Monday, December 5, 2011

December 5, 2011 Board Meeting 6PM

Before I say anything, I would like to ask everyone who reads this blog to send a vote to the Clorox company for Peachtree Middle School. Clorox is offering a $50,000 grant that if they win, PMS can put towards refurbishing their old, ruddy, cracked, dangerous track.  Click here to vote online or text clorox8514 to 44144 to enter PMS in the competition. Vote every day through Dec 9, the final day of the competition. What happened to the old track? It was severely damaged by the construction equipment that was stored on it during the building of the new school. It was during the Pat Pope era and none of the suppliers would own up to the damage, Pope or the board did nothing to correct it, and it sits in a dangerous mess still today.

UPDATE:  Good news! No need to text Clorox! The board actually approved funds for a new track at Peachtree MS as well as Columbia MS, Henderson MS and McNair MS. Click here for the agenda item as passed. Read about it in the Dunwoody Crier here.

Onward to the board meeting. Click here to download the agenda. Attend in person at the DCSS headquarters, watch it live on Comcast 24 or streamed online at this link. Add your input and reporting in the comments.  See you at 6 PM.




1- protesting cell towers at Margaret Harris (cited 3 board policies they are breaking)2- Redan HS (teacher? parent?) thanking the board... 3- 251 signatures on a petition against Margaret Harris cell tower (a group in red shirts stood in support) said her health is at risk - accused the board of making a deal4- Attorney - MH resident - against the cell tower (to maintain safe and healthy learning environments that support education) Cited Section 27-779 DeKalb zoning. Threatened to sue the board if they don't desist. 5- Spanish interpreter for Pleasantdale spoke for a Hispanic mother. Loves Pleasantdale ES. Good discipline. 6- Cedar Grove HS parent. Great job the principal is doing. Personal stories of her good experiences. Good discipline in the halls. 7- represents over 200 people - No Cell Tower at Briarlake. not happy to be there. Tired of telling the board over and over that the community does not want the tower. But the board insists the decision was already made and can't be changed. The money they are offering is an insult. 8- Another Margaret Harris resident against cell towers. Health issues - for children and the elderly. Sarah Copelin Wood spoke to him directly (but it was unintelligible). Are my taxes not enough to keep the schools going? Cell towers have nothing to do with education. Why would you vote to put a cell tower near my property? 9- Lived in DeKalb for 38 years. Just built a house near where a cell tower will be built. Read Dr Atkinson's words "committed to accountability at all levels) 10- South DeKalb initiative to provide space for 6th grade at Champion Middle Theme school (400 turned away each year). Theme environment is effective. This kind of education is not available at the home schools.  Want similar to charter schools.  11- Briarlake resident anti-cell tower. Outraged at the way the board operates in the face of opposition.  Citizens are seeking a meeting. Demand to know how you came to your decision. Health issues are a concern.  Briarlake is host to hearing impaired. Cell tower radiation can cause interference. How can you disregard this? Demands transparency. Says they have been stonewalled. Demand to see the contract and any and all documentation. Yelled Shame on You! 12- Parent of three. One a freshman at Clarkston HS. Nurturing environment. Teachers spend extra time. International community (doesn't like the word refugee). Even complimented the janitors. Wants SPLOST IV money to 'trickle down to Clarkston'Called Ms Woods a 'pillar'13- Briarlake ES parent. PTA raised $250,000 for Promethean boards, playground equipment, etc. Cell phone radiation interferes with cochlear implants. Causes a buzzing noise according to the manufacturer. Also, the tower renders a large amount of space off limits in the future. 100 cell towers are already sited nearby. 14- Champion PTA president. Cited accomplishments including exceeding northern magnet schools. Need support and resources. Need technology. Wireless laptops. Need 14 more Promethean (only have 10) Need renovations. Other MSs got $2 million for renovations - Champion got zero. 15- (lost my feed) Something positive about Parent Centers (this is a parent) 16- Business community volunteer at McNair. Loves the parent centers. 17 - Proud parent at McNair18 - Allgood ES - made AYP for 9 years. Loves Allgood. 19-Jolly - they don't like cell towers either.  DESA has wonderful things going on. Wants DESA to go k-8 and then DSA 9-12. In fact, all schools should be set up that way.


1.  Budget, Audit, Finance & Facilities Committee

2.  Business, Community & Government Relations Committee

3.  Instruction and Board Policy Committee




1.  Approval of Minutes

2.  Personnel Recommendation - Atkinson: Dr Ralph Taylor to Assoc Super. (Click here for AJC article) 

3.  Financial Monthly Report - Turk: Prop tax collections up $5+ million. Jester noted: legal expenses were below budget. 

4.  Human Resources Monthly Board Report for December 2011 - Wilson: 4 vacancies. new hires. long term sub assignments. (in the report)

5.  Internal Auditor Monthly Report - Babst: completed 7 more school audits (39 to date) 5 more to do. Ethics line has generated 6 reports in total. 

6.  Master Agreement for Services with University Instructors, Inc.

7.  Wellsys Corporation Contracted Services - Howe: McChesney - presented differently from last year - more clear - good job. Wood: What are they responsible for? A: Special ed, certification, help with recruiting, training and teacher placement. Full eval with feedback. 

8.  2012 Legislative Agenda -Knighton: Approve legislative agenda for 2012 session. Wood: Not sure if this is what we are providing the legislators to provide next year? A: Yes. Session starts in Jan. This is the board's platform on legislative items. McChesney: Asked for something that was incomplete. Knighton corrected a typo. Edler encouraged board to talk with communities about funding - discontinue austerity cuts. Ask state to fully fund new mandates. Bowen said they should hold a public meeting to explain the positions. Jester: email conversation only - agreed a meeting would be helpful. Wood also agreed.  

9.  International Community School Lease of Medlock Elementary School - Knighton: asked for lease. Passed unanimously. 

10.  Capital Improvement Plan Budget Reallocation (421) - Carlton Parker: transfer money into arch engineering. Correct a cost code. Expenses beyond what was budgeted originally. Edler: Wants to see current budget vs previous. Wants a full picture.  $1.75 million down to $1.6. (?) Moving money from construction to arch to engineering. Woods: We've gotten in trouble before for being 'almost' correct. May not be prudent to vote on it unless it's exactly right. It may come back to haunt us. Parker: This is in order to make it correct. WBBC - not adding money, just rearranging cost codes. (SCW did not vote for this)  

11.  Approval to Sell 0.33 acre located on the old Chamblee Middle School Property : Sale of .33 acres to county - quit claim deed for $10. Speaks: why? For benefit of county? Specifically Dunwoody? What do we gain from this? Parker: no answer. Bowen: just granting an easement? Parker: I think it's for the sale of the property. A pumping station will be built on it. Bowen: I was wrong, it's for the county's water system. Jester: Have neighbors been notified that they are getting this station built? Do we have an obligation to notify? Lawyer: It's our property, it's just going from us to the county. I'm not aware of any notifications. Jester: Does watershed have notification? Allegra: Don't know - I'll get back to you. It's the Dept of Watershed's obligation, we're just selling it. Someone from county spoke and said it's away from residential area to reduce noise. Jester: Landscaping to beautify? A: Yes. We are doing this for safety. Currently it's at an intersection and requires a barricade to work on it. Walker: It appears to be an upgrade for all citizens - specifically Dunwoody. Opportunity to cooperate. (Board members seemed to not understand what was going to happen here - and they were asking for clarification.) 

12.  Martin Luther King, Jr. High School Addition A/E Design Firm Approval Parker: $625,000 for design services for MLK HS addition. 

13.  Capital Improvement Plan Budget Reallocation (421) Parker: Didn't say which project, but asked to move funds into proper cost codes. SCW: When Cedar Grove is brought to the surface, I hear there's no money. Why are we moving money from CG and they have no auditorium. Parker: It's the opposite - we're allocating $1.4 million to Cedar Grove. In order to do the work we did a walk through with you (speaking to SCW) SCW then thanked everyone for walking CG. Edler: Difference between external and internal? External comes from program contingency. Internal comes from project itself.  

I. OTHER\BOARD COMMENTS (2 minutes each)
Speaks: Tucker Tigers have made it to state finals - playing Lovejoy this Friday at the GA Dome.Cunningham: Merry Xmas and HNYWalker: Reminds us again about Tucker's fantastic team - Grayson in Gwinnett also playing on SatEdler: PILOT program - Poetry Cafe Nov 13 6-9 PM (I think she meant DEC) Comm hours. Tupak Shakur institute is a great place to support. Artistic natured people needed like set designers, etcSCW: Express grateful to be there. Mr. Parks: New job, not easy, appreciate your indulgence. We're just trying to get info, nothing personal. Visit Cedar Grove. Viewed the track with Tyson (it's all fixed - happy about that). New administrators - we get info from you because we need to make prudent and wise decisions - bear with us, we're not experts like you.  (Time expired - asked for more time and kept going without being given more time.) MLK Day Parade on Jan 16 at Stone Mt. 




