Sunday, July 31, 2011

Back to School Message from Ms. Tyson

August 1, 2011

Dear Parents and Guardians:

Welcome to the 2011-2012 school year in DeKalb County School System. As we begin this school year, I want parents and guardians to know that student learning is the foremost priority of the Board and Interim Superintendent. The academic challenges facing this District are serious, but rest assured that each area of concern has been confronted and issues are being addressed so that students enrolled in DeKalb Schools will be able to achieve at the highest levels. We will insist that students needing improvement receive the additional services they need to improve learning, and commit to challenging students who are meeting and exceeding expectations to reach higher levels of academic performance.

It is well-documented that 21st century students must possess extensive amounts of knowledge and have strong skill-sets in order to be successful in college and the workforce. Therefore, to enable the school system to deliver on its responsibility to produce college and work-ready students, the following strategies, processes, and procedures will be utilized during 2011-2012 in all schools and departments.

  • Triage the lowest performing schools and provide the knowledge base to all schools in order to establish the connection between student assessment data, government and stakeholder accountability measures, and tactical classroom instruction
  • Accountability and performance training for our principals
  • Deeper collaboration between school operations and curriculum and instruction
  • Restructure the use of federal/state/local dollars to better impact success in low performing schools
  • Conduct a salary class/compensation and efficiency study of all positions
  • Engage in developing a system-wide strategic plan during 2011-2012 to ensure that the District has an ongoing systematic continuous improvement process in place
  • Prepare for the district’s five-year accreditation AdvancEd SACS renewal
  • Complete the 10-Year master facilities plan
  • Continue implementation of Race to the Top (RT3) initiatives and expectations of the Race to the Top GA initiative

The task to improve student achievement in DeKalb looms large and is somewhat daunting, but it is not overwhelming. Our response to the condition of academics in DeKalb cannot be sugar-coated or swept under the rug. Change must occur. However, real change requires that each employee, parent, and stakeholder step up, assume responsibility for ensuring student success, and refuse to look down or look back. I am committed to our students, and I ask that you join with me on behalf of the 100,000 students of DeKalb County School System.


Ramona H. Tyson
Interim Superintendent

An[other] Open Letter to Ramona Tyson and DCSS BOE

Once again, Mrs. Tyson and DCSS BOE: It is unacceptable -- and against U. S. Department of Education Non-Regulatory Guidance -- to send AYP transfers to Chamblee Charter High School.

Chamblee Charter High School (CCHS) is, in fact, the result of a grassroots community effort. I know because I chaired the committee that converted Chamblee High School to Chamblee Charter High School. CCHS is a charter school that always has more students wanting to enroll than there are non-resident area seats. That is especially true this year because of construction on CCHS's campus; classroom/trailer space is at a premium. There is always a lottery for available seats at CCHS. This lottery is required by the U.S. Department of Education. Please note: SEAs or LEAs may not require a charter school to alter its admissions process for [the purpose of admitting AYP transfer students].”[1],[2] CCHS is not a “choice” school.

Quite frankly, if any child lost out in the lottery to attend CCHS, but AYP transfers -- most of whom are African-American in a majority African-American county -- were allowed to “cut in line” because DCSS administrators and BOE members -- most of whom also are African-American -- are too inept and too racist to do their jobs, the U. S. Attorney should be considering a lawsuit for violation of civil rights, racial discrimination and refusal to follow U. S. Department of Education guidelines. It will be interesting to see if Sally Yates has the guts to do that.

But I digress …

I wrote you about this last year. I did not expect to have to repeat this letter. Nothing has changed with the U.S. Department of Education's guidelines. And do not be confused by the term, “non-regulatory.” DCSS still must follow these U.S. Department of Education guidelines. They are not merely suggestions.

Then there is overcrowding to consider. Experienced, successful, professional educators and actively involved parents know that overcrowding has a proven negative effect on our students’ education. For more than 25 years, we have known, “Probably the greatest single discouragement to better instruction is the overcrowded classroom.”[3] (Karp)

To paraphrase Walter Karp, quoted above, “What makes these conditions [at CCHS and elsewhere in DCSS] appalling is that they are quite unnecessary. The [DeKalb County School System is] top-heavy with administrators and rife with sinecures. Large numbers of teachers scarcely ever set foot in a classroom, being occupied instead as grade advisers, career counselors, coordinators, [coaches] and supervisors.”[4]

Last year's AYP “transfers” into the CCHS “annex” should not be attending CCHS this year (unless they cared enough to enter the lottery and win a space), nor should their test scores and graduation rate have been calculated with CCHS’s test scores and graduation rate -- causing CCHS to not meet AYP for the first time ever.

Common sense says that Title I high school students who are academically deficient do not suddenly get up to grade level through osmosis. They have been too far behind for too long. These students absolutely require one-on-one tutoring. And, yet, if they take a school transfer, these Title I academically deficient students lose federally funded tutoring. The only thing they get in return is a lengthy commute to school. (Where do you explain this to parents?) These students are still academically deficient, they are running out of time to catch up, their days start far earlier and end far later because of transportation issues, they have limited opportunity to make new friends and participate in extracurricular activities and, chances are, these students will make up most of the drop-out statistics. (Graduation Rate is the second AYP indicator following Academic Performance.)

You have other choices allowed by No Child Left Behind besides transfers (which have been proven ineffective) that will better serve academically deficient high school students. For example:

    1) A virtual school may be among the schools to which an eligible student may transfer, so long as that school is a public elementary or secondary school (as defined by the SEA) and has not been identified for school improvement, corrective action, or restructuring. If the “virtual school” is not operated by the LEA, the LEA could enter into a cooperative agreement with the school so that its students can enroll.[5]

    It’s time to get our money’s worth out of the DeKalb Online Academy (DOLA). If that doesn’t suit you, then there is always the Georgia Virtual School – also paid for by our tax dollars.

    2) The NCLB statute does not address whether non-Title I schools that miss AYP for two or more years may be offered as transfer options. Accordingly, an SEA may adopt a policy governing the use of non-Title I schools that have missed AYP for two or more years as choice options. [6]

    What is the Georgia Department of Education’s policy on this? (I asked you this same question last year, but did not receive a response from you. This year I am asking the question under Georgia's Open Records Act, requesting copies of the correspondence between DCSS and the GaDOE concerning the use of non-Title I schools that have not made AYP for two or more years as receiving schools. You have the option to provide this information at no cost, so I am asking for that, also.)

In addition to the choices listed above, here are some other U. S. Department of Education-approved options:

    3) Creating new, distinct schools with separate faculty within the physical sites of schools identified for school improvement, corrective action, or restructuring.

    4) Encouraging the creation of new charter schools within the LEA.

