Board meeting tonite – introducing our new super, Michael Thurmond

Follow the agenda and leave comments and insight below.

citizen comments
Quick Summary / Abstract

1. Yvette Normal Hall
2. Cheryl Miller
3. Viola Davis
4. Gwen Slade
5. Wayne Redden
6. Tom Keating
7. Nakea Pennant
8. Sandy Purkett
9. Suzanne Bridges
10. Chris Pollette
11. John McCoy
12. David Schutten
13. Loreen Booker-Brown
14. Marcia Cowart
15. Carla Brown

H. 2. Approval of Financial Monthly Report

Quick Summary / Abstract
Presented by: Mr. Michael J. Perrone, Chief Financial Officer, Division of Finance, 678.676.0134

H. 3. Approval of Human Resources Monthly Board Report

Presented by: Dr. Tekshia M. Ward-Smith, Chief Human Resources Officer, Division of Human Resources, 678.676.0168

H. 4. Amendment to the Current Charter for the Museum School of Avondale Estates
Rationale

The Museum School of Avondale Estates is proposing to amend its charter to increase the current “single classroom” model at the start of 6th grade. The current fourth and fifth grade classes have been with the same 20 students for the last three years. Students lack a diverse student population and exposure to more peer experiences. By the time they attend high school, they will have had 75% of their education with the exact same student population. This is not the experience that will best serve these children both socially and intellectually. In addition, the current plan will not allow for classroom/teacher rotation or exploratory options. The single teacher model is not a best practice for middle-school as specialization in disciplines is more preferable.

Quick Summary / Abstract
Presented by: Ms. Kendra D. March, Deputy Superintendent, Division of School Leadership & Operational Support

Summary
The Museum School of Avondale Estates is proposing to amend its charter, specifically, in the current approved charter, modify Section 3, Page 3: “The Charter School shall serve approximately 516 students in grades K-8 by the fifth year of the Charter Term” to read “approximately 540 students.” The adjustment of 24 net students to 540 represents a 4% increase in the school’s population over the term of the charter.

Details
Current Board of Education Policy IBB provides allowances for a charter school to amend its charter under conditions specified in the charter. The requested amendment falls within the scope of Policy IBB allowances.

Contacts
Ms. Kendra D. March, Deputy Superintendent, Division of School Leadership & Operational Support, 678. 676.0720

H. 5. Purchase of Advance Placement (AP) Exams for the May 2013 Administration
Rationale

This purchase request is being made to allow the DeKalb County School District to pay for a single AP exam during the May 2013 administration for all DCSD high school students currently enrolled in a DCSD Advanced Placement course.

Quick Summary / Abstract
Presented by: Dr. Kathleen S. Howe, Deputy Superintendent, Division of Curriculum & Instruction

Details

For CollegeBoard’s May 2013 administration of AP Exams, the State of Georgia will only cover the cost of one AP Exam for students who are served by Free & Reduced Lunch. This is the third year that the State of Georgia has incurred the costs associated with this purchase of AP Exams. This proposed budget item is requesting $250,000 to cover the costs associated with the district purchasing one AP exam for students served by Free & Reduced Lunch as well as students paying full lunch fees.

Student performance in AP courses and on AP exams has been determined to be a valid indicator of success at the collegiate level. Additionally, new measurements associated with the State’s College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) list both student AP exam performance and successful participation in AP courses as accountability indicators for high schools. District student performance in AP courses and on exams allowed DCSD to be recognized as a recipient of CollegeBoard’s AP District Honor Roll. The district was one of seven in Georgia and 539 across the United States and Canada receiving this recognition.

Financial Impact
An amount not to exceed $250,000. The final amount paid to CollegeBoard will represent the amount invoiced to each DeKalb County high school for payment of a single AP exam after the State of Georgia’s payment portion is calculated. The local payment of invoices associated with this test administration will be completed in June 2013. The purchase amount of $250,000 will be allocated from the Curriculum and Instruction General Fund cost code.