Anonymous said...

Every school with a track should have it renovated every 8-10 years. It's a basic facilities responsibility. The BOE and Sam Moss staff stink at their jobs, which is why SPLOST IV was so controversial. We will never trust the BOE and Sam Moss staff to maintain facilities until they prove they can do so.

Cerebration said...

Please cast a vote for PMS at Clorox anyway...

Anonymous said...

Cerebration said...

Well if that happens, then it's due to Nancy Jester raising the issue with the board after those in charge of SPLOST approved an emergency track replacement for only Cedar Grove MS... but no one else.

Anonymous said...

To whom are they planning on selling the Chamblee Middle School site on Shallowford??

Paula Caldarella said...

DeKalb County is purchasing .33 acres of the old CMS building to put in a booster water pump station.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom--any idea what that would look like, considering that site backs up to a neighborhood?

Paula Caldarella said...

It appears from the bluerprints and aerial photo attached to the agenda (which I missed before), this will indeed back up to a
house(s) behind the school.

Anonymous said...

Would they need to let the neighbors know before doing something like that? Or at least before voting on it?

Paula Caldarella said...

DCSS is about the assume more legal fees. Those residents around Margaret Harris aren't playing - they will fight with everything to keep those cell towers from going up.

Cerebration said...

Is that Jim Redovian in the background?

Paula Caldarella said...


Anonymous said...

The sam moss center is a waste of money. First you a have a person who was a plumber in charge of several dept. You have three principals in charge of the building.

Paula Caldarella said...

I have heard good things about the Cedar Grove HS principal as well. My co-worker's son goes to Cedar Grove and she raves about the principal there. She was also very complimentary of her son's counselor.

Anonymous said...

Another one bites the dust...

Dr. Atkinson made the personnel recommendation for Ralph (?) Taylor as Associate Superintendent of Support Services.

This post is currently held by Felicia Mayfield.

I've got to hand it to Dr. Atkinson for really coming in and cleaning house! For the first time in 5 years I have hope in the future of DCSS.

Paula Caldarella said...

Well, Dr. Walker, Dr. Speaks and Ms. Jester put you in your place....LOL.

Paula Caldarella said...

Many thanks to Nancy Jester on making sure the track at PCMS is on board to be refurbished. I know she has worked on this tirelessly the last few months since she was made aware of the issue.

Anon said...

Mayfield had announced her retirement in the Spring before a new super was even hired.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clarifying Anon.
I knew there was a story with Mayfield but I couldn't remember.

Anonymous said...

From the Board Meeting....Personnel Recommendation - Atkinson: Dr Roth Taylor to Assoc Super?

Who is Roth Taylor????

Anonymous said...

Ralph Taylor is ANOTHER African American being brought in from Charlotte-Meckingburg to keep the top heavy Palace afloat!!! All these salaries are "out of the box".

Anonymous said...

The MLK addition was a SPLOST III priority project (2006) that hasn't even broken ground yet. It was put on hold for most of 2010- didn't know they could put SPLOST projects on hold- and now the budget has gone from $6 to $10 and now to $14 million. I also thought these projects had to be done in the SPLOST timeframe in which they were designated. The football field and track at MLK is in such a state of disrepair, the football booster has been trying different ways to raise money for several years.

Anonymous said...

If Arabia Mountain High School had been opened (as it was "sold" or presented to the public) to relieve potential over crowding at Lithonia, Martin Luther King, Jr and Miller Grove High Schools, with the attendance lines being redrawn---we would be re-looking at or re-thinking construction projects at these locations. With enrollments shifting in south DeKalb, we should be re-thinking these projects anyway. The projections were made in 2003-04, for 2006 and now it is going to be 2012. The only constant is change.

Anonymous said...

I sure hope she sends robert tucker home and ramsey. Tucker retired years ago and is still on the payroll. Most of those over-paid central office admin. should retire and let some people in that know what they are doing. And please get the friends and family.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Great notes Cere! Thanks so much. Family duties tonight so I was unable to watch. Interesting people were praising the parents centers. My guess is that these are about to go. I hope so, let's get that money to tutors and teachers to help the kids.

Anonymous said...

Any news as to when Lewis, Pope and the rest will go to trail?

Anonymous said...

Jamie L. Wilson,Jr. is in some very, very Hot Water. The chickens are coming home to roost. CLew can't help you now.

Anonymous said...

What's going on with Jamie Wilson Anon 10:54 pm?

Jamie L. Wilson,Jr. is in some very, very Hot Water. The chickens are coming home to roost. CLew can't help you now.

December 5, 2011 10:54 PM

Anonymous said...

Good news about wilson. Every dog has his day and i can't wait for his to get here. He has no idea what he is doing. Talking to him is a waste of time. Lewis and all his clowns need to go.

Anonymous said...

Friends and family _ okay with me IF he/she is qualified and doing a good job. I say get rid of anyone who is not doing the job that we are paying them to do at ALL levels. I am becoming leary of all the new folk who Dr. A. is bring in.. all friends.. with no advertised openings and national search. T want to give her a chance...but I do smell a RAT...a Big One. Keep your Eye on the MONEY, honey! Is that her hubby's job?

Anonymous said...

8- Another Margaret Harris resident against cell towers. Health issues - for children and the elderly. Sarah Copelin Wood spoke to him directly (but it was unintelligible).

FYI... it went something like this... Ms. Copelin Wood had her head down and the speaker asked if she wouldn't mind paying attention because this was important. She said something about feeling sick and he said, "I'm sure our children will feel sick when there is a cell tower over their heads, but we will still expect them to pay attention in school."

Anonymous said...

FYI, then Mr. Bowen instructed Ms. Copelan Wood not to respond to the speaker.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone notice how many times the Briarlake folks actually said the word Briarlake?? Did you get the feeling that they didn't want to share the spotlight with Margaret Harris and were trying to make us forget who brought all the red shirts with them? I'm getting a little tired of Briarlake speaking up only for themselves and not acknowledging that this is a fight to save 9 schools, not just 1. They picked an odd time to mention their hearing-impared magnet status - right when Margaret Harris (a school for the severely disabled) is trying to speak up for the first time. They probably talked about their diversity when MLK tried to speak up a month or two ago. If we limit each school getting a tower to just one month's meeting's worth of comments, we should get through them all by the time the board drops the bomb on the next set, if we are lucky.

Daniel said...

I'm extremely disappointed that nothing was mentioned about the fact that teachers will be walking in with the children right after Christmas with no time to prepare to actually teach them that week. Jan 3 was an extremely poor choice to tell teachers they can't work.

Anonymous said...

Loved the last speaker, who was an alternate from Clarkston, who wasn't even planning to make the cut, but got called at the last moment. Before speaking on her topic of choice, she gave up a good minute and a half to make some comments about the cell towers and mention that no one at the schools at Smoke Rise or Jolly wanted the towers, either. She told Dr. A that we know she wasn't around for the vote, but she should know how quickly everything went down and how little time the board gave anyone to respond. The MH red shirts all stood in appreciation for her comments which were very honest and off the cuff. A nice way to round out the odd grouping of praise for the board sprinkled with a mix of your typical outraged parent and law suit threats that we usually see. The young woman who gave the inspiration at the beginning did a very good job as well, pointing out the thoughts a person might have if they were dying from a brain tumor - fitting for the number of upset residents who were there to protest cell towers. I also thought that Briarlake PTA sounded like they wanted more money to keep quiet. Did anyone else think the same? Something about the $25K being an insult and all that. They shouldn't have agreed to it in the beginning if they thought it was too small. Now is hardly the time to be renegotiating your hush sum and in front of so many people. What were they thinking???

Anonymous said...

I'm hoping teachers have other ways to object to their working conditions with their employer without having to come to the public comment portion of a school board meeting.

Anonymous said...

When do we get that once in a lifetime opportunity the Friends of DeKalb were telling us about - you know - where we can actually "flip" the entire board and put all new members on it at once?

I'm serious... wasn't that a predicted outcome of SPLOST???

Daniel said...

@Anonymous 6:02, yes, we can work the chain of command - and it is expected, but sometimes the public needs to know.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't praise for Parent Centers in general, but specifically the one at McNair High School. If any school needs a parent resource center, it is this one. From what I can tell, this NEW resource center is being funded with the school turnaround dollars that have been specifically allocated to McNair because of its very low performance. (Clarkston High also got this grant.) It does sound like the center is doing good work.

