Dunwoody economics… double taxation without representation

Maureen Downey is hosting an essay on her blog today written by Jeffrey Dorfman, a professor of applied economics at the University of Georgia. The essay focuses on the economics of Dunwoody breaking away from DeKalb and forming its own school system. (Such a move would require a statewide referendum to change the state constitution.)

It’s an interesting perspective, and for what it’s worth, not the perspective most Dunwoody residents are focused on. They really are focused on simply gaining local control of their schools. Dunwoody has suffered punitive poor decisions made by our school system leadership for a very long time and they’ve simply had enough. The economics outlined by Jeffrey Dorfman will certainly add fuel to their fire. It’s astounding to think that they could quite literally cut their millage rate in half and still raise the per student funding necessary to educate the residents of Dunwoody’s children.  However, for now they remain under the control of the countywide system and their Board rep, Nancy Jester has been thrown under the bus and dismissed from duty by the Governor, leaving them with double-taxation yet no locally elected representation on the Board. How’s that for irony?

By Jeffrey H. Dorfman

…There is no public data on the number of students within the DeKalb County School District who live in Dunwoody, but census data suggests there are probably about 7,200. The school district has over 97,000 students, so Dunwoody makes up only between 7 and 8 percent of the children in the district.

According to the county property tax digests Dunwoody is a high-value region of the county, containing about 15 percent of the property value within the county school district. That is, Dunwoody is paying about twice the share of school property taxes as the share of students that they send to those schools.

DeKalb County Schools levy a property tax at the rate of 23.98 mills (dollars per thousand of assessed property) to cover their spending of almost $4,400 per student of local dollars (out of $9,400 total spending per student).

To raise the same $4,400, a Dunwoody school district would only need a millage rate of 12.5. It appears that Dunwoody could form their own school district and save a lot on school property taxes. In fact, the owner of a $200,000 house might save over $800 per year in property taxes.

Click here to read the entire essay.

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39 Responses to Dunwoody economics… double taxation without representation

  1. Now, before you all go nutty accusing us of being Dunwoody homeowners – we are not. We just don’t have our heads in the sand as to the fact that Dunwoody (and other high end property owners) in the county continue to pay quite a bit more out of pocket for a school system that has been nearly hostile towards them the last decade. School system leaders literally bite the hand that feeds them when they force their destructive educational decisions on communities like Dunwoody. If Dunwoody succeeds in breaking away, then it is no different than a child leaving a dysfunctional, abusive family. Sometimes that’s the only way to a healthy self-preservation. We hold out a tiny hope that the dysfunctional, abusive leadership does a turnaround in the very near future. But at this point, we can’t even say that we are yet to the level of cautious optimism.

  2. Further, there was a meeting held in Dunwoody on the subject last week. Dunwoody Talk blog posted a detailed report:
    http://dunwoodytalk.blogspot.com/2013/03/parent-meeting-in-dekalb.html

    A study may cost between $10,000 and $15,000 and will show Dunwoody needs $70 million to run its own district and, at the current millage rate, brings in close to $130 million. If we had a Dunwoody Independent School District we could cut the school taxes by 25%. This means we could be home to the McEachern of DeKalb. It also means less money for the others in DeKalb. If this happens, DeKalb School System would need to finally get its finances in order and run more efficiently.

  3. Refugee from DCSS says:

    Michael Thurmond to attend meeting with Dunwoody Homeowners Association

    Sunday, March 10, 2013
    7:30 PM
    Kingsley Swim and Racquet Club
    2325 N. Peachtree Way
    Dunwoody, GA 30338

  4. Ella says:

    I was looking up the difference in school millage rate between DeKalb and Gwinnett and I was in shock. It appears according to the site I found that DeKalb was 23.85 and Gwinnett wass 19.25. If these statistics are correct (they may not be) then that is a big difference.

  5. Murphey says:

    @Ella, what makes this difference in millage rate CRAZY is that DeKalb sends $$ to Gwinnett because it is considered a poor district (can’t remember the exact term for it). We are taxing ourselves much more so that we can send it to Gwinnett. However, you’ve got to say that Gwinnett gets much more bang for our buck than we would.

