Now the Valleybrook Neighborhoods Weigh In -
Neighbors within the communities located inside I-285 along East Ponce De Leon Avenue through Valley Brook Road, to DeKalb Industrial Way thank the DeKalb County Board of Education for taking steps toward optimizing the use of our limited resources. We support the goals that grew from the public charrettes across the county and the online survey.
Both proposals would redistrict our neighborhoods from the Druid Hills MS/HS feeder pattern to the Freedom MS/Clarkston HS feeder pattern, thereby splitting our elementary school, McLendon ES, between the two.
That in itself is contradictory to DCSS’s stated goal of “minimizing split feeder patterns and maintaining intact neighborhoods”. We agree with that goal and want to preserve the vertical alignment of schools that was put into place seven years ago.
Another DCSS stated goal is to “minimize the distance that non-choice students travel to school”. Again, both proposals are inconsistent with this goal, as current distance and travel time to Druid Hills MS from our neighborhood is between 1.5 to 3 miles and between 3 and 8 minutes respectively. Conversely, distance and travel time from our neighborhoods to Freedom MS are between 6 to 8 miles and between 18 and 25 minutes respectively; more than doubling the distance and/or travel time our students would have to endure.
Finally, under a third DCSS stated goal, “Provide students with equitable access to quality programs”, both proposals drastically decrease equity to our children for at least two reasons:
➢ First, they move our children from their current middle and high schools that are not listed as Needs Improvement to middle and high schools that are both in Needs Improvement Year Five (NI-5) or Greater status.
➢ Second, both proposals would move our children out of schools that offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) program to schools that do not provide IB.
If we are redistricted according to either plan, we will exercise our Public School Choice option as is our right considering both Freedom MS and Clarkston HS are in NI-5 status, potentially defeating the purpose of redistricting this neighborhood.
We do see common themes in all of these responses:
- Keep neighborhoods together
- Keep feeder systems stable - no split feeders
- Don't move from passing schools to failing schools
- Be mindful of travel times and congestion
Those seem like reasonable requests.
I am so happy to hear from them! They have the most valid points of all the groups.
"If we are redistricted according to either plan, we will exercise our Public School Choice option as is our right considering both Freedom MS and Clarkston HS are in NI-5 status, potentially defeating the purpose of redistricting this neighborhood.
But school choice must be given first preference to the students who score the lowest - right? Is that these students?
The other question is - can school choice be given to students who are scoring at the MEETS and EXCEEDs level?
"Although all students from the Title I School Improvement school are eligible, students who are the lowest performing and in the highest poverty have first priority when considering: 1) their first choice of school transfer options; and 2) who receives free transportation first, if such funds are limited."
Just stop wasting money on non-funded schools...I don't care how. I am sick and tired of excuses to waste money on empty seats. Maybe the folk who have their own plans can finance them but not me!
@Anon 11:07 and 11:31
Your comments are missing the point which has to do with the first stated goal of the DCSS 2020 Vision which is about equity. Moving children from schools that are not failing to schools that are failing is not equitable.
And actually, to date, DCSS has not limited choice to anyone as I can tell.
I clearly recall Lewis saying that it was the highest performing students who were taking the choice option.
They do have a valid point.
I wonder if there's data to back up the claim that the highest performing students exercise the AYP transfer option.
I think such data would be very hard to generate.
Perhaps it was a case of telling receiving school parents what they wanted to hear.
anonymous said....Your comments are missing the point which has to do with the first stated goal of the DCSS 2020 Vision which is about equity. Moving children from schools that are not failing to schools that are failing is not equitable
-----> Exactly our neighborhood's point. Our kids are in performing school middle and high schools. Many of us bought houses in this neighborhood to put our kids in those schools. Now we're being told that they will be sent to a school performing at almost 50% below. This is not equitable. We're fine with redistricting but redistrict us to an equitable school.
DCSS 'Vision 2020' program claims to be concerned with the long term need of Dekalbs students, but all I hear is a bunch of people concerned with moving students around to save money.
A TRUE forward vision would be to take those empty seats and fill them with a strong Pre-K program.
Pre-K programs have shown time and again how they improve the long term performance of students across all socio-economic groups.