I hate to say that I have become so cynical that I figured the employee who is running it would be friends and family, but from what I can dig up, she isn't. She is new to the system as she doesn't appear in last year's salary report.

Anon said...

I think the Briarlake people kept saying the name of their school because they are afraid of the Lakeside people who want the tower and who are not being very understanding about the schools/communities that don't want them. The Lakeside people who support the tower are afraid that the opponents may scuttle it for everyone.

The Briarlake people, unlike the Margaret Harris people, are only focused on their community, not because they are selfish per se, but because they are fearful of the Lakeside folks.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the Briarlake PTA. Just getting the $25,000 upfront is an insult. ALL of the schools who are being forced to endure these very ugly towers should be getting MOST if not ALL of the monthly fee. The other schools should also be demanding the BOE give back the monthly fees to the schools that have the cell towers. That money could be used for supplies and equipment in the classroom as a reliable source of income year after year.

The communities have to bear the burden of cell towers stuck in the middle of their communities in their school yards.

Goodness knows very little money actually trickles down to the schools. How greedy is the Central Office that they would appropriate ALL of the monthly fees for the cell towers? In low income schools it's even more important that they get this money every month.

DCSS is the ONLY school system that leaves the schools with these cell tower eyesores and appropriates ALL of the monthly fees.

If they get away with taking all these monthly fees, the schools will never get the money back. It will disappear into the Central Office to pay for more ineffective personnel, projects and programs.

EVERY community that has to bear the cell tower burden needs to be emailing and calling their BOE members and demanding that the monthly fees be left with the schools. This is an insult to those communities.

Anonymous said...

Not everyone at Smoke Rise Elementary Charter hates the cell tower. We actually have very little cell service in that area. The tower would be on an odd point of land not backing up to any houses and far from the school.

Cerebration said...

I took the 'insult' at the $25,000 to mean that they were insulted that the board thought they could be bought. In fact, they more or less mocked the small sum, stating that their PTA has raised over $250,000 for things like Promethean boards and a new playground (things that the school system should have paid for, IMO).

As far as the Parent Centers go - I do believe they are helpful - I've just had concerns that these jobs are over paid and served as generous placeholders for Lewis favorites. No way should they be paid more than teachers, but they are paid far more than most teachers with nowhere near the credentials. A degree in social work should at least be required...

Also, yes, the PAC called "Friends of DeKalb Education" worked hard to push SPLOST IV. One of their mantras was 'this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to flip the whole board". One rep even stated this on television interviews. However, that appears to be very unlikely. For more on the status of the reduction of the board, read this post:

much ado about nothing

Anonymous said...

Anons, no need to be paranoid about Briarlake. Briarlake is not asking for more money; rather their point was that $25,000 is not worth the health risk and all of the other issues we all have with the cell towers.

And, yes, the person who said there is a Briarlake/Lakeside rift is correct. I am not sure why Lakeside is pushing so hard for the cell towers, but they are, and it is an awkward situation because Briarlake is vehemently opposed.

For the Anon who said Briarlake approved the $25K, that is just complete misinformation. First, no one school "approved" a cell tower anywhere. In fact, the Briarlake PTA did what it could in passing an official proclamation that they opposed it, even though that really doesn't mean anything to the BOE.

Briarlake parents were not at the meeting to try to take attention from Margaret Harris. There are groups of people trying to unite all of the cell tower opponents that sent Briarlake emails asking parents to show up and wear red along with MH in solidarity and also to try to get more speakers. We all know that one school, regardless of which one, is not going to get off the list alone. It's all or nothing. Briarlake is simply trying to show the board all of the things they didn't bother to consider (like hearing devices) and show them that there are a myriad of potential issues in any of the schools where these towers could go.

Anonymous said...

@ Cere,
"As far as the Parent Centers go - I do believe they are helpful - I've just had concerns that these jobs are over paid and served as generous placeholders for Lewis favorites."

Comment from a recent AJC Get Schooled post:

Parent involvement is extremely important for students. No one disagrees with that. However, while DCSS Parent Centers have been operating, DCSS has seen dramatic declines in student achievement in the very schools the Parent Centers have been serving. Moving students forward is the reason for the school system.

!. DCSS (98,000 students) has 79 Parent Center personnel which cost taxpayers $4,500,000 in salaries and benefits.
2. 20% of DCSS Title 1 schools made AYP.
3. DCSS spends $57,000 per employee for DCSS Parent Centers.

1. Rockdale (16,000 students) has 13 Parent Center personnel which cost taxpayers $263,000 in salaries and benefits.
2. 100% of Rockdale Title 1 schools made AYP.
3. Rockdale spends $20,000 per employee for Rockdale Parent Centers.

1. Clayton (49,000 students) has 45 Parent Center personnel which cost taxpayers $1,700,000 in salaries and benefits.
2. 55% of Clayton Title 1 schools made AYP.
3. Clayton spends $38,000 per employee for Clayton Parent Centers.

DCSS moved $4,500,000 out of the classroom from teachers who actually instruct children into the non-teaching Parent Center employees. DCSS lost 600 teaching positions in the last 2 years while these employees who do not teach students were untouched.

The DCSS Parent Centers cost too much for a poor return. DeKalb must get our cost in line with other counties, and Parent Centers must assume a degree of accountability for student performance.

Look at the numbers on DeKalb School Watch blog:

Any poster can verify these numbers by going to:
Georgia DOE
Georgia Salary and Travel audit"

and this comment as well.....

"DCSS number of personnel and cost per employee in the Parent Centers are way out of line with the other metro systems. There has been no accountability for student progress in this department, no certification requirements (like Gwinnett who uses certified teachers and Clayton who uses certified paraprofessionals). No pay scale for this group is published.

DCSS should “rightsize” this department and publish the:
1. Personnel certification/license requirements (are there any? – most have never taught so they have no teacher certification and most have no social work certification either)
2. Salary scale
3. Accountability statistics

It’s amazing how DCSS has gotten away with draining the classroom of funding, decreasing teacher positions by the hundreds, and packing students into classes like sardines while increasing and then protecting non-teaching personnel."

A number of the personnel in the Parent Centers are "family and friends".

Anonymous said...

Dekalb School Watch ran the Parent Center numbers not long ago comparing us with Rockdale and Clayton. We are not so wealthy a county that we can afford to be so out of line with counties with similar demographics when it comes to the Parent Centers. Here is the link:

Anonymous said...

Did A. Berry and A. Davis get fired. Does anyone know?

Cerebration said...

Yes, we do believe that is true about the firings.

Also, let me rephrase --

As far as the Parent Centers go - I do believe they *can be* helpful -

Face it -- a lot of people nowadays have NO parenting skills - no ability to help their children - no understanding of how to parent and mentor rather than harm, demean or ignore. Many have no access to technology, no understanding of technology, and poor reading skills themselves. They couldn't help with homework if their lives depended on it. That's why I think so many schools do poorly -- they rely on parents too much to "co-teach"... This only works at schools where you have educated parents - and pretty much only for the children of those parents.

Anonymous said...

@ Cere Dec 6, 2011 4:50pm

I agree that the parent centers can be useful/helpful with employees with sufficient education, knowledge, experience and the ability to help parents seeking solutions to parental/student issues. The friends and family hookup may cause a good creation to be disband before it can honestly do some good.

Middle and high school parents are challenged with comprehending homework and attitudes/moods of the pubescent adolescence and could use the parent centers for guidance.

Dr. A needs to be committed to ensuring that all students are making progress and have the school administrators to contact those parents not making progress and refer them to the parent centers for assistance.

Someone has to step up and do this or more schools will likely not make AYP and more transfers will be issued for the Fall 2012-2013 school year. This is something Dr. A must do now unlike her predecessors (CLewis and Tyson).

Anonymous said...

All DCSS employees received a notice today that their paychecks would now be distributed twice a month rather than once a month, beginning in January. Supposedly this is something the employees who participated in the "fireside chats" with Dr. Atkinson said they wanted.

So glad we're focusing on our "real" problems!

Anonymous said...

This is very important to the teacher-readers of this blog:

It was announced today that teachers would begin to be paid bi-monthly in January. While this sounds good, it is very short notice for teachers who have been budgeting their eitire teaching lives on monthly paychecks. Automatic deductions and payments will need to be reset for most personal budgets. You'll have to completely rethink your household budgets. For some, it will be a major adjustment.

A little more notice would have been considerate of teachers.

I'm also a little suspicious about whether it's some accounting scheme cooked up by Finance and Human Resources, whereby the teachers may lose out somehow.

All employees who are monthly need to pay careful attention to their gross and the way deductions are taken. None of the teachers are really even sure how much they are actually paid with furlough days taken, added back, and then taken again. This makes it even more maddeningly confusing.

