Monday, June 6, 2011

Tune in to Comcast 24 at 6 PM

Big meeting tonight.  Lots to discuss.  Tune in to Comcast Channel 24, stream it on your computer by clicking here or just drive on over to the Palace and watch it live.

The Board of Education is expected to take action on the SPLOST IV joint resolution. To view the meetings, the proposals, the SPLOST IV proposed list of projects, and the facility condition assessments, click here and scroll down to "Updates".

Click our calendar icon to view the agenda or click here to access the eBoard agenda with supporting documents. We'll update this post as the meeting marches on (it will be long).

To view older minutes (through April) posted on the DCSS click here.


6:15: Awesome video produced by students. Called "I Need You" it featured students stating their needs for learning from every person involved in their education. These students tell us, "I need you to expect more from me and set high goals. It doesn't matter if I get a free or reduced lunch or am learning to speak the language or have special needs, I need you to believe in me. Teach me. Engage me. Care for me. Believe in me and I will learn."

6:20: Bowen promises a waiver to Museum and Peachtree Hope charter schools for one year.  Schools can spend the year assembling their application for a DCSS sponsored charter.


* People are not hip to installing cell phone towers on school property.
* Zepora!!! She admonished the board for taking too long to look for a superintendent. She slammed them for looking for a "white" candidate because they think "you get more from whites"[!!!]  Says, "We have the best in Ms. Tyson. Open your eyes and see what she's accomplished. Hire Her. Immediately. Permanently. The candidate that you're looking at has not been successful and his board has not renewed his contract. He is looking for a greener pasture and you are providing that pasture. Don't make that mistake." Then she goes on about budget recommendations.
* John Evans - my third grade grandson can't read. He failed the CRCT. He's on the list for Peachtree Charter cause they told me charter schools are better than regular. They told me to appeal his results. Why would I do that? He shouldn't go on if he can't read! He has LD and ADHD (Evans digressed and said that most black kids are labeled ADHD for some reason.)
* Advocate for Sky Haven and Meadowview
* Second advocate for the Museum School
* Peachtree Hope advocate thanks the board for special consideration - then goes on to reminisce about the Civil Rights Movement.  "I went to sleep for 40 years and a lot of children today still need help." This charter school will help.
* Another Peachtree Hope advocate and his children.
* David Schutten: (ODE) Not spotlighting schools but there is not one place for parents to sit - unwelcoming. Some principals do a good job, others not so much. Understand budget cuts but disappointed. Disappointed that Womack would support a millage increase. 20/20 master plan. Says board never questioned 900 student schools but suddenly are questioning. Bait and switch. Understand Austin being rebuilt. Septic tank school needs rebuilt. McNair promises need to be kept. Dresden corridor - and Stone Mt predict enrollment drop due to anti-immigration bills.
* Theme school parent. "At the theme schools, we get it."
* DeKalb police are hosting a summer camp program. Summer PAL - summer athletic program.  Added educational component. June - July. 4 weeks.
* Proud Cedar Grove parent - has seen some improvements, but Cedar Grove has not had major additions like an auditorium or cosmetology lab ("like Tucker and Lakeside") [??]
[NOTE: 7:20 - we're at an hour and we have 3 more speakers?!!]
* Sandy Purkett - Great Redan - PILOT program - earned $8 million in scholarships.
* Speaker states that SACS asked board to ensure they are following their own policies.  In laying off (RIFs) board was supposed to use quality of employee. DCSS should strive to keep employees who have good servitude.  She said her RIF was based on seniority, not job performance.
* Viola Davis (Unhappy Taxpayer) We are "anemic" - we need to stop redistributing wealth across the state.  Her home was devalued from $160k to $78k.  We need to demand what is due to us from the state.  We can get it if we have a united front.

Tony Hunter: SchoolNet Update. Building level administrators have been trained in how to look at a global view of individual performance. Teachers subsequently trained. Can create individual school and district level benchmark assessments. PD Planner has been developed (Registers and tracks Professional Development-for all employees) Curriculum loading. Info accessible for SS and ELA. Working on math and science (July 1 deadline). Will also load common core standards. This tool will generate reports for RTTT. (A demonstration ensued.) Renewal of Instructional Data Mgmt System
Womack - Personal privilege. Tonight the board will approve the budget and tax levy.  Addresses a misstatement on the part of a speaker (Schutten) - "Said I was supportive of tax increase - I am not. This board wants to do everything possible for teachers and staff - board took 10% cut - but Schutten doesn't appreciate.  Has Mr. Schutten taken a pay cut? He needs to do that if he's criticizing the board."  Point of order - (Donna) - asks that board members not address members of the public by name. [Blogger note: the rules are always read that the board will NOT RESPOND to speakers - Womack broke the rules. Tom should not have allowed that.]


Motion to increase taxes .5 mil. Donna moved for an increase to 1.0 mil - with a sunset in 2 years. Womack: county is looking at raising 2-4 mils. Won't vote for a tax increase. Period. End of sentence. Bowen pointed out that we have one of the highest millage rates and never put it back down in 9 years when times were good. Walker also declined to support.  Jay is also concerned about county increase along with increase in water bills. Cuts are necessary to balance the budget. Won't vote for increase. McChesney endorses others points. We're in the 1st year of a 3 year water increase.  Also Atlanta pushing us on a 1 cent transportation sales tax. Plus we're asking for SPLOST 1 cent sales tax. Most systems are limited to 5 mils -- we're one of the three highest in the state. In the real world, people are taking salary cuts, furlough days, getting laid off. Sarah: I think my fellow board members should recognize that all of us do not think the same way.  Says, "If you don't agree, then don't vote but don't annihilate another board member. Think about how it effects another person the way you state your case (like, when  you say, 'it doesn't make sense')." Womack: history of 25 millage cap: Due to DeKalb community college. Constitutional amendment from the state to raise to 25 mils. However, we have disposed of DeKalb college, but have not disposed of the tax. Donna withdraws motion. Turk has to read the original.  Sets rate at 22.98 mils. PASSES. [This is going to be a long meeting.]

