before the 1996 Olympic games and since then the Section 8 home situation has grown around the Dekalb County area as complexes have been torn down in the Atlanta area.

Anonymous said...

To the previous poster, who asks where the Nancy Creek diversity stats came from......
Basically, the numbers were
30% White, 30% Black, 30% Hispanic,
and 10% others, which the majority was Asian.

When Nancy Creek was open, My wife, who was a PTA President at the school, found the statistics on DCSS' own website. The numbers never lied, indeed Chestnut was right behind NCTS and there were several others.

When she was in the fight to save Nancy Creek, she found actual facts to fight the DCSS with. It was too often that the BOE and Clew's cabinet, I hate using that term, would never listen. However, they could never argue with facts. Zepora and Sarah Copelin-Wood, kept arguing they had to close the school to be equitable with the schools being closed in their districts. They would also play the race card against the parents of Nancy CReek, calling it a "white school" their words not ours! When it obviously was not.

That is why she started doing research, we would be happy to show you the numbers, from back then. Matter of fact, we'll pass along the numbers to Cere to post here on the website, if it's that important to you.

Let's celebrate diversity!

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, why is everything a contest to you? I usually don't post but I do read this wonderful blog everyday! Thanks Cere!

I am an African-American and my kids went to Nancy Creek. We got special permission to attend there, since I worked in the perimeter area. The resident attendees at Nancy Creek welcomed all of us and when the NCTS PTA found the stat, we celebrated the fact. The PTA were full of parents who were concerned about the students and you could not go a day without seeing several parents and grandparents helping/volunteering at the school. I am glad Chestnut is now the most diverse school in the county.

However, I am glad my kids went to Nancy Creek. We now have moved into the Chamblee area, so my kids could continue with their Nancy Creek friends who are now in Chamblee Middle School and Chamblee High School.

Paula Caldarella said...

Huh? Not sure what you are talking about. The poster was discussing diverse schools. I simply made the point as to the diverse population at Chesnut. If you took it as a contest - that's on you.

btw, I'm glad you've found happiness in the Chamblee attendance area. I absolutely loved my high school years at Chamblee and my elementary years at Huntley Hills.

Anonymous said...

I just saw the post at Anon. 2:35.

I can submit to you that parents were angry the lines were being drawn they way they were. I know there were several who didn't say a word and moved along. The several families involved in the fight were tired, Clew and the BOE were very tough to deal with.

Another thing regarding the redrawn lines after NCTS closed. If you look at the map, the majority of NCTS district North of Harts Mill and west of Chamblee-Dunwoody Road (or only accessed Chamblee-Dunwoody Road to the west were assigned to Montgomery, Sexton Woods area was also assigned to Montgomery. The rest were assigned to Huntley Hills, it just so happened that it was the apartment complexes in Chamblee were assigned to Huntley Hills and the homes in the area stated above went to Montgomery.

Another great thing that happened which also silenced the parents moving, was the fact the the principal at Nancy Creek was being assigned to Montgomery too. This made the NCTS parents moving very excited, as well.

Anonymous said...

I apologize Dunwoody Mom, I love the area and maybe it was the way you stated it.

"I submit to you that Chestnut was/is...."

Maybe if you had said hey Chestnut was and is very diverse too! I just wish I could say that Nancy Creek IS.. however we know what happened there.

My family loves the area and we hope the future will be bright for Chamblee students at all levels. My boys sure do think so!

Paula Caldarella said...

It's fine..It is often hard to know someone's intent on a message board.

Anonymous said...

DCSS has been playing catch up since a settlement was reached in the desegregation lawsuits. Almost all SPLOST resources have been directed at the areas where growth was rampant.

No real funds for significant renovations until the last couple of years and certainly no thoughts of a master plan or even a short term plan.

By the way, the driving force to close Nancy Creek was the need to relocate KMS there. Dr. Lewis really wanted to sell the property on N. Druid Hills. Even after the deal fell apart, he hoped that the property would be sold.

It was never about Nancy Creek, it was about needing a building for a program. Because there was no master plan, Dr. Lewis could try and do what he wanted.

Anonymous said...

Schools that are 98% African American and nearly 100% free and reduced lunch are not diverse. I'm sorry I don't know how you call that diversity. There is something to be said for trying to make sure schools are socio-economically diverse as well as ethnically. I worked in such a school in South Dekalb and it was really tough to make myself go to work every day. As soon as I got my three years in, I can assure you I transferred to a school that can really celebrate diversity.

Anonymous said...

The most shocking statistic from the enrollment report is the dramatic drop in the overall enrollment countywide. I recall that the enrollment was 103,000 right after Katrina (2005) with the displaced families relocating to DCSS. Within two years it hovered around 100K and last year I seem to recall it being around 97K. The total on the report is just below 87K. Where did 10 thousand kids go?

I know that Lakeside has more than 300 transfer students, this school alone they took in 90 AYP transfers. It has been the school of choice/special permission granted for many friends and family, politicians and those who scream the loudest for years. There is no way it's only 300 out of area.

Anonymous said...

You have to make sure you look at the report titled enrollment report by school by grade. The other report doesn't include any schools that are 100 percent choice, so that is where the 10000 students are. Theme schools, magnets, alternative schools etc are not listed on ResnonRes report.

The enrollment report by school by grade shows a total enrollment of 98,650.

Anonymous said...

Look at the Enrollment report as it lists all schools. The enrollment as of 9/1 is 98,650.

Anonymous said...

Got it. Thanks for the clarification, I know people pulled out for homeschooling, private schools and other alternatives but knew it couldn't be 10 thousand.

Cerebration said...

It won't be long until the official October FTE count. We'll see then for certain, if our enrollment has declined.

Anonymous said...

sept 3 @ 11:23. MS and HS are ultimately my concerns. We purchased in this area because of them and have put effort into supporting them even though we only have ES children. When I look at these numbers, I see the potential of being drawn out. This is heighted by discussions that closures/consolidations will involved not only ES, but also MS and HS.

I again pose my question...What are the processes/timelines identified for the consolidation process we know is coming? Again, I ask because the last round was far too truncated. If particular changes occur, I'd like more than a month to move, particularly given the current housing market.

So, what is the proposed timeline and strategy for redistricting? Does anybody know?

Anonymous said...

CLew needed a master plan, he never really had one!

There were choices back when KMS needed a building. They could have thrown some money at the old CMS building, which still sits empty at the corner of Chamblee-Dunwoody and Peeler. The building was originally an Elementary school and could have handled 4th - 6th grades easily. Plus, the property is located in a much better spot for traffic flow, off of 285 and being at a major intersecion. Nancy Creek is in the middle of a neighborhood.

The old CMS building has become an incredible eyesore for the area. When you look through the windows, you see desks piled on top of one another, broken windows and blinds and the surrounding grounds are unkept and trashy. I'm sure Dunwoody is so proud to have that property looking the way it does!

There were arguments that the old CMS property was beyond repair, Like CCHS and other schools are currently? That was such a weak excuse, if Clew needed a building, he had one, he knew it, but several BOE members insisted on having a school closed on the north side of DeKalb, to be equitable with the three schools that were being closed in the south. That's why Jim Redovian voted against closing Nancy Creek in the first place, Jim knew the area was growing, he lives there and works out at the Ashford-Dunwoody YMCA. Cassandra Littlejohn also voted against the closing since she had seen the proof that Moseley was fudging the numbers.

We attended all the meetings concerning KMS, Sembler and Nancy Creek. Closing Nancy Creek was clearly a move by Clew to appease the BOE members from South DeKalb, especially after the Sembler deal fell through.

Anonymous said...

Just saw this piece at the Daily Caller, link below. Seems that Michelle Rhee, the Washington DC Super of schools, might be looking for a new job if the current Mayor loses re-election. Hey BOE, get your search committee going and visit this woman, I like her style!

Here is a small part of the piece...

While Rhee won’t specifically say she would leave her post if Gray is elected, she did say in a recent interview with Newsweek that in order for her to do her job, she needs the full backing and support of D.C.’s mayor — whoever that may be.

“You need to be in lock step and have the same philosophy and outlook,” said Rhee. “But if procedure and harmony are [Gray’s] priorities, I’m not his girl.”

The story of Rhee’s intervention in the District of Columbia public school system is one for the books. Completely and 100 percent backed by Fenty, Rhee was given full control, and she took advantage of it immediately.

Within months, she fired 30 percent of the school’s bureaucracy, commissioned an outside audit of the school system, closed 25 underperforming schools and replaced half the district’s principals with her own people.

When it came time to negotiate the new contract with the city’s teachers unions in the summer of 2008, Rhee offered them an unprecedented proposal: the chance to earn a six-figure salary (nearly unheard of for public school teachers) in exchange for giving up tenure.

Read more:

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Title I Distiguished schools... Pleasantdale isn't the only one... Cary Reynolds is as well....The enrollment is OVER capacity! Don't hate on a good school!

Anonymous said...

Michelle Rhee would be a horrible choice for Superintendent. The woman is a "poster child" for all of this testing madness.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon. 8:24. I have seen her name on this blog talked about and a lot of people liked her.

Do you have any ideas who would be good for DCSS?

I'm nervous they are grooming this Beasley guy. We need someone new, fresh and with no ties to DCSS.

Paula Caldarella said...

That anonymous was me, sorry for some reason my login didn't work right. Anyway, here is a link to an education blog in the Washington Post. You'll find lots of information about Michelle Rhee. She really is all about test scores.

Anonymous said...

Just because a school has won awards does not mean that it really is a good school. I know of quite a few schools that have won blue ribbons and I would not send my child to them or even teach in them.

Also using data to drive instruction is not a problem. I have done this since I began teaching in 1996, however what is a problem is when poor data is what is considered. Right now DCSS uses poor data.

Having worked with KIPP schools and other well run schools, they use data to drive instruction. However, they also use common sense and have the children's learning and making progress at heart.

As a parent you may not like using data because you are used to the poor data that is used here in DCSS, however, I would much rather a district use data, than go on their gut or fly by the seat of their pants. We had that with Lewis and look where it got us.

Any person that is chosen for Superintendent from outside the district is going to have people who like and dislike them. We need to look at the big picture and determine if the person has a proven track record of improving schools and the quality of education. We need to make sure that the person is about educating the children first and right sizing the district staff.

You might not like Rhee's methods based on what you've read. You must realize that she is not for the unions and for a quality education for the children. The media for the most part is on the side of the unions and therefore can twist the truth. Having worked in the schools in DC without Rhee and with Rhee, I saw a huge difference with Rhee and would have considered sending my child to a DC school if I had lived there.

