We hate to say, “We told you so”… but

Good grief.  Read this article in the AJC and then come back to chat.

DeKalb faces $41 million shortfall for school projects

DeKalb County’s new school superintendent wants to shelve or scrap 35 building projects after discovering a $41 million shortfall in the sales tax-funded construction account.

The projects include improvements for disabled students, new school air conditioning systems, running tracks, emergency generators, kitchens and plumbing fixtures at facilities across the county.

Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson proposed the cuts at a special meeting of the school board Wednesday. School district officials revealed on Wednesday that they discovered a $41.35 million shortfall in the five-year construction sales tax program that expires this summer.

[Now go to our tab at the top labeled “Facts & Sources” then “Files” and download the documents presented to the board with suggested cuts to projects in a desperate attempt to recover over 40 million missing dollars.]

+++

So, basically, the very vocal people who had access to decision-makers (or actually ARE decision-makers in the case of Ramona Tyson pushing her pet multi-million dollar tech project at the William Bradley Bryant Center or Crawford Lewis and Pat Pope who pushed to create the gleaming new Central Office), or others who managed to bloat the scope of their school projects to so far beyond the original budget as to almost be unrecognizable, and who pushed and pushed, were able to grab the big piles of SPLOST money while they were there, leaving very little in the end for things like new AC units, roofs, emergency generators, upgrades to ADA compliance, and fixing cracked running tracks.

It appears that in their mad dash to use up the cash, our fearless leaders somehow ‘forgot’ to budget millions for interest on the bonds they borrowed and failed to create and adhere to a tight project list, scope and schedule, thus creating this crevasse of missing money ensuring that many promised projects at schoolhouses will never come to be, as SPLOST IV has its own legal list of projects it must adhere to, and finishing up the unfinished lists from SPLOST II and III is not part of the SPLOST IV deal.

We were actually told a very big, fat lie  by Interim COO, Barbara Colman back in August/September of 2010 that due to declining construction costs and coming in “consistently” under-budget, we had a nearly $40 million SPLOST III “Surplus”. In fact, Ramona Tyson used it to justify her pet tech project at the September ELPC meeting. (Read over the Q&A session at that meeting to see just how concerned citizens have been for a very long time.)

Although it’s not really very fun to be vindicated, but we must point out that the “crazy”, “uninformed”, “ignorant”, “radical” bloggers at DeKalb School Watch had tried for over two years to warn of the consequences of these truly bad decisions. Did the board and staff leaders not read the open letter from Faye Andreson? A member of the SPLOST II oversight committee, and a person with a high degree of involvement in SPLOST spending, Faye desperately pleaded with the board to watch their SPLOST spending. Additionally, after sending a written request for an explanation as to how certain projects jumped ahead in the queue and increased in scope, Faye was met with the following response from then board member Zepora Roberts, “By the way, your information in this letter has not been helpful because it is full of errors and omissions, and why do you think that I should provide you with additional information? Who are you anyway? It seems to me that you know it all, since you have designated yourself to try and tell the superintendent, staff and board members what to do. Please get a life Ms. Andresen.” And this one from Sarah Copelin-Wood, “Hello Faye, It is evident from your e-mail that you are continuing to weave your web of deceitfulness. It is also apparent that you are most definitely “Confused.” Therefore, let me help you – The Election Is Over – Get Over It. HAVE A GREAT ONE!!”

And so it goes. On and on. Time after time, as concerned parents and community members tried to wave the red flag of warning, they were dismissed, threatened, scoffed at or blatently ignored by members of our school board. But we were right. So whoopee. Now what?

About dekalbschoolwatch

Hosting a dialogue among parents, educators and community members focused on improving our schools and providing a quality, equitable education for each of our nearly 100,000 students. ~ "ipsa scientia potestas est" ~ "Knowledge itself is power"
Gallery | This entry was posted in School Funding, SPLOST IV and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

199 Responses to We hate to say, “We told you so”… but

  1. Brook-Dekalb Parent says:

    Just catching up with this now. I’ve been to busy up to now. More transparency is required. The forensic audit sounds good. I will continue to follow this situation.

  2. momfromhe11 says:

    Matter of fact, didn’t Mr. Womack go off on Mr. Jones at a public meeting because he was so incensed that the ethics legislation had been presented?