Back to the operations budget: $1 billion 235 million 105 thousand dollars. Donna asks for calendar modification of furlough days. Close schools over holiday break. Save on utilities. Allows employees vacation or sick days to use. [?] Tyson: Furlough days are a reduction in the work calendar by definition. That's the only way to capture savings. Turk: Value of sick leave or vacation day is not a budget savings. [Kind of basic Is there a reason they couldn't have discussed this before this meeting?] BUDGET PASSES. Unanimous.

Changed the name of the finance committee to include the word audit.

SPLOST IV Resolution: Tyson - wants to build an arts school at Avondale Middle.  Shot down the idea to merge Hawthorne with Henderson Mill ESs. Moseley - November SPLOST referendum outlines $475 million in projects. Parsons study showed $3.1 BILLION in facilities needs. [is this above the $2 Billion we were told when we voted for SPLOST 1 years ago?] Jester - amendment - substitute language to say Dunwoody elementary school TBD instead of specifically naming Austin. Tyson: yield to attorneys on wording. Attorney says ok. Motion to write the language to say "for" an elementary school in the Dunwoody cluster. Bowen doesn't understand. Attorney explains - as written, a new school would have to replace Austin. New language gives more latitude. Bowen still questions. Walker questions the difference. Says, "Austin is not in Snellville, it's in Dunwoody." Tyson tries to clarify [this is beginning to look like an episode of Seinfeld] Walker still doesn't understand. Edler: The idea of not specifying a particular school is of concern to me. Says the spirit of this program is to identify 'projects'. That diminishes the work we are trying to do. Donna tells Nancy she's muddying the water. McChesney says it's clear - it creates flexibility. Does not preclude the named school but has a potential for an option because we don't know where numbers will end up. Seconded her motion. [Aren't they supposed to second things before they discuss?] Speaks understands the concept and understands comments. But says if things are in black and white, the citizens hold you accountable. So if there's leeway, it will just be in the Dunwoody area, not specifically for Austin.  Is that interpretation the same for the other schools on the list? More discussion. Mosely says data shows that the Dunwoody area has a definite need for capacity. Staff recommended Austin due to it's low building score. Sarah mocks Jester for "picking" through projects. Says she'll do the same and have a "picking good time". Jay says no. Leave it as is. Motion Fails (6-3)
Jester - appreciates the time put into the SPLOST plan but is concerned about the time constraints. Voters should have more info and be allowed more feedback and discussion time. Special interest groups have been able to organize and advocate for their desires.  There hasn't been time to make a formal building plan. Votes no but SPLOST IV Referendum PASSES (8-1) [This gives Coralwood their requested $10.6 million - click here to read our post on it.]

Turk - property taxes are above projections by $11 million [Really???!]
Turk: Annual tuition fee for non-residents: $3, 400+ (down from last year) Edler: Who pays? Turk: used for seniors who have moved, but want to graduate from the school they attended. Edler: Is it also an option for anyone to choose to attend DCSS? Moseley - it only applies to seniors.
Turk: Bank of America for 22 deposit accounts. Sarah: heard bad things about Bank of America on the news. Did you? Bowen: I would not admit it.
Wilson: Approve personnel for ALL 2011-12 contracts as recommended on the CD given to board members and in a binder in the board office.
Knollwood library - Target donation (>$5,000)
Contracts for web-based programs and other services (routine annual items)
Preschool special ed - 84 classrooms. Software to monitor progress. IDEA funds.
Gifted and professional dev online courses. Edler: do we charge the teachers for these online courses? No.
Stepney: College board - DCSS to pay for 9th grade PSAT exams - $95,000+
AdvancEd / SACS - yearly dues $72,600 (requirement) [!]
Annual Perkins Grant - Career/Tech ed
Communities in Schools of Atlanta - $885,000 for contracted services for 12 Title 1 high schools (Title 1 funds used) McChesney compliments the detailed info the board was given on this beforehand - would like to get this kind of info more often. Edler: Any volunteers or are they paid? All coordinators are paid but we do have volunteers.
Donahue: Capital outlay budget reallocations:  [Bunch of them - check the agenda]
Chamblee HS - approve the new site [didn't realize there was a new site]
$52 million limit to Turner Construction
More money for the WBBC! Some kind of coolers... $802,000!!! Plus an additional MILLION for something else! Tyson explained in detail. [Didn't we just approve MILLIONS for this move last year?!! Here is a link to the project descriptions and here's a link to our original blogpost on the cost of the move.]
Replace the septic tank at Smokerise ES (the only one in the system)
New copiers for all schools next year!
Hunter: SchoolNet $900,000+; plus $179,975 for testing software;
Lakeside HS technology pkg: $705,000
Telecom equipment: Zeta technologies $221,000+

OTHER BOARD COMMENTS (2 minutes) No one had a closing comment.



themommy said...

Ms. Roberts is back -- not good.

Rumors about race of candidate are all over the candidate.

How ironic -- Ms. Roberts is asking the board to put aside their racial preferences.

REALLY! Has she looked in the mirror lately?

Now she is pushing Ms. Tyson for superintendent. Now she is telling the board that their reputation is bad.

Apparently she knows who the top the candidate is -- wish she would spill his name.

themommy said...

Lesson learned for Tom -- never make exceptions for time.


themommy said...

Given John Evans story, he should be all over the system to improve. He might become our biggest ally.

How pathetic for his grandson. And bless Evans for realizing that the system is failing him.

Cerebration said...

EXCUSE ME?!!! Has something LEAKED AGAIN?!! How could Zepora know ANYTHING about ANYONE that the board might be considering?!!!!!

We're doomed.

SHS said...

Watching the BOE meeting, June 6, 2011

Okay ... someone on the BOE has once again breached confidentiality by telling Zepora Roberts who the leading candidate is for superintendent.

This MUST stop right now. Enough already! If Zepora Roberts has inside information -- as she so obviously has -- the entire BOE must step down.

Anonymous said...

I had to check who else would catch Z Roberts leak what she "knew" about the latest superintendent search. It's a wonder why SACS hasn't stepped in since it was due to dysfunctional boards that they primarily stepped in under previous situations.

SHS said...

No, Cerebration, we are not doomed.

It is time to make an appointment with the U.S. Attorney.

We already know that SACS will do nothing. We already know that the State BOE does not have the power to do anything, nor does the Governor.

