Thank You!

We are just now checking the RSS feeds that DeKalb School Watch subscribes to … and there was a new one from Nancy Jester’s whatsupwiththat.nancyjester.com blog:

“I am writing today to express my gratitude and sincere thanks for the opportunity to serve you during the last two years. Please know how much I appreciate your supportive words, calls and prayers. I am proud of the work I did to expose the deceptive budgeting practices and bring a parent’s perspective to the board.

“In the upcoming weeks, I’ll be blogging about various educational issues, legislation and events of importance to DeKalb and our state. We have so much work to do together. As always, I remain steadfastly committed to being an advocate for children and taxpayers.”
Please go to whatsupwiththat.nancyjester.com to read the rest of Nancy’s statement.

We can’t know why selfishness, greed and evil flourish in this world.  Certainly DeKalb County seems to have more than its share of such people — people who think nothing of taking away a child’s chance at a decent future so they can line their own pockets and the pockets of their family and friends.  We all know who those people are — in DeKalb County — in Alpharetta — and in Georgia.  Deep down, spin it as they might, they know who they are, too.

We join with Nancy Jester’s many fans and admirers to thank her for a job well done!  We wish we had been present the other night to join in giving Nancy a standing ovation for the stellar work she has done for DeKalb’s children.   It’s too bad for DeKalb’s children that she wasn’t allowed to finish.

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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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28 Responses to Thank You!

  1. Amy Parker says:

    Your link is bad. http://whataupwiththat.nancyjester.com/ should be http://whatsupwiththat.nancyjester.com/ typed right, linked wrong.

  2. Still Here says:

    Overheard today at lunch, Nancy to run for State Senator next year if not reappointed to school board. Could she defeat Fran Millar? I think so.

  3. dekalbite2 says:

    Great job, Nancy. Your transparency, financial acumen and constant concern regarding the impact of every Board decision for children is greatly appreciated.

  4. Thanks Amy! All fixed…

  5. DeKalbSchoolAlum says:

    Can’t the new board members, once seated, simply vote to withdraw the lawsuit, effectively ending the legal challenges pending before the State Supreme Court? It would seem they are not bound by the vote of the ousted members to challenge the the Governor’s authority and would have the right and ability to reverse that decision. At the least, they could vote to defund the lawsuit. Then, the only way the challenge could move forward to the Supreme Court would be for the ousted members to find a legal team willing to take the case pro bono or for the ousted members to pay the legal fees out of their own pockets.

  6. dekalbite2 says:

    That’s why it’s important to know how the three new members voted. If they all voted to keep the legal fees flowing, then their constituents can let them know how we feel about that. They will feel the pressure as they face the voters summer, 2014. The three existing BOE members including the Board Chair may be doing everything they can to convince the six new members to go along with them – using SACS’s recommendation of solidarity on the BOE as an excuse to keep this lawsuit funded. If the Board Chair voted for funding the lawsuit, you can be sure he will be pressuring the new BOE members to fall in line for solidarity’s sake.

  7. Teacher/Parent says:

    This is off topic, but DCSS sent out an employee newsflash today about their updated compensation page. Their “rewards” page includes a blurb about the 6-8% monthly contribution by BOE to the tax sheltered annuity. Am I wrong, or is this the same annuity that was frozen illegally by the board and is the subject of a lawsuit?
    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/human-resources/compensation-and-classification/rewards-package.pdf

  8. Can you forward the whole employee newsflash to us, please?

  9. dekalbite2 says:

    @ Teacher/Parent and DSW
    Dr. Lewis and Ms. Tyson eliminated the TSA for teachers but kept it for non teachers. Most non teaching employees are members of the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS). For example, Walker’s son is in Security so he is in the PSERS. His salary is $69,000+ a year and being in the PSERS he would receive the extra TSA contribution of 6% to 8% of his salary because the TSA was not cut for personnel in the PSERS.

    Lewis and Tyson cutting the teachers’ TSA but keeping it for the PSERS non teaching employees is was an example NOT focusing on classroom personnel who are responsible for the academic achievement of students.

    I knew this was happening because I asked my personal TSA account executive last if the PSERS employees were still getting the Board contribution TSA while teachers weren’t, and she said yes they were.

  10. Teacher/Parent says:

    @DSW
    This is the News Flash:
    =========================
    INTEROFFICE MEMORANDUM
    =========================

    To: All DeKalb Employees
    From: Dr. Tova Jackson Davis, Director, Employment Services
    Ms. Fonda Price, Director, Staff Services
    Through: Dr. Tekshia Ward-Smith, Chief Human Resources Officer
    Subject: Compensation & Classification Web Page
    Date: 08 March 2013

    Introducing…………………..
    [Image:382013_40757_0.jpg]
    the New Compensation & Classification Web Page

    The Division of Human Resources has launched a web page dedicated to providing information regarding Compensation and Classification.