And, get a load of this, as far as I know, APS is the only other system in the state that pays bimonthly. We'll be in good company ;)

And what about the ANNUITIES IN LIEU OF SOCIAL SECURITY????? When Dr. Atkinson, WHEN?????

Dr. Atkinson should have, and had the power to, restore the furlough day for the Tuesday workday before the beginning of next semester. It should have been taken later in the semester than this all important pre-planning day.

Anonymous said...

Staff should have been given an option. The desire to be paid two times a month was discussed at "some fire side chats'. The majority of the teachers in DeKalb did not attend a Fire Side Chat. At my school, there were some teachers that have automatic bill pay. They pay all of their major bills at the first of the month. Some were trying to get in touch with their spouses to discuss this.
It is going to be difficult to be sure of your take home pay. January is the month that the new benefit deductions start.
How can a major decision be made like this without the input of the teachers and monthly staff.
Monthly people should have an option. If things can be decided this quickly, why can't we have our pre-planning day back?
Why can't we get our annuity back?
Why can't we get a more user friendly program than eSIS.
I for one am concerned that a major decision like this would be made and then you are told that you do not have an option. Also, you only have a month, to make any changes in your financial plans.

Anonymous said...

"Dr. Atkinson should have, and had the power to, restore the furlough day for the Tuesday workday before the beginning of next semester. It should have been taken later in the semester than this all important pre-planning day."

Not true. Dr. Atkinson can make a recommendation but only the Board could approve this expenditure.

Anonymous said...

What would have happened if they had asked for input on the paychecks? There would have been a six-month long survey, process, presentation, and it would have been split 50/50, and no one would have been happy.

Anonymous said...

Dr Atkinson did the right thing paying employees twice a month. Budgeting will not be affected. DCS employees receive a check on the 16th which will allow them to pay for all january expenses. DCS will then receive a check on the 13th of january when they wouldn't have received it until the last day of the month. I'm glad to see her responding to our needs. But go figure we will always have a complainer whining about something. If you are a teacher and didn't come to the fire chat well shame on you she had 50 of them. Instead of coming here to complain you should of mad the chats. This is a big win for teachers we wont let one complainer ruin it because she or he have problems budgeting.

Anonymous said...

This decision came from Dr. Atkinson alone. Finance and Human Resources had no input. No one had any input except the few people who got to her at the fireside chats. They seem to be driving all of the decisions as of late...changing high school math, or not changing high school math...changing the entire pay program? Is there additional expense involved? Will families be able to handle this change? None of this seems to matter.

I seem to recall that she said somewhere long ago and far away that she was going to wait until her 90-day plan was done before making any major changes. Guess that's out the window too. Maybe the Board will start to see through her and her tactics sooner rather than later. Has she ever repaid them for the gas she used when she had the county car and the county office security personnel drive her all around to schools for the first few months of school all day long while she still drew her full car allowance? Is she still using Pat (Pope) Reid's car to tour DeKalb? Just asking...

Anonymous said...

Hopefully she can get rid of you soon. Its only a matter of time until all the people like you are gone. LETS GO DR ATKINSON

Anonymous said...

I love the change as well. Im so sick of these complaining employee's. Please clean this out Dr Atkinson.

Anonymous said...

Bi-monthly is always better than monthly simply because you get your money upfront faster. A month is a long time to wait for your pay check. This was a good financial move for teachers.

The TSA Board contribution should be restored or DCSS should be paying into Social Security. The DeKalb Organization of Educators (DOE) should have been checking into how teachers can legally opt back into Social Security.

Anonymous said...

@ Cere
Regarding Parent Centers. They can be valuable, and no one is suggesting completely doing away with parentsl involvement (for one thing, it is required under NCLB).

However, looking at the data......

DCSS must:

1. Ensure the Parent Centers have some quantifiable measurements and accountability for student performance.
2. Their costs are in line with demographically similar metro schools systems.


1. Student progress as compared to demographically similar systems has declined in most DCSS schools that have Parent Centers.
2. DCSS cost for the Parent Centers is substsntially put of line with demographically similar metro school systems' cost for Parent Centers.

Anonymous said...

At Anons 11:29 and 11:34:

People like whom should be let go?

What terrible posts! So people who speak their minds are not wanted by you (I wonder if the same person posted these vile comments) in the Dekalb County school system? You want Atkinson to fire people who speak their minds? Are you Crawford Lewis in disguise?

And then there's Anon 9:47, this complainer ruins it because "she or he have [sic] budget problems"?
Need I say more?

Anonymous said...

It's my understanding that bi-monthly paychecks cost more to process that monthly paychecks.

If this is a costly move by DCSS, where's this extra money coming from? Surely DCSS is not going to do something FOR teachers that costs DCSS more money!!!

And long before now, Dr. Atkinson could have recommended to the Board that the furlough day for January 3 be moved to another date on the calendar.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Anon 5:42. I agree with your comments. People have the right to express an opinion without being criticized for it.
If this is a plan to assist people, let the monthly staff decide how they want to be paid.
In this day and time the DCSS, should have the technology to have checks done both ways monthly and twice a month for monthly employees.

Anonymous said...

Hoping that twice monthly pay checks aren't going to cost tax payers more, but they will help with people keeping their job in the Palace I am sure. This is not the way I'd like to see money spent. If being paid once a month is difficult for people, than they should get some help with their spending habits. It could be that they are spending more than they are making. We've gotten paid once a month for over 12 years now, and I like it much better, as it is easier to budget our spending.

Surely teachers have bigger problems than getting paid once a month. If not, than they have no right being in front of any child.

Anonymous said...

Are we seriously having a discussion about whether the teachers get paid once or twice a month? It is the same amount of money. Yes, you may have to adjust your automatic bill pay a little. It somewhat scary to think that the adults responsible for teaching our children may not be able to handle something so simple. Why are we making such drama over nothing?

Cerebration said...

I agree with your points about the Parent Centers. And yes, they are required by NCLB. Someone once suggested that we partner with DeKalb libraries to offer the services. Librarians have degrees, are very helpful to learning and have access to computers and the internet. They also have very nice meeting rooms and would welcome public events. All libraries are on MARTA bus routes, but many schools are not. Plus - it's all DeKalb taxpayer dollars. We could supplement with social workers for parenting classes and counseling. The libraries could use the boost - many have had to cut back on hours. Plus - they could offer this after hours and on Saturdays. I thought that was a brilliant idea!

I'm partial. I grew up 2 blocks from our town's library. We had very few books at home but I got a steady feed from the library. I practically lived there.

Anonymous said...

Once again we face the reality that we DO NOT have employees in positions to best execute our tax payer resources. I have talked several times about P3, Public, Private Partnerships with the school system. Joining forces with DeKalb County libraries for Parent Resource Centers would be a great suggestion. "Combining forces to save resources!"
That has a nice ring to it!

What about having police precincts or sheriff's offices inside our schools? This is done in numerous school systems and saves taxpayer $$$$. Franklin County in Nashville, Tn. has this arrangement with their schools and sheriff's department.
How about a transportation partnership with our department and UPS?
How about our media department and Turner Broadcasting?

The REAL problem is we have highly paid senior employees who are more connected to "Friends and Family" than they are connected to their profession!

We have a brilliant transportation software that the school system purchased YEARS ago sitting on the shelf NOT being used collecting dust!

The transportation department completely botched a field trip for middle school students yesterday. They were supposed to send two LARGE school buses to transport 120 students and chaperones to a museum, in Cartersville. Two short buses showed up. The parents had to scramble, no other buses showed up and the kids finally were able to go on their filed trip hours after the scheduled departure.

I would say this event is UNBELIEVABLE but I can believe it with the lack of leadership we employ!

It is really scary that the people we employ have NO CLUE who they are hurting when they fail at their jobs again and again. We need to take a stand when the personnel report is published next month and demand answers and accountability!

Keep up the good work Cere and all the bloggers. We have a mountain of work to do!

For the kids!

Anonymous said...

Jamie Wilson's dirt is coming out. He protected a female Palace employee he knew was working a part-time job, while on FMLA. This happened when he was over staff services. Not to mention all of the women he has been involved with at every school he has worked.

Leo said...

There's nothing improper about an employer prospectively changing a payroll schedule. To date, you've received your full month of pay after the entire month has been worked. Now you'll receive some of your pay in the middle of the month and the rest at the end. There should be no difference as far as budgeting etc. By the and of the month (the same time you would have been paid previously), you'll have the same amount of money.

The reality is this. Enough teachers told Atkinson that they'd like this change and it's an easy one to implement. I know we have big issues. I think she does too, but I think we should be commending her for listening and quickly responding to something that could she do quickly and easily.

