The link on the DCSS Website for all to see. Click here to download all of the presentation files from last night's meeting. They are listed under the heading "Options (3 Jan 2011)".
The AJC has a report on the meeting titled, 14 DeKalb schools on proposed closure list.
On Monday night, the school board unveiled a comprehensive redistricting proposal that calls for 12 elementary schools to close: Livsey, Medlock, Rock Chapel, Bob Mathis, Atherton, Glen Haven, Gresham Park, Sky Haven, Toney, Peachcrest, Wadsworth and Kittredge. The proposal also calls for Avondale Middle and Avondale High to be closed and used to house magnet programs.
Good luck and happy hunting.
UPDATE: For those of you having trouble downloading the very large map files, one of our very helpful and technical bloggers has graciously downloaded them, downsized them, and repackaged them as a bundle. Unfortunately, since this blog is powered by Blogger and not WordPress, I can't store the file for you to download. But if you would like it, send me an email and I'll send it to you as an attachment. -Cere
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So let me get this straight. Wage earners who pay income taxes and send their children to Non-Title 1 schools (Those that are performing well enough to make AYP) get zero Federal Title 1 funds. Wage earners who may or may not pay ANY income taxes and send their children to Title 1 schools receive Millions of taxpayer dollars by way of services and equipment. Where is the equity in this? Simply stated, Title 1 schools receive more equipment and services......a reward if you will, for NOT making AYP. Does this sound back a**wards to anyone else? It's time for some changes to the way we fund education. Clearly throwing money at it has proven NOT to be effective or an efficient use of resources.
Under both options ("Centralized" and "Decentralized") Kittredge Magnet School is closed.
So, the question is what happens to the Nancy Creek campus.
Under the "Centralized Option" Nancy Creek would remain open as a neighborhood elementary school
Under the "Decentralized Option" Nancy Creek would NOT remain open at all.
But, either way, under either option, the magnet school known as Kittredge is closing and will not be at Nancy Creek next year.
Amen Anon 11:06!
I could never figure out why non-performing schools were always given the perks while the schools that did what they were expected by the Federal Government guidelines were always left out of funding.
Just because the taxpayers, who are involved with the education of their children through volunteering, PTA, tutoring, mentoring and financial gifts, are always chastised and punished by the Feds and ignored doesn't mean they deserve a part of the huge pie. IT'S NOT EQUITABLE!
Why is it the folks that are responsible, get taxed and are called names by politicos are the ones that have to give more to get the proper equipment into their neighborhood schools.
2 years ago our PTA bought the majority of Promethean Boards and actually pay to have them re-bulbed and maintained. This year they have bought more technology and are looking at ways of securing them from the DCSS creeper.....
Don't trust the government for anything, especially in DeKalb.
To Farewell Kittridge-
That isn't how I read it at all. In the centralized option, the magnet moves to Avondale, so you are correct. In the decentralized option, it stays the area magnet and the district lines are redrawn, but only for the regular elem in the cluster. Kittridge isn't affected by the redistricting. Maybe I'm the wrong one, but that is how I'm reading it. Still wondering how they are going to be able to justify all the apts going into Dun Elem. Back to the same problem as before.
It looks to me like the Nancy Creek building will be repurposed to a neighborhood school in the centralized option, but will continue to house the Kittredge magnet program in the decentralized option.
In looking again, they aren't closing Kittridge. They redistricted in the centralized and looks like it will change to a regular elem. school.
According to this list Kittredge will be closed under the centralized plan:
Under the decentralized plan, according to this document, the building would be repurposed as a neighborhood elementary.
no--look at the map. in the centralized option it becomes a neighborhood school. the list says it will be closed as a magnet. They have kids going there according to the map.
PolitiMom - I don't see DCSS moving 180 Montgomery elementary students into the Magnet Program. As a Montgomery parent I would like it. But that is not in their plans at all. If we're lucky, it will be kept open as a neighborhood school. And if we're super lucky we'll get to use all those Promethian Boards the magnet school parents and PTA bought and installed. ;-)
"Wage earners who may or may not pay ANY income taxes and send their children to Title 1 schools receive Millions of taxpayer dollars by way of services and equipment"
Almost ALL of the Title 1 dollars (federal dollars were $128,000 to DCSS last year or 14% of the budget) that should go to those schools are spent on non-teaching employees and expensive learning programs that HAVE NOT raised student achievement. DCSS non-teaching employees make more than teachers and do not want to tackle the difficult job of teaching students who are lower achievers.
Audria Berry is the Executive Director of the Office of School Improvement and made recommendations on the expenditures of $128,000,000 taxpayer federal dollars last year. She has built up a vast power center of very highly paid non-teaching employees (virtually ALL DO NOT teach students). Dr. Lewis was a real supporter of Berry as they centralized the decision making for hundreds of millions of federal dollars in Berry's office. Since Dr. Berry has been over the Office of School Improvement these last 5 years (before that Lewis made her head of Title 1), less Title 1 schools than ever have made AYP. She needs to be replaced with someone who can move our schools out of the Needs Improvement mode, but a considerable amount of the millions that she dispenses goes for many highly paid employees, many of them friends and family - some of them BOE members relatives.
Decisions on Title 1 dollars should be made by the administrators and teachers in the schools that earn those dollars. Title 1 math and reading teacher teaching small groups of struggling students is the only way we will see improvement. Title 1 dollars are for our neediest children.
I don't feel sorry for you as much as I feel sorry for the students in Title 1 schools. If you ever work in those schools, you'll realize what the teachers are up against. It is a struggle every day, and I've found most of those teachers are smart and dedicated to their children. They have 30+ to a class and many students are grade levels behind in reading and math. supplies are scant, and teachers use their own money to buy more. They come in early and stay late. They are open to ideas on better teaching methods. But they receive little help from the very people who are being paid large salaries to help them.
Until we change the upper management of the Central office and put money back into the classrooms (grade level and content area) and Title 1 teachers who are highly qualified to teach one-on-one and/or small groups of students, DCSS will continue to spiral down in the south end of the county where most of the Title1 schools reside. The northern end will survive because we're in the Emory/CDC corridor, close to Decatur, Buckhead, and downtown, and have a thriving business and fine dining community in the Dunwoody/Perimeter Mall area. However that area will become eroded around the edges as people who move to DeKalb will want to be assured more and more that they are "insulated" - very similar to Atlanta City. More and more discussion will center around what community will retain its property values.
Meanwhile south DeKalb which had many vibrant communities not so long ago is caught in a downward spiral, no thanks to the economy and Wall Street shenanigans with the subprime mortgages, but also due to the siphoning off of money by the school system from the classrooms and into the pockets of admin and support personnel and non-teaching schoolhouse "support".
Go to this article and see what the state figures say. Go to the source of the figures. Perhaps you can shed even more light on the subject of where your tax dollars are going and give us your opinion:
I actually think we shouldn't bother even looking at the centeralized option. That Chamblee HS public meeting is going to be owned by parents fighting to keep the magnets at Chamblee and Kittridge. They have a very loud voice. I get they want to create more equity, but I think making MORE magnets in other parts of the county would make parents feel there was more equity than centralizing. Just my opinion.
Montgomery Parent - the way I'm seeing the map, in the centralized option, those 182 Montgomery kids would be redistricted to attend a new neighborhood school in the building which currently houses the Kittredge Magnet program. The magnet program itself would move to Avondale MS. In the decentralized option, everything about Kittredge looks like it will pretty much stay the same. What I'm wondering about is what they'll do with the Avondale buildings in the decentralized option...since it seems to me that they'll be empty?
Thank you, Anon 11:52. David Brooks of the NY Times wrote a great editorial today that can apply to this situation:
"The best way to measure government is not by volume, but by what you might call the Achievement Test. Does a given policy arouse energy, foster skills, spur social mobility and help people transform their lives? Over the years, America has benefited from policies that passed this test, like the Homestead Act and the G.I. Bill. Occasionally, the U.S. government has initiated programs that failed it. The welfare policies of the 1960s gave people money without asking for work and personal responsibility in return, and these had to be replaced. The welfare reforms of the 1990s involved big and intrusive government, but they did the job because they were in line with American values, linking effort to reward."
I want to see Title I continue, but there MUST be a return on investment and the best way is to put PEOPLE IN THE BUILDING who will only be there to teach and tutor the kids.
Title I schools need more money. There is an interesting story at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/martha-infante/failing-public-school-education-reform_b_803368.html? by the teacher of the year in California. Her research in her state showed that not one school in a rich neighborhood was failing let alone low performing. The same is true for DeKalb County. Go to http://www.greatschools.org/ and look at the school ratings in the affluent communities. Kittergidge stays open in decentralized and moves in centralized.
Yeah consultants! Finally a rational plan to bite the bullet and get the schools balanced and right. As TS Eliot wrote between the dream and the action falls the shadow. Now politics comes in. Not in my neighborhood. Does any body have the courage to do what is right for the whole system? You all may compalin about the board and the administration but if this fails then we have met the enemy and it is us (Pogo). If we can get the school system through this property values will go up accross the county. Or maybe my house value is more important than our students' future and our country's prosperity?
Anon 11:06 You have correctly described the DCSS system. You now have won your official certificate as a right wing wacko, racist, homophobe, politically incorrect, uncaring, unsharing DeKalb County taxpayer. The certificate will be awarded by ??. Maybe the good Bishop?
Anon 12:09 I do NOT want my house value to go up. It would only mean more taxes being paid to the incompetent job creating bodies of DCSS and DK County government. I am a bit tired of wealth redistribution on a local level.
The AJC article just before Christmas found that North DeKalb was subsidizing South DeKalb. North DeKalb homes are still assessed at their peak 2006-07 market values. Will anyone buy your home at the currently appraised value?
The maps and the list referenced above conflict with each other and do not appear to be consistent.
Kittredge is listed as one of 14 schools (potentially) to be closed by DCSS.
Kittredge IS NOT not on the decentralized map. I take that to mean Kittredge will NOT be open to any students under the decentralized option.
Kittredge IS on the centralized map and indicates 180 Montgomery students will be "redistricted" there.
The "List of Potentially Closed Schools" clearly states in the Centralized (first) Column that Kittredge will be closed as a magnet.
In the Decentralized (second) Column it states "Centralized only (neighborhood school)."
I find this to be confusing. But, then again, I attended public schools. . . .
Title 1 money has nothing to do with making AYP. Title 1 is a federal program that allocates funding to schools in poor neighborhoods with the intention of leveling the playing field. DeKalb gets over $30 million a year in Title 1 funds from the federal government. The DCSS administration chooses to spend most of the money on more administrators, equipment and 'programs'. We at the blog would rather they spend it on warm-bodied caring teachers to supplement the classroom teacher by taking small groups and working on math and reading skills to ensure a high level of basic skills in the early grades. There is nothing in the world that can replace a caring, attentive teacher.
Second - Kittredge is not closing in any scenario. The proposal that saves us the most money AND garners the most money back from the state is the Centralized plan. This plan moves ALL magnets to a central location (Kittredge, Wadsworth to Avondale MS and Chamblee, SW DeKalb to Avondale High) DSA stays at Avondale High.
