Friday, October 22, 2010

DCSS Budget, Finance and Facilities Meeting 10-21-10

Many thanks to Dunwoody Mom for sending us her notes from the meeting regarding facilities with Lynn Jackson yesterday! Read on -- she took very good notes! If others who attended have more to add, please send your notes in an email to or add them to the comments.

Ms. Tyson opened the meeting thanking Mrs. Jackson for meeting with Ms Tyson and her staff last spring and strengthening the relationship between DCSS and GADOE.

Facilities Service Unit of GAOE :

Lynn Jackson began with explaining her department’s role:

  • Long range planning with the school systems
  • Help school systems to acquire funding.
  • Review to make sure new construction to is safe and adequate for instructional needs

DCSS is losing 184 students per year.

By law, each school system has to develop a Long-range facilities plan to be updated every 5 years. This plan is required for school system to be eligible for state funds. This plan should be adhered to with no “knee-jerk changes”. Any changes to the plan need to be approved by the BOE and forwarded to Ms. Jackson’s department.

June thru August is when school systems submit their applications for state funding. The funding requests must cover projects that are in the school systems current facilities plan as submitted to the GADOE. (my comment: you can see why DCSS cannot wait for a new Super to get the redistricting, consolidation/closing plan in place. If the system wants to be able to request state funds this all has to be in place by June.)

The current School Organization and Justification plan for DCSS, submitted 3 years ago, is “all over the place” according to Ms. Jackson.

The plan DCSS submitted 3 years ago contained the following FTE plans:

My comments:

1. Why would a school system ever plan for schools below the minimum enrollment needed to earn FTE?
2. Wadsworth Magnet ES and DSA are both facilities that jumped out at me that are under the minimum FTE count. How to increase enrollment in these facilities?

Also, Ms. Jackson made the point that schools must have a minimum of 450 to qualify for specials such as Art, Music. Are you listening DCSS BOE????

Ms. Jackson made the comment more than once that is may be better to close older facilities than to keep contributing money and resources to renovate these buildings.

• Pre-K is not part of the FTE count
• Pre-K rooms are counted as surplus rooms by the GADOE
• Pre-K space is not funded via Capital Outlay

Will this become an issue? Will DCSS look to discontinue the Pre-K program in DCSS, which has the longest waiting list for Pre-K students in the state of GA?

When school system deems a facility is too old and it will cost more to upkeep than it is worth.
Once a facility has been phased-out it can longer be used for FTE purposes; Pre-K; Lease to Charter
If area repopulates, DOE may allow building to be used temporary with promise of new facility. Hooper ES was an example of a building that has been “phased-out”.

A question was asked if population changes in a certain area can the facility that was phased-out be reopened by DCSS. The answer was “No”. The reason the facility was phased-out was due to its age and condition, so why would you want to reopen this facility for students? Ms. Jackson did say they would work on a case-by-case basis, and perhaps they would give permission for the school to be used while a new facility was being built, but it a phased out site would never be allowed to be reopened for ongoing use.

QSCB which DCSS just recently approved must be used within 3 years of the bonds being sold. Ms. Jackson said that the school system should already have project plans for the use of this money. The use of these funds WILL be audited.

QZAB (Qualified Zone Academy Bonds). This was a new term for the board. These are tax-free bonds that available at $10 million per project. These funds can be used for renovations, modifications, equipment, staff development. This is something the school system look into as far as additional funding.

DCSS currently has accumulated $16,135.415 dollars that it has available to request for projects.
Ms. Jackson also pointed out that there are funds approved in 2004 that have not been used and must be used before February of next year or they are lost to the school system. I don’t think she indicated the amount.

One of the BOE members asked about COPS (Certificate of Participation) projects. No state funds are available. These projects are funded at the local level.

What I learned was how involved the State DOE is in the whole facilities/construction process.

If a school system is buying property for a new site, the GADOE must approve before the site is purchased or the school system might not receive any funds for the project. Prior to purchase the DOE requires an environmental study and a risk hazard analysis of the site.

The GADOE must also approve the purchase of additional acreage, additions to existing school sites, and privately owned sites (such as buildings that house school system charter schools). .

Charter schools, school system and other, are not exempt from these rules. Ms. Jackson’s staff recently met with the GA Charter Commission to have them tighten up the requirement that a Charter application must be submitted with a site approval from the GADOE. Without site approval by the GADOE, no school code will be issued. No school code, no state funding.


