Monday, November 28, 2011

much ado about nothing

How many games and how much trickery will the public tolerate? How long will we remain so gullible? What will it take for us to reclaim our tax dollars and our school system?

The SPLOST pushers made a big issue out of the 'fact' that due to the passage and (unclear) wording of SB 79, voting "Yes" on SPLOST was the only way to flip the entire board! Well, that was oh so two weeks ago my friends. The smoke has cleared and things have changed.

Mary Margaret Oliver (one of my favorite legislators)... is introducing a bill that attempts to clarify the election process for the DeKalb school board. Certainly, this is something the DeKalb Delegation supports, right? Or maybe they're just chuckling over in the corner as they watch legislators wriggle out of the mess they've created. (The Delegation did not approve or participate in the original bills.) Here's the reading right out of the gate:

First Reader Summary A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend an Act establishing in DeKalb County districts from which members of the county board of education shall be elected, approved April 12, 1963 (Ga. L. 1963, p. 3424), as amended, particularly by an Act approved April 2, 2002 (Ga. L. 2002, p. 4536), so as to provide for a reduction in the members of the board of education from nine to seven; to provide for education districts for such members; to provide for the manner of election and terms of office; to provide for the continuation in office of certain members; to provide for related matters; to provide for submission of this Act under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended; to provide for effective dates; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

Read the entire bill here.

To us, it says odd seat numbers stay, even ones are at risk or gone. This has us keeping Cunningham, Walker, Edler, Woods and Jester--and puts McChesney, Speaks, Bowen, and Womack out unless they run for one of the new districts after they're redrawn (which is done every 10 years according to the U.S. Census). Jay and Gene would both keep their seat--but since they're practically neighbors, it would be pretty easy for the district to be drawn in such a way that they both can't represent it. Oddly, Gene holds a 'super district' seat, one of two that we were told would disappear in Mike Jacobs original bill, but here it looks like he's secure. Pam holds the other super district, but doesn't live near anyone else, so she might wind up competing for one of the new districts. Bottom line--all seven board seats will not be replaced in 2012 as promoted to pass SPLOST. We are going to have to get out of this either in baby election steps, or bold administrative gambits on Atkinson's part--which depends on Atkinson's character and priorities.

Add to this the fact that barely 24 hours after the passage of SPLOST, the head of construction, Barbara Colman, submitted her retirement papers. She's done. We now have to find a new construction manager for SPLOST through 2017. Wonder who that will be? I would suggest hiring an owner's rep as the staff liason and then contracting the construction management. Except, that is what we did in SPLOST II and it got us involved in a $100 million lawsuit (always say that with at upturned pinkie at the corner of your mouth) - costing us over $15 million in legal fees and committing us to another $20 million (and mounting) in legal fees to be paid after the 'trial'... all paid from the general operations budget, the budget slated for school operations. The budget from which we pay our teachers. The budget that ironically - needed major cuts in school staff in order to remain in balance (gee, I wonder why!)

So, here we are. Threat #1 for not supporting SPLOST is about to be taken off the table. How long until Threat #2 (the one where the board will have to raise property taxes if you vote "No") will also be a broken unspoken promise of the past? Gene Walker has been chomping at the bit to raise property taxes since he set foot on the board. How long until they announce "We can't use SPLOST for general operations, so we'll need to raise your property taxes or we'll have to start cutting teachers." Mark my words. Gare - own - tee. The county just raised their portion of the property taxes due to steep declines in values in some parts of DeKalb. And county taxes are only 40% of your tax bill - just how much more will you have to pay when the next promise is broken?

Time to clean house.

I noticed the #1 word of the Merriam Webster's People's Choice Favorites is "Defenestration". It's appropriate here.

Defenestration: a throwing of a person or a thing out of a window; or a usually swift expulsion or dismissal

Get going Atkinson. You are really going to have to hang tough in order to truly run this school system and not become a puppet of this very controlling board as our last two supers. Time's a Wastin'!


UPDATE:  Below is a map we received a while ago showing the 'proposed' (not final) new board districts, evenly divided according to population numbers from the 2010 U.S. Census.  The proposed legislation above recommends keeping the people in the 5 seats in green and the remaining two 2 seats (totaling 7) will be up for election in November, 2012. However, as you can see from the map, the 'saved' board members overlap in their new districts and we have a gaping hole in the middle with 3 open districts and 1 in the SE but only 2 seats available on the board. (The pink area is Decatur City Schools I believe.)  Additionally, Tom Bowen lives in the new district 5 so if reelected, he could take up one of the two available seats, and Pam lives in new district 2 possibly taking the second available seat, while Don and Paul could each win the seat in their home district. Now you have 4 board members competing for only 2 available seats. How do you do that? They each legally live in one of the new districts and are up for reelection - is it fair to place someone from outside their district in that seat?

