Thursday, October 13, 2011

Recall: $30,000,000 of SPLOST III went to administrative offices; not to your childrens' schools


fedupindcss said...

My hometown school board built themselves a board room in the high school. This caused such a kerfluffle that they were almost all voted out the next year. For a room!

Anonymous said...

This is why I am voting no for SPLOST!

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much more money has been spent on the place since the first $30 million? Has the new palace really accomplished anything to aid in efficiency and education?

Some people are impressed by glitz and others by results.

The new super has been on the job for about one month. Besides visiting schools and hiring a few more employees, has she accomplished anything else? When will we see her start to assert her authority? Just wondering.

Anonymous said...

She spent a lot of money by hiring those people, as well.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for posting this!!

If we have any hope of a NO vote, we are going to have to organize somehow. We are up against the likes of Marshall Orson and Amy Powers of Fernbank and the Hawthorne crowd. They have it in their heads that if they win this vote for the school system, they can get anything they want for their schools and the feeder system. They have already worked with the media and have had early private conversations with Atkinson. Let the favoritism begin...

Anonymous said...

Fernbank mafia has it all figured out...

SPLOST will pass; the new Fernbank facility will be first on the list to be built; while they are building the new Fernbank facility, everyone will move into Avondale Middle School; oh, and they've already come up with their own attendance zone.

These people are outrageous and must be stopped.

Anonymous said...

Go Fernbank! Go Amy! Go Hawthorne...your Board member turned on you and is desperately trying to maker inroads into her new residence in Dunwoody. Yet she is not really one of us!!

Anonymous said...

Actually Hawthorne is not happy with SPLOST IV -- You are confusing it with Coralwood.

The AIC is an example of government spending gone wrong.

fedupindcss said...

You're assuming the system follows through on their promises to Fernbank. In every other SPLOST, they promised some community something if they work to get it passed, and then pull a bait and switch.

Cerebration said...

No, I don't think Hawthorne is all that happy with this "list". Funnily enough, there is $10 million for more renovations to Coralwood (which I believe includes a therapy pool) which serves around 100 students with disabilities. Hawthorne has a very large number of students with disabilities, yet I don't think there is much money slated for them in this SPLOST. In fact, I'm told that their children with disabilities can't even enter the building through the front door as it's not ADA compliant. Hawthorne isn't even listed under the ADA Improvements for this SPLOST. They did get a new roof this fall, but it continues to leak. The children have been evacuated twice already.

And please try not to criticize people by name. Amy and Marshall are very nice people. They are only doing what has been done historically in this system - advocating for their own community. We are hoping that will stop. We are hoping (against hope?) that the school system will one day actually take the word of the people who have done the research and do the projects as suggested - not as inserted by a board member to please certain constituents and win votes.

Check out the actual SPLOST IV project list here:

SPLOST IV Project List

Hawthorne is only slated to get some electrical work, an alarm system and a new grease trap.

Anonymous said...

You can see for yourself who is involved in the effort to promote a YES vote for this SPLOST:

Friends of DeKalb Education

You can even donate to their organization to help them lobby for it! Hooray!!/Friends.of.DeKalb.Education

Cerebration said...

Yes, this group is VERY aggressive when it comes to advocating for their community. Even to the point of perhaps drowning out the voices of others --

Attention Losers! This is How You Win ...

A Letter From the Fernbank Elementary School Council

Cerebration said...

For example, check out the superintendent's proposal for redistricting that was presented to the board... compare it to what the board actually approved (they made a few 'tweaks'). No one was moved from Fernbank, Medlock was closed and BriarVista is still underutilized. The very expensive Fernbank Science Center was also left essentially untouched in the budgets.

Interim Superintendent’s Recommendations February 7, 2011

Are the proposed DCSS budget cuts going to harm the classroom while leaving expensive, special programs intact?

Anonymous said...

Cerebration, most new roofs leak. Don't know who put them on, but the company shouldn't be used again. Why haven't they been called back to fix the roofs?

Hawthorne parents need to rise up and get what their kids need. Not sure that the money that has been poured into Coralwood is worth the investment.

I think that what is wrong with the way the board makes decisions is that they don't do an analysis as to where we would get the biggest band for the buck. Is what we do in Coralwood, really a school district's job? Isn't a therapy pool something that should fall under healthcare and not school?

When will we as citizens of DeKalb say enough is enough?

Anonymous said...

Film is disturbing. I have always been somewhat opposed to vouchers. BUT I think it is ridiculous that we have lotteries to have kids who are able to have to gamble on getting a level of education requisite to their needs. Clearly there are examples of the use of free market in education. For those who say it is untried, why aren't we looking to other countries to see how they do it. BECAUSE we are so set on the belief that everyone can do the same level of work, even when they cannot. I could never be a chemist. But rather than saying at lower education levels that this is ok, we'll train you in to the level you are capable (I have a professional degree beyond an MS), we dumb down all levels of education so that no one feels bad.

We are losing the ability to be globally competitive because we're too concerned about "feelings" and past wrongs. Set up a system where every child has access to excellent educators. Surely money we have could do this if we would get rid of double administrative positions (such as what we see in DeKalb).

Anonymous said...

As a DCSS counselor, I wish we had more aggressive parent groups, such as the Fernbank Mafia (lol). We need folks to advocate for their schools rather than complain that 'the teacher used the wrong tone when she spoke to my child' or
'my child needs three or four extra times to make up work.'

Anonymous said...

So much for democracy. Any money spent on the AIC was voted on by a duly elected body legally responsible for making those decisions. If you don't like the way they spend the money, work to change who sits on the board.

The building that houses the AIC also houses two high schools, DeKalb Early College Academy and Elizabeth Andrews HS with a combined enrollment of just over 800 students. DECA is a success story. Although its students are predominately minority and 65% free and reduced lunch over 90% of them pass their state mandated tests even in mathematics and 95% graduate. Elizabeth Andrews is at the other end of the spectrum providing a non-traditional secondary education opportunity to high school students wishing to join the work force early, to students who need to make up courses for graduation, to dropouts seeking education while gainfully employed or to married students. This school only graduates about 45% of its students and again they are predominately minority and on free and reduced lunch. It is an opportunity that probably saves some students who would otherwise drop out. Any money spent on the AIC infrastructure also benefited these schools. I also appreciate being able to go to a board meeting and finding a place to park and enough room for the concerned citizens who attend.

Thanks for the info on Friends of DeKalb Education after reading this blog I will send them a contribution. I think the best thing we can do for education in DeKalb is work to make it better rather than complain about the past.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

What past? The past is present! Most of CLew's crew are still in the AIC. Why? The BOE has not shown total responsibility or leadership with the past SPLOSTS!

We need forensic audits of all past SPLOSTS! We need a forensic audit of all DCSS budgets, Title 1 included. Every page of those audits should be made public! Not hidden and then destroyed by our indicted former Super. I'd like to see how the construction money, at the AIC was split, between the High Schools and the Central Office staff. I'm willing to vote for SPLOST IV, when we know how the past SPLOSTS ended up financially. We can't keep giving the bumbling BOE any more cash until they prove they can be decent stewards of OUR money.

We need some open and honest leaders to clear up the past! I hope Dr. Atkinson is working on that. We need to give her a few months, however I'd like to see some resignations of the former CLew crew, NOW!. They need to look for other work. The friends and family plan needs to come to an end immediately!

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:03, the problem with groups like the Fernbank mafia that is the only way things get done in DCSS right now. If you have enough money, influence, and lawyers, you will get what you want, to the detriment of others who do not have those resources. The administration should be making decisions based on their own data and experience, not the squeakiest wheel. The problem is that our administration (to this point) has had no backbone and no people who are truly skilled for their positions, so they do not have anything to fall back on, and they fold.

