Yes, it is time to break out my tired, old analogy for DCSS "Central Office" once again. This time, I'm featuring Mrs. Potato Head due to Title 9 considerations and because we have a new, interim Superintendent who is also of the "fairer sex."
Additionally, the word on the street was that there has been some quiet house-cleaning going on since she took office. With some diligent and simple key performance indicator analysis, we should be able to see the impact to the "bottom line" each year. Let's hope Mrs. Potato Head is helping Mr. Potato Head drop a few pounds in all the right places!
As I did last year, I downloaded the DCSS salaries reported by State of Georgia "Transparency in Government" web site to attempt to come up with a "Central Office-to-School House" ratio based on the job titles. Even with the help of Ella Smith, life-long public educator, this was a daunting task due the number and vagueness of the DCSS titles.
The good news this year is that the number of reported titles has fallen to 149 from 181 and I have devised a method for all readers of this blog to help with the accuracy of job titles classification as "Central Office" or "In School." For me, anyone who does not actually work in a school house has to be lumped into "Central Office." Sorry bus drivers and other providers of essential services - still not "In School!"
I have posted the spreadsheet as a Google Doc online and notified the editors of this blog how they can update the job title classifications to help us get an more accurate picture. The benchmark we documented for 2008 salaries was 24.987% of salaries went to "Central Office" titles and we'll see what we get this year for 2009 in a team effort.
If you want to participate in the review of job title classifications, simply download this spreadsheet (required MS Excel 97 or later or OpenOffice Calc) and post job title classification changes in the comments of this post. With all the teachers and other employees of DCSS lurking here, I hope this will give us a clear picture of which job titles are actually in school houses versus elsewhere.
You will also find in the spreadsheet workbook a third tab that contains three years of DCSS summary expenditures from the Georgia DOE. This is data that pscexb pointed out last year as available and I wanted to bring it back updated to the table for discussion. While I do see that "General Administration" has dropped during the past year, I also see a drop in instructional spending - less than ideal.
I would love to keep seeing General Administrative costs go down while maintaining instructional spending. We'll also need to watch the Maintenance Operations expense to see if it can be reduced. After all, as more newly renovated or constructed buildings come online I would hope our maintenance expenses would take a downturn. And, if our BOE and Superintendent get serious about consolidation and re-districting, we should see these maintenance expenses decline for many years to come as our Byzantine collection of properties declines.
I think that watching the numbers is something that this blog can do annually. Personally, I think DCSS should be posting this type of management analysis as part of their governance and fiduciary responsibility. It isn't that hard to come up with a few key performance indicators and disseminate them. For now, take a look at the job titles in these reports and post to the comments when you spot a job title you know to be "In School" and I'll update the spreadsheet.
When were done with our exercise in a few days, I'll update this post with the completed data and a ratio. Let's make this an annual Christmas tradition as our gift to DeKalb County residents. Merry Christmas!
Word on the street is that custodial services are going to be outsourced.
Well that's $20m so if quality can be maintained, or even improved, and a 10% savings that's $2m to the bottom line. Perhaps then we could have a track that is in usable condition or an actual sign to indicate there is a high school on North Druid Hills Rd. Or crazier yet, a few more teachers in the classrooms!
Physical therapists are in school.
I believe Instructional Specialists are the Art, Music, PE, Connections, etc. teachers so they would be in the school.
I know folks get tired of hearing about "private companies" but I think in term of budget management we can use the private sector as a guide. Companies that succeed tend to focus all their resources on their core mission. If our core mission is instruction, then that is where the lion's share of expenditures need to remain and to grow.
I do not know what a good performance benchmark "should" be but I have to believe it would not be difficult to come up with one on this question of "in School" versus "CO" salaries for every school system in America. Without this, how do we know how we are doing?
Recreation therapist as well. Some of the security personnel are in schools as well.
I have friends in systems where custodial services have been privatized. It has not gone very well.
Constant turnover of low salaried, no benefits employees.
Anon: 2:33 "Physical Therapists"
Row 92 updated to "In School" = yes! Thank you!
Yeah, I could see that as a risk of going that route.
Row 105 is now "Yes" ... thanks!
"INSTRUCTIONAL SPECIALIST P-8" row 60 is now "yes" ... thank you!