One option is to assign the board reps from the south end to these new districts (negating the rule that you must live in your district), or create strangely shaped, wobbly semi-vertical districts.  However, this still creates for unfair competition, these 5 will never have the political challenges the others will have to fight for a seat. Additionally, going this route leaves us with electing 5 board reps every other election and only 2 the others, rather than a more balanced 4 and then 3.


Paula Caldarella said...

Yes, we were sold a bill of goods on this reducing the BOE process.
This does nothing in the short-term to rid the Board of the most harmful members - Walker, Cunningham and Copelin-Woods.

But, then again, who is surprised at this?

Anonymous said...

How many media outlets did Marshall Orson go running to imploring that we have to pass SPLOST to get a new BOE?

Still waiting for Marshall and Amy Power to come forward as the the leaders of the "Friends of DeKalb Schools", along with the other so-called "friends".

Anonymous said...

It is suspicious that these two events were withheld until mere days after the passage of SPLOST.

Anonymous said...

Fool me once, shame on you...
Fool me twice, shame on you...
Fool me thrice, shame on you...

Anonymous said...

I still think that is an even money bet that none of the family members and friends of the powerful will get Excessed (as the British say) or Riffed (as they say in the federal government).

Cerebration said...

Interesting that the letter from Mike Jacobs states,

Mark Elgart, the president and CEO of SACS, recently told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that “all of the problems in these systems are about board governance, power struggles, and unethical behavior – not teachers or lack of funding.”

No lack of funding eh? I have said that for a very long time. We have enough money! In fact, now that SPLOST covers all of our construction needs - we have even more money for operations! Our total consolidated budget for DCSS is about $1.2 BILLION.

Divided by 98,000 students that equals $12,225.00. This does not include the over $100+ million for construction, technology and buses that will be collected each year by the penny SPLOST tax.

Maybe it would be prudent to just hand out vouchers and let parents choose a private school. Maybe our charter schools could start taking vouchers. Maybe our public schools would then have to step up and compete for our business.

Just sayin'...

Anonymous said...

Cere, the problem here is with Mary Margaret Oliver's proposed legislation. You say you are a fan of hers, I suggest you direct your complaints to her.

Cerebration said...

I have no complaint. I had been asking and asking for clarification on how Mike Jacob's original legislation was going to work. No one knew! MMO is simply trying to clarify the process. This is what it really is... however, no one would admit it until after the SPLOST vote (IMO). This new legislation will take several years and election cycles to implement. Then what? The next time we don't have a SPLOST anymore we can go back to 9? MMO had an original piece of legislation that I fully supported. It put the vote to DeKalb voters - would you prefer 5, 7 or 9 board members? This was a DeKalb issue and should have been decided by DeKalb voters.

Cerebration said...

Did people REALLY think that we were going to redraw the lines and have a full election of all new board members in November 2012? I never believed that would happen. But that's how the SPLOST supporters 'sold' it.

Anonymous said...

The question is when did anyone know there was a problem with the SB 79and why did they wait until after SPLOST vote to fix it?

Cerebration said...

I wrote to Mike Jacobs asking for clarification but he never replied. Also, as far as waiting until now - well, the legislature is not set to go into session until Jan 9, 2012. MMO pre-filed this bill.

Prefiling of 2012 legislation began on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 (see O.C.G.A. 28-1-17). The next legislative session will convene at 10:00am, on Monday, January 9, 2012.

Cerebration said...

Here's how SB79 Reads

SB79 as Passed

In part:

Effective January 1, 2012, members of local boards of education shall be elected for terms of not less than four years, provided that longer terms of office may be unless their terms are otherwise provided by local Act or constitutional amendment. (b)(1) Each local board of education shall have no more than seven members as provided by local Act.

This subsection shall not apply to a local board of education whose board size exceeds seven members as provided by local constitutional amendment or federal court order or pursuant to a local law in effect prior to July 1, 2010; provided, however, that if Members of local boards of education in office on July 1, 2011, who are serving terms of office of less than four years shall serve until December 31, 2012, and until their respective successors are elected and qualified. Members elected in 2011 shall serve until December 31, 2014, and until their respective successors are elected and qualified. Successors to all such members shall be elected to serve four-year terms of office and until their respective successors are elected and qualified. The General Assembly, by local law, may provide for staggered terms of office and term limits for such offices. On and after January 1, 2015, the General Assembly by local law may provide for terms of less than four years for members of local boards of education." the local law of any such local board of education is amended to revise the number of members on such board, paragraph (1) of this subsection shall apply.

Members of local boards of education in office on July 1, 2011, who are serving terms of office of less than four years shall serve until December 31, 2012, and until their respective successors are elected and qualified. Members elected in 2011 shall serve until December 31, 2014, and until their respective successors are elected and qualified. Successors to all such members shall be elected to serve four-year terms of office and until their respective successors are elected and qualified. (d) The General Assembly, by local law, may provide for staggered terms of office and term limits for such offices. On and after January 1, 2015, the General Assembly by local law may provide for terms of less than four years for members of local boards of education."