  6. howdy1942 says:

    I understand why Dunwoody is doing what they are doing – I would, too.

    I’ve had it with the Dekalb County School System. I do not want to be forced to be part of a school system that elects the likes of Sarah Copelin-Wood, Eugene Walker, Jay Cunningham, and Melvin Johnson, as well as former member Zepora Roberts. I don’t want to be associated with the kind of decision-making that has gone on here such as the poorly managed hiring process of Dr. Cheryl Atkinson and now to hire a lawyer as interim. I don’t want to keep paying taxes to see them wasted on excessive administrative salaries, an overstaffed, bloated bureaucracy, insanely high legal costs, and focus on anything but the needs of the classroom and students. The people that this County have elected have led it from being among the top 5% in the nation to the point where it is now the only school system in the nation on probation. As SACS pointed out, the Dekalb School System has been in decline for over a decade. Copelin-Wood was elected and re-elected for over 13 years, Walker for 6, Cunningham for 7, and now Johnson – I don’t want to take my chances. He served on the school system staff for over 20 years and that is no record to support any change. I am appalled at how many within the Dekalb County legislative delegation have expressed disappointment in Judge Story’s ruling, preferring to leave Walker and Company in charge along with the virtual 100% probability of our school losing its accreditation with no consideration of our innocent students who had no “due process” having to face the consequences. Somehow, they think that Walker, regardless of his performance and threat to our school system, should serve out his term to the detriment of our school children. They also know full well that time does not exist for any special elections. I have paid a lot of money into this Dekalb County School System and continue to pay a lot. I do want to express my appreciation to Stacey Abrams for being the courageous exception to what I just said. She took a lot of flak from the “establishment”. If the system by which our school board members are selected does not change, then I will continue to work hard to separate from that system. If those who want the likes of Walker, Copelin-Wood, Cunningham, Johnson, etc., want the kind of school system they have wrought – fine. Rest assured, I don’t!! And I don’t want to be forced to pay for it. I’m just very grateful for the State of Georgia’s recommendations, for Governor Deal’s decision to suspend this board, and for Judge Story’s decision to support our children.

    While I have fewer concerns about our County, I do have concerns. Despite having his home raided recently, I’ll wait on a better understanding of the issues surrounding Burrell Ellis. However, he is a tremendous improvement over Vernon Jones. Jones about drove this County into the ditch. One decision that was forced upon me was leaving the bars open until 4 a.m. – later than any other neighboring county. That is one decision that a more locally-focused board would not have made. That kind of decision ignores the kind of values that I stand for and is just wrong-headed thinking.

    Back to where I began – I understand full well why Dunwoody is doing what it is doing in seeking its own school system. I understand full well the direction in which the Lakeside City Alliance is heading. I’m not surprised that it could provide a better school system with less taxes than at present as part of the County. Dekalb County has the highest school tax millage rate in all of Georgia and has the worst school system to show for that. Something has got to change.

  7. DeKalb Interim Schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond is holding a public meeting in Dunwoody on Sunday, March 10, at 7:30 pm. (TODAY!)

    The meeting is being hosted by the Dunwoody Homeowners Association and will be held at the Kingsley Racquet and Swim Club, 2325 N. Peachtree Way.

    Thurmond was originally set to appear before the association’s board of directors last weekend, but travel plans conflicted with his scheduled appearance.

  8. Ella says:

    Murphey, you are correct. The Gwinnett School System has been receiving extra money from the state for years. I believe the formula allows this because Gwinnett was the growing so fast.

    This does not seem fair to me. However, there is reasoning behind it. I think the formula the state uses need to be revised to prevent counties like Gwinnett who I believe have the ability to pay to go ahead and pay their fair share.

  9. dekalbite2 says:

    @Ella
    The formula is based on “property tax wealth per student”. DeKalb has a high property tax wealth per student in part because we have quite a few affluent areas that are assessed at a high rate. DeKalb also has a habit of assessing property too high – look at the onslaught of property tax appeals in the last few years.

    Remember though that this formula is also based on the property “tax” so any system that can generate more property “tax” via increasing assessments of raising the millage rate will bump up the “property tax wealth”. That is to say that every millage rate increase has made us seem wealthier. When the BOE raised the property taxes last year, they actually increased the “property tax wealth per student” which the equalization grants are based on.

