Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Does Size Matter?

On Monday, State Representative Mary Margaret Oliver pre-filed a piece of legislation that would allow the citizens of DeKalb to vote on the size of the Board of Education. If the bill is passed, then a referendum would be placed on the November 2011 ballot.

This legislation must:
  1. Be voted on positively by a majority of the DeKalb delegation.
  2. Be voted on positively by both the House and the Senate.
If the voters of DeKalb approve the referendum, elections for the newly created seats would be held in 2012. The DeKalb Delegation can also choose to simply make a decision on their own about the size of the board. However, if they take this approach, the changes would not fully go into effect into 2014.

Voters will be given the choice of voting for either 5 or 7 members. Districts, as has always been done will be drawn by the DeKalb delegation. In 2012, some board members will be elected for a two year term, while others will be elected for a four year term. After that election, all terms will be 4 years.

Click here for the legislation.

The AJC has an article about this legislation today. Click here to read it.

“The Commission for School Board Excellence, a group of business leaders and legislators that drafted the state’s school ethics law, recommended school boards have no more than seven members. All boards in the metro area meet that standard except DeKalb, Clayton and Atlanta Public Schools, according to Bryant.

All three of those boards have struggled with school board governance and meeting accreditation standards. DeKalb used to have seven seats, but expanded to nine seats eight years ago.”

What do you think about school board size? Would a smaller board be better? Would we be able to attract a higher calibre candidates? What about potential superintendents? If you knew that the system was going to only have a board of 5, would that make the job more appealing to you?

What else would you like to see included in this legislation? Minimum education standards, term limits, etc.

As a blogger already posted, this is an issue that your state representatives need to hear from you about.

Go here to find out how to contact them:

Email link is on the right hand side:

Here's a link to express your opinion to Governor Perdue:


Anonymous said...

Seeing a 7 person board would be good however, who will be tasked with redrawing the 5 or 7 new districts? We must have equitably drawn lines so the north is represented properly.

There are a lot of worries that the new districts will be drawn so the "New Birth" "Fraternity & Sorority bunch" and the friends and family will be able to maintain control and their gravy train of pay will continue to be direct deposited into the checking accounts of the inept staff at The Palace.

It's time we see total change at the top of the Central Office and a new Super is hired before we do anything that Mary Margaret Oliver and the "DeKalb Legislation Group" can draw up.

The fun never stops in this county!

Anonymous said...

I'm for 5 members. That's what Gwinnett has, and their system is so much more effective and efficient than DeKalb's. They have a very diverse system, yet they have increased student achievement. I know they have their problems as well. Wilbanks is considered somewhat of a dictator, and I believe that his ploy to get rid of more experienced teachers with advanced degrees was all about the money saved, not non-performance. But he and the Gwinnett BOE have student achievement as their main focus while DCSS administration and BOE simply will not take responsibility for declining test scores. They would rather blame DCSS students and teachers. If a 5 or 7 member BOE will be more accountable to taxpayers, then this needs to happen.

Write your legislative representatives regarding their support behind reducing the number of member of the DCSS BOE. Here is a link that will take you to your representative so that your voice is heard.

Directions for contacting your Georgia Senators and House Representatives:
Enter your address or 9 digit zipcode at the top of the page and all of your representatives will be displayed. Click on the representative's name and you will be taken to his/her page. Email link is on the right hand side:

Here's a link to express your opinion to Governor Perdue:

Here's a link to express your opinion to governor elect Nathan Deal:

Ask your friends and neighbors to voice their opinion via email or phone to their elected state representatives.

Anonymous said...

The delegation draws the lines.

It is a question of what comes first, the chicken or the egg?

The districts will be drawn based on population, the same as they are now and the same as the legislature and congressional seats are allotted as well.

The real challenge is getting around some of the board members who will want to protect their turf.

No Duh said...

vertical lines?

Anonymous said...

Concentric circles!

Anonymous said...

I am a big fan of the vertical lines idea for district boundaries. I think it makes the entire board more accountable.

No Duh said...

Eccentric Circles is more like it from this Board.

Ella Smith said...

I have known this was coming for sometime. It prevented me from having the energy to do grass root campaigning that I have always had plenty of energy to do in the past.

I am excited. I think this is what is best for the students and citizens of Dekalb.

I think 5 board members would be great. However, 7 would be ok also. Nine board members is way too many. However, at SW DeKalb Dr. Walker did indicate that this would be fought. However, if the citizens of Dekalb vote on this I really do not think there is anything anyone can do. I also do not think there is anything anyone can do if the legislative body makes the decision also as the legislative body in Dekalb is mostly Democratic and mostly African American. It is all the legislative body in DeKalb who want the change. It is not the Republicans or Democratic Party. It is most of them. They are tired of being embarassed.

Ella Smith said...

That they would fight.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Ella. I think that if this is a referendum, then there is nothing the current Board can do.

I also think that most of the board members would be at peace with what the voters decide. Just a few that might object.

Sagamore 7 said...

How about this for an idea.

Show up at the Legislative Forum on Thursday night and ALL of the Dekalb Legislators will be there to answer any and all of our questions!

Sagamore 7

Kim Gokce said...

If we reduce the number of Board Members, who would sit in their seats at the "Super Friends" dais?