Cerebration said...

Here's how MMOs new pre-file reads:

"SECTION 1. (a) There is created the board of education of DeKalb County. Until December 31, 2012, the board of education shall consist of nine members. On and after January 1, 2013, the board of education shall consist of seven members as provided in this Act, and two seats shall be abolished on December 31, 2012.

SECTION 2. 22 (a) The members of the board of education in office on July 1, 2012, shall serve out the terms of office to which they were elected. (b) The General Assembly by local law, to be effective on January 1, 2013, shall divide DeKalb County into seven single-member education districts for purposes of electing the members of the board of education.

On January 1, 2013, the members of the board of education representing former Education Districts 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 shall be deemed to be representing the new districts in which their respective residences are located.

In the 2012 nonpartisan general election, members shall be elected to the remaining two districts of the new seven-member board of education and shall take office on January 1, 2013.

No election shall be held for the other seats on the former nine-member board of education, and such seats shall be abolished on December 31, 2012, with the expiration of such members' terms of office.

Successors to the members of the new seven-member board of education whose terms of office are to expire shall be elected at the nonpartisan general election held immediately prior to the expiration of such terms of office, shall take office on the first day of January following such election, and shall serve for terms of office of four years and until their respective successors are elected and qualified."

Cerebration said...

I still do not understand how this will work. I just don't.

Paula Caldarella said...

I don't think MMO even knows how it is going to work. From her website:

I hope pre-filing HB 671 will allow a more open discussion, and help us move toward more effective school governance

A discussion? Really? Shouldn't this have been worked out when the bill to reduce the size of the board was passed? I don't get this and the politicians aren't getting a pass from me on this one unless they can give a clear and concise plan as to how this is going to work.

Cerebration said...

This can't work.

On January 1, 2013, the members of the board of education representing former Education Districts 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 shall be deemed to be representing the new districts in which their respective residences are located. .....

In the 2012 nonpartisan general election, members shall be elected to the remaining two districts of the new seven-member board of education and shall take office on January 1, 2013. .....

.....This section, the provisions of this Act relating to and necessary for the purpose of conducting the 2012 election of members of the board of education of DeKalb County, and Section 2 of this Act shall become effective upon its approval by the Governor or upon its becoming law without such approval.

For all other purposes, this Act shall be effective on January 1, 2013.

To me, this reads that by Jan 1, 2013 - we must have only 7 board members as described above.

Essentially, we have an election next November (2012) for only two districts - the boundaries of which are yet to be determined.

Add to that, we keep reps from 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 (however, 9 is Walker's super-district, so I'm not sure why he stays) But that gives us Jester, Copelin-Wood, Cunningham, Edler and Walker - PLUS whoever wins the 2 new seats. The lines will all be redrawn and rebalanced giving all seven a district with new boundaries.

However - not sure if MMO knows this, but Walker and Cunningham live very close together so how can you draw them into separate districts?

I think an easier solution would be to drop the super districts as their terms expire. (Speaks' term expires in Nov 2012 - Walker, Nov 2014)

So in Nov, Speaks is gone, but we redraw seven new districts. She can run against whoever is in her new district where she lives. The odd numbered reps just have new boundaries to represent, but still must live in their district.

Then until 2014, we have 8 board members -- the 7 new districts and Gene's super district (but we could redefine his boundaries to just represent the whole county - at large more or less.) So when his term expires, the seven are in place.

It's a thought...

Atlanta Media Guy said...

I'm disappointed in the entire process. No transparency. Don't you think MMO knew how we would react to this bill before the SPLOST vote? I tried to get clarification from Mike Jacobs, before the election and his explanation was very nebulous.

Mike's response;
"From a legal standpoint, E-SPLOST is one of the “hooks” for the DeKalb BOE to be reduced from 9 to 7.

But nobody should vote for or against it because of that. If the E-SPLOST does not pass, I’m sure we will amend the law during the 2012 session to make certain that the board reduction takes effect."

I wish the legislators had been forthcoming what their plans were before the election.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

More of the same from our "leaders" in DeKalb. Cere and Mom, I'm with you and disgusted with the entire process.

Anonymous said...

Don't we ever have redistricting here?

Shouldn't there be 7 new districts based on the latest census? Even if you rotate, there should still be only 3 or 4 with 2 extra years before the next election.

8 and 9 are county wide. Wasn't the plan to eliminate those districts?

What's described above just doesn't make sense.

Anonymous said...

Oliver represents the area around Fernbank. Are you surprised Walker gets a pass?

Anonymous said...