    DCSS and the BOE just turned down two perfectly acceptable charter schools because the schools had not yet identified their facilities. Seriously. How can you justify that when DCSS has a number of vacant facilities that, by Georgia law, must be offered to charter schools for use at no charge?

    5) Easing capacity by initiating inter-district choice programs with neighboring LEAs or by establishing programs through which local private schools can absorb some of the LEA’s students.[7]

Have you seriously considered the above options? If so, please explain in detail why they are not being used in DCSS. I will publish your response, word-for-word. (Please note, I offered to publish your response when I presented the same options last year and asked if they were being considered by DCSS or if not, why not. There was no response from you. This year I am asking the question under Georgia's Open Records Act, requesting DCSS internal correspondence on the options named above. You have the option to provide this information at no cost, so I am asking for that, also.)

What you are doing may meet the letter of the NCLB law, but it does not meet the intent of NCLB. Because you will not address the challenges and correct the problems in schools not making AYP, you and the rest of Crawford Lewis’ overpaid, under-talented cronies are consigning DeKalb County’s students (especially its substantial, mostly African-American, Title I student population) to a bleak future.

If white DCSS administrators and BOE members were enriching themselves on the backs of mostly African-American Title I students ... if white DCSS administrators and BOE members were repeatedly shuffling academically deficient African-American Title I students from school to school with no regard to proactively and effectively educating these students ... if white DCSS administrators and BOE members were methodically creating an underclass of African American Title I students in the same manner as the current African-American administrators and BOE members are doing ... the African-American community in DeKalb County would be up in arms and screaming racism. Per Walt Kelly and Pogo, We have met the enemy ... and he is us.”

What you are doing with regard to AYP transfers and Chamblee Charter High School may not be legally criminal -- Sally Yates, what say you? -- but it is morally repugnant and indefensible.

[1] No Child Left Behind: Public School Choice, Non-Regulatory Guidance] ; January 14, 2009; Page 19

[2] No Child Left Behind: Charter Schools Program, Title V, Part B, Non-Regulatory Guidance

[3] Why Johnny Can’t Think: The Politics of Bad Schooling, Walter Karp, Harper’s Magazine, June 1985, pages 69-73

[4] Why Johnny Can’t Think: The Politics of Bad Schooling, Walter Karp, Harper’s Magazine, June 1985

[5] No Child Left Behind: Public School Choice, Non-Regulatory Guidance; January 14, 2009; Pages 18-19

[6] No Child Left Behind: Public School Choice, Non-Regulatory Guidance; January 14, 2009; Pages 19-20

[7] No Child Left Behind: Public School Choice, Non-Regulatory Guidance; January 14, 2009; Pages 20-21

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Choice Worth Choosing! Cross Keys offers some very special programs

For all the angst over the poor choices offered to ESEA (also known as NCLB or AYP) transfers, we wanted to promote an alternative for motivated students who really want to grab an opportunity for a terrific educational experience.

Cross Keys High School was just granted permission over the summer to offer a very new, high tech high school program starting this fall (yes - as in 2 weeks!) There are still spaces available, so if you find these interesting choices, call your home school counselor or principal ASAP and ask to apply for a transfer. (BTW, Cross Keys is within a short walking distance of the Brookhaven MARTA station.)

First, as Kim Gokce told us in a previous post, CKHS will be offering an "amazing program to be launched this fall at Cross Keys HS that is available to students from Dunwoody HS, Chamblee Charter HS, Cross Keys HS, Tucker HS, Lakeside HS, Clarkston HS, Stone Mountain HS and Druid Hills HS. The Remote Automation Management Project (RAMP) will be offered via a partnership between DeKalb County Schools and Moultrie Tech."

"Moultrie Tech is only the second site in the United States to become a platform for this type of innovative instructional support for robotics and automation. Cross Keys HS is the second site in Georgia to become part of the Moultrie program (I believe Forsyth may be the first)."

"A nationally recognized instructor, Patrick Gunter, has been hired by DCSS and assigned to Cross Keys to lead the class on site. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Gunter on the day of his contract signing and can tell you that he is the sort of mentor and thought leader to which you want your kids to have access. Students will also have video conferencing access to Moultrie Tech faculty for support of their hands-on work with a $40,000 piece of SMC Corp robotics."

Read more and watch the video about the program here:

RAMP Comes to Cross Keys to Serve Area High Schoolers

Kim is spot-on with his enthusiasm. Mr. Gunter is an incredibly gifted teacher and scientist. Any student fortunate enough to work under his tutelage will do very well in the future.

But wait - there's more!

Mr. Gunter also serves as an advisor to the GT SolarJackets car team, and he is bringing GT student mentors for the CK teams. Read Kim's post about the solar car competition at this link:

CK Update: Here Comes the Sun

"Interested in joining the Cross Keys' solar car team or one of the two planned robotics teams Mr. Gunter will coach?

Parents and students should attend the 7:00 pm, August 9, 2011 Parent Meeting for the 2011/2012 GATSA at Cross Keys High School. Students participating in the GATSA must commit to working 3-4 days a week after school from 3:30 – 6:30 pm. Joining the GATSA is about a $15 proposition annually and families will need to support some travel expenses for their child for competitions. Private assistance available to support participation."

Like I said, there are spaces available in this program. If you are seeking a transfer - or simply a hands-on high tech high school education and the leadership of a highly regarded scientist/teacher, check out this new program at Cross Keys High School!

Contact Kim Gokce, m: 678-361-4200, or Mr. Gunter, m: 864-590-9004, for details and to keep up with engineering and technology options at CK!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

ESEA School Choice 2011-12

The letter about AYP transfers according to NCLB (now known as ESEA) has been posted. You can read it by clicking here. The window to apply for a transfer is July 22 - August 4. Another (often better) option is to request private tutoring for your child and stay at your home school. If you have any questions about the Supplemental Educational Services (free tutoring), contact Dr. Linda Crowley by telephone at 678.676.0309. The state publishes an extensive list of approved vendors for tutoring. Click here to review that list.

Below is the published list of receiving schools:

Elementary Schools ESEA Choice Options:
• Hambrick Elementary - K through 5th
• Kelley Lake Elementary - K through 5th
• Kingsley Elementary - K through 5th

Middle Schools ESEA Choice Options:
• Cedar Grove Middle - Grades 6th – 8th
• Stone Mountain Middle - Grades 6th – 8th
• Chamblee Middle -Grades 6th – 8th

High Schools ESEA Choice Options:
Traditional Schedule
• Arabia Mountain High - Grades 9th – 12th
• Chamblee High - Grades 11th and 12th
Block Schedule *90 minute class periods
• DeKalb Early College Academy (DECA) - 9th Grade Only (special rules apply)
• Druid Hills High Annex @ DeKalb School of the Arts* - Grades 9th – 12th
*NOTE: the program is not part of DSA whatsoever: The program will ACTUALLY be in the now CLOSED Avondale HS; students will be considered Druid Hills "annex" students, and staff will report to the Druid Hills principal. However, students will never attend school at the Druid Hills campus - instead will attend at the Avondale campus - reopened for AYP transfers only.