We cannot count on Robert James or anyone else in the legal system in DeKalb County or in the State of Georgia. The ties with DCSS are too tight and too covert.

Cerebration, it's time to go to the U.s. Attorney.

Avidfan said...

Interesting. DCSS as a plaintiff in the charter schools lawsuit presumably helped pay the attorney fees of plaintiffs' counsel. Now DCSS is granting the schools it fought waivers to allow them to operate? Then why the heck did we spend money fighting them anyway?

Cerebration said...

@Adouma - I long ago concluded that SACS does not care. It's a farce.

themommy said...

I really like Ms. Davis. She is right about the money the state takes.

themommy said...

It is 7:30 and they still have 5 action items and 34+ agenda items.

The size of this week's agenda is absurd and makes the board's job impossible, even if they were all competent.

themommy said...

Why did Tom Bowen give Womack permission to speak? The Board doesn't respond to public comment -- ever. If someone has an issue, a staff member may come find them. But they never answer them from the Board.

And with all the items on the agenda. Bowen has shown very poor leadership again.

concerned said...

Hmm Tax increase for the growingly inferior product and education our children receive. TIme for a teaparty.

themommy said...

They're back. (Not sure that is a good thing.)

Gene Walker is consistently rude to Donna Edler.

SHS said...


Using an hour or more of valuable time for non-essentials such as community members addressing the BOE "on high" is completely ridiculous.

Also ridiculous is Bowen's assertion that the BOE cannot respond because the topic of the citizen comments is unknown, therefore responses would violate the Open Meetings Act. Anyone who wants to address the board must give the topic of their comments in their application to speak.

SHS said...

Not even ONE more penny to DCSS until they get rid of at least 50% of the Palace staff.

It is NOT the taxpayers' fault that teachers and schoolhouse personnel are having to take furlough days.

It is COMPLETELY the fault of the BOE and Ramona Tyson who refuse to get rid of the overpaid, undertalented friends-and-family Palace staff.

Cerebration said...

Walker just gave major kudos to Tyson and Turk for saving us $40 million (the amount Walker had asked for in his 2 mil tax increase initiative last year). However, as I recall, that was a gift from Obama (federal stimulus money) Most other systems banked some of it, anticipating another bad year. DCSS used it to pay out furlough days. It's gone now.

teacher said...

What is sad is that there are so many kids that are like John Evans' grandson. These kids get pushed along. When is this cycle going to stop?

teacher said...

Seems to me that a lot of money was spent on moving from Building A and B. This money could have been much better spent.

Cerebration said...

Yes, make sure that you read our original report on the move of MIS from A and B to WBBC. At the time, they cut some costs after public outcry. Now it appears that these costs have slipped back in...

concerned said...

No to splost.

SHS said...

@ teacher

That move from Building A & B to the Palace was basically unnecessary. DCSS had to find more space for the unnecessary, over-paid, and under-talented friends-and-family jobs program. So, they built the Palace -- no expense spared.

SHS said...

@ Concerned

Not just, "No!" to SPLOST.


concerned said...

They are all either stupid, self absorbed or very manipulative (NJ that is you)

Cerebration said...

Zepora's little 'speech' floored me. The nerve she has to stand there and publicly state that not only is she aware of the current "candidate" the board is interviewing, that she is entitled to speak her racist opinion about him for the world to have to listen to - fully expecting that she'll get away with it (and she will of course -- this IS Dekalb!)

This board is so leaky - we need to send them some Depends!

teacher said...

Maybe we know who the person who did the leaking is. There had to multiple people though.

No to any new SPLOST! Even if people are cut from the Palace. No to new spending under this board.

Praying the "HE" isn't Beasley, probably isn't but that scares me more than keeping Tyson.

September said...

RE: John Evans story. If I had a child who had completed third grade and could not read, I would be looking for an answer, too. Assuming that the school is doing a reasonable job of teaching reading (his comments suggest it is not), it is possible that the child is dyslexic. Roughly 20% of the population is dyslexic to some degree. I would seek testing, just to rule out the problem.

teacher said...

@ September

Really good reading instruction can help children with dyslexia. The problem is that many teachers aren't trained in how to teach reading or phonics, as newer teachers were taught to read using whole language. Many don't understand the 5 basic components of reading or that getting a child help early is the key to being able to help him/her.

Teachers have to go through hoops to get a child tested for any sort of learning disability and every excuse is made by the schools to do the testing. The schools have to do the testing if parents request it within 30 days of the written request. Hopefully Mr. Evans will read this and ask for his grandson to be tested. The school MUST test if parents request and do it in a timely fashion.

Mr. Evan's grandson's problem shows why we do not need the army of over paid coaches in our Title One schools, but rather trained reading specialists working with struggling children in small groups.

Prison's are full of people that have never learned to read. It's cheaper to teach our kids how to read, than house them in prison.

Wake up DeKalb!!!! This is happening in most of our schools.

Clio said...

Does anyone else think that the parent(s) of the kid were negligent? Why are they not teaching the kid to read at home? Aren't most kids reading by first grade? How often are the parents and grandparents reading with the kid? You can't rely on government for everything.

Passionate... said...

I agree with SHS, it is time for the US attorney. Students needs must be met! Teachers needs must be met.

teacher said...

@ FarmHowzer

I see where you are coming from, but I have watched children who could not read in first grade earn all A's. It's become so much work to give children the grades that they truly deserve that it's easier to pass the kid along and let someone else deal with it. Then there is all of the data that needs to be collected to get a child tested. Schools don't want to test a child too early, as they may catch on and see the light so to say. Then there is the data collection needed and teachers don't have time for everything that they are expected to do.

Sometimes parents don't know how to work the system, requesting that the child be tested and the school having 30 days to get the testing done.

As a child my parents read to me daily and I still had difficulty learning to read. I had dyslexia. The help that I received from my Title One teacher helped me to read. We are misusing our Title One funds, as they do not have a significant impact on instruction. We are worried about teachers posting standards and so much other bogus time wasters.

As far as I am concerned, there is blame to go all around. The bigger picture is that we have a boy (many children) that can't read and what are we going to do about. Also what are we going to do to stop this from happening in the future.

