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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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"
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205 Responses to Budget Meeting Tonight

  1. Marney Mayo says:

    To be fair, I don’t think any other budget hearing has ever been broadcast. Usually at best there are 2 or 3 speakers plus David Shutten. Apparently this IS what it takes to get people’s attention.

  2. If Mr. Woods made this decision, he should resign tomorrow morning! This is an old Clew Crew move, and Atkinson has started to lose my support. I was against her when she was hired, but was willing to give her a chance. Since most of Clew Crew was not shown the door by her, it’s obvious she is only a puppet behind Dr. Walker. It’s time the DA take a real good look at this corrupt school system.

    Atkinson is displaying no transparency, with the most important meeting of the year and whether they wanted to or not it looks like they are trying to deceive the public. How long before we see the minutes of this meeting, a week, a month? Could they be lost like the minutes from the meeting when the 2005 audit was presented? The only public record of that meeting is in the AJC archives written by Jan Stansbury. I hope Ty Tygami writes a good summation.

    I am so angry. I’m a TV Producer and would have gladly volunteered my time to cut between locked down cameras and track microphones. We pay a daughter in law, of a former BOE Chair, a six figure salary to run a local cable TV channel. CNN Production Supervisors only get paid $80k max! Local stations much less than that for Production Coordinators. There is no excuse for tonight’s meeting not to be broadcast. NONE!

  3. Marney Mayo says:

    BTW I’m speaker number 7 for the meeting on the 4th. Not sure what I intend to say yet, but after I went to the budget subcommittee meeting where Fernbank was put ON the table, I knew that if I was going to get a slot, I’d better do it before Ty’s article hit the papers. The fact that there are 6 ahead of me means that there were others proactive enough to reserve slots early as well.

  4. Marney, where have you been the past few days? The talk the past week was about cutting Fernbank and the budget Committee met yesterday. Come one there are 30 speakers tonight speaking in 2 minute intervals. This meeting was HUGE! Atkinson knew it and this is by farther worse decision anyone could make!

  5. The Deal says:

    Why does taking FSC off the list mean they’re not going to look at it at all? Even with it open, we could save several million by eliminating extraneous staff.

  6. Marney Mayo says:

    I knew Ty was going to be there yesterday and my daughter was in a recital that evening. I got the ODE punch list update when I got home at 10, and I think Ty did a good job of not making Fernbank the only issue in HIS coverage.

    I was out of town for the weekend, but I got two phone messages from Donna to please call her, and we spent about an hour Tuesday on the phone talking over a range of issues. She said that she had gotten a huge number of e-mails on Fernbank, but that was really not one of the bigger issues that we discussed. So I put in my input Tuesday before the 4 hour debate with one of the board members that is often the swing vote. In so far as I could, I judge that to be the most effective use of my time.

    I beg to differ on the importance of tonight’s meeting. It would have been entirely predictable and infuriating for me to watch. I do my best to avoid those for my own sanity. Plus I’m sure all the TV stations will be falling all over themselves to tell us what happened.

  7. Marney I thank you for your service for sure!

    In regards to tonight’s non-telecast. I think it would have been prudent for OUR super to get tonight’s meeting broadcast. The perception is, when you don’t show it you have something to hide. I knew the speakers would be mostly FOR Fernbank, but I wanted to hear what they said. The Palace is not convenient to all at 6pm on Thursday, the week of Memorial Day. Plus, to show a past meeting with no graphic explaining the meeting was from May 14th is also a deception, whether they wanted it to appear like that or not. Public Hearing means PUBLIC hearing. When the BOE built the Palace and spent the money to light that room, every meeting that takes place in that room should be broadcast. Simple. Maybe Philandrea needs to think out of the box when it comes to staffing the cameras, graphics and sound people.

    I talked with a BOE member, after the meeting. The person said there was a big crowd and a lot of speakers who were FOR Fernbank. However, BOE member also said that the people who run the cameras and audio for PDS-24 are contractors and freelancers and for the amount of meeting they have it’s not feasible. Tonight’s meeting should have been broadcast, even if they had only locked down the cameras. I work in the industry and there are systems that run around $50k for cameras and production equipment that can be operated by one and at the max 2 people. Maybe Philandrea should look at one of those systems. I’m happy to volunteer anytime to get meetings on PDS-24.

