Yet Another Last-Minute “Called” Meeting …

Sorry for the last-minute bulletin.  Typically, the notice of the meeting and the agenda were published only 23 hours and 57 minutes ahead of  yet another very critical “called” meeting …

 DEKALB BOARD OF EDUCATION

“CALLED” MEETING

Thursday, June 28, 2012

5:00PM

J. David Williamson Board Room

Robert R. Freeman Administrative Center

Administrative & Instructional Complex

1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard

Stone Mountain,Georgia  30083

Wait ‘til you see agenda …

D.   ACTION ITEMS

UPDATE – Two Action Items were added to the agenda today:

1.    Recommendation to Waive Board Policy on Policy Adoption, Descriptor Code BDC

Presented by:  Dr. Cheryl L.H. Atkinson, Superintendent

2.    Recommendation to Waive Board Policy on Board Meetings, Descriptor Code BC

Presented by:  Dr. Cheryl L.H. Atkinson, Superintendent

3.  Approval to Issue A Tax Anticipation Note (TAN)

Presented by:  Mr. Michael J. Perrone, Chief Financial Officer, Division of Finance

4.  Approval of a Reduction in Force Plan

Presented by:  Dr. Tekshia Ward-Smith, Chief Human Resources Officer,

Division of Human Resources

5.  Approval of a Settlement Agreement

Presented by:  Mr. Rocco Testani, Attorney, Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan

This agenda contains critical items – including one that we believe we were promised would not happen:  a Tax Anticipation Note.  We are still paying millions of dollars in interest on previous such notes.  We were told that this year all work would be strictly “pay as you go.”

We now know that PDS-TV24 can easily videotape and stream these “called” meetings, so that is what we are expecting – and will request via e-mail to the board members and Superintendent Atkinson.  Frankly, given the importance of the topics on the agenda of this last-minute “called” meeting, we expect that all board members will already have requested televising and streaming for their constituents.

If “pay as you go” is not possible, then clearly more Palace cuts in terms of RIFs MUST be made.  Remaining Palace salaries for essential employees who cannot be RIF’d — including the superintendent and her cabinet — must be cut, as well.   Also, ALL board members should step up and forego a salary to provide a community service.  Volunteers welcomed!

Tune in everyone!

And, then at 6:00 PM …

1st Public Millage Rate Hearing

J. David Williamson Board Room

Robert R. Freeman Administrative Center

PS  We hope there will also be a big turn-out for the “Board Retreat” at AdvancED tomorrow morning.  It will begin at 9 AM.  Be sure to get there a little early so you can get a seat up front.  Be there or be square!  You won’t want to miss any of the fun!

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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"
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152 Responses to Yet Another Last-Minute “Called” Meeting …

  1. justwatch says:

    The TAN is most likely for revenue for now, not for SPLOST, which is what we were promised that we wouldn’t use. The rumor is the system can barely make payroll, almost didn’t last month, and TANS are used by all governments (except the federal government which can print money) to close gaps as one fiscal year ends and another begins. This is a picture, though, of just how dire things are in DeKalb.

  2. justwatch says:

    A little more, I am correct, this is money for operations — at about 3 million a day, the system is borrowing enough for two months.
    “The approval of the resolution will document and authorize U.S. Bank National Association to issue a Tax Anticipation Note for use by DeKalb County School District. The interest rate will not exceed 2.00% with an effective yield not to exceed 0.94%. The funds from the Tax Anticipation Note (TAN) will be used to support the general operations of the school district until property taxes are collected. The TAN will be repaid by December 28, 2012.”

    https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/ViewMeetingOrder.aspx?S=4054&MID=26184

  3. jnj says:

    Is this rif for the parapros?

  4. Rae says:

    See this article for explanation of TANs and How they are affected by DeKalb’s current credit rating:
    http://www.moodys.com/research/MOODYS-ASSIGNS-MIG-1-TO-DEKALB-COUNTYS-GA-157-MILLION–PR_238609

  5. I am retired from a state commission and I don’t know any state institutions who use TANs to “close gaps” as one fiscal year ends and another one begins. It is unacceptable for state organizations to not live within their means. If DCSS cannot make payroll then that says the payroll is either too large or many are being overpaid — or both.

