Sunday, March 20, 2011

Funding Inequity: how it works in DeKalb

One of our contributors was able to gather per pupil funding information via a Freedom of Information request. The results: funding (like test scores) is inconsistent.  In fact, funding is wildly inconsistent—and not exactly in the same ways you would expect.

Click for a larger view

Some of our most outrageously expensive programs are of course high needs special education (Margaret Harris spends $35,942.47 on average per pupil and Coralwood: $24,881.44 per pupil). But you may be surprised to learn that some of our alternative programs cost much more (Some examples: DeKalb Truancy: $45,292.61 per pupil, DeKalb Early College Academy: $14,410.78 per pupil, Elizabeth Andrews HS: $12,151.96 per pupil, DeKalb Alternative: $20,792.11 and DeKalb Alternative Night School: $18,958.90, DeKalb Transition: $20,265.86, Gateway to College Charter: $16,319.21).

Interestingly, as we expected, DeKalb School of the Arts and other magnets cost more per student than regular schools—however, some regular schools spend far more per student than others.  Factor in the additional bump from Title 1 and some of our schools are bringing in quite a lot of money for student education.

So it seems that we have plenty of money to educate our students.  Why are we having to cram over 30 in a classroom? Why are we having to cut parapros, media clerks, tech support and hands-on staff? With a $1.2 Billion (with a "B") annual budget, we simply have enough money.

The total in Title 1 funds allocated to DeKalb Schools according to this chart (the data is also inconsistent everywhere you turn), is $52,446,907.75. Fifty-two and a half million dollars. I have to think that somehow this money could impact our children's ability to learn to read and write and do math. Why are test scores still so abysmally low in so many of our Title 1 schools? Take Columbia High School, for example. Columbia received an additional $1,077,434.20 in Title 1 allocated funds in 2009-10. Yet, Columbia has not made AYP, is in Needs Improvement Year 3, is in Corrective Action and must offer a transfer choice and supplemental tutoring services.

The average per pupil funding—including Title 1—for Columbia students is $9,380.02. Compare that with Lakeside's per pupil average funding of $7,834.76 (with no Title 1 compensation whatsoever). Lakeside has consistently made AYP and maintained decent test scores overall. Same goes for Dunwoody High School, with a per pupil funding (no Title 1 bump) of $7,773.66, Dunwoody makes the grade. In fact, these schools make the grade just as well as say, Chamblee, the magnet school for high achievers with a per student cost of $8,021.73 (no Title 1 bump) or even the wildly expensive DSA—at a whopping $11,612.95 per pupil. Then, compare all of those to Arabia (a non-Title 1 school) which only gets $5,214.29 per pupil—the lowest in the entire system.

The "regular" elementary schools is where the funding is all over the board. We spend anywhere from a low of $6,920.66 per pupil at Dunwoody Elementary to a high of $12,857.36 at Knollwood ES. Again, on the low end, we have Narvie Harris at $7,600.40 per pupil, Fernbank at $7,894.97 per pupil, Oak Grove at $7,930.98 per pupil and Vanderlyn at $7,954.17 per pupil. Over at the high end, we top off spending at Wadsworth where we spend $13,010.20 per pupil. Nipping at Wadsworth's spending heels is Gresham Park at $12,804.60 per pupil, Huntley Hills at $12,275.73 per pupil, Bob Mathis at $12,207.36, Peachcrest at $11,872.83 and Sky Haven at $11,828.01 per pupil. (In case you're wondering, Kittredge isn't far behind at $11,001.34 per pupil.)

Now, certainly, some of these schools have more special education students (and dollars per student) than others, some have more gifted, some have other needs that require special funding, so there is really no best way to compare apples to apples exactly. But this is the best we have, and by and large, the comparisons simply show that we have a whole lot of work to do to get our schools back in balance. Work that goes far beyond simply rearranging deck chairs.

Note:  The picture of the spreadsheet is hard to read, so if you would like the actual Excel spreadsheet we received from DCSS, send an email to and we will send it to you. 


themommy said...

This information is a very good starting point.

At the elementary level, a decision was made years ago, that regardless of size, every elementary school would have principal, ass't principal, counselor and two administrative people in the office. Some larger elementary schools have two asst principals and some larger title 1 elementary schools have two counselors. The fact that a school will have 300ish students and all that money being spent on administrative stuff isn't a good thing. (Decatur elementary schools don't have ass't principals. They still have lead teachers, who on average are 20-30 thousand cheaper a year.)

Because we have these wide variances in how full buildings are, DCSS has been dumping (ok, grouping) high -needs special ed classes in buildings where this is room. Many of these classes are housed at the small schools of Gresham Park, Skyhaven, Peachcrest and Bob Mathis. Even if you were to back out the special ed costs, you would find that their costs were more in line with a school like Livsey, which comes in at 9000ish a child.

Keep in mind, though, that Skyhaven, Peachcrest and Gresham are all closing and will add students to the under enrolled schools around them, lowering costs at those schools.

Molly said...

The special education funding really complicates these comparisons. For example, Huntley Hills is a receiving school for severe and profoundly disabled students. The cost of supporting these students in self contained classrooms with a very low teacher/student ratio pushes the per pupil cost up a great deal. Another school may have an equal number of special ed students, but without the need for self contained classrooms or nearly 1:1 student/adult support. Schools that deal with medically fragile students (such as Coralwood) can't be compared with schools without that population.

Anonymous said...

I think we need to leave Title 1 funds out of the big picture comparison. Title 1 funding cannot supplant local funds. In other words, they cannot be used to pay for services that a non-title 1 school receives from the school system.

Cerebration said...

All true, and I tried to make that point in the post. I would very much like to be able to see how special ed and gifted funding effects these per pupil costs. I'd like to know it with actual data, not just dismiss the whole thought with an assumption that all of the overage is due to those causes.

However, there are costs at some schools and programs that can be reined in. DSA is a good example - at $11,612.95 per pupil. Now certainly, they have a higher percentage of gifted students, as does Kittredge and Wadsworth, but you still have to wonder if we couldn't save a whole bunch of money by folding these programs into a bigger school. As I've said before, DSA would fit nicely into Lakeside - especially after the new addition and auditorium is complete. Lakeside already has the full administration, cafeteria, language teachers, etc that are currently duplicated at DSA. I would even go so far as to say that the DSA magnet might grow in this scenario, as students would be able to take part in high school sports, dances and other events. The North Atlanta Magnet High School is a good model.

Northview in Fulton is another -

Additionally, why do we have two separate schools with full staffs for early college? DeKalb Early College and Gateway, it seems, could combine staffs to manage their combined 200-300 students... in fact the Gateway students spend almost all of their time at GA Perimeter College.

Same with the alternative schools - seems they could combine space and resources (not that we want to make anyone work a day and night shift, but really, do these schools each need a full admin staff? and separate buildings?

Cerebration said...

ps, if you look at the chart, the first total is without Title 1, the second includes Title 1. I was actually surprised at how little Title 1 raises the per pupil cost in the schoolhouse, considering the millions upon millions we take in from Title 1.

Cerebration said...

Two more things regarding costs -

As much as I admire Coralwood, we must make the point that a huge percentage of their students (101 of 174) are pre-K or younger and do not get FTE funding from the state. The school's funds come mostly from local taxes.

Also, as Joe Martin informed us, the state automatically allocates funding for a principal for each school - so principal costs are paid mostly by the state. (We may have to pay benefits...)

Anonymous said...

I teach at Columbia and I have to say that you could double the number of dollars per student, and the school would still not make AYP. Why? Because the kids cannot read, and many come from households in which they are either a significant breadwinner or a "parent" to younger siblings. They either have not been taught to value education or are spending so much time just surviving that they have little time or energy to devote to school.