You can view Lynn Jackson's presentation here:

The video of the meeting is found here:


Cerebration said...

Thank you Dunwoody Mom! It's encouraging that the board and the superintendent are finally working with the state. Apparently, Ms. Jackson is a very sharp cookie -- it's no wonder Lewis and Pope stayed as far away from her as possible! Too bad our board didn't know enough to pressure them to work with the state long ago!

Anonymous said...

"Too bad our board didn't know enough to pressure them to work with the state long ago!"

And one of the many many many reasons NONE of the five incumbent board members on the ballot should be re-elected.

Just sayin' . . .

pscexb said...

Great report, Dunwoody Mom!

Regarding Pre-K, I seem to recall discussions about eliminating it in non Title 1 schools. The rationale was Title 1 funds would make it self sustaining in those schools. Obviously this was not approved. It should be noted that Cobb County eliminated Pre-K from their schools a few years ago.

Given we have many schools over 50 years old, some which are in poor condition, it would make sense to tear some down for green space and hold onto the property. Reduce the maintenance costs and tax liabilities while retaining property. If there is no future use for the site, deed it to the county.

Anonymous said...

Champion article on BOE candidate debate:

Anonymous said...

Great job, Dunwoody Mom! It's meetings like this that are mostly unattended by the public, but always has the most important information available.

The Pre-K program is a wonderful program and should be continued. However, I think DCSS is smart to follow Cobb's footsteps on this one.

There are a couple of smaller systems who have set-up Pre-K schools. 20 classes of 20 kids that would roll into the Elementary schools. Indeed is a smaller district than ours, but I think the idea could be batted around.

Anonymous said...

Brief report from today's meeting.

Ray and Associates will be the search firm. GSBA was not discussed at all.

Jim Redovian made a motion to use the Education Job Act Funds to restore the remaining furlough days and give each employee about $900. The employee can choose to take that money in cash or the system will deposit it into their retirement accounts (TRS?) so that they have no tax liability.

The vote was 9 to 0, but McChesney and Womack were not happy that this was going down this way. They wanted to save the money for next year. It is clear that Redovian wasn't going to change his mind, so they gave in.

Anonymous said...

stimulus money by law can not be saved for next year-it has to be used now-that's why it's a stimulus act.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom - you quote Ms. Jackson as saying that project plans should be available for projects that will be funded by QSCB bonds.

Does you mean blueprints and all that, or just that DCSS must choose a project?

Barbara Colman, in discussing QSCB at the 10/15 meeting, indicated that the QSCB project would be chosen in November.


Anonymous said...

Gwinnett is planning on using their money for the 2011 FY.

Gwinnett County public schools will receive $30.2 million, said district spokeswoman Sloan Roach. The money will offset the loss of federal stimulus funding that will disappear after this year, Roach said. That money was used to preserve jobs in the Title I — a program that serves disadvantage schoolchildren — and special-needs areas.

Paula Caldarella said...

All is can do is reiterate what Ms. Jackson said at the meeting that due to the time constraints of using the proceeds of the bonds within 3 year of their sale, the projects or project chosen should be in plan. Perhaps the project or projects chosen are already on the priority list that DCSS has on file with the GADOE.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 2:58 pm

Jim Redovian voted to cut teachers pay, cut teacher positions, increase class sizes and eliminate the Board TSA.

Now, a few days before the BOE election, he is wanting to "give" the employees $900 and put it in the TSA.

If he gets elected, do you think he'll revert to his former stance and vote to take it away again?

Anonymous said...

Actually, he won't. That was a big part of the discussion at today's meeting. Sustainability.

Anonymous said...

At Tuesday's Fernbank forum, Gene Walker promised the crowd he would not change their attendance lines regardless of how crowded the school was. He said he did not want to close any schools down. He wants everything to stay the way it is. He already has his mind made up before the data is collected. He already has told the Fernbank parents how he will vote before the county or group has even made a professional decision. I thought decisions now had to be made with the school board member thinking about the whole county. This is what the ethic policy says that goes with the law. However, Walker does not care.

Anonymous said...

Walker is notorious for knowing that he can vote No and it won't matter because most of the board knows what needs to happen. What he said Tuesday night was a direct contradiction to what he said at the called meeting about the 2020 plan.

He is the consummate politician.

Anonymous said...