The obvious solution is also the easiest. Simply eliminate the two Super Districts for the 2012 election. Redraw the current local districts as needed to balance the population count. The election cycle continues as before for Districts 1 - 7, with new elections in 2012 for Districts 2, 4 and 6, and in 2014 for 1, 3, 5 and 7.

Speaks serves her entire 4 year term; Walker only gets to serve 2 years of his 4 year term. Too bad! Let Walker duke it with Cunningham at that District's next election.

Anonymous said...

Walker has 5 relatives working for DeKalb Schools, all of them in non-teaching positions. This represents millions in income for his family over time. Why would he want anything to change in DeKalb?

Anonymous said...

Just heard that Audria Berry was fired this morning along with her can any one elaborate or verify this is factual?

Anonymous said...

While I don't know for sure who was let go this morning -- I do know that someone was -- someone important enough that word was out that someone was gone. (Does that make any sense?) In other words, it wasn't a bus driver.

Cerebration said...

I heard it too...

Anonymous said...

yes - I heard she was terminated this morning - along with her assistant. Maybe the cleaning out has begun.

Anonymous said...

"Just heard that Audria Berry was fired this morning along with her assistant"

Audria Berry utterly failed for 7 years to move Title 1 students forward. Instead students went from MOST of DCSS Title 1 schools making AYP to less than 20% of Title 1 schools making AYP. She was Director and then with Lewis's promotion and pay increase Executive Director of the Office of School Improvement:
"Our goal in the Office of School Improvement is to provide a coherent and sustained system of support and a systematic process for continuous improvement. Schools and centers are provided with the tools and resources to facilitate academic progress, including intensive support for schools not making adequate yearly progress (AYP)."

Until the upper level administrators are held accountable for student progress, students in low income schools with struggling students will continue to decline in making adequate yearly progress.

The Office of School Improvement should not preside over an historical record of student achievement decline. Until Dr. Atkinson changes the leadership at the helm of the Office of School Improvement, our most vulnerable students will suffer.

Anonymous said...


If this is true then we DO have a "New Sheriff in Town!"

Where is Walter Woods with the news for the public? This one firing shall have a bigger positive impact on our school system than 20 schools making AYP!

Maybe the board can have a pizza party in her honor? BTW, 1 slice of pizza with 2 tablespoons of tomato paste qualifies for one vegetable serving for our kids lunch......

I think we should all call the school system in the morning and ask for her office and see who is in? Who is running Title 1 now?
It better not be our new director of "Race to the top"! (Beasely)

Way to go Dr. Atkinson! 1 at a time! We are ALL behind you!

Anonymous said...

I heard it was about $500,000+ in books were purchased but not pre-approved by the BOE. That could spell trouble for DCSS if this is true because Title I are Federal funds. And we all know that misappropriation of Federal funds can hurt future monies being given to the DCSS.

And her assistant(A.D.L-D) made $90,084.00 and $3,011.27 (travel) in the 2010 salary audit.

Everyone was very tight-lipped but Audria was not allowed to go into her office and was escorted by DCSS Security off the premises. Audria and her Assistant's belongings have been packed up and will be shipped to them.

That entire department might want to dust off their resumes and prepare to re-enter the classroom or unemployment line.

Dr. Atkinson has obviously seen enough to make a ruling on one major thorn in the side of DCSS's student failures.

Sad to start a Monday morning after Thanksgiving Weekend losing a job. All I can say is WoW..

Cerebration said...

The plan is to hold teachers accountable to test scores in order to satisfy the Race To The Top funds. We can't do that unless we also hold the top administrators accountable as well.

She failed in her responsibility to improve the education and futures of 98,000 children. I hope the next person in charge of these millions in federal funds will be able to use them to make a difference. It's an honor in life to be given the opportunity to make such an enormous positive impact. Those given that opportunity need to treasure it and rise to the occasion or step out of the way.

RichieRich said...

IT’S TRUE!! Dr. Atkinson FIRED Dr. Audria M. Berry and her assistant, Ms. Alain Davis. Dr. Berry was at the center of the scandal involving former Superintendant Crawford Lewis and his trip to the Bahama's (March 2008) in which he is accused of Charging this vacation and stay at the Ritz-Carlton on his DCSS school credit card. Dr. Berry accompanied Crawford Lewis on the trip to the Bahama's. She is known as "The Bahama Momma".

Both the ladies were escorted out by the campus supervisor, Mr. Walker. Though I do not wish anyone any ill will.....but surely the GOOD DOCTOR BERRY had to know that she would Reap what she Sewed by laying under Lewis to get up ahead of others. The Good DOCTOR Berry disregarded a directive from Dr. Atkinson and a BOE Policy regarding her needing to get prior approval before spending more than $50,000.00 at any time. Suppose she was accustomed to "DOING IT" and then getting the permission "UNDER" Lewis and Tyson. Well...Atkinson has fired her for it. My, my, my.