DeKalb Early College Academy (DECA)

DeKalb Early College Academy is a program in partnership with Georgia Perimeter College (GPC) that is designed for high school students to complete their high school diploma while receiving up to 60 hours of college credits toward an Associate of Arts degree. The goal of DECA is to improve the high school graduation rates of DeKalb County high schools, and subsequently, the opportunity to complete college. Early colleges were created as a school reform initiative and a viable alternative to large, comprehensive high schools. DECA does not have an athletic or band program, but rather various other extracurricular activities/clubs.

Criteria for Student Enrollment at DECA
All students enrolled at DeKalb Early College Academy must maintain satisfactory academic grades, pass all sections of the Criterion Reference Competency Test (CRCT), possess a satisfactory attendance and discipline record while enrolled in middle school. All students are required to wear school uniforms. Students are dismissed back to their community high school if program expectations are not met. Students who applied and were not admitted previously are not eligible to attend DECA through ESEA Public School Choice and should select another school choice.

Arabia Mountain High School
All students enrolled at Arabia Mountain High School must maintain a 2.0 grade point average each semester. A total of ten hours of parental involvement hours (volunteer hours) are required before May 1st annually. All students are required to participate in twenty hours of “Going Green” community service. School uniforms are required for each student.

Chamblee High School
Chamblee High School is about to begin a major construction project. The school is bringing in a "trailer village" of approximately 40 trailers to accommodate construction and transfers. The construction will take a couple of years but will end up with a very nice facility for the 2013 school year.


In addition, below is the transportation information. It literally pays to choose the school furthest away from your home. You will be reimbursed for TWO round trips per day at $.51/mile. [Personally, I think free tutoring is more valuable and possibly more effective.]

Transportation Options for ESEA Public School Choice
The law states that, “The school district must provide transportation or provide FOR transportation for a student whose home school is a Title I Needs Improvement (NI) school.” For parents/guardians who are able to pay for or provide a means of transporting their child to their school of choice, the DeKalb County School System will reimburse the parents/guardians for transporting the student to the receiving school if the student is transferring from a Title I Needs Improvement (NI) school. The current federal per diem rate is .51 per mile and is subject to change. Reimbursement is calculated as round trip from the student’s home to the choice school and round trip from the student’s choice school to the student’s home. The round trip will be calculated based on the shortest distance between home and school.

For more information, the application and to see the list of sending schools, visit this link at the school system's website.
Public School Choice Hotline (678) 676-0081
Online Registration at

Monday, July 25, 2011

Credit Probe Delays Diploma For Eddie Long's Child

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- A senior administrator in the DeKalb County School System is under investigation because of the way she handled an academic matter involving the daughter of mega-church Bishop Eddie Long, Channel 2 Action News has learned.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher found out the issue surfaced with a tip to school Superintendent Raymona Tyson.

At issue is a course for which Taylor Long was given credit, but which should not have been allowed because it was taken at a church school -- apparently her father's church -- New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.

She was not allowed to walk with her classmates on graduation day, and an area superintendent now faces possible disciplinary action.

Angela Pringle is one of five area superintendents, but when the dispute arose in May, she also held the position of principal at Arabia Mountain High School in south DeKalb County.

On the eve of graduation, school, Tyson received a complaint from a parent.

“That a student was going to march and did not have all the credits required to march,” said DeKalb County School System spokesman Rodney Jenkins.

The school system did not identify the student, but Channel 2 has confirmed that she is Taylor Long -- the daughter of Bishop Eddie Long.

[Follow this link for the rest of the story...]

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Millionaires to Obama: Tax Me!

A 200-strong group called Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength is demanding that President Obama please raise their taxes. "For the fiscal health of our nation and the well-being of our fellow citizens," pleads a message to Obama on the group's website, "we ask that you increase taxes on incomes over $1,000,000." It goes on: "Our country has been good to us. It provided a foundation through which we could succeed. Now, we want to do our part to keep that foundation strong so that others can succeed as we have. Please do the right thing for our country. Raise our taxes."

You will notice one of them even mentions his education in public schools and libraries was responsible for his success!


DCSS Title 1 Schools and AYP: "The Shell Game"

To see how disappointing for Title 1 students DCSS 2011 AYP results are, compare DCSS with other metro systems that are demographically similar:

73% of Marietta City Schools Made AYP in 2011. Marietta City Schools has almost EXACTLY the same demographics as DCSS.

55% of Clayton County Schools Title 1 schools Made AYP in 2011. Clayton County has similar demographics to DCSS.

20% of DeKalb Schools Title 1 schools Made AYP in 2011.

Of interest: 59% of all Title 1 schools in Georgia Made AYP in 2011.

As quoted in the AJC, "Trent Arnold, DeKalb's executive director of assessment and accountability...said lower-level schools in the district "struggled" and fell short of goals. Arnold attributes the growing failure to increasingly tough standards..."

Since the performance standards are EXACTLY the same for ALL school systems including those that are demographically similar to DCSS, is Mr. Arnold's statement a valid excuse?

Does anyone think our teachers don't work as hard as Clayton County and Marietta City teachers?

Are our parents less involved than Clayton County parents or Marietta City parents?

Are DCSS students less intellectually capable than Clayton County or Marietta City students?

If you answered NO to the questions above, the DCSS administration must assume responsibility for these catastrophic results. Consider that the DCSS administration and the BOE decreased 600+ teaching positions in the last two years, increased class sizes to levels not seen in 30 years, and overburdened teachers with meaningless classroom tasks, overbearing oversight, excessive meetings, and training that is disconnected from the learning process.

20% of DCSS Title 1 schools made Adequate Yearly Progress in 2011 – down from 74% of DCSS Title 1 schools making Adequate Yearly Progress in 2009. What happened to our Title 1 schools in two years time? Are the BOE members who represent these Title 1 schools asking Ms. Tyson, Dr. Beasley and Dr. Berry this question? Are the parents in all DeKalb County schools asking Ms. Tyson, Dr. Beasley and Dr. Berry this question?

Student progress in DCSS Title 1 schools has DECLINED at an unprecedented rate. The DCSS administration knows how bad this is for students. Just watch the video of the called Board of Education meeting last week to see how the DCSS administration and the BOE "sweat" the release of the AYP data. They were scrambling to come up with a plan to deflect responsibility for yet another year. They are counting on taxpayers being complacent players on the other side of the table in this shell game.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

CK Update: Here Comes the Sun

A simple, but encouraging post for everyone's weekend ...