  8. dekalbite2 says:

    “Closing Fernbank should have been on the table for years so that the community would have found a better way to keep it going.”

    It is unconscionable that neighborhood schools that students attend every day in order to master math, science, social studies and language arts should be shuttered while this center that can spend $500,000 for 5 Exhibit Designers and a Cabinetmaker should remain untouched.

  9. educator90 says:

    Any reduction in salary from anyone, should also include the board and the superintendent.

  10. dekalbite2 says:

    “The Fernbank cause was very much bolstered by those outside of the DCSS community.”

    Real estate has a lot to do with this.

    Look how Fernbank Science Center is cited in real estate ads in the Virginia Highlands area, City of Atlanta, but adjacent to the DeKalb Fernbank community.

    http://www.pattijunger.com/communities/virginia-highland/

  11. bettyandveronica1 says:

    PDSTV- Surely there are also a few students in the system that could have been there to run the show. They used to call this on the job training.

    I emailed Philandria, She emailed me right back, during the meeting. She stated it was Woods decision and she would pass it along. I got an email from him quickly, during the meeting, regarding the lack of camera.

    He said the following:
    “Due to budget considerations, the School District does generally provide
    live coverage or live stream on the website Board meetings beyond the
    regular monthly meetings.
    However, the video of tonight’s meeting will be available on PDS-TV 24 in
    the days ahead and on DeKalb Schools Comcast On Demand.
    I apologize for any inconvenience.
    I am available this week if you have specific questions about the content
    of tonight’s meeting.
    Thanks,
    Walter”

    Walter Woods
    Chief Communications Officer
    DeKalb County School District
    1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd.
    Stone Mountain, Georgia 30083

    678-676-0410 (office)
    404-486-3710 (wireless)
    Walter_Woods@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

  12. educator90 says:

    I went to the meeting and only about 8 of the people were pro-Fernbank. Most were people asking the board why thy weren’t putting education first, rethinking extra kids in classes, asking the board and superintendent to make more cuts and rethink the budget, to find more cuts, to put children and teachers first, to stop wasting money, to be more transparent, cut success for all, not to raise taxes, to raise taxes, no transportation cuts, several asking to keep media specialists/helpers and a few asking to keep SROs,

    To me, it was actually a balanced meeting and a school board member saying that the main point of speakers was Fernbank wasn’t listening to the same meeting that I sat in. I thought it was a very balanced meeting and that the majority of parents were saying to put the kids first, cut more central office employees, stop wasting money, and make better decisions. I really was impressed by the speakers and their focus on the quality education of the children and not just focused on the program near and dear to their heart.

  13. justwatch says:

    I agree, I didn’t attend but read it on The Patch. I do think the room had lots of pro-Fernbank folks there, at least that is what the pre-meeting coverage on the live blog indicated.

    I was pleased with the speakers and grateful for their words.

  14. jackiehar says:

    Don’t think for one minute that Atkinson didn’t pull the plug on airing om PGS24. Excuse me, I have beeen wrong. Walker is NOT running the show , Atkinson is. See page 38 of budget …big raise in Supt. budget..6 million, a new and expanded legal system . Ramsey with 1 $50,000 raise which produces more and more law suits.

  15. educator90 says:

    There were a good number of Fernbank Supporters, but there were an equal number of teachers, and parents who want transparency, better use of funds, and for change. I went in thinking it would be a Fernbank Lovers Paradise, but was happily surprised.

    Two teachers really touched me. The first speaker, as she talked about the ebooks and kids not having computers in some parts of the county and her focus on providing better education for the children, and another teacher I believe who mentioned a teacher arriving early so that a student could do their homework at school, because there was no electricity at home.

    Many in this county do not know how bad off others in the county really are.

  16. educator90 says:

    Someone brought this up tonight at the meeting. It was priceless! These are things that we need to write our board reps about. This is an example of the bloat we can no longer afford.

  17. justwatch says:

    I was so incredibly pleased with the turnout and who spoke. I do believe that there is a disconnect between some parents and the reality of many in this school system.