Reading is an area of education where much research has been done, and yet we have teachers graduating from college with little understanding and knowledge of how to help a child that struggles. Teaching a child to read isn't rocket science. As I said there is blame to go to many areas, not just schools, teachers, and parents.

Here are great free or mostly free resources for parents and teachers whose children struggle with reading:
Helps Spanish speaking parents help their children learn to read English.

September said...

Thank you teacher for putting together some good information. I really think that many parents know there is a problem but have no idea what to do. In some cases I think the problem is more complicated than the parent isn't willing to help at home. Some families do try to comply with a teacher's requests but find the situation so stressful that they stop.

Cerebration said...

Great links Teacher! I'll add them to the links on the side panel of the home page.

teacher said...

I have seen teachers who own children have been diagnosed with dyslexia not truly understand what is happening or not happening in their child's brains that causes them to struggle with reading.

To me there are many who are in our schools and who are "experts" who don't know a darn thing and are afraid to admit that they don't know what they don't know. I don't know everything about teaching a child how to read, but I am not afraid to email the top people in our country to ask and usually get answers back.

I have a little boy that I tutor that did not know the letters of the alphabet or their sounds this year while in first grade and the school did nothing to help him. There is no excuse for this.

Parents going to places like Sullivan and such are paying great sums of money and really not getting a good product for the money that they pay. They do nothing to help solve a child's problem, as they don't deal with dyslexia. If your child has difficulty and you want to spend a lot of money, go to a Linda Mood Bell Center, where your child will receive the right assessments if they weren't already assessed in school and instruction that really works. Wilson Reading, also works, but is slower, and only works with some types of dyslexia and not others.

There was also an excellent show on HBO that explained dyslexia in terms that everyone can understand. If your child is struggling with reading, this will help you to understand what is going on in your child's brain. The brain can be rewired, it takes more and more time as one gets older. The time to catch and help a child is in kindergarten and first grade. Waiting until 3rd and 4th grade makes it harder. In my humble opinion every educator should see this video to better understand what is happening to people with dyslexia or reading problems, most educators don't have a clue.

Cerebration said...

There is an annual conference held at Peachtree Presbyterian (usually) for dyslexia - research, science and teaching methods. I have attended several times. They always poll the attendees - very few are public school teachers. Most are from Fulton Co schools. I've never heard them announce there were any from DeKalb. I once offered to pay for my child's Interrelated Teacher (who after earning a master's degree in Special Ed from UGA, had never even heard of Orton-Gillingham or Lindamood-Bell) to attend. She declined.

This was also the teacher who was supposed to be supporting the classroom teacher in teaching my child to read. It was a long time before I figured out that they were either using the whole language approach (no phonics at all) or simply assigning worksheets. After much work at home and with a private tutor, my child finally learned to read pretty well. But no credit can be given to a DeKalb teacher.

This is also true of math facts. Parents - you must work with your children at home with math flashcards. Basic, rote math facts are not being taught in schools. In fact, on another note, it has been in the news that schools will no longer teach cursive writing. I guess in the future, people will print or type their signature.

teacher said...

Thanks Cere and September!

Children not being able to read is a passion of mine and something that makes my blood boil. The government has spent too much money on reading research for so many kids to be slipping through the cracks and not learning how to read.

Thanks for posting these sites.

Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level by Sally Shaywitz

Parenting a Struggling Reader by Susan Hall

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann, Phyllis Haddox and Elaine Bruner (used by many homeschoolers to teach reading. It's a great way to make sure that your child has the true fundamentals of reading)

If DCSS wants to send teachers to an excellent conference that will help them to understand reading better The Plain Talk about Reading Institute is the best. It's put on by The Center for Development and Learning (CDL) located outside of New Orleans and puts on the best reading conference that I know. Their web site is: Sending an army of elementary teachers to this would be a great use of Title One funds. They will come back with things that they can use right away in their rooms with their children. CDL also sells great resources that truly help children.

teacher said...

Cere, never heard of that conference, but I have only been in GA for 4 years now. Your experience with what teachers don't know, is what is the norm. I am going to have to keep my eyes open for information for this conference, as I have never seen any.

I hope that the information that we have given parents get and use.

There are many problems with education in our country. From the way teachers are trained (as many teachers aren't trained very well) to parents not taking responsibility to parenting their children. Until the public demands better, what is currently being done will be good enough.

Cerebration said...

InterDys (IDA) - International Dyslexia Assn - Annual national conference is in Chicago

There's a GA chapter.

They used to have terrific conferences at Peachtree Pres. They may have changed venues. Great speakers - research professors - scientists - teachers, etc.

Here's a parent's resource -

also - here's a place with a listing of tutors who specialize in LD - Certainly there are many more. They are worth every dime.

September said...

Cere, your comments are so devastating and unfortunately true. DCSS spends a lot of money on teachers who are supposed to be helping children with learning problems, but haven't a clue. DeKalb used to have a program called Reading Recovery. It was an intensive one-on-one program where a specially trained teacher worked with the 1st grade children who were having the most difficulty learning to read. For many of the children who participated in the program, it was truly a miracle. That program seems to have disappeared. I guess it was too expensive. That said, the cost of repeated school failure, low self-esteem, repeating a grade at school and ultimately dropping out are far greater than the cost of this very effective program.

Instead of the useless staff development programs that are being offered to DCSS teachers, the school system would do well to provide some of the training that is offered at your church. The Orton-Gillingham and Lindamood-Bell methods have been around for a long time because they work.

teacher said...

Reading Recovery went away because it wasn't sexy. Reading Recovery could be paid for with Title One dollars and it really did work. It met kids were they were and took them to becoming readers.

You see, much research that is done in education is poorly done. Companies develop a product and then pay a researcher to get the results that they are looking for, so that they can sell the product as working. America's Choice is one example and there are many more.

Reading Recovery is expensive, but it works. Title One Reading teachers pulling out small groups of children working on the true needs of the children also works-this is how I learned to read in the late 70's-early 80's. Having the coach model that we have in DCSS currently is not effective. America's Choice and the millions spent on it is not effective.

What is effective is helping children as young as possible. The longer we wait to help a child, the more help the child will need, the longer and more expensive it is to help him/her.

Spending money on Reading Recovery would be a valuable way to spend Title One funds.