We aren't going to like everything about the person chosen for Superintendent, but we need to make sure that they are not afraid to make cuts (as many are needed especially in personal) and that they put the quality of education on the front burner for our children.

We also need to make sure that Beasley or someone else from inside the district does not get the superintendent job. My gut has been that is the goal of those running the show in DCSS and it scares me, as we could have an even bigger mess on our hands if he is put into the top spot. I already feel that he has more power than Tyson, maybe I am wrong about this, but it is what my gut is telling me.

Paula Caldarella said...

IMO, one of the types of personalities we need here in DCSS, is a person, among other things, who is a consensus builder and not someone that is constantly causing drama such as Rhee.

I think, and hope, we can do better.

Again, just my own little view.

Cerebration said...

Ah - so this is interesting. We are learning that at least two of the elementary schools with a huge 'transfer out' population, also are severely over-crowded! Ironically, it also seems that the transfer-in "theme" schools are under-enrolled and have plenty of space for more.

Am I correct? What does this mean? Do you think it's another case of giving squeaky wheels the grease, while not actually addressing the key issue?

Anonymous said...

Actually, most of the theme schools are full or even a bit over capacity.

Robert Shaw is an exception, but most of the schools that feed it are not particularly overcrowded and some are even underutilized.

Marbut, Bouie, Narvie Harris and Oakcliff are all at or above capacity.

For the most part, even if Marbut and Bouie were traditional neighborhood schools with attendance zones, there would still be overcrowding in the elementary schools in their clusters.

Anonymous said...

So using data to inform instruction is good? ( I have known this). But it is interesting to see reactions on this blog to Beasley and his ensuring the use of data. Also, we are using "poor" data?? What type of data do you think we are using now and what type should we be using? I think these types of discussions are where we can have the most impact!

Cerebration said...

Ok, I see where the theme schools are pretty full -- Narvie Harris has 953 with capacity for 837, Oakcliff theme has 640 with capacity for 662. Bouie Theme has 825 with a capacity for 787. DESA has 528 with capacity for 600. Marbut has 805, with capacity for 787. We also have Wynbrooke Theme (923 students, capacity of 837) and Ron McNair Learning Acad (840 with capacity for 912). Plus, we have Wadsworth magnet (151 students).

In addition, we have three new charters: Leadership Prep Academy (181 students), The Museum School (State sponsored, anyone know how many students they ended up with?) and Peachtree Hope Charter (same story as Museum).

I'm saying, these schools may be what is creating the need to close or consolidate several small schools. Do we know where these schools are pulling their students from?

Look at the under-enrolled schools - Allgood (413 with room for 687), Atherton (384 with room for 637), Avondale (462 with room for 687) Clifton (322 with room for 587), Flat Shoals (351 with room for 600), Gresham Park (262 with room for 462), Knollwood (265 with room for 612), Peachcrest (327 with room for 662), Rock Chapel (420 with room for 687), Sky Haven (281 with room for 612), Snapfinger (482 with room for 862).

I think that Ms Wood is trying to make this point but she is terribly inarticulate at it. She's also wrong - as she claims the board (herself included) has continued to support 'the north', leaving 'the southernmost' schools in a lurch. She is correct that there has been a very strong movement toward creating "special" or "theme" or "magnet" type schools in order to satisfy squeaky wheel parents who demand a quality education for their children. Sadly, it seems, those left in the under-performing neighborhood schools are getting the shaft. We DO need to turn our attention to salvaging those schools. Consolidation must occur, however, Title 1 funds must also be utilized for support teachers and specialty teachers to lift these children up. They should not be left with less than what others receive at the theme or special schools.

This will take new leadership, as this was NOT what Dr. Lewis was about. Lewis created this culture of "escape" to the special schools in order to appease and create supporters. He did not care about those "left behind". The board also endorsed his every move along the way. This is what needs to change. And Sarah Wood's district needs a board rep who can articulate their needs, using data and facts - not by arguing a north/south disparity.

Stepping off soapbox now...

Paula Caldarella said...

According to an article in the Neighbor newspapers, Avondale Museum School opened with 137 K-3 students.

Anonymous said...

If a magnet or charter school is in an area with other strong schools, will it be able to draw students? I also believe that location can play a factor. The Leadership Prep School in Lithonia, is not located in an area that is accessible to a lot of people. Even in two parent families, many parents work. It is hard to reach that location. I do think that there is going to have to be a very careful study of the data for all schools. Even though we were blessed and were able to go to traditional public schools and do well, there does need to be some choices. Every school does not fit every student. There should be some choices for very accelerated students as well as students that need additional support and help.
If we can be wise and fair stewards of the money, providing choice is not impossible. I wonder if we will ever find out how much money was mis used? Or, how many grants we did not get because our focus was somewhere else for the last five years.

Cerebration said...

Here's a random example of poor executive planning - apparently, according to the facilities and capital planning PPT (August, 2010) we spent $1,814,811 on AC for Hooper Alexander ES. Then - say - didn't we close that school? Ugh.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that I heard that a theme school can stop taking students when it reaches capacity. A neighborhood school just gets more trailers.

Anonymous said...

DCSS needs a complete overhaul - we can start in November by voting OUT all incumbants!

pscexb said...

Cerebration asked about the attendance for some of the Theme Schools. I can comfortably talk about Bouie and Narvie Harris. Both schools were built to relieve overcrowding for several elementary schools, from Cedar Grove ES to Murphey Candler ES. DCSS was also facing challenges with many middle class blacks leaving the system who did not want to leverage M to M to get what they perceived what a quality education for their children.

Theme schools were created 'partly' to help with this by creating an instructional environment that required students to wear uniforms and parental involvement contracts. Plainly said, it allowed parents to send their children to a school where they believe other families shared their values with respect to education. It allowed the district to keep existing attendance zones yet provide seats to specific ESs. Bouie allocated seats to Browns Mill, Fairington, and Murphey Candler. Narvie Harris allocated seats to Chapel Hill and Cedar Grove (seats may have also been allocated to Bob Mathis and Rainbow). There was a lottery for the seats based on the allocations. It did provide some relief to the schools as intended however as you can see from the numbers in the recent reports, there is still a need for more seats.

When you consider Flat Rock was built since that time and does not have the capacity for the children that live in that attendance area, it heightens some of the frustration of those that live in that corridor. If we did not have the current economic crisis, there were plans to build several hundred more single family, entry level homes in stones throw from Flat Rock.

It should be noted, that ES Theme transportation remained because of the mission mentioned above, to provide relief to nearby ESs. Converting them to a traditional school then redrawing lines will probably bring up the same concerns that many across the district have said over years, don't change something that is already working.

pscexb said...

Something else that should be mentioned about Theme schools is that they are 'parent driven'. Parents in other HS clusters, specifically McNair and Towers inquired about creating Theme schools also. In their cases, the recommendation was to convert an existing school to a Theme school however they had to have community buy in if they wanted the same model as Bouie and Narvie Harris. The other suggestion was to get buy in within the school to become a Theme School.

I say this with no disrespect intended but some parents wanted the school district to do what families in a school/community would not do on their own. That is to be involved in the local school. Unfortunately I believe that is part of the reason why some families seek to escape their home schools.

Cerebration said...

Great explanation, psc. Thanks.

Plainly said, it allowed parents to send their children to a school where they believe other families shared their values with respect to education. It allowed the district to keep existing attendance zones yet provide seats to specific ESs.

Excuse me for saying this bluntly, but that looks like segregation to me - by class. Those children who have parents with knowledge, means and fortitude to access "theme" programs are afforded a good education. Which just reinforces my stance that this is not a north/south debate as Ms. Woods continues to insist. This is a case of people in the same neighborhoods/school zones choosing to break away and reassemble elsewhere, with others who think and act like they do.

The schools in the north are not like this at all. The north end schools are incredibly diverse (unlike ANY school in south DeKalb - which are mostly homogenous and over 90% African-American). The few public school parents who choose to leave their zoned school do so to access the high achiever magnet program but often return to their home high schools, finding the offerings just as good. The Chamblee HS magnet is by and large, full of transfers from areas far removed from Chamblee. These folks also are seeking not only a quality education, but the diversity that their home schools can't provide.

I tend to agree with Jay Cunningham's statement at the last meeting where he exclaimed, "I think ALL schools should be theme schools." This would provide access to all students, not just the ones with proactive parents.

My point again is that we are providing opportunities for many, yet still leaving those with the weakest representation with far less. In the end, these kids end up either dropping out or completing high school in a remedial type of alternative program. That must be changed. And it starts with the elementary school programs—all of them.

Anonymous said...

pscexb, you seem to be a bit of an apologist for the current administration. And some of your explanations seem to be coming right fom administrators.

The new superintendent will hopefully not listen to the squeaky wheels and tell parents that they have a duty to partner with the system to improve their home schools, or they will be closed down. Period.

"Don't change something that is already working"??
Nothing is working right no at DCSS, brother.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, we all need to consider the sources that have been linked. The Daily Caller is a conservative blog, they like Rhee and do not support unions.

However, the Washington Post is a paper with liberal bias and they endorse unions, so we must consider the sources.

Like someone else said, we must look at the data. Sure everyone can read the data and interpret it or rather spin it to fit their wants and needs.

Rhee should be someone DCSS should look at, she looks to be someone who cares that the kids get a good education.

I agree with the earlier poster I also have a gut feeling that Beasley is being groomed for the top job. LET'S HOPE THAT'S NOT THE CASE! Beasley would not change the leadership one iota, However, there would be a mass exodus of teachers, if he was given the Super. job. I thank God that the word interim still sits in front of his title and it should stay that way!

Anyone else have any ideas of Supers, around the country, that would make a difference and change DCSS?

pscexb said...

To Anon 1:27, actually I thought I was sharing my research based on my personal desire to understand how we got to where we are today. I've spoken to Dr. Tartt, who is credited with starting the Theme schools in DCSS to get her perspective regarding why they started. I've spoken and listened to parents about their experiences with the program, pro and con. I've spoken and listened to parents who believe attending a Theme school would benefit their children yet they did not have an option to attend one.

Personally speaking, I see them as a type of 'gimmick' program that plays more to the emotions and perceptions of parents. Again, I don't say this to discredit them because they have proven to be successful (their standardized test scores are some of the highest in the district). Many families believe in them and who am I to question their beliefs.

