VOTE for Change. VOTE for McMahan and McGill!

Do not just HOPE for change, VOTE for change!  

Nearly a quarter of the DeKalb school board seats are contested in nonpartisan runoff races in District 4 and District 6. The runoff election is set for tomorrow, Tuesday, August 21, 2012, 7 AM – 7 PM. All normal polling places will be open.

District 4
In District 4, incumbent H. Paul Womack Jr. is challenged by independent Jim McMahan.

McMahan has support from the third- and fourth-place candidates in last month’s election, as well as an endorsement from DeKalb School Watch. McMahan, a residential loan originator, serves on school councils for the schools his children attend and on the DeKalb County Council of PTAs. His goal is transparency, with both the school board and DeKalb County School System being much more open and completely honest with the taxpayers.

Womack, a “retiree” who lives in a house valued by DeKalb County at $367,400, pays no school taxes, though he heads up the DCSS Finance Committee that makes decisions on how funds are spent – or misspent, as the case may be – and how much the rest of us will pay in the school tax portion of our property tax.  Womack sent out a flyer that “fakes” support from DeKalb School Watch. DSW absolutely does NOT support Womack who is the source of many, many problems.

District 6
Retired DeKalb schools Deputy Superintendent Melvin Johnson, part of the DCSS “inner circle,” is running against independent Denise E. McGill in the 6th District.

McGill, who has worked in telecommunications project management and is currently a communications consultant, has a child in DeKalb schools. The former PTSA president and Girl Scout troop leader says she’s the grass-roots candidate, and is endorsed by the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys, EduKalb (DeKalb Chamber of Commerce) and by DeKalb School Watch.

Johnson, whose children are grown, serves as CFO of the Leadership Preparatory Academy charter school, housed in New Birth Church. He was instrumental in obtaining a costly lease for Leadership Prep, in spite of the multiple vacant school facilities owned by DCSS and available rent-free, that is extremely advantageous to New Birth. Leadership Prep leases unspecified square footage for $122,050 per school year, plus maintenance/repairs [unspecified], gas, electric, telephone, security [unspecified] and insurance [unspecified]. A sweet deal for New Birth, not so much for DeKalb County Schools.

It Is Time for a Change — Please VOTE for Change (McMahan or McGill)!

Both Womack and Johnson have been part of the problems with DCSS – never part of the solutions. Their time has come and gone. They had their chance and blew it. If you live in District 4 or District 6, DeKalb School Watch urges you to VOTE tomorrow for Jim McMahan, District 4, or Denise McGill, District 6.

Remember – even if you did not vote in the primary, you may still vote tomorrow, Tuesday, August 21, 2012, 7AM – 7PM in your usual polling place.

Not sure where to vote? Need to confirm whether or not your polling place has changed? Check online here.

If you did vote in the primary and you voted Democratic, you will need to ask for a Democratic ballot tomorrow because there are a couple of Democratic races in the runoff. If you voted Republican or Non-partisan in the primary, ask for a Non-partisan ballot tomorrow.

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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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33 Responses to VOTE for Change. VOTE for McMahan and McGill!

  1. Gene Wise says:

    You are there for the sole purpose of helping find better candidates for the school board but, if the only things you have to say about a budgeting expert who has put in over 20 years total as a Board member is that he pays taxes according to law for people his age and an inexperienced neighbor who admits he agrees with almost every position of Womack can do better in the two years left for existing districts, it is just beyond comprehension.

  2. Dekalbite2 says:

    @” an inexperienced neighbor who admits he agrees with almost every position of Womack”

    Can you provide a credible source to back that statement up?

    Jim McMahan does NOT agree with every position of Womack. As a matter of fact, he disagrees with MOST of Mr. Womack’s positions.

    School board members did not have to be very proactive when we had a budget surplus coming in (before the Great Recession) hit. They just counted on all of those de facto tax increases (property tax assessments rising). Did Mr. Womack state the board should roll back the mileage rate when property assessments were bringing in extra money or did he vote for all those additional NON teaching positions the superintendents presented to the board?

    Now that the hard choices must be made with respect to budget cutting, the school board has approved (Mr. Womack included) time and time again increased class sizes and decreased teaching positions (close to 1,000 teaching positions lost) instead of reducing the millions in legal fees, 12 month overstaffed Security group, transportation for parents who choose to take their children outside the neighborhood schools to special schools, etc. He has been insistent that cell towers go on school property, thus destroying property values in 7 neighborhoods for the annual cost of one Central Office employee ($4,000,000 over 30 years from T-Mobile only equals $130,000 a year). High taxes and low student achievement is what we have in DeKalb. The buck needs to stop with the school board. They only have to get two things right – spend tax dollars wisely and improve student achievement. One relates to the other. Accountability must lie with them including Mr. Womack. Jim McMahan is to be admired for stepping up to the plate.