  3. momfromhe11 says:

    Thank, you, Marney. While I am not in a position to know what has really gone on, I know you are, at least as far as ICS is concerned.

    I was been painfully aware of DeKalb’s refusal to consider leasing to ICS, and I wondered who was responsible for the change – I wondered if perhaps Dr. Atkinson had asked why something that pigheaded was going on. We are overjoyed to see ICS moving into Medlock. It’s a great neighborhood with lots of very active neighbors. Here’s hoping for a long and enjoyable stay for you!

  4. I’m glad our DA believes that our BOE and DCSS staff can police themselves. As long as CLew regime folks are in place, it’s hard to believe in true change. With the mistakes over the past year just discovered, why is it hard for some to believe that holding someone accountable, like Ms. Tyson, is the proper path to take?

  5. Watching, I couldn’t be more pleased to hear about Medlock. It’s made sense to many for a very long time. If Ms. Tyson was instrumental for getting it done, then I congratulate her. ICS will be a great legacy for her to hang her hat on.

    This ICS work is a little bit of a much larger job that she ultimately failed at. It’s not her fault entirely either, she was hamstrung by many on the BOE and was taken advantage of by others in Clew’s regime. How can so much go on and so many report directly to her and yet she never had a clue? I’d like to know who is responsible for the latest staff errors. These are some major ones which effects Federal funding (RTTT) State funding (which Fran Millar had reinstated) and now this HUGE shortfall. This wasn’t just a rounding error. These mistakes should NOT have been made, shouldn’t taxpayers expect for someone to be held accountable for their failures?

    I know Ms. Tyson is a very nice person, she did not want to become Super and pretty much had to be begged to take the interim job. However, she was not allowed to do what needed to be done. She could have cut Palace staff back as well as other wastes, instead she balanced the budget on the back of the very employees we must have to succeed, our TEACHERS!

    Ms. Tyson thanks for your service, whether you stay to become Dept. Head of Accountability or if you resign, you’ll be reaping the benefits of your DCSS leadership for many years to come.

  6. justwatch says:

    Womack did go off on Jones, because board members would have to hire their own attorneys if they were called in front of the proposed ethics board. Did it not occur to Womack that perhaps they should just be ethical and not violate anything, thus not risk being called before the board.

  7. Miss Management says:

    Is that the time Womack said, ‘to you, I AM God”.?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Demand a forensic audit.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely right. How does he know? If he is so sure, he should be agreeable to a forensic audit. He will then be vindicated. Unless he won’t be, then I suspect he will fight tooth and nail against one.

  10. Anonymous says:

    All excellent points Marney! Many here seem to think that any superintendent has the power to do all the things they believe need to get done. The Board has the power to approve or disapprove most major actions in a school system. In most organizations you discuss initiatives in small group settings to determine if you have support before you move forward. If you know you can’t get a majority to support your actions, you must find alternatives to solve the same problem.

    Ms. Tyson was the Board’s choice to act as interim superintendent. Dr. Lewis may have recommended her but they had to approve it. For all we know, he could have recommended Bob Moseley in a small group setting and he realized he would not get majority support. Publicly citizens will never know the discussions that went on prior to her selection (unless a Board member leaked this, which some may have done). Most will never know what Ms. Tyson wanted or tried to do because she probably had an idea whether she had enough support from Board members before attempting move forward.

    This is not unique to DeKalb, it happens in all organizations. The public usually sees the consensus decisions from small group discussions come forward. Most never know the discussions that occurred before they got to that point. Take a look at the divisiveness on this Board in public and imagine what they are like in private.

    Ms. Tyson had to do a job she did not want and work with a Board like the one we have. Not being experienced as a superintendent, she probably did not know all the right questions to ask and had to rely on those that reported to her. Given what we are now finding out about some of her direct reports, she never had a chance. Think about that when you look at what Dr. Atkinson is attempting to do.

  11. Tucker Guy says:

    My understanding is just as “The Deal” wrote. Just a made up department that will look the other way when the BOE or other friends-and-family don’t do their jobs or follow policies.