@ 8:18 am
"A TRUE forward vision would be to take those empty seats and fill them with a strong Pre-K program.
Pre-K programs have shown time and again how they improve the long term performance of students across all socio-economic groups."
Actually, no, I haven't seen studies that show this. Please give us some links to reputable research studies that show the PreK program in Georgia and specifically in DCSS has improved the long term performance of students across all socio-economic groups. We have had PreK (within the DCSS schools - not let the private day care companies handle it unlike all of the other metro Atlanta schools systems) for almost 20 years, yet our scores have declined - mainly in the lower socio-economic areas.
We should let the private daycare centers handle PreK like the other systems do. Each state funded private PreK class in daycare centers have teachers certified in Early Childhood - just like DCSS. the difference is we do not have to spend extra money equalizing PreK teacher salaries, benefits or facilities space. It's hard to believe that DCSS is one of the few remaining systems to offer PreK within the school setting.
I meant to say:
If we let the daycare centers handle the PreK, the difference is we will not have to spend the extra money equalizing PreK teacher salaries, benefits or facilities space.
Dekalb Citizen,the Vision 2020 is a long range program however the current recommendations are the first phase. It's been common knowledge that there are too many small, underuitilized schools for several years. Phase 2 of the plan should factor in Phase 1 while providing a more comprehensive plan.
You will all recall that the new principal of Clarkston (the school in year 5 of Needs Improvement - that the system could have chosen to shut down as an option) - is the daughter of a high-ranking DCSS administrator. Maybe the school system is trying to beef up the high performing students there to help her single-handedly take the school out of Needs Improvement.
Also - Pre K and Kindergarteners do not count toward FTE credit - so adding Pre-K won't help the student count in the buildings.
UPDATE: Chamblee has a position statement to add as well:
KEEP THE MAGNET PROGRAM AT CHAMBLEE CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL (CCHS)
January 18, 2011
OBJECTIVE: Retain the role outlined in our charter as the host of the high‐achiever magnet program.
By co‐locating a magnet program at a high school with another student population, the DeKalb school
system has made magnet resources available to a much broader group of students. All of the students
at CCHS benefit from access to AP classes, the certified faculty, and an environment that celebrates
victories by the math team with as much fervor as victories by the basketball team. The magnet
program is integrated into the overall program, not a segregated school within a school.
Magnet students who attend a combined campus also benefit by gaining access to many additional
extracurricular activities that could not be afforded to a small student population. Through this
structure, magnet students gain access to many character building and scholarship producing activities.
CCHS continues to be a high performing school, achieving national ranking. Chamblee Charter High
School has achieved this ranking with a population that is diverse academically, socio‐economically,
culturally, and racially. Approximately 1/3 of these students are in the magnet program.
The changes that are proposed under the “centralized” proposal represent a profound change to the student population at CCHS. This is not simply an annexation of additional neighborhoods, but a
removal of 1/3 of the student body, the potential relocation of a large number of teachers, and a
realignment of the charter government. This creates an incredible disruption for 1500 students and
The DeKalb County school system has many pressing issues to solve. The main purpose described for
the redistricting consultation project is to address the single issue of excess empty seats. It is our strong feeling that simultaneously creating turmoil in successful programs like CCHS is counter‐productive.
The proposal to make such drastic academic changes in a short timeframe will have a devastating impact
on many students. Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors who are in language, band, sports, and other
multi‐year programs will be left without continuity plans.
The magnet program will benefit from the upcoming replacement of the CCHS facility. Planning for the
new facility can include addressing the particular needs of a high‐achiever magnet program. Avondale
scored poorly on the facility audit and will require investment.
One of the most critical measures of a high school is the reputation that it holds with college recruiters.
This reputation is carefully built over time. The results are not solely due to test scores, but also from the results that colleges see from the school’s students. The Chamblee High School faculty and greater community have worked for two decades to bolster this reputation. The success of CCHS reflects
positively on the entire county school system.
Parents in DeKalb County are looking for additional high‐achievement programs, not fewer. This was
highlighted in the 2007 Blue Ribbon design team. DeKalb County currently has a program that attracts
high‐achieving students and keeps them in the DeKalb school system. It would be a county‐wide “braindrain” to lose high performing students to private schools and neighboring systems while a new
program is building its reputation.