If DCSS processes all payroll internally, it'll actually result in a more distributed workload on payroll employees.

Anonymous said...

Can we setup a topic that will keep up with highly paid or redundant job changes?
I keep hearing a rumor about reduction in the area super positions from 5 to 2.

Is that true? If so, how much in salary are we saving?

Atlanta Media Guy said...

I love the idea of DCSS partnering with the DeKalb Library System. This is prefect! Libraries might be able to stay open until 9 again, instead of 5.

Of course there would be some friends and family, who are employed in this area that do not have degrees and might have to look for another job.

Cere this is a great thread!

Anonymous said...

Leo 12:23 PM This is NOT an easy change to implement. I've heard it will be a major task to do this change in the middle of a school year and will probably involve lots of people working during the holidays/furlough days to make it happen.

Anonymous said...

"In this day and time the DCSS, should have the technology to have checks done both ways monthly and twice a month for monthly employees."

I have never heard of a company where you specify when you get your paycheck.

And I've never heard anyone complain about getting their money sooner rather than later.

Here are some REAL compensation issues:
1. The discontinuation of the TSA
2. No Social Security contribution/participation
3. Low to no raises for teachers while raising non-teaching personnel's pay by renaming their positions
4. Paying non-teaching employees with minimum level educational requirments more than teachers and considerably over fair market wages
5. Requiring teachers to take on many extra students while retaining the same pay schedule
6. Instituting furlough days for teachers when the administration knows teachers will still have to work that time to meet their instructional requirements

It seems there are enough legitimate compensation issues to concentrate on. Hopefully, Dr. Atkinson will begin to concentrate on the compensation of the personnel who are charged with meeting the performance objectives that the entire system rests on. That would be teachers.

Anonymous said...

FYI. DeKalb school libraries or media centers are staffed with certified school library media specialists. Also referred to as teacher-librarians or school librarians (choose your title). You must have a master's degree to qualify for state teaching certificate in this subject area. Some schools also have media clerks. You don't have to have a college degree to be a clerk. Clerks handle routine library tasks as designated by the media specialist. The coordinators in the Department of Educational Media are also highly qualified. They do an excellent job. We also welcome the good things that happen when school and public libraries work together.

Anonymous said...

The idea of putting parent centers in the libraries was suggested years ago but obviously it fell on "deaf ears" because it made sense. I personally sent the suggestion in after I stopped by the library to use a computer since my DCSS issued laptop was a piece of junk. I was very angry that I could not use the computer because a crowd of young parents with children in tow were waiting to use them to check their face book and other accounts. These were the very parents that never come to PTA meetings, parent-teacher conferences, or pay taxes. Needless to say that I was P.O. If these parent centers were in the libraries, what would be the excuses? Why are Parent Centers personnel paid to work during the summer months when parents rarely visit during the school months.
Capable paras should be allowed to run these centers and not retired administrators who already run some centers part time. Most of them have good retirement incomes already.
I challenge those in positions to do so to check the credentials of the highly paid parent center facilitators, starting with those who supervise the centers. Most are former secretaries who enjoyed being part of "friends and family." You will then know why they are not well run. While you are checking you will also find that salaries are not commensurate with education and experience but reportedly based on how "close" you were to the former Executive Director.

Anonymous said...

RE: DCSS Paychecks. Everything is done electronically. If you want to see your pay stub, you must access it online. I seriously doubt that this change will be difficult to implement. I agree with Anon 6:52 PM. We have other, bigger issues to worry about.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:17 am Having paychecks times change is not a small task. Shoot the district can screw up small things, and I wouldn't want them messing with my pay check in the middle of the school year. No way! The teachers are bound to have their pay checks screwed up and then what?!

This is not a necessary change and really time and energy should be put into more important things for teachers and their benefits. It seems to me that it's the same amount of money and that teachers unable to budget should learn. I'd be more concerned with losing my TSA and not paying into SSI, and my pay amount being lower, while those of palace employees keep going up.

Anonymous said...

All this whining about being paid twice a month is a minor issue. Bus drivers also get paid monthly. Your smart people so learn to budget. If we can't budget our pay how can we teach our children. Also if folks wanted to give input they should have attended the meetings. let's be happy that we finally have someone listening to our concerns. Let's be positive for a change and give Dr. Atkinson a chance to prove herself! All this negative energy is not good!

Anonymous said...

This is so sad....Some of you are gossiping and spreading incorrect information. Some of you need to be more concerned about yourselves than others. It's ALWAYS good to do your research and to know what you are talking about, before speaking. You need prayer....

Anonymous said...

"While you are checking you will also find that salaries are not commensurate with education and experience but reportedly based on how "close" you were to the former Executive Director."

Zepora Roberts's daughter is a Parent Center coordinator.

Frankie Callaway's daughter is a Parent Coordinator. She has an expired paraprofessional certificate 2004-2009 - no teacher certification - made $59,000 including benefits in 2010.

Felicia Mayfield's husband (Prevention/intervention) is in this Department.

There is a Guillory in there as well.

Does anyone know of more family and friends in this department?

This department would be one of the most difficult to trim or change since so many relatives are employed.

Anonymous said...

This is EXACTLY what I'm talking about. Dr. Callaway's daughter is a Prevention Intervention Specialist. Another example, of not knowing the Facts...

Anonymous said...

Some folks seem to have concerns legitimate to their situations about how the new pay schedule will affect them. Many people have been paid monthly their entire careers, 20 years or more. This will be a big adjustment, especially after the euphoria of getting those two checks in January wears off.

Many comments have attacked these people for voicing concerns, asking questions, and even for offering some advice about a major change to their economic lives--a major change for them especially if their teaching salary is their sole income.

Household budgeting is hard, and pay cuts have made it harder.

The vitriolic attacks on the these posters has been revolting to me.

Some of you have even suggested that these posters be fired for expressing their concerns!

The real "negativity" is coming through these attacks, and the attacks don't sound like they're coming from regular posters on this blog.

Some of you see no point in continuing this thread, and, from hence, I certainly won't throw my two cents in again.

But please lighten up. This is a big change for teachers that can have positive and negative ramifications.

Anonymous said...

@ 8:51 pm

"Dr. Callaway's daughter is a Prevention Intervention Specialist. Another example, of not knowing the Facts..."

Yes. She is listed that way in first class. However, Dr.. Callaway's daughter is listed as a Parent Coodinator on the state Salary and Travel audit. This was the title for her that was given by DCSS to the state.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry the pay change is so disruptive to you. I merely pointed out that there are so many more issues that have/are/will be detrimental to teachers's compensation.

Anonymous said...

"Dr. Callaway's daughter is a Prevention Intervention Specialist. Another example, of not knowing the Facts..."

"Yes. She is listed that way in first class. However, Dr.. Callaway's daughter is listed as a Parent Coodinator on the state Salary and Travel audit. This was the title for her that was given by DCSS to the state."

IF that's true, that's really bad. That would be misrepresenting the use of federal funds.

Kim Gokce said...

Turns out we don't need charity from the Clorox Corp to get the Patriots a track: PCMS Will Get Track from DCSS Funds

So, who knows what lucky schools will join PCMS in the windfall funds found for these tracks?

Cerebration said...

True that, KIm! Here's the link to the agenda item -

The other schools slated to get new tracks are Henderson MS, Columbia MS and McNair MS.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know anything about a student testing positive for TB at Cross Keys?

Owner of many, master of none said...

Teachers should be a lot more upset about having been robbed of their Board TSA a few years back than about whether they get paid 12 or 25 times a year. The Board TSA represented a loss of many thousands of $$, especially for younger teachers--yet we're so demoralized that no one even thinks of fighting back.

The ease with which our Social Security substitute was yanked away typifies a big weakness in DCSS: the lack of teacher input into decisions that will impact us. Besides the Fireside Chats, which everyone couldn't attend and which were hardly in-depth, there has been not a single question posed to us about what WE think would help us teach students better. Not a survey, not a meeting, not even a teachers-only website.

Classes remain overcrowded, paperwork has not decreased, and the furlough days are cutting into teaching time. We return to school the same day as the students in January--can you imagine walking into work to face 180 high school students without even one day to get things in order? Even if we wanted to come in before school starts, the rules of the furlough prevent it. This administration has a way to go to show us that needed changes--not just a wolfish bureaucracy in sheep's clothing--are on the way.

Anonymous said...