    Maybe DCSS should just shut down for the month of July?

  6. justwatch says:

    school districts and other governments that are dependent on property tax revenues because of when those revenues come in. But I agree with you — this system is in huge trouble, HUGE And until there is widespread demand for change — nothing will change. I hope that property tax millage rate hearings are overrun with people angry about their taxes.

  7. justwatch says:

    I am not defending DCSS — in fact, I am huge critic. However, here are a few articles about local governments issuing TANS…
    Here is Fulton County TANS…
    http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20120316006081/en/Fitch-Rates-Cobb-County-Georgias-98MM-TANs

    Cobb
    http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20120316006081/en/Fitch-Rates-Cobb-County-Georgias-98MM-TANs

  8. NO, NO, NO! Not just NO, HELL, NO! … to TANS. Completely out of the question to borrow money because DCSS has continued to overspend when there are other options:

    1. Start with 0 at the Palace (previously suggested by The Deal) and add back in just those few who are absolutely necessary to keep the place running. After all, its not like the people who are there have been doing such a superb job. Could we do worse? Probably not. As the title of Bob Hope’s book about Ted Turner and the Atlanta Braves says, referring to when a mediocre player asked for a raise:

    We Could Have Come In Last Without You.

    2. Shut down ALL of DCSS for ALL of July. And turn off the AC and the lights! Summer School students will have to move to Georgia Virtual School. It’s a perfect time time to Ditch DOLA!

    3. Re-open the Central Office, with far fewer employees, in August in Buildings A & B.

    4. Get Rid of Ramona! No value added there.

  9. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    Most likely it’s the approval to rif all the cuts listed in the budget the board recently approved. Most likely the admin has now made up the ‘list’… makes your stomach roll.

  10. Unacceptable! $3 million per day for 61 days (July and August) equals $183 million. A flat 2% of $183 million is $3,660,000. But, if it is not paid back until the end of December — 6 months in all — that is going to cost a whole lot more. NOTE that the terms are not clear regarding how the interest and the yield are applied to the principal borrowed. We have really got to stop using amateurs for finance.

    DCSS is living wa-a-a-a-y above its means and this is the time to turn off the spigot. Shut down the school system for July and no one gets paid. Cut the Palace back to 0 employees and add back ONLY those few who are critical to operations AND who have a proven (in DCSS) performance record. Get rid of Ramona. Ditch DOLA. Outsource everything possible — that includes HR. Make a choice and keep only one legal firm. Let Ron Ramsey go. He’s got other fish to fry, anyhow, and it’s not like he is any good at his job. Tell parents NOW that transportation will NOT be provided for students who are going to school outside their attendance area.

    There are so many places to cut outside of the classroom! We haven’t even scratched the surface. But, as Ben Franklin said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” And, all those pennies add up.

  11. Here’s an idea: Everyone who is available — and I do mean EVERYONE — should go to AdvancED tomorrow morning (Thursday, June 28) — be there by 9 AM. INSIST that the topic of the retreat must become How to Live On the Money We Have. Take a list of your suggestions for cuts, along with your rationale for each cut. Seek out your board member, give that person your list and insist that the board member find the cuts that will bring DCSS back in line with its income. Borrowing for living expenses is a recipe for disaster!

  12. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Have they used a TAN before? Is this common practice in lovely DCSS?

  13. teacher says:

    What is the address for the board retreat meeting? I didn’t know the public could attend.

  14. formerdekalbparent says:

    I feel that I must post this as we are all on the titantic. Now as my handle implies, my children ae safely being educated in another county that runs efficiently, has dealt with staff reductions, and a shrinking tax base..where in metro Atlanta is this not the new norm. With the staff reductions happening TODAY…where are we going? The staff at Sam Moss is down to a skeleton crew…I am talking about the people who do the actual work, not the several layers of supervisors, managers, and district managers, they cannot continue in this vein without it effecting your school. We need to have every principal look at every posiiton in their school and figure out who needds to stay, and who can leave. Who is helping the students daily work through their day and reach the goal of graduation as a functioning, able to work member of society. Get rid of the waste. Then the principal needs to look at his school systems and determine who to call if his kitchen, ac, or plumbing go down. Our service center crew is WAY cheaper than outsourcing. Have you called a plumber lately? Had your ac die? Our employees will continue to do their best, but they are only as good as what they are working with, no $ for maintenance, one day all these spit and glue repairs are going to give, and that my friends will not be a pretty sight. Graduation coaches are only as good as their winning record, if they are not on top, they are gone. Why are we paying Ramona to stay…let’s pay her to leave, and at least she will not be whispering in Dr. A’s ears on what she thinks. We need to tighten our belts, merge some of the smaller schools into a larger more efficeint school that can serve this larger population. I think if parents are told that if their neighborhood school does not close, they will be looking at class szes growing. Elementary schools run in other counties with twice our elementary students, and do a fine job.. Perfect, no, but when will that Utopia come around? There are enough schools that they will not be travelling far and probably already know kids at the other school. Get rid of supervisors of supervisors, managers of managers, some of the beauracratic layers need to go. If DCSS continues this way, Clayton County wll be where our families are moving for a better education…..Be afraid, be very afraid of these people that you elected to run your school board. Looking back, you could see where they were headed with the Superintendent search. Di we get the best of the best, I don’t think so…..get out while you can……it is not perfect in other counties, but I really see a focus on students and their acheivements where I am sitting, and I like it, and so do my children……

  15. Lindy Hop says:

    I agree. This is wrong and the spigot needs to be turned off. Every resident and business owner in DeKalb should be very concerned about this. Our school district is plummeting into an abyss of debt.

    Another round of cuts to positions and programs should be on the agenda as well. Folks, you are kidding yourself if you think only the most essential jobs and programs remain.

  16. formerdekalbparent says:

    an update on layoffs effective TODAY…in their usual well prepared professional way, the powers that be are TODAY asking around if anyone who is retiring wants to go TODAY..I thought these were carefully reviewed positions to be eliminated, and the names were already known to the higher ups…as usual…the wrong people will go…and the children will suffer…..

  17. I liken this to one of those places that will ‘loan’ you your expected tax refund – at a high rate of interest. You can never get out of debt by borrowing money. You need to spend less and/or earn more to get on a road to recovery.

  18. I believe that in answering Ms. Copelin-Wood’s question about the reserves, etc., Mr. Perrone stated that there would be a tax anticipation note that would be paid back in October when the property tax statements are mailed and paid.

    Unfortunately, the mortgage companies typically pay the bulk of the tax payments directly, otherwise we could stage a protest by with-holding our payments until the last possible day in the payment cycle in protest. However, I guess that would only hurt us in the end since we fund everything in this corrupt system. (Note: I am not suggesting that anyone considers NOT paying their taxes so no hater comments, please.)

    The sad thing is that “pay as you go” for most people living paycheck to paycheck also means “if you don’t pay, you don’t go,” but for our school system it only means “if you don’t pay, you still go and expect those whom you are stealing from to look the other way while you steal from their neighbors and throw a little extra your way … this time.”

  19. no duh says:

    Jim McMahon…You out there? What’s your website address again? Yard signs available?

  20. booksrkool says:

    @ DSW The problem with living on the money that we have is that the General Assembly withholds money from every county in the state. Every county plans their budgets based on what they are supposed to get but then the state decides that they will give only X amount. So how can counties plan effectively anyway?

    State legislators are the problem and in my opinion they should be fired. They are purposely sabotaging education. For those of you that say, all states are going through the same things. Well think on this, if that charter school vote is affirmed then where is the state going to get the money to fund it? If you guessed additional taxation then you would be right. So why can’t the state do the same for public education and isn’t the state supposed to do this anyway?

  21. Very true and we have posted several blogs on this topic. Do a search here and on the old blog, using the terms “Equalization Grants” and “QBE Funding Formulas”.

  22. September says:

    A teacher’s annual salary is for the 10 month school year, but it is divided by 12 months. That means that teachers don’t have to take odd jobs during the summer to pay their bills. Some of the money that they are paying out during June, July, and August is money that is owed to teachers for work that has already been done. The first paycheck of the school year is given at the end of September.

  23. Dekalb Tax Payer says:

    As a concern tax payer i want to know that my money is well use regarding the education for my county. Is my understanding that the reduction of interpreters is going cause a negative impact on the international community (refugees and immigrants).