Contacts
Dr. Kathleen Howe, Deputy Superintendent, Division of Curriculum & Instruction, 678.676.0731
Mr. Trenton Arnold, Executive Director, Office of Research, Assessments and Grants, 678.676.0300

H. 6. Purchase of Computers for Elementary & Middle School STEM Labs

Rationale

Policy DJE requires Board notification regarding expenditures to vendors that in combined total or single purchases exceed $100,000. In accordance with Board Policy it is necessary to request approval to exceed the $100,000 limit from Virtucom for the purchase of computers. STEM acronym represents the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

To upgrade ten existing Engineering and Technology STEM computer labs in the following middle schools: Cedar Grove, Chamblee, Freedom, Henderson, Lithonia, McNair, Peachtree, Salem, Stone Mountain, and Tucker. These funds will also provide STEM computer labs in the following elementary schools: Cary Reynolds, Hightower, Vanderlyn, Henderson Mill, Sagamore Hills, Evansdale, Redan, Browns Mill, Clifton, Canby Lane, Wadsworth, Chapel Hill, Narvie Harris, Princeton, Hambrick

Quick Summary / Abstract

Presented by: Dr. Kathleen S. Howe, Deputy Superintendent, Division of Curriculum & Instruction

Details

Funding will be allocated for the following:

Ten Middle Schools – Cedar Grove, Chamblee, Freedom, Henderson, Lithonia, McNair, Peachtree, Salem, Stone Mountain, and Tucker

26 Computers Per Lab – $18,300

10 Schools Total – $183,000

Fifteen Elementary Schools – Cary Reynolds, Hightower, Vanderlyn, Henderson Mill, Sagamore Hills, Evansdale, Redan, Browns Mill, Clifton, Canby Lane, Wadsworth, Chapel Hill, Narvie Harris, Princeton, Hamrick

20 Computers Per Lab – $13,500

15 Schools Total – $135,000

Total Cost: $318,000

Middle and Elementary school STEM labs will be used by students to integrate science, technology, engineering, and math concepts with hands-on projects. These labs will also support and enhance STEM related activities as they relate to robotics, mechatronics, and computer aided design as well as research related to project-based instruction within STEM career fields.

Financial Impact
The financial impact for the STEM implementation will not exceed $318,000.00 using Race to the Top (RT3) Federal Grant Funds.

Contacts
Dr. Kathleen S. Howe, Deputy Superintendent, Division of Curriculum & Instruction, 678.676.0731
Dr. Morcease Beasley, Executive Director, Department of Curriculum, Instruction & Professional Learning, 678.676.0329
Dr. Delmas Watkins, Director, Department of Career Technical & Agriculture Education, 678.676.0307

H. 7. 2012-2013 Refugee School Impact Grant Award
Rationale

A grant application was submitted with the purpose of funding activities that support parent English and computer literacy, as well as parent orientation sessions for the improvement of parental involvement and engagement. The DeKalb County School District received notification from the Department of Human Services of a grant award in the amount of $58,000 to support outreach services provided to refugee parents through the DCSD Parent Outreach Program.

Quick Summary / Abstract
Presented by: Dr. Kathleen S. Howe, Deputy Superintendent, Division of Curriculum & Instruction

Details
The DeKalb County School District has been the recipient of the Refugee School Impact Grant for approximately 8 years. Annual renewals of the grant application are required by the Department of Human Services. This is the first year of a two year grant that will help support nearly 100 refugee parents in our district through adult literacy and computer literacy classes. The Parent Outreach Program is currently being hosted at Indian Creek Elementary and the International Center. The grant will provide services in the form of adult literacy, computer literacy and school orientation modules to nearly 100 refugee and immigrant parents with the purpose of improving parental involvement and engagement in our schools. The Department of Human Services requires the acceptance of the grant be entered in School Board official minutes.

Financial Impact
$58,000 Grant funds. There is no financial impact on general operations.

Contacts
Dr. Kathleen S. Howe, Deputy Superintendent, Division of Curriculum & Instruction, 678.676.0731
Ms. Sandra Nunez, Director, ELL Studies Program, 678.676.6602

H. 8. Approval of A/E Firm for Prototypical Elementary School Design, Site Adaptation, and Construction Administration Services

Rationale

To approve the award of four (4) lump sum design contracts for the Architectural & Engineering Services for Prototypical Elementary School Design and Site Adaptation Design and Construction Administration Services project.

