OMG!

The DCSS board is having yet another called board meeting — tomorrow, August 1, 2012 at 1:00 PM.  They just had one this past Monday (7/30/12). Time for the board to start working smarter.  There are only two topics on the Agenda (see below).

One topic is on District Insurance.  That should be interesting seeing as how DCSS is supposedly “self-insured.”  But that so-called insurance has never replaced any of the stolen computers and other goods that were stolen.  Ron Ramsey, who did nothing of substance to prevent or solve any of the thefts, will be “reporting” to the board.  That should be a good one.

Topic #2 is about the 2011 State Audit.  It looks like the “discussion” is going to take place behind closed doors.  What they are discussing is the public’s business and the discussion should take place in public — after all, it is our money — our tax dollars.

We hope one of DSW’s readers will be able to go to this meeting and report back.  Take a video and we will post that, too.  If it’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video says even more!  And, please, when the board starts to adjourn to discuss our money behind closed doors … please stand up and ask them to have the discussion in public.  Remind them of the legal requirements for open meetings.

AGENDA 
A. CALL TO ORDER
B. ROSTER
C. ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA
D. ACTION ITEM
1. District Insurance
E. ADJOURN TO A COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
F. DISCUSSION ITEM
1. 2011 State Audit
G. ANNOUNCEMENTS
H. ADJOURN


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79 Responses to OMG!

  1. Darla says:

    Committee of the whole meetings are open to the public. Any called board meeting is a committee of the whole meeting – it is a procedural function that allows for the board to meet outside of their normally scheduled meetings. Only executive sessions take place behind closed doors.

  2. justwatch says:

    Actually, the Commitee of the Whole is in public (executive session is what happens behind closed doors.) They meet way to often and I think it is intentional on the part of the staff to wear them down.

  3. no name says:

    Audit: Rumor within DCS is that the DCS misspent a *lot* of federal and state money in 2011, got caught, and now DCS has to pay back all that money out of the 2012-2013 year budget. This repayment was not budgeted for and, well, lets just say that the $66,000 missing from Cedar Grove Middle School is a drop in the bucket compared to what DCS will be paying back.

    Timing: As for why this Aug 1 Called Meeting was called so soon after the July 30 Called Meeting, perhaps the explanation is found in the July 30th meeting agenda, particularly items D.1 and D.6:
    https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/ViewMeetingOrder.aspx?S=4054&MID=26587

    My guess is that the Superintendent wanted the “Crisis Management”/ Dickinson Communications (item D.6) contract in place before the audit results hit.

    Item D.1 is also interesting. A competent school board would not have approved a salary increase for the “Executive Director, Federal Programs” if they knew the district had misspent money while that particular person was “Director of Federal Programs”. It looks to me like an attempt to get a pay raise approved first, before letting the board know the audit results.

    Also, the sloppiness of those five personnel recommendations is amazing — each recommendation consists of the same two sentences, with only the names and position descriptions changed….yet three of those five recommendations have blatant spelling errors in them. How hard is it to tell that the last name is spelled differently in two adjacent sentences?

  4. SRO says:

    They are talking about an audit and insurance. This may be interesting. They probably will need to upgrade their insurance to deal with all of the lawsuits that are going to fly if they start terminating contracts!!!!

  5. SRO says:

    Can someone please start showing up with a camera/cell phone to record these meetings and post them on this blog.

  6. dekalbite2 says:

    Isn’t Jeff Dickerson “Dickerson Communications”? He was so inept when he was DCSS’s spokesperson that he became the story instead of the spinner of the story. Wasn’t he the Eddie Long New Birth Church PR person and Beverly Hall of Atlanta Public School’s CRCT Cheating scandal PR person? Jeff Dickerson has been associated with too many shady scandals. DeKalb Schools does not need him on our payroll. It puts a shady spin on everything that happens at the Central Office.
    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2011/07/this-is-dcss-spokesperson.html

  7. Whoshelpingthekids says:

    Dr. Atkinson asked the Board to approve hiring a PR firm from May to December and she asked on July 30th??? What if they had voted no? 3 months later is a little too late to ask, isn’t it?

  8. educator90 says:

    I’ve heard the rumor No Name, and it’s not going to be pretty if it’s true. I don’t like the games Atkinson is playing with salary increases and spending more money on Crisis Management people. Just be upfront and honest. There is no need to sugar coat/BS what is going on. Give the facts and how they are going to be dealt with.