In the early 90's Dr. Freeman publicly expressed concern about the lawsuit, specifically that if DCSS did not get relief, a suggested remedy could be district wide busing to achieve desegregation. His concern was that if that happened, white families would leave DCSS in droves and this was shared by many throughout DeKalb. I see the creation of Theme schools similar to the concerns expressed by Dr. Freeman, a way to keep middle class black families (who would also be involved) in the school district.

This district has reacted to the wants of the 'squeaky wheel' for years. I can point to situations throughout the county for this. At the same time, I can point to situations where schools that did not have a vocal advocate got crumbs.

I disagree with your comment about nothing working right. I see schools achieving despite all the distractions and poor AYP scores that some schools have. I met a parent yesterday whose son is attending Emery Riddle in Daytona Beach, the number 1 aeronautical engineering school in the world. I read the stories of students from Cross Keys that are achieving despite preconceived perceptions of them. I know families whose children are pursuing higher education, went into the military or the workforce.

If you can see no good in DCSS despite the distractions going on, I feel sorry for you. You may never see anything positive that comes out of DCSS and that is sad.

pscexb said...

To Anon 1:27, IMO Beasley will not be considered as a candidate for DCSS superintendent. I say that because I believe that the Board and citizens will seek an experienced superintendent without ties to DCSS that has a proven track record of working with urban school districts like ours. I don't believe they will hire an 'up and comer' candidate that seems to have the right pedigree and interviews well.

Looking back at what Dr. Brown did, he brought in his own people for HR, Finance, and Instruction. I believe a new superintendent will probably do the same given the task they will have in rebuilding confidence with the community. That said, I believe Dr. Beasley not be a part of the new superintendent's inner circle.

Again, this is my opinion and time will tell.

Anonymous said...

The benchmark data (elementary as that is where I have experience) that the teachers are using is pointless. The tests consist of 10 questions that may or may not actually deal with the material that a teacher is required to teach. The questions are poorly written and don't give a teacher, parent, or administrator a true picture of what a child does and does not know about the topic covered.

The ELA benchmarks often have incorrect questions and again are poorly written.

Teachers, administrators, and parents cannot rely on the benchmark data to get a true picture of what children do and do not know.

Looking at the previous year's CRCT scores and where questions were answered incorrectly would be a much better measure. Time consuming yes, but a much better and logical measure.

Kim Gokce said...

pscexb as apologist for the administration? ha ha. Then that makes me an administration mole!

pscexb is a consistent voice of reason on this blog and the value of our blog rises significantly when s/he participates.

I've disagreed vigorously with pscexb on a point or two over the past year and one half that I've been here but I've never seen pscexb's blogging as anything other than frank, informative, and additive to our debates.

pscexb, make checks payable to Kim Gokce. I'm now an apologist for your "apologies" for the administration and expect to be paid.

Paula Caldarella said...

I'm not sure why politics,and "labeling" must rear its ugly head in every conversation, but...Rhee is causing consternation within all players in DC, teachers, administrations, parents, etc. After what we've been through here in DCSS, we need a Super that can "calm the waters" and rebuild the trust of all involved. Michelle Rhee is not a "consensus builder". Again, my opinion.

Paula Caldarella said...

Nothing is working right no at DCSS, brother.

Actually, that is far from the truth.

Cerebration said...

Good input again, psc.

I trust that the board will hire someone from outside the system - hopefully from outside of Georgia - or better - outside of the south. Someone with no ties who is beholden to no one.

As much as I admire how hard Ms. Tyson is working and her genuine efforts to fix whatever she can and bring back trust to this broken leadership, I am also keenly aware that she is between a rock and a hard place, which may effect her ability to actually enforce radical change. When this is all said and done, she must return to the ranks of "cabinet" member and get along with her peers (who are currently her subordinates, temporarily.) She simply cannot step on toes, as some of these folks will be lying in wait (IMO) to retaliate once she returns to the fold. (I know, that's pretty cynical. But think about it.)

Right now, things are being fixed, cleared up, focused and readied. We won't see real, substantial change until we get a new super - one with guts from another place (and time?)

Paula Caldarella said...

Totally OT, but my curiosity finally got the better of me. I often see cars near the gym of the old Shallowford ES/Chamblee MS. Today, I finally stopped and asked what was taking place. I was told it was a softball company from Alpharetta giving softball lessons.
I hope DCSS is charging rent.

Cerebration said...

Thank you for checking that out DM! I've seen that activity and wondered. Softball lessons was never one of my guesses though!

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, Rhee is not liked by everyone and I am not surprised. She has tried to change the schools in DC to make them better. She has tried to stop similar things that happen in DCSS from happening. Certain parents no longer have clout and are treated as they should be according to the rules. Teachers have had nothing to complain about, as they have not had to take pay cuts, as DCSS has. Teachers unions do not like anything that goes with teacher accountability and test scores, even when done in a pretty appropriate way. A teacher union is not there for the children, but to protect it's membership.

Knowing teachers who teach in DC and parents who live in DC who now consider DC public schools in their neighborhood where they would not have before Rhee, I applaud what she has done. No one making difficult decisions is going to be liked by 100% of the population. You are always going to upset some group by the decisions that you make.

I applaud Rhee, as she has always had the children of DC first and foremost in her decision making, something that I have yet to see here in DCSS and in many other places around the country.

As an educator, tax payer and parent, I want a superintendent who is focused on improving the quality of education. I really don't care who gets ticked off in the process, as long as the quality of education in our system improves.

We have tough decisions that need to be made. We need a leader who is not afraid of being yelled at and taking a "beating" for what they believe is just for the children of DCSS. I believe that Rhee would look and care about ALL children of DCSS, something that I do not feel is happening now.

Rhee has been very transparent about what she has done, is trying to do and has done. Can we say the same for DCSS?

I read this editorial that she wrote in early August and say that Rhee is exactly what we need in DCSS and hope and pray that we are lucky enough to get her.

pscexb said...

Kim, in exchange for a check, would you accept some volunteer hours for Cross Keys??? :) Thanks for your comments and your advocacy. This blog is both a GREAT source of information and conversation about DCSS. Count me among the many that are appreciative to Cerebration for creating a forum WITHOUT PAY for stakeholders like ourselves to receive and share information!

Anonymous said...

The new superintendent will depend on the composition of the BOE after the November election. If it is the same, a good chance, then there will be a CLew II as super. There are a lot of friends and family that have to be protected. That is the top priority of the people (not the BOE) who really run DCSS.

Maybe a person like Ms Rhee would shake up the systems and really make education top priority. Dr Brown probably was trying but the establishment wanted to keep the gravy train rolling. They had no objection in spending $450K of OPM to do this.

Kudos to the principals and teachers who work to educate the children in spite of the dysfunctional administration and fractious BOE.

Kim Gokce said...

"Kim, in exchange for a check, would you accept some volunteer hours for Cross Keys??? :)"

Why, funny you should mention that ... in mid-October we'll have another Hands on Atlanta Volunteer Day at CK. We'll either be cleaning up the notorious sewage right-of-way or the poor, dilapidated baseball field. I'm thinking it will be the right-of-way but TBD still. I believe the date is October 16 but don't feel obligated :)

Kim Gokce said...

... and I second your comment about this blog, it is an enormous asset to the community. I can't tell you how many friends, neighbors, AND employees of DCSS tell me they appreciate the forum and find it useful.

Is there mis-information posted here? Of course, that is the price of an open forum. That said, there is enormous effort made to correct it where it is found and to remove it if it is hateful or harmful.

I'm 100% with the Supreme Court on the remedy for hate speech - more speech! And no where in DeKalb is there more speech about our schools and their management than right here. Anyone who laments this fact needs to offer an alternative open forum!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @12:18 - voting out incumbents across the board is NOT the answer. Dr. Walker and Mr. Redovian are by far the best candidates in those districts. Now as far as Mr. Cunningham and Zepora, yeah, they have got to go. SCW is the only one that really gives me trouble either way. I would like to see her be more about DeKalb County as a whole rather than just her area, but she does try to fight for her schools - even if she seems a bit clueless (for lack of a better word)

Paula Caldarella said...

I certainly respect your view of Michelle Rhee. I would also hope that you respect my view, as a parent, that she would not be an acceptable Superintendent. We don't need someone to come in with an "in your face attitude". As I've said several times, we must have someone that will bring us together, build bridges, soothe over hurt feelings, bring about a trust that is gone. Michelle Rhee is not the type of Super DCSS needs at this time in history.

Anonymous said...

I think we need someone who has a proven track record of improving instructional outcomes.

I don't think Rhee has the data yet to show that she has done that, and certainly not in a sustainable way.

That said, for a year, I think she would make a great interim. Come in, clean house at the central office, get rid of inept school house administrators, and close schools/redistrict. And then leave.

Won't happen though, because she wouldn't be interested.

Paula Caldarella said...

Rhee does not report to a BOE, she reports directly to the Mayor. Could she even get her proposals through working with a BOE?

Rumor is that Rhee will quit if Fenty is not re-elected Mayor of D.C. Maybe she would take an interim position.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is that I'm SO grateful for this blog. Inner feelings, whispers and the unshakeable feeling that "somebody must feel the same way I do!" all get to be aired here. And so are our inner struggles. We want the following:

A BOE that is accountable to the entire system even while getting elected by only a laser-focused portion of that system (districts).

A superintendent who will not be "in your face", but who will tamp down parental factions, clean decades of disgust from an entrenched central office, fire friends and family (there's a reason they're called that), and reach consensus with the same BOE which, if we follow the thinking in the above paragraph, couldn't get on the same page if it wanted to.

Whew! Tall order.

Y'know, it's actually possible, and of course there's hope. But do we see in this discussion how tough it will be to bring all of us together to achieve that? Consider Dr. Brown. He may have been high-handed at times, but he was actually trying to cure some of the system's ills. But he irked many -- and it wasn't long before the BOE started drinking the koolaid. He wasn't from here and had no dog in the hunt, but it wasn't long before he was gone. He picked up his family and moved here and invested himself in the community. What do we want in DeKalb now? Someone who's willing to come here, personal investment and all, without a more clear roadmap?

At the first mention last week of the $40 million suddenly appearing and just laying around waiting to be spent, there were those on this very blog who, before Cere and others jumped in as the voice of reason, were ready to spend it on one thing -- or in one place. Or in two zip codes. That is simply a microcosm of the entire DeKalb spectrum.