Quick Summary / Abstract
Presented by: Mr. Stephen M. Wilkins, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations

Summary

The award of these contracts will provide for a safe and healthy learning environment through the completion of the Architectural & Engineering Services.

Details

A formal Request for Qualifications/Proposals (RFQ/RFP) for Architectural & Engineering Services for Prototypical Elementary School Design was solicited on November 13, 2012. Fifty-seven (57) people were in attendance, representing forty-one (41) firms. Statements of Qualification were received on December 4, 2012 from nineteen (19) Architectural & Engineering Firms of which four (4) firms were shortlisted in accordance with the evaluation criteria identified in the RFQ. On January 15, 2013, proposals were received from each of the four (4) shortlisted firms in accordance with the RFP Documents. This recommendation is based upon the review and evaluation of statements of qualification and proposals received from our pool of prequalified Architectural & Engineering Firms.

Chapman Griffin Lanier Sussenbach Architects, Inc. will be responsible for the architectural and engineering design work as set forth in the proposal documents. Chapman Griffin Lanier Sussenbach Architects, Inc., will also be responsible for the site adaptation design and construction administration services for Fernbank Elementary School, Gresham Park Elementary School and Peachcrest Elementary School as set forth in the proposal documents. This firm is located at 2500 Cumberland Pkwy SE, Atlanta, GA 30339 in Cobb County.

The DeKalb County School District’s Standard Architectural Design Services Contract will be used. The award of these contracts will allow for the commencement of design services for the Prototypical Elementary School Design project and for the commencement of site adaptation design and construction administration services for Fernbank Elementary School, Gresham Park Elementary School and Peachcrest Elementary School.

Financial Impact

The Architectural & Engineering Services for Prototypical Elementary School Design project in the amount of $500,000 is allocated from architectural/engineering services cost code. The Architectural & Engineering Services for the Site Adaptation Design and Construction Administration services for Fernbank Elementary School, Gresham Park Elementary School and Peachcrest Elementary School, each in the amount of $340,000, will be allocated from architectural/engineering services cost code within each project budget.

Contacts
Mr. Stephen M. Wilkins, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations, 678.676.1446
Mr. Joshua L. Williams, Executive Director, Department of Facilities Management, 678.676.1461

H. 9. Electronic Student Information System (eSIS) Software Maintenance Agreement

Rationale

The maintenance agreement provides the DeKalb County School District with scheduled upgrades, software modifications mandate by changes in State and Federal reporting, and customization programming services for eSIS.

Quick Summary / Abstract
Presented by: Mr. Gary L. Brantley, Chief Information Officer, Division of Management Information Systems

Details
The application was approved by the Board of Education on January 14, 2008 and the approval (RFP 8-11) included a five-year payment schedule with required annual BOE approval. The final payment of the five year payment schedule was completed last year.

Financial Impact
$289,803.02 – Charge Code: 101.38.53.05.000101.753.0000

I. OTHER\BOARD COMMENTS (2 minutes each)

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48 Responses to Board meeting tonite – introducing our new super, Michael Thurmond

  1. Embarrassed Employee says:

    David S. is up and he mentioned bloggers mocking him…..o my….

  2. Embarrassed Employee says:

    Teacher used the open records to look up salaries of central office to support her points….way to go….

  3. Get the Cell Out posted a Resolution in the hope that the Board will agree.

    Be it enacted…

    That the DeKalb County School System shall not, now or in the future, consider or approve any proposals from telecommunication providers, tower companies, their subsidiaries or the like for the lease or sale of public school grounds for the purpose of construction, placement or operation of wireless or other telecommunications structures until such a time that these structures have been proven to the satisfaction of the World Health Organization, or similar authority of scientists and researchers known to the general public, to be safe for operation within close proximity to homes and schools.

    Download the entire document here:

  4. Michael Thurmond gave a quick speech about his plan to educate students and work on getting better every day … He mentioned that Dems and Republicans need to work together…. Someone needs to tell him that school systems are not political… at least they’re not supposed to be.