    Although, as I am watching the results of the races tonight, DeKalb voters deserve what they get. If they keep electing people that want to spend money on frivolous things (soap box derby), rehire people that constantly make mistakes when putting out tax bills, or are corrupt, than we deserve what we get. I know that as soon as we are right side up on our home, we are out of DeKalb. I am tired of paying for schools that I can’t send my child to, and seeing my hard earned money spent with no regard or care for those sending it in.

    DeKalb is a corrupt county, and I am not sure what is going to wake people up and get them to see what is truly happening. This isn’t a black/white, rich/poor thing, it’s about being honest, trustworthy, and spending money in a prudent way that shows you have respect for the tax payers who sent the money in.

    Looks like we are in a heap of trouble, if only this came out before the elections, but like so much in DeKalb it’s going to try to be swept under the rug and have something less important made into something catastrophic. Sadly, our children will be the ones most hurt by this outcome.

  9. Struggling DC employee says:

    I thought there ws no money , how can you give a raise to 5 and not all. We work harded then any Dir pushing papers.Food service workers we take home less about $450. 00 every two weeks.Who can live like that. Hopeing and praying things will change. SOON!!! Our pay that is.

  10. justwatch says:

    The good news is that they didn’t approve the salary increases. They put those on hold.

    Dickerson has been working since May, in fact I don’t think he ever stopped working. Look at the dates on the contract, it began May 2012.

    It will be interesting to see if the rumor you have heard is true.

  11. Terry says:

    What affect will the Brookhaven vote have on the school system? Personally, I wish they would opt out of dcss and create their own school system like Decatur! You KNOW it could only get better.
    I am disgusted with the way dekalb voters returned incumbents!!

  12. justwatch says:

    It won’t affect the school system at all, unless property values rise because of it and that means an increase in revenues to the school system. Remember, no new school systems can be formed in GA. because of the Constitution.

  13. justwatch says:

    Here is the actual state audit, if anyone wants to peruse it.
    https://ted.cviog.uga.edu/financial-documents/node/3388

    I saw nothing about misspent funds, by the way.

  14. @ no name: Thanks for that tip. If it pans out it will confirm what everyone suspects, and if it involves TItle I money, I know from my own personal experience with these folks that TItle I has been a personally enriching travel and meal extravaganza for the county TItle I office and for administrators in local Title I schools…all in the name of “training.” I’m just waiting for a Fed audit.

    BTW, county special services was nailed in a fed audit about four years ago.

  15. What???? Who gets “promoted” from Director to EXECUTIVE Director when that leaves no Director? How absolutely bizarre!! Looks like a fake-out way to give some people a raise…..

    Also, the wording in the GA Constitution was not original to the Constitution. Changes can be changed back. We really don’t think this is a very difficult proposition. Check out our post on the subject. There’s no reason for the people of Dunwoody or Brookhaven or Chamblee to put up with these irresponsible spending shenanghans. It’s taxation without representation as the board stands right now. Time for these cities to break away – they could create three very respectable school systems and opt out of the current mess.

  16. Also, although the Committee of the Whole is open to the public, it is not a recorded or broadcast meeting. We have to rely on citizen reporters. Please record this meeting if you go. Please take copious notes, as none have been posted online since last year.

  17. Razor burn says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but aren’t companies slated to receive rebates from health insurance companies. Maybe this is what “insurance” means on the agenda. What to do with that money.

  18. Razor burn says:

    – For people who buy insurance through their employers, those rebates won’t come directly in the mail. They’ll first go to the employer, which decides how to distribute it. Employers who offer insurance can either send out individual checks to their employees, or put those rebates toward lowering future premium costs.

    The employer could also use the rebates as a lump-sum reimbursement to the accounts that pay premiums, or spend it in other ways that “benefits its employees,” according to the Department of Health and Human Services. This can include lowering copays or adjusting cost-sharing to cut group insurance costs.

    Employees should contact their employer for details about how their rebates will be distributed.