  24. RE: Jim McMahan

    Because there is a lot going on with the DCSS board today — AND because DSW supports Jim McMahan’s candidacy — we contacted him directly instead of waiting for him to have a moment to read the blog. Here are the answers you wanted:

    YES! Jim McMahan yard signs are available — in fact, they are just being delivered to Jim by FedEx today.

    Jim McMahan’s campaign website is: http://www.votejimmymac.com

    Go there to read about Jim’s background, his platform and — perhaps most importantly right now — to donate to Jim McMahan’s campaign.

    You may also “Friend” Jim on his Facebook page: Jim McMahan for DeKalb County Schools

    Jim will have a team of people delivering signs around this weekend so feel free to send him names, contact info and addresses to obtain signs.

    BTW — Jim McMahan does read this blog. He also was invaluable when Ramona Tyson and her DCSS sycophants tried to pull a fast one when, after repeated requests under Georgia’s Open Records law, they finally made available documents relating to the costly study, illegally hidden by Crawford Lewis and Ramona Tyson. This was the study that showed significant overpayment to DCSS employees (primarily those in the Palace, NOT classroom teachers). It is not an overstatement to say that we would never have been able to get our hands on those documents if it had not been for Jim’s assistance.

    You go, Jim McMahan!

  25. Dr. DeKalb says:

    There are also slots still open in some private schools that offer everything that we have been wishing the public schools would provide and without the burocracy to ruin it. There is even financial aid in some cases. It makes a good alternative to selling your home at a loss or renting your home and looking to rent in another county. It likely will SAVE you money when you consider the options. And, if you are not working, home schooling may be a last resort that ends up not being too bad if you can handle it. The textbooks, supplies, even science lab materials are all “free” through the state program and you can even get reimbursed for “field trips” to local museums or other educational experiences you choose to supplement your child’s learning. Online groups facilitate playgroups for homeschool children so they do not lose the social interaction with their peer group. There are choices if you decide to stop being victimized by the bad decisions of DCSD.

  26. We wrote a post on this a couple of years ago on the old blog. It can be found on this blog under the tab labeled “DCSS Spending” and is on the page called “Best of the Oldies”… “Options to DCSS” Here’s the direct link:
    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2009/02/options-to-dcss.html

  27. justwatch says:

    And this is what happens when a vote is 5-4
    The agenda was just changed for tonight’s meeting to add this gem..
    https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/ViewMeetingOrder.aspx?S=4054&MID=26184
    “The Board acknowledges a need to address a concern regarding the adoption of the Resolution for a Tax Levy for Fiscal Year 2013. Therefore, it has become necessary to waive Board Policy on Board Meetings, Descriptor Code BC, to allow Board member Thomas Bowen to attend the scheduled July 9, 2012 board meeting by telephone. The current policy states ‘Any members physical incapacitated may participate in Board and committee meetings by any means of visual and auditory communication between the physically absent member and the other Board members and the public in attendance at such meetings.’ Mr. Bowen will not be “physically incapacitated” but nevertheless will not be able physically to attend such meeting. Mr. Bowen, however, can attend such meeting by telephone in accordance with O.C.G.A. s 50-14-1(g).”

  28. Dr. DeKalb says:

    Who else does DSW support? Has Jim McMahan made any statements about his role, if any, in the cell tower issue? Was he a part of the PTA at the time? (Aug. 2010 – July 2011) Would like to get behind him as he seems to be the most educated on the issues and appears to speak the words we want to hear, but can he be trusted? If he helped bring harm to the other communities just to help Lakeside, can we really support him as a leader? It would tend to make one wonder if he isn’t just the “chosen one” whom Womack has groomed to take the torch. Please prove me wrong on this one, Jim, and I will deliver flyers in my own neighborhood and put a sign in my yard (and I live near two of your opponents).

  29. no duh says:

    Thanks!

  30. Neitcha Thomsen says:

    It all just looks like a sinking ship. The sad thing about some of the cuts at the school is it hits people like me who do not have any type of severence pay…last pay check will be July 30th…and I was 2 months short of being vested in the retirement fund. I was one of those interpreters who worked from the moment I entered the building to the evening and actually covered other “duties as required” by the principal. There was no down time during my day and my services were constantly in demand.