    I see it as a way for her to continue to make over $200K (whoever believes she is taking a cut please stand on your head) and not do any real work except cover up the previous actions of the BOE and friends-and-family.

  12. Tucker Mom says:

    Oh my God! That is horrible! So, he filmed video illegally up a child’s skirt in August shortly after school began, but was not put on admin. leave until December, giving him time to take advantage of at least one if not more other young girl?? And we are probably still paying his salary, right? And he will get a rasie when he gets his tenure, too, right? How the hell is a male teacher able to close the door to a classroom and be left alone with a young female student, especially after the first incident occurred which I’m assuming was still being investigated? It is just one disgrace after another here, isn’t it? As a mother of a young girl who would have attended that school if I did not wise up and pull her out of public school completely, I am sickened…

  13. GTCO-ATL says:

    Can’t we have an “emergency” item added to the next election ballot that asks us to approve a re-allocation of funds due to this oversight? And, let’s cancel some of the projects that are fluff, not these important ones.

    And, let’s not fool ourselves again by thinking that this justifies the cell towers. That money will go right into Womack’s pocket or his buddies who want their ammenities at Lakeside no matter what anyone else says, so this announcement should not change anyone’s minds about whether or not the cell towers are a good revenue stream – they absolutely are a bigger liability with any short term gain going to one school and a lot of lawyers who set up the entire scheme in the first place.

  14. GTCO-ATL says:

    I have to wonder if this “problem” is really as cut and dry as they are making it sound. Consider this… what bank have you ever heard of that lends large sums of money, but will wait until the very end of the loan’s term before they collect the interest? Certainally not any of the banks that are giving consumer loans for mortgages… they collect the interest up front with the majority of your payments going to interest and only a fraction going to the principal. Think of how many people would simply skip out on their loan payments if they got to the end, owned everything outright and had nothing else to pay back except the interest. Which makes me think off one other thing… what exactly did we put up as “collateral” on this loan? If we spent the money and can’t repay it, what does the bank have the right to collect in return?

    If the SPLOST list was a final list of approved spending, they should have put the 40 million in interest on that list. A lot of people might not have agreed to pay that extra sales tax if they knew they were giving a big chunk of it right back to the same banks that got us into this economic crisis in the first place. I, for one, am pretty sick and tired of bailing out the banks and now having to pay them interest on “borrowing” our own money back from them. What a waste!

    Here’s a concept for the school board… collect the money, spend within your means, make cutbacks where necessary, spend wisely, make good investments and then survive off the interest the banks pay YOU, not the other way around! GEEZ…. you think their only financial advice came from the back of their shampoo bottles they used that morning… lather, rinse, repeat; lather, rinse, repeat; lather, rinse, repeat…. insane!

  15. Whodat? says:

    but the people who were frantically spending at the last minute sure did, I bet.

    The only lesson anyone in the school system will take from this is “see, I told you that it pays to be the squeeky wheel… those schools that didn’t push for their projects are screwed over because their principals didn’t know what it takes to be a true advocate for their school. blah blah blah.” Note to Fernbank, Lakeside, et. al. – none of this justifies lobbying for money that is intended for other schools… nothing justifies tearing down a brand new wing of a perfectly fine building just so you can build a new one while other schools have mold over their heads and no A/C in the summertime.

    We either fix this broken system and put it on the right course together or we can keep feeding into it, tryinig to justify our actions when we know what we are doing isn’t fair (or even legal, in some cases) until we all go down with the ship and pull our children down with it, too.

  16. Whodat? says:

    Is that good or bad? (helping Heery/Mitchell prove their case) I forget which side of all this mess I am supposesd to be on every once and a while. Maybe its a side effect of the dizzying…

  17. Whodat? says:

    I agree, and esp. b/c we all know that SPLOST spending has to be for projects approved by the voters. AND, SPLOST says that once they collect the full amount promised, then the tax stops (unless a NEW one is approved by voters for a different time frame.) So, there is no way to collect a surplus of what is budgeted. Idiots! (not sure if that last sentiment is directed at them or us right now.)

  18. Whodat? says:

    Yeah, and my mortgage company won’t mind if I “forget” to include the part of my payment that is supposed to go to the interest on my loan. I’ll have so much extra money every month that I can do whatever I want! Woo Hoo! Party time!