Jim Redovian doing everything he can to get re-elected. Holding his CCHS new building vote over the CCHS parents, giving teachers money back 11 days before the election, getting Dick Williams of The Crier to publish letters in favor of Redovian for several weeks in a row and making sure he finds people to steal Nancy Jester signs around Chamblee and Dunwoody! Run Jim Run!

Anonymous said...

When you can't run on your own record, you create one just before the election. Run Jim Run!

Anonymous said...

So are you going to leave the incorrect information on the blog about how cross keys high got no SPLOST moneys when in fact it did? I guess if you don't have facts to support your positions...just say whatever and hope people believe you? Nice.

Cerebration said...

Now, this is an area of confusion... CCHS refers to Chamblee Charter High School. Chamblee was promised almost $12 million in SPLOST 3 for the high school auditorium/career tech package (nothing for renovations to that horrible building). However, it has been tabled and the community has more or less been told to hope that SPLOST 4 passes.

And yes, Cross Keys (down the road from Chamblee HS) did finally get some renovation done and it looks wonderful! But remember, a lot of the money went for the School of Technology North, which merged with Cross Keys when their building was traded to GPC for land to build the new Dunwoody ES. Also, Cross Keys has no auditorium or decent athletic facilities. Their mezzanine in the gym remains closed as it is unsafe. (CKHS when abbreviated looks similar to CCHS so people get them mixed up...)

Anonymous said...

Nancy Jester was not in support of accepting the bonds that may be used to pay for the new Chamblee High School

Jester has had letters of support in The Crier as well and she got plenty of positive press from the forum.

Anonymous said...

@Cere 6:12, I think the confusion may be that the poster talking about Cross Keys SPLOST money is new to the blog. He/she posted on the charrette thread at October 21, 2010 6:06 PM pointing out that the "No SPLOST/Not Pretty" slideshow is (now) incorrect because Cross Keys got a renovation. This comment was never picked up on amid all the discussion of charrettes, facilities evaluations, and redistricting.

Anonymous said...

Wonder when the current Board is going to correct its violation of board policy, when they stopped contributing to the TSA last year, and found that they have to pay back millions!!!! Maybe DeKalb school employees need to begin a class action lawsuit against the Board. Probably have to pay the Teacher Retirement System a penalty also.
Does not make any difference to me what the current board members do in the last 10 days. They deserve to be sent home.

Cross Keys Teacher said...

In response to Anonymous 5:59 and your concerns about the pictures of Cross Keys on this blog. Yes, we are very happy about the current renovation and new construction at Cross Keys. In a time of economic uncertainty, I am grateful to be soon moving back into a renovated classroom with clean air, new windows, new furniture, and a Promethean board. But the central truth of that photo comparison remains the same; conditions at Cross Keys were allowed to reach unacceptable levels while SPLOST money was spent to build virtual palaces in other parts of the county. That is a fact. Would you prefer that new pictures are posted of different schools? Should we do Hambrick Elementary? Avondale High School? The gross disparities are the same. Can you articulate your motivations in asking these questions? There seems to be an ulterior motive that is not being made clear.

Anonymous said...

By way of OD,E who sent a rep to this meeting: Federal stimulus funds are being used to end the remaining furlough days for the school year. This would include the Monday after the Winter break, the friday before President's day and one or two days after dismissal. They reported that the remaining funds would be used for a choice of payments into the suspended 403b accounts or a cash payment to staff. No actual numbers were given.

Nancy Jester said...

Hello Anon 617pm,

It is incorrect to state that I was not in favor of the QSCB bonds. This funding vehicle will require the district to properly manage this asset by meeting reporting requirements in order to maintain their interest-free status. Given DCSS’s poor record in managing their state funding and missing out on millions of dollars because of shoddy paperwork and missed deadline, I am concerned about our ability to manage the QSCB bonds. This is one reason it is extremely important to elect new board members; ones who will exercise their oversight role and fiduciary responsibilities for the taxpayers of DeKalb County.

Let me be perfectly clear – QSCB bonds can be an excellent funding vehicle and I support their use. I am extremely concerned about DCSS’s ability to properly manage them. I urge every taxpayer, parent and voter to be vigilant on this matter. In particular, I urge everyone to hold the Board accountable for their stated commitment to use them to fund a new CCHS.

It is demonstrably clear that our board has failed in their obligation to be wise and protective stewards of our tax dollars. They have presided over a time when we have seen rampant theft, unethical and criminal behavior and a declination in student achievement. This is their record. I stand for election to untangle the mess they have created and return the focus and money to the students and teachers in our district. As I have done throughout the campaign, I will communicate to parents and taxpayers through a variety of platforms: web, email, social media and public meetings. I look forward to bringing a new level of transparency and accessibility to the parents and taxpayers of District 1.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss this or any DCSS matter. You may email me at or call me at 678.360.1148.
--Nancy Jester

Anonymous said...