In the "De-centralized" plan - we do not "centralize" the magnets. We keep magnets in the north AND magnets in the south - and jostle everyone else around them.
Either plan focuses around the magnet schools. Sad, IMO. So basically the big decision is - do we consolidate magnets or not?
I will not allow the magnent programs at Chamblee to be moved to Avondale! No way! No how!
Just curious - what's your reason for not wanting to consolidate the magnets and move Chamblee in with SW DeKalb magnet all together at Avondale?
Ah, and so it begins . . .
This is AJC reporter Megan Matteucci's take on it -
Cere - is correct (again). If you look at the presentation (slide 9) under "centralized" Kittredge (and ALL Magnet programs) move to Avondale and the building is repurposed to a neighborhood school. Under "de-centalized" no magnets change.
Personally, I think the BoE has already decided to go with the "centalized" model on February 28th. It closes the most schools and saves the most money.
"Title 1 money has nothing to do with making AYP."
I respectfully disagree. Title 1 has EVERYTHING to do with making AYP. Schools systems with high income taxpayers/parents DO NOT have a problem with their schools making AYP (witness Forsyth County).
It is schools with low income taxpayers/parents who have the problems making AYP which stands for Adequate Yearly Progress. That is why scores are disaggregated - so that low income, students with disabilities, ESOL, and minority groups' achievement can be aired for public viewing and educational systems can be prodded to improve them. The result is not sentiment - just statistics.
To improve those statistical odds, Title 1 funds are given by the federal government to "even the playing field" - i.e. make up for the obvious advantages wealth plays in the educational attainment of children. However, Title 1 funds must be used in an efficacious manner to affect those disaggregated groups that do not make AYP. That is to say, they must be used for teachers and programs that produce the results of higher achievement in reading and math for identified groups that consistently fail to show academic progress.
More and more of the DCSS budget is dependent on Title 1 and other federal funding stimulus dollars although Title 1 alone in DCSS has almost doubled in the last 5 years - pretty startling figures - $29,000,000 to over $50,000,000. This means spending Title 1 funds to improve the achievement of our lowest achievers in the Title 1 schools has become more critical.
Spending Title 1 dollars wisely by targeting the low achievers in the Title 1 schools and improving their reading and math levels WILL ensure more of our schools make AYP.
Moving the magnet out of Chamblee High/Middle to Avondale? Next BOE meeting should be fun. . . .
I'm a dunwoody parent. I drive my children to Kittredge every day. Now, they want me to drive them all the way to Avondale? That's not fair! I'm going to call my board member about this!
How can parents/taxpayers be assure that redundant personnel (custodians, principals, assistant principals, Prevention/Intervention specialists, gifted teachers, special ed teachers, Instructional Coaches, counselors, cafeteria workers, ESOL teachers, Security personnel, secretaries, etc.) will not be quietly absorbed back into the vast DCSS machine - thus losing tens of millions of dollars in savings that could be used to lower our teacher-pupil ratio in the regular education classroom?
Can these personnel who are certified be offered jobs in the regular education classroom teaching our children math, science, reading and social studies? If there is little attrition in their job positions, will the personnel who are not certified as teachers be cut so we can hire more teachers to teach math, science social studies and reading?
Although I feel sorry for these redundant personnel, I feel much sorrier for our children who need teachers in the basic subjects more than any other personnel. They only get one chance at a decent education, something many of them are not getting with our current DCSS jobs program.
Transportation for school and afterschool activities will make continued attendance in the magnet program a logistics nightmare for our child if the program moves to Avondale. The child is very bright and there was noticeable change in his behavior and interest in school when he first started the magnet program years ago at Kittredge so his home school is not an option. I am sure there are parents in other parts of the county that will face the same problems if the magnet program is relocated to Avondale.
@ Anonymous 12:12
"You now have won your official certificate as a right wing wacko, racist, homophobe, politically incorrect, uncaring, unsharing DeKalb County taxpayer. "
I think you didn't understand my post so here it is in simple language:
1. South DeKalb, a once vibrant area, has been wrecked economically by Wall Street and Title 1 and other school funds not being spent efficiently - i.e. we have drastically cut teachers to instruct students, and added non-teachers that do not instruct students.
2. North DeKalb has not and will not escape the fallout so they need to realize everyone is in this together.
3. South DeKalb classrooms (meaning the regular education teacher and his/her students) have a great deal of talent and brains that are not being supported by the school administration.
4. The current administration has caused many of these problems so they need to be replaced.
Here is something not surprising from the AJC story:
Board member Sarah Copelin-Wood, who complained of racism last year, said the consultants’ data was inaccurate and some south DeKalb schools are overcrowded.
“We want our children to learn. They can’t do that when they are packed in like sardines,” she said. “We want the kids to enjoy and have the same space that any other kid in this school system would have.”
Uh huh. I'm sure SCW has lots of alternative data that shows exactly what the attendance patterns are at all of the south DeKalb schools, which she carefully compared to the data the consultants used for their report, which backs up her charges against the consultants. I look forward to her detailing exactly where the consultants are wrong.
Is it February 28th, yet?
You know the BoE has already made up its mind. They're going to close 14 schools, redraw some boundaries and centralize the magnet programs in Avondale. It's a done deal.
"Will anyone buy your home at the currently appraised value?"
Let me see, my choice is my pocketbook or the future of our kids and country?
Actually they will but I'm not selling.
I see your Title 1 point Anon. I was just referencing the fact that Title 1 dollars are doled out only according to need - not test scores. Title 1 has been around for a lot longer than AYP. Many poor rural areas benefit greatly from Title 1.
That said, apparently there are several ways to determine a student's eligibility. DCSS uses the Free & Reduced Lunch numbers. Students who qualify count as Title 1 students, however schools are only Title 1 if a certain percentage of total students qualify. Sadly, the students who transfer out of a Title 1 into a non-Title-1 (due to AYP choice) do not get to take their entitlement with them to the non-Title 1 school. I wonder if this money then goes to central? I have no idea...
Anyway - Lewis (IMO) worked very hard to beef up the percentages so that we could have more Title 1 schools - and bring in more Title 1 money. This money has filled the gap we have lost from the state, however, it comes with a lot of restrictions. Sadly, Lewis used it to build up an enormous administration instead of working hard inside schoolhouses directly with students. I so agree with you Anon - this money should focus on student achievement directly.
I dunno - The magnet parents have always been a force to contend with. They will not go down quietly and clearly the BOE members are very attentive to their complaining. As evidenced by Dr Walker's massive butt kissing last night. And Nancy seemed to be in there with him?
“We want our children to learn. They can’t do that when they are packed in like sardines,”"
Well, SCW doesn't have to worry about being packed into any room like a sardine since the BOE spent $30,000,000 on a new facility for a handful of administrators and themselves.
I wrote her and said I thought the BOE and the DCSS administration should not be getting a new facility over schools that children attend every day. Of course, I never heard back from her.
"...clearly the BOE members are very attentive to their complaining. As evidenced by Dr Walker's massive butt kissing last night."
Walker did not win by a huge majority. I'd say a lot of his votes came from Fernbank parents after he promised to keep their attendance lines the same.
He's probably pledged to keep the very inefficient and ineffective $7,000,000 Fernbank Science Center from being touched. Has anyone seen our science scores? How we can continue to spend this kind of money on FSC is beyond me. Look at these figures. They've changed only slightly:
"How can parents/taxpayers be assure that redundant personnel (custodians, principals, assistant principals, Prevention/Intervention specialists, gifted teachers, special ed teachers, Instructional Coaches, counselors, cafeteria workers, ESOL teachers, Security personnel, secretaries, etc.) will not be quietly absorbed back into the vast DCSS machine?"
The answer is that some will go back into the system where needed- consolidated schools will have more students and need more teachers and some staff. They will also get more points from the state allowing art, music, and other opportunities that some of our students do not get now. As for the principals and vice principals, there is usually enough attrition to take care of at least half of them. In some cases larger schools chose to spend points for an extra admininstrator (local control). If my school has 317 students and two cafeteria workers when I get 300 more students I might need antoehr cafeteria workere or two. Don't sweat the samll stuff. However, schools are funded based on enrollment so unless the board has extra money they do not provide more than the formula funding. Remember some of our schools, the smallest ones, do not get full state funding now. So there will also be some more money. And there is always the cases of the richer communities like Fernbank and Lakeside that contribute to pay for extra staff.
"How we can continue to spend this kind of money on FSC is beyond me. Look at these figures. They've changed only slightly"
Without Fernbank our scores would be in the toilet.
I dunno - The magnet parents have always been a force to contend with. They will not go down quietly and clearly the BOE members are very attentive to their complaining.
Hey it's a democracy-if we all agreed there would be no problem. We'll thrash this out and there will be some compromise. If it's a bad one then we will have deserved it. Unfortunately the kids won't have deserved it.
To "Farewell Kittredge" -
Under the centralized option, the program moves to Avondale MS and the Nancy Creek building is used to house area students. Under the decentralized option, there is no change at all to Kittredge. Children in the Kittredge program remain housed at the Nancy Creek building.
I don not think the auxiliary staff and non-grade level staff is small stuff. They make more than classroom teachers - mainly because they have either higher positions and also because they have lower attrition rates (just not as stressful) and you would be surprised at their sheer numbers. We need to be as stingy on this group as possible and send many of the certified personnel back into the regular ed classroom to teach math, reading, science and social studies. LOL - I dare say they are busy positioning themselves with the various coordinators and director in the Central Office to try to ensure they don't cross the threshold of the regular ed classroom - especiall those ubiquitous Instructional Coaches ($9,000,000 for 90 of them at $100,000 each - can't say I blame them).
I don't understand those of you ranting about moving KMS. Honestly, maybe you should look inside yourselves and realize that this is the reality face by parents in other areas of the county. The central parents have to drive a distance no matter which magnet they want to get into...that is why we turned down our spot...we have another child who would be unable to participate in anything at his local school if the second went there....why? Because we are working parents who have jobs that would no allow us to drive the distance to KMS or WMS and still be able to handle the needs of our younger child. Welcome to our world.
You are in such an uproar because KMS will be closed. The Chamblee parents are in an uproar because the magnet will be re-located. Welcome to our world. If we want to have access to these programs, for years we have had to travel and your view is - well that's the way it is.
I truly hope the board will make the right decision, the decision to centralize, for righting the budget and reducing empty seats. We paid unbiased consultants who came up with this result.
I believe, however, that you parents who currently have easy access to these programs in the north and who give pittance comments to caring about the students in the other areas of the county (notice how no one ever cares about the students in the central area) - will have your way. The board will cave and the students in local schools in every other "region" in the county will continue to have to fight tooth and nail to have any gifted resources funneled to students in their local schools.
If Gene Walker promised Fernbank parents he wouldn't change their attendance lines he hasn't kept his word. BOTH PLANS rip the Fernbank attendance zone in half. Many of the most active Fernbank families will be redistricted OUT of Fernbank next year.