CK's newest faculty member, Patrick Gunter, is returning from the Texas Motor Speedway this week after judging the 2011 Solar Car Challenge. Next week, he is finalizing the setup of the CK labs and, as an advisor to the GT SolarJackets car team, he is bringing GT student mentors for the CK teams.

Interested in joining the Cross Keys' solar car team or one of the two planned robotics teams Mr. Gunter will coach? Parents and students should attend the 7:00 pm, August 9, 2011 Parent Meeting for the 2011/2012 GATSA at Cross Keys High School. Students participating in the GATSA must commit to working 3-4 days a week after school from 3:30 – 6:30 pm. Joining the GATSA is about a $15 proposition annually and families will need to support some travel expenses for their child for competitions. Private assistance available to support participation.

Remember, Mr. Gunter's Material Sciences and Automation courses, as well as additional Interactive Media Pathway courses and the teams being formed are available to students from ten area high schools. So whether you hail from Dunwoody or Clarkston or Druid Hills, this is an extraordinary opportunity for your child!

Contact me, Kim Gokce, m: 678-361-4200, or Mr. Gunter, m: 864-590-9004, for details and to keep up with engineering and technology options at CK!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

AYP results are in and Choice plan is posted

The 2011 AYP reports were released today. As expected, the results are pretty dismal, not just in DeKalb but at the state level. Just 63 percent of all schools in GA met the goal of making AYP. In DeKalb, about 34 percent of schools made AYP. These numbers will rise in September when the summer retest is included. Last year, as a result of the summer retest, the percentage of schools making AYP increased by 6 percent. (Atlanta schools are not included in the state report, so you can expect the state percentages to drop when they are released.)

One third of the schools that made AYP in DeKalb have some kind of admission requirement. They are either theme, magnet or charter. The percentage of traditional DCSS schools making AYP is actually lower than 30 percent.

At the high school level, only Arabia Mt, DECA, Druid Hills, DSA, Stephenson, and Redan made AYP. (Stephenson and Redan remain in Needs Improvement status as they have to make AYP two years in a row to exit NI.)
At the middle school level, things are really pretty dreary. Only Chamblee Middle, Champion Theme, and Columbia Middle made AYP. PATH Charter school (which is actually a start up charter school and has little to do with DCSS) also made AYP. Champion and Path are purely choice schools and a chunk of Chamblee Middle’s population is in the selective magnet program. Columbia Middle also hosts a magnet program, though I don’t know the size. Not looking so good.

At the elementary level, a big chunk of schools missed the mark as the state raised standards. It looks like a little more than 50 percent did not make AYP and a little less than 50 percent made it. These numbers will increase with the summer retest.

For comparison purposes, look at Clayton County, where every single school is Title 1. Fifty three percent of schools made AYP while 47 percent did not.

I am doubtful of what AYP means as you approach the need to get 100 percent of students on the same level. It is probably meaningless. However, there is no doubt that our schools could be doing better. It does take a partnership with parents and the community, but until our bureaucrats hire better principals and staff at the central office, I am afraid that the status quo is all we can expect.

You can search the GA DOE database here for any school in the state. (Atlanta's scores have not been released yet.)

Choice plan is posted here:

For a quick glance at a couple of overviews, click the charts below:

New report explores the school to prison pipeline

The Council of State Governments Justice Center has just released a report called Breaking Schools' Rules which "describes the results of an extraordinary analysis of millions of school and juvenile justice records in Texas. It was conducted to improve policymakers’ understanding of who is suspended and expelled from public secondary schools, and the impact of those removals on students’ academic performance and juvenile justice system involvement."

"Like other states, school suspensions—and, to a lesser degree, expulsions—have become relatively common in Texas. For this reason and because Texas has the second largest public school system in the nation (where nonwhite children make up nearly two-thirds of the student population), this study’s findings have significance for—and relevance to—states across the country."

The study found that of nearly 1 million Texas public secondary school students followed for more than six years, nearly 60 percent were suspended or expelled.

Key findings in the report include the following:

1. Nearly six in ten public school students studied were suspended or expelled at least once between their seventh- and twelfth-grade school years.

2. African-American students and those with particular educational disabilities were disproportionately likely to be removed from the classroom for disciplinary reasons.

3. Students who were suspended and/or expelled, particularly those who were repeatedly disciplined, were more likely to be held back a grade or to drop out than were students not involved in the disciplinary system.

4. When a student was suspended or expelled, his or her likelihood of being involved in the juvenile justice system the subsequent year increased significantly.

5. Suspension and expulsion rates among schools—even those schools with similar student compositions and campus characteristics—varied significantly.

The findings summarized above demonstrate why it is important for policymakers everywhere to examine the school disciplinary systems in their jurisdictions. This will not be without challenges for many states and will likely include significant investments in state-of-the-art information systems. Having quality data available is only the first step. To produce the unprecedented level of analyses found in this report, policymakers will need to follow the example set by Texas leaders across the political spectrum that showed courage and commitment by digging deep into an issue that has received relatively little public scrutiny.

An important take-away from this study is that individual schools within a state, working with the same resources and within the same statutory framework, have the power to affect their school disciplinary rates. In communities across the country, educators, juvenile justice system officials, service providers, students and parents, and advocates are also taking steps to implement innovative approaches that yield different disciplinary results. Nationally, a growing number of advocacy organizations and membership associations are drawing increased attention for their efforts to come up with more effective and fair approaches to school discipline. And a growing body of research is supporting and expanding upon these efforts. An essential next step is to convene experts, policymakers and advocates from education, juvenile justice, health, and child welfare systems to build on the important work of these stakeholders and to begin developing a consensus around approaches that will improve outcomes for students and teachers.

Why is this important to us? Because of all of the countries in the world, the United States has more people per capita in prison. Of the states, Georgia has one of the highest levels per capita behind bars at 1,021 per 100,000. In fact, according to the New York Times, "the United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population. But it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners". We need to focus on issues of poverty and ignorance in order to stop this downward spiral. The issue is the worst for African-American males.

The government is building prisons based on third grade reading test scores. They can conclude whether or not a child will go to prison and some point if their literacy score is low. Recent national data from a study of beginning kindergartners show conclusively that African American males start school already behind other groups of children with respect to emergent reading and mathematical skills (ECLS-K, 1998). Thus, problems in elementary school may have roots in the preschool years. Most African American Children are behind on reading but excel in other subjects (Jencks & Phillips, 1998). The gaps don't stop in elementary school, but are evident in middle and high school if never caught up by the early elementary years (Gordon 2-4)

Sadly, the U.S. is far more committed to prisons than to schools. According to this report from Fox News, state governments spend nearly four times more per capita on imprisoning people than on education.