This sums up why Reading Reading Recovery has fallen out of favor nicely: //

Much has to do with Reading First and the programs that Reading First demonstrated. There are ways to do Reading Recovery like teaching with the children, but teachers have to be highly skilled and versed in truly understanding all of the components of reading. Few are, which is where the problem lies. Our elementary teachers, especially are poorly educated. Even in 2011, they are being taught about whole language, probably under some other name, and not about the five components to reading instruction and in depth knowledge and understanding of each of those components.

Gayle said...

@ September
DCSS could have used Stimulus money for Reading Recovery, but you need to use the money for teachers not coaches - not something Ms. Berry in the Office of School Improvement is interested in doing.

Here is a link to the Reading Recovery website:

Ms. Berry could be using Title 1 funding for Reading Recovery (or other direct instruction - that means teachers instructing one on one or small groups of struggling students - programs). She has not chosen to provide that for students, preferring high paid coaches that do not interact with students and have not proven efficacious for student achievement.

Ms. Berry's decisions are causing a steep decline in Title 1 schools making adequate yearly progress.

Parents with students in Title 1 schools that are not making adequate yearly progress should be very vocal about her continued tenure.

Parents in non-Title 1 schools and Title 1 schools that are making adequate yearly progress should also be complaining since they have to absorb the overcrowding that comes with student transfers.

Look at school systems that use Title 1 funds for Reading Recovery:

DCSS Teacher said...

Besides the experts (which many dyslectic kids certainly need), reading skills can be built into any lesson, including science. Yet so few DCSS teachers, esp in elementary school, go beyond the GPS to design creative lessons that address more than one of those (athetic) standards. You can teach reading skills in a math lesson, math skills in a reading lesson, and so on. Our dyslectic daughter used to have trouble with story problems in math, and the problem wasn't the math, it was understanding what the problem was about. If we hadn't paid for a private (Orton-Gillingham) tutor for many years, she'd be really lost now instead of starting college in the fall. Hoorah for Explode the Code!

Suggestion for parents: ask your child's teacher to show you some typical lessons, and ask the teacher which Georgia Performance Standard each lesson addresses. Does each lesson address just one standard? That's not how the world works, and that's not how children should be taught. But as long as we continue to partition up the world like this, our kids won't be able to think and solve real problems--which do not come prepackaged in worksheet form.

Cerebration said...

@DCSS teacher - Explode the Code - another great resource!

Cerebration said...

On the topic of charter schools -- check out this article in the New York Times about a group in Texas -

Charter Schools Tied to Turkey Grow in Texas

Cerebration said...

News on Chamblee HS -- this just in via email:

DCSS has purchased the apartment complex adjacent to CCHS along Stadium Drive and that space will be used for the new school.

The new school will have 3 main buildings: the classroom building which will front along Chamblee Dunwoody and a Fine Arts building and a gym. Plans include a football practice field, girls softball field, and larger baseball field. North DeKalb stadium will remain as is.

The front half of the main building along Chamblee-Dunwoody will be demolished and the academic building built on that site. It will be a four story building but only three stories will be visible from Chamblee-Dunwoody. They hope to save most of the trees along that road, although they said that not all of the trees are healthy. While this is under construction there will be 27-ish trailers on the current baseball field. The rest of the current school building won't be demolished until completion of construction.

Plans are to have students in the new building by August 2013.

This project goes forward regardless of whether SPLOST IV passes. The funds are coming from a federal 0% interest loan. SPLOST IV funds would be used to pay back the loan, but it can also be paid back in other ways.

This project is long overdue. The students, teachers and staff have suffered a terrible, unhealthy environment for many years now. I remember once when our team met with Dr Lewis about the condition of Lakeside and its dire need for a reno, he told us not to feel bad - that Chamblee had included a stack of photos in their Needs Assessment for SPLOST 3 - some showing clear blue sky through classroom ceilings! They have also long suffered a rodent infestation as well as a problem with mold. So glad this new school is about to be a reality!

Stnuocca said...

So here is the sad news for Dekalb County teachers who live in Dekalb:

1. Your house value went down

2. Your salary has not increased in 6 years

3. Your work load has increased steadily

4. Your customers (we the taxpayers)refuse to pay for your services

Cerebration said...

Even sadder than that, many of those taxpayers have suffered complete unemployment, loss of all their assets or unable to sell their home - loss of their home due to foreclosure - thereby losing any equity they had built up.

Most everyone is struggling - not just teachers. I know MANY people who would joyfully give up a few days' pay in exchange for a paycheck the rest of the year. Not to mention - benefits. Teachers -- we have empathy for you - but it's really bad out there for the rest of us. Some empathy in return would be appreciated.

Stnuocca said...

I appreciate what you are saying.

I am not sending my children to Piccadilly to order a 5 dollar meal for 4 dollars in the name of the bad economy or telling the employees that they should grateful for jobs?

Would we really be OK if Piccadilly was charging the same cost for meals given the higher cost of energy and food by cutting the salaries of its staff?

Education is a necessity--it's not cable TV that we can do wirthout

Passionate... said... will like the common core state standards...literacy throughout...explaining answers...listening...speaking...writing...reading.

SHS said...

@ FarmHowzer

I absolutely think the parents were and are clearly negligent. That was my first thought.

I do understand about the issues involved with dyslexia and ADHD/ADD. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

But, I cannot understand parents who would let their child suffer and struggle without seeking assistance. These parents should have been reading to their child at least since he was born, if not earlier. They should have noticed that something was not right and sought out early help.

It is unreasonable to expect schools to do everything for your child. Parents should be their child's first and best teacher.

Is their attitude an entitlement mindset or what?

What was John Evans thinking? He is well-known in the community and he is "outing" his 3rd grade grandson as a non-reader. How is that going to help? Was he really seeking help -- or was he seeking to somehow "embarrass" DCSS at the expense of his grandson.

Hey, John -- there's lots of help out there for your grandson and you should begin looking for that instead of wasting your time -- and your grandson's -- addressing the BOE as a hat-in-hand supplicant approaching the emperor.

Help for your grandson's reading disabilities is not available in DCSS as long as it is a jobs program for overpaid, undertalented friends-and-family.