I'm a DSA parent and would--respectively, yet directly tell the other magnet parents who are whining about driving to the CENTRAL part of the county---stop your whining! And I mean it.
DSA parents, since bus transportation stopped, have been working out car pools, driving kids, etc. Our enrollment didn't go down. Really, you all deserve the spoiled brat moniker with which is thrown at all magnet families.
There are a LOT of car pools that come to Avondale from all over the county. We try to pair up families and work together on this.
So stop with the "I'm going to hold my breath until I get my way" business.
If you support centralization, it is critical that you attend the public meetings in the next few weeks and write your board members.
I'm the 2:33 poster. I'd like to say that for me centralization is a distant 2nd option (keeping things the way they are a 3rd). What needs to happen is that academic quality needs to improve in ALL schools. Gifted programs and the resources at the magnets (foreign language, music) should be offered to EVERY student in the district, not just those lucky enough for a name draw (again, these are NOT programs for gifted students - remember that 75% requirement). The average kid of working parents at all schools should be having needs met.
Foreign languages should be offered to EVERY student in the district in elementary school. We know that it is at these ages that language accessibility is greatest, and the economy is now global so this is a necessity in today's world. Are we the only industrialized country without this requirement? Music should also be required at ALL elementary schools; it is proven that participation in music increases math capabilities among young children and prepares them for more advanced studies.
If we would refuse to continue the two-tier system and put these magnet kids back in their home schools AND increase the offerings that they students fled the local schools to receive at the magnets, then perhaps more schools would be making AYP and more students would be learning.
Let's be honest, no one is interested in doing this.
The Chamblee / Dunwoody parents have invested time money and energy in building our magnet programs. Now the Board is going to take them from us?
For years we worked to get Kittredge moved from a central location to a northern campus. We succeeded. And now -- less than three years later -- the Board is going to move it further away than its original central location on North Druid Hills Road?
Just a few weeks ago DCSS BoE members hosted a meeting at Kittredge. They said Kittredge was safe. They said Kittredge would not be effected.
Now they want to move Kittredge and the magnet programs at CMS and CCHS to Avondale???
I think that although this very much long overdue redistricting plan will be very painful, in the long run it will be the best thing for the system. We have to move beyond the racially biased, small, expensive programs we currently have that are looting resources from those who are not as vocal to a balanced, equitable system full of quality schools for everyone. I look forward to the day when no one feels compelled to "escape" their neighborhood school. Schools should be the anchors of our communities, not somewhere we fight and scrap to get a seat for our child, get up at the crack of dawn and drive across county to and then turn our back on our neighborhood school. Yes, we can still offer magnets for those who truly seek that different type of environment, but we should look forward to reducing the need for magnets as we balance and improve our neighborhood schools in order to act as good stewards of the public school funding and the mission to provide at least a decent education to each child in DeKalb.
Anon. 2:33.. Please, just because you have not had a magnet to access in the central area, everyone else must suffer.. Come on....
How about adding a magnet in the central area? Why not have Avondale be a magnet/resident school like Chamblee? Those folks in the north do not want to deprive another area of a magnet, we just don't understand why DCSS would mess with success.
Another question for DCSS, Arabia High was not discussed much last night. How many seats do they have available? Is this a private school inside DCSS? I wonder since you never hear about Arabia being messed with.
Redovian had no business promising that to Kittredge parents. There is no way he had the authority or influence to make that commitment. What I'd like to see is making magnets available in MORE schools, not less. Why can't they make a magnet similar to Kittridge and Chamblee at Avondale MS and HS anyway, without moving Kittridge and Chamblee? THIS is what they need to spend Splost IV on--making more magnets!
See though, the thing is, every time you make a "magnet" and peel off students from the neighborhood school, you harm that neighborhood school. Then more people leave, and you create a vortex - a big sucking off of the top students - until you have a school left underfunded and under-achieving. If magnets truly only pulled the top 5% from the county and then the creative types at DSA along with vocational students (we'll call them magnets) then the remaining 95% would certainly improve their home schools. I've seen it. This happened at Shamrock when we were all redistricted there. There was No PTA when we arrived. The school blossomed. Then they sent us all over to Henderson MS - and that school blossomed too.
Have faith. The magnets are not the only option for a high achiever. In fact, I would go so far as to say that what we call magnets, is what truly good school districts offer in every school. News Flash: The magnets aren't "all that"...
@3:08 and 3:05. No, I would likely not go to even a centralized magnet. I believe that gifted resources need to provided to the local schools. I think removing these students from the local schools makes it harder for those schools to succeed and the children who are not around others from all different walks of life lose too much in terms of life skills.
Like Cere, what I would like to see is increased and appropriate resources provided to ALL students (not just low performing students) in their local schools. GIVE US A REASON TO STAY!
Why are you so determined to hold on to the magnet framework? In no way do I want to see a program stripped away from others because I do not have it. This is CLEARLY not something you can say yourself. As the poster at 3:08 indicates, you parents in the north STRIPPED the magnet out of the central zone and NEVER LOOKED BACK because you got yours. Look at the history of the program and internalize the criticism you have leveled at me.
As a magnet parent who drives carpool several days a week between my home in central DeKalb and my childrens schools at Kittredge and Chamblee, I support centralization. It will place the magnet programs much closer to my family residence.
Sorry Dunwoody and Chamblee parents. But I'm supporting centralization 100%.
Hopefully the centralized plan will be enacted and all magnet programs moved to Avondale.
We need to close these schools and terminate the adminstrators, principals, teachers and staff that will no longer be needed.
Hopefully the redundent administrators, principals, teachers and staff are either retirement eligible or can find better jobs in another school district.
Magnets cost significantly more per student than traditional neighborhood schools.
That is an issue.
Here's what we've done to our neighborhood schools by allowing them to dwindle so low in enrollment (from the AJC article)
School officials said they could not out an exact dollar amount on the 11,000 empty seats, but said the district, which has an approximate budget of $1 billion, has lost millions of dollars in state funding. This includes annual state operations funding to pay for expenses like art and music teachers, and capital improvement funds to renovate and build new schools.
Millions. We have lost out on MILLIONS for our children. We have to put a stop to that kind of loss.
I'm a soon-to-be-I-hope-Livsey-Parent. We moved into this house that is way too small for us because this is such a great school. Under one option Livsey closes and under the other my subdivision is cut in half and we go to Midvale. Now, I don't know much about Midvale, but why does my subdivision have to be cut in half? We are a tight group, with block parties and girls nights' out. I'd be very upset with either option. Don't get me wrong, I see that something needs to happen, but I guess i feel like a NIMBY, I don't want it to affect me and my great school.
"Dr. Lewis was a real supporter of Berry as they centralized the decision making for hundreds of millions of federal dollars in Berry's office."
That's an interesting way to put it!
Cere - let's be honest about the "lost" state (and federal) funding. Incompetence, Negligence and Malfeasance by central office administrators has cost our students millions of dollars in potential funding. There's more to it than empty seats.
I'm surprised that so many are surprised about the Central Magnet Move. This was discussed for hours in that "blue ribbon" or whatever you want to call it committee, that met last year to discuss redistricting.
My sons are resident High Achievers at Chamblee Middle, they never won the lottery to get to go to Kittredge. Personally, I'm glad they didn't. The High Acheiver program at CMS is great! However, I also agree with the posters who think we should have magnet type learning at all schools to make it.. get ready for that word.. EQUITABLE!
I'm concerned about the movement of the magnets effecting the High Achiever teachers that my sons enjoy learning from today. If the magnets move to Avondale, how many High Achiever teachers at CMS & CHS will have to move from the current magnets to Avondale?
Can someone explain the whole Arabia situation? I keep reading about how it's been left out but I don't know the background. I'm getting the impression that it is an undercrowded new facility. True? Is it someone's sacred cow? If the choice is decentralization, would it be a good magnet option? Just looking for some insight.
Consider this - Kittredge, Chamblee Middle, Wadsworth and Chapel Hiill will ALL consolidate into Avondale MS. (The Avondale MS students will go to other Middle Schools which already have staff - eliminating the need for the Avondale MS principal and some of the redundant staff.)
Now, we replace that former Avondale MS principal and the formerly redundant staff with the best staff from the selected schools above (or someone new!) But overall, we now have only ONE k-8 principal where we formerly had FOUR > and on and on.
Do that math again for Chamblee HS magnet, SW DeKalb Magnet and DSA. They can all get by with ONE principal and maybe some specialized APs or Counselors. How about sharing language teachers? How about sharing PE teachers? How about sharing AP teachers?
I understand the need to centralize. I do not understand how Avondale is "central". According to google maps, the distance between Avondale HS and MLK HS (the southern-most DCSS high school) is 9.3 miles. That is not so bad. The distance from Avondale to Dunwoody HS (the northernmost high school) is 16.5 miles. This does not seem central.
Let me see if I've got this strait. We've got an incompetent school board, a corrupt central administration, low teacher morale, collapsing academic performance and you guys are fussing about closing schools and moving programs? Really?
Look, I understand the frustration. My neighborhood (and school) gets split under both plans. That sucks. Especially when neither plan addresses the fundamental problems that are destroying our schools.
These resdistricting proposals won't fix our schools. They will, at best, delay their inevitable collapse. At worst, they'll hasten their demise by driving more families out of the system and eroding the tax base (see Detroit and Kansas City).
As long as we're guided by individual self interest our schools are doomed. If we really care about public education we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of what's really wrong and what really needs to be done to fix it.
What about Dekalb Elementary School of the Arts? Why does not get "centralized"? No "equitable access" for that one?
"Now they want to move Kittredge and the magnet programs at CMS and CCHS to Avondale??? "
My daughter went to the old Kittredge, and I didn't think it was centrally located enough for students in South DeKalb. I'm equally delighted Wadsworth will be there. Out of the $2,194,563 spent in personnel costs (salary and benefits) for Wadsworth, only $815,000 of that is spent in salary and benefits for their regular education homeroom teachers - you know - the ones that teach reading, math, social studies and science - the content their students learn. I suspect Kittredge has similar figures only they might be higher since they have so many more students. I'll try to analyze Kittredge as well and post that on this blog. I think the admin and support numbers will be equally eye popping.
If the DCSS administration will eliminate much of the redundancy in employees at these two schools and many of the other magnet programs as well (separate administration, separate counselors, separate Assistant principals, separate bookkeepers, separate custodians, separate secretaries, etc. etc. - you get the picture) then the cost per pupil can begin to equal that of the regular ed schools.
Perhaps these schools can afford in space and money to become a real "choice" for students that qualify - not a stroke of "luck". Since when does a student's need for a special program happen to go away because her name is not drawn? This will NOT happen though if the DCSS administration tries to keep an overstaffed admin and support group employed.
With consolidation, why would DCSS need two coordinators for the Gifted/Magnet program? Currently, we have 2 coordinators for this program making $137,000 and $113,000 in salary and benefits respectively (one of these coordinators is even not certified in gifted) for a combined cost of $250,000:
Ms. Tyson needs to be looking to save taxpayers money, equalize and improve opportunities for regular ed and magnet students, and offer parents of qualified students a real choice for their learning. If she resists the temptation to absorb all of the excess admin and support back into the DCSS jobs machine, this will go a long way into achieving those goals and making our school system more effective for all students.