What amount of money is going to save a good kid who wants to get ahead and go to college but works until 11PM every night to help support the family? No he is not the exception. The stories would break your heart. And yes, some have decent lives and some do make it. My point is that we need to look at the complete picture.

This may make some of you uncomfortable--so be it. But it is naive to use dollars per pupil to judge a school's effectiveness.
It makes no sense to compare the success of Columbia's students to those of Dunwoody or Lakeside, when the disparity in socioeconomic status is huge. Yes, the more successful schools have some apartment dwellers, but for the most part the kids come from middle or upper-middle class two parent homes. Their parents are college educated; many have stay at home moms. They have received the needed support at home and are prepared to succeed.

Columbia has now stopped working to educate our kids and is focused solely on teaching kids to pass tests. I see my students 3 or 4 times per week because they have to attend test-taking sessions. My sincere hope is that AYP is met, but the larger question of how this population can be better educated remains unanswered.

Some sort of early intervention program--which those Title I funds could support--must be put into place. They should not land in high school reading on a third grade level and without the most basic math skills and then expected to succeed.

The lower performing schools are trying deperately to overcome their failing status and may be successful in doing so. But the cycle will continue until something is done to get these students on track earlier.

Anonymous said...

Interesting...Dunwoody elementary is a new larger school. I believe part of the 20/20 vision is to make all of the elem. schools larger. This may be a good example of why the costs are lower. Also, they only have 4th and 5th (until next year). So all of the classes are larger as compared to other elementary schools. (i.e. no smaller classes for Kindergarten, etc)

Cerebration said...

Thanks Columbia teacher. I couldn't agree more that Title 1 funds should be used for early intervention and support.

As far as your comment about Columbia students --

"a good kid who wants to get ahead and go to college but works until 11PM every night to help support the family"

That was actually my story. I have worked hard since I was 15 when my dad lost his job. I paid my own way through college with no public support and no scholarships. I only ate well because I mostly worked in restaurants.

But you know what the difference was? I had wonderful teachers all along the way. Even though my parents were very loving and supportive, I don't recall them ever "helping" me with schoolwork in any way. But I had teachers (nuns in my early years - back when you went to Catholic school because you were Catholic - and there was no tuition)... who taught me to read, write and perform math functions well. In high school, I had teachers who not only taught us well, but mentored us. Having these solid foundations is what carried me the rest of my life.

I do understand that you have to have loving support at home to make things work. We need ensure a strong social services network and counseling support for students who suffer more than economic challenges at home.

But Title 1 funds should be directed squarely on student support – especially in the early years. Small group learning and instruction away from the regular classroom is the way to go. Pre-K academies housed in buildings slated to close is an interesting idea. But one thing's for certain, the administrative office bloat using Title 1 funds to pay for a literal "army" of "support" personnel who never interact with students is obviously not working.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see how per pupil funding compares when you break out the special education funding. Based on these numbers, it appears that larger schools are more cost effective. Compare the per pupil expenditures for Flat Rock, Oak Grove, and Princeton to Flat Shoals, Clifton, and Hambrick. Would the per pupil expenditures be closer if we didn't include the special education funding which goes specifically toward educating special needs students?

Anonymous said...

As mentioned in another post, personnel allocations for Principals, APs, Counselors, etc. remain the same even when a school is small. That could drive up the per pupil expenditures.

I have always wondered why it was possible for a small elementary school to have music, art, and PE, when a larger school has to choose which position they won't have because the points don't stretch far enough.

Are small schools being allocated too much money or are large schools being shorted?

Anonymous said...

One interesting thing about these figures is that while the elementary schools vary dramatically, the regular high schools are all pretty close.

Druid Hills looks like the lowest at $7708 and almost all the rest are between there and $8200 before Title I funds. In a quick look, I saw 3 exceptions, Towers, Columbia and McNair, which are in the 8500-8700 range before Title I. Those 3 most likely have the highest % of economically disadvantaged students and also the largest number of empty seats.

Anonymous said...

I think the idea of folding some of these magenets into existing schools makes sense. With DSA you wouldn't have to choose between basketball and the theater. You could choose both.

But Lakeside would be the last place I would put it. Besides being centrally located, it should be not be at one of the more "desirable" schools.

Cerebration said...

Actually - as far as high schools go - Arabia has the lowest per student cost at $5,214.29

Cerebration said...

Ok - if not Lakeside for DSA - how about McNair? They have an unbelievable auditorium - and a dwindling enrollment.

Anonymous said...

Some sort of early intervention program--which those Title I funds could support--must be put into place. They should not land in high school reading on a third grade level and without the most basic math skills and then expected to succeed.

THE ABOVE IS THE KEY. So, why doesn't Audria Berry and her staff know this, and why aren't they putting something like this into practice. If high school students cannot read, someone has failed them long ago.

Anonymous said...

12:10 Exactly. But how do we make it happen? Why can't the folks at the county office be good stewards of our children's future? More than anything, I hate being helpless.

Anonymous said...

re: Arabia costs

I was excluding them as they aren't a "regular" high school. I'm not really quite sure what they are! Does anyone?!

Anonymous said...

Arabia is a choice high school, but they offer everything the rest of the schools offer. They have limited special ed services and I am guessing that because their janitorial services are out sourced, because they are a "green" school, that those costs don't show up.

But the difference is still shocking.

Anonymous said...

Please don't suggest moving DSA to McNair! Going from a central location to one so far south doesn't make sense, although it does seem a pity not to use the fabulous McNair peforming arts center.

Dishearted and Hopeless said...

I am on the verge of losing what little hope I had for Dekalb County Schools when Lewis was fired, and then when SACS began its investigation. Now that little hope that was salvaged by these two events is gone. SACS did no better than slap the wrist of arrogant board members and central administrators. Now, these posts about inequities in per pupil spending.

The problem is systemic, and much of it is a reflection of a greater national problem in public education.

However, Dekalb has serious problems that have been created by the system's leadership, which is corrupt and unprincipaled (pun intended.)

I have invested five years of my teaching career in Dekalb. I want to leave and never look back. One more year for me, and I'm gone. I love teaching, and I consider myself a good, caring teacher (as noted by my colleagues and those very few school administrators of integrity for whom I've worked.)

Now, it appears that Dekalb's new public relations game has squelched any meaning reporting in the press. It has even infiltrated this blog to the point that all of the problems identified are denied or sugar-coated. Our so-called new "transparency" has gone opaque.

Read the ridiculous survey from Dr. Beasley touted in an earlier post. It's vague and meaningless, with manufactured answers. It's so long that survey fatigue often discourages people to type in comments, and how can you get to the root of the problem in a little box reserved for your own comments.

It will be over for me after next year. No more shame, no more insults, no more lies, and no more cheating teachers out of benefits and salary to pad the pockets of over-paid administrators and lawyers (who defend the very folks who stole from us in the first place.)

-Disheartened and Hopelss

Anonymous said...

@ 1:54
I calculated Arabia using the cost of custodians at other DCSS schools comparable in size and they still came in way under other schools. In addition, they have quite a few special ed teachers. Look at their website. They are an economical cost center. Say what you want about them - you can't fault them on price.

Anonymous said...

This expenditure report is hard for me to look at because there are so many disparities. Special education funding aside, we are spending $13,010 per student at Wadsworth, $11,001 per student at Kittredge, and $7930 per student at Oak Grove. We are getting extra funding for gifted education in our schools, but does it really amount to $5,000 per student? Is $3,000 per student more in line with the extra money we receive for these programs? How is this fair to the average child in our public schools?

Cerebration said...