Prison is not the answer in so many cases. Education is the key to freedom and enlightenment. We must do whatever it takes to directly reach each and every student, ensuring them the ability to take care of themselves and their families if we are to enjoy a safe, productive society in the future.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

No Hope for Peachtree Hope

As the AJC is reporting,

Peachtree Hope charter school officials were slated to make a last minute bid to renew the school's charter Tuesday night at a DeKalb Board of Education meeting. But instead, Deputy Chief Superintendent Robert Moseley read a letter to the board, announcing Peachtree's withdrawal of its application. No explanation was offered. Peachtree Charter founder Lonnie King declined requests for comment to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. All of the affected students, about 600, will get letters informing them of which DeKalb school they should enroll in.

Boy, I hope they are able to scramble to accommodate 600 students returning to DeKalb schools in 2 weeks. I wonder, if these students are assigned to a "failing" school, will they have time to apply for a transfer? Also, what's up with the International Community (Charter) School's request for a building to house their program? They are a proven program providing an important contribution. They deserve a building to call home. We have plenty of shuttered buildings scattered all over the county from which to choose. Moseley and the board need to hand one over.

BTW - Below is a press release regarding the AYP transfers for 2011-2012

Event: The delay in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of (1965) Public School Choice Open Enrollment period

July 15 - The Georgia Department of Education has not released the final AYP Report. This official report is needed to determine all schools that must offer ESEA Public School Choice. This will delay the planned open enrollment period for parents to exercise ESEA Public School Choice. ESEA Public School Choice open enrollment period will begin the day after Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) official results are released by the State Superintendent, Dr. John D. Barge.

Once the report has been released enrollment will be located at the Administrative and Instructional Complex, Computer Labs 102 and 105 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Contact: Dr. Linda Crowley (678.676.0309) Dr. Cleophas Jones (678.676.0381)

The Gwinnett School of Math, Science and Technology

"The students are reaching far beyond the dreams they had as little children and into a world that has no limits."  
- Jeff Mathews, Principal, Gwinnett School of Math, Science and Technology

Watch this video and see just how fast and far our neighboring school system in Gwinnett has managed to leapfrog our schools.  This is the kind of high-tech learning and partnering with corporate sponsors happening in so many schools around the country - all while our school system flounders and sputters with unfocused, racially-biased leaders who will not place the most qualified, most serious and most capable leadership in place in order to bring our students into the 21st century with our neighbors and the world.

I learned about this Gwinnett initiative from T.H.E. Journal (Transforming Education through Technology). Click here for a list of k-12 topics to read up on or browse their extensive library of white papers and webinars.  You may need to set up a user account, but it is free and the information is cutting edge.

"The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn." 
-- Futurist Alvin Toffler

One of my favorite topics has been about the use of iPads in schools. Folks, it's getting to be time to ditch the heavy textbooks.  Students today need to be internet and computer savvy if they are to function in the world.  This use of personal computers is the gateway to a lifelong love of learning. In addition to classroom lessons, students can find animated examples or video seminars on any topic at hand.  If they are struggling with a concept, they can check in with the Khan Academy during lunch or study time to have something explained.

Click here to read a post I republished featuring a school system in Massachusetts that implemented the iPad for 1 to 1 learning.  Systems all over the country are jumping on the technology bandwagon. Click here to read about Chicago city schools systemwide use of iPads.  I think DeKalb has an opportunity to think far outside of our current "box" and leap with both feet into the promising waters of personal computing for our students.

Just think:  Students could take their tests on their computers, giving them instant feedback and allowing for daily tracking of progress.  Our technical colleges in Georgia already use an online learning system called "My Learning Lab" where students do reading, comprehension, writing and math assignments and reap instant feedback as to what they understood, what they did not, and what sections they need to revisit.  It's so effective to understand immediately where you advanced and where you may have fallen down.  It's data collection at its finest and most powerful -- directly given to the user and his or her teacher.  Student data is stored in a mainframe cloud and can be revisited by future teachers in order to see where a student may need remediation. Instantly.  No scanning. No waiting for reports. No central office interference. That's why it's called 1 to 1.  Learning after all, is an individual endeavor in the end.

Let's take the leap.  Encourage your board member to hire a superintendent ASAP so that students can regain their lost momentum.  As a reward for their patience and perhaps a way to right a wrong, let's leapfrog other school systems and be the leaders in advanced learning -- One to One!


On a Good Note:  For a fine example of a brand new high tech initiative in DeKalb, read Kim's post about the new program coming to Cross Keys this fall. IMO, it's the best thing we have to offer students interested in engineering and technology. Encourage techie students you might know to apply!

RAMP Comes to Cross Keys to Serve Area High Schoolers

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Triage! That's what they're calling the plan to improve test scores.

The Powerpoint from yesterday's called meeting is posted on the school system's website for the public to review. Click here to download a copy. To watch the video of the meeting, click here.

The speakers and their topics include:

− Triaging the Lowest Performing Schools – Dr. Morcease Beasley
− Accountability Training for Principals – Trenton Arnold
− School Operations Steps-up Accountability – Robert Moseley
− Title I Recalibrates to Impact Success – Dr. Audria Berry

To understand who the people that created this plan are and where they sit on the org chart, click here.

Basically, their plan is to have principals identify struggling students with low test scores, create a plan for remediation and then the "Coordinators" will monitor the teachers to ensure they are complying.

Here's their monitoring plan:
  • Coordinators from Special Education, Educational Media, Professional Learning, Title I, Career Tech, English Language Learners, etc., have been assigned to each school to provide direct monitoring and support of school’s actions to implement appropriate interventions for all level 1 students each week.
  • Coordinators have been grouped into teams to conduct Focused Walks at the school to assist in the school’s implementation of the curriculum. Focused Walks will occur monthly with priorities for the year as follows:
    • Ensure the teaching of the written curriculum and use of instructional resources as provided by the district
    • Appropriate student engagement and differentiation
    • Coordinators have been grouped into teams to conduct random Teaching and Learning Inventories monthly with a focus on intervention.
    • Results from Focused Walks and Teaching and Learning Inventories will be reported to the Interim Superintendent, Deputy Chief for School Operations, Interim Deputy for Teaching and Learning, and Area Assistant Superintendents.
    • Reports will be discussed and challenges addressed during regular meetings for the Division of Teaching and Learning and the Division of School Operations.
  • A Teaching and Learning Advisory Council has been developed to serve as a coalition of administrators and teacher leaders to guide the work of teaching and learning in DCSS. Monthly meetings will serve as a forum to prioritize the work and to strategize to overcome the challenges.
  • The role of Title I Instructional Coaches has been expanded to include support for teachers in all core content areas by providing professional development to teachers daily except for one day a month of professional learning and content training.
There is also a plan to reassess how and where Title 1 funds are used.  It is explained in the Powerpoint. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

And for something to brag about...

