Back to school reporting

So it’s back to school today! Please let us know how things went at your school.  Did your building experience cuts to staff? Who was missing? Were remaining staff able to carry the load? How about the students? Did they have a great first day?  Transportation? Were buses on time?  And teachers – please know that we are very aware of the extra burdens you are all carrying this year due to so many cuts to support in your classrooms.  We all appreciate your extra effort for the children of DeKalb!

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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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254 Responses to Back to school reporting

  1. Another Dekalb Teacher says:

    I think transportation was the big thing today. It was crazy at my school, and when I picked up my own kid and she was a half hour late. Hopefully, just a first day thing!

  2. concernedmom30329 says:

    webpages are not accurate — do not rely on them.

  3. Mom of 3 says:

    The Kittredge website is not up to date for faculty. It is still showing the teachers for last year.

  4. dekalbteach says:

    Regarding EIP: I am at a Title 1 school, so I can’t speak for non-Title 1 schools. We still have our full time EIP and Title 1 teachers. We did lose three part-time certified Title 1 staff members due to having to use our Title 1 funds to pay for the SFA facilitator and data coach. These part-time teachers worked with students each day and they are gone.

  5. vandy mom says:

    What happens when the classes are over max class size? Is it a maximum? I had heard at vanderlyn there were too many k kids so they made a transition class and pulled back a teacher who retired until they could hire someone new. When there aren’t enough desks can a school really go over the max?

    Buses were chaos but its always like that on the first day.

  6. Former Dekalb Parent says:

    Sorry about that….It is not unusual for them to recycle like that..My apologies to Ms. Jester as I have heard very good things about her. I did hear that the poor bus drivers were not given advance time to run routes and check out buses, so that would be an interesting follow up on issues with transportation, also, all the bus mechanics were on the road doing repairs….

  7. no name says:

    The website is NOT accurate as concernedmom30329 pointed out at 9:17 PM. A blatant example of it being out-of-date is the “Assistant Superintendent” page: http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/superintendent/assistants
    which still says that Terry Segovis is the Region 1 Asst. Superintendent

  8. no name says:

    Filthy Schools: I am hearing that many DCS schools are *not* clean. The excuse is that DCS had a purchase freeze over the summer, which prevented janitors from obtaining cleaning supplies.

    Can anyone confirm this? Is your school as clean as it was last year?

  9. MedlockParent says:

    Our children had a great experience in the schoolhouse (Laurel Ridge) yesterday, and I am very thankful for the teachers, staff, and administrators that made that happen. Interesting note about lack of advance notice on bus routes yesterday. It might help explain (although not excuse) why a bus transporting young students took a 2+ hour tour through the neighborhood with a driver who could not find his route. Folks at the school did everything in their power to locate him and try to facilitate his return so that parents could pick up there but his ability to communicate with them appears to have been hampered by either stubbornness or a language barrier. The trainer who rode with him on the morning route finally located them in a Publix parking lot.

  10. justwatch says:

    Death by a thousand cuts. I noticed that I didn’t’ see the usual practice routes of the bus drivers taking place last week.
    Vandy mom, the need to balance classes happens every year, even in good economic times. And yes, the principal generally has two choices, one is to wait until he/she gets the teacher and another is to put a substitute in a classroom and form the classroom. I happen to think the latter is better, because the transition to a new class (if not formed before school starts) happens sooner rather than later. Others may disagree. Technially, the state doesn’t require class sizes to be in line until the October FTE count. However, Atkinson has indicated that at Day 10, all these issues will be addressed.

  11. Maggie says:

    @dekalbite2, You’ll also notice the link takes you to 2011-2012 teachers. They just haven’t updated their website. @MomofGifted, they have German in middle and high. The elementary language was a nice perk but the least of our worries.

  12. PublicSchoolDad says:

    26 students in Kitteredge classrooms? Maybe it is time to release a few kids off the wait list and bring those classrooom sizes in-line with the rest of the system…

  13. Louise Bell says:

    I am wondering why there is a “special assistant to the superintendent” listed on the job site with a salary of 111,500/year when our schools have lost tons of support people and front line jobs have been cut. Why are we continuing to build up the administration without providing the frontline support our students need? Find out who is running the Student Support Teams at your middle or high school. ESOL and Special Education programs are struggling. EIP and other support classes are completely cut and the number of students who can’t read by the time they go to high school will continue to grow without adequate supports in place. Why does the superintendent need an assistant with a salary that is more than double that of a frontline worker???