    The web page covers various compensation and classification related topics, such as:
    -History of Step Increases
    -Position Reporting Work Calendar
    -Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Reminders
    -Salary Ranges by Classifications
    -Compensation & Classification Frequently Asked Questions

    The website can be accessed here: http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/human-resources/compensation-and-classification

  11. Dekalb School Board for Dummies says:

    @DeKalb School Watch, I overheard that the district will be issuing contracts to employees on March 25th. When were these contracts approved?? My guess is that they were approved by Eugene and the Crew before they were ousted. Was this an attempt to keep the F&F and excess central office staff employed? Can the new board (whoever they will be) vote for a budget for next school year that would include employee contracts? I also heard that teachers may be facing a 2% decrease in pay.

  12. Concernedmom30329 says:

    No contracts have been approved. No budget has been approved. If they want to issue contracts, they will have to be approved by the new Board, which presumably will have a called meeting pretty quickly after being appointed. I suspect the new Board will be very careful when it comes to issues like Central Office employment.
    Remember, employees have been being asked to sign contracts that don’t have salaries in them for at least the last year or two, because the budget isn’t finalized at the point the contracts are issued.

  13. dekalbite2 says:

    @ Teacher/Parent

    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/human-resources/salary-ranges/

    This is the long awaited Titles and Salary information for non teaching personnel.

    Just a little checking shows:
    Dr. Walker’s son as a School Resource Officer showed a salary of $69,000+ last year on the State Salary and Travel audit, yet here is what DeKalb’s Title and Salary Range page says:
    Officer, School Resource 237 8 $40,312.81 $54,854.10

    Here is the pay of the top three Fernbank Science Teachers from the state Salary and Travel audit:
    $95,751.60
    $95,751.60
    $95,751.60
    Yet here is what DeKalb’s Title and Salary Range page says:
    Specialist, Fernbank Science Center Instructional 184 8 $34,863.85 $79,929.60

    Here is the pay for the Fernbank Media Specialist who is not a certified Media Specialist from the State Salary and Travel audit:
    $88,722
    Her Title in the staff directory is Librarian, Scientific
    Yet there is no such title listed in the Title in DeKalb’s Title and Salary Range.

    Here is the pay for the Officer, Information Security from the state Salary and Travel audit:
    $104,437
    Yet here is what DeKalb’s Title and Salary Range page says:
    Officer, Information Security 237 8 $74,812.67 $98,711.00

    Please look at this page to see how many different titles we have in the non teaching area. Contrast this with Forsyth Schools:
    http://www.forsyth.k12.ga.us/Page/35819

    We will never be able to afford to attract and retain quality teachers with this many non teaching personnel on the payroll. We couldn’t raise enough taxes to bankroll this crowd.

  14. tired says:

    I usually don’t comment, but I have to respond. This is old data. The Fernbank salaries are/were 12 month salaries. Something you have never understood. Those employees that you were quoting worked 12 months of the year, had PhD’s, and had over 30 years of employment. They were paid at the exact same payscale as any other teacher in DeKalb County. It is not like they were paid more than anyone else in DeKalb. It is the same with the Media Specialist, who, by the way, was let go last summer after the huge budget decrease at FSC. All of the teachers at FSC were taken to 10 month, 8 of them were let go, and several retired.

  15. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    DeKalbite….This is why that Ernst & Young audit from 1995, that Crawford lost, was so vital. It showed exactly the ills back then. Since, nothing has changed for non-teaching employees. With Thurmond’s expertise as Labor Commissioner, one would think he would understand why stakeholders are so angry. The budget has been balanced on the backs of teachers for 5 years, so Tyson’s crew and the laughable, incompetent Friends & Family can move forward without being touched or at least their salaries reigned in to what they should be. If Thurmond does not RIF, not move, RIF,at least 300 from the Palace, the good teachers will continue their exodus from DCSD. That is why Tyson is still around, to preserve the golden jobs of the folks that do not do squat for our children.

  16. Thanks for all of the updates, everyone. It’s at least a bit encouraging that they are posting something online in an effort to be a bit more transparent…

    In addition –

    Thurmond has rescheduled with the Dunwoody Homeowners Association — he will be with them tomorrow, Sunday, March 10 according to the Patch:

    Interim DeKalb School Superintendent to speak in Dunwoody Sunday night

    Michael Thurmond will be at a special called Dunwoody Homeowner’s Association meeting Sunday night. The meeting will be at the Kingsley swim/tennis Club- 2325 North Peachtree Way. It will begin at 7:30.
    Contact:

    Stacey Harris DHA President
    staceyharris70@hotmail.com

  17. DCSD FOR DUMMIES says:

    @ Concerned mom, not true. Our contacts did have salaries. They were just the wrong salaries.

  18. DCSD FOR DUMMIES says:

    A teacher with at least 30 years of experience, with a PhD would make more in other districts around the metro area and perhaps throughout the state? Why can’t we keep up with other districts anymore? Why are we still employing more non-teaching /central office staff than other metro districts? Are they educating the children? What happened to our focus? Whose advocating for the children?