Anon 2:36 PM re: "Security personnel"
Yeah, this seems to be an aggregated number and we have to figure out a way to dis-aggregate it because it is NOT SMALL ... $9,859,889.30 on row 115 ...
Anyone have any data sources that would allow us to id what dollar figure is actually "Resource officers?"
Concerns about custodians.....the school district needs to ensure that proper and appropriate security checks are done to ensure that all workers within the school building during school hours or school events are "safe" for the kids.... Needs to be written into any contract if outsourced; district needs to be confident there will not be a problem. Contractors likely to cut costs in this realm.
Are you sure about "instructional specialists? Art, Music, and PE teachers are certified teachers--why would they be categorized differently?
No, not sure at all. That is why I left that one blank and looked for guidance here. The title is reported as, "Instructional Specialists P-8" ... that does sound like classroom resources with the "pre-school through 8th grade" part but i am completely unsure.
I meant "Pre-K" ... slip up because L live in the pre-school world.
We're down to barely 23% CO / School salary ratio so far. That's already an improvement over 2008's 25% ... still looking for feedback on the list of titles in the spreadsheet - kept sending them in!
Can't say for sure (DCSS folks out there, check me), but Speech Therapists and Occupational Therapists work in the schools as well. Some migrate between schools, but they work directly with students.
Would actually counting the number of resource officers at the schools help distinguish? For instance, DHHS lists two SROs and 4 security, Lakeside lists 4 persons (can't distinguish), Tucker lists 3 security and 1 SRO, Arabia lists 1 SRO and 2 Security officers, MLK lists 1 Security desk officer, but does not break out Campus Supervisors. I can track down all the schools that break the security out...
Impressive research Kim. Thank you so much for your diligent attention to researching and reporting on this topic. Your input is so valuable.
As far as Instructional Specialists go, we had a post devoted to this topic a while back. It does appear that this title describes specialty teachers like art and music.
Clarity on the "Instructional Specialists" vs "Instructional Supervisors"
@Dekalbparent "Speech Therapists and Occupational Therapists"
I've added those updates. thank you!
On security personnel, there are 436 people with this title ... we have 20 high school buildings (E. Andrews and DSA aren't standalone), 20 middle school buildings, 15 "centers," and 87 elementary schools - that's 137 facilities approximately. Even if the average number of security personnel is 2 at every single school facility, that's 274.
I know this area has been a target for criticism before and it is hard to defend these numbers with no other information. However, if you look at it in terms of salary costs per school in aggregate, it doesn't look crazy - $70k per 137 schools. That'd be ok if A) we had security at every school but I don't think we do, and B) if are schools weren't regular targets for significant thefts.
@Cere "Your input is so valuable."
Bah! Humbug! I just know how to do data analysis with sql and spreadsheets. What is invaluable is having a forum to collect and refine the data!!
You're the best. No, you're the best! Stop it.
@Dekalbparent "I can track down all the schools that break the security out..."
If you're willing, I'm sure we can put it to use! What's your source? Need help? We have many willing hands on deck!
... and, if you get me a few names of SROs, we can correlate those to salary ranges for this particular role and use that to extrapolate a total salary figure estimate for SROs.
Avondale 1 SRO, 2 campus security, Cedar Grove 2 SROs and 3 Campus Security,
Chamblee does not list them, Clarkston lists 2 officers, Columbia's website is down,
Cross Keys does not list,
DSA lists 1 officer,
Dunwoody lists 1 SRO and 2 security officers,
Elizabeth Andrews (Open Campus)shows 5 SROs,
Lithonia lists 1 SRO and 3 Security Officers,
Miller Grove lists 1 SRO and 2 Security Officers,
Redan lists 1 SRO and 3 Campus Security,
McNair lists 2 SROs and 3 Campus Security,
Southwest DeKalb lists 2 SROs and 2 Campus Security,
Stephenson lists 2 SROs and 3 Security Officers,
Stone Mountain lists 2 Campus Security Officers,
Towers 2 SROs and 2 Security Officers
Posted the high schools before I looked at your comment, Kim. I looked at the schools' individual websites - most list their security under Support Services. This means I cannot vouch for accuracy - could cross-check the names on the websites with the DCSS personnel listings...
I have not looked at middle or elementary schools.