  19. dekalbite says:

    According to the DCSS website, there is supposed to be a Forensic Audit Follow Up report for SPLOST III. Go to this web page and read the promises of SPLOST III. There is a “dead link” on the right hand menu bar to the “Forensic Audit Follow Up Report”:
    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/progress/splost/faq.html

  20. dekalbite says:

    I keep getting filtered out when I try to post a link to a DCSS webpage that is supposed to connect you to the SPLOST III Forensic Audit Follow Up Report.

  21. No Cell Towers on School Grounds says:

    Don’t forget Womack telling a room full of parents about how great of shape the school system is in financially:

    “Well, let me, let me respond to the taxes. The school board does not raise taxes… since 2000. Ah, I was chairmen of the Budget Committee we cut 104 million dollars out of the budget. A lot of it was in the area that most people were concerned about. And that was in staff. And we got rid of a lot of things that we shouldn’t have. That we know of. This year the administration was pushing through another budget and I was able to stop it. I’m vice chair. And we cut another 15 million. We are not going into the classroom. We have increased the number of students. But we have, I think, as good of a fiscal record as any school system, probably better than most. We did not do what the county did – raise property taxes, what? 28 percent? We didn’t do that.”

    Read more here: http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2011/09/transcript-from-briarcliff-es-pta.html

    At the time he was trying to justify the cell tower decision by saying it wasn’t about the money – it was for the coverage…

    Womack: “The seductive part is we have poor cell service in here. Over at Lakeside. Over at Lakeside. There is no police. There’s no fire. There is no cell service across from Briarcliff almost all the way down to Clairemont and back down a great degree down… And in the school last year they had a young lady that had a seizure. And that community wants a cell phone.”

    Female: They don’t have a land line?

    Womack: “They did, uh, it happened outside. And it took them something like 10 minutes to get from where they were inside because they were trying to take care of her and the seizure she had.
    (His cell phone started beeping. – which was a little amusing since he was just making the point about no cell service in the area) “Excuse me.” (He reaches into pocket, takes out phone and turns it off. And then off to the next question like nothing has even phased him… the irony obviously eluded him on that one!)

    Fast forward a few months and we hear from Walter Woods:
    School officials say, it’s precisely about money. Said DeKalb County Schools spokesperson Walter Woods, “This offers us an idea, a way, an avenue, to bring in additional funding, some $25,000 per school.”

    Margaret Harris opposition group has been asking, “isn’t the money from SPLOST enough?” and stating, “This money is insignificant.”

    Now, amazingly, there is a shortage in SPLOST … wow, who would have ever thought that could happen? Hopefully the parents at those schools affected by this fabricated shortfall insist the board find a way to get their projects complete without having to subject children at other schools to radiation hazards.

    Give me a break. They are desparate to justify their poor decision on the cell towers… and desparation leads to errors in judgment. And hopefully that will lead to guilty verdicts down the road, far far away…. we could almost see that day when the grand jury and the DA got involved, but our hopes were dashed. Maybe this latest “oversight” will refuel those inquiries.

  22. dekalbite says:

    For some reason the blog will not post the link to the SPLOST III FAQ page to see the promises made. That page supposedly links to the Forensic Audit Follow Up Report (dead link) I give up.

  23. dekalbite says:

    Ms. Tyson was recommended to become Interim Superintendent by Lewis according to an AJC quote by Paul Womack. The BOE gave Ms. Tyson the $73,000 a year raise that she requested at the same time they cut compensation for teachers and increased class sizes for students. As the Deputy superintendent for Business Operations, Ms. Tyson was over Finance and Human Resources when Lewis was superintendent. Lewis promoted her from head of technical services at MIS to head of MIS and then he made her head of all of Business Operations for DeKalb Schools. These promotions from Lewis and the BOE happened within a four year time frame.

  24. Anonymous says:

    A quote from a Board member does to address all the backroom discussion that occurred prior to the appointment. Parents may meet and have discussions about how to handle punishment for one of their children before reaching a consensus then explaining it to the the child. The child will never know of all the options discussed, only what the final decision was.

    Are you sure Ms Tyson ‘requested’ the raise? I thought the Board was obligated to increase her salary to that of a superintendent because of the length of time she served as interim. This increase would have never occurred if the Board hired a superintendent within 6 months.