  3. bu2 says:

    I agree its absurd to slam someone for paying taxes according to the law.

    But I also think its absurd for any member of the board to claim to be a budgeting expert given the problems this district has with its budgets.

  4. Northlake Mom says:

    If Paul Womack is a budgeting expert, why was he blindsided when the budget mess occurred this year? He was the chair of that committee! Why didn’t he realize that no one had included interest in their loan repayment calculations, leading to the huge shortfall?

  5. Actually, finding better candidates for the school board is NOT the sole purpose of DSW.

    As for Womack and the taxes he pays — we think that, during the time Womack is on the board, “overseeing” the budget and making decisions about raising the millage rate (i.e., our property taxes), he should have some skin in the game instead of paying $0 school taxes.

  6. justwatch says:

    And the news just keeps getting better….
    http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/dekalb-school-system-debt-1503467.html

    Reacting to recent financial turmoil in DeKalb County, a major bond-rating agency has downgraded $385 million in school system debt.

  7. Educate says:

    Fellow teachers, HELP! With the new CCGPS and teacher evaluation, our weekly lesson plans are expected to be 20 PAGES LONG! This is no exaggeration- one page per day, per subject.
    4 x 5= 20. This is INSANE! What is being done at your schools? BTW, we have had about 30 minutes of training on CCGPS, and none on the new evaluation. Guess we COULD have done that on our furlough day!

  8. dekalbite2 says:

    @ just watch
    “Alan Schankel, managing director of municipal credit research at Janney Montgomery Scott, a Philadelphia-based brokerage…..said DeKalb has relatively strong real estate values that could support more taxes, despite annual slides of 2 percent to 3 percent a year since the recession. “That’s not good, but compared to places like California, Arizona and Nevada, it’s reasonable,” he said.”

    How much more can taxes be increased in a county with the lowest student achievement? What parent would want to buy a house in DeKalb and take on those high tax rates for a poor school system? Why buy a $350,000 home and then pay around $5,000 in taxes ($400 a month) added onto your mortgage while your child has 35 or 36 other students in his/her class and the teacher attrition rate is getting worse? This doesn’t sound reasonable.

  9. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t we at the max legal millage rate? Or at least very near to it?

  10. teachermom says:

    @educate
    I have 2 competing boxed curriculum (which includes Success For All). Neither of them easily sync up with Common Core. I just found out yesterday I have to do SFA, but still need training. It is a mess and I don’t even know what to add to my lesson plan, which is a weird hybrid format that I have not been trained on. I bet it will be late September before I have enough info to even write the dang plan. In the meantime, I’m teaching what I know the kids need…

  11. Cigi says:

    Educate me.
    Before principals can train staff, they have to be trained. The state required everyone to get re-trained. After the training, you take a test. The principal has to wait for two weeks before they get their score returned to them. They must pass the test to be able to train the staff. The other problem is that the new evaluation requires lesson plans to cover certain objectives. We have been trying to shorten the format at our schools. (And the good news just keeps on coming)
    There is also a safety audit that each school must have.

  12. Just a Mom says:

    as of now McMahan has 65% of the vote, and McGill has 34% in their respective districts. AJC says it’s 0% of votes counted so something is not quite right with that. Over 3500 votes cast in District 4. Dare we hope, at least in District 4?

  13. dekalbite2 says:

    If Dr. Atkinson is going to use Success for All, she should have waited a year until she had the time and staff in place to implement it. Launching a new educational program when teachers and staff are not prepared is not good for kids.

  14. dekalbite2 says:

    @Just a Mom
    Where are you getting your information? I’ve looked on the Internet and can’t see anything reported.

  15. Cigi says:

    dekalbite2

    Go to the AJC.com or WSBTV.COM

  16. Jim Kinney says:

    Dekalbite2 – Sec of state site has “official” ( I think) totals. The link below is from the SoS site.
    http://results.enr.clarityelections.com/GA/DeKalb/41674/97345/en/summary.html

  17. fedupindcss says:

    Looks like Womack’s out! Unfortunate about Johnson, though. Seems like a F&F tool.

  18. dekalbite2 says:

    @Just a Mom
    Thanks for the link.