I can get names of SROs. What would be a good cross-section? It would seem they would have similar salary for same job title, no matter where the employee is located...
It looks like the ranges is very broad for this "security" job title - as much as a 100% variance from $45 - $90k
Great job! From your spreadsheet is seems that the cost per pupil from 2008 to 2010 has gone down $353. That would amount o $35.3 million for 100,000 students. Less than 3% in a $1.2 Billion budget. Am I missing something?
Why not get the info that you want from the source? Call Mr Turk or Ms Tyson or drop them an e-mail. They have a form on the DCSS website.
Well it looks like the average "security personnel" for a high school is more like 2 - 2.5. I know CK has one SRO but couldn't guess who would qualify as "campus security" ... it would be hard to imagine our middle schools would be much different - 2 - 2.5 per school.
So, that's likely 40 schools x 2.5 persons = 100 individuals. So, the mystery to me is how many "security" folks are assigned to ESes??? We have a long way to go to 436 yet ...
I know there must be a pool of officers for sporting events, etc. but we have 336 more folks in this role that our HSes and MSes seem to need ...
"than" our HSes and MSes, I meant. Where are the remaining 336 Security personnel???
From personal experience I recall that fingerprinting used to be outsourced, now its done in house. Last year when I had certificate renewal the security staff had a very difficult time taking prints. I spent over 45 minutes with them and they never got it right. It's all done on line but it may be better to have this outsourced. BTW while I was getting renewed they also wanted to me to list every single traffic ticket I have received in my life. I'm 60 years old and haven't had a ticket in 10 years. Can anyone recall the dates of tickets issued 40 years ago? My current DMV report shows only one violation, everything else is purged what's the deal? Security is spending time doing this while computers are walking off the property every day.
While outsourcing may be a not so great solution to the custodial problems. Our school just can't seem to get the custodian to do his job so maybe this is the best thing to do.
Anonymous 2:26 is correct. I wonder why this has not been talked about openly with the people that it would impact the greatest. The custodians and the staff in the schools. Of course, it would impact the students, but some of them are not old enough or know enough about the job duties to make an informed decision.
Having previous experience with out sourced school custodians, I can say that it does not work very well. Companies attempt to save money and hire the cheapest not the best individuals. These people are in the schools during the day with students and staff. Many, many principals work late in the buildings by themselves with only a custodian present.I am not an elementary school principal, but many are female. If there is going to be a decision about out sourcing school custodians, then the opinions of the principals must be taken into consideration. These are the individuals that have to be responsible for every aspect of the building. Today principals are having to go to their schools and check their buildings. At many schools the head custodians will do that for the principal, since they are better able to handle and repair problems.
Why not out source MIS? These individuals do not work directly in the schools. This would allow us to keep abreast of the most current technology.
There are instructional coaches that do not work in the schools. They may come to provide support but they are not in the schools on a day to day basics. Food service workers, bus drivers and custodians provide direct student contact and are paid some of the lowest salaries.
Why is it that we always look to cut the people that are making the least amount, but do some of the most important work? Something is very wrong with that. There are many excellent hard working custodians that do much more than their job because they are invested in the schools. Before someone writes to make harsh comments, I work in the schools. I am not a custodian. I am not married to a custodian. But, I feel that we make too many decisions without considering the people in the schools. Please check with us.
I'm a teacher in the DCSS and I think that outsourcing custodians cannot be that bad since the lazy people they now have in the positions don't lift a finger to do anything. Lord forbid one or more be out ... the others do even less then. I'm sick of being told I need to help them do their job. No one is helping me teach my kids! It's a HUGE waste of money and administrators are GUTLESS to do anything about the problem!
I'm a teacher who is happy with our custodial staff. They're awesome!
Outsourcing custodial services? Booster clubs are going to have to pony up more cash for setting up gyms or cafeteria for after school concerts and banquet, homecoming dances..etc...
Lakeside has one SRO and 3 campus security.
As far as I know (at least in high schools where I have worked,) the campus security folks are the ones in the bright yellow collared shirts. Those are the only people I have heard referred to as such.
I work under the title "Special Education Specialist" although that is not my job title for the county and I and my other Specialists all spend over 90% of our time in the school and not in a county office.
I don't see a separate line for the Dekalb School police (maybe I am just overlooking it). If not, that would be a huge chunk of the security funds.