  5. Huntley Hills Parent says:

    Can someone at the meeting let us know if the principal approvals for Huntley Hills and/or Kittredge were discussed? Thanks!

  6. They are taking a break. All we’ve heard is the citizen comment portion and a quick intro and statement by Michael Thurmond, the new super. They’ll be back about 8 pm. See the agenda reprinted in the post above.

  7. concernedmom30329 says:

    Principals are generally not approved, I don’t think. They are sometimes announced..

  8. Michael Thurmond seems very engaged. He is also very positive and seems to be trying hard to reach out and gain understanding – he’s not coming off as a know-it-all in any way. That’s good! I like him so far… but of course, we will be watching his actions in the next few weeks and months very closely.

  9. Board comments:

    Nancy: Thanks Thurmond. Please put on your list – goodwill and credibility. Coming from parents. After school activities suddenly can be paid only by money order rather than personal check. Why penalize everyone for those who write bad checks? Some new regulation.

    Orson: Similarly, central office regulations on after care programs that always ran well on their own. Could be a good work session discussion.

    Jim: Thanks to Thurmond. Takes a big man to step up at this time. Pleased with leadership he’s already shown. Thanks admin staff who have been helpful in time of change and uncertainty.

    Edler: Thanks former super, Atkinson. Wish her well. Welcome Thurmond. Looks forward to a positive productive working relationship.

    Orson: As community sees you in action I hope they will embrace and support you in our arduous task. Thanks every staff member. Acknowledges struggles particular to schoolhouses – esp increasing class sizes. Thurmond has a good history of addressing morale issues.

    Sarah: Thanks Thurmond for taking on this task. Pledges her support to make his journey easier. This is a new day and if everybody’s not on board, we need to know that. We don’t have time to stumble right now. Asking that we all pull together and make this a profitable journey for the children of DeKalb county. (There’s a lot more but I stopped typing it…)

    Cunningham moves to adjourn but Walker says he wants his time for a statement.

    Walker: Thurmond’s selection is a symbol. Demonstrate that education is foremost. He has asked each one of us for our commitment. We equally embrace and await his leadership.

    Adjourned.

  10. Embarrassed Employee says:

    Orson is my hero tonight. Jim thanked central office, Orson took it a step further and thanked us in the schoolhouse, said he hoped Thurman could improve MORALE (you know that word that isnt supposed to exist…)and he talked about the double whammy of bigger classes and decrease in pay. There may be hope yet! Just a heads up, closing remarks began to open the can of worms that is the extended daycare program…..can’t wait to see what happens with that lawless program!

  11. Just another day in Paradise says:

    Posted this in the wrong thread…

    Just noticed…Why is Brantley bringing forward an agenda item for an eSIS contract that covers 01/01/2013 through 12/31/2013. Isn’t today 02/11/2013?? Isn’t this an “after the fact” agenda item? Shouldn’t he have brought this forward in November or December — BEFORE the actual period of service began? As many people (teachers, administrators, parents) speak against eSIS, this might have been an opportunity for discussion about the possibility of change. By moving into the second month of the period of service, we’re locked in again.

  12. Well, they did not add the resolution to tonight’s agenda as we were hoping, but at least we have it in front of them to consider. The rush to put it to them tonight was really something that they could use to benefit themselves in terms of how it would accomplish some of the goals they should be striving toward according to the SACS report. Ms. Copelin-Wood started to add something to the agenda but then rescinded her motion. Was it the cell tower resolution? We may never know. Oh well. We are at least on the record as asking for answers as none of our schools are out of the woods on this, yet. Dr. A gave us a construction timeline showing tower construction to begin in May 2013. We’re trying to find out if that is possible considering the contracts expired in December (most of them). We’ll keep everyone posted. It was nice to see a few friendly faces looking back at us from the board this time as several board members seemed much more accepting of our position than in previous interactions we have had with them. Dare I say the atmosphere was cause for cautious optimism. Thurmond seemed to be very interested, attentive and concerned. He has a hard job ahead… sure wish they would let us know the status on the cell towers so we could all move beyond it, but …. until then….