From BOE meeting notes:
'Recommendation: It is requested that the Board approve the following personnel assignments: Sharon Pritchett from the position of Prevention/Intervention Specialist to the position of Prevention/Intervention Coordinator Torie Callaway from the position of Pre-K Paraprofessional at Redan Elementary to the position of Prevention/Intervention Specialist. Marilyn Griffith from the position of English teacher at Martin Luther King, Jr. High School to the position of High Schools That Work Coordinator in the Department of Instruction ...The employees are related to the following cabinet members: Sharon Pritchett is the wife of Dr. Stan Pritchett, Deputy Superintendent of Administration & Business Affairs Torie Callaway is the daughter of Mrs. Frankie Callaway, Associate Superintendent of Student Professional Services Marilyn Griffith is the sister of Ms. Sheryl Croft, Area III Assistant Superintendent"

Torie Callaway went from a paraprofessional salary in 2006 to a Family Services Coordinator (state Salary and Travel audit) or Prevention/Intervention specialist (according to Lewis). Whatever the pay with benefits was $55,200 (quite a jump for two years as a paraprofessional).

By 2009, she was a Parent Coordinator/Prevention/Intervention with salary and benefits of $59,000.

Her paraprofessional certification (now expired) began in 2004. So after being a paraprofessional for two years, she was promoted to Parent Coordinator/Prevention Intervention Specialist making $59,000 a year in pay and benefits.

Look up her Georgia Certification. She only has a parapro.

Paula Caldarella said...

Please don't read "The Crier" article. Fran Millar, for some reason, takes full responsibility for getting this track at PCMS. WRONG - Nancy Jester did all of the behind scenes communication and hard work to get the PCMS and Henderson Middle School track done.

At yesterday's DCPC Meeting, Don McChesney gave credit to Nancy after Fran Millar again took kudos for getting it done. I'm not sure why Fran was so set on taking credit and giving none to Nancy. That's a shame.

Anonymous said...

Re: Bad decisions over the years.

Who was mostly responsible for the original decision to dump Social Security in favor of a board sponsored TSA boost?

Paul Womack

Who was mostly responsible for the heavy cuts in the last budget - including cuts to those TSA contributions, school house positions like parapros, media clerks and school-based IP techs as well as furlough days for everyone? (Cuts that were later found to be too deep, leaving extra money at year's end)?

Paul Womack

Who was mostly responsible for kicking out a small group of very high needs special education children and then attempting to place a military academy in record time in that now empty tiny neighborhood school with only 18 small classrooms, 40 parking spaces no gymnasium?

Paul Womack

Who was mostly responsible for pushing a contract through to lease space on 12 schools (with the barest of public information), a contract that breaks several board policies?

Paul Womack

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Hey DM, time to inundate the Crier email boxes and letters to the editor, Dick Williams. It's time to keep every politician honest!

What's Fran up to? Why not give Nancy some kudos? Is there someone else planning to run for the new/redrawn seat on the BOE that he might endorse?

It just seems Fran is being a bit petty to me.

Cerebration said...

Maybe Fran thinks it's due to a Yes vote on SPLOST IV? He publicly promoted this. He may mistakenly think this is a SPLOST IV project -- however, it is not. It was granted by "emergency" replacement using existing unused funds from SPLOST III. (Just required a move of funds from one place to another.)

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Cere, I hope it's something as simple as that. I hope folks watch Nancy, I enjoy her pointed questions to the staff. I also liked reading, in your notes, that she went out of the way to mention that the legal fee line item was under budget.

Paula Caldarella said...

AMG - I have no idea what Fran is up to. Maybe he is upset with Nancy due to her "NO" SPLOST vote - if so that is a petty and vindictive path for him to take. I respect Millar, I voted for him, but his behavior here is just wrong in so many ways.

I was at the DCPC meeting yesterday. I asked whether the SPLOST projects had to be exact and defined as they were for DCSS prior to the vote. Dan Drake said no, that in fact, neither Atlanta nor Fulton County outlined specific projects. Fran jumped in and made the statement that the defined projects were for "honesty". I wanted to respond to Millar that these SPLOST IV projects were specific, but honesty had no part in them.

Cerebration said...

Is Dan Drake kidding?!!! Fulton and Atlanta most certainly DID outline specific projects. Why would he promote this kind of thinking?

To access a list for Fulton - go to the link below and then check out the pull down menu labeled "Projects by Cluster"


And Atlanta's projects can be found beginning on page 25 of this presentations -


You would have to be living in an alternate universe to think that A, DeKalb is somehow better than other counties in transparency and B - that voters anywhere would approve a SPLOST tax without some kind of project list. In fact, I'm not even certain it's legal to put a SPLOST up for a vote without a project list.

Oh -- the misinformation being spread! Why?

Anonymous said...

Tha's great that Peachtree Charter Middle School got a state senator involved to re-do their track.

Now it's time for Steve Donahue and Cheryl Atkinson to re-do the tracks at Shmarock Middle and Sequoyah Middle.

No more squeaky wheels. Re-do all of the tracks, not just the ones that a state senator calls about.

Paula Caldarella said...

Maybe my term "specific, defined projects" is a bit misleading. While, it's true that a portion of Fulton's SPLOST IV projects were "specific", some of them were not, they merely say "replacement school in "south" or "north" - as Nancy Jester was trying to do with her non-specific request for a replacement school in Dunwoody - not specifically Austin. I had a reason for asking the question, which I will follow up as my allotted quota time here is about to run out - darn that work filter!!

Bhutrasgolly said...

I'd say that Fulton's replacement school in the north" is vaguely specific or maybe specifically vague.

Cerebration said...

Ala "Arabia" which was defined as "New School A"...

Paula Caldarella said...

The reason I asked Dan Drake whether the SPLOST projects had to be specific and defined on the ballot, it was to seque into another question – but I did not do that very well, but this was what I was trying to get to.

If the State of Georgia’s NCLB Waiver is approved, School Choice Transfers cease, they are off the table. DCSS historically has many high schools that lose 100 to 200 students per year to school choice transfers. In fact, as of last school year, over 6,000 DCSS high school students were not at their home school.

SPLOST IV - let’s review the high school construction projects that add capacity to their schools - there are only 2 defined for SPLOST IV:

-Chamblee High Replacement
-Redan HS Renovation/Addition

There are modifications to SWD and Stone Mountain HS, but for a little over $5 million allotted for each school, well, that won’t go far and there is still the addition to MLK from SPLOST III. MLK is currently at 146% percent capacity. Will the new addition even handle upcoming students?

Let’s take Lithonia HS for example. Looking at last year’s enrollment report, Lithonia had 761students at other DCSS High Schools. Lithonia HS, as per the 2020 Vision Enrollment Reports, is now at 103% capacity and that is with over 700 potential Lithonia students at other DCSS schools. Yes, those students “stay put” and do not go back to their home schools, but in a few years, without transfers, the enrollment of these schools is going to increase.

The chart with school transfer enrollment data can be found here:

Since the Board of Education in all of their infinite wisdom decided that they needed to be SPECIFIC down to the detail with all of the SPLOST projects, how, pray tell, will potential needed space at these high schools be addressed? They cannot with SPLOST IV. DCSS and the BOE decided not to go the route of indicating “generic” replacement school or “generic” addition to high schools in the southwest or central or southeast portion of the county all in the name of “honesty” (LOL). While DCSS will have 6 bright and shiny new elementary schools and Coralwood with their 200 students will get a $10 million upgrade, have we left our high school students high and dry?

Maybe I am looking at this all wrong, but I believe that by tying SPLOST IV money to such ultra specific projects, DCSS has left themselves no "wiggle room", so to speak, if conditions and circumstances change.

Cerebration said...

Exactly Dunwoody Mom. Great explanation.

However, I believe that even thought NCLB transfers will cease, transfers in general will still exist for one reason or another. They will have to. The new Chamblee HS will hold 1500-1600 students and the new 28 classroom addition to Lakeside will increase capacity by 700 (that's if there are only 25 students per classroom). Add the 8 more classrooms supposedly included in the career tech and Lakeside's capacity will increase from 1350 to over 2000. Neither Chamblee nor Lakeside districts have enough neighborhood students to fill these schools, so transfers to these two will continue. As will the "annex" to Druid Hills if it's continued at Avondale.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom- what did Dan Drake have to say about the 2020 Vision? I have been waiting for some specifics but could not attend the meeting.

Paula Caldarella said...

The 2020 Vision is complete. That is what the consultants presented to the board back in August.

Anonymous said...

@ Cere

" Neither Chamblee nor Lakeside districts have enough neighborhood students to fill these schools, so transfers to these two will continue."

But that is VERY expensive transportation wise. Remember the federal government will not be paying the mileage if NCLB transfers are not mandatory. This is millions of dollars. Will taxpayers be asked to pick up the transfer cost or will the DCSS administration and BOE cut even more teacher positions to pay for this?

What should happen is that Chamblee and Lakeside should undergo redistricting so that the neighborhoods nearest the outlying boundaries go to those schools.