Also--I think maybe hospital homebound could be considered "in school," despite the job title. These are teachers who go to the homes of kids who cannot attend school temporarily due to injury or illness. They are in direct contact with students, and isn't that what we mean by in school?
I am assuming that the designation refers to the additional pay given to teachers who work with the kids, of course.
Fernbank Science Center teachers are paid by Central Office. They provide direct instruction to children, but when teachers are fired from FSC, the Admin gets to say that "no teachers are being fired" because they're on the CO payroll. Although some may (and have, on this very blog) debate whether FSC provides "essential services", it's likely that FSC's mission will become more, rather than less, critical soon, because meeting science standards becomes mandatory in 2012. Don't close FSC!--change it!
No one doubts if FSC teachers provide "essential" services. We just debate on whether those teachers should be distributed among the high schools rather than all concentrated at the center and busing students to the teachers. Not all students can make that happen. We desperately need quality science instruction in our schoolhouses. We really need that AND the science center - but the money is just not abundant.
BTW - are you saying that science teachers lost jobs at Fernbank but were counted as central office losses - and not reassigned to a schoolhouse? I'd really like to know if that is true.
Anon 8:28 PM - "Special Education Specialist"
Yep! I had that one coded "In School" on line 124 from the get-go. Thank you!
Anon 8:32 PM "Hospital Homebound"
Good one! I've updated line 55 to "Yes" - thanks!
On the "DeKalb School Police," you didn't overlook it - it's not there. I have to believe it is lumped in the generic Security title on row 115.
Is it possible to have an in between category for those kind of blury areas like bus drivers?
If there were no buses, my children would get to school just find. I am not certain the same can be said of all DeKalb students.
Bus drivers are 25 million dollars. That is a huge chunk of money.
Hi, Kim ~ High School Counselors aren't showing as In-school :) And I'm the one that did the original research on the "Instructional Specialist" category. The state doesn't give the school districts enough categories to cover all of the teachers that serve multiple levels (K-5, 6-8, 9-12), so the systems have to use this title to cover the non-core teachers. The "Instructional Specialist P-8" category consists solely of certified teachers.
Exactly! The poor bus drivers get it from both sides. The CO has seen them as a fat target on a piece of paper for years. It really isn't fair. I agree, there are titles that are in a grey area to me and bus driver is one.
This is a bit off-topic but if DeKalb is suppose to have "neighborhood" schools, then why do we need so many bus routes? ha-ha ...
Transportation/bus drivers really do deserve their own category ...
High School Counselors! Ah ha! That was a simply over sight - I've added line 54 to "InSchool" = Yes. Thank you!
We're down to 21.46% ... we should do this for last year's data to refine its accuracy ...
@ Cere - "BTW - are you saying that science teachers lost jobs at Fernbank but were counted as central office losses - and not reassigned to a schoolhouse? I'd really like to know if that is true."
Yes, at least one teacher was "let go" from FSC last spring. She was not placed by DCSS at another school but after applying around, was able to fill a vacancy at an elementary school.
If FSC teachers are let go, they will not be placed. They will be on the market, looking for positions.
That's so sad. We need to do everything possible to keep good science teachers in the system.
Kim - what would happen if you divided central office into direct student support (like bus drivers) and admin support? Or something like that?
The time has come to end busing students into Fernbank Science Center. Not only is this incredibly expensive from a transportation standpoint. It's unbelievable that thousands of extra buses a year contributing to our metro pollution would be going to a science center. That's a totally inappropriate ecological model is that for students.
Why in this day and age would anyone bus 30+ students into a teacher - many from 15 to 20 miles away (south and north end of the county?
I like Cere's idea. We could still look at all three objectively.
SOCIAL SERVICES CASE MANAGER
SOCIAL WORKER ASSISTANT
Like these kinds of positions, I think they are direct student support
I am betting includes some in the central office and some in the schools.
One of my biggest beefs is that there are still to many secretaries at the central office and another big beefs is that their salaries are to high.
You may want to read the story in the 12/13 AJC about the Special Education program in Ga (headed by former DeKalb administrator, Debbie Gay). It may shed insight on the additional staff positions ALL school districts have.
