“State of the System, Revisited” by Dr. Atkinson and others from Central Office (Notes from the meeting)
DCSS is funding schools differently next school year – not based on points but based on “needs” – they have asked the schools to anticipate the number of students in the building in the fall and to report in to central office for planning purposes.
Title I is being revamped – it has been on 15 month contracts and they are moving to 12 month contracts. Some services have been dropped because funds have run out because of “gaps” due to the 15 month contracts and because the funding hasn’t been based at the school house. They are working on this (issue was raised with regard to Accelerated Reader)
The thorough audit of the system is continuing, the goal is for transparency.
There is a Leadership Academy being developed and implemented for teacher development (and, upon questioning) also for principals. This is based, at least loosely, on one currently being used in Gwinnett. It will be “taught” by various people, from folks at the State, to people in “positions” at the county office, to “seasoned” principals and teachers depending on the topic.
The single most important factor is a successful teacher – thus must have successful leadership development and this, therefore, becomes a common core function. We want assessments alignment with State curriculum.
The goal is “equity” not “equality”. Schools need to be aligned with “non-negotiables” such as art, music, science with labs, instrumental music; Schools should not be choosing between these things. High Schools should all be offering a college curriculum including AP with career and tech pathways and then this should be filtered down to the lower school levels. It needs to be at all schools – equity – administrators must align curriculum to provide opportunities to students at all schools.
Dr. Atkinson was at a Senior Day program at Stephenson HS and they did a “signing ceremony” for academic scholarships. They might have to implement this at all schools. Judge Haynes spoke at this program – she spoke about how school was a pathway for work in a global economy. This message needs to filter out to all the schools.
She wants the system-wide initiative to be managed, monitored, measured on a scorecard that everyone can see and read. The teams will have goals so progress can be measured on-line. Based on a business model implemented by Duke Energy – a business model because the District is a $1 billion corporation. She is looking at the finances. KPMG has implemented zero based budgeting. They are aligning resources where they are needed most. There are checks and balances on spending – everyone signs off on everything – almost including every post-it note! Things matter such as cleanliness and building and grounds. They are paying attention to the timeliness of work orders, etc.
They understand that they need lawyers but they are looking at the budget and the accounting on the fees.
The are (and have been) reviewing policies and SPLOST. There is more to do. They can no longer afford to have boutique schools – they need a prototype. Things need to be equitable and more efficient. All schools need to be what the kids need. They are moving forward with “pay as you go” – there is some dispute over whether it will work… Working on this so that it can work.
She understands that there are challenges. She’s been on the job 21 weeks. Sometimes it feels like 21 years. She wants the system to be transparent.
They will be maximizing the use of social media and e-text books. They will develop a comprehensive social network/media plan and a program to replace textbooks with e-books to get the kids ready for tomorrow (funding issues arose and answer was that perhaps it would come from the textbook budget).
Issue arose over theft of computers… School PTA raised funds, bought computers, computers stolen, only to then learn of the $100k deductible and no real insurance… Thinking about replacing with newly raised money but want the PTA/school to own the computers so they can insure them … how do we change the policy to allow this to happen? Answer: You should be able to buy insurance (per Fran Millar… not so per county official) but they are now (drum roll….) Programming computers to report their locations if they are stolen.
Judge Haynes spoke about technology making things more efficient and eliminating many positions in the work force – many jobs of tomorrow haven’t yet been created. Technology is necessary.
They need a 3 year technology plan – the students are “technology natives.”
There’s a “media liaison program” where each school is to provide the media division with positive news so we can be architects of our own message.
We are making sure schools are focused on student’s needs – the agenda is aggressive but manageable. We can’t wait. The children have been waiting too long. We need to be focused.
She concluded with a powerful story about the State Spelling Bee Champ, a DCSS Student – I’ve supplemented with this article from the internet on the spelling bee:
A 13-year-old from DeKalb County will represent Georgia in the Scripps National Spelling Bee Championship in Washington, D.C.
Simola Nayak from Henderson Middle School spelled “tautologous” correctly to win the state bee Friday. She bested 20 competitors from across the state.
The runner-up was 13-year-old Andalib Malit Samandari from DeKalb County’s Renfroe Middle School. He will represent Georgia if Nayak is unable to attend the national contest.
In addition to a free trip to the national bee, Nayak received $1,000, an Amazon Kindle, a $100 savings bond and a dictionary, among other prizes. The national bee is May 27 through June 1.
The state bee is sponsored by the Georgia Association of Educators.”
By Dr. Atkinson:
Simola is a humble, smart, student. She is kind with a presence of peace. The last time a DCSS student won the State Spelling Bee was 1973. Please turn on the TV on May 26 and watch the national telecast from Washington D.C. Simola won $1,000 by winning the Bee. She gave all of her winnings to a boy in her school who recently lost his sight. Nobody suggested this to her. Her humanity made us equally proud. It is important that our children are academically well-rounded, good quality citizens. We must model this as adults. We must model good words, good citizenship, respect, good leadership….. [more, but reporter couldn’t write fast enough]
We are going to institute an award for this type of behavior. It will take everybody to help 98,000 kids to be successful. We’re focused so that we don’t take our eye off the prize.