    On another note… what possesses some people to just randomly show up to talk about how great they think things are at their school? Are they put up to it so as to fill the slate of speakers? It’s so inappropriate under the current circumstances, in my opinion…. is this just me or does it make anyone else here uncomfortable as well? It feels like it creates more bitterness in the room because there are people there to talk about what things they do not have and there are those who seem to brag unconsciously about how wonderful things are. It cannot truly be so rosy and at the same time so abysmal, can it?

  13. concernedmom30329 says:

    Yes. Under the last administration or two, schools are invited to brag about what is going right in their schools. Did Evansdale show up tonight? they weren’t happy that they were being asked to speak positively at a DCSS meeting.

  14. Tired Mom says:

    My understanding is that a different school is requested at each meeting to give a glowing report of the fabulous things happening at their school. Statements are monitored beforehand by administration.

  15. hopespringseternal says:

    @Cell: One of the most demoralizing things encountered in any school building is the notion that because Rome burns, there isn’t teaching, learning and parental support going on. It is a deliberate act that representatives of schools and school communities lift their hands and tell their stories. Children, even struggling ones, still need an attaboy, and teachers still need to know that their work counts and is recognized — by somebody. Anybody. It is the thing, which while it may seem contrived and annoying to some, keeps certain people grounded. If that’s what it takes, so be it. Have you ever been among a group of students who’ve accomplished something and a parent or advisor says “Y’know I’m going to mention this at the next board meeting”? The facial expressions are pricesless.

  16. hopespringseternal says:

    Not all of these statements are engineered. If any are, shame on those who drink the koolaid. But I know of several which are not.

  17. Below is the intro letter Thurmond sent out to staff today:

    Subject: A message from Mr. Thurmond
    To: News Flash

    ====================
    INTEROFFICE MEMORANDUM
    ====================

    To: All DeKalb Employees
    From: Mr. Michael Thurmond
    Subject: A Message from Mr. Thurmond
    Date: 11 February 2013

    Dear Fellow Employees:

    Today is the first day of a new beginning for the DeKalb County School
    District. I am honored to serve as your Interim Superintendent.

    Maintaining the School District’s accreditation is my number one priority.
    I need your support and assistance. During this critical period, we must
    focus on fulfilling the School District’s core mission — providing our
    students with a quality education. Please rededicate yourself to the
    important task of improving student academic achievement at every grade
    level.

    Together, we will move this School District forward. We cannot rest until
    it is once again ranked among the best public school systems in America.
    This will require a united effort by all stakeholders — students,
    parents, board members, administrators, teachers, support staff,
    community/business leaders and taxpayers. Our challenges are great, but
    our opportunities are greater!

    Thank you for serving the children of the DeKalb County District. I look
    forward to meeting and working with you.

    Sincerely,
    Michael L. Thurmond
    Interim Superintendent

  18. Want to meet the new super in person?

    DeKalb Interim Superintendent Speaks Feb. 20th

    The next Emory LaVista Parent Council (ELPC ) meeting will be on Wednesday, February 20th at Oak Grove Elementary School. Hospitality begins at 8:45 a.m. followed by the program at 9:15 a.m. Our new Interim Superintendent, Michael Thurmond, will join us. Other speakers will include David Schutten (President, Organization of DeKalb Educators), Rep. Scott Holcomb (House District 81), and Dr. Howard Grant (Executive Director, Atlanta School Board). Please mark your calendar now and plan to attend this event which is open to all parents!!

  19. Thinker says:

    “I couldn’t think of nothing more important than…” Ladies and Gentlemen, say hello to your new Super. Unfortunately, he isn’t the first Super or upper-level administrator to exhibit poor use of the English language. There have been many emails/memos/letters from the “top” that were rife with grammatical and spelling errors. Oh, well. I suppose having a leader with a decent command of the language as well as the skills to move us forward was just too much to ask. (And lest any of you think this post is petty and picky, remember that he is leading a school system now. This isn’t the Department of Labor. We TEACH grammar. It’s what we do. As a leader, it’s important to know it.)