  14. DS_K1975 says:

    Not wanting to be a Debbie Downer, but the first few days of school are generally a honeymoon period for teachers and students. We need to see what happens when the bad behavior kicks in.

  15. scienceguru says:

    Great day at Vanderlyn ES and PCMS according to my kids!

  16. Whoshelpingthekids says:

    @ Louise Bell-word on the street is Dr. Atkinson has about 3 “staff” dedicated to her but without an organizational chart, it is hard to confirm. In addition, the BOE changed their policy to allow her to hire consultants up to $99,999 without getting BOE approval. An open records request to see how many consultants the system currently has hired since October could be quite revealing.

  17. This is exactly our concern Louise. It is beginning to appear the the ‘RIFd’ Central Office jobs have only resurfaced with a different job title. We’re not sure if the same employee was rehired to fill the new title or if an outsider was hired. The only RIFd workers coded with CO seem to be ordinary jobs like maintenance or custodians and the like.

  18. Dad of Two says:

    Sorry … I earlier stated the tuition cost for the Greek Orthodox Cathedral incorrectly. It is $650 a month, not $6,500/year. We’ve been very happy there and have welcome several families recently who left DeKalb public schools. And the Greek festival is a great event every year!

  19. GTCO-ATL says:

    1.) Spoke with a neighbor who sent her kindergarten child to school on the bus and the child was accosted by several older kids, one of whom said, “we’re going to kill you.” Needless to say, the child is terrorized and the Mom is furious. They will not be using the bus system again any time soon.

    2.) Spoke to another parent who is concerned because her child is bilingual and the teachers are relying on him to translate things for them. Can’t really blame the teachers, but makes you feel sorry for the children.

    3.) And, yes, the schools are dirty. Don’t know if this year is worse than previous years. I volunteered in the classroom several times. Once the group I was working with were cutting paper and left some scraps on the floor. So, when they were done, I grabbed a broom to sweep it up and was shocked to actualy sweep up dirt / sand from the floor under their littlle table.

    4.) Also saw a girl with a very blooshot eye at the craft table and when I asked her about it, she said, “Oh yeah, I have pink eye. They sent me back here until my Mom comes to get me.” Needless to say, my child and I both same down with it a few days later.

  20. PeggySue says:

    My 2nd grader with an IEP is at Hawthorne in an inclusion (co-taught Gen Ed/ Special Ed) classroom. Our experience so far has been good — approximately 25 kids per class in 2nd grade (not ideal, but at least the same # as 1st grade last year), building was clean, classroom was organized, our bus driver practiced her route last week, and qualified and experienced Gen Ed teacher, Special Ed teacher, and needed parapro were in place on first day of class. Also, my child’s supports were ready to go as well, which was not the case last year. In 2 days, I’ve had more communication from this SpEd teacher than I had in the first 2 weeks last year, so I’m a happy mom! With all of the reasons to worry right now (there are many and I encourage all parents to keep an eye out and be proactive), I am grateful for the dedicated teachers and paras who are working so hard to start the year off well. They bear the burden — with our kids — of all of the budget cuts that are being made. I know that not everyone is having a good experience this week (at Hawthorne and other schools), but I thought it was important to offer a positive report during a challenging period!

  21. wondering says:

    I am not sure that 26 kids at Kittredge is really that out of line with other schools. My 4th grader’s class at a non-magnet school has 25 kids in it.

  22. PeggySue says:

    35 kids in 4th grade co-taught inclusion classroom at Hawthorne on day 1. It’s not my child’s grade, so I don’t have more to report than the actual number of students assigned to the class.

  23. This is exactly what we were concerned about. Adding two to the class limit was a vague thing to do. Add two to what? So, some schools are still tolerable in class size, yet others are crammed in like sardines. But then, how do you resolve it unless you consolidate schools?

  24. Received via email:

    My nephew attends the newly formed charter school housed on Austin Dr. I was wondering if others may have made a comment regarding how highly unorganized the dismissal/traffic issues were last week. I’d like to direct you to their website… the first parent newsletter is quite interesting indeed.