  25. Anonymous says:

    @ Anonymous 12:31
    I’m not sure of anything. The newspaper got quotes from our elected representatives and administrators. Readers can decide for themselves.

    From the AJC:
    “Lewis recommended Tyson take over, Womack told the AJC.”
    http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/board-lewis-leave-helps-337323.html

    What obligation? According to the AJC, the raise was voted on by the BOE. That means they could have decided yes or no. 3 members voted against the raise per the AJC.
    “This brings me in line with other metro districts,” Tyson said. “The school district is in some very complicated and unique challenges now. It will not stabilize overnight.”
    http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/dekalb-approves-73-000-807788.html

    IMO – teachers were also working harder for less pay since they were contending with furloughs at the same time their class sizes were increased so the jobs of non teaching admin and support employees could be preserved. No one suggested giving them their regular pay. In fact furlough days cut their pay. DeKalb is exceptionally non competitive in the marketplace for teachers right now. Look at the recent 2012 Compensation audit – page 95:
    https://dekalbschoolwatch.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/full-report-phase-i-dcss-audit-jan-2012.pdf
    Teachers are the MOST underpaid group in the school system – from 15% to 35% below marketplace compensation. These are the employees that are solely responsible for teaching students math, science, social studies and language arts. That needs to be a wake up call for parents/taxpayers.

    “Salary Survey Results for DeKalb County School District – 2011

    Teacher, BA
    Description: Provides quality instruction and implements the curriculum for assigned students; establishes, fosters, facilitates and maintains a safe and secure classroom environment that is conducive to learning.
    Qual: Bachelor’s degree from a Professional Standards Commission approved accredited college or university in relevant educational field required.

    Valid Professional Standards Commission approved certificate in appropriate educational field at level T-4 or above required.
    Valid Professional Standards Commission approved subject-specific endorsements required.

    Dekalb County School System
    $ Difference:
    – $6,428 Min
    – $13,712 Mid
    – $20,996 Max

    % Difference:
    – 15.7% Min
    – 27.6% Mid
    – 35.9% Max”

  26. teacherwantingachange says:

    anonymous @ 12:31pm,

    Since when is someone obligated to take a raise? The Decatur Schools super rejected hers when the school district faced financial challenges.

  27. Anonymous says:

    @ Anonymous 12:31

    DeKalb is exceptionally non competitive in the marketplace for teachers right now. Look at the recent 2012 Compensation audit – page 95:
    https://dekalbschoolwatch.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/full-report-phase-i-dcss-audit-jan-2012.pdf

    According to the audit, teachers are the MOST underpaid group in the entire school system – from 15% to 35% below marketplace compensation. These are the employees that are solely responsible for teaching students math, science, social studies and language arts. Mastery of these subjects are the ONLY reason the school system exists. These figures need to be a wake up call for parents/taxpayers.

    “Salary Survey Results for DeKalb County School District – 2011

    Teacher, BA
    Description: Provides quality instruction and implements the curriculum for assigned students; establishes, fosters, facilitates and maintains a safe and secure classroom environment that is conducive to learning.
    Qual: Bachelor’s degree from a Professional Standards Commission approved accredited college or university in relevant educational field required.

    Valid Professional Standards Commission approved certificate in appropriate educational field at level T-4 or above required.
    Valid Professional Standards Commission approved subject-specific endorsements required.

    Dekalb County School System
    $ Difference:
    – $6,428 Min
    – $13,712 Mid
    – $20,996 Max”

    View page 95 and then compare it to the other Salary Surveys. Very sad for the classroom. DeKalb Schools has lost its focus.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Correct me if I am wrong but wasn’t compensation cut for ALL employees through the furlough days? Teachers were not singled out with this. Didn’t the state relax the class size regulations because they knew every school district needed the flexibility to increase class sizes as a possible solution for reduced property tax income to counties? Most school districts around the country faced the same problems as DeKalb regarding the foreclosure crisis that hit. Yes, there were other questionable things going on with the budget but the financial problems would have still existed.

  29. @ Anonymous 12:31 PM
    We are NOT children and the BOE members are NOT our parents, deciding on disciplinary (or any other) actions.