RichieRich said...

The DCSS Campus Police Officers are being shafted! They are now being told that they have to work the original four (4) furlough days scheduled for December and will not get paid for them. They are being told that they are a police department and should be glad to have a job. Easy to see where our poor children get all the BULLYING from, huh?? They were told by their Director that they can take off the days at another time such as Spring Break or after the students are no longer in school at the end of May 2012. Well....that won't work either because the 12-month employee’s are already furloughed for the Monday - Wednesday of Spring Break 2012 and then the District is closed Thursday and Friday.

The Director of Campus Police supposedly told them they should be glad to have a job and that the District has checked with the lawyers and that they can do this to them. Whew!!! What next. These folk are upset and need some help.

One of my sources, a School Resource Officer (SRO) is a GAE member and has informed me that the Director told them that they won't be keeping ANY of this “WORKED TIME” on the books; it will be "BETWEEN THEM." He said that he does agree that as a Police Department, they should keep the District manned during the Winter Break and the Spring Break.

However, …he feels that as they are furloughed on these days, they are now "paying the District to work" and don't fully trust that the District will ensure that they can take these seven (7) furlough days (four at Winter Holidays and three at Spring Break) at a later date when students are not in school as promised. He and others are also concerned that if something happens to them during this "off the books" work, will the District take care of them through Workers Compensation or will they be protected for any other unforeseeable things that may happen? They have been reading the Labor Laws and do not agree with the District's interpretation of what they are being asked to do. They do not believe that Dr. Atkinson (new DCSS Super-IN-tendent) is aware of what's being done to them...or at least they are truly hoping that she would not be in agreement with their being treated like this.
Now, THIS is what is happening to some good people in a CORRUPT school district in the HOT A.T.L.!!

Anonymous said...

Any "essential employee" can be required to work during a government fulough. I have in the past.

These overpaid employees should indeed be happy that they have a job and should report to work with a smile on their face and work extra hard to protect the trailers and other school property that is regularly hit by vandals during school breaks.

It is about time!

Anonymous said...

@ 10:13 I agree. I really don't care if the police officers are upset. There have been many thefts and that they have not stopped and the children and tax payers are the ones who have had to pay for stole AC units, lap tops, and I am sure other things. The salary survey will be completed soon, and I hope that it shows that we have too many officers, and other personnel in the department. That is a place where I would love to see cuts take place.

Anonymous said...


As far as I am concerned, DCSS should eliminate the so called DCSS Police Department. The DCSS Police Department is a "gentlemen's club" unable to handle their designated duties. When it comes to the tough stuff, they call on DCPD, so why have a DCSS Police Department in the first place? Plus, call them afterhours or on the weekend and where are they? DCPD is 24/7.

Anonymous said...

Sad, just why did it take so long for someone in DCSS to show her the door? Because no "insider" will?

All of the upper management folks at DCSS need to be replaced as quickly as possible.

Anonymous said...

Let's get back to the SB 79 discussion. Is there any way to call Friends of DeKalb to the table and lash them for their false information?

Paula Caldarella said...

This bill by MMO is unacceptable and defies the spirit of our vote to reduce the size of the BOE. We were led to believe this is something that could be done rather quickly, by 2012 - not 3 years from now. The students of this school system need an immediate revamping of this BOE - this cannot wait.

Either MMO or someone else needs to come up with a much more acceptable way to get this BOE to 7 members.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom

We didn't vote to reduce the size of the board, the state legislature did. The DeKalb delegation refused to allow a referendum and as I understand it, this is now the crux of the problem. Without a referendum, there can be no "kicking out of people."

However, there is a presidential primary in March and a regular primary this summer, two opportunities that could be used to have such a referendum.

Anyone have a way to get the DeKalb delegation, in particular Howard Mosby, to allow such a thing?

Paula Caldarella said...

Thanks for the clarification - guess I was having those ever increasing senior moments.

Anyway, this is unacceptable...period...the...end.

Cerebration said...

I wonder. The security staff leadership may have made a big mistake that they are trying to correct behind the scenes. If they view themselves simply as state employees, they all take furlough days at the same time (leaving all of our properties unattended!) However, if they view themselves as 'real' police officers, they are bound to uphold the safety of our students, staff and property and should never all take the same days off. Looks to me like someone in leadership realized they were going to let us go completely unprotected and is trying to do a quick fix hoping not to get noticed for such poor planning in the first place....

Just a theory.

Cerebration said...

Back to the topic of the day -- There's a good article at the PATCH, about the original SB79 passed into law last session.

These quotes are revealing to me -

Senate Bill 79, which was opposed by many Democratic members of DeKalb’s legislative delegation, “sets the optimum number of members for the DeKalb County school board at seven, which we’ve already agreed upon, in previous legislation and debates, as the ideal number for a school board,” said Majority Whip Ed Lindsey, R-Atlanta, the bill’s main House sponsor.