Cross keys teacher,
I have no ulterior motive other than I don't like it that cross keys is depicted on the home page of this website in an unfactual(and unflattering) manner. Why would anyone do this? It is demoralizing to the students there. You might be right that three was a period of time before the Reno started when the school was in sorry shape.there will always be a school that has to go last because they don't do them all it once. I'm not happy that ckhs had to wait but why perpetuate the view that the school is a dump when it is not? That's not fair to the kids. They want to be proud of their school. It is tacky to keep those photos up there just to make some sort of political statement at the expense of these kids' school pride.

Cerebration said...

Sorry Anon - I don't have a political statement - I just have a full time job -- not a lot of time to noodle with this blog. A nicely worded suggestion would have been appreciated, however, even though that's not how it was presented, you are correct and many of those photos are no longer current. Many in the slideshow still are though - and I will take some time next week to go to the Picasa page and edit the photos... Thank you for pointing it out.

Cerebration said...

In fact, why don't some of you Chamblee people email us photos of Chamblee HS and I can delete and replace all at the same time!

Anonymous said...

Maybe I didn't look carefully, but I never connected those pictures as coming from one specific school. There are schools all over the county that are in poor condition. That is the message I took from the pictures. It is sad that any student has to sit in a school building that is in poor condition. I'm glad that CK has been renovated and I look forward to every school being in good shape. These buildings don't have to be new, but they should be maintained. Classrooms can be state-of-the-art even in an old building. It just comes down to priorities.

Cerebration said...

They are from different schools - that's why I need some time to cull through the photos...

Anonymous said...

Will someone please answer this question? The $900.00 is for the days that the employees had to take off without pay or is it money that should have been put into the teachers retirement accounts or the tax ann. account.

Will the people that retired in 2009 get any of this money put back into there accounts?

Just asking

Ella Smith said...

No they will not.

There is no good solution to this problem. Many teachers suffered financially due to the days we did not teach in 2009. I think I lost 7 days of pay last year. It is gone and I will never see it again. Teachers all over the state had the same loses.

I think it is important to realize that ODE is not just a teachers' association. All employees belong to this association so the advocacy is always going to be for all employees to get the money available and not just for the educators who work for the Dekalb County School System. All of these individuals have suffered due to not working. It does not just affect educators. The DeKalb County School System has many employees and ODE represents all of them. The executive board is made up of partial teachers and partial other employees. Many of these other employees have been hit the hardest during the cuts.

Anonymous said...

What pictures? Where are they?

Anonymous said...


ODE is DeKalb's version of GAE, which is the state version of NEA. ODE allows all employees to join. On that you are correct; however, think about it this way. When an ODE teacher-member has a complaint against an ODE administrator-member, which one of the members do you think ODE helps? Hmmm. That's a no-brainer. Also, did you know that (1) ODE President Schutten continues to be paid so that his salary allows for TRS? (2) ODE President Schutten has his mortgage paid by ODE? (3) ODE President Schutten moves and shakes in DEMOCRATIC circles and not REPUBLICAN ones? For years, ODE was in bed with DeKalb's administrators and BOE members. Now that ODE President Schutten has publicly denounced certain BOE members, he finds that DeKalb is not as welcoming as it once was to his schtick. That is why the American Federation of Teachers, affiliated with the AFL-CIO, is making inroads in DeKalb.

I will be so glad, Ella, when the election is over and Walker has been re-elected. At least then you can go back to being just another poster on here. I mean, do you not realize how your engagement with the public at these various forums has been received?

Lisa Morgan said...


When an ODE teacher-member has a complaint against an ODE administrator-member, which one of the members do you think ODE helps? Hmmm. That's a no-brainer.

When an ODE member has a complaint, ODE assists the member who is lower on the "totem pole". If the issue is between a teacher and administrator, ODE assists the teacher. If the issue is between a principal and an Area Supt, ODE assists the principal. That has always been the policy and always WILL be.

Also, did you know that (1) ODE President Schutten continues to be paid so that his salary allows for TRS?

Incorrect. The ODE President's salary is paid by ODE. The only retirement is that provided by ODE. TRS is not available.