Somebody's gotta blink here -- yes, Kim/Cere/Others -- we need the strategic vision. And it should be before a new super is hired. (It should be before the BOE elections, but that's asking too much.) Then and only then should we begin to look for someone with the intestinal fortitude to carry it out. As for the blinking? Central office and parents should blink -- but not students and teachers. In other words, S. DeKalb parents should stand up and be willing to create excellence as the norm in their schools (ouch! much of that is going to start in the home where there are no excuses), and N. DeKalb parents should stand up and recognize that we've really discussed AYP and administrative transfers to death and we need to get on with it (and no excuses here either). You can't pretend to have outreach to the broader section of DeKalb if you constantly draw the inference (and I know you're talking about bottom lines and looking out for your own schools, give you that -- but it is an inference) that S. DeKalb children are not wanted. You didn't intend it that way, but that's the way it's taken to many people.

So! Seek out your cross-sections, zip up that which could tear it all down in one sentence, find your like-minded friends across town (anybody besides psc ever go to the monthly Stan Watson meetings? Anybody besides the two S. DeKalb republicans ever meet up on Chamblee-Tucker or on LaVista at those meetings?) and form your own manifesto. Once cleared and presented with finesse to citizens north, central and south alike, nobody can tear it down. Not BOE members, not Central Office staff, not a super, not even a CEO or county commission. And definitely not a state legislature.

THEN find your Michelle Rhee (or whomever). She won't be in your face because she's been given the roadmap, it has consensus and you will have achieved something virtually no one before has managed in this quagmire of a county -- the ties of DeKalb that bind. Difficult? Yes! Simplistic? Yes! Cynical? No! Been there-done that and can for the first time see a real bridge-building opportunity? Yes! And it started here.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, Most superintendents in large cities only report to the mayor and they do not have a board of education. That is how it is done in Chicago, Philadelphia, and NYC just to name a few. I have also been in situations where board of eds were appointed by the governor or mayor depending on the situation.

Rhee is not unusual. How do you think Arne Duncan got his position in Chicago? He was appointed by Mayor Daley. He had only Mayor Daley to report to. This is just the way that it is done in large cities. Not saying that it's right or wrong, but it's not unusual. This is important information that you need to know, before you are judgmental about Rhee not wanting to work with the next mayor. She may not even be offered her job by a new mayor, he may have a different vision for the system that her own, and it may be a compatible fit. You need to understand how other systems work and the politics in those systems before you can truly make a judgement call if someone is good or bad.

Paula Caldarella said...

This is important information that you need to know, before you are judgmental about Rhee not wanting to work with the next mayor

LOL, I do know this, thank you very much. I was only pointing out that the difference in the DCSS job and the one Rhee has now. btw, tt's all over the Washington Post and other education blogs questioning whether A. Michelle Rhee will want to work with the next Mayor of DC, or B. Whether the next Mayor of DC will even want Rhee as Super. I didn't make this up and don't appreciate your snarkiness.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the schools in Philadelphia are run by a School Reform Commission appointed by the Governor.

Cerebration said...

Great comments, Anon 7:22 PM!

We need to make certain that no matter who our next super is, we as parents and community members have a vision we would like to share. Can you imagine a turnaround that places DeKalb at the forefront of innovative educational opportunities? We're ready for some extraordinary change - let's hope that's what we get!

Paula Caldarella said...

Here's the rub and Ms. Tyson mentioned it at the DCPC meeting. While we can have all the requirements for a Super candidate we want, DCSS has to be attractive enough to be able to hire a top-notch "A" candidate.

To do that, imo, we've got to get past this SACS situation, we've got to have a BOE that does not act in a childish, petulant, "us against them" attitude that fights real reform and real progress at every turn.

Things have to turn around in a hurry if DCSS is going to be a job that will attract a strong Super candidate.

Sandy Spruill said...

@ Anonymous 5:36 PM

You are wrong about re-electing Jim Redovian. He is a no-show. If his lack of attention and complete inability to do his job wasn't so critical, we could have fun with "Where's Jimbo" reports and a campaign slogan, Jim Redovian: Leadership Inaction.

Here's the complete and unedited text of an e-mail I received on August 30 from Mr. Redovian:

I really am sorry Mr. McChesney beat me to answer, I have been out of town and traveling all day, Obviously he does a much better job than I do and that's what makes this Country so great, you will have a choice in November to pick someone who doesn't tend to neglect Chamblee like I do."

This was sent because I thanked Don McChesney for responding to an e-mail I sent on August 30 to the entire BOE and Mrs. Tyson protesting the lack of time for response on 4 BOE policies that address possibly the most critical policy issues in DCSS today. This was Mr. Redovian's only response to my e-mail.

Mr. Redovian is on record as saying that the only reason why he ran for a BOE seat was to support Crawford Lewis -- which he did, blindly, right over the cliff.

The best candidate for DCSS District 1 BOE is Nancy Jester. She is smart, energetic, pragmatic and and an independent thinker. She won't be drinking the Kool-Aid ladled out by DCSS Palace employees.

Nancy Jester was at the DCPC meeting on September 1. Mr. Redovian was not. Where's Jimbo?

Anonymous said...

Bless you Sandy for telling the truth - How can anyone not realize that Jim Redovian must go...? Anon 5:36 WAKE UP !!!!
He doesn't respond to e-mails, he doesn't respond to phone calls , bottom line , he doesn't respond to his district.

Anonymous said...

Amen Sandy! Redovian has to go!

Nancy Jester is a nice choice!

Also, Dunwoody Mom, I think the only Super this county can hire right now is one with an "in your face" attitude. With the likes of Beasley, Thompson, Mitchell-Mayfield, Moseley and of course Francis Edwards and all her kids, an "in your face attitude" might be the only way to show these folks the door! I'm just saying....

Anonymous said...

I think the only Super this county can hire right now is one with an "in your face" attitude. With the likes of Beasley, Thompson, Mitchell-Mayfield, Moseley and of course Francis Edwards and all her kids, an "in your face attitude" might be the only way to show these folks the door! I'm just saying....

That is why I believe that DCSS needs an interim superintendent first, rather than a permanent one.

Someone who has no illusion that they need to please anyone. Someone who can make the really tough decisions without worrying who is going to sabotage them or stab them in the back.

This person can remove the people that need to be removed, close schools, redistrict, whatever and be gone.

The new superientendent will come in with all the heavy lifting done and be able to hit the ground running rebuilding our school system.

Cerebration said...

I agree. A strong, business-minded, 6-8 month interim who knows which key positions need to be in place in order for quality education to occur would make a very nice transition to a permanent quality, education-oriented superintendent who can then begin to implement a long-term plan.

Paula Caldarella said...

That may just what DCSS gets - an interim. Ms. Tyson was VERY adamant that she sees her job as Super only lasting 7 or 8 more months. That certainly is not enough time, in my view, to come up with a good, strong, viable, permanent candidate.

Paula Caldarella said...

A leader does not have to be an "in your face" type of person to relieve personnel of their duties or effect a turnaround in this school system.

I find it interesting that people decry some people at the Central Office for their rude, "in your face behavior", but want to turn around and hire a Super with those qualities.

Cerebration said...

Interesing - Ms. Tyson has already been the interim for over 6 months according to the DCSS super's webpage...

Mrs. Ramona Tyson was appointed Interim Superintendent of the DeKalb County School System on February 25, 2010

If she stays for 6 more she could end up serving as interim for a year to a year and a half. Something she certainly wasn't expecting.

How about a job share? Ms. Tyson could stay on as Asst Interim super and take care of the SACS issues, the facilities issues and work with the board on the redistricting/consolidation plan.

Then, what if we hired an outside interim over personnel whose job it is to simply streamline all services, jobs and expenditures? This person could also dig into our employee base to ensure that everyone is properly placed and properly paid for the job they do. Basically, this person could 'ready" the workforce for a new super to take the reins and hit the ground running with a solid plan for educating children rather than having to clean up first. You know, sort of like when you buy or rent a new place - it's so much nicer to have it already clean when you move in.

Anonymous said...

I've spent a lot of time over the weekend studying the two charts that DCSS posted. I am floored by the number of tiny elementary schools with hundreds of empty seats while students at other schools learn in trailers.

But I think the most important data is the "Forcast." Does anyone know if this is for next year, 5 years out, or what?

Anonymous said...

I was at the BOE meeting on Friday, August 27th that discussed the 2020 Vision Plan for DCSS. There was only one BOE member that was not present. Guess who? You know it!
Jim Redovian!!!!! Nancy is a mcuh better choice than a "No good for NOTHING absentee BOE member."
Sagamore 7.

Anonymous said...

Jim Redovian is a nice guy who does care deeply about what happens to his district. Nancy Jester is also a nice person.

However, the key her is that we do need some new school board members who have a vision for our school system for the future. Anyone who thinks that Woods, Roberts, and Walker would be good for our system needs to do some homework. All three are more of the same corruption that we have been exposed to. Walker took more than 19 thousand dollars from Sembler. All three indicate they make decisions based on color. This is not what we need for our school system. Our school system needs healing. Our school board members need to make decisions based on facts and not emotions and special interests.

Cerebration said...

Actually, Nancy is a very good candidate and I predict will give Jim a challenge he is not expecting. She's a number-cruncher and unafraid to ask tough questions. I have said before, we have several very good candidates in this race for school board seats. I am looking forward to reporting on future debates and forums. They certainly will be gearing up soon.

To read the bios we have been given by the candidates, click on the voter box on the side panel of the home page.

(ps - the "forecasts" have always had a 2016 date attached to them - I don't know if these have been revised to coincide with the 2020 vision, but I don't think so. The last demographic report we had done predicted enrollments for 2016. But - as we all know, a lot of unforeseeable changes have occurred since then.)

Paula Caldarella said...

I'm sure Ms. Tyson had no idea how long her "interim" position would last. Word is that Dr. Lewis really believed he would get his job back after his "leave" was over.

Anonymous said...

The classroom teacher's "boss" has traditionally been the principal, not some glorified bureaucrat with some power to throw around. If a teacher has to answer to anyone above the principal, it should be for issues of county policy, and nothing else, not for issues of the teacher's instruction or job performance.

If DCSS were serious about change for the better, it would restore to the principal the authority and control that has been traditionally exercised by the principal.

DCSS would then have to get real about its principal hiring process. This process has placed the weakest, most-submissive-to-county-authority principals in its many struggling schools. These are schools that deserve seasoned professional principals with good strong track records for improving entire school environments, and not just for improving test scores. Unfortunately, schools like Cross Keys suffer from poor principal hires.