The bill, which passed by a vote of 109-62, now heads back to the Senate for final approval with two days left in this legislative session.

DeKalb County Board of Education member Gene Walker, who represents District 9, called the bill racist because it would likely diminish the board's diversity. The board currently has five black members and four white members.

"They're using that majority Republican General Assembly to abuse minorities," Walker said Tuesday. "They'd rather to have us suffer the tyranny of silence than to accomodate our speaking out."

Read the whole Patch post - it's good.

House Bill Would Reduce DeKalb's School Board Size

Anonymous said...

From the AJC: My son was beginning his second week at Druid Hills High School when he was jumped in the cafeteria by another student and beaten in the face with a rock. When I arrived at school to see my bloody child laying in the floor, the principal didn’t/wouldn’t even speak to me. The school claimed no responsibility. I spent weeks making calls and visits to the administrators and to the “Dekalb School Police” precinct…which is also a joke. I pushed and pushed for a year at which time the child was given a minimal sentence…to which she did not serve. When I called the probation officer to report that the family had not paid the damages we were awarded for our medical expenses and that none of the other criteria for her sentence had been met, I was told they could not find the child. THERE WAS NO ACCOUNTABILITY and we wonder why our system is failing…if the adults won’t take responsibility, why do we expect the kids to?

Paula Caldarella said...

DeKalb County Board of Education member Gene Walker, who represents District 9, called the bill racist because it would likely diminish the board's diversity

And therein lies the problem with Eugene Walker (other than he is a bully)....everything is about race to him...everything. It's shameful.

Dekalbparent said...

I believe that the "unnamed female DCSS employee" is stated as having gone to Reynolds Plantation with Crawford Lewis, not the Bahamas. The Bahamas trip was taken with his wife.

In no way do I condone either of these trips - they are still just plain stealing, and it was let go - but I do want to set the record straight.

Anonymous said...

I am so confused. My word verification says it all for me - shiat. Pronounced o' shee at.

Dekalbparent said...

Cere - Your idea makes a whole bunch more sense - have the at-large districts drop off when they normally would (too bad Gene Walker has so much more left on his term), redistrict, and then naturally evolve to 7 real districts.

Have you been able to contact MMO or Mike Jacobs with this? I am totally gobsmacked that MMO's proposal says we keep all the odd districts - district 9 was an at-large one (along with district 8) created to get more "racial balance" onto the Board. You can't redraw its lines because it's half the county.

Cerebration said...

It's funny. I don't look at it racially usually, but MMO's plan leaves Nancy Jester as the only returning white person on the board. It would be four African-Americans - all representing south Dekalb and then just Nancy from District 1. Add two more - instead of the four even numbers we now have - Pam, Tom, Paul and Don. (Two completely drop off and two are replaced in a new election.) That puts the balance at 4 from south DeKalb, and 3 from north (more or less, although I'm not sure I'd call Tom's district 'north'). However, according to the Census, the population shift is to the north. So the districts will be redrawn pushing north - but with representatives from the south end of the county.

Gene Walker certainly loves this plan.

Anonymous said...

Jester stays because she isn't up for relection in 2012. Neither are Walker, Cunningham, Woods or Edler.

2012 was when Speaks, McChesney, Womack and Bowen were scheduled to be up for reelection.

Without a referendum, we don't get to kick people out of office in the middle of their term.

Anonymous said...

The map will still be redrawn. It has to be, because of population shifts. The districts have to be roughly the same size.

The challenge for someone (the legislature I suppose) is that of the 5 board members remaining some may live in the same district as each other once the lines are redrawn, leaving a district with no representation for two years.

It makes my head hurt.

Paula Caldarella said...

Then how do we go about getting a ballot referendum?

This is a mess and will do nothing to help DCSS move forward.

Cerebration said...

@4:43 PM, you're correct, however, my point is that the reduction of two seats is going to come out of the even numbered group - who all represent the north end. How can you draw lines that will move northward, and include all of the home addresses of Walker, Woods, Cunningham, Bowen, Edler and Jester. You have Jester way up in Dunwoody and the next closest board rep to stay is located south of Memorial Drive. So you can only insert 2 seats between Jester and south DeKalb, which will have the majority of board members (if we follow MMO's plan). The math won't work - if you have to redraw according to even pods of population -- unless you want to draw vertical regions...

Cerebration said...

Everyone take a look at the map I added to the post and then discuss.

Paula Caldarella said...

I'll need to print this off and study it, but they cannot leave areas without board representation.

Wow, what a mess.

Cerebration said...

Right, and they can't just move a current board member not up for reelection into a district where we have current board members up for reelection. This would effectively be stealing their seat.

Anonymous said...