    The equalization grants are not based on income levels but rather how much the school systems can raise via property taxes since property taxes are considered the vehicle that school systems use to supplement the state funding for education.

    Here is a good explanation from the Georgia School Funding Association:
    “Equalization Grants are also provided to the systems with the least property tax-wealth per student so that they can supplement or “enrich” the basic program to the same extent as other systems. These grants are intended to enable every system to derive at least as much revenue per student from each mill of property tax above the first five mills as does the system at the 75th percentile when ranking all systems according to their equalized property-tax digest per weighted student. The tax digest is “equalized” to ensure that property is valued on the same basis in every system, and the number of students is adjusted by “weighting” each of these students by the relative cost of the programs in which they are enrolled.

    Every system is required to contribute a local share based on the revenue which would be generated by five mills of property taxes when levied on the equalized tax digest for the system. In effect, the Five Mill Local Share, as it is called, is a statewide tax, since this amount is deducted from the funds “earned” by each system through the formula. By law, the total of the required local share for every system cannot exceed 20% of the total amount of QBE Formula Earnings for the entire state, but the percentage for each system varies widely depending on the relative property-tax wealth of the system.”

    http://www.casfg.org/reports/gaps_in_the_qbe_formula.html

    Most of the “extra” money in property tax-wealth that DeKalb raises used to go to the supplement for teacher pay (supplement over and above what the state gives us for teachers so we can compete in the metro area for high quality instructors). Gradually, lawsuits, expensive learning programs, and the addition of thousands of highly paid non teaching employees came to see the lion’s share of that “extra” money (i.e. property taxes allocated to the school system).

    It’s really sad to think that most of our property tax used to go to supplement teachers’ pay (DeKalb was $10,000 a year higher than I could make as a teacher in Gwinnett in the late 1980s due in large part to the local supplement from property taxes and in smaller part to the years of teaching credit that would be cut with a move to another system). Now virtually all of our property taxes go for DCSS’s non teaching admin and support compensation. DeKalb teachers just receive what the state gives every teacher in every system in Georgia while we DeKalb taxpayers pay hundreds of millions in property taxes that are mostly used for non classroom personnel. That is also unfair for students.

  10. KroNeisha from Decatur says:

    Dunwoody understands that there is a very good chance that a few of the board members removed by Gov. Deal will be reelected next year. Parts of DeKalb County have no qualms about electing representatives that are clearly not qualified to represent them. DeKalb is a billion dollar school system and yet parts DeKalb elect representatives without a college education, felons, sexual harassers, ad infinitum. One can only hope that the new board will uncover criminal shenanigans by the old board that will at least keep them from being reelected. In no way would they ever be convicted, the DA having punted already on a Grand Jury indictment, and Dr. Beverly Hall, former super for the APS, still not under indictment for the overwhelming wrong doing under her watch.

    Anyone else think that Pope and Lewis are gonna walk?

  11. QBE funding formula is what it is called. I believe it is for “Quality Basic Education.”

  12. dekalbite2 says:

    This is from the 2013 budget Gwinnett Schools budget:
    “Educational Equalization Funding Grant
    o Equalization grants are additional State funds earned by school districts above the core QBE formula earnings. These funds are intended to narrow the gap between systems in terms of property tax “wealth per student” (WPS). The amount of the grant each year is determined by a system’s property tax WPS in relation to the benchmark system.
    o Gwinnett County Public School District began qualifying for equalization funding in FY08 and has received this funding each year thereafter. Legislation has been introduced during the 2012 session (HB824) to enact changes to the grant program including the method for calculating and distributing funds. The district’s projected funding appropriation for FY13, based on the proposed legislative change is $45.4 million.
    o Gwinnett County currently ranks 87th out of 180 school districts state-wide in WPS. The district’s ranking has declined for each year since FY07 due to the continued growth in students outpacing the change in the property tax digest relative to other school districts in Georgia. Quality Basic Education (Q.B.E.)”

    http://www.gwinnett.k12.ga.us/gcps-mainweb01.nsf/677FD182198D2099852579E4004A421E/$file/FY2013BudgetBookforweb.pdf
    (see page 22)