Anonymous said...

And here we go again attacking the Fernbank community, for what idea. I guess supporting a neighborhood school, as well as the thousands of other Dekalb students who would gain new buildings, classrooms and equipment from ESPLOST IV, makes you part of a "mafia."

Anonymous said...

I agree that concerned parent groups and citizens are important to supporting our schools. I am not a parent, I am only a tax payer, but I appreciate the Fernbank folks and anyone else who gets involved. A SPLOST will not only help our students and keep our economy going it will help us keep civilazation from crumbling around us. Georgia prisons are full and prisoners cost more than 4 times a year what students cost. Moreover, if we produce graduates that don't go to prison we are all safer and they pay taxes.

BhutrasGolly said...

The past is only prologue Atlanta Media Guy. The future is the education of our children. If there is any body else that violated the law we'll catch them. In the meanwhile whihc board member did you help elect?

Cerebration said...

@Anonymous. All good points, however, please know that SPLOST by law only pays for buildings. It does not pay for one book or teacher or anything for education in the classroom (except computers). In fact, the lawsuits over the past SPLOSTs have actually cost the classroom - as the over $17 million in legal fees paid to King & Spalding have come from the general operations budget, not from SPLOST dollars. So, in fact, to your point, ironically, while SPLOST has paid for new buildings, SPLOST has also harmed what we can afford to do inside the classroom.

Anonymous said...

"Yet she is not really one of us!!"

I hope I never have to be your neighbor.

Anonymous said...

Per CrossRoads News, new DeKalb Schools EthicsLine is up and running.

To report ethics lapses, visit or call 1-888-475-0482.

As soon as a report is filed, Gary Babst and Ron Ramsey are notified and an investigator is assigned.

Teaching in DCSS said...

Does everyone understand that the passing of SPLOST IV would NOT be an additional tax burden on our community. It is merely an extension of what is already in place.

However,to those of you who advocate a NO vote - essentially a repeal of SPLOST III - how do you propose we fund the projects on the list. Or is it that you suggest that we scrap all the projects. With all the clamoring against SPLOST, does anyone have a PLAN to replace the $475 million that SPLOST would generate (2012 - 2017)?

I don't get it. Sure, as a DCSS teacher I'm angry, too about the past - but I don't see the need to punish those who might truly benefit from the future as funded by SPLOST IV. Monitor the spending , but don't cut off the funding.

I ask again: If you advocate a NO vote, what is your PLAN on replacing the money that would come from SPLOST ? Or do you merely choose to VENT your frustration and direct it towards the wrong cause. Yours would be a rather EMPTY VICTORY. What do you intend to gain? How will it help the cause of promoting eduacation in DCSS?

Anonymous said...

Would you give money to a chronic gambler? That is what you are doing if you vote YES for this SPLOST. SPLOST isn't defined by the money itself, it is defined by how and where the money is spent. If it is spent badly and mismanaged, as it has in the past, it does not do what it was intended to do and is a waste of time and money.

While I am happy that some roofs were repaired and HVAC units replaced, MILLIONS of dollars have been squandered in areas that did NOT directly affect our children.

This is not a now-or-never SPLOST. Wait until the gamblers are out of power and THEN give them the money.

No one is saying our schools don't deserve improvement, but this leadership team has proven that they are not responsible or honest enough to manage this money. We aren't even through with the previous SPLOST renovations. There is no rush, and there is no need to give money to people who can't manage it.

Anonymous said...

You must be confused. Fernbank got what they wanted in redistricting and SPLOST. "That board member" tried very hard to advocate for Hawthorne and Henderson. Coralwood hijacked money for their addition that should have been used for other desperately needed renovations. "That Board Member" is the only one who voted NO for the SPLOST resolution and stood up to say why.
"That Board Member" is many things but cares only about doing the right thing as she sees it. The only thing she is desperate about is improving education.

Anonymous said...

Voting for SPLOST is voting for our current Board to determine where the money goes and, when there are changes and adjustments needed (which will definitely happen), trusting them to manage those changes.

SPLOST is not a vote for or against our children.

We need to wait until we have better stewards of this money before they are given any more.

Voting NO is not living in the past. The past is the current staff, so voting NO is saying that we do not trust the staff currently in place. Given that they have almost caused our school system to lose accreditation, I'm thinking they're not the most trustworthy.

Vote NO until there is new management in place.

Dekalbparent said...

I am neither a Fernbank nor a Medlock parent, but I attended a lot of meetings in both places and with parents from both, because I would be affected by what happens in either place.

Yes, Fernbank parents are very proud of their school and rightly so. I suspect there are few if any parents asking for their child to have a second chance at a test because they all pass it the first time. They really ARE Lake Woebegone children.

However, those who are most vocal in the Fernbank community also stop caring at the district limits. During the run-up to the redistricting, the Medlock community was trying hard to save their school, and they reached out to the Fernbank group to help when it looked as if some of Fernbank would be redistricted - offered to get together and work up an alternative that would help both, like make Medlock a Fernbank annex.

The Fernbank folks talked about how their school was big enough to take more - sure, let's work together, but when they found out they were not going to be redistricted, and Medlock would probably be closed, there was no effort to reach out. Crickets.

I do not demonize them, but they really are like a steamroller. It's great for them and their kids, but they live in a different world from the rest.

Anonymous said...

"Voting for SPLOST is voting for our current Board to determine where the money goes and, when there are changes and adjustments needed (which will definitely happen), trusting them to manage those changes."

Incorrect. Voting to continue SPLOST will GUARANTEE that our board is reduced to 7 members and that the BOE districts are redrawn. Voting SPLOST down allows those same people to continue in office and raise taxes as they see fit. A Keep in mind those most likely to vote with Walker on a tax increase are currently in the majority.

And for those of you who say "it's not now or never" it very well may be - it will be much harder to recreate the E-SPLOST than to continue it.

"SPLOST is not a vote for or against our children." Yes it is.

Anonymous said...

"SPLOST is not a vote for or against our children." Yes it is.

No, it is not. Just more innuendo and propoganda from the Ferbank/Coralwood folks.

What guarantees are there that the makeup of the new 7 member BOE is different than the current BOE? None.

Anonymous said...

In your bitterness you could blow the best chance we have had yet to shake up the BOE. The legislature is working on redrawing the districts now and they will be different, giving us the best chance yet to put different board members in office.

The only **guarantee** is that if SPLOST is voted down the same board will stay in office. But you don't truly care about that do you?

Anonymous said...

If your child is sitting in a school where the classrooms are in good shape, the roof doesn't leak, and the heating and air conditioning are functioning, you can happily vote against SPLOST.

You need to be asking about the kids who are sitting in old run-down buildings and trailers. HVAC systems that don't work properly. Does your child eat lunch at 10:00 AM? Is your child's classroom actually a closet or storage room? I could go on but you get the idea.

Yes, I am angry that our school system administrators sit in $2,000 chairs while our children sit in cheap plastic ones. IMHO voting against SPLOST only hurts our children more because the instructional spaces they are learning in will continue to deteriorate while we stand on principle. This school board needs to know that their actions are being carefully monitored and that any future indiscretions will not be tolerated.

Know that when all else fails, and it has, your most powerful message is to vote these people out of office!

DCSSFrustratedParent said...

I believe Markus T. said that if SPLOST IV did not pass the BOE would then revoke the homestead exemption.

Those nasty Fernbank Elementary "mafia" - we should really run them down because they are working hard to improve the school. "We" should really throw stones @ them as they are just horrible, evil folks. WAIT - maybe "we" should figure out how to replicate what appears to be working @ Fernbank in all Elementary schools - nah, that would be working towards progress and surely it much more effective to castigate a successful situation then to actually improve situations that quantitatively aren't working as well.