You can't simply look at the number of children, divide that by what you think the number of children in each classroom should be then say that is how many teachers are needed. Some children may require specialized services, which could result in the smaller teach/student ratios than what some child may have. The same goes for the support network at the central office that may be required due to local, state, and federal mandates. Unless you have a FULL understanding of this along with any required paperwork requirements, you will not get an accurate picture of staffing requirements.
Here is the link to the article suggested by Anon -
Special ed program lacks accountability, audit finds
DeKalb does have an enormous special education department. Teachers in this department are identified as special ed, are they identified as such in the central office?
Anon 8:28 PM - "Special Education Specialist"
But Sp Ed Specialists have very limited student contact..as do our School Psychologists.
I happen to think school psychologists are essential, do you? As the parent of a child with special needs, I find that the school psychologist stays pretty busy.
That is the challenge with this exercise.
This was not at all meant to be a criticism of psychologists. Despite the encoragement of Dr. Gail Thomas for the psychologists to bcome involved with counseling and providing other interventions with students, our psychologists remain "test administrators and paper pushers." LTSE's are simply paper pushers.
This is not to say that they are not a useful resource, but rather, that they are not used in their best capacity...which would require the hiring of additional psychologists. Likewise, we have way too few social workers...not nearly enough to do their valuable job. School counselors are forced to anything the administrators want..the majority of which is not a counseling function.
DCSS could use a lot more folks in the schools and a lot fewer co-ordinators, supervisors and coaches.
Thanks for your comment Anonymous 11:55! This is an area I can comfortably say that most citizens don't have a clue about. There is a LOT of paperwork involved with some of our students. We could either put most of that on those with the greatest amount of student contact or have coordinators and supervisors to help with some of it.
There are MANY children that need services from school psychologists that are NOT receiving the services because DeKalb does not have enough of them. Some school psychologist are on contract basis, not on the permanent payroll.
Anonymous 10:52 perhaps has not been in a regular ed classroom or a school center to make such a statement.
Anon 10:52 is correct. School Psychologists have very limited contact with students. They serve 2-3 schools and their functions are very few. They attend all the SST meetings for those schools and they test any students that are finally referred for testing.
That's it. They may observe the student in their classroom as part of the testing process. Their is NO day to day contact with students.
Ok, but we still have to have them. DeKalb is a school system with lots of special needs students. Thousands as a matter of fact.
Comparing a school psychologist to a receptionist at the central office is not an appropriate comparison.
Anon 3:14 said,
School Psychologists have very limited contact with students. They serve 2-3 schools and their functions are very few.
Talk about a far fetched statement! So participating in all SST's for all student is not a major function? Providing a professional recommendation of strategies for the school and teacher to help the child to succeed is a limited function? Possibly protecting the school system from fines from the government for not providing required services does not provide value?
If you don't know the value a particular position provides in the school system, perhaps you should qualify your comments and ask for clarification. There are probably some students that need an SST but can't get them in time because there are not enough school psychologists in the school system. To say their functions are 'very few' is a gross misrepresentation.
I believe it would be more beneficial to have more SpEd classroom teachers and fewer LTSE's and other Special Ed Specialists outside the classroom handling "some" of the paperwork.Some LTSE's push off as much of their paperwork as they can on the SpEd classroom teachers. If teachers refuse, they are labeled as 'uncooperative'. They are also only in the schools 4 days a week, with 5th day being "office time." The DCSS SpEd department is an enormous bureaucracy that is heavily weighted salary-wise outside of the classroom.
@ 3:37 pm
"Ok, but we still have to have them. DeKalb is a school system with lots of special needs students. Thousands as a matter of fact."
But do we need so many that 1 for every 2 or 3 schools? That's pretty top heavy for someone to have no contact with students and just handle the paperwork for these students. If I'm an LTSE, I may cover 2 or 3 schools with only 1 special ed teacher per school so I effectively do the paperwork for 2 or 3 teachers.
BTW they are called Special Education Specialists on the 2009 State Audit, there are 91 of them, they cost DCSS $8,250,000 in salary and benefits, and they DON"T TEACH a single child.
Is there a more efficient way to handle special ed paperwork for $8,000,000+ dollars?
We seem to have no problem asking teachers to take on more work as we cut teacher positions.