(2) ODE President Schutten has his mortgage paid by ODE?
I guess you could make this statement since ODE pays the President's salary. The same statement could be made that your employer pays your mortgage, as well.

All of this incorrect information is easily verified. Any member that has questions can feel free to attend the ODE Executive Board meeting. They are held the second Thursday of each month at 5:30 at the ODE office. One of the first items on the agenda is always the Financial Report presented by the treasurer. Members are also invited to the Finance Committee which meets once a month and audits all the finance records for the month.

As for Ella's comment about the makeup of the ODE Executive Board, she is correct. The board currently has members from several different positions in DeKalb. NONE of them are administrators. During the candidate interviews, there were teachers, paraprofessionals, custodians, bus drivers, mechanics, cafeteria workers, and retired members participating.

Anonymous said...

Are there two separate sets of funds that are to be distributed? According to the news flash there was a 18.3 and 9.7 million and an additional 14.6 million.

Anonymous said...

There is no crime in being a Democrat or supporting Democratic candidates. Everyone is allowed to choose who they want to support with their time, money and vote. This is not the McCarthy era.

Thank you Lisa for setting the record straight about ODE.

Anonymous said...

They are on the home page under the caption No Splost Not Pretty. To the right of the page. Most of the photos are from cross keys (which has been renovated and no longer looks like that) and lakeside ( which is being renovated now; but I think their swimming pool is the only part that has been completed at this time). The rest of the pictures indicate they are from kittredge. I am not sure whether kittredge still looks like that or not.

Anonymous said...

Surprisingly, 10 of the pictures are from Druid Hills.

Anonymous said...

@ pscebx 1:57 pm

"Regarding Pre-K, I seem to recall discussions about eliminating it in non Title 1 schools."

Most school systems have eliminated Pre-K as a public school function. They passed this function to child care facilities. In order to receive funding the child care facility has to have a certified early childhood teacher so that is on par with the public schools. The facilities cost is recovered by the local school system, and in addition, the benefits expense is no longer borne by the school system.

On the plus side for students, the child care facilities are often a smaller and more intimate setting. parents who need extended day only pay for the care after the end of the "school day" giving continuity to children, no top heavy administration is involved, and many are more conveniently located for parents and children. The parents I know in other counties that have their children in private childcare Pre-K programs staffed by certified early childhood teacher(s) and funded by the state are very satisfied with the those programs.

These are some of the many reasons Pre-K has been moved from the public schools into private facilities in many of the metro counties.

Anonymous said...

Concerning Pre-K. If DCSS had a way to fund Pre-K, without losing state funds, then I would say go for it.

We have two boys, one went through the program at a DCSS school and one went through a private Pre-K school.

The one that attended the DCSS Pre-K hit the ground running in Kindergarten, while our private Pre-K'er took about a half a year to get use to the larger school and learning environment. It clearly showed my wife and I that the public Pre-K was great since they were able to get use to the schools happenings and routines.

Our private Pre-K was excellent but it clearly was an advantage to our child that attended the DCSS Pre-K.

Anonymous said...

Besides the impact on facilities, which I think the legislature should correct immediately, Pre-K cost DCSS money because the state reimbursement pre-k paras at day care wages, not public school wages. Many systems that offer pre-k in their public schools, do pay pre-k paras at the state reimbursement rate.

DCSS has chosen not to do this, rather they pay them at the same rate as other paras. They do not want the same title working for drastically different money in the same building.

Anonymous said...

Per the state Bright from the Start office, the one that manages the lottery funded pre-k, DeKalb has the most families waiting for pre-k slots of any county in the state.

Anonymous said...

"Many systems that offer pre-k in their public schools, do pay pre-k paras at the state reimbursement rate.

DCSS has chosen not to do this, rather they pay them at the same rate as other paras. They do not want the same title working for drastically different money in the same building. "

What DCSS wants and what DCSS can afford are often two different things entirely. If DCSS turned the business of Pre-K over to private child care centers, it would cost less and more children could be served. Perhaps that is a good part of the reason we have such a long waiting list for Pre-K slots in DeKalb County.

Anonymous said...

The employees that retired in 2008 and 2009 did not get a raise that year. Also no money was put in there tsa or annu. I think the school system should have to pay this money back. I know some of you will not agree with me but it is just a thought. And i may be wrong about this i talked with a person who did leave.

Anonymous said...

Fulton now pays all Pre-k staff at the state rate. They can only earn up to 5 years experience. After that they max out.