Don't really know. This is the chart that came from DCSS via an Open Records Request. The next question then becomes - how are FTE credits assigned? If you dig into this topic - you will see that the FTE numbers reported to the state and then after collecting state funding, the numbers that are reassigned to schools is wildly different. Those of you who have a known large number of gifted students at a 'regular' school, ask your principal what the actual count is of those labeled 'gifted', then go to the state's website and check the number of gifted assigned to your school - then check the DCSS allocation charts as to how many gifted points are assigned your school. You will find three very different numbers - guaranteed.

I think they simply count the total FTE, send it to the state for funding, get a big check from the state, and then randomly assign that money back to schools disregarding the actual FTE credits in the building.

Several bloggers are checking into this. It's a big 'aha'.

If interested, reread the post reporting on Joe Martin's talk at Emory Lavista in January on the subject of FTE -

Emory Lavista Parent Council hosts Fran Millar, Mary Margaret Oliver and Joe Martin (Part 2)

Cerebration said...

Another post on the topic to reread is -

Gifted and Magnet School Data Now Available

Go to the 2020 Vision web page and download the new files that show exactly how many gifted students are identified at each elementary school, how many each school sends to Wadsworth, Kittredge, Chamblee MS, Chamblee HS, Chapel Hill MS and SW DeKalb HS.

In addition to the raw numbers - which are quite eye-opening - there are maps with bar charts showing very clearly where most of the gifted students reside. The answer is undeniably in the north end of DeKalb. Some north DeKalb schools have so many gifted students one has to wonder why these schools are not simply labeled "High Achiever Magnets" and require lotteries to get in!

But -- are they receiving the funding their students deserve? We need to know.

Cerebration said...

To run the report at the state DOE's website for DeKalb's FTE allotment (systemwide) - go here -

Anonymous said...

The comment below describes so well what our teachers are feeling across the board (please correct me, happy-with-DCSS teachers, if you are out there):

"It will be over for me after next year. No more shame, no more insults, no more lies, and no more cheating teachers out of benefits and salary to pad the pockets of over-paid administrators and lawyers (who defend the very folks who stole from us in the first place.)

-Disheartened and Hopeless"

Anonymous said...

Gifted education dollars don't make up the difference. What does impact it is that Wadsworth is tiny (under 200 students) and KMS has a very expensive principal and isn't very large (under 500).

Additionally, all those extras, which have been reduced, add up.

Anonymous said...

I too am disheartened and hopeless as a teacher. But I also took the time to cut and paste an essay of complaints in that last box of the survey. I did the same for a survey sent from the county about math curriculum. I am in no position to go anywhere soon, so I have chosen to try to make my situation better. I will continue to express my concerns to the county and once this semester is over for me at graduate school, at Board meetings as well.

Anonymous said...

Taxpayers should have access to the results of the Teacher survey and their concerns. The raw data should be available - not a sanitized version coming from the Central Office or SACS. This information should be a matter of public record. It should be online like the comments parents made in the redistricting survey was online.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Disheartened and Hopeless. I am nearing the end of my career and I can't encourage anyone to become a teacher right now. Once upon a time being a teacher meant that you were a respected member of the community. I don't see that anymore.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Disheartened and Hopeless and 6:05. Teachers get blamed for so much, have all of the responsibility of a child's education, but have no say in how children are educated, schools are run, and the expectations that one should have of the children. I never thought that I was paid poorly for being a teacher, however there became fewer and fewer opportunities for me to actually teach, as teaching focused more and more on tests and less and less on student knowledge acquisition. People making big decisions in DCSS have little teaching experience, even when added together and this is one reason why we have so many failing schools.

If you build it they will come-meaning if you raise the expectations of our children, require them to meet the standards before passing them along to the next grade, and have expectations on their behavior in school, than I do believe that many of our schools would be better places for students to learn. Having a principal with at least 10 years of classroom experience would also help.

I would ask anyone who desires to be a teacher if they enjoy beating their head against a brick wall as you will often know that what you are being asked to do is wrong, but that you must do it anyway if you want to keep your job.

Anonymous said...

What is so sad is the fact that very few about 5% of free and reduced applications are ever checked. There is a lot of fraud there. People who drive expensive cars and have expensive houses have their kids on free and reduced lunch including teachers. Now that"s a shame!

Anonymous said...

I hope this isn't a silly question...but if a school gets so many "points" are those points then translated to a specific teacher's salary? In other words, is a $30,000 per year teacher the same as a $85,000 per year teacher? Looking at some of the funding, like Arabia for example, is their low number due to having a bunch of brand new teachers? Whereas, a higher cost school, DSA maybe, has very experienced teachers. Can anybody run those numbers; average experience vs cost/pupil?
If the numbers are due to a cadre of experienced teachers, then "equity" isn't valid.

Anonymous said...

Arabia Mt. had the pick of teachers and got mostly experienced ones, from what I understand.

A point is a point is a point.

You are right some of the differential is because of the average years a teacher has been at the school.

DSA only has 300 students. There is no way in a million years that state funding comes close to even beginning to cover the costs there.

Anonymous said...


Why are you protecting Principal Uras Agee at Columbia HS?

Do you condone:

1) illegal duplication of master key by unauthorized locksmith on Glenwood?

2) illegal racial discrimination?

3) illegal subornation of perjury?

4) illegal fabrication of evidence?

5) lying in a formal investigation?

6) removal of science classes to non-lab settings and removal of foreign language classes to science lab settings?

7) throwing confidential personnel records into the dumpster?

8) putting confidential personnel evaluations onto a public website?

9) illegally hiring a pregnant friend as a paraprofessional and then using her as the front office secretary?

10) engaging in racial discrimination?

11) cursing at staff and students?

12) displaying violent behavior such as throwing a chair across the room in a faculty meeting?

13) actively denigrating staff members to other staff members in the earshot of even other staff members?

14) the wholesale upheaval of a school during final exams when most of the teachers are required to relocate their rooms?

15) the throwing of textbooks into the dumpster so as to gain space in the bookroom?

16) instituting a GHSGT tutorial program ONE WEEK before the actual tests?

17) failing ever to observe the moment of silence as required by law?

18) physically intimidating students and staff?

19) bragging that he can do whatever he wants in the school because he has a protector at the County Office?

BOB MOSLEY, why are you allowing Uras Agee to destroy Columbia High School?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for getting these numbers - it's a great start!

As mentioned earlier, it seems the # and type of special ed students completely throws off the simple math of funding/student. Some of the regional special ed schools (like Huntley Hills -and others, I'm sure) have children that require a full-time para for themselves and then share a teacher with only a few other children. They also require huge classrooms with as little as 4-8 kids/class, which throws off the capacity numbers, too. So you have "regular" kids in trailers b/c many of the classrooms are filled with special ed students. Other special ed students can be in a regular classroom and only require some additional therapy at certain times of the week. It's complicated but directly impacts cost/student.

It would be good if we could get the special ed numbers somehow factored into the equation (or perhaps out of the equation). I think the same might be true with the gifted numbers/funding - but I can't imagine it would change the cost as dramatically as the special ed numbers.

As for Title 1 funding...that's a whole different can of worms...

Ella Smith said...

The number is also thrown off in high school if teachers are gifted certified in the Honored classes as the school gets gifted money. It is my understanding that some school can pick additinal dollars this way.

Large populations of special education population students do throw off the numbers.

Arabian must not have many gifted or many special education students by looking at this total. This is really low.

Anonymous said...

As I understand, Arabia Mountain has a lot of new teachers. I mean recent college graduates new. The average years of service for this school is probably less than the other high schools in the school system.

Average years of service for staff is another thing to factor in the the funding for a school.

Did anyone go to the Title 1 conference this past weekend? Perhaps some of the questions regarding services provided by Title 1 could have been answered. It seems that many have a partial understanding of what Title 1 funds for any school system.