Paula Caldarella said...

Chamblee as a Charter school could accept more Charter applicants. Also, both schools could become HB 251 sites.

Another issue to consider down the road with Chamblee is the future of the Magnet program. DCSS plans to review all magnet programs in the next 5 years, so the future and/or location of the magnet programs could affect CHS as well.

Lots to think about, but as usual, I am sure DCSS has not that far ahead.

Cerebration said...

I don't think they'd cut the transportation... heck, in the last budget cuts, they saved the magnet school transportation, even as they cut 100 paras and hundreds of media clerks and IT techs from regular neighborhood schools.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I am wrong: Frankie Callaway and Clarence Callaway both retired under less than stellar circumstances. Both are now Charter school principals, collecting retirement and salary. Son Clarence was promoted to an Assistant Principal position as soon as he got certification and only a few years of of college.

Cerebration said...

Yes. And New Birth owns the building that houses Destiny Academy (Clarence's school). They purchased it from DCSS several years ago for around $150,000. I'm not sure if they collect rent. And the Leadership Academy (Frankie's school) is housed in a wing of New Birth church. The lease agreement was for $10,000 per month rent.

Anonymous said...


Destiny Academy came from Project Destiny.

See below:

"Birthed from ‘Project Destiny, Inc.’ an educational mentorship program that Bishop Eddie L. Long, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., started in 1993 to help first time non-violent youth offenders in Atlanta, Destiny Academy of Excellence is the cultivated vision of Ben C. Jakes, the school’s Executive Director and Dr. Garry McGiboney, Deputy Superintendent of Support Services for DeKalb County School System.

Project Destiny was founded in 1993 by Bishop Eddie Long
of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church."

Cerebration said...

Here are some postings from the blog on the subject:

FWIW, Frankie Callaway's husband Clarence is the principal of Destiny Academy - a high school for about 100 at-risk students. The board recently gave them some special additional funding. New Birth men's mission once took up a collection to send students from the school on a trip to Africa. They collected $100,000 in one request.

Ironically, although the building that houses Destiny is an old elementary school, tax records show that it is actually owned by New Birth Church.

Add to that, Clarence's wife is principal of the new charter, Leadership Academy which had budgeted $10,000 a month for rent to New Birth to lease space for the school, and we have a very cozy situation.

Nothing against either of these special charter programs, BUT - these kinds schools (Arabia included) pull students (often the brightest students with involved parents) from our regular schools, further depleting their enrollments and causing them to be under-enrolled and under-funded.

Here's the tax info on Destiny -

Parcel ID: 15 005 03 002

Owner Information
Tax District 04 - Unincorporated
Zoning R75 - SF RES DIST
Land Use 951
Land Unit 422967.6
Owner Address 000000 PO BOX 503170 .
Neighborhood 8029
Property Address 3595 LINECREST RD UNI
Building Characteristics
Bldg. #1
Year Built 1956
Square Footage 15,080
Condition Code
Average Basement Area N/A
Quality Grade Fair
Bsmt Finished N/A
Air Conditioning Yes
Bedrooms 0
Fireplace 0
Bathrooms 0
Stories 1

Current Appraised & Assessment Value

Tax Year 2010
Land Value $59,400
Bldg Value $327,000
Misc Imp $0
Total Appraised $386,400
Assessment@40% $154,560

Sales History

Book/Page 07336-00251
Sale Date 07/15/1992
Deed Type LW - Limited Warranty Deed
Sale Condition P - To/From Church/Charity
Sale Price $150,000

QC - Quit Claim Deed
0 - Valid Sale/Fmv

Search terms: 3595 LINECREST RD

Here's the link to the article regarding the $100,000 donation to Destiny from the New Birth men's mission’s-trip-to-South-Africa-in-peril

This will be the second trip from the school to South Africa. In 2002, the school took 47 students to the continent and raised $100,000 the day before they were to leave when New Birth Men’s Ministry passed the hat.

Read more: CrossRoadsNews - Destiny’s trip to South Africa in peril

Anonymous said...

Are these the trips that got Bishop Long in so much trouble?

Anonymous said...

I guess this is an unpleasant trip down memory lane, but do ya'll remember the head of HR before Jamie Wilson. He and Jay Cunningham had something in common.

The former HR guy's hasty kick-out-the-door gave Lewis the chance to promote young Dr. Wilson.

Anonymous said...

Ralph Taylor, the executive director of alternative education and safe schools at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in Charlotte, N.C., will become DeKalb's associate superintendent for support services.

As a result of Monday's board decision, Taylor will replace Felicia Mayfield, who is retiring Dec. 31.

Taken from the AJC

Anonymous said...

If the "friends and family" had done a decent job - i.e. actually improved student achievement, this would not be such a hot discussion topic. But hiring based on "friends and family" rather than merit has driven student achievement into the ground while raising property taxes to historic levels.

The student achievement and personnel data posted of the state website has been impossible to hide. Especially egregious has been the decline in student performance of our Title 1 schools. Upper management at DeKalb Schools are totally responsible for this lack of student progress. They have allocated the funding, hired the teachers, told them what and how to teach, and set policies, procedures and programs for the entire school system.

DeKalb students are not intellectually inferior and our teachers are not incompetent. Comparing our student progress to demographically similar systems (Clayton, Rockdale, Marietta City) shows how badly they have mismanaged the school system and our tax dollars.

Anonymous said...

What the heck?? What about the tracks at Sequoyah and Shamrock Middle?? Why pick and choose?

Four DeKalb County middle schools will get new physical education tracks as a result of a reallocation of sales tax revenue.

The DeKalb school board on Monday authorized moving about $1 million into a fund to rehabilitate four aging tracks at Columbia, Henderson, McNair and Peachtree middle schools.

The work, scheduled to begin in the spring, is expected to cost about $250,000 per track.

Cerebration said...

I thought the track at Sequoyah was getting redone. There's a lot of work going on there on the grounds - esp the ball fields. Anyone know for sure if their track is being fixed? Yes, all tracks should be up to par - including the one at Cross Keys which is still in bad shape.

Anonymous said...

"They have allocated the funding, hired the teachers, told them what and how to teach, and set policies, procedures and programs for the entire school system."

Do you realize it is so bad that they have even instructed elementary school teachers NOT to read to the students? Because they think a different voice might be beneficial, they have teachers just flip the pages while a cassette tape is played through a "boom box" that reads the story and jingles when it is time to turn the page. How demeaning! Like a recorded voice would somehow be more meaninful than the voice of a real person actually sitting there in the room with you!

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be so sure that they have not thought that far ahead... the idea of needing to pull in more students from nearby communities to keep Lakeside at capacity actually makes a lot of sense when you also look at the schools that were willing to help out the Lakeside construction fund by approving cell towers without alerting parents or community members who might object. Medlock and Brockett were both taken off the list but only after the community groups got word of what was going on and spoke up. The PTAs were as oddly quiet as they were elsewhere. hmmmm.... interesting....

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 2:55
"Do you realize it is so bad that they have even instructed elementary school teachers NOT to read to the students? "

This is why the Central Office and "Upper Management" MUST be the personnel held responsible for student achievement. When you "script" students learning, you must be accountable for the results. If "you break it, you buy it".

Until the DCSS administration is held accountable for student progress, nothing will change. More of the same ideas that failed students the first time was what Ms. Tyson's team proposed for the 2001-12 school year when faced with the steepest decline in student progress in DCSS history and the lowest achievement in the entire metro area. More non-teaching $100,000 "coaches", more observations of teachers, more "walk throughs", more paperwork for teachers, more ineffective scripted learning programs.

These were the main topics covered in Ms. Tyson's "Triage" plan to improve student achievement for 2011 - 2012:

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

Catchy presentation Titles - but does anyonesee a mention of more personnel actually instructing students, an emphasis on direct instruction in small groups for struggling students, or asking teachers what they need in the classrooms and in the way of classroom management, environmental and technical support for their students to be successful?

Ms. Tyson's "Triage" plan was just more of the same failing policies, procedures and programs that got us into this mess. The only thing we DON'T have MORE of is teachers. Dr. Lewis and then Ms. Tyson along with the Board ensured we have 600 LESS teachers as they cut teacherpositions to balance the budget rather than touch the admin and support side.

Is Dr. Atkinson giving us more of the same or will she move to put the resources back into the classroom and bring back the teachers who actually instruct the students? Will she ask teachers what they need for their students to be successful? Does she have the will to cut the "family and friends" program that DCSS has become?

Our students' futures are riding on her actions.

Anonymous said...

@10:11 am If teachers were instructed to not read to their students, than whom ever was involved in that decision needs to go immediately. Reading to children improves their vocabulary, reading comprehension, listening skills, and makes reading enjoyable.