  13. Quality Basic Education. Isn’t that an oxymoron?

  14. Concerned Citizen says:

    Tonight, in Dunwoody, should be very revealing about Thurmond’s progress. I don’t think Dunwoody residents are very open to bs. I know there are many issues but other than who is on the board, I’m worried about the teaching positions that were closed down (by ?). It’s wrong to have subs with the students and it’s wrong for real certified teachers to not be able to work, even told they might consider janitor and kitchen assignments by HR. This is the kind of disrespect that DeKalb teachers have endured for years, from the likes of Tyson,HR folks, etc.If Thurmond does not correct this situation immediately, and get teachers hired and these postings open, there will be actions taken because I still don’t believe our parents and teachers will allow this. It was done so secretly, it’s scary. So, there weren’t just 300 teachers let go, there are another 35 or so who couldn’t get hired, at least not at teacher pay or even PT Retiree pay. HR simply SHUT DOWN FOR THE YEAR IN MARCH! and most likely, if the supt doesn’t act, will get away with it.Where are our children and teachers? So, first, Supt Thurmond, take some ACTION! hire teachers and fire the major sources of deep unrest – the list begins with Tyson. Show us some action! I haven’t seen anything from you yet, and that is just like Atkinson did, nothing, but get her milllion dollar + scripted teaching in. What a joke. BTW, I believe her scripted teaching should be summarily dropped before it does anymore harm. That also will send a loud message about the money passing hands. Really, Supt Thurmond, take some action and take a stand. You have a very clear plan with the sub teachers instead of certified teachers. SACS has always said that a school must have a certified teacher in the classroom. Why in this world does HR take the initiave to violate a sacred trust for students and teachers? Our school system is continuing, even after major upheaval, to let the establishment do anything they want to. WHY?

  15. Ella says:

    dekalbite2, thanks for insight.

    I know I am very optimistic about the changes occuring now with the naming of the new school board members by the governor. I do believe it is a good start.

    I also hear politically that the citizens in most of the districts in the southside of the county are not happy with the school board members who they put in place during the last election. In other words they are not behind Walker and Woods. I hear these two absolutely could not be re-elected. The involvement of the state has definitely opened many eyes and this process has definitely hurt some school board members reputations as of right now.

  16. howdy1942 says:

    Ella, we’ll wait and see what those districts that elected Walker, Woods, and Cunningham do in 2014. Not only do they need to totally abandon people like these three, but they need to avoid any approximations of them. If any one of these are re-elected, then Lakeside City will pass as will any vote to change the Georgia Constitution to allow the creation of new school districts. If that happens, new school districts will become a reality in Dunwoody, Brookhaven, and Lakeside – taking 56% of school tax revenues with them. The rest of Dekalb County cannot survive on 44% of its present budget. That would be a disaster for our Dekalb children.

    I believe that we must fundamentally change the system by which school members are selected. This is one position where credentials matter. I’ve been very impressed with the fact that over 400 people applied for the school board position and had to list their credentials, experience, vision,and what they would do to improve the quality of education for our students. As one legislator recently asked, “where were all these people in 2012?” Well, they probably aren’t politicians or maybe they don’t want to print signs to put in people’s yards, or maybe they don’t have the financial base to run, or maybe they have other full-time jobs. We are left with politicians whose qualifications don’t matter running for a position that governs the system by which our children are educated. Doesn’t make much sense does it?

    From my perspective, I don’t believe that voting for school board members has served us well. Look at the record. Little more than a decade ago, our school system was one of excellence. Now it is the only system in the nation that is on probation. We can’t blame the voters – they could only select from among what was running. I live in Jim McMahon’s district and I just wanted change. I thought he would deliver change, but rather he joined with the status quo and voted with them – a big disappointment. In retrospect, we had no real choice in this district. After having had the opportunity to review his record, I see little that qualifies him to be a member of the school board. His performance has demonstrated this.

    I favor a method wherein people apply for vacant school board position. We would then have a panel that includes leaders in the business community who clearly have a stake in a successful school system, members from the State Board, members from the among representative community organizations such as the Tucker Civic Association, Dunwoody Homeowners Association, etc. – all from groups that have a vested interest in creating an excellent, well-financed, and well-run school system.

