Budget Meeting Tonight

Public Budget Hearing Tonight, Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The DeKalb County School System will hold a public budget hearing for citizens to share their comments with the Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Atkinson related to the proposed budget for the 2012 – 2013 school year. The public budget hearing will be held at 6 p.m. at the Administrative and Instructional Complex (AIC) at 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd.

The school system is projecting a $6 million shortfall this year and a $73 million shortfall next year. To balance the budget, Dr. Atkinson has proposed increasing class sizes by as many as three students and increasing taxes by as much as 2 mills. A number of other cuts are also being considered.

To review the Superintendent’s proposed budget and related documents, click here.

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205 Responses to Budget Meeting Tonight

  1. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    On another topic: We wanted to share this important information we received from the Lakeside newsletter that you may not be aware of:

    Important Summer School and Credit Recovery Information

    If you want to register your son or daughter for summer school, you cannot wait for the report card to come to verify that he/she failed a class.

    If you are concerned about a possible failing grade, please check with the teacher and use the online parent portal to confirm a failing grade. Contact the counselor promptly to register for summer school or credit recovery (if the failing grade is above a 50).

    Report cards will not be mailed until May 30th. That is the last day to register for summer classes so do not wait for it to arrive!!

  2. no says:

    Look at page 38 of the budget document from the superintendent. Her budget has gone way up and the board’s has literally doubled to over six million. Instead of worrying about the divisive distractions they use to force our eye off the ball, we need to be focused on this garbage.

  3. Folks here is a quote from Tom Bowen in this mornings AJC.

    Tom Bowen introduced the proposal to increase taxes while cutting teachers and school days. He said, “the one mill increase SHOULD be rolled back by 2015.”

    Then Tom write it into the proposal. Place a sunset on that one mill increase. I know you won’t but you will say you tried. Does anyone believe a Eugene Walker led (if he gets reelected) BOE will “ROLLBACK” the one mill increase in 2015? I’ve learned never to trust a Superintendent or a BOE that continue to balance budgets on the backs of teachers, students and taxpayers. The friends and family reaped huge benefits throughout the “recession” and now we’re paying dearly for poor leadership. The amazing thing about it? Most of the people that got us stuck in this ditch are still drawing checks from DCSS. Why?

    When I see the people, who aided Clew through the most corrupt period in our school systems history start getting pink slips, then I might actually want to give them more money. However, just the mistakes under Tyson’s “interim” leadership cost us millions and could have cost us more until a Dunwoody State Senator Millar stepped in as the adult in the room and got the funds to DCSS.

    The many mistakes made by the Clew/Tyson leadership, still in place after all that has happened, is the true tragedy. In the real world, people responsible for huge costly gaffes would have been fired long ago. At DCSS, the ones that make the biggest mistakes are usually celebrated and even given a raise. Why?

    DCSS(D?) still an epic failure since 2004.

  4. Ned says:


    The FSC discussion–which, granted, should have taken place a few years ago–should have been about how to transition FSC to a public-private model, charging modest fees (seriously, people pay $2 for swimming pools, they can pay it for FSC) with such fees higher for non-DeKalb residents, utilizing technology we already have (PDS-TV) to multiply the reach of FSC programs but above all getting a large portion of FSC costs off the DCSS books.

    Instead, just as with the faux-proposal to cut MS extracurriculars, all we got was a diversion, a tax increase, more furlough days, larger class sizes, few teacher aides . . .

    In other words folks, we got played.

  5. Pierre says:

    I think closing the FSC should go hand in hand with closing many of the magnet programs and special little pet projects that have proliferated in DCSS over the years. There is no county in the greater metro Atlanta area that comes close to having so many special interest/theme/magnet schools. We need to prune back the tree so it will grow back stronger, and that means pouring resources into the “failing” home schools so they can become functional. We can do that if we shut down all the magnet/ theme/whatever you want to call them schools. Lewis was criminally incompetent and also a shameless panderer. He would give any interest group that screamed loud enough what they wanted just to shut them up and not look too closely at the “criminal enterprise” he was running. Now we have far too many small schools and chronic under-enrollment at many large schools. What all the magnets etc. do is gut the home schools of many of their best students, teachers, and resources that could go to under-performing students. Eventually, those schools’ failures become a self-fulfilling prophecy. We have to make more choices available at the home schools by returning the magnet etc. resources back into them, and if magnet etc. parents don’t want their child to go to the home school, well they can suck it up and go private. With all these small magnet etc. schools, the county has created a parallel system of privilege for the noisy and the connected. Let’s make the home schools work.

