Converting McNair High School to a Start-Up Charter

[From Stan Jester's Fact Checker blog]

This evening at 5pm, the DeKalb Schools board will vote to approve converting Ronald McNair High School into a Start-Up Charter School over the next 6 years. As a start-up charter, DeKalb College & Career Academy Charter School will enjoy autonomy not currently granted to conversion charters. That autonomy includes personnel decisions, financial decisions, curriculum and instruction, resource allocation, establishing and monitoring the achievement of school improvement goals, and school operations.

Superintendent Michael Thurmond mentioned at the 04/23/2013 Tucker Parent Council that he has been working with the President of Georgia Piedmont Technical College, Jabari Simama, to setup a career academy in DeKalb County. The Technical College System of Georgia has provided a $3 million dollar grant for construction costs. Partners with this charter school include Georgia Piedmont Technical College and DeKalb businesses such as Georgia Power, DeKalb Fire and Rescue, Epps Aviation, Siemens and Oglethorpe Power.

Budget (Page 776)
The DeKalb College & Career Academy Charter School charter petition is 861 pages. In FY2006 the charter school is anticipated to have 300 students and will grow to 1500 students by FY2020. Ronald McNair High School capacity is currently 1524. The Georgia Certified Employees Salary Schedule (page 34) will serve as a guide for teacher compensation. Teachers will presumably be employees of Georgia Piedmont Technical College and can be paid more with waivers granted by the board. The starting salary of the principal will be $108K and will grow to $122K by FY2020.

Transportation (Page 36)
Despite $0 being allocated in the budget for transportation, the DeKalb College and Career Academy will provide transportation for students from central bus stops. The school will contract with DeKalb County School District for special needs students.

Performance Based Goals (Page 21)
80% of the students will meet or exceed state standards by year 1 on all Georgia Milestone assessments. Note: Georgia Milestone assessments are taking the place of CRCT and EOCT. The percentage of students who meet/exceed standards on the Georgia Milestone assessments will increase by 5% each year thus reaching 100% pass rate in 5 years.

Board Members
DeKalb College and Career Academy shall be governed by the following Governing Board of Directors:

Mr. Michael Thurmond DeKalb County School District
Dr. Jabari Simama Georgia College Piedmont Technical
Mr. Cornell McBride McBride Research Lab
Mr. Corbett Davis DeKalb Fire and Rescue
Ms. Sadie Dennard Georgia Power
Mr. Ray Cheek Snapping Shoals
Ms. Janet Spaulding VideoLarm
Ms. Deidre Pierce Georgia PTA
Adrian Hylton Miller Grove High School

Read about the charter here >> DeKalb College & Career Academy Charter School Petition (Searchable PDF)

Posted in Charter School, DeKalb County, Georgia, Georgia Independent Schools, Michael Thurmond, Teacher Contracts, Testing & AYP, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Georgia’s back-to-school sales tax holiday is back under new law

Back to School Tax Free Shopping days: Friday, August 1st and Saturday, August 2nd

Back to School Tax Free Shopping days: Friday, August 1st and Saturday, August 2nd

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Georgia’s back-to-school sales tax holiday is back for another two years. So is another tax-free holiday weekend for energy efficient appliances.

…school sales tax holiday will stretch from Aug. 1-2. Shoppers won’t have to pay state and local sales tax on clothing, school supplies, shoes, computers and software.

…During the energy efficient holiday, to be held Oct. 2-4, shoppers won’t pay state sales tax on dishwashers, fans, air conditioners, refrigerators and other items with the “Energy Star” designation.”
Posted in GA Legislature / Laws / O.C.G.A., Good News!, Uncategorized | Tagged | 4 Comments

DeKalb Student Growth Percentile (SGP) vs the rest of the state

Stan Jester has posted yet another couple of fact-filled blog posts full of interesting information.

First, New Data – Student Growth Percentile (SGP)

The Georgia Department of Education released Student Growth Percentile (SGP) data yesterday. SGPs describe the amount of growth a student has demonstrated on the CRCTs relative to academically-similar students from across the state.

SGPs are used as a measure of student progress in the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI). SGPs are one of multiple measures used to provide an indication of teacher and leader effectiveness in the Teacher and Leader Keys Effectiveness Systems (TKES and LKES).

Use Stan’s links found at the post above to research your child’s school.

Then Stan posted information explaining SGP in detail.

SGPs describe the amount of growth a student has demonstrated relative to academically-similar students from across the state. Growth percentiles range from 1 to 99, with lower percentiles indicating lower academic growth and higher percentiles indicating higher academic growth. With SGPs, all students – regardless of their achievement level – have the opportunity to demonstrate all levels of growth.

Quick Explanation; Student Growth Percentile

StudentGrowthPercentileTimmy scored a 750 on the CRCT in the 3rd grade last year and a 770 on the CRCT in the 4th grade this year. His Academic Peer Group is everybody that scored a 750 on the CRCT in the 3rd grade last year in Georgia. To find Timmy’s SGP, compare Timmy’s 4th grade score with the 4th grade score of everybody in Timmy’s Peer Group. Timmy’s SGP is determined by the percentage of peers he outscored on the 4th grade math test.