    My sister was at the front of the line one day last week; she had been waiting for at least 30 minutes, because the traffic was so horrible the other days that she wanted to get in and out quickly. A DPA staff member approached her car and asked for my nephew’s number; upon finding out that my nephew was in kindergarten, the DPA staff member informed my sister that she would have to get out and park – no regard for the fact that she had been waiting for at least 30 minutes, and that someone could have approached her prior to dismissal or the fact that is was raining and that parking near the school is limited, so she had to go across a busy road with my other nephew and niece. Apparently, they had just put a “policy” in place and failed to inform parents… K-1st parents were supposed to park and retrieve children from the gym or cafeteria – I do think that changed towards the end of the week.

    I understand that they are just starting up and issues are to be expected, but I found it interesting that the staff made some of the following points in the newsletter:

    PLEASE DON’T ARRIVE EARLY: we have a number of cars arriving at between 2:24 and 3pm. Since we don’t dismiss students until 3:30pm we have some drivers waiting for 45 minutes BEFORE the student are even dismissed to the gym! This is a long time to wait and it creates unnecessary traffic. ,– Last week, students were dismissed at variety of times; lots of inconsistency.
    Please don’t abandon your vehicle and wander around campus looking for your child (this occurred on and number of occasions this week!) This totally stops the flow of traffic. – Again, this was inconsistent; my sister was very irritated/ frustrated each day. On another occasion she was asked to park and told that my nephew would be brought out to her; she ended up having to go find him herself after no one returned for 30+ minutes. This also happened to another parent in the car next to her.
    2nd 3rd and 4th grade drivers should NOT park in the parking lot during arrival and pickup. We need these spaces to accommodate the K and 1st grade parents who are picking their children up in the cafeteria. BUT THEN THEY SAY… All children should be dropped off/picked up in the car line. – Which is it?
    Please don’t yell at [the principal] (it makes him feel bad and he is tryingJ) – Understandable, but it seems as though that he really needs to get more organized and possibly take suggestions from parents. It may make more sense if he implemented staggered release times, so that K-1st grade parents wouldn’t have to fight through traffic after getting their child(ren).

  25. Former Briarlake parent says:

    this article has at least 2 errors – Ann Culbreath went to Austin from Briarlake (Mary Jenks promoted to principal) and Tracey Crenshaw (former Briarlake teacher) was promoted to principal maybe at Vanderlyn? Can’t speak to the other info provided.

  26. dekalbite2 says:

    @dekalbteach
    “We did lose three part-time certified Title 1 staff members due to having to use our Title 1 funds to pay for the SFA facilitator and data coach. These part-time teachers worked with students each day and they are gone.”

    Did the principal decide that he/she wanted to use Title 1 funds for the SFA facilitator and data coach and forgo teachers instructing struggling students? I thought Dr. Atkinson was driving Title 1 funding decisions to the schoolhouse level. Replacing teachers with non teaching personnel is not going to improve student achievement. Haven’t we seen student achievement decline as teaching positions decreased and non teaching personnel increased?

  27. wondering says:

    Some schools have 25 per class and some have 34 because they may have different numbers of kids at the schools. Smaller schools are more likely to have smaller classes. Because if you only have 75 4th graders, you are going to have three classes of 25. You can’t have only two classes because that would be more than 34 kids per class, which is the max. This is why DCSS wants to move toward larger schools. If you have 200 4th graders, you can pretty easily achieve close to the max class size no matter what it ends up being that year. (If max is 34, 200 kids means 6 classes of roughly 33. If max is 30, this means 7 classes at 28-29 kids per class. And so on.) If you have 75 kids, you are not really going to get close to the max unless it is by coincidence (ie class sizes end up being either 25 or 38 that year.

  28. TuckerMom says:

    My daughter is at one of the infamous under-450 non-magnet schools, and she has 32 kids in her fourth-grade class. The classroom is so full that if the kids scoot back in their chairs, they run into the kids behind them. So it doesn’t always work out for the small schools either.

  29. Terry says:

    So tell ME what you think? Have any of you… parents and/or teachers noticed “odd people out” in your buildings? That is to say…. who are the NON-teaching people that are being assigned to school buildings and seem to have no function other than they get a desk, a chair and a computer along with some made up title that means nothing! COULD IT BE…. Atkinson is pulling people out of the golden palace and moving them out to the buildings to make it look like she’s trimming the fat? ONE I KNOW OF MYSELF is a person in “transportation”, new to our schoolhouse, but has NOTHING to do with the buses. Huh??? WHY do these people need to be in the school houses? WHERE did these people come from? They have nothing to do with teaching. How many of them are there? Please, if you know what I am talking about, ……enlighten me!