Anonymous said...

There are BOE seats up for re-election in November 2012regardless of whether SPLOST passes or not.

The mis-information being spun around all of this by the Fernbank community is just outrageous and mind-boggling. You all embarassed yourselves and opened the eyes of the rest of the DeKalb County community during the redistricting process.

Anonymous said...

"There are BOE seats up for re-election in November 2012regardless of whether SPLOST passes or not."

Right, same district lines that currently return inept members to the board. The DeKalb delegation is deliberately changing the lines to create entirely new districts.

No mis-information, just facts. What are your facts? And by the way, I am not a Fernbank parent (I WAS a Medlock parent), and your vitriol is mind-boggling.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 2:41

I see Ron Ramsey's name in your post about the "ethics" line and I laugh out loud to keep myself from groaning in horror.

Cerebration said...

FWIW, Cobb County voted NO to a second SPLOST after the laptop fiascos -- and then voted YES again the next time - after devising a new, carefully detailed plan. It can be done. It's really not now or never. And revoking the homestead exemption will cost homeowners each $57 - but they will pay 1% less in sales tax all year.

Anonymous said...

@ Cere...yes, you're correct about the $57 until the BOE votes to raise the school tax. My property taxes increased $785 this year. What about yours?

Anonymous said...

Cere @ 5:00 -

And did Cobb County blow the opportunity to totally revamp their school board like we will??

Cerebration said...

About the same... but you have the commissioners to thank for that.

Teaching in DCSS said...

Forgive me for not being a part of the "Fernbank Community" discussion. The SPLOST IV issue is sooooo much bigger than any one community or Board Of Ed member. Let's not forget that we're talking about the absence of $90million and how it will affect 100 thousand students.

The concern many bloggers have is the past mismanagement and seeming ineptitude of BoE members. This, however, should not be the only sway in determining whether to vote for SPLOST.

Consider what would hapen if SPLOST does not pass. That would mean that most of the projects on the list would be eliminated or at least delayed. However, some projects would have a more immediate priority (such as ADA improvements)and would have to be funded without SPLOST funds.

Money would have to be redirected that would ordinarily go into schools, classrooms, or pay salaries for personnel. I'd rather pay the extra penny for another 5 years than see any person lose their job due to voter anger.

I believe that vigilance will serve better to keep our BoE in line rather than vengance. Monitor the spending , but don't cut the funding.



Anonymous said...

I am re-posting a very cogent comment from Ernest on Maureen Downey's blog regarding the AIC:

". . actually the move was in the SPLOST 3 Community Brochure however it was not as ‘transparent’ as it could have been. Item #11 was the relocation of 2 schools and the Jim Cherry Center to what is now the AIC facility. Because of a combination of savings with the relocation and not having to do needed repairs on the prior HQ and satellite facilities, the project scope was able to increase without increasing the funding allocated. When you factor in the continued savings by centralizing staff, AIC has become a bargain. When they eventually sell the old HQ on North Decatur, moving to AIC would have paid for itself and more. If the cost is net 0 to the citizens while providing better work space, it should be done.

AIC is more accessible with plenty of parking and meeting space. Having attended many overflow meetings at the old facility and standing outside in the rain, the new meeting space is appreciated. It is also more handicap accessible, which is very important for federal accommodation laws."

Anonymous said...

All Defenders of Fernbank and Coralwood,
Stop embarrassing yourselves. Reapportionment happens regardless of board size. It happens every 10 years to adjust the districts based on the census just as the legislators have to adjust their lines. So, the lines will change no matter the size of the board. Now, the layer of complexity that the legislature added was that it was shrinking the board to 7 districts without super districts. So the 7 districts will be the 7 we have now tweaked for the census data that must be taken into account for reapportionment. If SPLOST fails the legislature will go back and amend their law to remove that description so it will still happen. Stop scaring people.

To anyone voting "yes" because their schools are in disrepair: I understand that you would like them fixed. The problem is that DeKalb has a poor record of taking care of your problems. First, check to see if you are on the "real" list. If you are just on one of the generic upgrades (like grease traps) you won't be seeing any significant improvements. If your roof is leaking, ask yourself how long you'll wait until they get to that project. Chances are that they'll get to your roof in year 5 of SPLOST and your child will be gone. Or, they'll "defer" it to SPLOST V. When it gets done it is possible they'll leave you with a bigger problem than before they "fixed" your current situation.
Characterizing SPLOST as a vote for children is the worst sort of manipulation.
Send a message and demand a better plan with specific budgets for each school's project not a lump sum as is currently listed for a group of projects and new buildings. That lump sum could be spent in some strange ways between those projects and leave some with less than they expected.

It would be great if everyone advocated for their schools with as much intensity as Fernbank and Coralwood. If parents were that involved throughout the county we wouldn't have the poor state of affairs that we see in DCSS or county government. It doesn't excuse us from looking at this referendum and finding it inadequate. We need a better referendum, more specifics and changes at the central office. Come back to us next November.

Anonymous said...

"Now, the layer of complexity that the legislature added was that it was shrinking the board to 7 districts without super districts. So the 7 districts will be the 7 we have now tweaked for the census data that must be taken into account for reapportionment."

Wrong. Not "tweaked" - completely re-drawn. I've seen the map.

Anonymous said...

Who hasn't seen the map? I've seen 2 versions. Maybe our definitions of tweaked are different. It's part of apportionment. It happens every 10 years. That has nothing to do with SPLOST. It doesn't matter how you slice up the districts, the same people will get elected from some districts or people with the same views, tactics and agendas in their place. My point is that this isn't a topic that should even be in this discussion or used to scare people into voting for SPLOST.

Anonymous said...

I'm not talking about the reapportionment maps - I'm talking about the BOE redistricting map being redrawn by the DeKalb delegation. The two look very different. The reapportionment maps are routinely done after the census as you correctly state. The BOE redistricting map has nothing to do with the reapportionment map and is very different. And, it's tied to SPLOST like it or not.

Anonymous said...

Well, then, if you have seen these maps, enlighten us as to what the new districts will look like...

Anonymous said...

You can only have one set of maps for the purposes of electing people. Reapportionment MUST happen. We agree on that. The number of voters in each district has to be adjusted so they are roughly equal. They change the districts adding here, removing there and they will look different than today. With the legislation they also will lose the super districts. So they are out of the mix. So we have to have 7 districts as we have today but they will have different borders. There won't be two different maps. There will be one map with 7 seats with equal distribution of voters based on the census. If there had been no legislation shrinking the board, there would still be border changes and they can be as crazy, different, simple or complicated as the legislature wants them to be. That has nothing to do with this legislation. It's a routine process. It could be as contentious or friendly as the personalities make it. But it would be happening with or without board shrinkage. The shrinkage just adds another layer taking away the 2 super districts.

If SPLOST fails, they'll go back and amend their legislation to keep the 7 rather than 9. Still no change in the outcome.

So SPLOST failing won't mean that we'll have 9 on the board in the end because the legislators will fix this issue.

The borders get redrawn anyway regardless of SPLOST because we are at reapportionment time. There can't be a "reapportionment map" and a "shrinkage map". There can only be ONE map for the purposes of an election. Both of this issues have to be dealt with in a single map.

This discussion is so off topic and is being used to scare voters into voting for SPLOST. Why not just stick with the merits of the program? Even if what you were saying was somehow correct (it isn't) you would have the voters spend $500+ million, exposing the system and taxpayers to potentially more poor construction management, just to remove 2 board members?

Just stick with arguing for the merits of SPLOST if you favor it. Let the program and the administration of it stand for itself. It seems that you are afraid that the facts alone won't gather the support necessary to pass this referendum so you are trying to generate distractions.

Anonymous said...