  18. America’s Choice started in the fall of 2001 when Dr. Hallford was still superintendent. Personally, I like a lot of aspects of America’s Choice. The teachers received a lot of training and the program really helped me to improve my teaching skills. Success for All is the name of the new reading program. Dr. Atkinson did her doctoral thesis on the program according to her resume that was on the school website. According to the SFA website, the program says that the schools need to have around 75 percent teacherbuy-in before they begin the program. Do you think that the teachers or school administrators were even asked if they wanted the program in their schools? Of course not. It is a very scripted program that is going to be used in many Title I schools. According to the book, “Shame of the Nation”, The rich get richer and the poor get SFA.”

  19. Thank you for your report! Proves the point if the meeting had been broadcast, I’m glad you could get a sense of the feelings of the room. I couldn’t since I wasn’t there. Thanks for your observations and earlier I might have misrepresented the thoughts of a BOE member, I spoke with afterwards. The BOE member said Fernbank had a huge showing in the room and had about a quarter of the speaker spots, I apologize if I misrepresented that in an earlier post.

  20. It’s the DCSS way! I’m glad Philandrea was quick to respond. Bad excuse for Woods, a public hearing for 74 million in budget cuts. Seems to me the optics of this decision not to broadcast live are very poor. Especially for a new leadership which has talked about the importance of transparency! But hey most of the Clew Crew are still around so what should we expect?

  21. bettyandveronica1 says:

    I new it was coming when I saw she did her thesis on SFA and she used in Lorain. Don’t know the outcome, effectiveness. Anyone?

  22. dekalbmom says:

    Why doesn’t someone start a petiton to close Fernbank Science Center? And closing the run down out-of-date musuem does not mean eliminating the STT program. The teachers in the STT program should be strategically placed in middle and high schools with poor science scores. The STT teachers can teach many more students each semester and serve as mentors/resources to all the other science teachers in the school cluster. Heck if they are in a Title I school, they can probably get financial resources. But of course, then they would have classes of 35 students, instead of 10 or 12 students……

  23. educator90 says:

    Reading the comments from the Fernbank Science teachers on AJC education blog, they seem to not understand the plight of the homeschool teacher. When the home school science teachers, have only 50 cents per child spent on lab materials and have over crowded classrooms, there is no way they can do labs with a class. Which is not their fault, as there is too much liability there.

    Do all of the science educators have teaching certificates? This could be another sticking point.

    People supporting Fernbank are very emotional and nostalgic. They need to come back to reality and realize that we are broke and can’t afford everything that we currently have. i am sorry that they have never been told no before, but this is what it’s come down to based on the way financial decisions have been handled in the past.

  24. Hopeful says:

    By the way, summer school enrollment was so low that they had to lay off most of the teachers

  25. educator90 says:

    It’s hard to tell the effectiveness of any of these programs, because the programs pay for “research” to be done. The data is skewed to the outcome those creating the product want it to be. I’ve seen it before as an Education Consultant. Data is very easy to manipulate, if you know how to ask questions.

    As a former teacher, many of these programs are simply ways for people to make money. I’m not saying that they might not help someone, but then again, it often is things that teachers should have learned in school that are taught to them in these programs.

    Maybe, it’s just me, but I’ve always hated scripted lessons, as they take a teacher’s creativity away and do not allow her to use the knowledge she has about her students.

    I knew this was coming. Wonder why it took so long!

  26. dekalbite2 says:

    @educator90

    “Do all of the science educators have teaching certificates? This could be another sticking point.”

    Many of them do not have teaching certificates. [Mr. X] who makes $90,716 a year and wrote the AJC article does not have a teaching certificate so he cannot teach in a classroom nor can he be put on the Teacher Salary Schedule. Look at the DCSS Teacher Salary Schedule and you will see that a Physics teacher with a PhD in Physics who is a certified teacher with 30 years of classroom teaching experience makes $80,000 a year as compared with [Mr. X] who does not have a teaching certificate. The Fernbank Geologist instructor makes $77,551 and is not certified in any subject. Another Biologist who is not certified until February of this year made $60,255 last year when she was uncertified. The Ornothologist who is not certified makes $61,519. A number of others are not certified teachers as well. The Media Specialist who makes $90,541 has a media specialist certificate that expired in 1984.

    What salary schedule are these Fernbank teachers on since they are technically not teachers? No wonder they are fighting so hard to stay at Fernbank. They do not have the necessary certification qualifications to teach in the schools and in addition they are on pay scales that are far above what a certified teacher in the schools makes.