Embarrass Tyson, Bowen, Berry, DCSS and the BOE? Get real! Those people are bold and they have no shame and no accountability.

teacher said...


I don't know Mr. Evans, but I do know and have watched parents who care, try to get their children help in DCSS only to hit brick wall after brick wall. Some think that sending their child to Sullivan or another chain tutoring business will help them. They don't understand what is really needed to help their children. For the money that we spend educating our children, these kids should be receiving the services that they need. As a tax payer, teaching these kids how to read, is more or as important as having theme schools, and magnet programs. Teaching these kids to read is a better investment.

I understand what you are saying, and as I said, I don't know Mr. Evans. What I do know is that there are way too many kids like Mr. Evan's grandson. I volunteer tutor at the last school that I worked at and I could keep myself busy volunteering full time tutoring the children that are struggling readers. The kids that I worked with this past year, still need help, as helping a struggling reader is not an easy or simple fix. Administrators don't understand this.

The fact remains that few classroom and special education teachers know how to help struggling readers, and even fewer administrators know. We have a huge problem and hopefully more parents will know that they aren't alone in trying to fight the system to get their children the help that they need. Hopefully parents of struggling readers will see the information that we posted earlier today and realize that there is help out there.

If you are a parent struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over your head and were poorly educated yourself, you are not aware of what is out there. Often times, parents have the same problems as their children, and don't know how to find help or can't read to even begin to try. Or there is the parent who believes the teachers and that their child will catch up, but before they realize the teachers are spewing BS, it's virtually too late for their child.

SHS said...

@ Stnuocca

Here is the real truth for DCSS teachers who live in DeKalb County:

1. Your house value went down.

2. Your property tax is about to go up for fewer services.

3. Your salary has not increased in six (6) years.

4. Your work load has increased steadily

5. Your employer (DCSS) -- NOT DeKalb taxpayers -- refuses to pay market wage for you to teach our children in order to maintain the friends-and-family jobs program that is DCSS.

For example, employees in the failing Office of School Improvement grabbed an average 7.5% raise -- for failing at their jobs -- between 2008 and 2010.

Cerebration said...

That's exactly true SHS. Taxpayers fork over $1.2 BILLION to the school system every year to get the job done. That's PLENTY. In fact, school tax accounts for nearly 70% of the homeowners tax bill.

However, I disagree with laying the blame for poor reading skills on parents. It is not a child's fault if they have parents who are unable to support them in their education but that should not be an impediment to getting a good education. Public school should be a place that levels the playing field. Title 1 is in place for just that reason. Title 1 money should be spent on support teachers to find students who need extra support and lend it to them. The blame should not fall on the parents or heaven forbid - the grandparents.

sharon said...

Let's talk about parents for a minute. Last year just over 10% of all the student in DeKalb were absent more than 15 days. Almost 32% (nearly a third) were absent from 6 days to 15 days. Try passing in school when you don't showup. Surely parents must share some responsiblity for habitual absences? No wonder so many schools don't make AYP.

DCSS Teacher said...

Many writers' recent comments about parents' vs teachers' role in student learning are so true! Parents aren't to "blame" for their kids' poor reading skills, but they ARE to blame for not helping their children develop LANGUAGE skills. That means helping them understand the importance of words in human communication. From parents' behavior, kids learn how to value and use language.

When our own children were very young, life seemed like a constant language lesson. We "discussed" with them the different kinds of foods in the grocery store (sometimes shopping trips were very long!): described highway signs by color and shape, and what they mean, as we drove; talked about politics, dogs, astronomy, the weather--anything at all--with them; and, of course, read lots of books to and with them. It didn't matter if they understand the content (what toddler cares about Stop signs?)--but what mattered was that we showed them that we love words, love communicating, and that words are important.

Many of my poorer students' families have no "extra" reading time in the evenings. OK. But anyone can talk to his/her child and model that "language matters to our family." Each trip to the grocery store contains so many language-teachable moments, yet so often harried, angry parents use these opportunities to teach only one word--"NO." There's a whole vocabulary lesson right there, in the spice aisle. Teachers can't compensate for a lack of interest in language in students' homes.

Voterwhocares said...

Please make a correction:

Viola Davis is against the T-Mobile proposal. We gave the entire Board of Education a package of detailed evidenced i.e. research to justify voting against the T-Mobile Deal.

We also went to Cobb County and photographed 6 schools with cell towers that T-Mobile installed on school property. Parents will find the cell towers next to the playgrounds and stadiums. We will place the PowerPoint on

Cerebration said...

Voter - so sorry - I apparently misheard Ms Davis. As I was typing the blog (live) I obviously thought she said that the cell towers were a good thing (financially)... ? But if, as you say, she has already stated she's against it, I will remove that part of my report. I'll also add the link to your Powerpoint when it's ready if you'll send it to me.

Also - In reference to this comment: Surely parents must share some responsiblity for habitual absences? No wonder so many schools don't make AYP.

Absolutely! It is against the law to not send your child to school (unless you legally home school). A couple of years ago, several parents were rounded up by DeKalb police (oddly, not school system police) and hauled off to jail for not sending their children to school. I would hope that the school system would continue in that vigilance - and if our school police cannot manage to follow up, then we must involve DeKalb county police (and maybe cut back on our own police force, if they can't manage to get it done). We spend something like $19 million on a school system police force. Ensuring that parents follow the law should be a major part of their job. Once students are at their desks - that's when teachers can get to work. But you're right - teachers cannot do the job if students aren't in their seats.

Cerebration said...

@DCSS Teacher -- excellent parenting advice! You should apply to run a parent center -- you'd probably get paid more!

DCSS Teacher said...

Thanks Cerebration!

Anonymous said...

The $19 million spent on the DCSS "police force" could put 190 officers on the street in DeKalb County at $100,000 per officer. They would be of more use to the DCSS and the entire community.

Cerebration said...

Well, just color me wrong. So sorry. Had my departments mixed up. $19 million is for MIS -- here's the info on the security --

Gwinnett County Schools with 150,000 students to our 100,000 has 49 Security personnel for a cost of $2,500,000 in salary and benefits. This is an average of $51,000 per Security employee.

DCSS has 218 Security employees at a cost of $12,500,000 in salary and benefits. This is an average of $57,300 per Security employee.