    We are taxpayers — the people who are footing an enormous bill for a failing school system. We are taxpayers — the people who are being defrauded by a worthless and corrupt school board, seeking only to benefit themselves and their friends-and-family.

    The BOE is doing the public’s business at public behest with public money. The BOE must fully inform taxpayers of options discussed, not just hand down decisions from on high.

    If the BOE had nothing to hide, they would welcome complete transparency, including a full, turn-every-page, forensic audit of finances … including a grand jury investigation … including an online checkbook … including video streaming of every meeting involving BOE members (except those meetings involving true, confidential, personnel-related issues) … including complete and accurate minutes posted within 24 hours of all meetings.

  30. dekalbite says:

    @ Anonymous 3:34
    “Correct me if I am wrong but wasn’t compensation cut for ALL employees through the furlough days? Teachers were not singled out with this. Didn’t the state relax the class size regulations because they knew every school district needed the flexibility to increase class sizes as a possible solution for reduced property tax income to counties?”

    You are correct. But DeKalb is not a middle class district with student achievement on the rise. We COULD NOT AFFORD to raise class sizes. Marietta City Schools is a school system with almost identical demographics as DeKalb. Their superintendent Emily Lembeck outsourced custodial help and cut in the non teaching personnel area in order to keep class sizes low. She called it protecting the school system’s “core business”. Marietta’s student achievement in their low income schools was head and shoulders above DCSS. 77% of Marietta’s low income schools made adequate yearly progress while only 20% of DeKalb’s low income schools made adequate yearly progress, a dismal figure unparalleled in the metro area.

    In addition, according to the recent Compensation audit, teachers are MOST underpaid employees in the school system. ALL of our student achievement hinges on teachers and students in the classroom yet Ms. Tyson and the BOE cut teacher compensation even further with the furlough days and packed kids like sardines into the classroom. Ms. Tyson and the BOE cut close to 600 teaching positions while preserving virtually all non teaching positions. Does this make sense in terms of protecting our “core business”? Obviously not since our student achievement rate in our low income schools fell to historically low levels. Student achievement is the ONLY reason we pay taxes and the the ONLY reason the school system exists.

    Low student achievement results in decreased property values. Real estate agents can sell the exact same house for much more if the school that serves that area has good student achievement. Declining student achievement has depressed home prices in DeKalb.

  31. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    @dekalbite – We have posted the SPLOST II forensic audit and Dr Lewis’ follow-up in our FILES which are found under the Facts & Sources tab at the top of the blog. Download them and see if they are what you were looking for.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Wow, I did not know that low student achievement results in decreased property values. I thought a combination of predatory subprime loans, high unemployment and a longer than expected recession caused the decrease in property values. Perhaps we should research to find a correlation between areas of high foreclosures and low student achievement results. If one can be found, that should be the incentive to restore education funding that has been reduced over the past decade.

  33. curious says:

    The trial isn’t moving forward because the District Attorney has asked the Ga. Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals decision allowing Lewis to retain his Alston & Bird attorney. The decision to seek review could result in a long, long delay. But it was the DA’s choice to seek review, not Lewis’s.

  34. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    As an example of the circular reasoning and absolute lack of follow-up on promises, check out one of Dr Lewis’ promises in his follow-up letter:
    Better Utilize its Website
    The Operations website is currently under construction. The website is scheduled for unveiling on October 1, 2006.
    Premier DeKalb County School System Tim Freeman, Associate Superintendent for Facilities Management, has formed a task force committee that has developed a renovation plan for the website.

    Now take a look at the “renovated” website for Operations which is linked directly from the home page of the DCSS main website – under Departments/Operations:
    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/administration/operations

    There is simply a listing of SPLOST II projects. Nothing about SPLOST III. The latest entries are from 2007. Isn’t that ironic? The most recent web updates were from Pat Pope’s era! So, they followed through with Lewis’ basic promise — and nothing more.

  35. Anonymous says:

    “Wow, I did not know that low student achievement results in decreased property values”

    Really?

    As anecdotal examples, look at the prices of 4 bedroom/3 bath homes in the areas that are districted into Fernbank Elementary School, or Austin or Vanderlyn or Oak Grove and then look at their CRCT scores. Contrast this with the 4 bedroom/3 bath home prices that are districted into schools that have low CRCT scores.