Read more about SGPs and enjoy Stan’s pull down menu to research your own school’s SGP here >> DeKalb Student Growth Percentile (SGP)


Ty Tagami at the AJC also wrote about the lackluster results in DeKalb on the new Student Growth Percentile (SGP) data used in Georgia to rank student progress.

Top-ranked DeKalb schools not so great on growth

County schools posted average performances based on Georgia’s new “student growth model,” which measures how much students learn in a year compared with peers across the state.

The results are derived from year-to-year performance on Georgia’s Criterion Referenced Competency Tests and End of Course Tests and are for the 2012-13 school year. Change in a student’s test performance is compared against that of peers who had similar scores in the prior year.

DeKalb’s Wadsworth Magnet School for High Achievers lived up to its name in fourth- and fifth-grade math and in fifth-grade reading, with a 100 percent pass rate on the CRCT. However, when compared to peers across Georgia, students at the school registered modest growth: 35 percent in fourth-grade math, 43 percent in fifth-grade math and 46 percent in fifth-grade reading. The median growth percentage gives parents a new way to assess the performance of their school, says the Georgia Department of Education.

Ty includes a link to the state DOE’s website so that you can check out your child’s school’s results. His article also includes the AJC video explaining the ‘Timmy’ story referenced in Stan’s post. It’s very helpful.

Posted in DeKalb County [GA] Board of Education, DeKalb County, Georgia, Education in the South, Testing & AYP, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Affordable Colleges Foundation offers online college research tools

If you are looking at the option of attending a reputable, Not-For-Profit college online in order to hopefully save a bit of money and allow a bit more flexibility (if you have to work or take care of children), but are confused about where to find information about the quality, there is a new online resource poised to help.

Affordable Colleges Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing free higher education tools for current and future college students and their families, recently published research on all the Not-For-Profit universities and colleges in Georgia that offer online college programs.  Historically, online programs have only been offered by for-profit institutions.  Today, many of the most established not-for-profit state colleges and national universities have launched programs that provide flexibility and lower tuition prices for students.  This dataset is unique to our site and is even ahead of the curve compared to other government education data sources such as NCES and IPEDS.  A few of the key features on the page:

  • Unique list of accredited not-for-profit institutions offering online programs, sorted by affordability
  • Spotlight interviews provided by many college deans with the institution’s philosophy on online learning
  • Direct links to the specific online departments, or e-campus, of each institution

Anyone can access the college guide at the following location:

About Us:  Affordable Colleges Foundation came to be in 2011 with the mission to provide strategies and information about pursuing an affordable higher education.  Our free community resources materials and tools span topics such as financial-aid and college savings strategies, affordability and scorecard rankings, opportunities for Veterans and people with disabilities, and online learning resources.  We have been featured by nearly 500 top universities in the United States, Canada, and the UK along by several many state and local government organizations.

Posted in Good News!, Student Information, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Update on the International Teachers contract

IN JUNE, we posted our concerns about two, one year contracts totaling over three million dollars for international teachers unanimously approved at the June board meeting. Not only did it stick in our craw that we are paying high fees to hire a teachers supply ‘agency’ to get teachers to replace those fleeing DeKalb, we continue to have deep concerns about the companies given the contracts.

CLICK HERE to read our original post about the June 2 Board meeting.

First, we raised an eyebrow at agenda item #8.

8. International Teacher Services Agreements
Presented by: Dr. Tekshia M. Ward-Smith, Chief Human Resources Officer, Division of Human Resources

Our initial concerns were as follows:

Here is the link to the details:

Due to teacher shortages in the critical needs areas of Math, Science and Special Education, the services of Intalage, Inc. and Global Teaching Agency will provide the District with additional staffing resources for filling vacant critical needs areas. All teachers selected by the District are fully certified and will be interviewed and recommended by the Principal. To reiterate, this is only an additional staffing resource to provide high quality teachers to students.

Financial Impact
The amount of the contracts will not exceed $3,005,000 for up to 45 teachers and will come from allotted teacher positions in the General Fund.

Fee for Agency – $11,500.00
Average Fee for Employee Salary – $55,000

Dr. Tekshia Ward-Smith, Chief Human Resources Officer, Division of Human Resources, 678.676.0168



Note some of the wording in the contracts:

Unless sooner terminated as provided herein, the term of this Agreement shall be for an initial period of one year, commencing on August 1, 2014 (the “Initial Term”). The services to be rendered by Teachers shall commence on the first day of school for new teachers per DCSD’s school year calendar (the “Commencement Date”), and shall terminate on DCSD’s last teacher workday per DCSD’s school year calendar (the “Termination Date”). Prior to the commencement of a Teacher’s active teaching duties, DCSD shall arrange for the Teacher to have a minimum of one workday of classroom observation or non-instructional activities for which Teacher will not be charged a personal or sick day

This Agreement may be renewed for up to two additional one-year terms
(“Additional Term(s)”) by an affirmative vote from a majority of the DeKalb County Board of Education (“Board”).
Notice of such renewal by the Board shall be given at least forty-five (45) days prior to the expiration of the Initial Term and of each Additional Term. To the extent it is a multiyear agreement for the lease or purchase of services, this Agreement is governed by the provisions of O.C.G.A. § 20-2-506.b. Vendor agrees that, for any Additional Term, DCSD retains the right to review and reject the Services of any individual Teacher.