MOST of our Special Ed students receive MOST of their educational content from regular education teachers. The Students with Disabilities (Special Ed) group is the group that almost always keeps a school from making AYP. This group of students have absolutely the most difficult time receiving the content from the regular education teacher. Does anyone understand that when we cut regular education teacher positions and increase class sizes, we are doing the most harm to this group?
Most of the other students will survive increased class sizes, but this group of students are our most vulnerable and ensuring they are in the best regular ed classroom situation possible is of the utmost importance to their progress.
Seeing how lost most of them are in large classes, I can understand why their parents wanted the FTE money to be decoupled from the school systems and allow them to put the per pupil allotment into private school settings with smaller classes and more individual attention.
Parents know intuitively that their special needs child is lost in these large classes, and they also know that the regular ed teacher is the one who is charged with imparting most of the content to them.
(School Psychologists are a different group entirely. They are 51 in number and cost $4,000,000+ in salary and benefits. Perhaps someone else can say what their functions are.)
The LTSEs are members of the Special Services Department, not schoolhouse employees.
These 91 $8,000,000+ administrative personnel are called LTSEs in DCSS and Special Education Specialists on the state Salary and Travel audit. They are administrators and non-teaching personnel. I agree with the preceding poster that we need more Special Education teachers working with students and less non-teaching LTSEs.
December 13, 2010 4:41 PM
The Instructional Support Lead Teachers of Special Education do not have much contact at all with students at any school. They do some testing as does the School Psychologists. Instructional Support Lead Teachers are encouraged to be leadership certified. They are totally support personnel. Fulton County cut 50% of there staff and 50% of their School Psychologists. The teachers have had to pick up the slack. It has been tough.
You also might have an Instructional math support teacher or reading support teacher in title one math.
Well, I have to interject. Due to the amount of federal funding, you cannot possibly imagine the amount of paperwork required for special education. The LTSE's are experts at handling this paperwork, devising education plans (IEPs) and explaining these plans and goals to parents and guardians. On top of this, they support the special ed teacher in a variety of ways. I personally know several and have witnessed how hard they work. They are covered by federal special education funding for the most part, so I'm not that concerned about the county's cost.
The costs we need to look closely at are the Instructional Supervisors, the number of secretaries in the central office (is this possibly an outdated position?), transportation managers (not bus drivers, unless we can look at consolidating routes after school consolidations), security managers (not the security personnel in the schools, the many others in the central office), the maintenance staff (would we be better off outsourcing maintenance?) and the upper managers in the school district - are we duplicating job descriptions - as in, paying two people when one could do the job? Of course, that will require a salary audit...
"the number of secretaries in the central office (is this possibly an outdated position?"
Absolutely an outdated position with the exception of a handful for the top level.
The warehouse operation needs to be evaluated. Giving site administrators the authority to write off broken and useless items and toss them in a dumpster would free up several jobs that consist of picking up the broken junk then placing it in the warehouse where it sits until it is auctioned off months later for pennies. So few things are repairable anymore the schools would be much cleaner if we could just chuck the stuff in a local dumpster or recycling bin.
I certainly hope the $7,000,000 spent on Fernbank Science Center is given a close look. A majority do not instruct students and even though the science instructors are excellent, they have cannot impact student achievement when they only see students once a year for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. We are better off spending that money on extra science staff in the middle and high schools that have abysmal science scores. At current DCSS teacher salary and benefit prices, $7,000,000 would buy us 129 science teachers with Masters degrees and 5 years of teaching experience. PLEASE don't tell me putting 129 highly qualified science teachers into the middle and high schools that have the lowest science scores would not improve our student achievement.
Just think of it this way - Fernbank Science Center costs us 129 highly qualified and experienced Masters level science teachers working with students day after day after day teaching science content.
Now who is going to be the first to post that we can't get those science teachers anyway - what's the use of science for those kids? We need science instruction DAILY in class sizes that will safely allow hands-on labs for ALL DCSS students.
2009 State Salary and Travel Audit:
@6:59 "PLEASE don't tell me putting 129 highly qualified science teachers into the middle and high schools that have the lowest science scores would not improve our student achievement."
While I can't dispute that distributing science teachers throughout the schools would be a great idea, do you think that DCSS would use the money that would be saved by closing FSC, in that manner? Who would oversee that the money, or even any of the money, would even be used for science? At least one excellent science teacher at FSC lost a job last spring due to "Central Office cuts." That teacher was let go, was not placed by DCSS, and had to go on the market to apply for jobs. Given past behavior, how can we believe that DCSS would do anything to retain any of the FSC teachers, or that the powers that be would use any of the money for science at all?