A teacher should answer to his or her principal only, and not to some Dr. Beasley.

Anonymous said...

Redovian was visiting his ill mother.

We have several really solid candidates for school board this time around who all have REAL JOBS. Many of them have bosses who have bosses who have bosses, in otherwords, they aren't directly in control of their own destiny.

I have spoken to a couple of them myself and they don't know what they will do if the number of daytime meetings remains the same.

Do you realize that within the last two weeks there were three daytime meetings?

For this BoE, only Redovian and Bowen have jobs, so for most of the Board it doesn't matter. But it is frightening how many meetings they are having.

Anonymous said...

Walker may have his own issues, but he is certainly the better candidate in his race. I'm so tired of hearing Dr. Beasley's name. I have little respect for the initiatives he's trying to put into place. I'm tired of being forced into a cookie cutter. The students aren't all the same and neither am I. Seriously, if all this didn't work at Columbia, how the heck is it going to work county-wide? I have a really good principal at my school, please let her do her job and I think things will be fine.

pscexb said...

Anon 10:26 asks about the Forecast column in the Enrollment Report. My understanding is this is the annual 'guesstimate' that the planning department derives to help with hiring and placing teachers. I'm sure they use some algorithm to help come up with these numbers at a school by school level. I recall hearing from some in the planning department indicate they've been within 2-3 percent of the actual number for the past several years.

Cerebration said...

Two reasons for the high number of meetings:

1- They are in crisis management mode - they have a lot of terribly stressful issues to discuss like SACS responses, DA investigators questions, budget cuts and redistricting.

2 - They have a few members who consistently hamper their ability to get anything done by grandstanding and basically campaigning, throwing out the race card (I think in color or the people in the 'north' are getting more...), working behind the scenes to save family member's jobs or save the tiny schools in their districts from closing. Discussions get tabled, tabled and tabled again due to their inability to dig into the work at hand because they are far too busy pontificating.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:13am,

I agree that there are too many meetings held during the day. But I do think that we need to choose board members that can be at the meetings no matter when they are held. If they have too many obstacles to that, than the job isn't a good fit for them. School is conducting during working hours. If someone isn't available during that time to visit schools and see firsthand what is going on, the conditions of the facilities, etc. that's also a problem. None of our board members have children in the schools currently so they don't have daily contact with schools, teachers and curriculum. I think it's too much for Jim R. and he's not connected.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Redovian has grandchildren in DCSS, so it really isn't fair to accuse him of not "being connected".

Also, we are excluding really, really good possible candidates if we say they have to be available for daytime meetings.

I think that is a hollow and unrealistic requirement.

Cerebration said...

So much is done outside of meetings that I don't hold them as a qualifier. For example, the public monthly board meetings are strictly for public consumption. The board members already had huge packets of info to review, and the actual vote doesn't take place until the following week - the business meeting - with the exact same agenda. So - much of the meeting materials are redundant. Sometimes I wonder if we should stop broadcasting the public meetings -- they've turned into a circus for free broadcast campaigning (IMO).

Anonymous said...

Like I said, I think they have far too many daytime meetings. It's like they don't want parents to be there, right? But board members need to have enough flexibility in their schedule to allow daytime activities regarding the schools, not just board meetings. It's not unrealistic to expect this. The job isn't for everyone.
Jim R. is a nice man, although not accessible to everyone, but that doesn't seem to be getting us anywhere. And having grandchildren in the district isn't the same as being an active parent. We don't have a single board member with children currently in the district. Just sayin'. That doesn't seem like a good thing for a school board.

Anonymous said...

"For example, the public monthly board meetings are strictly for public consumption. The board members already had huge packets of info to review, and the actual vote doesn't take place until the following week - the business meeting - with the exact same agenda."

...and if ONLY all of our board members would READ their packets of material and do their homework before the meetings! The time wasted on questions raised by board members--simply because they haven't done their homework--is inexcusable!

Paula Caldarella said...

And having grandchildren in the district isn't the same as being an active parent

I'm pretty sure that grandparents raising their grandchildren, as many are in DCSS, would take offense at that statement.

Anonymous said...

If grandparents are raising their grandchildren then they ARE active parents. No question. No offense was meant. I don't think this is the case for Jim R. I think it's great to have a variety of people on a board but we don't have that.

Cerebration said...

I noticed during the last meeting that Dan Drake mentioned an email address to write with your redistricting suggestions - here it is -

Anonymous said...

I am also (to put it mildly) disappointed that there isn't a greater level of homework done by some BOE members before board meetings. That's not just a perception; it is reality.

I also remember when there was absolutely NO discussion in the open meeting about agenda items, leaving the public to wonder if it was ever going to be privy to what goes on with their money, their children and their pieces of property. That was equally disgusting.

Then, consider the untenable position board members are often placed in. If you stay too silent, you're perceived as having swallowed whatever comes from the super and staff and never questioning anything. If you're too vociferous, you're perceived as an agitator who's not in lockstep with the super and staff, upsetting some members of the public who want everyone to "get along". You also come to the attention of SACS; their term is "meddling".

You want board members who could visit schools during the day, who are not all retired, and "see what's going on in the schools"? Me too. But do you know that at one time if a board member so much as pulled his/her car into a school's parking lot without the knowledge of the super that would constitute meddling? And that if you do visit schools during the day, the distraction on staff's part to ensure a nice (sanitized) visit by the board member takes away literally hours from the mission of running the school?

I'm happy to see this discussion of what we want in BOE members as much as what we want in a super. The necessary careful balance between the roles of both BOE and super should be openly discussed and debated. State law is very purposeful and distinct in this regard. It distinguishes, but intertwines the roles of both BOE and super so that no one body is too weeds-down in everything, and so that the public is ultimately the boss. Since in DeKalb the public abdicated it's role as boss for so long, we get to debate this all over again.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that it's meddling for a board member to show up at a school. I think they should do so unannounced to get a real picture of how a school is functioning. They need this information so that they can properly assess and evaulate the superintendent and facilities. In a visit they should not act in a supervisory role, as that would be in conflict with their role. But they should most definitely visit schools.

Paula Caldarella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

DCSS has rules about board members and just showing up at schools. As I understand it, the rules were enacted the first time Paul Womack was on the board and displayed bad behavior at some schools.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that we are discussing the strengths/weaknesses of BOE members. Was there something about a member that was out of bounds? Acknowledging that a member does or does not have children in the system isn't an attack. It's just a point that voters can consider. Jim R. is a nice man with a nice family. Like many people, I'm sure he wants what's "best" for the schools. What is "best" and how to get there is up for discussion. I think he, along with all the others, up for reelection should go. I think a clean slate is one of the things DeKalb needs. Several people have commented on this blog about Jim's reasons for running (supporting Crawford) and about his responses to them (or lack thereof) and these are also legitimate pieces of information for voters to consider.

Anonymous said...

Since in DeKalb the public abdicated it's role as boss for so long, we get to debate this all over again.

Sort of. I think what got us in this mess most of all was a philandering superintendent who was working way over his grade scale. I think that the Board that hired him thought he would only stay two years, take the bump in his pension, and then retire. But even if they could foresee what would happen, I think they might have still hired him because they could control him. They got a taste of no control with Brown and they didn't like it.

Enter 7 new board members. All fairly well-intentioned, but no one particularly prepared for the mess that Lewis and Pope allegedly led DCSS into. You would have to have been a fortune teller to predict how unethical Pope would be and how inept Lewis would prove to be. In addition, Lewis was a master manipulator, sullying the reputation of anyone who dared speak out against him.

Anonymous said...

What are the rules DCSS has for BOE members visiting schools? It doesn't seem like a good idea to make a rule for everyone based on someone's bad behavior. Can you legally prevent an elected board member who has oversight responsibilities from going to a school or facility and checking things out? I agree that they can't order employees around. That would be crossing a line. But don't they have the right, really the obligation, to see the state of a school or facility?

themommy said...

It is clear from the discussions on this blog (thanks, Cere for hosting it), that there are a couple of things going on.

Where is the discussion of the other board members? Not here, because those districts aren't well represented on this blog.

I think we are hearing from the same people over and over again, a common situation on blogs. The disadvatage of having the ability to be totally anonymous is that no one really knows. On blogs, were posters must have a moniker, at least it is clear, no matter how many are reading, only a handful are posting.

Because of this, I believe it would be better if we don't discuss candidates at all. To much potential for free advertising.

Anonymous said...

Some of you may not have been around for the Curriculum Audit from -- was it 1999? In which I believe 10 recommendations were made by (Phi Delta Kappa? I may have that wrong), one of which was a policy review/implementation targeted at board members to curb meddling in the school system's affairs. There's a bunch of history there, with respect to individual board members as well as the collective board. So this isn't a relatively new phenom. In fact, one of Dr. Brown's first marching orders when he came to DeKalb was to ask/require that any board member who visits a school let him know well in advance. He only took the board at its word when it gave him carte blanche to 'turn things around', but to some it seemed as if it weren't really meant for 'them'. For BOE members who were accustomed to writing staff e-mails and memos directing them to do things and popping up at will at schools where the staff felt obligated to cater to them for hours on end, you can imagine the consternation which followed. For other board members who really didn't want to be both BOE and Super, and who had a certain level of trust from staff, it wasn't really a bother. All depends on your make-up.

Anonymous said...

As for the abdication of the DeKalb citizens' role as the ultimate authority to whom the BOE answers, that's not new either. I would simply say that it is based on my personal experiences, observations and from what I read here.

Point is, we're ALL here NOW. And NOBODY's getting the education they've a right to have. So -- now that we're all dumped on, let's stay focused on making it better -- for all students. Just as the BOE needs to recruit a good superintendent, DeKalb needs to recruit and 'hire' good BOE members who are individuals but who must make decisions as a collective body. Board members are human with all the flakes and flaws of many of us. But there ARE things we look for to see if they can be a member of a collective governing body and remain accountable to us. If I see another DCSS org chart where the top boxes are the super and then BOE, I'll scream. Nowhere on the last org chart I saw was US. Hopefully that's changed.

If someone says "I support [fill in the blank here]" and the word is not STUDENTS, I won't spend another minute considering their candidacy. If someone has the lofty idea that s/he can in one election cycle as an INDIVIDUAL board member overturn state law, NCLB, go sit down with the President AND single-handedly turn around test scores, I know they're not being realistic and really have no clue about the job of BOE member. If someone wants to get deeply involved with every schoolhouse issue or who the football coach is at a particular school and has the local PTA officers on speed-dial, I know that they're so micro-focused they'll have little time for focusing on the school district as a whole. And so on. You get the picture.