  19. another comment says:

    I really do not understand why teachers always complain on blogs that they need training for canned teaching programs. Why can’t they teach themselves. Are we really at the bottom of the barrel with our teacher workforce that they can not go through a canned program and learn it on their own.

    I have never in my life had any training on any computer program except for Fortran program, which engineers used over 34 years ago. Every program since the one Fortran basic card key program class I took as an under graduate, I have taught my self.

    If teacher’s can’t teach themselves we have a real big problem. When I was in graduate school for engineering, I was a teaching assistant for 400 level class. That is for Seniors in College at the #1 ranked Engineering School in the country. I was assigned one class that I took the lecture portion for 1 hour of credit with my students ( I had never taken the subject matter before), I then had to teach the two weekly lab sections (2hrs of credit the students earned but I did not) and then I graded everything for the lecture and lab, without a key. Then I also graded a Mechanical engineering Class, that I never took the class, did not sit in on, was not my major, the professor would not give me any grading keys. Yet I graded every homework and every exam.

    Training is a luxury that adults get paid for by their employers only in flush times, not in times of economic crisis. Stop complaining and learn it on your own, if you truely are a teacher. Come on you can teach your self.

  20. An Open Letter to Those Who Voted for Denise McGill on July 31, 2012

    If you are one of the people who voted for Denise McGill on July 31, but could not be bothered to take 5 minutes to go to the polls and vote for her again today in the runoff election, SHAME on you! On July 31, of the 12,593 voters, 3,807 people voted for McGill. Fewer than 2000 people — TOTAL — in District 6 voted today — only 1,846 to be exact. Only 625 of those voted for McGill. Where were the rest of you — the other 3,182 voters who originally voted for McGill?

    There are 62,975 registered voters in District 6. Of these, 54,946 are considered “active” voters. School Board District 6 sent a strong message today about how little they care about their schools … how little they care about their communities … and especially, how little they care about their children when only 3% of the “active” voters bothered to go to the polls.

    Shame on you! Shame on all of you! It’s hard to understand how any of you who did not bother to vote can even look at yourself — your sorry self — in the mirror, much less face your children who were counting on you to do the right thing. There is simply no excuse for not getting your lazy ass to the polls and voting — unless you woke up dead this morning.

    It is unfortunate for your schools, your community and your children, but you absolutely deserve who you get. However, the rest of us do not. Your lack of civic responsibility will negatively affect all DeKalb schools. In District 6, 82% of the registered voters are black. Don’t even think about suggesting that problems in DeKalb schools are racially motivated unless you mean that black voters are to blame. Which you are.

  21. teacher/taxpayer says:

    I saw the early returns on TV and am so glad to see that Jim McMahan got so many more votes than Womack so far. I know that I and alot of teacher friends really talked McMahan up and encouraged people to vote. I think his strategically placed signs helped too.
    Regarding planning for this school year: It is business as usual; too little, too late. Training SFA was provided during pre-planning, and I think it was pretty good. But actual SFA materials are not in our hands so we can’t get a jump on preparing. Implementation is delayed until Sept. 10; no reason given. Still no idea how anything will fit into the grading system.
    Finding all the curriculum info on Schoolnet has been tricky –kind of like a big treasure hunt. Math unit plans are in print so small they can hardly be read.
    The only solution is to take it one day at a time and hope the evaluators who grade teachers using the new complex system remember that this is the rollout year for a myriad of changes. As for the kids, they are going with the flow, very adaptable and eager to learn. Even though this is the biggest class I have ever had — 26 first-graders, I am loving my students.

  22. Teachingmom says:

    @dekalbite2
    Atkinson should have evaluated the curriculum we have before buying anything that we can’t afford. We did not need SFA IMHO. She should have conducted a review, maybe made a panel of experts from existing staff, to evaluate our existing instructional materials. SFA is redundant and outdated. I was told that it was originally created in the 90’s and inconsistently updated. I saw a teacher unpacking her box and it contained 3 tubs of counting bears, which most every lower grade teacher already has…

    @comment
    Sure teachers can train themselves and come up with their own lesson plans but with scripted plans we are not allowed to. We have to be taught how to jump through hoops a certain way so that when we are observed we are doing the dance they want to see.

    @dsw2
    Can you start a thread on SFA?