  20. howdy1942 says:

    At least Thurmond states that his top priority is to retain accreditation for Dekalb County. That’s good. I also applaud his attending the Emory LaVista Parent Council. Hopefully, he will also place a priority in reaching out to other communities – there is a lot of anger, frustration, and a lack of trust. However, I still hope that the State Board removes the Dekalb Board. Maybe, just maybe, Michael Thurmond and a new board will begin to focus on SACS issues and begin formulating a response and action plan to satisfactorily address those issues.

  21. Thinker says:

    Of course he says his top priority is to retain accreditation. It would be ludicrous for him to state otherwise. I, too, hope the State Board removes the Dekalb Board, but I’m not holding my breath. This is all far too politically connected for anyone to do anything but maintain the status quo. I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer, but I’ve worked under 6 Superintendents in Dekalb and my children have attended the schools. Forgive me if I still fail to see the light at the end of the tunnel. If Brad Bryant had been named Interim, I might be humming a different tune.

  22. mrmatt says:

    WSB reported tonight that Thurmond will do everything in his power to postpone or altogether cancel the GA BoE meeting scheduled for next week, where they have been expected to further question the Dekalb board on SACS issues.

    I can perhaps see why he would want time to better prepare, but I feel it’s a bad idea. In my estimation it would further highlight (for him) the challenges, and I’m not comfortable with any moves that take the heat off the board. I fear we’ll be moving back to status quo…

  23. Kim says:

    DSW: “Someone needs to tell him that school systems are not political… at least they’re not supposed to be.”

    This is the most fundamental problem facing DeKalb school system … key phrase: “supposed to be.” Sadly, the partisanship that has increasingly dominated our political institutions from the Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court and on down to our State and Local offices is now the dominate force in our public education system it seems.

    This theme was the first to emerge when I poked my curious nose into the local politics of DeKalb to understand what was happening to the Cross Keys attendance area and our representation. The lines are very clearly drawn on the map and in the minds of major stakeholders. The public system is now just one more tool for political power and agenda.

    Mr. Thurmond’s appointment cannot be viewed in any other light. Given the reality of “the game,” I applaud the Board for their selection of him. It is a very open statement that education is not the issue but rather politics.

    The current State leadership is dominated by and, as a result, advocating for the agenda of the “Republican Right” in public education policy and governance. Our DeKalb Board has been, and remains, a bastion of the “Democratic Left.” While these two political rivals play their bitter game fueled by our property and income tax dollars, average parents and teachers try to educate our kids inside the schools. The schools do their best to manage in spite of being a second priority in the game of partisan “capture the flag” that is DeKalb public education governance.

    Until our Board members can focus on the performance of individual students, individual teachers, and individual schools as their #1 priority, we remain spectators in a political blood sport that is now public education in our community. In this game, no matter if the Democrats or the Republicans win, our children will lose.

  24. hopespringseternal: In my entire school career as an honors student, National Honor Society officer and winner of several state awards, I never once had anyone say, “I’m going to mention this at the board meeting.” The board meetings are to conduct the business of the school system. The board does not need to hear the success stories. They should be focused on making policies to keep the budget on track and overseeing the work of the Superintendent. The fact that an elementary school has a fully stocked technology lab when others are there to say that they do not have toilet paper is quite rude and does not help the morale of anyone, not even those who think they have it so good. The teachers should know that by having the parents and community focused on the serious nature of the SACS report and possible loss of accreditation, that we are doing the best we can to support them. This isn’t the time for “attaboys.” The future of our county is at stake here and for people to allow themselves to become placeholders so that others with real concerns cannot be heard is a big part of what’s wrong with the system. Speak because you feel so compelled of your own volition, not because someone in the ranks of the system asked you to and you might get a special favor as a result. That is the inner workings of the corruption at its very core. Stomp it out. Stand up for your fellow schools and fellow teachers who do not have things so good. Be ashamed that you have been given so much when others are so poorly neglected. That’s how I see it. It’s no mistake that they asked white people from the “north” to talk about the good. It perpetuates the concept of the divide and keeps us at each others’ throats. I truly hope you can see that.