DCSS Teacher said...

All too often on this blog, I see heartfelt comments from teachers about what we're going through, such as those in the last few hours, with no (or very little) responses from parents and others who write here. It's easy to feel that the community is much more interested in where district lines are drawn and who the bad guys are at the Palace, than in the difficulties we face very day teaching your children in DCSS.

Even if you aren't motivated on behalf of teachers to demand that class sizes be cut, facilities be cleaned up to a healthful level (including functional air conditioning), and the way cleared to use teaching strategies that work, you should fight for these things because the rock-bottom morale in DCSS isn't good for your kids. We teachers are more depressed, impatient, and overall defeated than ever before, but where are you parents in advocating for us? We're a bit tired of "thanks for all that you do", and I for one would like to hear more of "we're going to bat for you because of all you COULD do" in an effort to get the basics: better working conditions, smaller classes, and administrators who MUST be present in school buildings and support school policies, particularly discipline.

Too many statements by teachers on this blog are just ignored in favor of more nattering and ranting about corruption, districting, and other "big picture" issues. The term "apartments" gets you going much more than comments like these teachers' comments today. Bottom line: what impacts students every day, all day, is the person with whom they spend the day, and I wouldn't want my child in the classroom with someone who is as unhappy about his/her job as some of these posters. Good teaching is the result of strong support by both the learning and the outside communities--DCSS has neighborhood schools, after all. At present, that support is only dimly visible, and often expressed in kind words, not demands. When was the last Board meeting where a lot of parents got up and said "We're mad at the way you're treating teachers, and we won't take it any more!"?

Somne of you must be lawyers. Why not get your minds working on what laws these working conditions and learning outcomes, violate? Children in DCSS are not getting the quality education they're entitled to, and teachers working in mold-encrusted buildings without enough supplies, equipment, or facilities aren't being treated fairly. What about a class action suit of the Board and the Administration by parents and teachers, for not providing a quality education? I'm in!

Anonymous said...

Gifted certification doesn't impact a teacher's salary. I don't think a degree in Special Ed does either.

What makes special ed so difficult to calculate, without all the information, is that there are special ed classes with 5 students, a teacher and sometimes more than one para.

Students with significant medical needs on top of cognitive ones may require the services of an RN rather than just a school nurse.

The federal government requires special ed services but has never fully funded them.

I suspect, that if you looked at the per pupil funding/expenses at any Gwinnett school you would not find such huge discrepancies because the schools house a variety of special ed classes. Your child may not be able to go to your neighborhood school but there are a range of services availble at each school.

In DeKalb this is not the case.

Anonymous said...

There are special education classes in every regular school. It's fairly even across the system. I really don't think that some schools have that many more special educations students than others to throw the per pupil funding off this much. The truly high needs students are at Margaret Harris or some other specialized center on the list. Obviously these cost more per student.

Anonymous said...

I just read an article about a Mom opting out of standardized testing in Pennsylvania (Fabulous Idea, I wish I had the stones). But my point is in the article, who was blamed for all the problems with poor testing of students? Teachers. While I feel there are some bad apples, most teachers are dedicated professionals who are encumbered by their state's frantic grasping at straws to see what works. The states are in turmoil over math and just teaching it is no longer an option.


Anonymous said...

Anon 7:17 am

That is not accurate at the elementary level. Specialized classes are housed at a handful of schools rather than at every school.

Many, many regular elementary schools only serve students who need pull out or inclusion. They serve no self-contained students.

Self-contained classes are very expensive.

Cerebration said...

Oak Grove ($7,930) has self-contained special ed classrooms. Briarlake ($9,876) has the countywide program for the deaf. Laurel Ridge has a large population of special education students ($10,889). None of those get a Title 1 boost.

Are you saying that schools like Avondale ES ($10,395), BriarVista ($10,282), Clifton ( $10,903.53 ), Bob Mathis ( $12,207.36 ), Peachcrest ( $11,872.83 ), Rowland ( $11,501.16 ) and others have many more special education students than those listed above?

Then there are the "high achiever" per pupil costs of Wadsworth ( $13,010.20 ), Kittredge ( $11,001.34 )

These numbers came from the school system. It's too simple to just dismiss the imbalance by saying "oh, that's due to special ed".... We are tired of our questions being waved away. We need an audit. We would like someone to tear into the nitty gritty of system spending and streamline. We simply think there is a lot of waste and some students are getting much more of the resources than others.

Closing and consolidating some of these schools is at least a start.

Anonymous said...

FYI, these figures are from the 2009-10 Report Card, found on the Georgia DOE website.

Arabia Mountain has 4 administrators; Chamblee and Lakeside have 5.

Arabia Mtn has 55 teachers while Chamblee has 97 and Lakeside has 101.

Avg Teacher years of experience:

Arabia Mtn - 5.62 years
Chamblee - 12.22 years
Lakeside - 14.39 years

% Teachers with Bachelor's degree:

Arabia Mtn - 29%
Chamblee - 33%
Lakeside - 29%
(All others have Master's, Specialists's, Doctoral degrees)

Average Administrator's salaries are actually high at Arabia Mtn, but only by about $2000/yr.

Average Support Personnel salaries are $12,000-$14,000/yr higher at Chamblee and Lakeside.

Average Teacher salaries are $5,000-$8000/yr higher at Chamblee and Lakeside, which actually isn't much considering that years of experience is more than double that of Arabia Mtn.

One factor could be that students at Arabia Mountain follow pretty strict curriculum paths and they are "housed" in teams by grade. This probably makes them more efficient and makes class sign-up more predictable. At other high schools many classes have a mix of sophomores/juniors/seniors.

Anonymous said...

I rather doubt that the gifted education dollars that the county receives from the state are actually tracked and follow students to the schools that they actually attend. It is my understanding that schools earn points, not dollars, based on how many gifted kids that they have. But, many schools do not earn enough points to hire gifted coordinators, so, what happens to the monies that the state sends to the county to fund gifted services for these kids? I suspect that the money is sent to the gifted program, which, as it is housed in the magnet office, ultimately supports the gifted magnet program. I cannot figure out how the money is translated into actual services for those kids at schools where there is not a large enough pool of gifted students to earn a point. It is my understanding that gifted certified teachers are not earning more money than other teachers. So, I suspect there is no way that these dollars provided by the state to provide these services per child are actually being traced by gifted populations to ensure that this is where the money is being spent.

Isn't it true that schools earn "points," with gifted kids being a vehicle to earn such points? But how the principal decides to use these points is not directed by how the points were earned? Just very curious about how the funding formula works.

Thanks to anyone who knows.

Anonymous said...


This is one of the most important questions we can ask our BOE members.

Anonymous said...

Good post @8:43! Questions that came up as a result of it:

"Arabia Mtn has 55 teachers while Chamblee has 97 and Lakeside has 101."

Though Chamblee and Lakeside have over 75% more teachers than Arabia, it does not correlate to than many more students. I will guess that both schools may have a higher SPED population resulting in some of the additional teachers. I found that when the enrollment snapshot was done, Arabia had about 1000 students, Chamblee about 1500 and Lakeside about 1700.

"Avg Teacher years of experience:

Arabia Mtn - 5.62 years
Chamblee - 12.22 years
Lakeside - 14.39 years
Average Teacher salaries are $5,000-$8000/yr higher at Chamblee and Lakeside, which actually isn't much considering that years of experience is more than double that of Arabia Mtn."

This could be sad to think that despite having at least 7 more years of average experience, it only results in an increase of salary around $8,000/yr. I guess this says something about step increases after 6 years of experience also.