I am happy to share a story we can all be proud of. Today's AJC has posted a story called, Refugees a growing challenge, that goes into great detail about the growing numbers of refugees fleeing their home countries for America. Many end up in Georgia. Most of those end up in DeKalb. And a majority of those end up in Clarkston.

As I read the article, I realized that we are doing a very good job with our immigrant students. Much better than Gwinnett or any other school system. We have an International Student Center devoted to bringing new refugees up to speed in their studies, even when those students arrive having very little previous schooling.
A growing number of refugees have come to Georgia in recent years, with most settling in and around DeKalb County. By law, they deserve an education.

Their relative numbers are small: about 3 percent of the DeKalb County School System’s student body, according to school and state records. But the growth in percentage terms is not: DeKalb counted 2,627 refugee students in June, an increase of about 150 percent from the 2006-07 school year.

The students, many reared in camps, often come with little or no schooling. Many speak no English.
. . .
DeKalb teaches English to the refugees — who count more than 70 native tongues, from Amharic to Uzbek — and offers them tutoring. The hardest cases — those 13 and older with six or fewer years of schooling — typically spend two years at the International Student Center’s isolated campus on North Druid Hills Road before moving into neighborhood schools. There were 250 such students this year.

Other school systems, such as those in Fulton and Gwinnett counties, also have refugees. They don’t count them like DeKalb, but federal data give a rough head count: from June 2010 through May, DeKalb got 465 refugees ages 5 to 18, said Michael Singleton, the state refugee coordinator for the Georgia Department of Human Services. Fulton got 182, compared with four in Gwinnett and none in Cobb.

Kudos to Sandra Nunes and the leaders of our school system working so hard to assimilate our refugee students. I hope that you will add one more item to your "To-Do" list -- aid and support the International Community Charter School. Give them a home and some help. We're all in this together and it just seems symbiotic to work on this issue as a team. Some very delicate lives hang in the balance.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Reminder: Same Old, Same Old

Just a reminder, other than Gloria Talley, virtually the entire Crawford Lewis Central Office administration is still in place today. Yes, the same exact bloated, festering, inefficient, morally corrupt administration is still intact.

That's you Audria Berry, Bob Moseley, Alice Thompson, Marcus Turk, Jamie Wilson, Tim Freeman, Ralph Simpson, Robert Tucker, and the worst of all offenders, State Senator/Head of DCSS Infernal Affairs/persecutor of teachers Ron Ramsey. Ramona Tyson has made NOT ONE personnel changes of note. Sorry, but she could not be more unimpressive.

So DeKalb County went through the unprecedented scandal of having its Superintendent and Chief Operating Officer indicted for criminal enterprise, and the (feckless) Tom Bowen-led Board of Education has allowed the Crawford Lewis selected Central Office cabal to stay in place. Heck, Tom purposedly made a show of hugging Crawford at one of his many courtroom appearances.

Kudo's to the Atlanta BOE and interim Supt. Errol Davis for firing its four asst. superintendents under the disgraced Beverly Hall.

(Did anyone see the clown co-PTA chair of Fernbank Elem. singing the BOE's praises on Monday night? Hey, it's easy to sell your soul in exchange for no re-districting.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Folks, we've been played!

This is a crock. Of you know what.  The board meeting last night was just about the last straw for me.  We have been sitting in a slimy pit of limbo for over a year now.  I am ashamed to go back into this blog and read my childish posts believing hook, line and sinker in Ms. Tyson and the board's promises.  I have no faith in them. I have no faith in SACS. I have no faith in the Governor.  We are simply in a stalemate. A grossly manipulated situation that rewards the Friends & Family with the right connections, church membership or sorority, yet leaves teachers and students flapping helplessly in the breeze.

The following promises have been made -- and ignored.

In the September, 2010 post called, "Awesome Board Meeting" I blathered on about how wonderful the board was working together and how they seemed to be rising to the challenge of the SACS inquiry by hiring the new auditor. Today, in hindsight, my words look foolish.
..."Anyway, back to the auditor. They have hired a real pro. . . . His name is Gary Babst and he has 22 years of experience as an internal business auditor, having worked for GM in Detroit. He presented his 100 day plan which I will bullet-point below:
Build internal controls structure
Create efficient, effective business processes
Benchmark with other area school systems
Implement a fraud hotline
Implement an ethics program
Identify the "audit universe" and high risks for the system [??!]
Engender a strong tone at the top
Encourage management to create a sense of urgency and lead by example
Create clear goals and objectives as well as metrics to measure progress
Ensure high impact and high visibility for audits
Demonstrate that "we're looking after the taxpayers money"

Uck. He has done none of these things. We still don't even have that whistleblower hotline, which the board enjoyed so much positive press about! How hard can it be to install a whistleblower hotline? Three space shuttles have launched since that board meeting, however Babst has yet to produce a whistleblower hotline. (He says he does, however, have some bids!) Yippeee!

What about ROI? It "seemed" that Tyson and our board were finally starting to pay attention to the return on investment for so many expensive learning programs.
Happily, the board is now questioning how much money we are spending on "programs". Don heavily questioned Dr. Watkins on his request for another $120,000 for yet another Title 1 "program" to implement small learning communities. He read from the proposal and said it sounded like a bunch of 'gobbleygook'. Dr. Speaks questioned him further and we find that we've been throwing money at this program since 2004, and apparently have tons of data, but nothing has improved at these schools.
Oh well... no worries. Just approve, approve, approve!  For "some" reason, if Ms. Berry says, "Jump", our board says, "How high Ms. Berry?"

How about this?  I will quote my own interpretation of Ms. Tyson's empty promises,
"Ms. Tyson got it though. She knows she needs to dig deeper into this kind of spending to find out if we are getting our money's worth and if we should in fact, drop a program or two when they continue to not show results."
Ha. Ha. Ha. In hindsight, that one is particularly naive of me to believe. RESULTS? Who tracks those?!!! [I'll assume you've seen our latest test scores.]

Speaking of Ramona - she has managed to close or consolidate 8 more schools. That leaves us with literally dozens of abandoned properties dotting the county, however, when concerned, caring citizens attempt to start a charter school, one by one they are denied by Nichole Knighton and the board, ironically, according to Knighton, mostly due to the fact that they have no location!  This is in spite of the fact that the school system by law must provide charter schools access to shuttered schools.

Or how about this?
"Moseley is putting two buildings up for use - Heritage and Hooper. Womack stated that he could use Heritage for over-crowding at Oak Grove and Sagamore. (K-2) could move to Heritage. He's not sure that the community would want to do that."
What ever happened to those buildings? [Still closed.] Why is the International School and other charters still begging for a building when we have so many available, but shuttered and protected by board members as 'home turf'?