I just noticed there is a called meeting to extend the contract for the CIP vendor. Who is Joshua Williams? Is he the Contractor that replaced Barbara Colman?

Anonymous said...

Whether the legislature decides or we have a referendum, the answer is simple. All board members should be up for election in 2012. Four districts are elected for 4 years and the other 3 are elected for 2 years. The two year seats should include one from North DeKalb, one from Central DeKalb, and one from South DeKalb.

This is not completely fair to everyone involved, but it gets us back on track. Every board member has to run for election to keep his or her seat. Everyone must run for a seat in the district that they live in.

Ben's Mom said...

Our kids are screwed!!!! This map makes no sense. Why are they putting parts of South DeKalb with middle and Northern areas? Our children, our home values, and the county cannot stand of any more of the same old stuff that has been going on.

I am sorry but these board member should not be drawing the lines of where the seats will go.

I voted no for SPLOST and am even angrier that it passed now. Our district has not a fighting chance to change in the next 5 years with this mess. Many who voted yes, were misinformed and somehow think that giving these board members more money that they are some how going to begin spending it wisely. Wake up DeKalb County!!!

Anonymous said...

Joshua Williams is a Pat Pope (Reid)boy-placement. He has some how moved up the ranks, as he "appears" to be knowledgeable but the roots arent deep. And he recently got a promotion to a "Director" but the job was NEVER advertised.. things that make you go hmm...

Cerebration said...

Ben's Mom - FWIW - the map in the post is in no way a final map. It's a draft map that I acquired. I have since acquired 3 more. The districts will be drawn by the DeKalb Delegation to the Legislature. (Howard Mosby in the lead.) But we have to have something to use for discussion.

We have too many parts in play here. We have districts that have to be redrawn due to reapportionment driven by the U.S. Census. We have new GA legislation that requires us by law to reduce the board to 7 members by Jan 2013. We can't just kick off members who aren't up for reelection until 2014 without a local referendum and voters saying so. But the members of the board that are slated to stay till 2014 are concentrated in one area of DeKalb (all but Nancy).

Anonymous said...

Who is the Dekalb Delegation to the legislature? I know Mosby but who else?

Should we carpet bomb them with letters now?

Anonymous said...

The DeKalb Delegation has a "Facebook" page of all things.

You can comment on that webpage if desired.

In many meetings with Dr. Atkinson, I have her say that she (DCSS) needs the community to support her and the schools. That without the community, or sense of community, their is NO way for the schools to achieve the goals of academic improvement.

I agree, BUT, I also told her that their is NO WAY that the communities can support the system is the system is BROKEN! Which is evident by many different things. One significant thing is the current structure of the board districts. I also told her that if she wants to change the culture within DCSS she needs to start at the TOP! She has only one boss, the BOE. She can help change the effectiveness of the board by suggesting changes to the board districts. Specifically changes that make sense to ALL, not just the politicians and board members.

Let's start with VERTICAL ALIGNMENT! It was very similar to the redistricting from earlier this year. Creating school districts from the same HS clusters. Cluster 1,2,3,4,5,6 & 7.
We have 18 or 19 traditional HS with an additional 5 theme or alternative HS.
Each board district should include 3 HS and ALL of the feeder schools within the attendance area.
It's that simple.

This will make it logical, vertically aligned and make sense to everyone within the county.

North, south, east and west of the county, we are all proud parents of our children and community.

When Georgia plays LSU this weekend, I am pulling for GEORGIA because I am from Georgia. (Even though I did not attend Georgia)

When Tucker plays Northside, Warner Robbins, I will cheer for Tucker because I am from DeKalb. (Even though my HS lost by more than 50!)

My point is there is not much sense of community because there is not clear, cohesive structure within the school system.

I'll work on a viable solution to create a sense of vertical alignment and try to get someone in the legislature to understand and advocate for it.

I'll make sure to post it to this blog for review and comments.

Thanks for your time, patience and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Cerebration said...

All of the DeKalb legislators - House and Senate - are referred to as the DeKalb Delegation -- Howard Mosby, Stan Watson, Stephanie Benfield, Stacy Abrams, Mary Margaret Oliver, Fran Millar, Steve Henson, Pam Stephenson, Mike Jacobs, Ron Ramsey (who also heads Internal Affairs at DCSS) - etc. etc... all of them.

Find out who is your rep and make your thoughts known. Believe it or not - they like to hear from their constituents.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

I am so disappointed in this whole mess. Our DeKalb Delegation let us all down! This is all about money, power and race! The three things Gene Walker just adores and good luck trying to pry it them of his hands.

The fact that Ramsey gets to vote on this is ludicrous and corrupt. He works for the system, yet you can't find it anywhere near his resume. Dr. Atkinson please let Ramsey go and let's find a person who does not look at color before he looks at an issue.

I'm glad Audria Berry is gone, but there are many more inside DCSS who DO NOT want to see change and they will do everything in their power to make sure no change happens.