Joking aside, I have to believe that the districts that feel they are not represented well with nine will be less represented with seven or five. All things equal, seven would mean no Walker seat and no Speaks - not sure that's a net positive. Five seats would likely mean only one of either McChesney or Womack and one of either Woods or Cunningham - again, not sure that's a net positive.

I think are problems are deeper than choosing the right number of members. While I personally believe fewer is better in the abstract, it doesn't matter a wit as long as the governance processes themselves remain the same.

Little things like enforcing an ethics policy and staying out of "running the system" come way ahead of the number of seats on my list of priorities.

The one thing that would be sure with fewer members is that public meetings could end up being shorter on average and THAT is a net positive.

Anonymous said...

What about 5 members elected county-wide? Would that be possible?

Anonymous said...

There are many ways to draw the districts, so I wouldn't presume that what we have today has to be modified. We could start from scratch.

The danger of at large is that you end up with only real political types because of the difficulty and costs of running a county wide campaign.

Anonymous said...

Forget elected officials, district or at-large! We've already seen this model has failed miserably.

A panel of 5 "executives on loan" similar to the United Way model, nominated by their respective companies, vetted and then approved by panel of independent professionals (college profs, govenor, etc.) to serve 2 year term.

No more friends and family.

Anonymous said...

The people have spoken but they didn't listen. The voters will not be tricked into voting for Emanual Jonea and Mary Margaret Oliver choices. Again, this will backfire. The legislators aren't doing a good job about education from the STATE level. Find somemoney and stop cutting EDUCATION. We need new faces in the Legislatures. Maybe Ella Smith will run agian!!!

Anonymous said...

How about three board members - North Dekalb, Central Dekalb, and South Dekalb? Everything south of I20 is South Dekalb, between I20 and I85 is Central Dekalb, and all the rest is North Dekalb.

These three could go to the Varsity and eat sushi together, occupy less space, have smaller staffs, reduce the costs to the county, and be more productive.

Think about it!

Anonymous said...

"The people have spoken but they didn't listen. The voters will not be tricked into voting for Emanual Jonea and Mary Margaret Oliver choices. Again, this will backfire."

Are you for real or just someone trying to stir a pot? Is that you, Dr. Walker?

I actually expect in an off-year county wide election, this kind of reform would pass easily.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of drawing the lines vertically--cut across the divides in this county, which by and large run horizontally.

Alternatively, and probably impossibly, we simply need to split up DCSS into 3 districts--north, central, south--but importantly each would draw from ONE source of money solely on a per pupil basis.

Anonymous said...

I also like the idea of vertical lines, which would hopefully result in most districts cutting across that mysterious north/south divide.

Anonymous said...

"Alternatively, and probably impossibly, we simply need to split up DCSS into 3 districts--north, central, south--but importantly each would draw from ONE source of money solely on a per pupil basis."

This is the right idea. The funding part is really critical. Has it been discussed by the delegation? Is it receiving serious consideration?

Anonymous said...

I think MMO pre-filed the bill to get the discussions started.

If you have a serious idea that you think should be on the table, be sure and email Oliver, Jones and whoever your state rep and senator are.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of three school districts in DeKalb. School tax money could be allocated on a per pupil basis, just like the state. This provides for better local control.

Ella Smith said...

November 16, 2010 10:54 PM

As Celeb knows I had a hard time getting excited running for district nine with the reduction of school board seats and all the problems. You poke fun but the thing you do not realize is that politics is about name recognition. Are you aware of how many times our Chairman of the Board ran before he was elected to the school board?

I think it is funny as you know nothing about politics nor why my name was even on the ballot. You also really do not know me and my true interests right now. I have no interest in running for the DeKalb County School Board in the near future. My friends are very aware of this. I actually did much better in the election for the district nine position than I expected.

Ella Smith said...

Size does matter. I see nine members of the board as being way too many members.

One of the biggest problems of any board is an understanding of boundaries between the job of the administration and the school board. The school board must allow the administration to run the school system. I do believe that some members of this board may have a problem with this. I am hopeful that SAC still does not have to intervene in the situation. The state law is very clear on this issue. However, I do believe that school boards may have a problem regulating themselves so there may need to be a separate group to do this. This is very important.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 4:21
"I like the idea of three school districts in DeKalb."

The Georgia State Constitution forbids the establishment of any additional school systems so 3 districts in DeKalb is not a possibility. If Milton County is resurrected (and it may be with this legislature), then maybe Dunwoody which abuts this area could join Milton. But this is a real stretch.

Meanwhile, Dunwoody voters could help vote out the incumbent Jim Redovian who backed Lewis and Pope/Reid all the way and vote in Nancy Jester who is a Central DeKalb mom of 3. Jester has an actuarial background and will scrutinize every expenditure outside the classroom. If District 1 voters don't step up to the plate and replace Redovian, then they will get the status quo.

Anonymous said...

I think that everyone should write state legislatures and the in-coming and out-going governors and urge them to have 5 school board members who reside in 5 distinct parts of the county (residency requirements reprsenting 5 distinct regions -- north, south, east, west and central) and with each and every one of the five voted on by the county at large so everyone gets to be voted in by everyone and voted out by everyone. I'm also all for educational requirements (at least a 2 year college degree) and term limits but that's a harder battle.