    No, Evansdale did not speak. Good for them! See, they were taken off the redistricting action plan and someone treated them like they “owed a favor” back to the system. That’s b.s. I’m glad they did not play into it. We have to be better than what this system is doing to all of us!

  25. Concernedmom30329 says:

    Actually, there is a rotation system. Parent leadership at some schools simply refuse to play the game.

  26. I didn’t mean to say that the school board doesn’t need to hear those things…. I guess what I mean is that they should already know how our schools are doing. It shouldn’t take a parent at an open mike to do that.

  27. Concernedmom30329: Thanks, that actually makes more sense.

  28. Mom of 3 says:

    Not sure where to ask this question- but I just had a thought. If the Governor removes the board, how would they have the authority to use school system funds to sue. They wouldn’t be board members at that point. So they would not have any authority to vote on any expenditures. Am I missing something?

  29. hopespringseternal says:

    Oh my, @Cell, I’m glad you returned and said you didn’t mean to say that boards shouldn’t hear positive things. Why you think that boards “should already know what’s going on in the schools” is fascinating. You just nailed the conundrum the BOE faces. Unless you’re a BOE member and a parent in a school, how would you know what goes on? They must know but they can’t meddle… and to find out what goes on at a school house is deemed meddling. If parents aren’t constantly calling the BOE member, how would they know? This is why we need board members with higher order critical thinking skills. It is often up to them to know where that line is so they don’t cross it.

    School or organization cheerleading has been going on since the advent of public comments. This isn’t new. Even the strong-arming for said cheerleading isn’t new. I hate to think it still goes on, and it speaks volumes about how pliant school communities can be to their own detriment. Boards are quite used to hearing positive things, and for all you know, some board members may even get a kick out of hearing it. They can’t get that kick and conduct serious business in one meeting? As for your own experiences, congratulations on what you ever saw or needed. Others experience, see and need other things.

    Now back to the thing at hand – a sinking system and frustrated students, teachers, parents and taxpayers. And if there is a rotation system for cheerleading, those who know about it should let the current Super know and tell him this behavior must stop. Not all parents know they’re being strong-armed. I’m well aware it can start with subtle conversations.

  30. Kim: “Someone needs to tell him that school systems are not political… at least they’re not supposed to be.” Maybe the fact that Thurmond is willing to talk about the political agendas and call them out is a good thing.

    Concernedmom30329: It must be a PTA thing.

    Huntley Hills Parent: I heard some mention about principals and/or AP Teachers being “promoted to the central office” in the middle of the school year and leaving a void at the school when they leave. The HR person stated that they never move anyone out without first finding a “suitable replacement.” I believe Nancy Jester asked what was meant by “suitable replacement” and if that included a substitute. The answer was that yes, sometimes it could be a substitute who might be the actual person who will be replacing the teacher in the long term, but they are waiting on something in order to make that happen, such as a transcript. So, I think the original question mentioned something about principals, but the answer was more about teachers. It was not clear what these people were being promoted to do in the central office.

    I also found it interesting that both Jester and Speaks voted “No” on whether or not to approve the HR Report.

    Also, did anyone happen to catch the public comment from a parent at Jolly Elementary? She said that at her school and another one (I forgot which one), the student populations have more than doubled in a year’s time due to the school closings in the south. She said that they cannot take any more students at Jolly (a small, older elementary school) as they went from 400 – 800 students without the additional resources to support that increase. She said there has been little or no outcry from the parents, but the teachers are drowning in overcrowded classrooms and it is extremely hard for them to teach. I was personally shocked to hear about that enormous change … it tells me we are closing schools for the wrong reasons if we are displacing that many students and placing them in such overcrowded environments. How are they selecting the schools to send these kids to?

    And, did you hear about the $3.5 million increase in bus driver salaries? Sounds like a lot more kids are being bused away from their homes, but for what purpose? Don’t all these kids deserve to have quality education close to home so that they do not have to spend so much time riding a bus and the taxpayers do not have to fund a huge fleet of vehicles and driver salaries? Wouldn’t we be serving them better to spend more on teachers and toilet paper (two things that it is shocking to find out we keep in short supply at our schools)?