Be True to Your School said...

The DCSS BOE should NOT be meeting during the daytime. Those meetings, as far as I am concerned, are an attempt to prevent stakeholders from attending and being involved.

Be True to Your School said...

Redovian was visiting his ill mother.

I am sorry to hear that Jim Redovian's mother is ill. However, not many will cut him any slack -- I certainly won't -- because he consistently has been completely non-responsive to his constituents. You can't do that kind of thing and expect to be re-elected. Let me re-phrase that -- you can't do that kind of thing in District 1 and expect to be re-elected.

Anonymous said...

Crawford Lewis is not only a philanderer and a dictator -- he is also a crook. No two ways about it.

If we could ever get our hands on DCSS financial records that are clear and understandable and properly detailed, I believe we could identify significant theft, aided and abetted by Ramsey and Lewis who covered up what was and is really happening in DCSS Finance, enabled by DCSS's unqualified "auditors." I believe DCSS keeps 2 sets of books and gives the sanitized set to the state auditors. The other set is kept off-site.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that Crawford Lewis is that smart? Do you? I have no doubt that there are/were spending irregularities, but I don't think CL could have figured this out on his own....

Be True to Your School said...

@ themommy, 3:38 PM

Stakeholders in other parts of DeKalb County are welcome to post on this blog. That they don't -- and that they keep sending worse-than-useless, ignorant, uneducated people to warm a BOE seat in The Palace -- is simply indicative of their lack of interest and lack of commitment to quality education.

That is not reason enough to stifle discussion among those of us who do care and who have a real commitment to bringing back quality education in DeKalb County.

Anonymous said...

Jim Redovian has always been responsive to me. Sometimes it has been several days before he calls me back, but the perspective that he has gotten by living in the real world of running a business is worth it. He was taken in by Dr. Lewis--and he knows it and regrets it.
He is often blunt--directly back when people whine about something petty that is about "me, me, me"--but isn't that exactly what we have said we need more of if we are to change the culture of this district?

Anonymous said...

When I have emailed BOE members, Jim Redovian is one of the few who has always responded, maybe not immediately, but a few days later. And I am not in his district.

Anonymous said...

9/6, 8:25 says: 'If we could ever get our hands on DCSS financial records that are clear and understandable and properly detailed, I believe we could identify significant theft, aided and abetted by Ramsey and Lewis who covered up what was and is really happening in DCSS Finance, enabled by DCSS's unqualified "auditors."' ...

So true! I tried in vain to share my story about this very thing. No one wanted to hear it. I was victimized, and no one in power stepped in to help. I trusted the system to do what was right, and it completely turned its back on me. Crawford Lewis was "smart enough" to tell the participants in my case that they had "gone too far," but didn't care enough to follow through and save my job and reputation. Perhaps one day I'll get "my day in court" ... the people involved know who they are.

No doubt there are similar cases out there in DCSS-land.

Cerebration said...

Those are powerful accusations. I would encourage you to take them to the lead investigator at the DAs office on the Lewis case. His name is Clay Nix I believe.

Anonymous said...

"In which I believe 10 recommendations were made by (Phi Delta Kappa? I may have that wrong), one of which was a policy review/implementation targeted at board members to curb meddling in the school system's affairs."

Did we not hire (co-opt) the leader of this Phi Delta Kappa audit to "write" the DCSS curriculum?

Hiring the inspectors/evaluators has been a mode of excellence at DCSS.

Anonymous said...

For those of you who believe you have been victimized by DCSS, please, please report your story to the DA. If your job is gone, what do you have to lose?

Mr. Nix's email address.

Please. If there is more out there, it needs to come out now, not later. This chapter of DCSS needs to be put to bed sooner rather than later. (Plus there may be time limits on some crimes.)

Anonymous said...

Jim Redovian has responded to my emails and calls as well. When you work and have family commitments out of state, however, there are going to be times when attending a called meeting is not possible. Most BOE members have missed meetings this year but if not televised or reported here, you may not know it.

As for Jim, he's the only one I've heard publicly acknowledge that the people who told the BOE that this mess is the BOE's fault were right. He has owned that responsibility. He's the only one that didn't vote for Beasley. He's the only one that didn't vote for the 7000 contracts stating that there were staff on the list he knew should not be employed. He asked for a list of administrative transfers and receiving schools of central office staff. He asked Ms. Tyson to check with SACS about fast tracking the 4 policies which took away stakeholder feedback time.

He can't win with most on this blog - you've asked the BOE to step up and he is the only one that has - now you say it is too little, too late. He's no longer willing to accept the justifications the admin. often dishes out and he seeks and values the insights of those on the ground with first hand knowledge of the day to day workings of the schools.

Nancy Jester may be nice and smart but she also lives in the Dresden area and got special permission to go to Hawthorne which feeds to Henderson and Lakeside, both very overcrowded. It's going to be hard for her to support the majority of this blog's followers who want to send students back to their home schools when her children aren't in theirs and will be equally hard for her to convince other parents to stay in their schools and put time and energy in them when she hasn't. The learning curve is huge as most previously new BOE members (Jim, Chip, Bebe, etc) would likely tell you. We can't afford the time that would take her esp. now that Jim's up to speed.

Nancy Jester said...

Anon 123am,

I am so glad you pointed out that I actually do have children in DeKalb public schools. I hope that voters will see this as refreshing and a welcome change. My home school is significantly overcrowded. Given the nature of the discussion regarding overcrowded schools one might think that my children attending one that is not overcrowded and is extremely diverse should be honored and encouraged. In fact, we wouldn't have the current overcrowding situation if the current BOE hadn’t shirked their responsibilities. I'm not sure the relevance about your MS and HS comment because my children do not attend those schools nor do we have any permission to do so in the future. Again, if the BOE were acting as responsible stewards of taxpayer resources and in the best interests of students we wouldn't have the poor facility utilization that we see today.

Mr. Redovian is a gentleman and I honor his service. That being the case, I urge voters to examine his entire record on the board. On the very Friday when Ms. Roberts made her infamous "I'll slug you" comment regarding a TV story on nepotism and Mr. Redovian had been interviewed regarding hiring practices in DCSS, Mr. Redovian and all BOE members voted to approve the promotion of a cabinet member's child to principal. Perhaps this person was the best pick but no BOE member, including Mr. Redovian, asked a question or pointed out the appearance or timing given the TV report and the SACS investigation. So, Mr. Redovian was for and against nepotism in the same week? I would also encourage voters to examine Mr. Redovian's record regarding the hiring of law firms to work for DCSS. He provided the swing vote that enabled the county to contract with 2 law firms rather than one to provide legal services. This was not in the best interests of the taxpayer or children. Is this what experience will bring us?

As I have said before, I will be ready from Day 1 to ask the tough questions and do the hard work. I don't accept that getting up to speed takes a term in office at taxpayer's expense. That argument seems very self-serving for an incumbent to make. The implications of accepting that thought process would lead you to believe that one shouldn't vote against an incumbent as a general rule. That seems an unreasonable and ineffective way to advocate for good governance.

I encourage anyone to call or email me if you have any questions -; 678.360.1148.
--Nancy Jester

themommy said...

Projecting enrollment is going to be very tricky for the next few years.
With the economy the way it is, the housing market the way it is and the fact that illegal immigration is slowing, things are going to be very tricky.

There are clearly some communities that haven't been impacted as much by the economy and so projecting for those schools will be easier than for others.

Here are some really interesting articles, for those of you interested in this issue:

The influx of illegal immigrants plunged to an estimated 300,000 annually between March 2007 and 2009, from 850,000 a year between March 2000 and March 2005, according to new study released Wednesday by the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research group.

themommy said...

And an article about metro Atlanta growth which has slowed to 1950s levels.

Nearly 25 percent of the latest year's growth came to Atlanta. The city added 7,800 residents in the year ending April 1.

Be True said...

@ Anonymous 1:23 AM

Jim Redovian had a HUGE learning curve -- it took his entire time on the BOE to finally take the blinders off and listen to his constituents and others!

I don't believe he has changed one bit. His occasional responses to constituents, if any, are slow and not well-thought out. He exhibits NO leadership on the BOE -- and organization that is desperate for informed leadership. The leadership vacuum under Tom Bowen is massive. Jim is now doing and saying what he thinks he must in order to get re-elected.

Sorry, Jim. You may be a nice guy and I wish you well. But, you refused to listen and to act. You followed Crawford Lewis right over the cliff. We cannot afford you -- and your lack of leadership and lack of responsiveness to taxpayers -- any longer!

Anonymous said...

Be True

Jim voted against the closing of Nancy Creek -- which I believe is the school you are true to. He also helped make sure that the Montessori program remained at Huntely Hills. He certainly listened to those parents over the DCSS staff that wanted the program closed.

And as has been pointed out here again and again, there wasn't a consistent message about the closing of Nancy Creek coming directly to board members. There were people advocating on both sides, though those advocating for its closure had to do so quietly and privately.

Anonymous said...

I don't recall people advocating to close Nancy Creek except for those on the south side led by SCW and Zepora. "We must be equitable and close a school in the north since three are closing in the south!

The leadership ignored the Atlanta Reional Commission regarding the growth in the area. We begged them to keep the school open and balance attendance zones! now we're faced with overcrowding at all the elementary schools in the north except for two! Kittredge Magnet and Dunwoody Elementary or the 4th and 5th Grade Academy.

What sense did all this make?

Anonymous said...

It is true that there were Nancy Creek parents who advocated behind the scenes to close NC so their children would attend Montgomery. They did so quietly so as to not incur the wrath of those fighting the Nancy Creek closure.

Be True to Your School said...

remis@ Anonymous 10:08 AM

Voting against something is NOT the same as showing leadership.

Jim Redovian was provided with all of the information and evidence about the fake demographic study by McKibben that had been provided to Crawford Lewis on two separate occasions by two separate groups who were unaware of each other at that point.

To allow Sarah Copelin-Wood to ram through a tit-for-tat vote on something as important as school closings was the worst kind of "sheep" behavior on Jim Redovian's part.

District 1 needs -- in fact, MUST have -- a true leader on the BOE. After talking with and observing Nancy Jester, I believe she is that person.

Anonymous said...