  6. educator90 says:

    I hope that you will go to tonight’s meeting and have your feelings heard. Those supporting Fernbank and Choice Programs will be out in force and we must be as well. If we stay home and the supporters of Choice and bloat go and have their opinions voiced, than we have no one to blame but ourselves.

  7. educator90 says:

    Our superintendent and school board are not hearing from those of us who want to see further and deeper cuts made before taxes are raised and class size increased. We need to be just as boisterous as the Fernbank parents. They are sending droves of emails and our pounding their view point into the heads of those making the decisions.

    If we do not fight for a change, we have no one but ourselves to blame.

  8. EAV Mom says:

    While I understand the argument that everyone should work hard to improve their home school and stop utilizing the magnet programs, I also understand that I would do anything to ensure that my kids get the best education possible. I cannot afford private school for two kids so I can’t “suck it up” as you suggest. With the collapse of the housing market I also cannot sell my house and move to a better neighborhood, with an adequate school. I understand the frustration of many over the theme and magnet schools, but I also refuse to make my kids guinea pigs in a failing school in hopes of improving the school for future kids. I, of course want what is best for all kids in DeKalb, but realistically, I can only do what is best for my kids. Would you do less for your own?

    At this point, my options are to send my kids to a failing school that has never made AYP since opening and which has scores in the 20s or I can drive my kids every morning half way across the county to ensure they are getting a quality education. I choose the latter.

    You are blaming parents for making the best choices they can make while working in a failing system. Before we start eliminating more schools, let’s first eliminate all the waste at the Palace, including the massive bills to the attorneys and the high dollar administrative salaries for the well connected. I think the kids, teachers, and schools have taken enough of a hit already and before we ask more of them, we should ask for something from those in the Central Office.

  9. Miss Management says:

    Too late. Fernbank has already been taken off the table.

    You all need to realize – Gene Walker, Jay Cunningham, Donna Edler, Sarah Copelin-Wood and Tom Bowen run this school system. Dr. Atkinson can only make suggestions. She must get board approval for her actions. Gene Walker has advocated for a tax increase since the day he stepped up to the dais. Here we go! Gene Walker is the ‘real’ superintendent!

  10. justwatch says:

    Apparently Atkinson pulled Fernbank at the very beginning of the meeting yesterday because they are investigating the deed issues.

  11. justwatch says:

    Tonight’s meeting will allow 30 speakers at 2 minutes each, after a presentation from the system staff. I expect that a huge percentage of those slots will be taken by single minded speakers (FSC, magnet, IB, etc) and thus, the opportunity to speak will be limited.

    If you are passionate about common sense solutions, get there early. If you can’t get there or get there and can’t speak, please, please send an email campaign.

  12. formerdekalbparent says:

    You cannot have everything you desire when the budget is this tight. Remember all the outcry over closing under populated schools–no way not mine, well, folks, those closings would have saved money for the system. Closing Fernbank should have been on the table for years so that the community would have found a better way to keep it going. There would be a way to convert it to a self supporting entity, but not with such short notice. Has anyone mentioned all the NASA funding they have lost, and the estimated money to keep the building up and running? This is a tired old run down system. With the revolving door at the helm, no wonder it has continued to get worse. Who has seen a neighborhood improve when it went from homeowners to renters? We need people who truly care about reviving this system before it is too late. It needs to start at the top and go all the way to the foundation. We need massive change and reform, and Atkinson is not able to make that change.
    As for me, I got the heck out years ago for my children and have not regretted it one bit!

  13. Mmmkay says:

    The Fernbank cause was very much bolstered by those outside of the DCSS community. Fernbank Elementary families may have led the charge, but some of the louded “Save FCS!” voices in my personal life (FB, mom’s groups, etc) were City of Atlanta or City of Decatur parents. To me it felt like a very unbalanced “fight” when many of the people promoting the petitions had no vested interest in DCSS’s overall budget or the effects on DCSS students.