Continuing with CCHS -
The DeKalb school system should not pursue the “centralized” re‐districting option as currently
The DeKalb school system should retain the structure of a magnet program within a larger school
structure and retain this program where it has continued to be successful.
Independent from the redistricting effort aimed at decreasing empty seats, any changes to the magnet
program should be part of the long term 2020 plan. Thorough implementation and continuity plans
must be contained within any proposal for magnet realignment.
Any changes to the current magnet program should be implemented with a multi‐year timeframe to
allow students adequate transition in their sports, scholarships, academics, language, graduation timing, etc.
Here's a link to a study made by Georgia State University on Georgia's Pre-K programs. It's a very thorough look at Pre-K and clearly demonstrates how not only does Pre-K improve education via test scores, it also improves children's attitudes toward school.
My understanding is the current Pre-K system, while open to all Dekalb students, is limited in its size (number of seats) and is chosen via lottery.
Here's the entire URL:
"The analysis provides an estimate of the increased benefit of attending Georgia Pre-K for children in each of these four categories over and above the benefits received by other children attending Head Start or private preschool.
In all three categories children benefited by attending the Georgia Pre-K program more than the overall positive effects registered cumulatively by all of Georgia’s preschoolers in this study. Children from families that received TANF were able to identify more letters and words at the end of first grade if they attended the Georgia Pre-K program.
Children from families classified as working poor posted similar benefits. Moreover, the program appeared to help children from lower income families close the gap between themselves and more advantaged peers in letter and word identification (Table 5.1)."
from page 87 of above study
@ DeKalb Citizen
"It's a very thorough look at Pre-K and clearly demonstrates how not only does Pre-K improve education via test scores, it also improves children's attitudes toward school."
I'm well aware of the Georgia State study, and have read it. The flaws I see are:
1. It was not based on the NCLB measurements school systems are dealing with.
2. It does not cover what happens to students in the "middle grade years". This is when so many students, particularly Economically Disadvantaged students began to see a precipitous decline in achievement. (study cover ages 4 - 8 which are the primary grade years. Primary students are learning to read, while by 4th grade students are expected to be reading for content).
3. Even the study confirmed that private PreK showed virtually the same results as PreK in the schools (much more expensive for DCSS. The state assumes 100% of the cost of PreK in a private setting with the same rules of certificated personnel governing them). See quote from study:
"While comparisons with other programs are informative, the differences between
children in different groups cannot be construed as an estimate of the effects of Georgia
Pre-K. To the extent that parents made good choices when selecting their children’s
preschools, those choices complicate the comparison of differences across programs. It is
possible to say that the growth of skills for children attending Pre-K was parallel to the
growth of children in privately funded preschools or in the federally funded Head Start
program, when differences between the groups are controlled statistically. By the end of
first grade, children who did not attend preschool had skills similar to those of Georgia’s
preschoolers. The children who did not participate in preschool had some advantages in
home resources, and these children’s mothers may have been less likely to work outside
4. Here are the last two paragraphs from the study. It does not confirm success. It says PreK "may..promote an increase in..achievement":
"Finally, we noted a downturn in children’s language skills during their first grade year.
In large part this appears to be associated with fewer children attaining the higher-order
skills measured by standardized assessments. It is important to eliminate redundancies in
instruction during the early elementary years and to focus on the development of higher order skills. Coordination of the early elementary learning objectives and instructional methods by the Department of Early Care and Learning, the Department of Education, Georgia’s school systems, and Georgia Pre-K providers may prevent the first grade downturn in the future and promote an increase in the achievement of Georgia’s students"
As a former College Admissions Officer...
High School Reputation is a joke really. The look @ You...not the school. They know that the school is going to have some nuts in it.
These principles are not too different from what I proposed the other day:
1. Keep neighborhoods together. [I argued:] Schools should first be filled by students from the district. School population should be calculated solely on students who reside in the district. NCLB transfers, teacher's children, and certainly "admin transfers" should not count against a school's population/crowding nor should any of those take priority over the children who reside in the district: i.e., not one student should be redistricted while even one seat is taken up by a student who does not reside in the district.