Or how about Marcus Turk and his "funny accounting"?  Our electric bills have increased over 57%.  Another department, simply called "other benefits" increased over 90%.  Our legal fees are beyond imagining, but we can never know, since they are not itemized, they are buried within each and every budget line. What a farce!  This is taxpayer money – you, Mr. Turk, need to tell us where it's going.  Real CFOs are clean - and unafraid of things like Online Check Registers.  What's the holdup with that idea, Turk? Tyson? Babst?

All I can say is -- looking back, all I hear now is "blah, blah, blah." This board is full of one empty promise after another - one unfulfilled ideal after another -- one distraction after another. (The distraction/inaction list is long: Marine Academy, Sembler proposals and the closing of schools, the Jaheem Herrera investigation resulting in nearly a half-million payment to a retired judge, SPLOST oversight committees, The Blue Ribbon Task Force, Citizens Planning Task Force, Citizen's Advisory Committee, RICO charges, investigations, a $100 million civil lawsuit, $15.5 Million in lawyers fees for the investigations, a superintendent search complete with leaked information, redistricting, cell towers, and RIFs.)  They focus on discussing, motioning and planning, but never acting on just about everything BUT educating children.

Dr. Lewis spoke of "urban inertia" when promoting the Marine Corps Academy back in March of 2009.  He had simplified a science term as he said, "In DeKalb, we find ourselves wrestling with the complexities of an original phrase I shall use - urban inertia. As you are aware inertia is a physics term that refers to force." Of course, being a former PE teacher, not a science teacher, Lewis didn't know that inertia does not simply refer to "force"; inertia refers to the "resistance to change". That's what we have here, complete, utter, stone-walling resistance to change.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Big Board Meeting Tonight!

Attend the board meeting or watch it live on Comcast 24 tonight at 6:00 pm. You can review the agenda by clicking on our link to "Meetings & Announcements".


6:00 pm
Ramona Tyson gives the inspiration... "it will take all of us to move this district forward".  I just want to speak from the heart.  I understand good and bad feelings about the low academic achievement, but you can't give up on us yet.  Change is necessary and change will happen. Children need to know that we are inspired by the challenge and if we all come together we can be the change that we want to be.  I have between 75-80 days left. I will not be idling. Change will be ready on day 1 of the new superintendent's term. We will talk with the community and the board about the change we want to make in the 90 days for the time after the 90 days.

1. Special Recognition ~ 2011 Jack Cooke Kent Scholarship Recipient Angelica Hairston who plays harp and violin
Presented by: Ms. Nancy T. Jester, Board Representative, District #1

1. Jacqueline Sneed - Meadowview ES. Loves the place. Community is involved.
2. Loreen Booker-Brown - absent
3. Bernard Hicks - DeKalb Co Board of Health. Relationship with DCSS is very strong. DeKalb schools are a critical player in emergency preparedness. Esp in case of biological etc attack. Moseley, Freeman worked with him. Planning with DCSS has resulted in good ideas that will work. We can distribute in 48 hours.
4. Rev. David Richards - 3 pts, family, formal and social education. Served as a sub while in seminary. Saw a lot. Son graduated from Redan. 3.96 GPA. Area super pushed parents to push the children. Responsibility falls first to the family. Children must be obedient and prepared. Asking DCSS to tighten the reins on those who are not doing what they're supposed to do. $16 million in athletic scholarships but we have not heard about it. You must do a better job of advertising the successes.
5. Dr. Tom Keating - absent
6. Quenton Young - absent
7. Sylvester Hopewell - DeKalb County PTAs Men's Initiative. Mentoring resource. Educators, X military, X athletes, business people. Conduit for 100 Black Men. [Apparently they only help black boys.]
8. Connie Boone - Great schools start with a great principal. They must create great working environment. School buildings in devastating condition harm students more than anything. Meadowview is unacceptable. We appreciate the modifications being made this summer.
9. Elizabeth Laing - Ivy Prep parent girls school. Support of Ivy Prep Charter in DeKalb.
10. Melinda Lehrer - Anti-cell tower - part 2 - health problems. Issue of tower is separate from the issue of the towers. Phones are now known to cause harm. We don't know yet about the cell towers. Experts are battling. There is a condition - electric pulse hyper-sensitivity. Results are not in but there is persuasive evidence that the cell tower radiation is not helpful and in addition to all other toxic elements.
11. Felicia LaPoole - Ivy Prep proponent for DeKalb locations.
12. Scott Bonder - Co Pres Fernbank PTA. We've come through our hard times stronger. DCSS doing a great job at Fernbank and in the Druid Hills cluster. IB program is strong. Based on questioning. Type of teaching is Socratic. Thank you - you all deserve a giant thank you - especially our principal.
13. Linda Podger Williams - ESEA transfers. (aka: AYP) Meetings start tomorrow eve to develop plans. Every year administrators discuss a better option than traveling across the county.  I'd like to hear a new plan tomorrow.  I fear I won't. Last year was a disaster. 90 students from last year plus 40 more - will require more trailers.  Establishing a better plan should be discussed all year to help students who need it.
14. Katherine Ferago - No Cell Tower at the former Medlock ES. 1 - no  longer a school so it doesn't qualify for zoning 2. Plan is not thought out - long term  ATT may not need it 3. Combined damage to the neighborhood is damaging. 4. Huge eyesore.  5. Real estate values damaged.
15. Pat Kemp - No Cell Tower in Medlock. Of the 12 proposed locations, we are the only one with a double whammy - cell tower and a closed school.  School is closed and board has not committed to continuing to keep it a school.  Board can't propose a cell tower using zoning exclusions if there is no school.
16. Judy McDowell - No Cell Tower in Medlock. House is 5 houses away. In no uncertain terms - no cell tower in our community. We have written you about this several times. Cigarettes were once considered harmless too. Do the right thing for the people of Medlock.
17. Joanne Massey - No Cell Towers on the Medlock property. Would hurt neighborhood and drive away private schools that might rent the school. Can you imagine a 150x60x60 cell tower in your yard? No studies have been done as to what this will do to the wetlands. Cell towers have nothing to do with education.
18. Barbara Dalton - No cell tower in Medlock. Why would the school board put this large structure on a property that is closed.  That is reckless.
19. Nina Gilbert - Ivy Prep wants to partner with DCSS.
20. Kirstie Young - Ivy Prep parent. Wants a DeKalb campus.
Subs -
1. Willie Pringle - God is holding you accountable and holding us parents accountable. Take a look at what's really going on.  A house divided cannot stand.  The board and the administration are divided and that's why we don't have a superintendent.  Our house is divided.  Remember what it's all about - it's about the children.
2. Lillian Ryan - DeKalb Prep Academy (she has 4 people with her) Only she can speak. 3 years of effort for our petition. k-8 model serving all of DeKalb. Extended school day and school year. Thank you - we're looking forward to our partnership.

[* Idea - how about putting an Ivy Prep Academy at Medlock?!!  These folks should talk.]