Anon @ 3:52 THANK YOU!!!
That's the fat that needs to be trimmed via consolidation. There is way too much overhead in the magnent programs. Too much admin, too much principal, etc. Consolidation only works if you get rid of the redundant positions/salaries.
If we can get a slot at the proposed Avondale Magnet High,we will return our daughter back to Dekalb County. Judging from the magnet lottery of the past DCCS will have no problem filling the school. Our daughter currently attends a charter school in norcross.
Ms. Tyson needs to give us figures on how much redundancy in admin and support position salary and benefits will be saved through consolidation. Surely with 1,239 personnel in the Central Office, she can get those figures together fairly easily.
A projected estimate (plus or minus 10%) in admin and support savings would be greatly appreciated. This should be presented to the BOE and should published information for the taxpayers. I can't imagine any CEO wouldn't put the details of where the savings will come from in front of the Board of Directors and stockholders. A careful calculation showing if we actually realized the savings promised should be a part of any plan.
Anon @ 4:07 RIGHT ON !
@ 4:07, and more importantly, what those cost savings will be used for in the future. If we are just going to move these administrators into "created" mgmt positions, why bother, eh?
Go Fernbank!!! Give 'em Hell!!!
Woo - Hoo ! ! !
Agree, if you centralize one you need to centralize all.
DESA needs to move.
Agreed. Centralize EVERYTHING.
And lay off, retire and fire each and every employee no longer necessary.
Whoa! Looks like Fernbank is getting "loaded for bear". I wonder how this will play out?
Fernbank parents once again prove they are ONLY concerned with themselves, and never about the good of the overall system. They know they have Gene Walker on the hook. They are just powerful enough to stop any and all re-districting.
Fact 1: About 70% of your property tax bill goes to the school district.
Fact 2: Homes redistricted from a desirable school to a less desirable one lower property value.
Fact 3: Many empty nesters are unaware of the recent redistricting discussions. When they realize their home values are about to sink further it'll hit the proverbial fan.
The sparks will be liveliest around Fernbank, Lakeside, Livsey, Sagamore, and former Dunwoody feeders becoming Chamblee feeders.
To Fernbank 4:05-
Seriously! Your community is that selfish. Did you read any of the messages before you? Or was this just cut and pasted from an email sent out to your community? This is exactly what is wrong with our county. This is the reason that such poor decisions have been made in the past. Did you see the beginning of the BOE meeting last night commending the board for dealing with bullying? This is bullying at it's worst. If every school puts together their own committees as stated~ how will the BOE ever make a decision? I hope the BOE is strong enough to deal with these people and do the right thing.
"News Flash: The magnets aren't "all that"..."
Well, the magnet kids I have talked to think otherwise. But what do they know; they are just kids in our education system.
Title 1 funds are based on the number of students who are from low income families, many group homes and foster homes. There parents pay taxes as everyone else does. It might not be as much because federal taxes are based on income.
The program should be constantly evaluated as Dr. Beasley is now doing. Certainly these children deserve the same quality of education as other children from more fortunate backgrounds. Is is education of incarceration...which cost more?
I think the BoE is full of cowards. And I think they'll cave in to Fernbank. Cowards always do.
For the Fernbank community this is a really big deal. It's more than property values (although that's a big deal, too).
Redistricting and centralization will happen. The magnents will move. Schools will close. Cowards will cave in and deals will be made. . .
Fernbank parents should just buy the school and become private. Seriously. They are so darn insular. Funny, because many of them work in professions related to "the greater good". But not when it comes to their precious little kingdom. And I can say this because I'm friends with many of them.
They never had any issue with all the bloat and wasted millions, because it doesn't affect them as much. And the Fernbank Science Center is their personal toy across the street.
They should just become an independent charter or buy the gosh darn school. Good riddance.
To think that many of us lamented when Marshall Orson lost his race for BoE seat.
What fools we were.
Shame on him, he should know that the school system exists for all 98,000 students not just the Fernbank students.
Watchout Anon 4:42, or one of the many attorney/parents from Fernbank may sue you.
Fernbank parents also love being so close to downtown Decatur, going to the concerts, taking advantage of Decatur's amenities, but they live just outside the city limits so they pay the lower DeKalb unincorporated taxes.
They have no idea how obnoxious and conceited they are as a group.
Regarding my comment, "News Flash: The magnets aren't "all that"..."
I was referencing the fact that what we call "Magnet Programs for High Achievers" are actually what many schools in this country (especially in other states) provide to EVERYONE> We could do that if we were brave enough and fair enough.
My kids went to Fernbank but I live in the not-so-affluent part of the neighborhood. I find the post by Fernbank Fights Back to be obnoxious and distasteful.
This is the worst of "we're out for ourselves" and who cares about everyone else.
More comments here:
Please email Ms. Tyson and the BOE member and ask them not to back down on redistricting when confronted by the Fernbank parents. Many schools in South DeKalb are being shuttered, and almost everyone is going to have to have some changes come to their schools.
Looking an excellent blog named South DeKalb Blog (Cere has posted a link to it), “Name One” said in a comment on his “Inside the Numbers – BOE Elections” post:
“Walker won four precincts in the Emory area. Not only did he win them, he won them by double digits……You know why? because he pandered to Fernbank Elem parents and promised them their attendance lines would not be changed, even if there is overwhelming data to do so, as nearby Medlock Elem is underpopulated…”
I'm trusting that Walker and every BOE member realizes that he/she represents ALL of the students of DCSS and will be voting for what makes the most economic sense for the majority of our students.
Sounds like some sour grapes v Fernbank to me. Don't they have one of the most involved PTAs in the state? Don't they have some of the highest scores in the state? Shouldn't you be asking yourselves what they are doing right instead of calling them names? The hard work of the community has paid off in spades. Isn't that what parents want. And now that it's threatened, you are surprised they are going to fight it? Maybe you should take notes...
I'm thrilled with the centralization plan and hope it goes forward. It is a step in the right direction. Clearly doing nothing and caving to angry parents over the last several years has not worked to improve our schools or bring in talented administrators who could keep an improved process going. And with the redistricting, some of the less desirable schools become more desirable as they gain active parents to serve them. I will miss the easy access to my current school, but I'll now have access to the bus system. Improved education trumps location any day.
Thank you Anon 4:52 for showing that not all Fernbank parents are self-centered wrecks.
But trust me, Fernbank is going to raise hell, and Gene Walker promised them there would be no changes made to their attendance zones.
Gene knows all he has to do is get Donna Edler and Pam Speaks on his side and he'll have enough votes to block any re-districting (he already has his vote, Copelin-Wood, and Jay Cunningham). But I do think Speaks will vote along with Bowen, McChesney, Womack and Jester. Not sure about Edler.
I'm not a Fernbank parent but I think one of their problems is that they are wondering if their overcrowding was adjusting to delete the kids who didn't belong there based on administrative transfers.
@ 4:56 I agree that the centralized plan looks pretty good to me. We cannot sit back and keep doing what we are doing, as it's not working. We also need to right size the administration.
@4:54 Fernbank has highly educated parents. They have money to give PTA and donate to foundations. These are children of true professionals who are well educated themselves and want the same for their children. These kids would succeed anywhere.
What we need to look at are schools who have students from low incomes and that have involved parents and these children have scores that are rising. What are these schools doing to get parents through the door and supporting the school system?
Regarding DESA - the 2020 Vision in it's final execution calls for a K-12 School of the Arts.
To Anon 4:54~
I do not have any sour grapes. I am a Kittredge parent from the north part of the county. I would love to see it all stay up here. But in my heart, I know the right thing in 2011 is to probably centralize it. We have an amazing PTA and very involved parents. So there are no sour grapes. I just think the Fernbank parents need to take a step back and look at the big picture. It seems as if they only see themselves.
@ 4:54 pm
"And now that it's threatened, you are surprised they are going to fight it? Maybe you should take notes... "
Yes. Let's encourage everyone to fight for their schools to not be touched the same way Fernbank is mobilizing. I think that's a super idea. We don't need to save money since we can just cut more teacher positions and pack a few more students into our classrooms. What's really important is that Fernbank not be touched.
I'm sorry, but the veil just dropped from the Fernbank community and the naked truth was pretty ugly. Community only applies to the streets in their neighborhood. While many schools in sough DeKalb will actually be CLOSED - in no longer exist, Fernbank is only interested in themselves.
I too live in a beautiful, safe community in DeKalb with my neighborhood elementary school being extremely high achieving as well. But the difference is startling. Our claws are not bared just because we are undergoing some redistricting.
Walker and the rest of the BOE will have all DCSS taxpayers eyes on them. They need to stand behind Ms. Tyson and the consultants on this one.
BTW: I've been in Briar Vista ES, many times and it's a delightful school. Why don't they concentrate their efforts into improving that school - but leave the bad attitude at home!
@ anonymous 5:06
Thank you Kittredge parent. I'm sure Wadsworth parents feel the same way. However, we all need to support what's in the best interest of the majority of DCSS students. If anything, Fernbank's stance will show disgruntled parents what selfishness really looks like.
""How we can continue to spend this kind of money on FSC is beyond me. Look at these figures. They've changed only slightly"
Without Fernbank our scores would be in the toilet."
Hello. Where have you been? Have you looked at our science scores? They ARE in the toilet. Our science scores can ONLY improve with DAILY science instruction ofr ALL students in reasonably sized classrooms with abundant access to cutting edge science equipment.
The $7,000,000 we spend on Fernbank Science Center is a drain on having DAILY adequately staffed science instruction for EVERY student in DCSS.
Fernbank parents, I know it's great to have such a beautifully kept property in your community as well as access for a tiny group of students to take advanced science classes, but it really is unfair to ask the rest of DCSS taxpayers to continue to pay $7,000,000 a year for this antiquated science center system.
I thought FSC was to be seeking private funding this year. I guess that didn't happen when they were touched very lightly last year. I got to hand it to you guys - you're an awesome group. You learn the system so you can control the system. You are without a doubt the most powerful group of parents in DCSS.
DESA IS centrally located.
MLK is not the southernmost HS.
The next time I hear a Fernbank parent talk about what is good for the overall school system will be the first time I hear a Fernbank parent talk about what's good for the overall school system.
Have to admit I was disappointed that the consultants didn't even have preliminary cost savings (or $$ gained by increasing elementary sizes), or approx number of staff reductions/savings. When asked, he seemed to hem and haw.
That said, my dear magnet friends. Please count your blessings and quit your bitching. Once you all come to understand a simple and profound truth -- that attending a magnet school in DCSS is a PRIVILEGE and not a RIGHT -- you will save yourself a lot of heartache.
And please don't continue to degrade the very fine high achiever and gifted teaching experiences the poor unwashed, unfortunate high achiever/gifted students left behind in your wake are receiving at their home schools. Every time you claim your home school isn't sufficient for your high achiever (particularly you northern parents) you only show your ignorance. Sure, your lucky-number-drawn-magnet student gets MORE at your privileged magnet school, but a good education is possible anywhere, IF we all work together and demand it.