If you are an employee of DCSS, you cannot publicly advocate for SPLOST.

Does "Teaching in DCSS" and BhutrasGolly (an obvious DCSS employee who is advocating for SPLOST) know this?

Has the DCSS administration told their PR staff that they cannot publicly advocate for SPLOST including posting pro SPLOST comments on blogs such as DeKalb County School Watch or the AJC Get Schooled.

Not trying to shut down free speech. This is just the law.

When I was a DCSS teacher, we were warned about this by our principal.

Look at what Decatur city has published. DCSSS needs to do the same.

See what is published on the Decatur City Schools website FAQ page:
"Can the Superintendent or staff advocate for or against the SPLOST referendum?
No. CSD is only allowed to distribute facts about what SPLOST is, what the ballot will look like and when the election is held. Interested parents or community members are free to organize a committee to communicate, answer questions or otherwise exercise their rights in relation to the referendum."

Anonymous said...

@ DCSSFrustratedParent
"WAIT - maybe "we" should figure out how to replicate what appears to be working @ Fernbank in all Elementary schools - "

Good idea.

How would you ensure all schools have the same discretionary funds and educational enrichment that Fernbank has through their PTA? Do you think our Title 1 schools with some of the highest foreclosure rates in the metro area can match them?

See below - just a sample of what Fernbank publishes as its PTA income and expenditures. Go to this website to see the full complement:

BTW - this information does not include the extra science teacher to ensure students have hands-on, lab based science experiences and the extra Spanish teacher so students get language instruction - paid for by the parents. They also have a Fernbank Foundation. Nor does it include the money for Gifted that allows Fernbank to have extra classroom teachers and and a decreased pupil teacher ratio:

Projected: $ 131,100.00
Actual: $ 132,596.23

Community Enrichment (funded by Membership Dues/self supported))
TOTAL Community Enrichment $21,255.80

Fund Raising Expenses
TOTAL Fund Raising $39,666.54

PTA Administration (funded by $$$ for Education/Tshirts/Box Tops)
TOTAL PTA Administration $6,501.20

Staff Enrichment (funded by Wrapping Paper)
Reflections Art Exhibitions
Retirement Recognition
Staff Appreciation $1,755
Staff Gifts
Teacher of the Year
Teacher Stipends $5,150.65
Teacher T-Shirts
TOTAL Staff Enrichment $8,024.54

Student Enrichment - (funded by School Pictures & School Store/Bookfairs/or self supported)
Library Gift Book Program
Chess Club $13,812.83
Lego Club $1,840.00
Field Day
Fifth Grade Fun Run $2,678.50
Writing class
Yoga $7,400
TOTAL Student Enrichment $31,917.42

Anonymous said...

Fernbank. 58 out of 100 on facilities.

My first grader at Fernbank is in a classroom with unsolved mold issues, and windows that do do close fully. The air conditioning was broken in August, and the kids suffered. During recent testing, there were flies buzzing around, because the windows do not keep them out.

My 4th grader is in a trailer. Our field has no turf, and children like my daughter that have asthma are suffering.

A recent parent assembly with a packed cafeteria, had no AC.

This vote is not about the board. It is about children that deserve a safe place to go to school.

Dekalb is making plans for tomorrow. You are all doing that with your voice, please do it with our vote.

Anonymous said...

Fernbank has a foundation on top of their PTA -- which funds two teacher positions, something that virtually no other school in DeKalb could even dream of doing.

Catydid said...

Why are people equating a vote for or against SPLOST with what happens at Fernbank and Coralwood? What is really going on? Some of you have boarded the crazy train. Honestly, what does the Fernbank PTA budget have to do with the SPLOST vote? You would seriously defund building projects for a couple of years because Fernbank PTA has a bigger budget than some other schools?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous@9:48, what consequences would you like to see occur as a result of the assertions you make? Have you reviewed the facilities' reports for any of the schools that will receive rebuilding, renovation, or expansion with continuation of the school SPLOST? These schools are in really poor condition. Do you want those students and teachers to continue to live daily life in - excuse me -- piss poor conditions?

Anonymous said...

Briarlake, Evansdale, Henderson Mill, Coralwood, Lakeside, Druid Hills HS all have foundations (check their websites) and I'm sure there are more either established or in the works (pretty sure Druid Hills Middle and Henderson are working on them).

Anonymous said...

Oh and Evansdale is funding a teacher position - more power to them!

Anonymous said...

Ah, it looks like the talking points have been emailed to all members of the mafia. Welcome to the blog. I'm sure once this vote is over, you'll go on to your next project, just as you did once you screamed your way into the redistricting plan being rewritten exactly as you and your lawyers presented it.

FYI, being on "the list" doesn't guarantee your school will be repaired. My children's elementary school was on SPLOST2's list and didn't get its repairs until well into SPLOST3 spending. There was literally nothing we could do.

Is everyone who is voting for SPLOST going to stay on top of the board for ALL of the repairs promised - not just your school? You claim this vote is for all of the children, but we'll see once it comes down to handing out specific dollars.

Anonymous said...

SPLOST is about more than Fernbank. I am certainly not arguing for or against their need for a new facility or improvements. There are many schools in the same boat. But just because one school needs this or another needs that isn't the reason to vote for or against a half a billion dollar program. We need to look at the whole program and decide if the whole program is well crafted. Then we need to decide if the people who would execute the program are reliable and trustworthy managers of these dollars. If the answer to either of these questions is no then vote no. Let the board improve the plan and change the people responsible for managing the money and building projects. Come back next November and we can vote yes at that time. Since SPLOST III goes until July of 2012, we would only be without an e-SPLOST in place for a few months. That wouldn't be a hardship or significantly change the timing on anything. We would get a better list with more accountability.

Anonymous said...

And here's the website:

Anonymous said...

@ Catydid said
"You would seriously defund building projects for a couple of years because Fernbank PTA has a bigger budget than some other schools?"

Where did you get that idea?

A poster (DCSSFrustratedParent) commented that more schools should run like Fernbank if they want to be successful. I just agreed that many schools would have better achievement if they had the PTA budget and extra personnel Fernbank has.

I've haven't been to Fernbank for a few years, but I found it much nicer than many schools on the south side of the county. The new wing which was built not so long ago (what funds were used for that?) is beautiful. Is that wing now going to be torn down?

I'm really surprised that Fernbank will be getting rebuilt. It has the charm and architecture that can't be replicated in this day and age. Part of it is old, but it's a solid structure and quite historical for the county. The main drawback is the lack of an elevator for students with disabilities.

Perhaps some on this blog are concerned that Fernbank PTA lobbied heavily to close regular education schools while keeping the expensive Fernbank Science Center open. They were successful in leaving their attendance are intact even though the consultants hired by DCSS recommended otherwise. These actions make it seem Fernbank is only interested in their community at the expense of other communities.

But this discussion should not be about Fernbank. It should be about trusting the DCSS BOE and leftover Lewis Group (they are still in power) to spend a half billion dollars in an efficacious and honest manner.

Cerebration said...

We have spent over $17 million for lawyers relating to past SPLOST construction lawsuits. We could be on the hook for $20+ million more. Not to mention, we are paying for both the prosecution (DAs office) and the defense (Lewis, etc) relating to the criminal trials that stemmed from SPLOST.

These enormous piles of money for lawsuits have come out of the general fund - not SPLOST. Children have paid the price. People have lost their jobs because we don't have enough money left to pay the ordinary folks like parapros and media specialists.

Anon said...

The potential for corruption with SPLOST type spending programs is huge. The multiple layers needed to pull off large consturction projects make corruption much more likely.

What has DCSS done to make you feel confident that this SPLOST will go smoothly when II and III did not?