  14. September says:

    Many, many people have fond memories of Fernbank and don’t want to see it close. Unfortunately, they really haven’t a clue about what this will cost the children in DCSS schools. If these out-of-district families want to keep Fernbank open, they need to be willing to contribute financially to the program.

  15. philipcapers says:

    Cutting Magnet Schools and pouring money back into the home schools will not solve the problem of our failing home schools. Our schools have been failing for years with more or less resources. Just because a school has a nice building and new text books doesn’t make the students perform better. For example, McNair High Schools building is VERY nice yet they have a low graduation rate and low test scores. Yet if we look at magnet schools that have some of the worst buildings in the county like DSA and Chamblee High School, they have high graduation rates and high test scores. It’s not because of the money that the county pours into them. These schools have some of the best teachers, devoted and goal driven students, but most of all involved parents who push their kids to be the best they can be in life. DeKalb County should be trying to make home schools MORE like magnet schools. Having more extracurricular activities and classes that deal with specific career fields rather than beating the dead horse of reading and math. If you give student 1 a brand new math text book that’s not going to help them if they don’t even open it! If student 1 doesn’t have parents who support him and teachers who are willing to push him/her, spending more money on the student is not going to help them! The problem with home schools is more than money and we could learn a lot from some of the successful magnet program. To clarify by no means am I advocating for ALL magnet schools to remain opened. I understand that budget cuts must be made for the whole public at large. But what I will not stand for is people scapegoating magnet schools as the reason for failing home schools. The HOMESCHOOL itself and its current system of learning is the reason why there failing not technology schools and performing arts schools.

  16. Miss Management says:

    Personally, I think the whole Fernbank issue is a red herring scare tactic to get people to agree to a tax hike.

  17. no duh says:

    DCSC needs to stop buying multi-million dollar “canned” curriculum (i.e. America’s Choice). Dr. Atkinson just bought another one. What is the name of it?? How much did it cost? Where are the studies showing its effectiveness? Where is the survey of teachers to see if they even need/want/will use it? And, the biggest question of all, who is related to whom at the company that created and sold the program to DCSD?

  18. Ned says:

    “Single-minded speakers” is the whole point for the BOE and Dr. A. As long as they can keep parents focused on saving various smaller (not small, but smaller) parts of the budget they can avoid addressing the real problems: wasteful lawsuits, bloated bureaucracy, and incompetence.

    Please, anyone speaking for or against FSC, IB, whatever–add a sentence about where the cuts SHOULD be made.

  19. Ned says:

    Just like the discussion of IB, Montessori, MS sports . . .

    The BOE wants to continue slashing the classroom and to raise taxes. That’s been the plan since Day 1.

  20. No duh, that is one very good reason why these folks at the Palace don’t deserve another dime. I thought we hired these people to get moving and make our schools better. Sounds like too me that they only enrich their friends, in these private cottage industries that claim big things for big bucks, when in reality that money is just wasted. When Clew bought America’s Choice, not one teacher wanted it and Clew forced people to use it and it failed. We tried to find the metrics and if it showed any return on investment but after a through search, they must have disappeared into that DCSS morass of hidden minutes and audits.

    Dr. Atkinson seems to be following Clew’s Crew to the tee. Dr. Walker will get his tax hike, the friends and family will be taken care of for another year and his constituents at Fernbank will keep their science center and get a new building for the school to boot. Thanks Eugene! It’s a shame they can’t take him out for dinner more often, since the ethics rules were improved and don’t allow it after a set amount.


  21. Miss Management says:

    Truth is, Fernbank is one of MANY cuts on the table necessary to close the deficit. The proposal includes these cuts AND a tax hike which combined, still don’t cover the $74-80 million in revenue required to close the gap. The additional students per classroom is a flexible cut – adding one per class saves about $7 million – 2 saves $14 million – 3 saves $21 million. This is a heavy burden for teachers – on top of their loss of income via furlough days, loss of retirement contributions (which could seriously damage their futures) and an increase in their share of healthcare costs. I’d like to see a better list of the actual cuts made to Central Office staff as well as transportation and security but the combination of ALL of the above will not bring us to close the budget deficit. So, yes, saving Fernbank will definitely effect the choice of a 1, 2 or 3 student increase in the regular classroom. That may not be ‘logical’ as some like to criticize, but like I say, it’s the truth. It’s actually not ‘either or’ – it’s ALL. We must do ALL of the proposed cuts PLUS the tax increase in order to get remotely in the area of closing the gap. Saving Fernbank definitely will spread the burden elsewhere.