(We try to keep a page of facts and sources -- you can find it on the right side panel under Pages)

Gayle said...

@ DCSS Teacher
"Surely parents must share some responsiblity for habitual absences? No wonder so many schools don't make AYP. "

The DCSS Office of School Improvement is spending $4,400,000 annually in salary and benefits on the Parent Centers. The Parent Facilitators are supposed to be ensuring parents have the skills that will give their children the background that is conducive to educational success. Yet less and less of DCSS Title I schools are making adequate yearly progress.

The Parent Centers were established in 2005 the year after Dr. Lewis became superintendent.

At $4,000,000+ in salary and benefits, taxpayers have spent $24,000,000 on these Parent Centers since their inception.

It is interesting to look at the highly paid members listed under title Parent Coordinator in the state Salary and Travel Report and see that one of them is Zepora Roberts daughter ($76,495 in salary and benefits), one of them is Frankie Callaway's daughter ($61,775 in salary and benefits), and there is even a Guillory in there ($81,095 in salary and benefits). Not one of them is listed as a certified teacher at the Georgia Certification site although Ms. Callaway's daughter has an expired paraprofesssional certificate.

NO statistics on how many parents this group sees. NO tracking of results. Absolutely NO accountability in an area that should be producing academic progress, not academic decline.

BTW - Ms. Roberts daughter made $4,300 more in salary in 2010 than in 2009 and up $8,000 since 2008 during a time of frozen staff wages.

The ineffectiveness and lack of accountability of these expensive Parent Centers are worth it's own post.

State Salary and Travel audit 2008,2009,2010

Georgia Certification:

DCSS newsletter:

Cerebration said...

You are so right about that - I'll queue one up. Your input is critical atl... thanks.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

atl, Thanks for pointing this out about the Parent Centers. What could we have done, for the teachers, the REAL teachers, with that 24 million the past six years?

Another Guilroy? There are two, that I know of, running transportation and the Award winning PDS24. aka TysonTV, you're telling me there is another Guilroy on the payroll? With Jamal Edwards and his sister working for DCSS too, what does former BOE chairperson, Francis Edwards, have on the current leadership? She must have at least 6 family members drawing more than $450k a year?

The new Guilroy at a Parent Center, does not have a teachers certificate, yet she's making more than a teacher? This is criminal!

DCSS Teacher said...

Good points you make. However, in contrast to how you started your post, it wasn't me, DCSS Teacher, who wrote what you quote. It was "Sharon" @ 9:39AM today. I would not have made that statement. Let's keep our anonymities straight!

Anonymous said...

We have a Parent Center at the school in which I work. If there are ever more than 10 parents in any given week, I would be quite surprised. We also have two full time staff in this Parent Center. According to the public salary information that is out there, both are making more than most full time teachers. This is definitely an area that I would love to see looked at more closely. From what I can tell, the parents that do come in do so to use the computers. Don't public libraries offer that?

teacher said...

I realized that a lot of money was spent on the parent centers, but learning that those working in them make more than the teachers is criminal.

Parents have access to computers at the library and I have seen some parents use the computers at the school's library. We don't need to be spending millions on centers that parents do not go to. Looks like we found more money for more Title One reading and math teachers.

Our salary structure is all wrong. Again money wasted.

Gayle said...

@ DCSS teacher
Sorry for the misquote.

BTW the georgia Teacher Certification site is:

Look up anyone's certification by entering his/her first name and last name.

I would be surprised if 20% of the personnel listed as Parent Coordinators on the state Salary and Travel site have valid teaching certificates.

What are the qualifications for this job?

Where is the salary schedule for this job?

Where is the data showing the accountability for this job?

These seem like very reasonable questions.

Anonymous said...

I just looked up our Parent Center staff on both the teacher certification site and the salary site. Without naming names:
Person #1, no teaching certificate, title is Parent Center Facilitator, Office of School Improvement,
2010 salary $60,461.04.
Person #2, no teaching certificate,
title is Interpreter Parent Center, Office of School Improvement,
salary $42,418.90 + $252.19 travel.
I guess I am in the wrong line of work with DCSS!

Anonymous said...

PS- I am not saying that the Parent Centers are a bad thing. I am all for helping parents get more involved in their child's education! However, I suggest we take a look at which centers, if any, are being used enough to justify the costs. These are the kinds of things that should be looked at when making budget cuts before just taking the easy 'fur low the teachers or raise taxes' route.

teacher said...

@ leggplant 7:03

I agree. If the parent centers are heavily used for purposes that parents can't get at other places, great, but if not, we could use that money for Title One Teachers who could actually make a bigger impact on more children.

The more I learn about how DCSS uses (or I should say misuses) Title One Funds, the angrier I get. I haven't yet seen a good use of Title One funds in DCSS. Hopefully there are a few out there, but so far we are supporting over paid friends and family members with plush jobs and salaries much larger than teachers.

This area of the budget needs to be scrutinized and spent in a way that will help children succeed in life. This won't happen under this boards or Tyson's watch.

Cerebration said...

From what I understand (someone correct me if I'm wrong) Gwinnett allows parent groups at individual schools to make recommendations as to how they would like Title 1 funds spent at their particular school (going on the assumption that each school has different needs). If true, I think it's an idea worth stealing...

Cerebration said...

Also -- hopefully this is news about the superintendent search --

June 9, 2011


The DeKalb Board of Education will hold a called meeting at 9:30am, Friday, June 10, 2011, in the Cabinet Room at the DeKalb County School
System's Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain.

The called meeting will adjourn to executive session for the purpose of discussing a personnel matter.

Cerebration said...

The Champion has a good article on the meeting --

DeKalb School Board approves $475 million construction list

Board member Nancy Jester was the only member who voted against the plan, citing concerns that she thought the board’s time frame didn’t allow the communities a chance to be well informed about the projects.

“I think they deserve more time to give feedback and we need more time to filter that feedback,” Jester said. “So, I can’t in good conscience vote tonight for this plan…I owe the citizens of DeKalb my principled, honest assessment and I can’t make a judgment about these projects under these circumstances tonight.”

Because of the way boundary lines are drawn, DeKalb, Decatur and Fulton have to vote at the same time and Jester said that it was unfortunate that their time frame was being driven by outside municipalities. However, she said that ultimately the decision to fund the projects would be left to the voters of DeKalb County.