Lest everyone has forgotten, SPLOST II was full of issues. Stan Pritchett was investigated and the District Attorney ruled that it was incompetence not corruption what caused all the spending mistakes.

A year delay will allow the system to prove to us that they have cleaned house...

Anonymous said...

The demonstrated reasons to reject a SPLOST referendum until DCSS unveils real fiscal reform are myriad. Those reasons in favor that aren't covered in emotional smoke ("don't punish our innocent children or terminate innocent teachers!" What's next, a Sally Struthers commercial?)are motivated by local projects. Hopefully, enough anti voters will turn out to counteract the get-out-the-vote effort at Fernbank.

Ella Smith said...

The last experience I had at Fernbank was horrible and unthinkable. There was nothing fair about it. I would ever go back as a candidate. I would suggest other candidate be careful and set guidelines before they go to any forum at Fernbank. The first time I went there were some guidelines. I made a mistake the second time. I trusted the individuals in charge. I made the mistake by trusting the individuals in charge of the PTA at that time.

However, Fernbank parents have every right to advocate for what is best for their school. They have every right to put the interests of their school first. That is why we should have school board members who do not show political favors and promise things before they are elected. However, it is up to the voters to look at the candidates and vote for individuals who really will put the interests of all the schools over special interest schools due to political promises. Some of our school board members definitely try to do this.

I have seen so much money spent on the palace and I strongly disagree in this decision. With all the corruptions in funds and the court cases I will vote "No" this time around and with be working to convince others to vote "No" also in DeKalb County.

Ella Smith said...

I also agree that in a year I might vote "YES." However, right now as a voter I see the economy in horrible shape and voters everywhere struggling. I think they need a short break. I think the situation needs to be thought about and the money received used in a more conservative manner. The money brought in needs to be spent first of all on the schools our children are in and last on administrative buildings. The administrators can be in the leaking buildings until all our children are in non-leaking buildings.

Anonymous said...

Here is a question for the Fernbank community:

Was your support and "get out the vote" effort for Eugene Walker "for the children of DCSS" or was it to make sure your own community was safe during redistricting and the promise of a new building?

Anonymous said...

Please stop calling it the "Fernbank community" and making unfounded generalizations. There are many of us who live in the area and have students in the Fernbank/Druid Hills feeders and we are not supporting SLOST IV.

I am voting NO because we need to send a message to the current administration and BOE about the total lack of fiscal responsibiity. They have never listened to the taxpayers and it is time that they did. We must stop rewarding the bloated administration by replenishing their piggy bank.

A temporary hiatus in SPLOST funding is not going to derail the school system.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:48
"Please stop calling it the "Fernbank community" and making unfounded generalizations. There are many of us who live in the area and have students in the Fernbank/Druid Hills feeders and we are not supporting SLOST IV."

Although I am not a SPLOST IV supporter, I agree with Cerebration that people advocating for funding they think will help their community is not improper, nor should it be a source of personal criticism.

I think the reason posters call it the Fernbank Community is that there appears to be a SPLOST IV advocacy committee made up of Fernbank PTA officers and Fernbank Foundation Board of Director members:
"Upcoming Meetings on the School SPLOST
Both the Fernbank PTA and the Emory LaVista Parent Council will have presentations on the school SPLOST at their October meetings. The PTA meeting is October 18 at 6:00 p.m., and the ELPC meeting is October 19 at 9:00 a.m., both in the Fernbank cafeteria. If you have any additional questions, you can contact Fernbank parents serving on the county-wide SPLOST advocacy committee: Marshall Orson,....Amy Power....and Jeff DiSantis... If you or someone you know would like a yard sign supporting the school SPLOST, please contact Susan-Anne MacKenna at the above address. "

See this web address for more details:

Fernbank PTA Officers webpage:
Fernbank Foundation Board of Directors webpage:

These organizations appear to represent the Fernbank community at large and appear to be well organized.

Anonymous said...

The bashing of the Fernbank community is really silly and unfortunate. The school that really holds all the power and influence with the central office is Lakeside. The Lakeside parents got every single thing they wanted during the redistricting process, while Druid Hills HS made concessions, ended up with 200+ kids more than expected this fall (all crowded into a building that is bursting at the seams) AND they got transfers and an annex under NCLB.

And for the record, Druid Hills HS does NOT have a foundation for the school, but a foundation only for athletics. Compared with Lakeside, which does have a foundation, the DHHS PTA budget is very small.

Gayle said...

@ Anonymous 10:48

Although I am not a SPLOST IV supporter, I agree with Cerebration that people advocating for funding they think will help their community is not improper, nor should it be a source of personal criticism.

"Upcoming Meetings on the School SPLOST
Both the Fernbank PTA and the Emory LaVista Parent Council will have presentations on the school SPLOST at their October meetings. The PTA meeting is October 18 at 6:00 p.m., and the ELPC meeting is October 19 at 9:00 a.m., both in the Fernbank cafeteria. If you have any additional questions, you can contact Fernbank parents serving on the county-wide SPLOST advocacy committee: …….If you or someone you know would like a yard sign supporting the school SPLOST, please contact …. at the above address. "

Here is the Druid Hills High School website address for more details:

These organizations appear to represent the Fernbank at large community (particularly since the advocacy information is published on the DCSS server) and appear to be well organized.

Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate. However, it is mostly Fernbank and Coralwood parents who are staffing the effort to get SPLOST passed.

Lakeside parents seem less than interested....

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of Henderson MS ( aka Lakeside) parents supporting SPLOST to fund the addition needed to accommodate current overcrowding, I am not at Fernbank or Lakeside but will certainly support SPLOST as it is the only source of money to maintain our facilities in DCSS.o

Anonymous said...

but will certainly support SPLOST as it is the only source of money to maintain our facilities in DCSS

Wrong...more misinformation.

Anonymous said...

"Lakeside parents seem less than interested...."

You have got to be kidding - the SCORE group had the Henderson addition planned before redistricting was even done. Lakeside has been leading this push since February. Those of you in Dunwoody who think you're going to "defer SPLOST for a year" are delusional. While you rant about Fernbank and Coralwood, the Lakeside community has been mobilized for 6 months.

Anonymous said...

I wish you could have seen the drinking fountain on the second grade hall of Fernbank that was covered with a brown garbage bag and masking tape for two months. There is finally a new one as of last week. The upper hall has two bathroom stalls crisscrossed with masking tape because the toilets aren't working. The teachers lounge has a special way to flush the toilets so that they don't go on continuous flush.
The bathrooms are filthy because they are so old.
The ENTIRE FOURTH GRADE, a special ed classroom, and the reading specialist, are housed in trailers. The building was built in 1957 and it shows. I personally witnessed a termite swarm in the front office a few years ago.
You all need to realize that these parents make do with a very old building by making sure they stay involved every single day and are strong advocates for their children and the children that are shipped in because of the IB program. There are 700 kids in that school, each one cared for.
Cut the crap about the mafia and think about the kids for once. Pass SPLOST and keep an eye out on what it's spent on. That is what blogs are good for. Do that and win. Vote no and we and the kids all lose.

Anonymous said...

Every child every school should be up to par with its facilities.My school has benefitted from SPLOST. So I will definately support Splost IV for others schools in our "one DeKalb School System".

Gayle said...

@Anonymous 10:48
The reason posters use the term Fernbank Community is because there appears to be a SPLOST IV advocacy committee made up of Fernbank Foundation and PTA officers.

"Upcoming Meetings on the School SPLOST

Both the Fernbank PTA and the Emory LaVista Parent Council will have presentations on the school SPLOST at their October meetings. The PTA meeting is October 18 at 6:00 p.m., and the ELPC meeting is October 19 at 9:00 a.m., both in the Fernbank cafeteria. If you have any additional questions, you can contact Fernbank parents serving on the county-wide SPLOST advocacy committee: …….If you or someone you know would like a yard sign supporting the school SPLOST, please contact …. at the above address. "

Here is the Druid Hills High School website address for more details:

These organizations appear to represent the Fernbank at large community (particularly since the advocacy information is published on the DCSS server) and appear to be well organized.