And parents who could see a redistricting (and I'm one)...Don't think for a second that the BOE doesn't realize that the "payment" for making some of the proposed changes will be to ensure equitable programs across schools. Fernbank parents need to be thinking ahead to how they want to influence changes at Briarvista instead of painting Briarvista with the ugly brush and making "stinky" faces. And the same for any other family facing a change in attendance zone.
From The Champion:
If nothing else is accomplished, perhaps Fernbank's ugly response to redistricting will encourage other schools to not respond in such a manner. Running roughshod over anyone in my way in a rush to "get mine" is not what I am trying to teach my child, and I suspect once we consider it, most of us would not want to model that behavior for our kids.
The responses from the magnet parents on this blog have seemed gracious compared to Fernbank.
I don't know what's wrong with Briar Vista except it doesn't carry the Fernbank name - perhaps they could rename it Fernbank II.
REPOSTING Fernbank Community letter without the personal contact info. (In the future, please do not share other people's personal info on the blog - I will have to take it down.)
Dear Fernbank Community,
As many of you are aware, the Interim Superintendent produced a preliminary recommendation on school closures and redistricting last night that would redistrict a significant portion of Fernbank's attendance zone to Briar Vista Elementary. The recommendation would move all homes west of Clifton Road to Briar Vista, and certain homes that are east of Clifton and north of N. Decatur Road to Briar Vista as well (in the approximate area of Houston Mill & Clifton). With all respect to, and without intending any aspersion on, the Briar Vista Elementary community, the Fernbank PTA and the Fernbank School Council are staunchly opposed to this recommendation. Not only would the plan cut away a crucial and significant portion of our school, it would leave those who were not redistricted at a school with fewer teachers, fewer program offerings, and fewer committed families.
In order to fully execute our opposition and to defeat this recommendation, we are assembling teams of parents and interested stakeholders who will be dedicated to different areas and tasks. We currently envision teams for: (1) legal -- researching and drafting potential administrative and judicial redress; (2) political -- identifying and working our community's connections with anyone and any entity that may influence the Board's decisionmaking; (3) communications and public relations -- developing and coordinating both external contact with media outlets and internal communications via our e-mail groups and ConstantContact, as well as coordination with other schools opposing the current proposal; (4) research -- from the consulting firm that drafted this redistricting proposal to campaign finance and other records relating to members of the Board of Education; (5) signature-gathering -- we will be drafting a petition for recall of certain Board members and will need assistance in gathering the requisite signatures.
Similarly, if any of you have additional ideas or suggestions for methods of influencing the outcome of this process in our favor, please pass those along to any of us.
We are working on scheduling a meeting at Fernbank with representatives from the School System and the Board of Education. If we are able to secure a date and time, it is absolutely imperative that we have a more-than-stellar turnout. We will need all parents and all members of the greater Fernbank community (even those without children at our school) to attend any meeting, in order to effectively convey the true level of our opposition to this preliminary recommendation.
Toward that end, if you have friends or colleagues who are not our school e-mail list, please forward this e-mail to them so that they may add their names, for the time being, to our distribution list.
Thank you, and we will keep you posted.
If (these people are) who I think),you can bank on Fernbank's attendance zone not being touched. Say what you want about Fernbank's parents, but they are more organized, tougher, and more dogged and determined than any other PTA and Parent Council. They are going to get their way each and every time.
Agreed. The Fernbank Parent Council are the New England Patriots. Even the best of the rest are no more than the NFC team that the Patriots will blow out in the Super Bowl.
It's a shame the administration and BOE won't address the financial problems at the root: bloated central office, overpaid workers and secretaries, extra staff (instructional coaches etc), funding low impact programs (egs: Americas Choice / Parent Centers), military sized police force, wasteful spending on unused/under utilized technology, and gratuitous employee social promotions.
Instead they choose again to balance the budget by jerking the students and their communities around.
I agree a certain amount of redistricting is needed to balance enrollment. But if the ONLY reason they're doing it is financial, it's not a long term solution because the root of the problem remains, and will get bigger each year as salaries increase.
Hey Fernbank parents, this has been in the works for a year! Like Fran Millar, who told parents at Nancy Creek (before Kittredge)4 years ago and during the first public comment meeting for the last redistricting plan that Clew FAILED with, "This is a done deal!"
Hey Anon 6:07, How ironic that Nancy Creek will become a neighborhood school again! I think it was the parents 4 years ago that kept telling CLew and Mooooseley to redraw the lines and bring some Dunwoody folks into Nancy Creek to relieve the overcrowding OTP.
I remember the budget to re-outfit Nancy Creek for Kittredge was just over a million dollars, will we have to spend that again to re-outfit it for PK-5?
Funny how the contractors and Dan Drake knew that Nancy Creek should have never been closed. That's water under the bridge now but the irony is very interesting!
These meetings coming up next week should be very interesting
This is not about the budget cuts. This is about the literal MILLIONS of dollars our county schools are losing out on due to having too many "empty" seats in our buildings. The state uses enrollment and capacity numbers to fund things like new school construction, renovation and "specials" - as in TEACHERS for art, music and PE.
Is it fair to forgo millions of dollars in state funding simply because we are nostalgic about our tiny little schools? Is it fair that some schools don't have art or music? Is it fair that we aren't collecting money we are due for school renovations? Imagine how much more our SPLOST dollars could do if we collected our construction money due us from the state.
Breathe. Think. Be Fair. Please.
Hey -- DHHS And LHS -- anyone want to start a movement to join into City of Decatur schools -- take all the feeders with you and make City of Decatur bigger and Dekalb slightly smaller? It works for City of Atlanta & Fulton (well, it mostly works anyway).
I'm not so sure you'd like to pay those City of Decatur taxes to go with.
The proposed attendance lines for Nancy Creek's make it anything but a neighborhood school. STudents will come from Brookhaven, Chamblee an Dunwoody. Wow.
Anon. 6:02, I will NOT breathe easily until Moseley, Turk, Mitchell-Mayfield, Thompson, Ramsey, Hunter, Beasley and the other friends and family are OUT of DCSS. If these people are not out the door by the time the new Super arrives, the DeKalb taxpayer are in for much of the same that has happened over the past 10 years!
It's time for change and we must show the current leadership the door if the new Super has a chance at reviving OUR DCSS.
For those of you having trouble downloading the very large map files, one of our very helpful and technical bloggers has graciously downloaded them, downsized them, and repackaged them as a bundle. Unfortunately, since this blog is powered by Blogger and not WordPress, I can't store the file for you to download. But if you would like it, send me an email and I'll send it to you as an attachment.
Sometimes you get what you pay for --it may be better to pay the higher City of Decatur taxes and have more control over a smaller area and less of the corruption we've been experiencing at the DeKalb County and DCSS level - it may be much more controlled for not too much more money to part of Decature City (akin to what the City of Dunwoody has been expereining but we'd get the schools too).
The irony is that the Fernbank-districted precincts that voted so heavily for Walker are the very ones redistricted to Briar Vista... The precincts still in the Fernbank district did not vote as heavily for him.
To all Fernbank Parents,
I was a part of the Nancy Creek/Montgomery consolidation and I think it only made Montgomery a better school. We got a very good Principal and a good 8 or so really great teachers. That is the potential for the kids that end up at Briar Vista. Fernbank needs less teachers but Briar Vista will need more. Now we are looking at potentially losing some teachers and students at Montgomery in the newest redistricting. Yes, we are over capacity now, just like we told the county we would be 3 years ago. And the county is looking at making Nancy Creek a neighborhood school again.
According to the Champion
According to the proposal, 21 schools in the county are at less than 75 percent occupancy and are not receiving state funding for some programs.
The proposal would eliminate most of the 11,000 empty seats throughout the system. Also, the proposal calls for 12,000 to 16,100 students among the system’s 99,000 student body attending new schools next year.
I liked Don's quote in the AJC -
“What we need to remember is that buildings don’t make AYP. Students and teachers do,” he said.
Interesting point made earlier - did they remove the 100 or so out-of-district students from the enrollment numbers when they decided that the Fernbank attendance district be split? This issue was brought up on earlier postings [maybe 2-3 months ago]discussing whether Fernbank is overcrowded.
Also, for the sake of accuracy, FSC is not connected in any way to Fernbank ES; they are across the street from one another. The FES students do not go there for advanced science programs - those are for high school, and students from all over DeKalb are there (the 9th grade program students are bussed from their home schools and back, while the 11th and 12th graders have to find transportation.)
And FSC should be sold or given to Fernbank Museum in its backyard. What a waste of taxpayer dollars for a rinky dink pseudo-science center/museum. Give it to someone who can make something engaging with it -- then let DeKalb's students discover.
Whatever happened to the complete Challenger Exhibit that Sci-Trek gave to DCSS the Sci Center? It was their (Sci-Trek's) main draw. Looks like DCSS utilized that donation to the max. Nice management.
To all the people complaining that the Science Center is across from Fernbank ES... my kids went to Fernbank and I can count on one hand the number of times they went to that science center... so it is not exactly an extended classroom for Fernbank ES...
Briar Vista is a low performing (Great Schools rating of 4) school. And it is a Montessori school with mixed-age classrooms. Fernbank is a high performing (Great School Rating 10) school with an International Baccalaureate program. These are two very different education philosophies and approaches. If my kids were still at Fernbank I would be up in arms, too. Why gut a successful school?? It makes no sense at all...
Fernbank parents have worked very hard to make it a great school... Parents put in countless volunteer hours. It is a close-knit community. Why mess with one of the few top elementary schools in all of Dekalb?!
Fernbank is overpopulated and was willing to take on more students if we could get a better portable cluster.
I don't understand all of these mean attacks on parents who have worked so hard to make a great school and want to keep it that way!
"I'm not so sure you'd like to pay those City of Decatur taxes to go with."
I'm retired with my child through college so I'm not crazy about paying property taxes ($5,000 a year for my property taxes). However, the taxes Decatur residents pay (and we know 70% of our property taxes go to schools) ensure an equitable and excellent education for all students. This does much to maintain and raise their "property values". I have friends in Decatur, and their property values have stayed steady and even increased. I would credit much of this to having a close-in, vibrant community with schools that are consistently top notch. That's worth paying a little extra in taxes in my opinion. If I hadn't been in my house since 1983, I would move to Decatur - property taxes and all.
"Why gut a successful school??"
Enough with the drama. The school is not being gutted. the attendance lines are being slightly re-drawn. It's a good school and will continue to be so.
One common denominator of high performing school districts is they re-district every five to ten years like clockwork. Families know when its coming and plan accordingly. Gwinnett is a prime example.
"And FSC should be sold or given to Fernbank Museum in its backyard. What a waste of taxpayer dollars for a rinky dink pseudo-science center/museum. Give it to someone who can make something engaging with it -- then let DeKalb's students discover."
This discussion has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with the Fernbank Science Center. And from these nasty remarks, it is obvious you could benefit from learning about what services the Science Center actually provide to schools across the county.