  31. hopespringseternal: I would think they would know how the schools are doing because they receive reports from the system employees and they receive updates from the Superintendent.

    This is the “chain of command” concern that SACS has brought forward. Where are the parents supposed to go with their complaints? What is the chain of command? I have been told many times to send complaints to the PTA, but that cannot be an official policy as the PTA is an organization of volunteers separate from the school system.

    I’m not saying that positive stories should not be told. But, there are some very serious problems with our schools right now that could lead to the loss of accreditation. This is serious and needs to be the primary concern of every single stakeholder. As being someone who has tried in the past to get time on the speaking list (during the original cell tower agenda) to speak on a very serious and urgent issue, it is frustrating when you are told there are no spots left and then you have to hear people just generally speaking because someone told them to. They are being asked to do that, in my opinion, so that the board is prevented from hearing just how difficult or bad things are in the real world out there. They neutralize the bad by providing the good and the board is left with a feeling that “Oh well, you can’t please all the people all the time.”

    To talk about how wonderful your school is doing when we are 10 days away from a state hearing that involves very serious issues including the strong-arm tactics and under the table deals we all know take place is like sitting on the Titanic in your ball gown enjoying your champagne after we all know the boat hit an iceburg hours ago and the lifeboats are all gone. What you are doing right now is not helping. You’re still going down with the ship. Maybe it’s time to pick up a bucket and try helping the rest of us bail some of this water?

    You can go back to bragging later.

  32. hopespringseternal: Good use of the word pliant. I had to look it up to understand your context ….

    pliant: easily influenced : yielding

    Examples of PLIANT
    a pliant Congress that will do whatever the President wants

    Your comment: “…it speaks volumes about how pliant school communities can be to their own detriment.” I agree completely!

  33. @Mom of 3: They have already hired the law firm to fight the state school board’s actions claiming them Unconstitutional.

  34. Mom of 3 says:

    DSW- Even if they have already retained a law firm- they are not going to be in control of the purse strings if they are removed. Couldn’t the new school board just fire the law firm and say they are not going to pay for them anymore?

  35. Kim says:

    I think the idea is that the BoE would get their lawyers to take prophylactic steps and seek an injunction from a sympathetic judge BEFORE they are suspended … not a lawyer but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night …

  36. Kim says:

    GettheCELLoutATL: “Maybe the fact that Thurmond is willing to talk about the political agendas and call them out is a good thing.”

    Well, I suppose in theory but I’m presuming he would be focused on the political agendas of “the other side.” So, I’m not sure that moves us forward with the fundamental governance issues – this is my fear. A politically savvy leader such as Mr. Thurmond made be able to broker a “detante” with the State. I’m not sure that is in the long-term best interest of DeKalb community at large.

  37. Mom of 3 says:

    I see what you are saying Kim. My thoughts are (and hoping) that a. this wouldn’t make it to a judge in 9 days, and b. a judge wouldn’t rule on a might happen situation. I’m not a lawyer either (would love to hear from one). But I think if this runs its course and they are removed- that they would have to come up with their own funds to fight it.

  38. @Mom of 3: We sure don’t know the answer to that one. We have to wonder if they are bound to any kind of contract… just don’t know. They currently are saying though, that they hired the firm to help them deal with the SACS requirements etc. so maybe the scope has changed? Again, don’t know.

  39. DCSD FOR DUMMIES says:

    So, they have have enough money to pay attorneys, but not enough to compensate teachers with a salary comparable with other districts? They better not mess with Gov. Deal. Beverly Hall learned the hard way. If the governor decides to send investigators to schools, teachers and other staff will began begin singing like birds. Also, wouldn’t the financial issue be enough to remove the board? There has to be some sort of rule/law identifying what is and isn’t legal. Lets help the SBOE come up with Plan B.

  40. DCSD FOR DUMMIES says:

    Just like the APS cheating scandal, the governor could send investigators to each school to investigate allegations of bullying, nepotism, cronyism, etc., because this would support the SACS report.

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