This all smells and I'm very disappointed in Mike Jacobs, this bill he wrote stinks to high heaven and now MMO will get her chance to amend it and south DeKalb will maintain control of the worst school system in Georgia.

Could this had been the plan all along? Muddy up the discussion with useless information before an election and then BAM! By the way, you voted for this, sorry you weren't told before the election. LIVE WITH IT OR MOVE OUT OF DEKALB!

Once again I'm really disappointed in Mike Jacobs and I hope another conservative will give me a choice in the primaries. I wonder what Jacob's excuse will be?

It's amazing all this comes out AFTER our DeKalb Delegation meeting at Chamblee Middle. Seems to me they were trying to hide something from us again! Why can't politicos be honest with the people that vote them in?

Cerebration said...

Warning: The soapbox is out.

I don't think this was pre-planned or purposeful on the part of the legislators. I just think they truly didn't realize what we all know - the school system is functionally inept from all angles. You can't simply suddenly say - 'ok, let's go to seven members' - and voila! it is done. There is far too much racial baggage (the reason we have 9 members in the first place was to add racial balance to the board) - far too many incompetent people have been placed in critical leadership roles, and far too much attention has been paid to the construction programs rather than the education we are providing.

There is far too much unnecessary squabbling over far too many inconsequential things like cell towers and gift limits. Meanwhile, 'some' board reps are able to go around behind the scenes and get special projects approved for 'their' schools, like the 'emergency' track that was just replaced at Cedar Grove. Nevermind that Cross Keys, Sequoyah and Peachtree MS's tracks are just as bad or worse. It's a steady shell game and if 'your' board rep doesn't play (or isn't allowed to play) then your requests will go unanswered. This is no way to treat children.

SPLOST IV has no order of priority. This is a recipe for disaster. Every single school is scheduled to receive 'something' (thus the majority of voters voted Yes), however, watch as the games begin and board members start wrangling for who gets theirs first. And all the while, still NO discussions will take place about the quality of education they are providing (or not providing).

This will all fall to Dr. Atkinson. Every initiative she makes to improve education will be fully supported here. Every move she makes to create transparency will be fully supported here. Every time she recommends replacing an incompetent administrator with someone truly credentialed, she will be supported here. If the board resists on any measure the public sees as fair and necessary to improving education for all - rather than making decisions that help their political clout by making them look 'compassionate' to small groups - we will en masse file reports to SACS and write letters to the Governor.

We're tired of these shenanigans. Here are some 2012 Resolutions for the board: Settle your lawsuits. Create an orderly, equitable construction plan and list of projects in order of importance for the half billion coming due from SPLOST IV - and publish it. Hire an OUTSIDE accounting firm to manage the SPLOST money and pay the construction bills. Post the checkbooks for both SPLOST and the entire consolidated DCSS budget at Check Register online. Use Title 1 funds to get in there one on one or in small groups and improve children's learning. It's just not rocket science. Get it done. Children are waiting.

bu2 said...

@Cere and 4:43
The board members don't own those seats. They're our seats. If we eliminate the seat, they are out of a job regardless of how long they were elected for. That's exactly what we should do with the at-large seats. Walker and Speaks can then run for district seats if they choose.

bu2 said...


Some people just have an unhealthy obsession with Fernbank.

Abrams and Benefield represent the Fernbank Elementary area. Oliver is listed as Decatur.

Anonymous said...

How did he get a promotion when the syytem employees are furloughed? And what do you mean it was Never advertised? I do remember he was a project manager. Is this even legal? Another Under cover promotion who is he related to?

Anonymous said...

Just looking at this map, Edler and Woods live in the same district 4.

5 up for re-election every other election cycle, cmom MMO we can do better than this. They will never leave, the same folks will just keep them in their cushy seats.

Where is this map from?

Cerebration said...

This is an old 'edition' of a preliminary map - I've received three more since. We are no where near a final map here... but we had to use 'something' for discussion.

Anonymous said...

I hope they don't "gerrymander" the map to keep current Board members in place.

Anonymous said...

Cere-I guess the question is: Where did you get the maps? Who is releasing them? And shouldn't we all know this already? Is the map posted on DCSS website as a proposed changed to county school board representation? Shouldn't it be?

Dekalbparent said...

Emailed MMO with my qhestions (the same ones we are asking here). Asked how this can be addressed without knowing what the districts will be. No answer so far.

Anonymous said...

"How did he get a promotion when the syytem employees are furloughed? And what do you mean it was Never advertised? I do remember he was a project manager. Is this even legal?"

Yes I totally forgot the employees are furloughed. It is against the law to promote employees during this time. It is true that he is also a 'Pat Pope-Reid' boy. She had him relocated here at the County's expense. Williams was Pat Pope's nephews' roommate in college.