"It's a shame the administration and BOE won't address the financial problems at the root: bloated central office, overpaid workers and secretaries, extra staff (instructional coaches etc), funding low impact programs (egs: Americas Choice / Parent Centers), military sized police force, wasteful spending on unused/under utilized technology, and gratuitous employee social promotions."
Fernbank parents should have been concentrating/need to concentrate on "rightsizing" the enormous bloat in the DCSS admin and support area. Perhaps they wouldn't be faced with this redistricting of their community. They absorbed the children of the DCSS admin and support personnel with no protest and have been totally quiet as so many schools in South DeKalb went down in achievement due to teacher numbers decreasing while admin and support numbers increased. Now many of their children are being moved to accommodate those admin transfers and to "balance the budget". I guess they just woke up to the reality of most students in DCSS.
They need to remember that the $7,000,000 they lobbied so hard to spend on Fernbank Science Center adds to that budget imbalance.
For the record, Don McChesney also told parents that FES would not be redistricted.
"Enough with the drama. The school is not being gutted. the attendance lines are being slightly re-drawn. It's a good school and will continue to be so."
50% of the district is being cut and 30% of the actual student population is being pulled out. This does not equate to "slightly"
FSC has powerful advocates in the south of the county, too.
"They need to remember that the $7,000,000 they lobbied so hard to spend on Fernbank Science Center adds to that budget imbalance."
how many administrative transfers can fernbank have? That in no way can compare to the purpose of redistricting.
Anon 7:25, you just don't get it do you: "I don't understand all of these mean attacks on parents who have worked so hard to make a great school."
Do you really think Fernbank parents are the only ones who do this? Do you really think the rest of the county are slackers who don't work hard and care about their kids, even if they don't make Fernbank-area salaries?
Fernbank is not being "gutted," it is being asked to finally take its fair share of the pain the rest of us have been feeling for years. Have another latte and get over yourself.
You're right @7:44pm. The fox-in-the-box visited my daughter's elementary school. We're looking forward to the owl-in-the-box arriving next month.
^^^ There's an owl-in-the-box? Heck, that's worth millions. KEEP FERNBANK SCIENCE CENTER OPEN!
"Fernbank parents should have been concentrating/need to concentrate on "rightsizing" the enormous bloat in the DCSS admin and support area. Perhaps they wouldn't be faced with this redistricting of their community."
Nonsense, you have no idea what you are talking about. Fernbank parents have been very active in addressing district-wide problems and have usually been the first to call out the district on failure to improve school performance. I might ask what you have actually done in that regard Anon 7:45.
I do not live in the Fernbank area, but I applaud their efforts. I wish my area of town cared so much about the whole community and less about making their schools have no apartment children.
Those of you not effected by these changes have no business telling us to bite the bullet or think about the greater good. Why should we shoulder all of the angst of change and VERY REAL drops in property value AND VERY REAL drops in the educational opportunities.
"...you could benefit from learning about what services the Science Center actually provide to schools across the county."
Please tell us what the $7,000,000 in annual expenditures for Fernbank Science Center have brought us in terms of science achievement for DCSS students - not for a few students (less than 300 students a year) but for the entire DCSS student population.
I would love to see your sources. Please provide us with links to statistics that show the efficacy of Fernbank Science Center with regards to scores for our thousands of students in the area of science education.
I live quite close to Fernbank Science Center so my daughter went to many programs when she was small - bird watching, stream ecology, etc. It was convenient and interesting to her. I also took her to the Yellow River Game Ranch, the Stone Mountain Petting Zoo, the Chattahoochee River Recreation Area, Atlanta Zoo, and the Callaway Gardens Butterfly Gardens, etc. (none of which were supported by taxpayer dollars and the school system).
The point is that the days of bringing 30+ students on a bus to 1 teacher at Fernbank Science Center for a 1 to 2 hour lesson once a year at a great transportation expense ($3.00+ for gas) with the concomitant fumes pouring into already polluted Atlanta air is unconscionable in the 21st Century.
This $7,000,000 a year center has seen its day. It's a beautiful piece of green space for your community, but let it be just what it is - green space. Don't spend $7,000,000 of our student science funds on this edifice to the 1950s.
BTW - I'll wait for your link to those thousands of students having improved DCSS science scores due to FSC.
Jslider, I get your point about people's "concerns" about "apartment children," but the fact is the parents of those "apartment children" not to mention quite a few other parents have been experiencing drops in property value (if they own homes) and poor educational opportunity FOR YEARS--despite working for change--while Fernbank has not, and it is no surprise to see some people offended by the Leona Helmsley attitude that school problems are for the less well-to-do.
According to DCSS figures (Dan Drake's fine studies), FES has over 100 out-of-district students.
I don't know how many of them are children of FES staff, and how many are there because of the IB school choice option, but I know that in the past, a significant number were children of CO people, teachers at other schools in the feeder pattern, and people who had friends on high.
Out-of district attendance at schools is not just an issue related to Fernbank: it's an issue at every school in north Dekalb that generally performs above state and national averages in quantitative measures and has a reputation as a decent school. Lakeside, Druid Hills, Henderson, Oak Grove, Shamrock even--you name it. If Fernbank parents choose to take this on in their school, it's going to open a rather large can of worms district-wide.
Since about 1/3 of the out-of-district children at Fernbank are the children of people who actually work at Fernbank, I'm going to be interested to see how the parents who are getting ready for a fight walk the line between keeping their own kids in while avoiding completely alienating the teachers who are responsible for the education and nurture of their children by insisting their kids have to move out. Then there's the children of teachers at Shamrock and Druid Hills, who will be teaching their children in the future, and so it goes on...
That is why I thought the Board was going to deal with their out-of-district attendee policy last night, making the policy more rigid and grandfathering in the kids who are already at the various schools these children attend. However, that was set aside.
On the whole, I think this is a done deal, because if the board caves to one interest group, it's going to embolden others, the whole plan will come tumbling down, and we'll be back where we started. I really think 6 members of the board don't want to turn back. It seems the debate has already come down to the magnet schools (which involves relocation rather than shuttering), Livsey (?) and Fernbank. The Dunwoody crowd doesn't seem to be complaining, Walker, C-W and Cunnignham comprise only 3 out of 9 votes, and I'd say the rest are leaning toward gritting their teeth, bearing the abuse over the next couple of months and doing the dirty work. Walker's going to go through the motions so that he can say to his Fernbank electorate that he fought the good fight but he was only one vote etc...
In the mean time, we are going to see the dark side of quite a few good people.
Twice per year each of my children make a trip on a bus to FSC to see a planetarium show. My 2nd grader has now been 5 times. They have seen nothing else there but the planetarium.
I might add that this year we had no notice they were going and went on a bus with no seatbelts during a rainstorm/tornado watch. Many parents were not happy. My children would be happy to do without these silly trips to planetarium shows.
My kindergartener did have a teacher from Fernbank visit her classroom this year, but this is the first time I'd heard of that.
Everyone knows that FSC was spared cuts last year because Fernbank community parents went to bat for it.
What kind of ecology center transports 30+ students per bus on thousands of buses from as far as 20 miles to get instructed by 1 teacher - all the while polluting an already highly polluted air space?
Only in DeKalb County would we pay $7,000,000 to add to the awful pollution we already have. Surely Fernbank parents cannot defend the ecological negative to thousands of buses on the road transporting these students to one teacher?
Why aren't these top notch science teachers going TO the students - thus saving 50 times the energy used and pollution caused?
If DCSS wisely decides that the FSC teachers should go to the students, why are we paying millions for the overhead of keeping Fernbank Science Center? Why not house the FSC teachers in an existing or renovated school and let them go out to schools? They could go to to a school and teach 4 science lessons in the time it would take to bring 2 busloads of 30+ students to Fernbank Science Center. Unbelievable waste of time, money, and clean air space. Only in DCSS!
Why has no one looked into this pollution producing and totally budget busting program?
The "Dunwoody Crowd" who are being uprooted are VERY VERY upset. But unlike FES we do not have a cohesive community that works together as a whole. A good chunk of Dunwoody is ending up with elementary schools with no apartments. They are very willing to let the rest of us take a big hit for their gain, both educationally and in home value. Imagine the poor people who pay Dunwoody taxes and are being sent to Chamblee. I for one would rather just leave this self centered little town.
I am the parent of one child who went to Kittredge and one who was not drawn in the lottery. Both kids have same parents, same home. Both have graduated from high school, and here is my perspective:
BOTH of my children were equally well prepared for high school, and both have gone to good colleges (in fact the non-KMS kid was accepted - with scholarships - to three Ivy League schools).
The only reason Kittredge is "better" is
1)they do not have kids in lower percentiles on standardized tests (other schools have no option)
2) they have smaller class sizes (partly because they go all 'round Robin Hood's barn to qualify kids as "gifted" [smaller class sizes]- if one test doesn't work, give the kid another one)
3) they have extra enrichment afforded by extra teachers that other schools don't have (band teacher/orchestra teacher/art teacher/"CAT" teacher)
4) the parents are involved and motivated - they don't have kids who have no books at home and whose parents don't tell them to do their homework (other schools don't have this luxury)
KMS has good scores because the students have the education that all kids should have, not because they are the creme-de-la-creme and deserve more. They are just plain LUCKY.
Fernbank Science Center and its offering have been discussed in depth in previous posts on this blog (last spring and earlier). Check them out. We do not to repost all the statistics again in a discussion about redistricting.
I am shocked that the out-of-district attendance policy was not discussed as it bears much relevance on the discussions around redistricting. Fernbank Elementary School has 100+ out of district kids and 2/3 do not have parents teaching at the school.
The nastiness of the comments directed to the Fernbank parents and community surprise me. They are certainly within their rights to try to maintain their school district, as are all of the districts affected. Parents who mobilize to ensure a great education for their children should be valued. Some efforts will succeed, some will fail. But don't be angry with them for trying. I don't remember Nancy Creek parents being villified for their efforts just a few years ago.
Well said Anon 8:28
"Why aren't these top notch science teachers going TO the students - thus saving 50 times the energy used and pollution caused?"
My spouse is a FSC teacher and spends 4 days a week traveling across the county, hauling equipment in our family vehicle, to do programs at various DeKalb Schools. Teachers at the schools schedule the visits.
I agree with anon @ 8:11 that this is a "done deal". The Board will go through the motions (like they always do) and then pass the plan they decided on a long time ago (like they always do). Nothing ever changes with DeKalb County.
I applaud the Fernbank community for all they've done with their school and their willingness to stand up and fight. I wish my children attended schools with that caliber of leadership and courage.
And make no mistake, it take real leadership and genuine courage to stand up to DCSS and fight.
Everyone's brave entering a fight they know they'll win. Very few are brave enough to engage a battle they're likely to lose.
I wonder how many folks on this blog have that kind of courage.
And I wonder how many folks on this blog are jealous and resentful of those that do.
My children don't attend Fernbank. But I'm pulling for the Fernbank community. And I'd support any group that was willing to take on this Board and Administration.
Anon @ 8:26 I agree completely.