At all times while this Agreement is in effect, Vendor will ensure that each Teacher’s work visa remains valid.
Vendor will assist each Teacher in obtaining, as soon as possible, a teaching certificate from the State of Georgia. In the event that any Teacher’s certificate is delayed or not obtained for any reason(such as, but not limited to changes in governmental policies, etc.), Vendor will refund to DCSD any fees paid on behalf of the Services of such Teachers on a pro rata basis. In any event in which the Teacher’s certificate is delayed or not obtained, for any reason, the Teacher will be released from duty.


Then Kirk Lunde posted two blog opinion posts at the Patch and we reposted them here:

The June 2, 2014 BOE meeting and International Teachers

Posted on June 6, 2014

My [2015 DeKalb Schools] Budget Concerns

Posted on June 22, 2014
Of note: Another example of a “data-disconnect” on the T Sheet is the appropriation for “International Teachers.” Last October the BOE approved an additional $1,755,000 for international teachers. As I pointed out in an earlier post, during the current fiscal year, three divisions and fifteen accounts have been used to pay for international teachers. Where was the $600,000 requested in the amended budget going? Why $600,000 when over $3.5 million was already approved?

Read Lunde’s posts. They are extremely relevant.

Moving on, we looked up Intalage, Inc at the GA SOS website, and almost gave up until we figured out the company is listed as In-Talage, Inc. (Scroll to the bottom to read the business documents.) The business address is listed as 3718 Sexton Woods Drive, in Chamblee (just down the street from the high school at the corner of Sexton Woods and Chamblee-Dunwoody.) So we took a field trip. And we took pictures. Below is the ‘corporate office’ of the company we just gave a multiyear multi-million dollar contract to supply teachers from overseas to teach our children.




(These were taken on a weekday. We have driven by several times and the place has been vacant every time.)


Officers for Intalage, Inc. and Global Teaching Agency

IN-TALAGE, INC. Current Name
Profit Corporation – Domestic – Information
Control No.: 0029476
Status: Active/Compliance
Entity Creation Date: 6/27/2000
Jurisdiction: GA
Principal Office Address: 3718 SEXTON WOODS DRIVE
Last Annual Registration Filed Date: 2/4/2012
Last Annual Registration Filed: 2012
Registered Agent
Office Address: 3718 SEXTON WOODS DR
Agent County: DEKALB
Title: CEO
Title: CFO
Title: Secretary

CFO: ASH CHANDLER 9069 Betony wood Trail JONESBORO Georgia 30236
SEC: ANDY DAKSHINA 965 Berkshire Rd atlanta Georgia 30324

7171 jonesboro road MORROW Georgia 30260
CFO: paddy sharma 9069 Betony wood Trail JONESBORO Georgia 30236
SEC: paddy sharma 9069 Betony wood trail Jonesboro Georgia 30236

Also see >>

Haque Tarique
In Talage Inc,
3718 Sexton Woods Drive
Atlanta, GA 30341
Phone: (770) 457-9654


And more (on their acting careers) >>

Posted in Board of Education Meetings, Budget Cuts, DeKalb County [GA] Board of Education, DeKalb County, Georgia, Education in the South, Teacher Contracts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 55 Comments

Early Election Results

It looks like we have winners … in most categories – state school super primaries look pretty close as of this writing.

July 22, 2014- DeKalb election results

And the primary runoffs for state school superintendent look like this >>

Georgia School Super runoff results 07-22-14

Posted in Charter School, DeKalb County [GA] Board of Education, DeKalb School Board Elections | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

DA, defense agree Crawford Lewis should get probation

Should Crawford go to jail? … The debate continues…

Read more here >> DA, defense agree Crawford Lewis should get probation

By Rhonda Cook
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Though on opposite sides of on his guilt and innocence when former DeKalb County School Superintendent Crawford Lewis was facing criminal charges, the prosecutor and the defense attorney agreed Tuesday in a hearing before the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Lenora Grant and Lewis’ attorney Mike Brown agreed there was an agreement between the sides for probation for Lewis if he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction to avoid risking racketeering and theft convictions and up to 65 years in prison.

But Judge Cynthia Becker breached that agreement when she said the former educator should spend 12 months in jail instead of on probation, the two attorneys said.

“It was clear this (plea) agreement would work only if the trial judge was in agreement,” Brown said. “Dr. Lewis would not have plead guilty to a crime that involved jail time.”

DSW Note: This is not exactly news. This has been an issue in the court for quite some time. The DA and defense disagree with the judge. Stand by to see who wins.

Posted in Crawford Lewis, Criminal / RICO Trials, DeKalb County, Georgia | Tagged | 7 Comments