2. Be mindful of travel times and congestion. [I argued:] Transportation costs to DCSS (sorry, but not to parents who drive their kids) must be part of the equation. If this is all about saving money it makes no sense to exclude Peter when you save money on Paul. We also need to be mindful of how much we add, or not, to the regional air pollution burden, which can be roughly calculated in terms of additional miles traveled by both public (school bus) and personal transport.
3. Don't move from passing schools to failing schools. [I argued:] As a basic principle, all schools must have access to the same resources, including magnets and, dare I say it, charters. All our kids deserve the same opportunity. I am talking about the basics--equivalent hours/staff for foreign language, equivalent attention to facilities maintenance, etc. Put another way, we need to think in terms of a system that is either passing or failing, not districts balkanized by race, income, and, to be honest, real estate agents.
4. Keep feeder systems stable - no split feeders Okay, I didn’t have that one, but it makes perfect sense.
5. And a new one—when a school building is closed indefinitely DCSS should follow both the spirit and the letter of the law and make it available at reasonable terms, in both finance and length of lease, to county charter schools, not let it sit and rot, as they have done with Forrest Hills.
I must disagree about one point. Transportation costs to parents should be a factor as well.
Some schools have activity buses but not all. DHHS, for example, does not have an activity bus.
If my child were to stay for after school activities I will be driving from the Lakeside area in rush hour to pick him up at DHHS. THis can be anywhere from 35 minutes to 1 hour - each way.
That is not an acceptable use of my time but especially not my child's - who will be missing out on study time.
So yes - transportion costs to the parents do matter. Unless DCSS does not support extra-curricular activities - which it does.
Add point #6: Do not gerrymander districts to create Title 1 schools. The redistricting plan should create less inequity among schools, not more.
I wholeheartedly agree with Al's comments on point 3: "All our kids deserve the same opportunity. I am talking about the basics... Put another way, we need to think in terms of a system that is either passing or failing, not districts balkanized by race, income, and, to be honest, real estate agents."
Point taken 2:01. I was referring to the basic to and from transportation, which DCSS does provide (more or less, depending on whether your kids are in a magnet or charter or not) in the form of buses. Extracurricular activities are a separate matter.
Given the geographical layout of our school buildings, is it really possible to have people travelling 1.5 miles or less to school AND have no split feeders? It just doesn't seem possible.
Valleybrook community needs to start to actively lobby the governor for help in taking over said Needs Improvement stage 5 school so that it becomes unavailable for transfers and redistricting... that is ar remedy I believe in NCLB that has never been exercised .... wonder why?
@ anonymous 7:28
"Valleybrook community needs to start to actively lobby the governor for help in taking over said Needs Improvement stage 5 school so that it becomes unavailable for transfers and redistricting... that is ar remedy I believe in NCLB that has never been exercised .... wonder why? "
Because the state doesn't really want to take over a school or a school system. They have no idea how to turn student achievement around so they keep delaying and delaying. The bill is finally coming due for NCLB so what is Deal doing - trying to give more control to local systems.
Sort of like Dr. Beasley taking credit for all state tests success in the fall 2010. He claimed that his 7-step lesson plans were the key(s) to success. Then , he used every statistics to validate his assertion.
Where do they make these guys?
Anon at 2:01: Activity buses have been eliminated at all schools.
The consultants presented redistricting options A and B. The input from the various work sessions were to be used to come up with an option C.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch house, there probably is an option D that already has been approved.
SCORE Meeting tomorrow at Oak Grove at 7:00 PM.
Supercluster Optimized Redistricting (SCORE)
PUBLIC MEETING run by the neighborhoods in conjunction with school leaders.
This brings a unified Lakeside solution map (elementary school lines and creative solutions within the cluster for overcrowding).
SCORE-- just a thought to remember ("note to file") -- if some of Pleasantdale shifts to Livesy -- you remove some "overcrowding" Pleasantdale, HMS and LHS and also build up Livesy closer to the "magical" 450 mark...
Also -- there is concern that Hendeson Mill has too many apartments now...
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