What? Last spring, the board failed to take action after they formed a committee to close schools.
If everyone fights the good fight as you say, then what will we have. Zero movement.
Is that ok with you?
"I don't remember Nancy Creek parents being villified for their efforts just a few years ago.'
I think that Nancy Creek parents were facing an entirely different situation - they were facing the closing of their school rather than redistricting some of the streets into another school.
Also, this redistricting and consolidation of schools is of critical importance to balancing a budget that is in a substantial deficit situation -not so when Nancy Creek was closed.
I thought at the time the closing of Nancy Creek was more of Lewis (and Walker in the background?) wanting to move Kittredge so the school system could make a quick buck selling the land to Sembler.
Remember Sembler - the company who contributed $21,000 to Walker's BOE campaign while Walker, the head of Development Authority, asked for $40,000,000 in tax breaks for Sembler even though 70% of those taxes would go to school funding - thus cutting DCSS out of $28,000,000 in funding:
Nancy Creek's closing was a byproduct of greed by highly placed DCSS administrators. Fernbank's redistricting is part and parcel of the changing demographics of a school system.
No other school system in Georgia has the number of small schools we have. That has not been a problem until ran out of money.
Shuttering and redistricting schools is one way to solve the problem. Many others are needed - including the need to downsize the incredibly bloated admin and support part of DCSS. If that doesn't happen, then these moves will be one more example of trying to balance the entire budget crisis on the backs of students.
Students are already bowing under the load of Ms. Tyson's budget last year which put the entire burden on them and left the admin and support system outside the schoolhouse virtually untouched.
Parents/taxpayers are better off putting their efforts into making sure Ms. Tyson doesn't try to put off cutting, consolidating and outsourcing any and all admin and support personnel to keep our classrooms (teacher and students) intact.
It's amazing to me in a district of almost 100,000 students really we only end up talking about maybe 2,000-3,000 students that attend magnets and Fernbank Elem.
I hope that the board members have the guts to do what's right for the other 90,000+ kids.
PS- I'm sick of hearing about property values being affected. Just like DCSS should not be a jobs program to suit the needs of adults. DCSS should be concerned primarily with how to educate children, not real estate prices. Students first!
Jus curious Anon 9:00,
Are you going to be adversely affected by any of the changes?
No one is jealous of Fernbank. I live one street from a very high achieving school (not Fernbank), and my child went to Kittredge (Fernbank parents love Kittredge - remember when 17 of their 4th graders left Fernbank for Kittredge the first year the lottery didn't have to draw students on a 2 per school basis?).
I think the point is that Fernbank parents appear to think that the rules are fine for everyone else, but don't apply to them (I actually know quite a bit about this area - dispassionately I might add). This is why private schools exist.
To me the Fernbank letter was quite rude in its aggressive manner and insulting to Briar Vista which is by the way a very nice neighborhood school.
Anon 9:02- (from anon 9:00)
I think it's all how you take it.
Yes, my house is being redistricted to another elementary school. Only time with tell how it plays out at the new school. I'm willing to roll up my sleeves and volunteer at the new school in the same way that I do at my child's current school.
I also know that my child is 1 out of 96,000+.
I think we all need to work for what is best for the most children possible and put selfish agendas aside.
How many/what proportion of the Fernbank kids redistricted to Briar Vista were likely to continue on to Shamrock (Druid Hills) Middle and to Druid Hills HS? I would love to see those numbers. Fernbank ES has a large private school exodus after 5th grade.
Anon @8:55 - I will agree that Nancy Creek's situation was different. But school closings and redistricting in Dekalb have a long history of fights by involved parents. I don't know how long you have lived in Dekalb, and I might date myself, but WD Thompson ES, Margaret Harris ES, the "original" Kittredge ES, Briarcliff HS, etc. all had good strong parental support, but closed anyway. No one stopped them from trying.
"My spouse is a FSC teacher and spends 4 days a week traveling across the county, hauling equipment in our family vehicle, to do programs at various DeKalb Schools. Teachers at the schools schedule the visits.'
That is EXACTLY how FSC needs to operate.
Now tell me - why is DCSS still spending millions keeping this facility open? Particularly when we are spending $2,5000,000 on 34 admin and support personnel salary and benefits (I know FSC is down to 28 teachers since they let the lowest paying teacher go last year) when they have had so much pressure to go out to schools rather than bring the students to them? If the 28 teachers are out in the schools 4 days a week, what are the 35 admin and support employees doing?
Does that make any sense? Your spouse knows that these 35 admin and support personnel consuming over $2,500,000 in salary and benefit tax dollars, are needed even less as he/she goes out into the schools more and more. Add to this the cost of the physical plant which is a static or even escalating figure, and you can see why FSC is an idea that has outlived its time.
Let the FSC teachers be based out of existing schools and make school visits which it appears they are doing more and more of. Let the admin and support personnel who are certified teachers go back into the classrooms and teach children. If they are not certified, let them go and hire teachers to teach our kids. DCSS cannot be a jobs program any longer - not because of taxes but because of students.
It says under the plan that 103 students will be transferred to Briar Vista. That's hardly a "gutting" of the school, since the roll right now, from what I know, is about 700. About 15% of the student body.
Sorry, I wasn't clear. I meant 103 students transferred from Fernbank to Briar Vista.
I get you point Anon 9:00 and agree to some extent. But you side stepped my question. Are you being redistricted to a school that by perceived reputation considered less than where you are now?
I am just saying for those that are being TOLD this is what is happening to your children, this can be really tough.
They're redistricting "only" 103 students? That's about the same number of out of district admin transfers enrolled at Fernbank!
"Only 15%"?!?!? Why bother!
"I don't know how long you have lived in Dekalb, and I might date myself, but WD Thompson ES, Margaret Harris ES, the "original" Kittredge ES, Briarcliff HS, etc. all had good strong parental support, but closed anyway. No one stopped them from trying. "
I started working in DCSS in 1972 and I moved to DCSS in 1983. Does that give me some "street cred"? I started teaching in at Jim Cherry Elementary School in 1972 (I came from Paulding County Schools and couldn't believe a school was named after the sitting superintendent - nicknamed "superintendent for life").
Jim Cherry closed in 1975 and the faculty and students were spread among 3 schools - Ashford Park, Woodward, and Montgomery. We simply got too small to continue. It was a good move for all concerned. The schools we all went to were different in tenor and student body, but the kids got along just fine. I chose Woodward - they gave us teachers some preference - and even though it was more "apartment kids" loved it very much. The point is not what happened to my career or what happened to the parents' property values, but what happens to the students. I can guarantee that the Jim Cherry students fared very well.
"It's amazing to me in a district of almost 100,000 students really we only end up talking about maybe 2,000-3,000 students that attend magnets and Fernbank Elem."
It's not amazing to me. You will always hear more about the children coming families that are involved in their schools and communities. These folks are invested in their schools. They're paying attention. They're engaged. They show up. They speak up. It's not amazing. It's life.
That's true..I guess it's more sad to me than amazing that so few students in this county have a voice (through their parents) in the fight to have the best education possible.
Anon @ 9:10:
Your statement is false. I am a Fernbank parent. We have approximately 5-8 children who, as rising 6th graders, make the move to private school. The remainder go on to Shamrock and Druid Hills, and in each successive year, are increasingly excited to do so.
THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF THE CHAMBLEE HIGH SCHOOL THAT WE'VE KNOWN AND LOVED. I'VE SEEN THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL FOR SOME TIME. SAD THAT THE THINGS THAT ARE CLOSING AND THE THINGS THAT ARE CHANGING ARE THE THINGS THAT ARE WORKING.
@anon 9:46 -
"Your statement is false. I am a Fernbank parent. We have approximately 5-8 children who, as rising 6th graders, make the move to private school. The remainder go on to Shamrock and Druid Hills, and in each successive year, are increasingly excited to do so."
If what you say is true, that is great news and a huge improvement over a few years ago when my child graduated from Fernbank and upwards of 20% of his peers went to private schools for 6th grade.
Don't you all say what a great school the regular program at Chamblee is? Why is moving the magnet program so detrimental to Chamblee?
Just a thought -- those 103 students become a 1/4 of the school (or thereabouta) at BriarVista---now what happens if the tactic becomes --see what you can get with it... what if you could get a "mini Kittredge" at BriarVista in exchnage for a willingness to go and put in the effort to work at the new school and bring it from a 4 to 9 on the scales? You'd be a critical mass.... just wondering. I'm one of the lucky ones, I've pulled private and I'm in a school that is slightly underenrolled and gaining (and chuckling at everyoen's who has given me grief for pulling private).
I was told that the county is thinking about adding more instructional coaches for next year....one per TItle I school. They definitely are not listening to the teachers. The coaches are resented and really are of little help to the teachers.
ok - dumb question - how do i tell if my es, ms or hs designation is changing? checked the map and cannot tell?
So many of you are so wrong about so many things.
Oh joy! A full-time, rather than part-time, instructional coach. Guess my instruction will be interrupted DAILY rather than twice a week for the coach to ask me some stupid question. Wonder what will happen if I train my students to say "Please leave us alone, we're trying to learn right now" when the coach comes in the room.
I am the same anon 9:46. With respect to the voice that so many of our county's children don't have, let me also add this: Fernbank parents, when asked or on their own, give more in time, talent, and energy to other schools than many of you are aware. Go to Dunaire and get their staff, students, and parents underway for their 1st-time participation in Reflections? Fernbank parents did that, in addition to helping their own children with that. Freely share all PTA documents and any advice with McLendon after its treasurer absconded with the PTA money? Fernbank parents did that. Help any school, free of charge (unlike DCSS foundation personnel or its outside person) establish their own Foundation? Fernbank parents have done that any time asked, or even not asked. Help its students from Jerusalem House (a home for HIV+ mothers and their children -- who, btw, are now redistrict to Briar Vista) have all school supplies, gifts for their teachers during teacher appreciation, and even coordinate scholarships and carpooling to Schenck for those students without the means to get proper treatment for dyslexia? Fernbank parents did that. Work tirelessly on improve adult literacy in Atlanta? Fernbank parents do that.
And as soon as the gas purchases were published in the AJC, you bet your expletive that my public-school-committed self was all over Don McChesney's and Eugene Walker's e-mail inbox. I'm happy to dig up and post McChesney's thin-skinned, Lewis-supporting, ill-informed response. "Buildings don't make AYP, students and teachers do?" I'm sorry, my very respected and dedicated friend, but as Ms. Tyson prefaced back in October, it's all the puzzle pieces that make a school system work. It's all the puzzle pieces that make AYP and far beyond AYP. If it's really just students and teachers that make AYP, then I guess Don McChesney just gave a huge slap across the face to every student and teacher who is at a school that has ever not made AYP, in his despised AJC, just to add insult to student and teacher injury. That's the thing with Don, he just doesn't have the intellectual wherewithal to think things through.