  19. Just another day in Paradise says:

    @dekalbschoolwatch

    … and who gets promoted from Director to Executive Director when there has been NO change in duties and responsibilities? The Federal Programs position is exactly the same as it was when it was posted months ago (for Director, Executive Director, Coordinator 3, or Coordinator 2). Title I, Title II, Race to the Top, and SIG (School Improvement Grant) were all clearly identified in the postings. As a matter of fact, here’s a quote from the Federal Programs Coordinator 2 posting that’s online right now: “Under general supervision, assist with implementation and monitoring of state and federal programs to ensure compliance and support of school system improvement efforts; and assist with Title I-IV, SIG and RT3 as assigned.” That went up May 9, 2012. That’s why the department was renamed Federal PROGRAMS in the first place. The Board was just led to believe that RT3 and SIG were new additions to Everett’s responsibilities, so she deserved a promotion. Everett’s been in charge of those grants since she got the job July 1st and she knew she would have them when she applied for it. Just another opportunity for Atkinson and March to LIE to the Board and spread the wealth (that we don’t have) around. What a sham.

  20. John A says:

    In light of election results, this quote seems fitting.

    “Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.”
    ― Gore Vidal

  21. Chloe says:

    How can anyone in the administration or the board talk about giving raises to these “directors” when they have cut all the teacher’s pay and everyone else that they haven’t RIF’d? Unbelievable!

  22. ElementaryTeacher says:

    Does anyone know if Dr. Atkinson just received a huge raise of about $72,000? I thought I heard something about it on the news but never saw note of it here or anywhere else.

  23. no name says:

    Justwatch at 8:01 AM: You linked to the audit of DCS and said “I saw nothing about misspent funds, by the way.”

    But that is not the purpose of an audit…. an audit just checks to make sure the money went where DCS says the money went.

    Suppose DCS spent $1 million of state or federal money on materials provided by a company run by a Friends & Family member. The auditor will go through the paper trail and confirm that money was actually transferred to the company and that DCS got materials in return for that money. The auditor will NOT determine whether the materials DCS purchased actually met the federal and/or state requirements that have to be met in order to spend that money.

  24. teacher/taxpayer says:

    Regarding the pay of those Executive Directors, approval of pay was held off until just before Sept. 30. Womack made the motion to approve the positions but hold off the pay because he would not be able to vote yes on the positions with the pay due to the election the next day. He actually said as much. The AJC made him sound like a hero, when in fact, he made the motion to cover his own butt. Since Womack did not get 50% of the votes, will there be a runoff with McMahan, and if so when?
    Watching the meeting was enlightening. Atkinson said the new titles were necessary to reflect the greatly increased responsibility of the jobs. She pointed out this was part of a $5M savings plan.
    They had to stop in mid-vote to re-explain the motion to one member, this after several members had already registered votes on the monitor. The recorder never actually read out the motion after the discussion and before the vote; I do not know if that is common practice. As a result, Walker later said he did not even realize the vote covered 4 positions simultaneously and needed
    to get some info from Atkinson about one of the positions. He and Cunningham had serious argument at one point about Walker’s questioning the qualifications of one applicant by name.
    Ms. Jester and Dr. Speaks came across very well during the discussion.

  25. Jim McMahan says:

    teacher/taxpayer,
    Thanks for the support and your vote.
    The runoff is on August 21st. The voters CAN make a difference in choosing new leadership for our schools!

    Here is the latest from the board meetings this week.
    1) The District Insurance policy has not been “Bid Out” for years. Our very expensive director of Risk Assessment has been rif’d. This person had recommended to the school board to renew our insurance contracts with the existing broker because the broker recommended NOT to bid out the contract. Can you actually believe that? I can….Dr. Atkinson has removed him from his 6 figure position and given the responsability to Ron Ramsey, Director of Legal. (Huge $50,000 raise this year)

    I sent an email to the entire board and Dr. A. asking for the names of the companies that bid on the school system insurance, their competitive rates and who Mr. Ramsey was recommending and why. There was only ONE item on the agenda that the board had to vote. Insurance. They removed the item from the agenda. I assume they looked into the matter and felt they needed to do some more work. this is the type of accountability I would want from a school board member, not just a concerned citizen.

    Now for some good news. Dr. Atkinson has hired a new person to run our broadcast department.
    The real news is that this person actually has experience running this department and is NOT related to a former board member. Imagine that!

    Her name is Lillian Govus and she is here from Guilford County School system in NC.

    She just started this week. She plans on streaming ALL board meetings and archiving them so we can watch them at our leisure from our home at our convenience! Here is the link to Guilford County Schools for your review to see what we can expect.
    http://schoolcenter.gcsnc.com/education/components/scrapbook/default.php?sectiondetailid=291686&
    This is an item that I have been advocating for everyone in our county to raise the publiic awareness for our school board and our students.