  23. hopespringseternal says:

    @DSW

    I live in S. DeKalb, though not in District 6. I’m prone to bristling at the notion that somehow other district residents are “carrying my water”, paying for my mistakes, or otherwise burdened with me. But what happened last night, while not a de facto validation of those notions, sure didn’t help, did it? You’re dead on with your Shame Letter. To add insult to injury, this isn’t your garden-variety low SES district. These are allegedly erudite, educated people who had no excuse. None whatsoever. We can’t even manufacture a reason for that level of Just Plain Sorry. Where were the voters? Where were those other two contestants who originally got in the race “for the kids”? While Gilbert and Kinney immediately got religion as they should have, District 6 settled into an unrefined chess game and those losers hedged their bets. And everyone is now going to pay for it with the absence of Denise.

    Then again, I once had someone from that district tell me that the way he or she made a statement about the SPLOST vote that year was to not go vote yes. That’s not a typo, folks. So…. uh — I’ll take back the erudite and educated labels. Need to replace them with something more appropos — IDIOTS.

  24. Lacey Lady says:

    Shame on DeKalb voters for not supporting Denise! You get what you ask for.

  25. Lacey Lady says:

    Also won’t melvin johnson need to resign his position with LPA? Wouldn’t that be a conflict of interest? Guess his wife or dog will assume the role. Lets keep it in the family.

  26. Good Morning DeKalb Watch and the DeKalb Watch Community.

    Although I was extremely disappointed with the lack of voter turn out- I know in my heart that I gave it my BEST, and that my heart and mind were in the right place. Although I may not be sitting on a Board, my mission and goals remain the same….Which is why you should ALWAYS have a plan B….

    Today is a NEW DAY- and with it, the formal announcement of the STEPHENSON COMMUNITY COUNCIL, INC.

    Knowing that the BOE election was not guaranteed, we continued our focus on formulating a community council, which we started in March of this year- It is a functional entity and ready to roll.

    OUR MISSION STATEMENT

    The Stephenson Community Council is NOT YOUR PTA. We are a volunteer community based Non Profit 501 (c) 3 organization that provides an opportunity for all individuals and groups within the Stephenson Cluster to participate in charting Stephenson’s future. As such, it is committed to bringing people of diverse backgrounds and opinions together in an atmosphere that fosters cooperation and communication

    OUR VISION
    As an organization of dynamic, innovative, creative, and dedicated people, our focus will be to continuously improve our ability to provide a variety of public services in a climate of increasing change. The SCC will actively engage in continuous learning, performance improvements, and teamwork. By applying technology, improving our work processes, and building partnerships with other communities, we will excel in providing for the needs of our community.

    OUR CORE VALUES

    1. We stand ready to welcome and work with all persons.
    2. We will treat each person with compassion, dignity, and grace
    3. We will assist each person we serve towards self-sufficiency, well being, and be an active participant in the community.
    4. We will be good stewards of the resources entrusted to us
    5. We will conduct ourselves with honesty, ethically, and with integrity.

    Through the DeKalb Watch Blog, I have met some dynamic individuals and formulated some relationships here. I plan on meeting with various individuals, and actively pursue issues as well as INFORMING MY COMMUNITY of these issues as they happen.

    I am here, and you are stuck with me. I again want to Thank You for your support during the campaign. I appreciate all that you have done.

    Denise

  27. teacher/taxpayer says:

    For “another comment”: Of course, we can teach ourselves. If we have the materials and the time to do so. But that is rarely the case. It is usually a last minute implementation that puts us just one step ahead of the kids. (Good news: the training for common core did start in the Spring and continue in summer!)
    As for the training, the District provides it (good or bad) to ensure teachers can’t blame any failure on the lack of training.
    I sure wish folks who read this blog and have never taught would accept the fact that the vast majority of teachers are actually heroes who do an amazing job in the face of incredible micromanagement and other debilitating factors.

  28. teacher/taxpayer says:

    Oops. I meant to ask those who have never taught public school to see teachers as heroes. Teaching at the college level is not the same ball game although I am sure it has its own challenges.

  29. I do believe we have stated our respect for teachers and consider their work heroic in the face of incredible leadership stress and budget woes, fraud and corruption on the blog many times. Actually, it’s kind of the whole point of the blog…..

  30. justwatch says:

    As I have pointed out numerous time, the poster Another Comment, who posts under that name and others at the AJC Get Schooled Blog, is not a DeKalb parent or a DeKalb teacher, but I believe a bitter Cobb parent. Whey she/he is here is beyond me.

  31. Lacey Lady says:

    @ Another Comment: All of these pre-packaged programs have “sins of omission”…If you don’t have the training, they make no sense. Our teachers are perfectly capable of learning and teaching!

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