Finally, as stated in the Jan. 3 presentation, DCSS's target is elementary school enrollments of 900. Fernbank is close to 700 and thriving. Give us more -- I don't care where you are from, what your background, how much your parents earn, or what color your skin. Come join us and learn like crazy and have fun while you're doing it. We'll find our way to make the facility bigger and better than ever. And when we're done with that, we will have a great time helping, getting free tutors for, and getting philanthropic support for, any school that wants it. And it's going to be a beautiful thing to not just take back this system from the inept, but to see real progress made in schools all across this county.
Are Fernbank parents mobilized? You bet. We always have been. But, it's kind of like the football team that goes down the drain in supreme fashion before everyone can feel good and finally pull the trigger about firing the coach. (And I'm not alluding to Ms. Tyson -- just overload on my spouse's football watching this weekend.) To me, the system reached critical mass on dysfunction and failure a long time ago. But with all things, it takes a series of events to chip, and chip, and chip away at the disease by bringing more and more eyes and sunshine to the problem. Would you rather have a system beholden to corruption, or high-maintenance pains-in-the-derrieres-I'll-take-you-down-if-you-hurt-the defenseless?
Thanks for listening, everyone. I really do love this blog. And like someone earlier said, it's about courage -- for all of us. You all help me garner it. Thank you.
Everyone is missing the point. It is not the parents of the middle and high school magnet parents that are extremely upset with this proposal. It is the magnet teachers and the resident parents at Chamblee Middle, Chamblee High, SW DeKalb high and (I forget the other magnet middle) school that are upset. Pulling the magnet program out of these schools is going to have a negative effect on these school communities.
While many of you are quite rude about it, many of you have also correctly pointed out that the parents of the magnet students are very involved in their children's education. This continues at the middle and high school level.
These parents are not going to go back to the resident programs. Instead they will take their time, dedication, funds, involvement, oversight of children and join the DSA family at Avondale.
And there is no cost savings from consolidation because the middle and high school magnet schools do not have separate principals, administration, etc.
And many of the magnet teachers will follow the students and the resident high schools will lose a number of Advanced Placement teachers.
That's an interesting angle, however, there will be a savings on staff due to the fact that four schools (Kittredge, Wadsworth, Chamblee Middle and Chapel Hill) will all merge together under one roof as the K-8 high achiever's magnet. Hopefully, the testing for the program will be rigorous, only admitting those in the top 5% - but admitting them all (that last part's a personal opinion - not anything currently proposed).
At any rate, this will consolidate 4 principals into 1 - along with all of the accompanying teachers - some of whom currently only have classes of 12-15 or less. DSA could also share in the language, PE, music and art teachers... cost savings abound.
However - the real money is due to the fact that full schools - as defined by the state - are given full funding FROM the state. Currently, our many under-enrolled schools (you read about the empty 11,000 seats) are not funded by the state for things like specials (art, music and PE) and construction budgets for additions and new schools. Currently, our local tax dollars are stretched thin to provide as much as we can in these areas. (This is why some "regular" schools don't even have an art, music or PE teacher.)
We wouldn't have to do that if our schools were fully enrolled according to state requirements for funding beyond the very basics. It's MILLIONS of lost dollars. MILLIONS we will receive from the state in the future.
ok - i was wrong, the fernbank parents make the magnet parents look like a bunch of pussy cats!
throw in the scowling dr walker and this is going to get really interesting
Consolidating magnet programs into one school is a good idea. However, it seems that this will also be one of the reasons DCSS administration uses to get citizens to pass SPLOST IV - we've got to renovate those schools. They've done a very poor job with SPLOST III - I hope no one has forgotten Pope/Reid, the BOE (largely intact) that approved all of her changes, and that Ms. Tyson was in charge of Business Operations before she became Interim Superintendent.
Let's not get distracted by the fact that there are still 8,500 over paid admin and support personnel and only 6,500 teachers. Because of the uproar about the custodians, it appears Ms. Tyson will abandon the idea of outsourcing. Where do you think they will cut?
Do you think she will rid the Central Office of the non-performers like Audria Berry who as Executive Director of School Improvement who has not "improved" our schools - in fact more DCSS have not made AYP every year since she took control of hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funds that should have been used in direct instruction of the students in these low performing schools.
The administrators and coordinators who have not been able to improve our schools need to be cut loose. The vast army of non-teaching employees hired should be pared down and resources put back into the classroom.
I personally think Ramona will do everything necessary to right size the system and save money wherever she can. She most likely has realized that once her contract as Interim expires, she will have no place in DeKalb. She will have to look for a job in another system and will be well qualified to serve as a superintendent somewhere else. (I've heard there are several openings!)
Tyson has been given a massive raise to do the real job of the super. She is poised to do it and I think she will. She is careful and thoughtful and will do her due diligence in research, but mind you I do believe she has what it takes to do what is best for the children.
ALL of the redistricted students from Fernbank to Briar Vista will go to Shamrock/Druid Hills MS and then to Druid Hills HS.
I'm guessing you knew and that is why you asked the question.
Call me crazy.
I asked because i know from our experience at Fernbank, many of the kids (and parents) bail out of public school after Fernbank and do not support Shamrock MS and DHHS.
"I understand the need to centralize. I do not understand how Avondale is "central". According to google maps, the distance between Avondale HS and MLK HS (the southern-most DCSS high school) is 9.3 miles. "
I live in North Dekalb and I work in a North Dekalb school. I have not found it difficult to get to Avondale Middle or Avondale HS.
If you are having trouble with the maps. Look at the top of your computer screen. There should be a pull down menu that will allow you to enlarge the map. I found 125% was helpful for me. You have to scroll around on the screen to find the section of the map you are looking for. I was able to identify major roads and some streets by doing this.
9:10 and 9:46 Fernbank parent back again:
Here's the kicker, guys -- just now learning that the "450 for full funding" or as they revised last night "450 for funding of specialists" is not true, in any way, shape, or form. I haven't looked at the source material yet (the actual legislation and any subsidiary regs or policies), but according to the most credible source possible (author of legislation), it's all allocated -- specialists or otherwise -- on a system-wide basis. Yes, efficiencies reveal themselves on a school-wide basis, but the proposition that there's "no funding" or "not full funding" for "the school" or "specialists" until a school has 450 -- is, as they say, made of whole cloth. Again, another example of the inept or not properly-guided simply accepting and repeating what they're told without investigating and verifying the accuracy of the underlying bases for the propositions/conclusions.
four schools (Kittredge, Wadsworth, Chamblee Middle and Chapel Hill) will all merge together under one roof as the K-8 high achiever's magnet.
Correction to my statement above - the high achiever magnet would only by 4-8 not k-8.
You are correct about Tyson.
She has been offered the award to fall on the sword!
$1,000,000 in future pension benefits from 18 months worth of salary increase to do the dirty work.
If she is up to the task then so be it.
There has been no other SUPER that has had the NERVE or BACKBONE to "CUT THE FAT"!
I agree that she will seek another "Super" job in a MUCH smaller school district OUTSIDE of Georgia.
Someplace where she wants to retire peacefully with her enhanced and accelerated pension.
I will feel she has done her job and EARNED her pension if she is able to "CUT THE FAT" from the central office and create efficiencies and reduce redundancies in our school system.
She is supported by a very effective and hard working staff.
They have done MORE for DCSS in the last 6 months than any other administration in the last 20 years!
I am not referring to the family or friends or the fraternal order of the DCSS Mafia.
I am not praising her for a job well done but expecting her to do an outstanding job in the next 18 months to justify her retirement rewards.
We will see what happens in the next 6 weeks.
Everyone, please keep in mind that your words have power. Fernbank is a good school, but there are lots of other good schools DeKalb. Not every Title I school is doing a poor job of educating its students. Emotions are running very high, please choose your words carefully. There are lots of children who live in apartments who happen to be highly motivated and even gifted. Yes, there are children who don't behave and there are children who are behind academically, but every schools has children in this situation.
The excoriating of the Fernbank parents is really not called for - there are hundreds of parents in that community and to try to paint them with one, broad brush isn't something I'll buy into.
As far as the plan goes, I think we have to remember that this is the short-term recommendation - a far bigger shoe is likely to drop later this year. The big wild cards are the new Chamblee HS and how it will be scoped and envisioned in terms of capacity and programs and how the recommendations shape SPLOST IV.
This current recommendations strike me as very mechanical - sort of the obvious changes to make to optimize cost and enrollment.
I have to add an "at a boy" to who ever said up there that DCSS is not in residential real estate business. And to those that keep referring to dramatic property value impacts, my digging into studies on this question convince me that the impact is marginal - 2-4% of the overall valuation.
The more I look at the property value arguments the less they hold water. It's fear-mongering or a Realtor conspiracy at worst, uninformed at best.
Anon 8:26, The Nancy Creek parents were not vilified, however they were threatened with arrest at Clew's State of the District at First Baptist Atlanta on 285 when 45 parents wore red and were handing out flyers that pointed out that DCSS and Clew had not done their homework on the growth in the Chamblee area, as well as not having anyone who knew how to work the software that helped balance attendance lines, it took DCSS two more years to hire Dan Drake..
Those Nancy Creek parents were also the ones who exposed Jamal Edwards, former BOE chair Francis Edward's son, who hid at Nancy Creek for 6 months after being given a 15K raise and new position at MIS' Bryant Center. It was Tyson who expressed such surprise when Asst. Super. Debbie Loeb called her with the parents in the room. Ms. Tyson never fired Jamal and today he continues to work in the system. Just ask the parents and teachers how clueless he was, when it came to being a CTSS. However, he could deliver a mean McDonald's or Wendy's bag full of food to the Nancy Creek staff.
DCSS leadership did not like that the Nancy Creek parents went to the media to expose the fact that DCSS had never spoken to the DeKalb County Planning Dept. about their Vison 2025 rezoning plans when Vernon Jones was CEO. We're paying for those poor decisions 5 years ago by CLew and his greed, when it came to that property on Druid Hills Rd. and the scuttled Sembler project.
My point to all this is that squawking parents do not always get their way. However, it is very ironic that MGT America and Dan Drake needs Nancy Creek as a neighborhood school once again in the centralized plan.
Has anyone decided how the semester will run if the centralized program is implemented. Will the magnet program use a block schedule or 7 periods? How will this affect the current juniors and seniors?
Kim - where ya been? I've never known you to be so quiet - glad you're back!
I agree that to me, these recommendations look obvious. I think this consulting company is highly professional and simply good at their job. What they probably haven't ever encountered is such an emotional group of territorial people due to the fact that the system has unfortunately allowed the schools to fall wildly out of sync as far as quality and equity. There are also racial and economic issues at play. All things very unique to DeKalb. All quite surprising to the consultants for sure.
Cere, regarding your comment about CMS magnet and how it adjusts 4 principals into just one is not correct. CMS stays open, it just loses the magnet program. The principal and admin staff at Chamblee will still be needed. My question is how do the teachers feel about this centralized magnet program? I'd like to hear some of their thoughts about it.
Well that's true, but two of them (Kittredge & Wadsworth) have a dedicated staff and certainly of the four there will be overlap. However - the real issue here is boosting enrollments to access full funding from the state (millions) and to ensure equitable access to programs while providing healthier, more robust neighborhood schools.
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