    Isn’t this the type of leadership we want?

    I am reporting from NC and will bea back in town this weekend.

    Thanks for all of the voters who want a change! Together we can make a difference!

    Jim McMahan
    Runoff Candidate for District 4

  26. justwatch says:

    Cunningham is right, board members cannot do that. I won’t name names but was it the transportation post? Because I bet Walker is angrier than all get out that the person who had been there has been demoted.

  27. bettyandveronica1 says:

    with all these NC folks we seem to hire, are we paying moving expenses? buying homes to be relocated, etc. These are things that happen and I would like to know if we are not searching enough here in Atlanta. Now as to Dickerson…All I care about is if we hire it’s because we fired. And that the new person is paid no more than the last person. 96K for 6 months. sounds like a pay raise contractual or not.

  28. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Oh, I forgot…how in the h,e,double toothpicks could you people re-elect Womack. are you kidding lakeside???? He is part of the problem folks. If he was part of the solution, we would in a different place right now. Boo hiss.

  29. justwatch says:

    I am starting to have an uneasy feeling about all the NC people coming over here. (I also heard that the new area superintdent from Chicago is actually from NC, previous ties to Marsh and Atkingson). For this particular position, there was plenty of local talent in the metro area.

  30. Jim McMahan says:

    I’d like to comment regarding a couple of questions raised previously by bloggers.

    B&V1,
    Relo packages. There have not been any approved for the new hires from out of state. One cabinet member’s wife is a new hire principal for APS and she received a relo package from APS.
    Principal for APS gets a relo package, top level cabinet member for DeKalb, none.

    JustWatch,
    New executive director for Transportation is a good move. Mr. Drake has the skill set to deliver, unfortunately he has been promoted to this position 2 weeks before school starts and is dealing with the mess he has inherited. It will take him a couple of months to completely evaluate the department and implement efficiencies and future accountability standards.
    Also, the NC transfers are a part of her existing relationships and Dr. A is responsible for their performance. I will hold her accountable for her decisions. For example, I will ask our citizens to monitor the PR firm and all of the public comments made by Dickerson Communications.
    We will tabulate their performance over the next few months and make a transparent and public decision if we feel spending $12,000 a month on a PR firm is needed. We do have the Crawford Lewis / Pat Pope trial coming in September. IMO, I feel if a school system does the required job of educating our students then an external PR firm is not necessary. Sorry Mr. Dickerson but that’s how I feel. We should have the capability of disseminating positive information about our students, teachers and schools.
    On a more positive note, has anyone seen the DeKalb County School District’s main website today?
    I went to it this morning and was pleased to see the new and improved main page. These are little steps required for our citizens to begin to trust and support our school system.
    Use your one vote on August 21st to elect new leadership for the board.
    Jim McMahan
    District 4 Runoof Candidate for DCSD

  31. Very true Jim! The new website is much nicer looking and user-friendly. You can access the YouTube channel, Facebook and Twitter easily from the homepage. Dr. Atkinson’s newsletter page is off to a good start with positive news about schools. Now, once school starts, let’s hope that they do a bang up job of adding content. Content is king!

  32. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    @Jim McMahan,
    We need you at those board meetings. Can you go to every public BOE meeting and report back to us?

    I was looking at that link you gave us to Lillian Govus’ most recent body of work. There are no digital recordings for the “Special Called Meetings”. Fortunately for them, they only have a couple a year. DCSD has 2 or 3 a week.

    DCSD records and publishes the regularly scheduled meetings … just like Lillian Govus did in NC. We need her to record and publish the special meetings. What are her plans for those?

    Until Ms Govus records and publishes all meetings can you be there for us?

  33. SRO says:

    Dekalb is now reposting PK positions at the lower salaries

    Posting # 0357-2012 Status Open Until Filled
    Expected Start Date: 08/07/2012
    Posted 08/02/2012 Last Change Date 08/02/2012
    Expires Until Filled

    DRESDEN ELEMENTARY Comments Dresden Elementary Teacher, Pre-K

    Under limited supervision, provides instruction for students which will enable them to learn and demonstrate mastery of the Pre-K Content Standards.