My LTSE does not do ANY of my paperwork. She is of no help to me and only comes by when she needs something, ie: paperwork. She does not help me with strategies, student issues, or anything else even when she sees me struggling with a difficult student. I have actually had her tell me that I cannot ask her any questions on a given day, she has said this to me more than once. LTSE's may be useful but they need to be accountable and monitored...
Cere: "...central office into direct student support (like bus drivers) ..."
I think that would be a productive and insightful ... and a lot more time and effort!
I want to focus on one simple (over-simplified?) key performance indicator. Once we get good at this one, we can run at it again. The challenge is that there are SO many job titles and I haven't met the person yet who understands them all fully. Classifying these job titles is not complex but it is time consuming and an effort that requires a lot of participants.
With a little diligence, this group could devise ten key performance indicators (kpi's) that could derived from public data and eventually convince our leaders to publish the kpi's without us having to scramble. This seems like something the GA DOE could easily mandate and automate.
Most metro systems already have condensed their job titles and have a limited number of salary schedules published on their website.
Read Maureen Downey's post "Spending millions on special ed without clear results" about the AJC article that came out today.
I kept wondering if one of the ten Special Ed directors that are making over $100,000 when the state funds $50,000 for the position works for DCSS.
Sorry, here's the direct link to her post regarding Special Ed.
kpi's -- good idea! Let's work on this after the holidays - with some hot coffee! Who's in?
re: Fernbank Science Center
"... even though the science instructors are excellent, they have cannot impact student achievement when they only see students once a year for 1 1/2 to 2 hours"
If the students are only seen once a year, and only to be bused to Fernbank, then perhaps those schools are not making the most and best use of what Fernbank has to offer. I work at an elementary school and we have had Fernbank instructors here 7 times so far this year, and I am sure we will have at least as many times next semester, for every grade level -- and it is this way EVERY YEAR. It is an amazing program, the teachers present topics that are phenomenal and really engage the students and they are really learning. And I believe that some of them are opened up to how fun and interesting "science" can be, an attitude which they then carry back to their everyday classroom. The students are only bused to Fernbank for the forest or planetarium, which they have to be AT Fernbank for, obviously. Fernbanks's outreach program is excellent and a valuable resource that should not go away. However, like any resource it has to be taken advantage of and utilized, and I know a lot of schools don't ... but just because the school(s) you are familiar with don't utilize it, don't say it is of no value for anybody. Instead, how about taking the reigns and getting some outreach programs in your school and see for yourself how wonderful it is!
OK, guys, over my years as a DCSS Special Ed teacher:
In 1986, we had 4 LTSEs for the entire county!
My favorite LTSE Stories:
Had one who asked me to help her learn her job.
Had one that usually got to school around 9:30..but would stay late in the afternoon and night.
One that didn't come at all when she need to work from home.
One that ran a real estate business and generally could be reached during the day by cell phone.
But at each of those 7times, I am guessing that they do a presentation to an individual grade level. This is the way it works at our school. So they aren't seeing students 7 times a semester, rather once or maybe twice.
I also want to add that last year I was at the school when a Fernbank instructor was there for the third grade. I was underwhelmed and unimpressed. And so were the kids.
I was beyond disappointed.
On the other hand, as a parent, I have had an LTSE (who served both my kids' IEPs) who was so good we spent an hour after each meeting discussing extra-curricular activities that would help my kids. She also provided detailed plans for each teacher on incorporating the IEP goals into the everyday class work. (The school psych in this case was almost invisible). I saw this LTSE at the school most days of the week, and she served two other schools as well.
Middle school was a complete disaster - the LTSE and School Psych both dismissed my kid as "lazy and oppositional" and refused to attend meetings with a resource teacher who was abusing my child (teacher later dismissed for that reason).
When one of my kids was in high school (a hard time to get special ed help), the school psychologist was able to come up with modifications and adaptations that even I had not thought of (and I am a pretty creative person when it comes to my kids). Would not have made it without her.
One's point of view of the usefulness of the position varies with the individuals in that position. One common thread - the LTSE and School Psych who helped so much both had a special needs kid of their own.