Anonymous said...

It's true that Cobb county voters did not vote for SPLOST until they felt comfortable with the technology plan. That forced the Cobb BOE to come back with a plan that was acceptable to everyone.

Anonymous said...

SPLOST I,II and III overlooked my schools and this SPLOST won't be any different. Sorry to hear that any child is in a poor facility but mine are too and nobody seems to care. The schools are in bad shape because the people you want to give more money to let them get to this point in the first place. If maintenance had been done we wouldn't have the problems they say SPLOST IV will fix. Is the answer to give them more money to screw up with? You can't be serious?

Anonymous said...

I hear lots of people in the Lakeside area aren't going to vote for SPLOST.

Gayle said...

@ Anonymous 10:48

It is called the Fernbank community by posters because the SPLOST advocacy committee is made up of Fernbank Foundation and Fernbank PTA officers. See the Druid Hills webpage below:

These organizations appear to speak for the community at large, particularly since the information is published on the Druid Hills website (DCSS server).

Gayle said...

Anonymous 10:4

Look at this quote:

"Upcoming Meetings on the School SPLOST
Both the Fernbank PTA and the Emory LaVista Parent Council will have presentations on the school SPLOST at their October meetings. The PTA meeting is October 18 at 6:00 p.m., and the ELPC meeting is October 19 at 9:00 a.m., both in the Fernbank cafeteria. If you have any additional questions, you can contact Fernbank parents serving on the county-wide SPLOST advocacy committee: …….If you or someone you know would like a yard sign supporting the school SPLOST, please contact …. at the above address. "

The co-presidents of the Emory LaVista Council are both members of the Fernbank Foundation Board of Directors.

Can you see how the organizations that represent the community of Fernbank are organized and advocating the passage of SPLOST.

Anonymous said...

SPLOST has broad support across the county. Several speakers at last week's PTA council dinner (not from Fernbank) advocated openly for the need to vote for SPLOST. Wake up -This is not a Fernbank issue.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 11:31

SPLOST IV does not have the broad support you describe. The passage of SPLOST is contingent on the trust the voters have in the same group that handled SPLOST last time.

Delay SPLOST until Dr. Atkinson has a new management group in place, we have new BOE members, and a transparent and equitable plan is presented to taxpayers.

In the long run it will be better for the students to have an equitable and effective implementation.

Teaching in DCSS said...

@ Anon 12:01 am

I beg your pardon, but SPLOST IV has a whole lot more support than just the vocal groups like the Ferbank Community. I don't think many of the bloggers realize that the whole of DCSS is not represented by the opinions expressed on this website.

SPLOST IV should pass.

If you disagree, please provide a PLAN on how to fund the projects listed for SPLOST IV or rather which ones you would cut completely or delay indefinitely.

$90million will need to be replaced each year for the next five years.

Anonymous said...

Handpicked speakers at a PTA council dinner shilled for SPLOST. Shocking!

Cerebration said...

IMHO - A vote NO against SPLOST is a vote to give Dr. Atkinson a chance to work up her own plan. Otherwise she is simply beholden to the political favors embedded in the current SPLOST plan.

A vote NO against SPLOST is a vote to start fresh or at least tighten up the plan we have before us now. Certainly the Fernbank plan for a new school would still be included next time. Surely revamping the stadiums would remain in the plan. Many parts of the plan are very good ideas, it's just that there are far too many vague statements that will allow for political maneuvering later.

Voters need to see a cogent, deliberate plan that is educationally-driven with a clear vision in mind. The current plan practically just lists every school in the system in order to get voter buy-in.

Paula Caldarella said...

I agree with Cere 1000%. This system is too much of a mess right now. We need to take a deep breath, let Dr. Atkinson "do her thing" and let's see where we are in another year.

No Duh said...

Don't know which school the woman who stood up and presented at the PTA Council meeting is from, but the woman in the back working the slides and passing out the yard signs and whose name was on the meeting agenda was indeed a Fernbank parent.

But does it really matter? Information is information. We all have to use our own interpretation of information to vote the way we think best. That's the way it works in America. SPLOST is a political hotbed. Whether it passes or not, you can be sure the "in crowd" will still get what they want. Our job is to advocate for the "out crowd." The children without voices through no fault of their own.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we need an Occupy DCSS

Ella Smith said...

There are many individuals in the Fernbank area who will not be supportive of SPLOST IV.

The PTA officers and other affliations of Fernbank School and Fernbank Science Center are not the entire Fernbank Community and definitely not the entire Decatur/Emory community.

I live in the Decatur/Emory Area and I for one feel differently.

I do think we equally can advocate a "NO" vote.

We need to buy some signs ourself. We need to collect money to do so. I will make a donation. Who has a PO Box we can use. The money could be sent to the DeKalb County School Board Watch and we could buy signs to put around the county. Celeb, what do you think? Signs around the county would work great. Do we have any organizers. I will be glad to help.

We also could meet and hand out vote "No" literature right before the vote around the county. This also would help. I do think we should act in force and meet soon.

Anonymous said...

It's against the law for a school system or any school system employees to advocate for SPLOST. So why are the positives if we pass SPLOST and the negatives if we don't pass SPLOST posted on the DCSS server. I know that the PTA posted the talking points advocating for SPLOST, but the DCSS web server and the official DCSS school website (Druid Hills in this instance) should not be used for this purpose.
See for yourself:

Anonymous said...

What will the capacity of the new Fernbank be? Hopefully, DCSS will make it 55,000 so that everyone can attend there. Or we can just rename every elementary school Fernbank so that every parent can say their child attends Fernbank. But seriously, will the capacity be 900? With a 2020 projection of 860 students, that doesn't give much room to expand the Fernbank attendance zone. Hopefully, the capacity will be much larger than 900 so that other areas can have a chance to be a part of Fernbank. If they need more acreage for the new school, they can always incorporate the FSC property into the new school and move Heaton Park Drive. Of course, those actions could lead to lawsuits. I'm not sure if Fernbank, Inc. would have standing in regards to major changes to the FSC property, but I figure the Druid Hills Civic Association would get involved if the project called for moving a road or if the scope of the project was too large for their liking. DCSS can never have too many lawsuits. By the way, this is a great location to rebuild the school for the area. It is very convenient for all those children from the City of Decatur and City of Atlanta who attend Fernbank.

Anonymous said...

There is significant support and advocacy for SPLOST in S DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

And there is significant opposition to SPLOST IV in South DeKalb just like North DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

Good idea about expanding Fernbank Elementary across the street, but I don't think it is possible. It is my understanding that DeKalb leases the land the Science Center sits on from Fernbank Inc, and if the Science Center ever stops being a Science Center the land (and the building) go back to Fernbank Inc. The county cannot repurpose or sell the building.

I teach in an old, run down (but clean) DeKalb school, and I will not be voting for SPLOST this time around. I like the idea of giving our new Super a chance to decide what she would like to spend the funding on. Time to make a break with the past-- let's start by voting down SPLOST IV.

Ella Smith said...

Employees of the school system do have to be quiet, just like I cannot advocate or say anything in Fulton County because I am employed by the Fulton County School System.

I do think an interesting question has been brought up. The PTA is a Parent/Teacher Association and because of this teachers are involved and are members. Most schools require teachers or strongly encourage all teachers to be members of their PTA. I do not think the PTA is an appropriate avenue of giving out information since teachers are not allowed in a county to be involved in the county they teach to advocate for SPLOST IV. It seems like to me the parents of PTA have possible overstepped here and really should not be involved as teachers are also a part of the association. This definitely is not sending the correct message to the community. I do think the school board should be emailed about this. I also do not think that the associations can advocate for SPLOT IV on school property particularly since teachers are a part of their association.