The board also approved the $1.23 billion budget for fiscal year 2011-12. The vote had originally been set for early May but was pushed back when some board members said they wanted extra time to look over it before making the decision to approve it.

Originally, the tentative 2011-12 budget anticipated a $2 billion drop in tax revenue and therefore restored all furlough days for 10- and 11-month employees and limited the number of furlough days for all 12-month employees to four.

However, the county recently discovered that its drop in property values would be closer to $3 billion, which means the DeKalb County School System will receive $15 million less in funding than they anticipated. To make up for the shortfall the board, at Chief Financial Officer Marcus Turk’s discretion, decided to reinstate the furlough days.

Now, 10- and 11-month employees will have four furlough days and 12-month employees will have seven.

September said...

For those who think that parent resource centers in Title I schools are a waste of money, I must disagree. Perhaps in your school this is a problem. Perhaps you don't have someone in your building who provides these services.

Yes, there are probably some people who are being paid too much. A college degree, ability to speak a second language, and years of work experience in the school building should be taken into account when you look at salaries. I think the most important issue is the service that the school is receiving.

Where I work the individual who manages our parent center is invaluable. If I take a problem to her, she calls the family, speaks to them in their language, explains the problem and what needs to happen. She watched her do the same thing with some of our ESOL students. If I need to send a note home and the parents don't speak English, she translates it for me. She attends parent teacher conferences, PTA meetings, and other meetings that are held after school and in the evenings. Parents contact her and visit her center. She has been instrumental in building a bridge between the school and the community we serve.

Not everyone who does this job is taking advantage of the system. Some are earning those salaries you are complaining about.

Cerebration said...

I have heard good stories about the Parent Centers - especially at Cross Keys. However, I think we are all very surprised at learning that so many of these employees make much more than teachers. We're not sure that should be - however, the standard response is "it's Title 1 money and can't be used for teachers"...

Gayle said...

@ September
That's great anecdotal evidence, however student performance data should be used to ensure Parent Centers are meeting clearly stated objectives of raising student achievement, especially since the common refrain is that parents are the key to student performance - even more than teachers.

Are teachers the only personnel who are tied to student performance?

What are the specific student performance based objectives of the Parent Centers?

How will we know they have met those objectives?

What is the method of changing the Parent Centers if the millions spent on them do not bring about an increase in student achievement?

Below are the objectives for the Parent Centers as stated in 2005 when they were first established. None of these are data driven. They seem very subjective and vague. Not at all what taxpayers should expect when DCSS is taking $4,000,000+ a year of direct instruction dollars from struggling students and hiring non-instructional and non-certified personnel. Taxpayers do not know how often the Parent Centers are used since there is no published data.

Give taxpayers data not educational platitudes when you divert millions of instructional dollars from the classroom.

The E. L. Miller, Parent Center
Facilitators believe that all children are unique individuals with the ability to learn and succeed. The Parent Center contains resources which will increase parental involvement and enhance student achievement. The goal there is to provide support to the parents so that each student will experience success and continuous

It is the intent of the Parent Center at Jolly ES to create a warm,
welcoming environment that
provides a wealth of academic,
social, and personal support for
parents so that they may help their
children to achieve.

The Parent Center at Avondale MS
will have resources and workshops
that will offer not only help for
improving student achievement and
success but will also give parents a
sense of self gratification. The
setup is such that resources are
easily accessed by parents and

The Parent Center at Chapel Hill
MS will focus on making parents
aware of their children’s
curriculum in each academic area.
Parents should know the objectives
their children are expected to meet.
The center will link parents with a
variety of resources to enable them
to support their children’s

The Cedar Grove MS Parent
Center strives to equip parents with
materials and knowledge to help
them help their children to become
life long learners.

The Parent Center at Columbia
MS is striving for continued
growth. Parents are encouraged to
come in to discuss issues affecting
their children’s education. The
intent is to offer resources and
workshops on subjects that will
affect parenting skills and
ultimately increase parental
participation and activism in the

Sequoyah MS Parent Center has
goals of building the bridge
between family, school, and the
community to create the best
opportunity, services, and resources
possible for parents to increase
success for their children. We will
work with a number of agencies
and community partners to

One unique aspect of the Parent
Center at Cross Keys HS is its
location in an ethnically diverse
community. The Center hopes to
alleviate barriers that would
exclude parents from their
children’s educational process. The
center’s goal is to bring more
parents into the community of
learners by involving them more
directly in their children’s
education providing them with a
variety of adult educational

Fred said...

atl, your questions should go to the Federal government since they set the mandates regarding how Title 1 dollars are used. If DeKalb and other school district are abiding by those mandates, they are doing there job since that is how they are measured.

Gayle said...

@ Fred
"If DeKalb and other school district are abiding by those mandates, they are doing there job since that is how they are measured."

DCSS may be following the "letter of the federal law" regarding Title 1 expenditures, but if the result is declining student achievement in Title 1 schools then is this acceptable?

Non-Title 1 areas in DCSS may think declining student achievement in Title 1 schools does not affect them, but they are seeing the results as their property values decline, their taxes increase, and their "Made AYP" schools become overcrowded with transfers. Make no mistake. We are in this together. Until we address the need to spend Title 1 and federal dollars ($128,000,000 a year, 14% of our budget, and the only constantly increasing and discretionary part of the DCSS budget) in a cost effective and efficacious manner for Title 1 students, we will see a negative impact in every neighborhood in DeKalb.

Look at the technology, science equipment, and physical plant of your local school, look at your property taxes, look at the dearth of people who want to buy your house because you live in DeKalb, and then tell me the declining achievement in our Title 1 schools is strictly a federal concern.

Using $128,000,000 of discretionary funding in a manner that positively impacts student achievement in DCSS is of critical importance no matter where you live.

Anonymous said...

ATL When it comes to "free"(Federal) money and DCSS, remember the old Humphrey Bogart movie Treasure of Sierra Madre. The Mexican bandit summed it up: "Laws. We don't need no steenking laws"

In DCSS, failure and incompetence is the acceptrd norm. Therefore, No one could prove that the money is being wasted.