And Redovian voted against the closing of Nancy Creek!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I know, my wife and I talked him into it. We've said it earlier and gave him credit for that vote! He also knew ahead of time how the vote would end up.

The thing I do not like Redovian for, is he sells out parts of his district for his votes for other districts. Too often we heard, from a former board member, about deals he made with Cuningham, Bowen and others on the board. Jim was famous for making deals. You vote for mine and I'll give you my vote for yours etc...

How about vote what YOU think is right for the people you represent, not because you promised your vote on another matter. That's all I'm saying.

Most of the election in November is about ANTI-INCUMBENT, whether it's City, County, State or Federal level.

Anonymous said...

Oh, please get hold of yourself. Jim was never going to vote to close Nancy Creek.

Why don't you provide examples of Jim's "deals"?

Anonymous said...

Jim will get the votes in Dunwoody, they pretty much have gotten everything they have asked for! A new school, which is underpopulated, renovations for Dunwoody High School.

However, other parts of Jim's district is part of the story Jim hopes you don't remember. The deplorable shape of Chamblee Charter High. Rarely voicing concerns of overcrowding while sitting on that nice new dais at the Palace. Ms. Jester brought up the promotion of a leaders daughter to principal, without discussion. Then the same week he speaks of nepotism on camera but voted to approve the daughters promotion, no discussion necessary.. What?

Then he tells a friend of ours, in Huntley Hills, that the "Magnate program is going to be moved from Chamblee Charter High to the central part of the county. So overcrowding will not be an issue in the future for CCHS" Once again I said to my wife, what? How can that be? Jim please tell me the magnate program is NOT moving from CCHS! What constitutes the central part of the county, Jim? The Palace?

Jim seems to be all over the map, yes he voted against the Nancy Creek closing, however some of us ITP in District 1 seem slighted by Mr. Redovian. That's why we're looking at Jester for District 1.

Anonymous said...

Jim will get the votes in Dunwoody, they pretty much have gotten everything they have asked for! A new school, which is underpopulated, renovations for Dunwoody High School

Sounds like a little jealosy to me...

The new Dunwoody ES has more 4th and 5th graders in it than most K-5schools around. It will be returned to a K-5 school - it has to in order to relieve the overcrowding at the other schools.

Yes, Dunwoody received their share of the SPLOTS III funds. Chamblee has their share. Unfortunately, throwing $11 million at that school would be a waste of money. The school needs to be torn down.

However, as far as a new Chamblee HS. I cannot see how the board can justify building a brand new school for the Chamblee attendance area. The just recently released numbers of how few attendance zone residents actually that school. If a new school facility is to be built, it needs to incorporate several school districts.

Anonymous said...

Jim Redovian --

Be a stand-up guy. Show a little courage and grace. Demonstrate leadership. Show the rest of the BOE members the way. Step down NOW from the BOE and drop out of the election, while there is still time to get your name off the ballot.

You are part of the problem, Jim. Be part of the solution and be a leader. Step down NOW.

Anonymous said...

This thread has gotten very interesting regarding District 1. It's quite a diverse district too. You have Dunwoody, a very community minded and outspoken people. They were so tired of DeKalb politics and Vernon Jones, they were able to get a city vote on the ballot and won! I say congratulations! Then you have the "No Man's Land" of unincorporated deKalb and Chamblee. Here we don't have much representation at DCSS but we do at the state level with our great State Rep. Mike Jacobs.

How in the heck do we change things? Another interim Super will be a hard pill to swallow for some. Could Tyson be the one to follow the old audit that Clew hid from the public? Could she clean house? I'm not sure, but to have another interim before a permanent Super will take 18 to 24 months to complete. Heard those dates bantered around before?

I hope we have the stomach for what's coming. DCSS finally has a true demographer and planner in Dan Drake, he is compiling a plan to balance attendance zones and REDRAW some lines. Are Dunwoody families ready for what's coming down the pike? WE MUST BALANCE ATTENDANCE ZONES including Dunwoody, we should be eliminating the use of "Instructional Cottages" aka trailers at any school!

Some will be effected greatly and some not so much! But who do you want leading DCSS? An interim, a newbie or a current insider? The BOE have some tough votes regarding the future and we need the best person to represent ALL OF District 1. Jim and Nancy I look forward to the first public forum with you two, citizens have your questions ready for each of them. Cere, thanks for a great blog, there are many passionate people who like the incumbent as well as the challengers. Only 50+ days until election day!

Cerebration said...

Honestly, I do think Dunwoody has garnered a very fair share of the pie -- when others have and continue to suffer over-crowded, sick buildings. It's not petty jealousy - it's that same old "scarcity mentality". There's only so much SPLOST money (apparently only enough to pay for 25% of the "needs") and communities have been left to politicize and fight over these scraps. I'd say Dunwoody has fared well. They have a gorgeous new middle school, and even more impressive new elementary school and now, construction is well underway for a renovated high school and auditorium. Compared to other areas of the county, Dunwoody has received a very, very equitable share. Chamblee certainly has been sacrificed at the altar (quid pro quo?) Cross Keys is finally getting some needed attention - mostly thanks to the hard work of Kim Gokce and his team of Cross Keys fans.

The only other district with an abundance of attention in the SPLOST department is Jay's - with additions to MLK and Miller Grove still in the works, even though these schools offer empty seats as is. Add to this the fantasmagorical Arabia HS (where no AYP transfer students dare tread) and you have some serious levels of inequity in this county.

No jealousy (well, maybe a little, but only when forced to use a restroom at Lakeside) - just stating the facts as I see 'em.

So - Redovian and Cunningham have emerged as big SPLOST winners. How'd they do it? I'd love to know.

Anonymous said...

Let's tear down Chamblee so my kids can be drawn into Dunwoody High School! It will be great! My kids will have a nice renovated school to attend. I'm sure you won't have a problem with that will you?

By the way, Chamblee has not received a dime from SPLOST 3 YET.

Cerebration said...

No, it's worse. Chamblee's SPLOST 3 projects are officially "On Hold".

Cerebration said...

Oh - forgot to mention the other big SPLOST dollar eaters - SW DeKalb HS, Columbia HS and Tucker HS. All very, very nice projects.

Cerebration said...

Lest we forget one of the biggest SPLOST projects --

The Palace now serving as the administrative offices (and DECA and Open Campus). Many, many millions went to creating a superb space for our administration and board. (You've no doubt heard about the $2,000 chairs?)

Paula Caldarella said...

I really loathe these "us against them" conversations. This Chamblee vs Dunwoody is almost as bad as south vs north nonsense.

The situations here are entirely different -this continuous back and forth is ridiculous.

Yes, Dunwoody has a new ES - and the ES schools are still WAY overcrowded and will be. Our remaining elementary schools are as old and ill-maintained as the other schools in the county.

Chamblee received a brand new middle school in 2007. Chamblee HS has their share of SPLOST money. Do you really want to put that money in that building? The answer, of course, is no. So, what do you do with Chamblee? Build a new school? Sure. But that is going to take a heck of lot more than $11 million.

Lakeside is in the final stages of choosing a architect for their renovations - see this month's BOE agenda.

Cerebration said...

I'm not attempting to pit "us against them" and I'm sorry that you perceived it that way, DM. I try to point out that the randomness of task completions using SPLOST dollars appears to have a connection with the old "squeaky wheel" or "best behind the scenes board rep". That's just my perspective. It's a very different perspective to be last on the list as you watch your building (over-crowded by 500 students) continue to crumble, while others mysteriously get the go-ahead.

(BTW - the Dunwoody ES has 138 empty seats. Why the community has chosen to crowd some schools when there are empty seats in a brand new one baffles me.)

Paula Caldarella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paula Caldarella said...

Cere, my comments were not directed at you...

BTW - the Dunwoody ES has 138 empty seats. Why the community has chosen to crowd some schools when there are empty seats in a brand new one baffles me.)

Oh, boy, that is a subject to stay away from...Good look to DCSS in redistricting this one.

Cerebration said...

For those who have not read it, these were the promises made in the SPLOST 3 brochure encouraging us to vote, Yes.

This is what was written in the brochures encouraging us to vote for SPLOST way back when - and this is what is on the website still today (except that Towers was removed, as theirs was completed first, apparently using SPLOST 2 money.)

Career Tech Instructional Additions
In the DeKalb School System the construction of Career Technology Instructional Additions in our high schools has progressed during the last year. The Career Technology Additions provide three specific learning environments consisting of approx 12,000 sq ft in which to house and implement the Career Technology program. Each high school selects three Career Technology programs from a list of 19 state sanctioned programs. Students complete a Career Technology Student Data Interest Survey which serves to rank technology programs by student interest. Data from this survey along with Regional School Choice Program data is used in developing the Career Technology programs for each school. The following high schools have been selected, in the Capital Improvements Plan, to receive Career Technology Instructional Additions:
Druid Hills

Go to the link to see Columbia's Cosmetology lab and McNair's Culinary Arts Kitchen

Cerebration said...

As for the many-years promised auditoriums, this is what the website says (as did all of the brochures before the SPLOST 3 vote) -

Auditorium & Fine Arts Additions
The Auditorium/Fine Arts Additions in our high schools serve as a gathering space for school functions and community meetings as well as a valuable teaching tool for the arts. During the preconstruction phase, local schools provide the project architect with the information describing their specific needs and requests to expand and support their instructional fine arts program.
Some of the features included in our auditoriums are a comfortable seating for 500, performance stage, dressing rooms, theatrical lighting packages, stage curtains, acoustical architecture, an electronic control booth with a full sound control board, audio visual equipment with electrical projection screen, band and orchestra practice areas and instrument storage facilities, various glass fronted display areas for student work, ticket booth and concession facilities, men and women restrooms, drama classrooms, work and storage space for performing arts projects. The following high schools have been selected in the Capital Improvement Plan to receive Auditorium/Fine Arts Additions:
Druid Hills

Again, Towers was originally listed, but then removed after theirs was completed.

Cerebration said...

Below is the text of the brochure encouraging us to vote for SPLOST 3 (COPIED & PASTED)

Referendum: March 20, 2007
This Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) is an opportunity for voters in DeKalb County to continue the onecent sales tax for school improvements. This sales tax extension is limited to 60 months or until an established cap of $645 million has been reached, whichever comes first.

If the continuation of the one cent sales tax is approved by the voters on March 20, 2007, improvements for our kids are funded by everyone who buys goods in the county, regardless of where they live.

With the extension of SPLOST ...