  30. justwatch says:

    There are central office people assigned to schools this week to help out. Perhaps that is the situation at your school. They will return to the CO next week, I believe.

  31. Terry says:

    I know for a fact that this person will be assigned to the school for this year. But not on any schedule with the kids. It really jerks my chain to see people sit at a computer for 8 hours every day! We shall see what this one does!

  32. dekalbteach says:

    dekalbite2 -my understanding is our Title 1 budget was used to hire the two SFA people, which is a required part of being with the SFA program. I don’t believe our principal selected to lose three teachers that worked with our below grade level students, but instead was forced to use the funds in this manner due to program restrictions.

  33. dekalbite2 says:

    @ Louise Bell
    “I am wondering why there is a “special assistant to the superintendent” listed on the job site with a salary of 111,500/year when our schools have lost tons of support people and front line jobs have been cut.”

    That is Ramona Tyson’s current title – “Special Assistant to the Superintendent Transition”.

    This probably has something to do with Ms. Tyson’s contract and her continued employment. Ms. Tyson was head of MIS (the technology department) before she became the head of Operations over Finance and Human Resources under Crawford Lewis.

    Look at the working of the job site:
    “The candidate must possess high technical skills in the areas of project management, office applications, internet search engines and technology devices; exceptional analytical skills, communication skills, professionalism, and flexibility are also required…….Certification/Licensure: Valid Georgia Professional Standards Commission approved certificate in educational leadership at level L-5, NL-5, PL-6 or above preferred. Six Sigma certification, PMP or other project management certifications preferred.”

    This is tailor-made even though it says it is open to all candidates inside and outside DeKalb County Schools.

    You are right. No other school system has a position like this.

  34. dekalbite2 says:

    @dekalbteach
    “my understanding is our Title 1 budget was used to hire the two SFA people, which is a required part of being with the SFA program.”

    That would mean that this is the same as America’s Choice. The superintendent chose it and then said we have to spend all this Title 1 money on non teaching Coaches to implement it according to the terms of the contract. This takes the Title 1 money expenditure decisions away from the Title 1 schools and puts it back under the Central Office’s control.

    America’s Choice consumed averaged $8,000,000 a year for around 6 years ($24,000,000) plus it REQUIRED around $8,000,000 in Instructional Coaches ($24,000,000) for a total of around $50,000,000 over the last 6 years. Meanwhile student achievement in our Title 1 schools steeply declined. Not ONCE did the Board of Education members ask for student achievement data to be linked to America’s Choice. Not ONE benchmark was ever set for America’s Choice.

    Taxpayers should be asking where the benchmarks are for Success for All (SFA) and when the data will be published. Tens of millions of tax dollars are being committed to this program as taxes are raised, teaching positions are cut and class sizes are increased. Where is the accountability in terms of specific objectives met for this program? The Board of Education had no business approving this program if Dr. Atkinson cannot give them specific student achievement objectives and the specific benchmarks for measuring if those objectives have been met.

    That’s actually the way Dr. Atkinson and the BOE should be making investments with our tax dollars. State the measurable objectives and how and when you will measure them BEFORE you spend the money, and then follow through with the measurement AFTER the program is implemented. If the program cannot meet the objectives, discontinue it. If you have no plan, then expect no results.

  35. Is Ramona Tyson Six Sigma?

  36. Lindy Hop says:

    In most cases the school web site is maintained by the library media specialist. This task is not part of their job description, but rather an extra duty assigned by the principal. (This extra assignment does not earn a stipend.) I suspect most library media specialists are focusing on other duties right now. Keep in mind that at least seven media specialists are now assigned to two schools and those who once had assistance from media clerks no longer do.

  37. LisaK says:

    Could be Tyson’s job although her office and secretaries were moved to another part of the building so now she does not have the day to day contact with Atkinson.

  38. dekalbite2 says:

    “America’s Choice consumed averaged $8,000,000 a year for around 6 years ($24,000,000) plus it REQUIRED around $8,000,000 in Instructional Coaches ($24,000,000) for a total of around $50,000,000 over the last 6 years. ”

    Soooooo Sorry – fuzzy math from my fuzzy mind!!!

    $48,000,000 over 6 years for America’s Choice and then $48,000,000 over 6 years for the America’s Choice non teaching Instructional Coaches equals $96,000,000.

    Will we go down this same road with Success for All?

  39. justwatch says:

    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/pds-tv24

    Last night’s board meeting is already posted if anyone is interested in watching.

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