The PTA is the avenue the school system is using but it is not a correct avenue because of the teacher connection to the PTAs. This may be an unethical avenue.

Anonymous said...

Ella. your point of the PTA NOT being a SPLOST advocate is well taken. But when it comes to raising money to keep the free spending machine going, laws and ethics fall by the wayside in DCSS. The message given to the PTAs probably is coming from the administration. Maybe from some of the BOE. It has some good leakers.

Anonymous said...

PTAs are ADVOCACY groups. And just because someone is a school system employee does not mean they give up their Constitutional right to free speech, Ella. The state PTA routinely gives local PTAs information on legislation and they are allowed to discuss the pros and cons of such legislation. And PTAs routinely support E-SPLOSTS.

No Duh said...

PTAs are not to hold a position one way or the other for any issue or public office upon which the general public will be voting.

PTAs can lead their members to information about issues or candidates, but they are not to advocate pro/con or yes/no on any issue or candidate. They can remind members when the votes will be taken and encourage them to get out and vote. But, it is not appropriate for a PTA to tell its members who they should vote.

I think all this info that is floating about on the DCSS server, presented at the PTA Council meeting, etc. is being disseminated by Friends of DeKalb. It just so happens many of the members of FOD are also members of the Fernbank PTA.

If we start saying tax payers who happen to be PTA members should be exempt from political advocacy because they may influence another taxpayer who also happens to be a PTA member, we will lose the strongest, most knowledgable, most active community leaders we have.

Being a PTA member -- or even a PTA leader -- does not strip me of my rights as a taxpayer. However, I must ensure when I give my opinion, I preface it with the caveat that I am speaking for myself and not my PTA.

That said, I don't think the PTA Council meeting was an appropriate place to showcase a very PRO SPLOST message. I was uncomfortable with it and felt it was heavy handed. This is a taxpayer issue.

Anonymous said...

"The PTA officers and other affliations of Fernbank School and Fernbank Science Center are not the entire Fernbank Community and definitely not the entire Decatur/Emory community."

no one at Fernbank Science Center is advocating for or promoting SPLOST IV. Once again, to remind everyone, Fernbank Elementary School and Fernbank Science Center are completely independent entities. The Science Center serves the ENTIRE DCSS - just happens it sits across the street from the elementary school.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the DCSS board think that the "A" in PTA is for administration because this is not the first time they have sent directives down the line about what the PTA should do to help them gain the support (or the illusion of support) that they need in order to get something through either with little notice (ie. cell towers) or with vocal support (SPLOST) that does not actually represent the actual members of the PTA on either count. I'm fairly certain that the PTA is only permitted to "take sides" on issues that the state PTA has approved. And, in those cases they are only allowed to refer members to the specific message of support that has been approved. They are NOT supposed to be running on the appearance of representing the parents and teachers (and children) when they are really carrying out directives that have come from the top down. They are elected, not hired by the board. But, then again, our board was elected and they appear to make decisions without regard to the people they are expected to serve, don't they? What a tangled web we weave! Vote NO on SPLOST IV and stop handing over your hard earned money to this bottomless pit of a construction scam. And, if your school is 50 years old or older, then you should be proud because that means your children are attending in a building that has a long history and should have the respect and pride of the community. You should look into the amount of money your school can get for upgrades and repairs from the state under the Historical Schools Preservation Act. I doubt the board is even aware that there is money out there they could be utilizing if they had ever considered actually taking care of these momunments to history instead of chomping at the bit to tear them down.

Imo, this referendum is entirely too broad for us to agree to it. There are some necessities that should have been part of the regular budget. Maintenance and even rennovations are things that can be anticipated as needs and planned for accordingly. And other items are not clearly explained in order for us to approve such large dollar amounts for them. For example, we have a total of 5 stadiums. Yet, the description on the county's site says, "Upgrades, including turf installation, at stadiums and renovations to athletic facilities and stadiums, including but not limited to, Adams Stadium, Avondale Stadium, Halford Stadium, North DeKalb Stadium, and Panthersville Stadium." If all 5 stadiums are listed then why does it say "but not limited to." These are the gray areas where we have to be careful. They threw in the word "athletic facilities" so as the years go by and this money is sitting out there, they can funnel it toward whatever athletic special project they wish (like the therapy pool that was mentioned in a prior comment), even though the voters think they were okaying a line item that was only intended for stadiums. And, they have vauguely mentioned some technology "refresh" items, but Dr. Atkinson has not had time to lay out an educational improvement plan that will get our schools off the failure train. How would anyone know what type of technology we should invest in right now when we do not know how it would be used (or if it would be used). Again, here's a big area that could become a waste of money if we install a bunch of new things only to learn that necessary software won't run on it or that vital information is LOST during the upgrade/refresh process. I can practically read the headlines now, "DCSS servers crash during systemwide upgrade called for by voters. Attorneys for the administration say that years of documentation may be lost or destroyed. Suponeas in the Crawford Lewis investigation cannot be answered. Without evidence, charges will be dropped.

Anonymous said...

The Occupy DCSS idea is an interesting one -- it has been suggested that the quality isseus and corruption issues that exist in public schools nationwide are because parents are simply too passive so school boards can get away with whatever they want.

Anonymous said...

Regarless of the age of the school, all buildings require maintenance and repair. These items should be anticipated and planned out in the operating budget.

And just like you would do if we were talking about your home, if you don't have the money for the projects you want - You SAVE. And during the time that it takes to save for what you want, you either go without or your improvise.

Flies do not appear simply because windows are open. Did anyone think about investigating where the garbage was located that had not been emptied that was attracting all the flies? Did anyone think of another way to block the openings of the windows that would not close, like taping plastic over the openings?

I agree that the poor conditions are unacceptable, but giving more money to people who do not care about the same things we do will not solve anyone's problems, or at least not for very wrong.

Think about it... If Fernbank is one of our best performing schools with one of the best parent groups and most money from outside sources, I shudder to think of what it looks like inside one of our worst schools.

It is the job of the school board to anticipate the needs, respond to the community and budget accordingly. Make them do their jobs. Giving them another "get out of jail free SPLOST" will only give them a chance to let their distorted egos and unsatiable greed to run wild as they start another game of handing out money to some and witholding it from others.

A "yes" will be seen outside our county as a general approval of the job our school board is doing and a belief that they can be trusted to get it right this time. A "No" is a public way and annoymous way to remind the board that the money is ours, not theirs.

What Fernbank is doing may actually be relevent in one way... this is what our system has forced us to do. We bicker amongst each other about who has it worse or who deserves more. And when we complain loudly enough, they throw us a bone to keep us quiet for a while.

But, the truth is that the board should be listening to everyone so they can take care of needs in a fair and unbiased manner. Then our issues would never become so large that we felt we had to fight each other in order to get what we deserved.

It isn't about us, anyway, it is about the children. And, my NO vote is 100% about doing what is right for them. Our board members are blind to the true issues of education. Maybe if they didn't have money to play with and shuffle around they would get some real work done. And monopoly is not such a fun game to play if the banker is out of money. And sometimes the most creative and innovate solutions are born when we think that we are all out of options.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:28AM

That is really the best post eve on the subject of SPLOST. Bravo.

I will be forwarding your words to friends.

Anonymous said...

Tony Hunter Spent near this amount on eSIS - the failed Student Information System. eSIS is so bad a product, Tony Hunter moved Test Scores, Attendance Data and other features back to the AS 400 instead of eSIS. eSIS is nothing but a bait and switch scam that gives MIS a blank check to circumvent the bidding process.