"% Teachers with Bachelor's degree:

Arabia Mtn - 29%
Chamblee - 33%
Lakeside - 29%
(All others have Master's, Specialists's, Doctoral degrees)"

I misread this initially. I think this means teachers that ONLY have a Bachelor's degree as I would expect 100% of teachers to have this. It would be interesting to actually see the percentages of advanced degrees at each school.

Anonymous said...

"The Atlanta Education Fund had been in the midst of a $19 million fundraising campaign, and it had received pledges and gifts of $15 million."

Wow, $15 million!
How much has the DeKalb Public School Foundation raised?

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher who left DCSS at mid-term due to illness. I very much doubt that I'll be back. And not because of health reasons. I have multiple degrees (not from online universities), am highly effective over many years (judging from test scores and parent/student surveys), and love teaching the strugglers. Why am I not coming back to DCSS? Because I'm tired of constantly fighting battles to be allowed to do the right thing for my students. I refuse to do constant test prep - if I've done my job all year, then the kids will perform. Because my administrator has much less classroom experience than I do, and few ideas to improve my teaching. Because DCSS's professional development classes are terrible - poorly taught with non-research based content. Because the RTI system is not implemented effectively. Because the Instructional Coaches do not know how to do their jobs. Because more money is spent outside the classroom than inside the classroom. Because the AP in charge of discipline is not consistent. Because I have to find class coverage for my own room when an administrator calls a meeting during instructional time. Because administrators call meetings during instructional time. Because our school board is a sorry joke - Nancy Jester and Donna Edler, excepted. Because our system is run by people who do not demand excellence and honesty from everyone associated with the system. Because the primary focus of DCSS is not the children. Our county is a sad, depressing place to work for anyone who is intelligent, and wants to see children succeed.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:20, please know that DCSS parents such as myself really do appreciate our teachers. We sure do not approve of the Central Office's mismanagement, but we do appreciate our hard working, dedicated teachers, especially those who want to actually tach, instead of getting advanced degrees from online diploma mills so they can secure a cushy, no effort Central Office pencil pushing gig.

Anonymous said...

During the school closing meetings last year, parents from one of the McNair area elementary schools repeatedly told the task force that their teachers averaged 15+ years at their school.

This would definitely skew things.

Anonymous said...

Principals are not paid for by the state-the state allocates the cost of a principal to every school. The state gives us a per pupil amount and we dole it out. Part of what we have to spend is counted a a principal. Just one less choice we have to make as to how to spend our allocation. As for Title I the idea that $50,000 will make much of a difference-well 69% of our students are Title I. For puposes of easy calculation let's say that is about 69,000 students at an extra 724$ per student. Now the idea I could redeem every economically disadvantaged student for only $724 is charmingly simplistic. Now you need to remember that by Federal law a certain perctenage of that $724 must be spent on teacher training, another specified per centage must be spent on parent involvement ( that's parent centers and parent workshops) and the amount per student is diminished. Of course, the alternative schools cost more-that's where at risk students geet much more intensive and expensive services. What's the return on investment? (ROI) Well prison cost us tax payers more than $30,000 per year and Georgia has one of the biggest prison populations in the US. Pay now or really pay later.

Anonymous said...

The answer is Title I is being audited RIGHT NOW as it is EVERY YEAR.


This is one of the most important questions we can ask our BOE members.


Cerebration said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the $50+ million Title 1 money in this document is the money going to the schools. There is more Title 1 money that goes to Central Office, which employs instructional coaches, buys the America's Choice program, and runs the parent centers (are parent center employees paid by the school or the administration?)

Anonymous said...


It would be interesting to find out how much Title I money is used to travel to expensive conferences in luxury locations.

I know of one school that likes to burn Title I money with travel because it's the quickest way to use your money before it's dumped back into the county coffers at the end of the fiscal year.

Many central office admin in our Title I office go all over the country (maybe even the world) to "training" conferences.

Remember the America's Choice Hollywood junket? I believe that was paid for with Title I money.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Tyson has brought back the travel budgets for the departments since DCSS got more federal dollars.

Anonymous said...

@ 10:49
Part 1
Regarding ROI for Title 1 funds. DCSS is funded for Title 1 under the same rules that Gwinnett and Clayton, etc. are funded.

The ROI is that students in Title 1 schools make adequate yearly progress. The reality is that only 50+% of DCSS Title 1 Schools made Adequate Yearly Progress last year 2010 after strict monitoring for testing was instituted. This is an unprecedented drop from the year before (without strict monitoring of testing and virtually the same number of Title 1 schools). In 2009 80+% of Title 1 schools make Adequate Yearly Progress.

DCSS has the lowest percentage of Title 1 schools making Adequate Yearly Progress (50+%) of any metro school system (even APS) after strict monitoring was instituted.

The Office of School Improvement will tell the BOE and the parents/taxpayers that students are making progress in some areas, but the point is the students in DCSS are progressing at a slower rate than any other system in metro Atlanta.

Take Gwinnett and Clayton as examples. They are under the EXACT same rules for students in Title 1 schools making Adequate Yearly Progress as DCSS. However, their Title 1 schools made Adequate Yearly Progress at the rate of 80+% BEFORE and AFTER strict monitoring - in 2009 and 2010.

While the DCSS Office of School Improvement will tell the BOE taxpayers/parents that Gwinnett County is wealthier and has less Title 1 schools, remember that the number is the PERCENTAGE of Title 1 schools making Adequate Yearly progress. And remember that Clayton county has 100% of their schools classified as Title 1.

Anonymous said...

Part 2
The blame is squarely on the Office of School Improvement. The federal government gives school systems much latitude as to the dispersal of Title 1 funds. for example, you can allow individual schools to make their own decisions on the staff development that is bet for them or you can decide you want to fly all of the non-teaching Instructional Coaches and Coordinator in the Office of School Improvement to a conference in California or New York. Both are considered staff development. You can purchase an expensive learning program and mandate every Title 1 school use it (or they won't get any funding for that particular area) or you can allow schools to make decisions that are meaningful to them and purchase programs that directly support their school population's discreet needs. You can hire the Instructional Coaches yourself as the Director of School Improvement and pay them a premium - thus setting up a system of patronage and power. Or you could pay them a teacher's salary, rotate them out and then back into the classroom and give principal's the power over Instructional Coach hiring decisions.

Dr. Berry as Director of the Office of School Improvement has not made the decisions that would allow our students in Title 1 schools to achieve at the rate that other metro systems have in their Title 1 schools. Her decisions have caused our Title 1 school to decline in student achievement. It is really that simple. The rules for receiveing Title 1 funds is the same for DCSS, Clayton and Gwinnett. The rules for dispersing those funds is the same. The rules from measuring Adequate Yearly Progress is the same. DCSS received $128,000,000 in federal funding (14% of the entire budget) last year. The Office of School Improvement is making decisions that are moving our Title 1 schools backward - not forward. Ms. Berry must be replaced with someone who will make decisions that moves our Title 1 schools forward. The measurable objective is always to ensure Title 1 students are Making Adequate Yearly Progress. Politics is driving the decision to leave her in this position, and this is negatively impacting thousands of students from the Title 1 schools to the overcrowding of non-Title 1 schools who must act as receivers according to NCLB.

Until new leadership is installed in the Office Of School Improvement, we will continue to waste sorely needed federal, state and local tax dollars and most importantly our students in Title 1 schools will fall more and more behind.

Anonymous said...

Great idea to ask about the Title 1 Audit-then we will see in black and white about real mismanagement of funds, like the refrigerator that was bought and Dr. Berry couldn't trace who bought or where it was located an and had several people turning the old central office building on N. Decatur Rd looking for it. - I wonder how much of this title 1 is allocated for these trips (travel, lodging, meals, etc) and how those staff members can show documentatio od redelivery of what they learned and its impact on student achievement. Which title 1 schools took the most trips? Each schools's titlke 1 plan should be posted online just like their school improvement plans.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the typos above-my thumbs are too big for the little buttons on my phone :)

It should have said Dr. Berry's staff turned the old central office building upside down looking for some purchases that were not approved. Right after this-she got a very expensive assistant director, Ms. Davis.