    Duties include but not limited to: Demonstrates enthusiasm for working with Pre-K students; Provides content-related and appropriate instruction based on DeKalb County’s curriculum; Provides classroom environment which promotes active learning in subject area and exhibits knowledge of developmentally appropriate practices for four and five year olds; Communicates responsibly with students, parents, colleagues, and school leadership; Follows the Operating Guidelines required by Bright from the Start, all county, state, and federal policies and procedures,; and professional ethics in all work-related activities; Attends all required trainings for Pre-K teachers; Works with parents/guardians in all aspects of the student’s educational program; Facilitates home-school communication by such means as holding conferences, telephoning, and sending written communications; Integrates appropriate technology into classroom instruction; Performs other duties as assigned.

    EDUCATION AND/OR EXPERIENCE:
    Bachelor’s degree from a Professional Standards Commission approved accredited college or university required.

    CERTIFICATION/LICENSURE: Valid Professional Standards Commission approved certificate at level T-4 or above required with one of the following:
    Early Childhood Education ( P-5)
    Birth through Five
    Elementary Education (P-8)
    Birth to Five Endorsement
    Special Education General Curriculum Consultative in Early Childhood Education (P-5)
    Special Education Preschool (Ages 3-5) Endorsement

    INTERESTED APPLICANTS MUST COMPLETE THE FOLLOWING STEPS: (1) Submit an on-line application via the PATS website @ http://www.pats.dekalb.k12.g.us (2) select a posting; and (3) Provide all required documents; references, official transcripts and certificate.

    Position Title Teacher, Lottery Fund PreK/Cer Qualifying Certification Areas(s):
    Early Childhood Education (P-5) (808/)
    Location / Responsibility Centers Number DRESDEN ELEMENTARY / 176
    Salary $22904.9 to $31566.5

    Shift Time Regular
    Mo/Yr 10
    Days/Yr 183
    Hrs/Day 8
    Position Number 1763E0050

  34. justwatch says:

    Jim

    I know that Drake is capable, I am curious what position Walker called into question. I suspected it was transportation because of the Guillory connection, if not that position, than which one had Walker upset?

  35. no name says:

    Jim McMahan @ 12:23:

    I appreciate your upbeat attitude, but please, please, please pay attention to the pre-K job postings that SRO mentioned in his/her 3:14 PM post.

    Today is the Thursday before teachers are supposed to report to work, next week. The school district is now just posting — not interviewing, not hiring, but *posting* — openings for new pre-K teachers. Those teaching vacancies need to be filled next week…. which cannot be done. Instead, substitute teachers will be working in those pre-K classrooms on the first day of school.

    How much are these pre-K children going to be shortchanged when they begin their entire school CAREER with a SUBSTITUTE teacher?

    Honestly, given the chaos going on inside the district right now, the update of the DCS website is pretty much putting new lipstick on an old pig.

  36. dekalbmom says:

    I checked out the “new” website and was disappointed. For well over a YEAR when you click on the Organizational Chart, you get a message that says it is under development. Parents, teachers and taxpayers have an absolute right to know who is in senior managerment and in what roles.

    And having “Executive Directors” is just more of the same practice used by the Crawford Lewis ilk to perpetuate salaries that FAR EXCEED anything comparable in private industry or state or federal government. These are public servants darn it. They live off the public dole. This incessant increase in compensation must stop. I am having a coronary here if you can’t tell.

  37. DeKalb Teacher says:

    Jimmy Mac,
    Thanks for the update! I wish you had stayed for the entire meeting. I know you value the budget.

    I saw you and Marshall Orson leave early together. Did you guys catch any of what the auditors had to say?

  38. dekalbite2 says:

    @justwatch
    “I am starting to have an uneasy feeling about all the NC people coming over here.”

    My understanding is they are primarily coming from the Charlotte-Mecklenberg system. This system has much better student achievement than DeKalb and has just enough geographical distance to be credible.

    After being in the system for over 40 years, I can say that the “DeKalb Way” is not working. If we don’t break the backs of the “Friends and Family” program (e.g. Melvin Johnson of the Bouie family connection), our students in low income schools are lost. That’s why I question if the “local area” is the best place to find talent. Education in Georgia at the top levels can be quite incestuous.

  39. dekalbite2 says:

    Regarding Pre-K salaries:

    Looking at the data, ALL of the other metro systems pay these Pre-K rates, and they have much better achievement than DeKalb.

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