  22. no duh says:

    I’m getting old, so I can’t remember her name, but the sales rep who made a hefty commission “selling” America’s Choice to DCSD (the school system formerly known as DCSS) was a former DCSS area superintendent. I can see her in my mind’s eye, but can’t think of her name.

  23. Mildred says:


    You are to be commended for your efforts at being a model student and speaking up for your model school. The yahoos who want all students and schools in DeKalb to be dumbed down to the lowest common denominator need to engage in a discussion with you about the merits of schools like the one you attend. I applaud you.

  24. Mildred says:

    She is Debbie Rives.

  25. Nigel says:

    A millage increase is not a tax increase because millage is a portion of decreasing assessed value. Instead of furlough days, why doesn’t the board just reduce salaries on the highest paid workers. They did this once a few years ago, a 2% reduction on those making more than $100k. Why not a 5% reduction on those making over $60K? How much does a career in public education have to pay?

  26. I’ve sent emails to the BOE and Atkinson and only Nancy Jester has opened it. I’m so happy Cere taught me how to use the software that tracks my sent emails and exactly when the email was opened. Like the 50 times before, the emails I send will go unopened and most likely deleted before reading. So 30 people get 2 minutes to talk about the budget tonight. Seems fair to me, in a district that has 95,000 students and at least 500,000 stakeholders and taxpayers. I’m sure the 30 will be a great cross section of the county too.

    Looking forward to watching, I can’t be there due to previous plans, but I’ll be recording PDS-24 to watch later. I hope the Patch, which is live blogging the big event, will archive their live comments for me to read later.

  27. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    This is a link to the Patch article about the meeting. Check in to see if they are live blogging at about 6 pm.

  28. Curious says:

    Is anyone else having trouble streaming the meeting from PDS-24? Or is it not to be broadcast? (My windows media player is showing a blank, black screen.)

  29. alm says:

    I have not checked online yet but PDS24 is showing an old meeting.

  30. Just a Mom says:

    I couldn’t get anything either that’s why I’m following the above link. First speaker was a teacher, next SRO. At least special interest groups didn’t get all the slots!

  31. Curious says:

    Why, oh, why would Philandrea show an old meeting instead of the current meeting that interests so many stakeholders? By the way, I saw that an old meeting was listed but not even that is coming through.

  32. Curious says:

    Phliandrea sure does earn that $114,000+ annual salary, wouldn’t you say?

  33. dekalbite2 says:

    I emailed every BOE member and Dr. Atkinson saying don’t raise property taxes, don’t increase class sizes and close the Fernbank building. It takes but a minute to copy and paste the same email to each one of them. Here is the link. Look on the right hand side of the page and their names are in blue. Click their name and you can email them:

    Email Cheryl Atkinson:

  34. justwatch says:

    It isn’t being broadcast on PDS 24. Follow the live blog on the patch

  35. Curious says:

    I’m doing that, but I see no reason why this wasn’t broadcast (or why nothing is currently being broadcast!!).

  36. DCSS is a FRAUD! To show a meeting from May 14th at the exact same time as the most crucial budget meeting on May 30th and regarding the future of OUR children is unconscionable. Are you telling me that Philandrea couldn’t get enough of Francis Edward’s kids and cousins to operate PDS-24 LIVE? If I was Super I would be asking for resignations of everyone involved in NOT broadcasting tonight’s meeting. It makes it appear that they are trying to deceive us AGAIN, whether that is their intent or not! Absolutely disgusting!

  37. justwatch says:

    On the live blog, someone email Phil. and she said it was Walter Wood’s decision. He emailed back the same person and said because of budget limitations they don’t live broadcast every meeting. (Insert collective groan here)

  38. Curious says:

    Maybe Mr. Woods is hoping that if enough people email the board in outrage, his budget won’t be touched.

  39. dekalbite2 says:

    @ justwatch

    “He emailed back the same person and said because of budget limitations they don’t live broadcast every meeting.”
    So why are we paying hundreds of thousands for Philandrea Guillory’s salary and the other staff?

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