Cerebration said...

Whoa! @ 6:22 - really?

"DCSS received $128,000,000 in federal funding (14% of the entire budget) last year. "


The chart in this post shows that about $52.5 million in Title 1 funds was allocated to schools --

So --

What became of the remaining $75.5 million? (Assuming your number is correct...)

Anonymous said...

Despite what some of what you believe, there are more federal sources of funds than Title 1 Funds.

Anonymous said...

The Georgia/Guadalajara/Gullah Graduation Test!!

WHAT THE F**K! Ask your junior students about the "ENGLISH" Graduation Test!


Ben Dover Jim Bohica

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 8:58

$128,000,000 is the federal funding DCSS received. This includes the stimulus money (ARRA) as well as some other federal funding. The lions's share of these dollars is under the Office of School Improvement which serves Title 1 schools.

Almost all federal funds are targeted to Title 1 schools. Even AYP student transfers (and thus NCLB sanctions/penalties) are only for Title 1 schools although non-Title 1 schools must be receiver schools to Title 1 school students who do not meet AYP. In other words, the transfers only work one way. The penalty is that you will lose federal funding if you don't offer transfers, tutoring, etc. to Title 1 school students who don't make AYP.

The reason DCSS got $128,000,000 ($50,000,000+ in Title 1 funding and the rest in other federal funding - much of that being ARRA and the upcoming RTT) is that we have so many Title 1 schools. And the decisions for spending that money is made by Audria Berry in the Office of School Improvement. Now you can see how she has achieved such a center of power and patronage. Many non-teaching highly paid and highly placed and connected teachers depend on her decisions regarding their programs and continued employment.

The Office of School Improvement exists for the academic imrovement of Title 1 schools. The few non-Title 1 schools we have are served by the regualr curriculum directors who report to Morcease Beasley.

This is why the decisions on $128,000,000 made for Title 1 schools academic improvement are so critical. This was an enormous part of our budget (14%) last year. Ms. Berry has held this position or that of Title 1 Director since Crawford Lewis came into office in 2004. Her decisions on the hundreds of millions have resulted in the DECLINE of Title 1 schools making AYP (lowest percentage in metro Atlanta. She has had SEVEN YEARS and HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of dollars in funds to improve the number of Title 1 schools making adequate yearly progress. DCSS Title 1 school students deserve better and they deserve a change in leadership.


Go to the state weblink below, drop down to choose DeKalb and then click the Revenue button:

Anonymous said...

I'd love for a Board of Ed member for just once, give a darn, and inspect the spending habits of the Office of School Improvement.

They sure like to travel (and travel well).

And we in the heck do they hold so many meetings at Callaway Gardens??

Ramona Tyson is no better than Crawford Lewis. She has no regard for the taxpayer dollar.

Can't wait for a new superintendent from the outside to come in and eliminate the entire OSI Dept.

Cerebration said...

Thank you 9:42 - that was very informative!

Anonymous said...

Ah a rose by any other name-

You might eliminate the OSI but you can not eliminate the massive staffing you need to administer the funds. They staffing is required by Fed and state mandate and is not going away.

Anonymous said...

This is a false and misleading statement-

Her decisions on the hundreds of millions have resulted in the DECLINE of Title 1 schools making AYP (lowest percentage in metro Atlanta.

First DCSS is not the lowest % in Atlanta because no one knows how low Atlanta Public Schools really is since they had massive cheating on their tests. Secondly AYP is a sham and has no relation to how kids are performing. Actual test scores for Title I schools in DeKalb have risen slightly with the exception of math (but that's another story). BUT the rise in test scores comes no where close to the increases in test scores needed each year to make AYP. For instance in math-
In math in 2004 62% of students needed to pass the math test for a school to make AYP. In 2008 74.9% of the students had to pass, and in 2011 81.2% will have to pass. In 2012 it will be 87.4% and in 2013 the number is 93.7%. In 2014 100% of all students and 100% of all students in every sub group, including limited English proficient, students with disabilities, and from low income families will have to pass each test for a school to make AYP (The Lake Woebegone syndrome-all our students will be above average). The same sort of ridiculous progression is used in each subject. By the way, more schools in DeKalb and the state failed to make AYP because of declining math scores with the change in the curriculum. If Ms. Berry had anything to do with changing the state curriculum then she is also a suspect in the Kennedy assassination.

You may be right in questioning Ms. Berry's decisions-however the schools have all slightly improved in terms of actual scores and certainly have gotten no worse.

Anonymous said...

I am not misleading. Both APS and DCSS declined in Title I schools making adequate yearly progress from 80+
% to 50+ % after strict monitoring so we are comparing apples to apples.

Clayton Schools has 100% of their schools as Title 1 yet they had 80+% before and after making adequate yearly progress. The same is true with Gwinnett as well and all of he other metro systems.

You say their is progress, but not enough. Our Title 1 schools are NOT progressing at the rate other metro systems are progressing. That's what adequate yearly progress means in case you don't understand the concept.

This has been disastrous for our students and the Office of School improvement must take responsibility for this decline . Who else has been making the decisions on hundreds of millions of dollars that were to ensure Title 1 students make adequate yearly progress? Ms. Berry has caused the few remaining made AYP schools to be overcrowded putting our students in an even more dangerous academic situation.

Title 1 and non-Title schools have both suffered from Ms. Berry's decisions. She has had more than enough years to right the ship - 7 to be precise. She needs to be replaced as soon as possible.

Anonymous said...

While DCSS Title 1 schools have made progress it is obvious that they have not made the progress other metro systems have. That's what adequate yearly progress means. ALL of the other systems have made more progress. That's what the state comparison is all about. Accountability. The DCSS Office of School Improvement has had NO accountability. Only excuses.

Anonymous said...

@ 1:08 PM - does the staffing have to be administrative though or can it be staffing directly working with students in the schoolhouse (ie: support teachers in reading and math, counselors, social workers, etc...)?

Anonymous said...

"You might eliminate the OSI but you can not eliminate the massive staffing you need to administer the funds. They staffing is required by Fed and state mandate and is not going away."


Yes, some staff is needed for all the paperwork for the Feds and state, but no other school system in the state has anything close to the amount of staff of the DCSS OSI. It is a bloated jobs program.

If and when Title 1 funding goes back directly to the schools, the amount of staff needed will decrease dramatically. Again, some staff will be needed, but they actually do not need to be many educators; they can be auditors/accountants.

We can have a much better school system if we go back to sending Title 1 dollars to the principals.

We can also save millions of taxpayer dollars.

We can also have millions spent on children instead of Audria's staff traveling like they are royalty.

Eliminate the Office of School Improvement. It's a Win-Win-Win.

Anonymous said...

Some percentage of Title 1 dollars must be spent on staff development, some on parent outreach, etc. however here is much leeway in meeting these requirements. For example, Instructional Coaches in most school systems are paid like teachers and most of them spend a great deal of their time in the classrooms modeling lessons for teachers (something Ms. Berry has told coaches they do not need to do). Staff development decisions can be at the local level, not plum jobs to be handed out to friends and family. Parent centers can be staffed by paras and part time teachers - many systems use retired teachers.

Many millions could be spent on Title 1 teachers directly instructing students in the classrooms with the remaining money.

Conference travel is a huge expenditure that has been reinstated for all those non- teaching support staff.