    IMO – why are they training our teachers how to teach if they are not certified to teach?

    There is something very wrong with this picture.

    Many of the Fernbank Science Center personnel live in the Fernbank community. “Family and friends” are alive and well in Fernbank.

  27. wiserthanmyself says:

    People often say “Let the FSC teachers go out into the schools.” For years, FSC teachers have indeed proposed taking STT to schools, to no avail because of stated space and time constraints. Space: the high school science labs are already filled with regular classes: where would another program take place? Time: STT takes 3 hours and requires students to alter their schedules for one semester. This is already a challenge for just the few who participate in STT. Imagine that expanded to include hundreds of students, whose schedules would have to be adjusted around 15 hours of science per week. And, consider this: if STT were located in, say, Miller Grove HS, would it only serve MGHS students, or would kids from neighboring schools be bused there? This would be cheaper than busing kids across the county, but still would cost transportation money. Or maybe people think that every school should have STT. Well, good luck finding that many instructors with PhDs/MS’s (not Education degrees) AND teaching certification (like many of the FSC teachers now) who also want to teach in DCSD under current conditions. If FSC ceases to exist, the building and land will revert to Fernbank Inc, per the original lease in the same manner that has let the Museum snap up the forest a few weeks ago, and let it lie untended. Parents and concerned citizens should try to work closely with FSC teachers and administrators to redesign the role of the Center so it better suits the community’s needs, but just adding a few more science teachers “out in the schools”, however good they are, to the DCSD mess won’t help our kids learn science any better than they now do.

  28. dekalbite2 says:

    “Why doesn’t someone start a petiton to close Fernbank Science Center? ”
    Sounds good. I’ll sign if you give me the link.

  29. dekalbite2 says:

    @wiserthanmyself

    “but just adding a few more science teachers “out in the schools”, however good they are, to the DCSD mess won’t help our kids learn science any better than they now do.”

    That simply is not true. The money spent for Fernbank would buy us 100 science teachers with Masters degrees and at least five years of experience teaching in the classroom. 100 additional highly qualified science teachers is exactly what we need to solve our science achievement problem.

  30. wiserthanmyself says:

    You are neither kind nor politic to mention specific teachers by name, especially when you don’t have the nerve to use your own name. I thought this blog ensures no name-calling, but that is what you are doing. Some of the instructors at FSC have taught there since before “certification” became mandatory under No Child Left Behind, and have teaching and research experience that is extensive. Do you really think that, given FSC’s mission–which is distinct from that of a regular school, being primarily to excite students about science–that someone with a PhD in an actual subject, like physics or geology, is less well qualified to teach children than someone with a teacher certification and Masters or even Ed.D. degree from Argosy University, but no content background? Do you realize that you don’t have to know much about science, to become certified to teach science? But you do have to know a lot about science to get an advanced degree in it. Surely the state of science education in DCSS where certified teachers are the main purveyors of it, should make people like you stop and question the value of certification in and of itself. And, FYI again, the majority of FSC teachers do not live near the Center. They are definitely not part of the Fernbank geographic community. And finally, FSC teachers are paid on the same salary scale as other teachers in the County, because they ARE teachers in the County.

  31. wiserthanmyself says:

    There are about 28 teachers at FSC. That’s how many teachers you’d put out in the schools if you dissolved the center. Not fair to count the budget for the whole center in such a comparison, because no one thinks that if you dissolved it, all the $$ would go to paying teachers. And one population rarely mentioned…what would you suggest doing with the vocational horticulture students? Just put them out on the street?

  32. No duh says:

    Yep. Thought it was Debbie Something. Thanks!

  33. anothercomment says:

    Their is so much jealousy by teachers over what other people earn. I bet those making the comments aren’t even qualified to teach STEM classes. This salaries are very low in the Sciences, they could walk down the street to Emory or the CDC and make alot more.