  19. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    Tired… Maybe it is old data. Where is the new data and how does one discern between the two? This is the issue. I believe the data is all over map to muddy the waters. This is what Jester was finding, nothing was adding up. How does the team of Tyson and Turk go 49 million over budget two years straight. Staff releases excel spreadsheets that have broken formulas and many simple addition errors. Remember the Dad in Huntley Hills who figured Clew was wrong with his numbers on why Montessori had to go? The program continued, thanks to a parent, no one on the staff found it. I believe BOE members past and present have been misled by a staff that tried to keep the F&F train from being derailed. How else do you explain this, unless it is total incompetence, which I have not ruled out.

    The new BOE MUST demand the best from the staff. Mr. Thurmond it is time to announce a REAL & HONEST, all pages released to the public, forensic audit. Released before being edited-lost by Tyson or anyone else who does not want the past exposed.

    First question for Thurmond at the DHA, Why is Ramona Tyson still working for DCSS?
    Second question, Why is Tyson in charge of the response to SACS? Her last attempt of 10,000 non-searchable pages was shoddy at best.

  20. dekalbite2 says:

    @tired

    “I usually don’t comment, but I have to respond. This is old data. The Fernbank salaries are/were 12 month salaries.”

    Good to know. The Fernbank instructors are on a 12 month salary schedule yet they are listed by the county as being a 184 day position:

    Specialist, Fernbank Science Center Instructional 184 8 $34,863.85 $79,929.60

    That 184 stands for this being a 184 day position just like teachers. So already we can see that this compensation list is incorrect and misleading.

    “It is the same with the Media Specialist, who, by the way, was let go last summer after the huge budget decrease at FSC”

    She is still on the Fernbank Science Center website and she is still on the DCSS staff roster. Please look her up:
    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/search?t=staff

    If this list is not accurately listing the Titles and Salaries in DCSS, then that is a huge problem. In many instances, I can see that they merely took the pay of the higher level employees and made that the top of the pay scale so they would not have to decrease their pay. Sounds like more of the same to me.

  21. dekalbite2 says:

    @concerned mom

    No contracts for non teaching personnel should be signed until the budget has been right sized around the classroom.

    Mr. Thurmond and the new BOE need to ensure EVERY child in DeKalb Schools has:
    1. A safe and clean learning environment
    2. A competent, well compensated teacher in a reasonably sized classroom
    3. Abundant access to cutting edge science and technology equipment

    Only after these components are in the budget should he consider what monies are there for admin and support.

    If DeKalb doesn’t have enough money to hire teachers for children the rest of the year and must depend on substitutes, then Mr.Thurmond needs to begin a RIF immediately in the non teaching area so that students can have teachers (not substitutes) in the classroom.

    Who thought up the idea of replacing students’ teachers with substitutes anyway? That should not be legal. Occasionally, in a situation where you cannot find a qualified teacher in a hard to place area, you may hire a long term sub. But to hire substitutes for the vast amount of teachers we need to replace from the mass exodus in January is unbelievably unfair to students. Mr. Thurmond’s actions of replacing teachers who left with substitutes to save money while keeping all of the non teaching personnel employed at the same pay scale is EXACTLY what SACS is talking about when they say DeKalb is not focused on students.

    Does anyone know who suggested to Mr. Thurmond that the students do not need teachers – rather substitutes will do for this group of “stakeholders”? I’d really like to know who gave him the I pression that this is an acceptable educational practice and is a way to move students forward academically. What a harebrained idea.

  22. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    Hey dekalbite…How much you want to bet it was Tyson who suggested hiring subs to replace the teachers that left. That is why our F&F network never feels the pain like the teachers. Something is really wrong when, 6 figure employees get to have their TSA matched, while teachers get hosed again… Mr. Thurmond is this the correct way to treat the frontline employees, who actually try to perform the mission of DCSS?

  23. dekalbite2 says:

    @Atlanta Media Guy
    The students are the ones getting hosed. The substitutes can always move on while students are stuck.

    What makes you think it was Tyson who came up with the plan of giving students substitutes instead of teachers?

    Whoever it was does not belong in a management position in a school system. This makes me really question Mr. Thurmond’s competence and commitment to the students in DeKalb County. Who doesn’t give students teachers, but instead gives them substitutes as a matter of course? And what BOE members approved this?

  24. dekalbite2 says:

    Gwinnett is giving their students teachers not substitutes. Look at their advertisements for teachers:
    http://www.applitrack.com/Gwinnett/onlineapp/default.aspx?Category=Teachers&all=cat

  25. Gwinnett has already and will continue to hire the best and brightest teachers away from DeKalb. But this is of no consequence to our leadership, as they think teaching can be done by simply reading a canned script anyway…..

  26. augustus says:

    According to the Rewards package Tax Sheltered Annuity -“BOE provides 6 – 8% contribution each month to employees covered under the Public School Employee Retirement System” This has not been true for several years. Keep in mind that the school employees do not participate in Social Security either. Which means that when they start to collect SS from previous jobs, they will only get a small portion.

  27. dekalbite2 says:

    @Augustus
    Yet it is listed on the DCSS website and my VALIC account executive who sells to DCSS personnel said this as well.

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