    But the data is there as well. Look at this article from the AJC that talks about home prices in DeKalb – where they have remained stable and where they have declined. Look up the student achievement scores in those neighborhoods cited and then say home prices have nothing to do with student achievement in the neighborhood schools.
    http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/atlanta-property-taxes-north-785162.html

    You are correct that education funding needs to be restored. However, if change is not forthcoming, additional funding will lead to more non teaching positions leaving struggling students behind in depressed areas with no one to advocate for them. That is what has happened in the past. As education funding consistently increased, Lewis and the BOE consistently decreased the number of teaching positions and increased class sizes – even in good economic times. Meanwhile, non teaching personnel numbers increased and ineffective programs were purchased. Read the BOE minutes to see how many times Lewis asked for class sizes to be increased and how many departments filled with non teaching employees he recommended the BOE hire (many family and friends). Schools in the wealthy areas made up the difference, some even hired additional teachers with PTA funds and school foundations. Everyone needs to lobby for increased education funding with the requirement that ALL students must sit in decent class sizes taught by high quality and fairly compensated teachers with access to adequate equipment and supplies. ALL learners not on grade level must have direct instruction in small groups by the most highly qualified teachers. What DCSS has been doing – decreasing teacher numbers and compensation and increasing class sizes – is not working for kids, taxpayers, or DeKalb homeowners.

  36. Low student achievement leads to significantly decreased property values which results in significantly decreased property taxes.

    Since approximately 70% of our property taxes go to DeKalb County School System (or District or whatever), it is a vicious cycle:

    Low student achievement –> significantly decreased property values –> significantly decreased property taxes –> significantly less money to schools –> larger class sizes + furlough days + textbook, materials and equipment deficiencies –> low student achievement –> significantly decreased property values –> significantly decreased property taxes –> significantly less money to schools –> larger class sizes + furlough days + textbook, materials and equipment deficiencies –> low student achievement … yada, yada, yada.

  37. Anonymous says:

    The last few lines of the AJC article “Atlanta Property values: north-south divide plagus DeKalb” (written in 2010) says it all:

    “Mills said there is little difference between those homes and the ones being built in the Oak Grove Preserve neighborhood in north DeKalb. They all have sunken tubs, room-sized closets and luxury kitchens.

    But Oak Grove is selling. Four or five of the luxury homes in Oak Grove have sold for about $1.4 million each, Mills said.

    “I don’t sell in south DeKalb. It’s another world,” Mills said.

    “People stay here because of the convenience and the good schools. It keeps property values good,” Mills said. “When you’re inside 285, dirt is gold. On the outside of 285, dirt is red clay.””

    http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/atlanta-property-taxes-north-785162.html

    DCSS needs to provide every student with an equitable education. Gwinnett and Rockdale do not have the wildly varying property values that DeKalb has because they have very equitable schools and their student achievement does not vary as much as our student achievement does from school to school. It should not depend on where you live or who you know or the luck of the draw in order to have equal access to educational opportunity. That’s become the case in DeKalb. It works very well for some and very poorly for many.

  38. no time for this b.s. says:

    They probably meant “Office of Accounting” but Tyson thought they said “Accountability” and she didn’t realize the accounting error was really her responsibility all along …

    Hey, when they “found” an overage, why didn’t they think about returning it to the taxpayers?

  39. Tucker Guy says:

    There is no debating your comments. You are correct.

    However, the issues are related to poor decision making, poor management, “perceived” corruption (I-will-sell-my-textbooks-to-my-schools among others), and a well documented friends-and-family culture where unqualified people are put in well paying jobs with no accountability for what they do.

    Financial problems would have still existed, but any sensible group of people would have handled them differently.

  40. Tucker Guy says:

    One of the most ironic things I see is that when students are identified as having trouble academically the first step in the RTI process is to put those students into small group instruction.

    If small group instruction raises student performance, why don’t we buy several hundred more trailers, hire more teachers, and lower class sizes? It appears as though we should be seeing several hundred million dollars in resources shifted from the central office to the schools, will principals be allowed to have smaller classes?

Comments are closed.