  31. I’m very sorry Neitcha. We all are.

  32. Jim McMahan says:

    Dr. DeKalb,
    I was part of the DeKalb County Council of PTA’s during the 2011-2012 school year.
    I personally had NO contact or communication about the cell towers from a PTA perspective. Zero.
    I am a person who believes in transparency and accountability. To be an effective leader, a person must be able to communicate with their constituents and have open access to them.
    Email, cell phone, website, blog, etc.
    I will be accessible to all of the county in addition to my district.
    Regarding my stance on the entire cell tower issue.
    I am in favor of a licensed, permitted cell tower that has been approved by the community that the tower is being erected. An open and transparent process which is what a democracy is supposed to be. For the people, elected by the people and sometimes erected by the people.
    Specifically for the cell towers being proposed on school property?
    I have no trust in the process of what has happened. The school board, specifically Mr. Womack, has indicated that the public was notified. I did not hear about it and if I did, I did not know it was a done deal unless the public was against it.
    On normal county zoning issues, there are requirements for public vetting and comments.
    This was not done. There was NO signage. In my neighborhood, there was only one notice of a meeting being held at Briarlake. I thought that meeting was an informational meeting and not a “Done Deal” meeting. I hope the county permitting department does NOT issue the building permits because it was not a transparent process that the community supports.
    Here is my bigger concern, with 54% of the DCSD schools failing, why has our current board made cell towers their focus?
    Why is this a focus or “Pet project” of the board instead of focusing on delivering a quality education to the students of this county?
    That blows my mind that time and money has been spent and wasted on a cell tower issue versus what the main objective of our board should be.
    My goal is to focus on INSTRUCTION not CONSTRUCTION!
    My goal is to focus on the CLASSROOM not the COURTROOM!

    I hope this helps you focus on who should be on the board for the next two years.
    If you have any specific questions or concerns please feel free to contact me directly at
    jimmcmahan@bellsouth.net or visit my webpage at http://www.votejimmymac.com.

    Your candidate for District 4 DeKalb County School Board,

    Jim McMahan

  33. DJ says:

    Sorry. Has you received an official notice. What was your position? Are you an Interpreter?

  34. jande says:

    I am so sorry to hear about your situation. You need to contact the folks at TRS, however–
    it is my understanding that most jobs at any Georgia public school are part of TRS.
    It would definitely be worth it to investigate. You might have to
    do something out of the ordinary–but you could be talking about earning
    a pension you would have for decades. (Two months, and even longer, flies by.) All the best to you.

  35. formerdekalbparent says:

    so after being told they would know TODAY, once again DCSS has no compassion for their workers, they will know MONDAY…..This is no way to treat employees…..

  36. Because of the sorry record of the school board members and the superintendent in terms of opening e-mails from their constituents, we will be tracking, for time to time, all e-mails sent to board members and the superintendent.

    Yesterday, when we found out about the last-minute “called” meeting for today at 5:00 PM, DSW sent a request immediately to each board member and the superintendent asking for this “called” meeting and the millage rate increase hearing to be televised and streamed. We did this on your behalf. It is now 4:45 PM and there has been no response to an e-mail with a clear subject line. In fact, none of the board members nor the superintendent have even opened their e-mail. Remember that when you go to the polls to vote.

  37. GoingCrazy says:

    I’m sorry, but what are they going to say: Oh, by the way, last Friday was your last day!.
    Really?

  38. Did anyone make it to the board retreat today at AdvancED, held under the watchful eye of Mark Elgart and SACS-CASI? Please send us a few paragraphs about what happened at the retreat. We are happy to edit whatever you write, if you like, and we won’t use your name. We are particularly interested in hearing from those who are just days away — maybe — from losing their jobs.

  39. So, we have an answer from the board and Atkinson. We asked to see the “called” board meeting because of the critical issues being discussed including the TAN and RIF’d employees and changes to board policy. Either video or streaming would do.

    The board’s answer: “Hell, no!” Remember this when you go to the polls.

  40. Just a Mom says:

    why can these people not start a meeting on time! If we started school late every day, I am sure they would be unhappy!

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