Title 1 revenue and expenditures need to be listed in detail on the DCSS website. All checks should be posted so taxpayers can see where this money is going. Right now the Office of School Improvement does not let any information out about their expenditure details. This department is not used to any questions. They pretend this federal money is "free" money and they don't want taxpayers to know how the money CAN be spent. This is without a doubt the poorest run and least accountable department in DCSS.

Anonymous said...

Not sure where to post--Does anyone have any information on how the superintendent search is going, or what the target date is for naming the new Dekalb superintendent?

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:42

You're right, I've been in schools where thousands of dollars are handed arbitrarily from principals to other AP cronies, dept chair cronies, and other pseudo-administrative people (some of whose titles are made up on the spot.) And then there's travel-- the APs usually get the travel money...LA, Vegas, San Antonio, you name it.

And God forbid, when a teacher tries to file a T1 form to get reimbursed for a conference in, say, Macon, or it we're lucky, Jekyll or Savannah, where there are usually great conferences with lesson demonstrations, books and materials, and camaraderie among veterans with plenty of scars and stories! Some admin in the county Title I office loses it, or denies it because the funds were never designated for it in the first place, even though the Principal approved it. And this may be the first conference you've attended in five or six years! Meanwhile the admin team is filling for reimbursement for a trip to LA, knowing damn well it will be reimbursed.

I used to work for state government. Filing for travel reimbursement was pretty much routine; you turned in receipts with a correctly completed travel reimb form, and with a week or so, got a check. DCSS makes reimbursement for teachers into some Byzantine fantasy maze, staffed with rude and insulting gnomes.

Anonymous said...

The Office of School Improvement is a wonderful place to tap for travel money. This is the department that spent $400,000 for the Hollywood trip - almost all being non-teachers. Now you can see why Audria Berry has such a power and patronage center. Why did Crawford Lewis appoint her and keep her in this position for 7 years?

Anonymous said...

Travel Companion

Cerebration said...

Pam Speaks was a Title 1 Administrator for many years in DCSS - please consider sending her an email asking her to address your Title 1 questions. She would know more than just about anyone.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 1:09 pm

Here's some food for thought. Look at Clayton County. They have 61 schools and all 61 are Title 1 schools. So 100% of Clayton's schools are Title 1. Very single school is low income. Now let's see how well their Title 1 money is spent on teaching low income students:

82% of Clayton County Title 1 schools Made AYP in 2010 versus only 52% of DeKalb Title 1 schools.

Clayton County:
Meeting AYP Criteria 50
Not Meeting AYP Criteria 11
Total 60

50/60 = 82%% of Title 1 schools in Clayton Meet AYP

Please remember these figures are after the state began strict monitoring (they didn't see any difference after monitoring unlike the drastic difference DeKalb saw).

Look at the DCSS figures:
Dekalb County:
Meeting AYP Criteria 46
Not Meeting AYP Criteria 43
Total 89

46/89 = 52% of Title 1 schools in DCSS making AYP.

A low income student in Clayton County has a much better shot at student achievement than in DeKalb.

Do you still say DCSS Title 1 money is well spent?

Dr. Berry should not be the Executive Director of the Office of School Improvement with data like this. Since 2004 she has presided over declining achievement in Title 1 schools.

Until Ms. Tyson and the BOE change the direction of expenditure of school system dollars and in particular Title 1 dollars, student achievement will continue to decline and be the lowest in the metro area.

After Dr. Berry and Dr. Lewis abandoned the direct instruction of students by Title 1 Math and Reading teachers and instituted scripted learning programs and non teaching groups such as coaches, coordinators and family coordinators, student achievement in Title 1 schools declined.

Posters please take a look at Clayton County's Title 1 expenditures and achievement (see Number of Schools by Adequate Yearly Progress):

Look at DCSS's Title 1 expenditures and achievement
(see Number of Schools by Adequate Yearly Progress Status):

On this website you can look at Gwinnett, Fulton, Cobb, APS, etc. Please look at the Title 1 figures. This is a scandal how the Title 1 students' money has been wasted.

Anonymous said...

Pam Speaks should asking questions of Ms. Berry when she is recommending the expenditure of hundreds of millions of federal funding dollars while less and less Title 1 schools are making adequate yearly progress. I know she can't ask Ms. Tyson to replace Ms. Berry (that's something Ms. Tyson needs to handle), but she certainly can ask questions about the lack of ROI we have seen for 7 years in federal funding expenditures. Ms. Jester tried to ask about ROI and the current BOE including Ms. Speaks did not support her efforts.

Ms. Speaks of all people knows what that declining Title 1 made AYP numbers mean in terms of student progress. She knows very well how that compares to the other metro systems who ALL have a greater percentage of Title 1 schools making AYP. Ms. Speaks should have been "speaking up" for Title 1 students all this time.

Anonymous said...

I spoke at a statewide educational conference a few years ago. I paid for the conference, paid for my travel and paid for my hotel and meals. To add insult to injury I had to take a personal day to attend the conference. Next time maybe I'll do a presentation on the poor staff development policy of DCSS.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 9:03 pm
You must be a teacher who is in the school house instructing kids. That happened to me many years ago when i was invited to speak at the National Conference for Teachers of English on a program I developed and ran in my classroom with DCSS students. The county would not fund my trip (I was going to drive to SC in my own car). But they were sending coordinators just to attend the sessions. I refused the invitation to present at this national conference. I simply couldn't see spending my own money to present at a conference where the coordinators in DCSS were sent on the county dime to listen to presenters - of which I was one.

Cerebration said...

Excellent point, Anon 9:39 PM. Good research to add to the post. We received the info on our chart exactly as it is from DCSS via an Open Records Request, so it strikes me as very odd that the numbers at the state would be so vastly different. That is worth a deeper look. I hope you will all share this with your board reps.

Cerebration said...

@ 9:37 PM - I don't know what to say - that is just CRAZY!

Anonymous said...

Lakeside feeder elementaries (the cluster I'm most familiar with):

Pleasantdale $7460.26, 4.6%
Oak Grove $7930.98, 8.1%
Henderson Mill $8376.06, 10.1%
Sagamore Hills $9212.49, 7.7%
Evansdale $9607.10, 6.1%
Briarlake $9876.73, 12.2%
Hawthorne $10012.87, 18.7%

The first number is the General Fund Average for Pupil. The second number is the percentage of students in grades K-5 who are in special education (from the state DOE website). If you plot them, there is a clear linear relationship between general fund dollars and percentage of special education students, with Pleasantdale at one end of the scale and Hawthorne at the other. Evansdale is an outlier, but that might be explained by the magnet program.

I didn't attempt to analyze the types of special education programs housed at each school (hearing impaired at Henderson Mill, deaf at Briarlake, etc.) Sagamore Hills has the largest number of pre-K special education students (17). One would think that the per-pupil numbers in the chart should not include the cost of pre-K students, but perhaps some of these costs are reflected anyway.

Pleasantdale gets Title 1 money, but even with the Title 1 funds, they are the second lowest in per-pupil funding in the cluster. And, as Anon 8:55 March 20 pointed out, "I think we need to leave Title 1 funds out of the big picture comparison. Title 1 funding cannot supplant local funds. In other words, they cannot be used to pay for services that a non-title 1 school receives from the school system"

Anonymous said...

More: Here's general per-pupil funding vs number of K-5 students for the Lakeside cluster:

Pleasantdale $7460.26, 828
Oak Grove $7930.98, 626
Henderson Mill $8376.06, 496
Sagamore Hills $9212.49, 478
Evansdale $9607.10, 492
Briarlake $9876.73, 410
Hawthorne $10012.87, 423

The "regular elementary" extremes cited in the original article were Knollwood and Dunwoody. Knollwood has only 265 students, and Dunwoody has 726 students, in grades 4-5 only, where the class sizes are larger. If it didn't take so much time, I'd look at the whole system. I'd bet that percentage of special education students, school size, and special circumstances (magnet, limited grade levels) would explain most of the funding discrepancies.