I'm in on the kpi project.
The problem in any profession is that quality varies tremendously. I have had horrible doctors and terrific ones, outstanding salespeople and terrible ones and the first realtor we ever used was awful, but the next one hung the moon.
Our experience with school psychologists was the same. The first one was so terrible we filed a complaint with the state. The next one was so awesome, like DeKalb' parent's experience he went above and beyond.
Dekalb Parent, wasn't the LTSE simply doing what the psychologist should have done? Will all the staff in an SST meeting, why aren't some conclusions and resources offered there? Sure the student is discussed, but are ALL the folks who are there really needed? The staff who are there should be the people who are developing the plan with the parents, not some administrative person who has never seen the child. If that is the case, was there really a need for all the staff to assemble in the first place?
My experience with SST is that you need a competent leader and if you don't have that it is a waste of time.
Like so many non-teaching employees, some are competent and some are not. When friends and family drive the process, it is easy to get stuck with an incompetent one and never be able to get rid of him/her. She/he just gets a different assignment when too many complaints come in - that's if they interact with parents. So many of them do not interact with parents, but they impede the processes that the school system needs to function. Many of them are rarely seen and stay tucked away in their offices, given little to do so they won't mess it up. That's one reason we have so many personnel in place. Efficient personnel can take on a larger workload and do it well than many of our efficient personnel. You only have to work with some of these people to realize that if we hired competent personnel and made a real effort to retain them, we could do with much less personnel - including LTSEs.
Buy an AJC this Sunday -- here's the promo:
Atlanta Public Schools: As state and federal authorities investigate cheating allegations cheating in Atlanta schools, we will tell the story of how school officials worked to manage and minimize the findings by our reporters and others looking into the scandal. Our investigative reporters, led by Heather Vogell and Alan Judd, reviewed hundreds of documents, including emails sent to and from school district officials. Heather and Alan have driven our coverage of this extraordinary story for more than a year and have provided us all an example of journalism at its very best.
Property Tax Meltdown: Our first duty in watching out for your tax dollars is to assure that you pay no more than you're supposed to. However, our reporting shows if you own a house, you very well may be paying too much in property taxes. Metro Atlanta's tax appraisers have been unable to keep up with falling market values, so many of us pay inflated taxes based on outdated values. The series starts Sunday, continues next week and ends with a strong finale on the following Sunday.
To be sure, many will argue that local governments need every dime they can get in these tough times to provide the services you demand. But should local politicians be able to avoid the tough choices of finding efficiencies, cutting services or even raising taxes by relying on a system that forces some homeowners to pay higher taxes than they're supposed to? That's exactly the question we will take on in the following Sunday's installment, which focuses on the tension around the decline in tax revenues for local governments and school systems. This is key theme The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will be investigating through 2011.
Here's just a sample of what we found:
Tax appraisals in three of the five biggest metro counties remain too high - suggesting that tax bills are too high as well.
DeKalb County's appraisals are the farthest out of line, with the typical appraisal more than 25 percent above market value.
Tax appraisers in the five counties cut a stunning $17.8 billion in residential appraisals - but still failed to reflect the full loss of value to metro Atlanta homes.
We know all this because a team of reporters spent months analyzing the way counties calculate the home values they use to set our taxes. It's the second time we've done this massive analysis, a report that no other Georgia newsroom has the resources to produce.
I go down to south Dekalb a lot on business. Large tracts there are quickly becoming suburban wastelands. It's a good place for speculative real estate investments. But such investments do not bode well for an area's stability. I have seen similar things in Las Vegas. The big difference here is the profound racial and cultural segregation. The stories clients -- many of whom are well educated -- tell about the schools in south Dekalb and the quality of the administration and teachers are hard to believe. They send their own children to Chamblee, Pace, Lovett, etc. The north must stop underwriting the south. This is wealth redistribution at its worst -- the only real beneficiaries are the corrupt bureaucrats, construction interests, etc. The county government in the south is not any different. When it exists in isolation, black culture is highly dysfunctional. The tax revenues from the north -- which is actually quite diverse and thus much more "American" than the south -- are enabling the dysfunction. Not much different from making drugs available to an addict. Support the Republican push to localize education and other spending. We cannot save these people from themselves.
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