• Over 2,646,000 Square Feet of New Roofing
• Another 201,800 Square Feet of Roofing Repairs
• 2,535,000 Square Feet of School Renovations
• 185 New Technologically Advanced High
School Classrooms
• 183 New Innovative Elementary School Classrooms
• Over 1,206,000 Square Feet of durable Asphalt
• 7,000 Square Feet of safe Concrete Walkways
• 6 New State of the Art High School Teaching
• 22 New Advanced Career Technology Instructional
• 25 HVAC Replacement, Repair, and Upgrade


In order to maintain a healthy and safe learning environment for the students of the DeKalb County School System, a Capital Improvement Plan [CIP] has been developed and approved by the Board of Education.

The CIP outlines the most pressing facility needs.
The CIP is aligned with Board /Superintendent Goals, the Facility Needs Assessment and the Demographic Study. The plan is educationally sound, philosophically based, and fiscally responsible. To that end, the focus of the plan directly addresses the High Schools That Work principles and the commitment to learning environments that are healthy and safe.

The Capital Improvement Plan will touch every facility, school and center in the DeKalb County School System.

The main areas of focus for the CIP are as follows:
􀀵 Retirement of existing COPs* financial debt
􀀵 Completion of deferred SPLOST II work
􀀵 Major Roofing, HVAC, Code & Life Safety Improvements
􀀵 High School Improvements
􀀵 Career Technology, Fine Arts, & Classroom Additions
􀀵 Renovations of Classrooms from floor to ceiling
􀀵 Technology Upgrades to ALL Facilities
􀀵 Transportation Additions of New Buses to replace
Aging Vehicles
*Certificate of Participation

Facilities Affected

􀀵 Technology Improvements & Upgrades will be completed at ALL Schools & Centers
􀀵 Other Specified Projects Elementary Schools
Allgood, Austin, Avondale, Bob Mathis, Briar Vista, Cedar Grove, Chapel Hill, Chesnut, Clifton, Evansdale, Fairington, Fernbank, Flat Shoals, Forrest Hills, Glen Haven, Hambrick, Hawthorne, Henderson Mill, Hightower, Hooper Alexander, Huntley Hills, Idlewood, Indian Creek, Kingsley, Knollwood,
Laurel Ridge, Livsey, McLendon, Meadowview, Midvale, Midway, E.L. Miller, Montgomery, Murphey Candler, Nancy Creek, Oak View, Oakcliff, Pleasantdale, Rainbow, Rockbridge, Sagamore Hills, Sky Haven, Snapfinger, Stone Mill, Stone Mountain, Terry Mill, Vanderlyn, Wadsworth, Woodward
Middle Schools Champion Theme, Henderson, McNair, Miller Grove, Salem, Sequoyah, Stephenson

High Schools
Chamblee, Clarkston, Columbia, Cross Keys, Tech-North, Tech-South, DECA, Druid Hills, DSA, Lakeside, McNair, Open Campus, Redan, Stone Mountain, SW DeKalb, Towers Centers Clarkston, Coralwood Diagnostic, Transition Academy, Doraville Driver Ed, Fernbank Science, Freeman Administrative Building, Heritage, Sam Moss, Warren Tech

􀀵 Large Model Additions
Dunwoody, Lithonia, M.L. King Jr., Miller Grove

􀀵 New Schools
COPs Retirement: Evans Mill ES, Dunwoody/Chamblee Area ES, Rock Chapel Area ES
Tucker High School

Gee - not one word about new Administrative Offices in there! The old "Bait and Switch" --

Cerebration said...

So, you see where the "scarcity" mentality comes in to play. Many, many promises have been made. Everyone has paid into the penny sales tax. However, the disbursing of the funds has been random, strange, and I must guess, highly political behind the scenes.

In fact, it's been rumored that Lakeside's construction was halted due to 'legal' issues. This 'could' be due to the change order (approved blindly by the board in June, 2009. It was an increase in fees for Manley, Spangler, Smith Architects (a favorite of the Pope's) for $398,000.

After Pope was indicted on charges of racketeering, perhaps the lawyers wondered about this charge and asked for details(?)

We've all been caught in an enormous web of deceit and manipulation. Whenever there are millions of dollars at stake, you'd darn well better have a cat with clear eyes looking over things. We never did and our kids lost out.

Anonymous said...

The Tucker area has gotten a lot of new schools -- new high school, lovely new middle school plus lakeside getting a new reno (Lakeside's pool reno has already been done).

Anonymous said...

I don't see an us vs. them, I see engaged parents concerned about their kids and the balance of "instructional cottages" being used on both sides of 285.

I agree that we need to build a huge high school to house kids from several smaller districts, then Cross Keys can become a Technical School with ties to PDK, Perimeter CID, Ga. Tech and Oglethorpe. But that will take several years to design and build. So what do you do with the 700+ attendance zone kids and the 900+ maganet/charter kids at CCHS in the meantime? You just don't close one of the most academically successful schools in the country!

I appreciate you bringing up Chamblee Middle, there are many Dunwoody parents reaping the benefits of a great gifted education at Chamblee Middle currently. We're thankful to have Chamblee Middle, where it is.

I also think that Chamblee High can follow the same model and should be an alternative for a gifted education, we can argue about how to do it, but I honestly think, even though Clew's kids got to attend there, CLew was working on closing CCHS.

I do know the BOE has plans to move the CCHS magnate, "to the center part of the county". I hope Jim Redovian could give the parents of CCHS some time to offer their 2 cents on that plan, but too often we see plans drawn up and the parents ignored until the last minute, when everyone knows "it's a done deal!"

In regards to all the BOE meetings... I think every meeting, public or private needs to have a transcript of the meeting for public view within 24-48 hours of that meeting. Ms. Tyson speaks of transparency, well this is one way to achieve that goal.

Cerebration said...

I agree. This was a big issue for me with Lewis. He was always introducing minutes for approval for meetings that happened 2 months earlier! The board never admonished him for this. In the corporate world, that kind of slow response is a fireable offense.

Anonymous said...

Cere, your posts make laugh and they make me cry! However you are the best and my wife and I thank God you provide us parents a forum to debate, cajole, agree, to laugh and to cry. For that we thank you!

Cerebration said...

You are welcome. I hope you'll visit me in the looney bin when 'they' put me there after they realize just how much I obsess over this blog...

Anonymous said...

Cere, I've been unemployed for a few months and my wife just caught me thanking you for your blog. She says I obsess over this blog. Well... maybe I do. I love it though and I'll be happy to join you in that loony bin.

However, folks whether you're from Dunwoody, Chamblee, No man's land (unincorporated DeKalb) or even Lithonia. Parents want what's best for their kids! That's why open, honest discussions are needed and when it's time to redistrict, I am sure this blog will light up with comments from all sides! Mr. Drake and the BOE has a very tough job ahead and I for one would like to see and open honest BOE, not the current race baiting, threatening and uninformed BOE that we have today!

Paula Caldarella said...

Yes, I think that is what we, as parents, can agree on. We want what is best for our children.

Also, the surrounding communities should want what is best for the schools as well, whether they have children in the schools or not. Great schools will make a community and its home values that much more attractive.

At the risk of signing a verse from "High School Musical". I do believe "we are all in this together".

Paula Caldarella said...

I do know the BOE has plans to move the CCHS magnate, "to the center part of the county". I hope Jim Redovian could give the parents of CCHS some time to offer their 2 cents on that plan

As has been told to me several times by several different people, the Chamblee Charter and the Magnet Program are 2 separate programs. If true, the only stakeholders with regards to the movement of the magnet program are the magnet parents/students.

Of course, when I ask for the test scores broken down by Magnet versus Resident - DCSS swears they can't do that.

So, which is it? Are they separate programs or not?

Anonymous said...

Cere - thank you for bringing the SPLOST 3 promises to our attention again. We need to keep in mind the "bait and switch" that was perpetrated and be vigilant that it never happens again.

Druid Hills was on all the lists, and yet here was what was actually done:
Career Tech Instructional Additions

One room added (for the health sciences magnet that never happened) and the enlarging of two computer rooms. I don't know what happened to the selection of three areas from the state list.

Auditorium & Fine Arts Additions

Since DHHS already had an auditorium, courtesy of the PTSA several years ago, I would not have expected the entire package, but there are things on the list that the school does not have.
Here is what DHHS got in SPLOST:

A new curtain

Here are the things on the list DHHS still does not have:
dressing rooms,
theatrical lighting packages, an electronic control booth with a full sound control board, ticket booth and concession facilities, men and women restrooms, drama classrooms,
work and storage space for performing arts projects (there are art rooms with closets, but they were not really enhanced).

They said - we'd like to do more, but the money ran out.

(got new bathrooms, but they were locked [except one boys' room and one girls' room]almost all the time)
Where did the mone

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:59 No on in the DCSS gets fired, or even reprimanded, for incompetence. DCSS strives to reach that lofty performance level.

Anonymous said...

Bet they will justify The Palace under "Freeman Administrative Bldg".

Lots of talk here about Lakeside's needs but Henderson Middle is the forgotten step child. It has the most middle school students in the county and 14-15 trailers. The music program has 3 small music rooms for 900 students/day, they never got the "middle school package" of instruments when it was converted from a high school to a middle school - the serial numbers indicate some instruments are 40 yrs. old! Science rooms have no running water much less the other equipment for a science class. SPLOST I included a paving job for HMS - the money ran out, they're still waiting- go up the back driveway to the only handicapped access at the back of the bldg. - you'll need a wheel alignment when you come back down the hill! Roofing done 8 -9 years ago has leaked ever since - trash cans are all over the building when it rains - even in the middle of last year's BOE meeting in the cafeteria! The list goes on and on.

A shout out is in order for the awesome custodial staff that keep it clean and take pride in their work despite all the obstacles and to the administration and staff who make the best of a less than great situation! Very diverse school, includes all AYP subgroups except Alaskan/Amer. Indian and made AYP, Voted #1 middle school in DCSS by Atlanta magazine in spite of our facility! Would have been nice to have some of the funds from The Palace for the children to have better facilities!

One Fed Up Insider said...

Catching up on the blogging since the holiday. Lots going on! Jumping back a bit to clarify Nancy Jester's response to Anon: Nancy, Are you saying you requested special permission for your children leave Dresden and go to Hawthorne because Dresden was overcrowded?

If so, do you see that as a viable option you would support for all students in overcrowded elementary schools? Hawthorne's feeders Henderson and Lakeside are very overcrowded.

What happens when your children get to 6th grade?

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