Tony Hunter is boasting that eSIS is getting better but in fact he just moved many major features back to the older technologies that were supposed to be replaced by eSIS in the first place.

Tony Hunter is now running two very inequity Student Information Systems (eSIS and AS 400) at the very high cost of ownership in the tens of millions.

eSIS was sold last year by AAL to another company . So the madness will start all over again.

An Audit of the MIS Budget would make your head spinnnnnnn.

Fred said...

To paraphrase a quote from Mark Twain, "If you don’t read blogs you are uninformed, if you do read blogs you are misinformed." Twain actualy said newspapers instead of blogs above, I just took the liberty in updating his quote.

Starting with the title of this blog topic, there is so much misinformation out there it is not surprising to see why so many people are indicating they will vote NO for SPLOST IV. The truth is out there if you really want to know it.

Anonymous said...

Poor, poor misinformed sheep of DeKalb County. From campus cell towers to SPLOST votes, what would we do without paternalistic wise men to think and decide for us (all for our own good, of course)?

Anonymous said...

@ Fred

Here's another Mark Twain quote you'll find amusing:

"In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards. "

Anonymous said...

Fred, Fred, Fred, Fred, and Fred:

Ya'll are so predictable in your posts.

Blast the messenger to detract from the truth of the message.

Blast the blog as though it were your job, which it probably is.

Anonymous said...

Will Ron Ramsey truly investigate the Palace crew. There are too many Palace insiders who have done unethical and illegal things. The Hotline should and will be''Hot'' this week.

Anonymous said...

For those of you who think we can "wait a year" to vote for SPLOST IV, this is what any E-SPLOST will be up against.

$6 million being spent to campaign for T-SPLOST against an E-SPLOST that cannot be advertised. If SPLOST IV does not pass this year, it really never will.

Anonymous said...

Cobb County did not pass SPLOST because of the laptop fiasco. DCSS has had a lot more scandalous activities than that and our achievement has steadily tanked so we have gotten the lowest Return on Investment for any of our tax dollars in the metro area. After the new admninistration proved they could put together a coherent technologynplan, SPLOST passed the next year.

Anonymous said...

Looks like DCSS will be taking the opportunity to promote SPLOST at the ELPC meeting tomorrow, coincidentally being held at Fernbank. Barbara Coleman will be speaking.

Paula Caldarella said...

FYI, several of the "learning cottages" at Chamblee HS were burglarized over the 4-day weekend. Computers and other equipment were stolen and/or damaged. I did not look a few weeks ago when I was over there, does anyone know if there are cameras located outside the "trailer village"?

Anonymous said...

If Chamblee's experience is anything like Henderson Middle's, they'll never find out what level of electronic security was in place, what the cameras captured and whether arrests were made.

Anonymous said...

The Chamblee burglaries made the news:

The school has no theft prevention measures at all for the trailers and the computers are not being replaced. I'm interested in hearing how other schools handle theft.

Anonymous said...

If there are no prevention measures for trailers, why are expensive equipment like computers and such left out there. The district doesn't have money to replace these items. A better approach would be to give teachers lap tops that they either turn in to the office at the end of the day or take home with them at night, but to leave computers or have a computer lab in a trailer is just not using one's head.

Also, why are we spending so much on security if nothing is really secure? Seems like we'd be better off paying the county for police officers or just letting the county do security for the schools.

I will ask again, when will the money that we spend in tax dollars stop being flushed down the toilet? Whether it's the millions in law fees or the numerous thefts of computers, AC units, etc, the district just keeps throwing money away. When will this finally stop?

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:10

The system doesn't replace stolen items.

It is a real problem.

Anonymous said...

If you really look back at all the thefts and the amount of money that DCSS spends on internal security and then internal security's abject failure to "capture" and do anything about the thefts and the way they continue to happen -- it is absolutely clear to those paying attention that most of them have to be "inside" jobs.... This becomes even clearer if you compare what DCSS does and how incidents have been handled against other counties. If you want to cringe further -- there are "friends and family" in security.

Paula Caldarella said...

Break-ins plague Chamblee Charter high school

By Christopher Seward
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Students and teachers at Chamblee Charter High School will be in new classrooms when a $70 million building project is completed in 2013, but focusing on what’s coming has been difficult because of what’s been disappearing
Nearly a dozen break-ins have plagued the school in recent months with thieves walking away with computers, keyboards, calculators and other electronics and equipment.

Five of the thefts occurred over the Labor Day holiday weekend and six over the Columbus Day weekend, according to Channel 2 Action News.

The targets have been the 32 mobile classrooms students and teachers have been using as the construction continues around them on Chamblee Dunwoody Road.

Teachers in the classrooms are increasingly frustrated over the thefts. They say they want to feel secure and want assurances that the district is doing all it can to prevent future break-ins. They are also concerned the missing equipment won’t be replaced.

District spokesman Walter Wood said a dollar figure has yet to be attached to the missing equipment, but he said the district is taking steps to increase security. He said additional patrols are being made and motion sensor alarms and new fencing locks are being installed.

Hmmm...let's see...30+ trailers full of expensive electronics and DCSS is just NOW worrying about securing these trailers?

Anonymous said...

@Dunwoody Mom This is exactly my problem with this. They've had 5 weeks to address the problem, but even beyond that, they had at least since May to plan theft prevention methods and they've done absolutely nothing, not even basic stuff like bolt the computers to the desks or give the teachers laptops to take home. But they want me to pay higher taxes to give them more money??! For what?! So that they can wast it again?!

Anonymous said...

Dekalb County Schools (even now, Dr. Atkinson can't figure out whether we are a "District" or a "System") are "self-insured" which according to people who've I talked to who understand all this, means there is essentially no coverage for the stolen items.

They can't be replaced.

Some of you who know more about insurance policies may be able to enlighten us on this.

Sounds like Dekalb is insuring on the cheap, perhaps because they know they can dip into teachers' salaries and their federal funding golden cookie jar to replace this stuff. Sighs deeply. I don't know-- this is all purely cynical, disgusted speculation.

BTW, Walter Woods has a real executive sounding title now, as does the new guy over Tony Hunter, who retains an executive sounding title. The new guy Tony answers to must have a super-double executive sounding title.

Can you we say. "New, exploding non-teaching payroll?"

And what b.s. that some of these people will be retained until June when their contracts expire! The timing was right to keep them being overpaid for almost a year until that imaginary termination date--more like the day when they're just reassigned at the same salary or, "What the hell, we'll just throw a little raise in to keep your mom or aunt or your grandmother happy." We can always give the teachers another furlough day or two to rake in the bucks for the raise!

Anonymous said...

I bet that Dr. Atkinson is bringing these new people in, and our top-notch HR department, with its director whose stellar resume shows his vast experience as an elementary school principal, is handling all the salary and benefits details based on the reasonable, publicly distributed salary rate for the creative job titles these people are given.

Do you think Dr. Atkinson is aware of the "professionalism" rampant in DCSS Human Resources? She must be, because surely she's entrusted them to handle all these new hires and reassignments. After all, who else is gonna process these hires and reassignments?

The "clew crew" is all there. Dr. Atkinson is just the figurehead crew chief.

Sorry, Sam, but a change ain't gonna come.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Why should DCSS have an insurance policy for stolen goods? They know the PTA will pick up the slack with a slew of fundraisers to repurchase the equipment so someone else "in the know" can swipe it and fence it at the local pawn shop.

Dr. Atkinson wants to purchase more? Until the System/District, or whatever we're called this week, does something substantial to curb the thievery, then it's life as usual at DCSS. Dr. Atkinson I suggest you also make some wholesale changes in staff or no one is going to believe that you were sincere when you spoke to parents at the meet and greet.