Anonymous said...

THey type of special ed students matter a great deal in terms of costs. A great number of students at Sagamore are severely disabled - just a few kids in a classroom with a very high teacher/student ratio.

Cerebration said...

Here's my comment from the AJC blog discussing our post ---

I have to say, even though we tried to ensure that we can’t know for certain how special services effect the per pupil cost, I am surprised that so many people have focused on special education. The data also shows that we spend just about as much per pupil for “at-risk” and “gifted” (magnet) students. We weren’t so much concerned with the fact that our system (as all) spends a lot of money on one end of the scale or the other, we were concerned that our school buildings are not spending money (allocating resources) consistently. You don’t really see this in Gwinnett. The large model helps to even out the costs. Many of the expensive schools and programs in DeKalb could be combined (eliminating redundancy in principals, APs, counselors, media specialists, custodians, cafeteria workers, etc.) and save literally millions — millions that could and should be directed to the students in the classrooms and teacher support.

For example, DSA (DeKalb School of the Arts) is host to under 300 students (8th-12th) and costs almost $14,000 per student. I have no issue with the DSA program, but I do think that we could meld it into an existing large-scale high school as a magnet program within the school, and save quite a bundle by sharing resources and administrators. Same with the alternatives – each of the following schools has it’s own building, principal and full staff, costing between $13,000 and $45,000 per pupil, yet most have barely 100 students: Destiny Academy, DeKalb Early College Academy, Gateway to College, Dekalb Truancy, DeKalb Transition, DeKalb Alternative and DeKalb Alternative Night School, along with Elizabeth Andrews, Kittredge, Wadsworth, and other “choice” or “alternative” schools, these schools could be more efficiently managed.

We just went through a redistricting exercise that was very painful, and pitted many neighbors against each other – all to save just about as much as consolidating resources in these many small programs could save. That was our main point. It wasn’t meant to be a discussion about special education. I have no issue with special education, as I have a child with learning disabilities and have used the services. And when it comes to severe disabilities, I simply pray for those parents every day. As a taxpayer, I am more than happy to support their heroic efforts to help their children become all that they can.

Anonymous said...

Cere, I have no issue with special education. Children with disabilities need the support of their community.

I brought up special education and school size in my two posts with the Lakeside-area stats only to show that there is probably a very logical explanation for discrepancies in per-pupil funding.

I didn't disentangle which is the chicken and which is the egg as far as special education and school size. For example, special education programs are probably more likely to be housed at schools which are under capacity.

If school size turns out to be an independent variable, then that's an argument for consolidation, as painful as it is. That's where the savings should be realized, not in special education.

Cerebration said...

Agreed. Bottom line, this is a topic that requires more investigating. We could possibly save quite a lot of money by smartly streamlining.

Anonymous said...

Apples and oranges

latest data from Georgia Dept 2009-2010 school year

data from DeKalb 2010-2011 school year

Example GADOE web stoe has 89 Title I schools-this year there are 93.

Anonymous said...

Apples and apples, actually. The heading in the yellow row of the image of the spreadsheet is "2009-2010 Expenditure Report."

Anonymous said...

Help!!! I thought that Charter Schools (conversion and start-up) had to allow applicants from all over DeKalb County? Someone told me that The Museum Charter school in Avondale is only taking children from Avondale ES and Midway ES.

Cerebration said...

It depends on how the charter is written. I do think theirs has an attendance zone - in Avondale Estates...

Anonymous said...

The museum school's charter limits who they take to students in the Midway and Avondale Elementary school

Anonymous said...

The Museum School of Avondale is not affiliated with DeKalb. It was chartered by the state Charter School Commission. The school system didn't want to agree to their charter.

Anonymous said...

I thought the State was concerned about this as well and told The Museum School to change this?

Anonymous said...

The state had the same major objection to th eMuseum school as DeKalb did and required it to take students from an attendance zone of DeKalb County. Of course, they do not spread that around.

Anonymous said...

If you go to the Museum School website, it indicates that only those in Avondale and Midway attendance areas can apply. If this is incorrect, it needs to be reported to the Charter Commission. It sounds as if they are trying to create their own little private school, paid for by public funds.

Anonymous said...

Read the charter for the Museum School of Avondale Estates. Their attendance zone is Avondale ES and Midway (see link below - page 4 Attendance Zone):

Anonymous said...

Attendance zones can be whatever the state or commission will agree to, and many start-up charters have zones that are not the whole school district, some even have "tiered" zones, where preference is given to those that live in the large development that gave the building over the rest of the county.

In some cases, developers interested in overcoming school board resistance to placement of a development due to the added burden on it to build more schools, will donate the building for an (usually EMO charter) in exchange for the county governments up zoning. The exclusivity of having a school for their residents increases the selling price and everyone "wins".

Now before you all go bashing the Museum School--how about fessing up that that is exactly what all of you that are advocating for a "City of Dunwoody" school system want. You just don't want to reach into your own pockets to purchase the building.

Anonymous said...

Some state chartered schools essentially have no attendance zone, therefore they are open to all residents of the state of GA.

Many more have very specific attendance zones like the Museum School and others have tiered attendance zones.

Anonymous said...

Will anyone respond to the blogger who asks:
"Not sure where to post--Does anyone have any information on how the superintendent search is going, or what the target date is for naming the new Dekalb superintendent?"

I think no one is asking so it's business as usual as long as it can be business as usual. I guarantee you Tyson will suddenly be interested in the job. Now that she has the huge salary increase while other things remain unfunded, it may behoove her to retire. She could stay at home with her family and draw a HUGE pension and not have the headache ... that's what we've given her. What exactly has she given us? How has she made this school system better? How has she worked out the problems that she was put in a position to handle? Has any of the CLewis Inner Circle been terminated? Has anything been done to return money(find money) for the teachers and students? Does anyone really care? Or maybe we'll just all speculate and pontificate on zip codes and such.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if anyone is following this thread anymore.

Last week, there were called board meetings nearly every day. They were to adjourn to executive session to discuss a personnel issue. I believe the issue was the superintendent search.

Ms. Tyson did not apply for the job, not does she want it, per my board member.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Tyson has young children to care for and a life to live. Being superintendant in DCSS won't let her be a mother to her kids....I really think she has her priorities straight. She didn't bargain for this being for over a year and it's been very hard and 24/7. You don't recapture time with your kids.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:32, you are absolutely right!!! Ms. Tyson answered the call of her school system to lead the ship for a few months. It turned to over a year and she realizes that her job as a mother to her young children has sometimes taken a back seat to seeing about the needs of the children and stakeholders in DeKalb. She does not want this job. All the mothers that read this blog should appreciate that.

JustStand said...

In response to Anonymous 3/20/2011 at 9:43 p. m. regarding "Bob Moseley protecting Uras Agee at Columbia High School..." Are you serious?? IF Bob Moseley is protecting anyone, please know it is Bob Moseley or perhaps Angela Pringle. Period.
Agee throwing a chair? NOT TRUE.
If you are referencing a particular faculty meeting that seems to be the "stage" for this show, again, not true. I was present. Authorizing duplication of keys? NOT TRUE. The shop on Glenwood has a reputation. No authorization needed. So...anyone can walk in with a special key request.

You have a laundry list of complaints. The problems of Columbia High School DID NOT begin with Uras Agee, and until DCSS and the immediate supervisors outside the building decide to stop majoring in the minor and focus on what really matters (the children we serve and their families), problems (the real ones) will continue. As unfortunate as it is, we all know the lifespan of a principal at Columbia High School is two years.
What have you ADDED to the growth and redirection of CHS??