I left teaching at DCSS in 2010 because of stupid policies like this.

I loved teaching when I was actually able to teach, hold my students accountable for their learning, had room in a classroom for my students to do small groups and move around, and when I was able to teach above the standards and not to the standards.

All learning for the year will greatly slowed down in January, as the CRCT review books will be taken out and testing practice will begin. Until those in power realize that all of the testing practice is a waste of time for the students and pointless, and that more quality instruction will benefit the children more than CRCT review, than our children will continue to get an inferior education.

I do not know all of the history of DCSS, as I have only been in Georgia for 5 years now, but I can tell you that those running the district have no clue as to what they are doing. They don't care about the students and their achievement and anyone who questions this authority and the policies are degraded.

I have been hoping for more from Atkinson, and as time goes on, I am not sure if she is really going to change the real things that need to be changed and need to be changed as quickly as possible.

Anonymous said...

The comments regarding the staff at Sam Moss are unfounded. Do you all have ANY idea what those folks at Sam Moss have been put through the past 6-8 years? And then, how many positions and budgets have been cut--but the demands for special treatment still keep coming...especially from the Board Members.

Maybe you all could take some time and actually listen to the folks at Sam Moss. They survived Stan P.and then had to live through the Pat Pope era. The last two years have been total influx--and no one at the Palace was going to stick their neck out for these folks and help make things right...make things make sense. Nope...the workers and new leaders at Sam Moss were left to fend for themselves and make do with less money and less employees (but facing increasing problems).

Give them a break. Get them some more leadership with real Facilities Management experience. Make Turk provide them with accurate budgets that can cover KNOWN expenses.

Anonymous said...

The comment at 11:12a.m. has a point. I was told on yesterday that a "warehouseman" at the service center, from the previous era, makes almost $78,000!!!!! This person has a spouse currently employed by DCSS whose salary is interestingly not listed. This falls in the ridiculous category as this person is not a skilled laborer. Many teachers would gladly swap places because reportedly he does much of nothing!!!! Dr. Atkinson surely has her hands full. From this day forward, we should pray that she has the courage,fortitude, and backing to clean house and use this money for the children and those employees.
Too, someone needs to REALLY monitor the work that is being done at these schools. In many cases, SHODDY workmanship is an understatement.

Cerebration said...

I'll give Atkinson credit for this: She doesn't seem to have faith in the "Triage" team either...

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

So far, she has demoted Beasley and Moseley and fired Berry.

Anonymous said...

@11:12 Teachers have faced many of these same problems and no one comes to help them and defend. In fact, they are blamed for the poor performance of the children of DCSS, and they are just doing what administration says. Having taught in a DCSS classroom without heat, the people from Sam Moss were useless.

The guy coming to fix the problem (who has been around for some time according to older employees) did not know the difference between a plumbing pipe and that for the Heat/AC unit. The guys from Sam Moss had more breaks in one day than I had in a month as a teacher and were often seen BSing with the head janitor.

Sorry, but I don't feel for the Sam Moss people. Many are better paid than teachers with masters degrees who work a lot harder than what I've seen from those as Sam Moss.

I continue to pray that the salaries at Sam Moss, the Palace, and the technology department are all fixed, as too many are being paid way too much for their "knowledge," time in the district, and "skills."

Cerebration said...

For an interesting take on technology in the classroom, read this article about the Waldorf School, one that many high tech professionals in Silcon Valley send their children. Great lovers of technology recognize that there is a time and place for integrating technology into learning. It's most likely hardly necessary in elementary school, and increases in high school - where most of our tech budget should be utilized.

A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute

Anonymous said...

The MIS Department sent out the following memo:

The DCSS Management Information Systems Department (MIS) has created the Technology Plan to keep up with progress and excitement. The plan resonates the passion for extended and expanded learning fueled by efficient and effective integration of technology and the mission and goal of the district. The mission of the MIS Department is to establish and maintain a technology-rich teaching and learning environment where students and staff develop 21st century skills to be successful citizens in a global community. More so, the mission is to enable students with the skills they will need to work, learn, and live in their future.

Another blogger had this to say about it:

DCSS is Doomed

Anonymous said...

What educational objectives are inherent in this "mission" statement? This is so poorly written it is embarrassing. It sounds like they put edu-speak words in a bag, shook it up, and poured them out like so many scrabble tiles.

The last Technology Plan had ZERO input from teachers, parents or students. Take a look. You will not find even ONE teacher, parent or student that provided input for this Technology Plan that cost taxpayers tens of millions (and that's just the equipment - nothing to do with the tens of millions it cost for personnel):

Anonymous said...

What position does Bob Moseley hold now?
What Is Trent Arnold's status?

Cerebration said...

I think Moseley is an area super... not sure.

Anonymous said...

On the DCSS WEBSITE, in a prominent position directly under the Theory of Action for Change in the News and Info section:

The issues discussed are SPLOST oversight committee, Indepandent Auditor, Ethics Line, and Purchasing Oversight.

How can you discuss accountability and leave out student progress? Not one words said about accountability for student achievement when this is the one area that the DCSS administration MUST be accountable for.,_Transparency.pdf

Anonymous said...

@9:15 The administration doesn't believe that they have accountability about student achievement and it's not their priority, which is the root of the problem in DCSS and something that won't be easily solved.

Anonymous said...

You are very correct about the people at the sam moss center. The workers sit in there trucks more than they work. They take long lunch breaks and never start work on time. The sam moss center needs someone who knows how to run a center. The people in charge were teachers and then principals. Yes they do have friends and family out there who make more than teachers. Maybe Dr. A will get to this center also. She has a lot on her plate and time will tell. My prayers are with her.

Anonymous said...

If the Sam Moss staff can't get the job done, and they can't,
then contract out services such as roof maintenance, HVAC, landscpaing, etc.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Atkinson and Board Members:

When will principals be held accountable and not be allowed to do nothing until their official retirement. Prior to arrival, former Area Superintendent, Debbie White stated that Cedar Grove HS would get a principal who was data driven, technology savvy , great communicator and structured. Principal Benford, as she introduces herself and likes to be called, is none of the above. Ms. White knew Principal Benford would not be suitable for such a job but wanted to put her sorority sister and good friend in position before her exist from the county.

5 Reasons why Cedar Grove will not improve:
1) Principal Benford arrives to work late 90% of the time. She is never early unless told the Superintendent will be visiting.
2) Principal Benford communicates in a down-home unprofessional manner at faculty meetings. She makes offensive comments like, "If I get spanked by my boss, there will always be a second spanking." Or if you don't like how I do things, then I suggest you fill out the transfer papers because I will run Cedar Grove." Wow! The words of a leader or a bully.
3) Principal Benford has no plan of action to improve the school. She would much rather plan parties or decide which Fridays to charge faculty to wear blue jeans. She has coined the phrase, keepin' the main thang, the main thang. Yet no faculty or staff member can state what is the main thang. It is an ever moving target depending upon what is important at the moment.
4) Principal Benford was a science teacher for 14 year at Cedar Grove and now returns 7 years later to be principal. The problem is that a number of teachers are still there. She knows them personally and it hinders her ability to deal with them professionally.
5) Principal Benford delegates all of her responsibility to teachers who want to be in administration or the assistant principals. Yet she repeatedly states in faculty meetings that she is overwhelmed.

In reality, Principal Benford has retired. Yes, if the Superintendent does not hold her accountable for improving Cedar Grove, three years will pass quickly and she will officially retire.

Anonymous said...

The principal at Cedar Grove is part of the Palace sorority plan that was allowed to take place under Debbie White, Audria Berry, and Calloway. Principals (females) who have not earthly idea on school leadership is in position from the elementary, middle, high school, and county office because of the AKA friendship. It is notorious in the schools too. Principals cannot managed their schools because they are so busy protecting their AKA sisters who do nothing but walk around all day saying, " skee wee". What does skee wee have to do with working with children? Or, they walk around promoting their key chains so that everyone will know that they belong to Calloway, Berry, and Debbie White's sorority. Keep in mind,the school is poorly managed and test scores are a joke.
Being from the west region, no one cared what you pledged in college twenty years ago. Our administrators were data driven and held you accountable for your students.
Oh, donot forget, TRANSFER Season is here. This is celebration time for the female administrators; because they get a chance to black ball and bad mouth teachers to other female principals in the county. Forgetting how they got their job as an elementary, middle, high school and palace administrator, which we all know how.(CLEW)
Let us hope that Debbie White (former PE teacher) stays where she is and hire all of her incompetent sorors on her new job. I wish we could take a poll of the elementary, middle, high school sorors administrators. The palace is flooded as well as Audria Berry's Instructional Coaches positions.