    The truth is if they have a Master’s degree they are qualified to teach at the college level. I have a Master’s in Engineering Degree. While earning my Engineering degree, I taught Mechanical Engineering for 4th year stududrntendts who where the same year or youngrer than me. I was teaching a class that I never tool, I only got to sit in on the lecture, but was nevrer givine a key on how the lab was to be down of graded. We all learned that on the fly. We didn’t have a bunch of complaints to the professor and they tool the 21 year old me out drinkind with the class. We knew how to think and solve problems so we did. In the other class we has. The nimwas PHD student nearly lost the yearls of fortran key card programing that had gone inot tte department CPMU concstructionion program program system system . My class found all storts of back an doors to the program that could range havaoc sith the grades in the system. I gave out A’s to thsose who figured out by didn’t expose the fatal fall of the system.

    Most Dekalb, Fulton , Cobb, Atlanata and Gwinteet teachers, do not have the grades to ever get them into a top notch enchineering program, where the real coolaboratoon exists. The Facebooks of the future. The Awkwards Dougs,or the guy named bear maybecome the next Zuckerburger. Or it could be my little girl that cuts things apart to see what they might do. Someone has to allow the Geeks of the futurer t o thirive, forgett about the bottom 1/3 they aren’t our producers or creaters. We need creativintiy with no boundries. Without someone calling me a reaceiest. I sure can design to Youko Owno Screams, I know alsot of other very creatinve people who can to. Get me out of Cereal Box and Shoe Box projects they tought you in General Ed, class, I am way ahead of that. I read the newpaper everyday of my life since I was 3. I read deathe and morbidity, it is mandatiory reading for certain prublic healthe jobs. I can make a perfect poster, that will put any other parent made kid poster to shame. My kid deserve ti have my help. It is part of drawing me is their parent. I had parents, that never made it to a shool funcition, my mother, made me pass on my reports and science projects so the dumber kids in our house could turn in the same project. I thought this was unfrair. The teachers all know I did it anyways. I was the only one that could graduated 5th from my college class.

  34. justwatch says:

    I don’t think that it is right that specific folks are called out by name, and I hope the Blog monitors will take it down, but I will say that under NCLB if these teachers were in a school, they would no longer be there. That is what has happened in schools across the state, for better or worse. I don’t disagree with your premise, but you need the facts. NCLB has dramatically changed who can teach in America’s k-12 classrooms and states have programs to help people like the instructors at FSC get certification. However, they clearly didn’t pursue it.

  35. justwatch says:

    How is the vocational horticulture program going to work now that the Forest is gone? Just curious.

  36. Dunwoody Mom says:

    What about those 5 designers drawing combined salaries of over $350,000/year. If field trips are eliminated, who are they designing for? Why are there instructors who have no teaching certificates?

    Let’s face it, FSC is every bit the bloated, family and friends network that the Central Office is.

  37. Terry says:

    OH MY GOSH!! I am so glad someone else sees the corruption Tyson has left behind! I have been saying this since she got into her “big chair at the big table”. WHY didn’t she clean up after clewless? Because she’s just as guilty. How can you tell me the budget was balanced when that “golden palace” was being built? IT WASN’T! If taxpayers don’t wake up and fire the whole board at the voting booth this year and in following years, DeKalb county will continue to sink, we will not attract any worth-while businesses, property values will continue to decline and we might as well allow the whole system to be taken over by the state. But, hey… that might not be such a bad idea after all.

  38. Terry says:

    “It’s all for the children”. Surely you must see that? However, have you ever looked at the “new” DCSS logo? It’s on everything DCSS related. TO ME…. it looks like the kids are supporting the adults. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t we START with the kids?

  39. Terry says:

    BINGO!! You hit the nail on the head. She’s using DCSS to support her friends. We are back into the “friends and family” mentality again!

  40. Terry says:

    It’s ok… It’s ok.. these people want stupid kids. Shut down Fernbank and prove the point. Ignorance breeds ignorance… so let it be done. DeKalb county is tearing itself up over education and we will NEVER be the school system we once were. Let it die. I for one am tired of fighting this. If you worked in one of the schools in DCSS then you would understand how ignorant SOME of the teachers are (and they are the ones teaching YOUR kids), lack of grammar, lack of basic knowledge, lack of SCIENCE knowledge. I don’t know HOW some of these people received a degree. ….. oh yes I do… it’s how one of my principals got a doctorate….. she cheated, worked on it during school hours, and it was over the internet. And YES, she’s paid as having an Educational Doctorate! Now… why aren’t THOSE degrees thrown out? How can you have intelligent children when you don’t have intelligent teachers?

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