No reports from the committees. Tyson asks to include AdvancED on super's report. Remove Policy IBB. Remove Peachtree Hope Charter. Need time to review info. Adopted agenda with changes. Recess 10 min. Time for wine!

Whoa! No wine - looks like they're moving on straightaway.

Mr. Babst, internal auditor now talking about the audit dept. Conducted 33 school audits. Audit pCards monthly. Conducted 15 investigations. Consulting with bookkeepers. Implementing new cash mgmt system. Auditing Central Office business functions. Order based on risk. Planning an information technology auditor. 33% time in schools, 21% central office 13% investigations.... Intend to audit all high schools and middle schools. Will do construction and transportation audits. Also after school care audits.

Jester - have an update on the whistleblower hotline? email? A: We've been taking calls in our dept. Bid out service. Nearly have a contract with outside vendor to put in place in 30-60 days. Jester - will it include phone and email? A; yes. Also hand-written letters.

Cunningham: have we went back and looked at programs we already have in place as opposed to going out? A: yes, we're evaluating that to see if we can operate an ethics hotline internally.

Jester: Can you talk about high risk issues? Are you looking at our financial statements doing spot audits? Lines to audit committee and dotted line to super on your slide - can you explain your relationships? A: Talking about inherent risk - a lot of money - complex activities are high risk. We look at variances and business processes. A2: Have a direct line to BOE - specifically budget cmtee and dotted line to super. Review plans with super before bringing to the board. Jester: What about board members not on that committee? A: I can meet with board members. Obviously I report to the committee. If others want to talk about issues I can talk individually as my report is to the entire board. Jester: Due to SACS requirement? A: yes. They wanted a direct line to the board.

Woods: Yes, the rest of the board wants to know everything the budget committee knows coming from the auditor. Tyson steps in. Every month a standard template has given financial and human resources report. Now, you will get a monthly audit template (report).

Tyson: Status report on SACS/AdvancED. Will be posted on the website. Action #1 - GA School Bd assn will be here for a training on strategic devl. #2 - policy review - we are looking at every single policy. They are 10 years old and need reviewed. At 8/month, it will take 4-5 years. We will start a dedicated policy review meeting every month to move this faster (by June 2012). #3 - to ensure staff knows policy. Starting August we have 11 policies detrimental to employees - ethics, harassment, etc... All 15,000 employees will have to complete Illuminate training on policy.

OK - real break now!

Policy - policy - policy - check them out on the agenda. Womack is ripping through these -- good job Paul!

Budget - Turk - did he really say property tax collections were over projected budget by $14 million?

Yeah NANCY! She asked Turk to delineate the legal fees on separate line items - not just buried in admin costs!! She also asked if he could make notations for large variances (electricity was over by 57%) Turk seemed a bit defensive - "We monitor and check it in order to give you a clean report." [Are we to simply believe him??? Write it down Turk - you report to the board and to the people!]

Jamie Wilson - HR report. Vacancies - 6 more this year than last year at this time. Wish to be staffed at 99% when school starts. [To see who was hired and who retired, etc, download the HR report.]
Speaks: How is it looking for candidates - esp in critical areas of special ed and languages? A: it's all good Q: Teachers from consolidated schools? A: Placed all but 7 of the 450 affected.
SCW: We have had more teachers leave than last year. You've listed the reasons after interviewing them right? A: Yes. Q: Have other school systems had this kind of exit with their teacher pool? A: Gwinnett schools had 200+ vacancies so we're in line. Tyson: You lose teachers seeking higher pay, but our number of furlough days places us in 1st place in salaries in metro area.

Naming of Fernbank Observatory - McChesney. Named after Ralph L. Buice.

Stacey Stepney - Grant for Towers HS $1, 381, 000 - $310,000 to be used for Pearson achievement services.
RTTT - GA Dept of Ed identified Freedom MS as improvement model. NCS Pearson achievement $310,000.

Dr Berry -- Camp Invention - Oak View, Stone View, Chapel Hill & Stone Mt - $69,000

Sarah wants to ensure that kids learn Spanish. [Funny - she had the opportunity to hire a Spanish speaking superintendent and she said, "no"... Which is it?]

Ivy Prep - denied as recommended by Nicole Knighton. (Nancy voted for Ivy Prep - against Knighton)
Ivy Prep Young Men's Leadership Academy - recommended to deny by Knighton again . (all agree)
Media Arts Tech HS - recommended to deny by Nichole Knighton. (all agree)

[Seems interesting that a big reason to deny charters is a lack of a location - which is odd, when the school system is sitting on so many shuttered schools.]

Colman comes with her list of requests -- all approved. Check the agenda.

Everything after that passes. . . .

Until McChesney proposes to remove Meadowview, Brockett and Medlock from the cell tower proposal for 12 schools. Question by Elder to McChesney. Why?  McC - we've heard from these communities and they've been clear, so I'm supporting their opinion.  Speaks: is there a grace period so that other communities can speak up but haven't had the opportunity [audience claps and Womack admonishes them]. Is there a mechanism for other communities to let the district know that they have an issue? Tyson - no option other than to pull the item. Womack: isn't there a 6 month window? Donahue: T-Mobile has 6 months for [due diligence].  Jester: concerned about many things. I don't like the timing - we didn't get this till Friday. Didn't get financials. Term is too long. I favor an opt in rather than opt out for communities. There may be others we haven't heard from so I am reticent to support. Edler: Happy to speak on this matter - I've had concerns. Communities have cited health reasons. I rep district 7, but also entire county so I'm not one to pick and choose for health of a particular community. So if we take out 3, I suggest we take out all 12. [Applause and Womack again admonishes.] Lots more discussion. Roberts rules out the window. [Sorry - got distracted - missed some.] I think Edler took out all the others but Lakeside, Briarlake and Meadowview(?).  I think Walker insisted on Roberts Rules.  So Womack puts out original motion and takes off Brockett, Medlock and Meadowview. Vote. Passed 7-1.

Edler: Amendment to the motion. Remove the remaining schools we identified before: Jolly, Margaret Harris, MLK, Narvie, Princeton and Smokerise ES.  Cunningham: we don't have towers at all in South DeKalb - we're losing signals left and right. We want towers. SCW: I agree. Meadowview is smack dab in the middle of a community. Cunningham can have towers since they have a lot of land, but Meadowview is in a community so yes, it needs removed from the list. Edler: It's not the school system's business to provide cell and internet service to the county.

Vote: on Edler's amendment - eliminates all towers. Motion fails.
Main motion with original amendment: Passes 6:2 (Edler & Jester dissenting)

eSIS - $660,000 final payment  - [thank goodness] to of all people, Pearson

The rest pass - the IBM contract, the tax levy resolution [22.98 mills], etc.

9:40 pm