    We can no longer leave this important position to chance and hope that good candidates will run for this office. This has proven to be a disaster. We have an opportunity for fundamental change that offers the best hope to again return to excellence!

  17. momfromhe11 says:

    @howdy –
    I agree that school board selections should not be political or a popularity contest any more. I would like to see people volunteer and list their qualifications, but then I get stuck on who should do the selection.

    Maybe a combination of civic association members and local business people. Perhaps they should volunteer for the job, too. I am just hinky about the selection process getting political again.

  18. Give the woman a chance says:

    Totally off subject but have you seen this:
    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/human-resources/salary-ranges/

  19. dekalbite2 says:

    @Give the woman a chance
    This was my post regarding this weblink:

    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.

  20. Speaking of Dunwoody …
    We were hoping to hear from at least one person who attended tonight’s meeting with Superintendent Michael Thurmond. Hearing from more than one would be even better! Send your report or your comments to dekalbschoolwatch@gmail.com (your name will not be used unless you specifically ask us to use it).

  21. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Ella,
    How do you feel about Melvin Johnson and Michael Thurmond?

    I’m guessing many people in South DeKalb are very happy with Melvin, a.k.a Walker 2.0, and Michael. We may get new blood in the next election, but it will just be Walker 3.0 propped up by the same old list of contributors and puppet masters.

  22. There is a report about Thurmond’s visit to Dunwoody in the AJC today:

    DeKalb school superintendent addresses Dunwoody concerns

    About 100 people filled a small meeting room at a Dunwoody racquet and swim club. At times throughout the gathering, frustration hung over the audience like a fog.

    And Thurmond apparently came prepared for it. He told the crowd that two people warned him about talking to the people in Dunwoody.

    “That’s all?” a woman in the audience quipped.

    Thurmond spent most of the hour-long meeting talking about issues other than Dunwoody seceding from the district. Yet that issue sat out there, as if it was the elephant in the room.

    Then, one man in the audience referenced it, referring to it as “new efforts” in exploring other education options. He asked Thurmond for his thoughts.

    Thurmond handled the question deftly, saying parents have to do what’s best for their children and that, if they chose to pursue a new district in Dunwoody or move their children elsewhere, he would be the “last one on the face of this earth” to convince them otherwise.

    His task at hand, Thurmond said, was to focus on educating the children in DeKalb’s school district and fixing the problems before him.

    “We have to accept full responsibility for it,” Thurmond said. “The children did nothing wrong. This is an adult mess.”

    Read more >> http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/dekalb-school-superintendent-addresses-dunwoody-co/nWnp7/

  23. Concernedmom30329 says:

    https://www.facebook.com/ParentsForDeKalbCountySchools

    Scroll down to find the discussion/live feed of last nights meeting. Intro says… Michael Thurmond has just started speaking at the Dunwoody Homeowner’s Association’s public meeting. See comments below for updates.

  24. Contrast the 100 people who came to listen to Thurmond with the 450 who came out to hear about the plans to form a City of Dunwoody schools and gave Nancy Jester a standing O.

    Here’s the last quote from the article. We couldn’t agree more!

    Dunwoody resident Rick Otness tried to remember how many times in the past 12 years he’s heard a new superintendent say that change was on the horizon. He thinks it’s been at least five.

    “A lot of people impress me with what they say,” Otness said. “Now I wait to see what they do.”

  25. Here’s another article – in the Reporter:

    Interim superintendent says DeKalb school system will do what is needed to keep its accreditation

    “Failure is not an option,” Thurmond told about 100 parents and local officials gathered at the Kingsley Swim and Racquet Club clubhouse March 10 for a question-and-answer session sponsored by the Dunwoody Homeowners Association.

    Blanket statements with grandiose empty promises and no actions attached like the one above are getting old. We are hearing that the meeting was recorded. We hope that full recording gets posted online. (We will happily post it here if the author asks.) We need to be able to compare the promises with the actions. So far we are batting 0 and 2 with the last two supers, Tyson and Atkinson. The jury is out on Thurmond. He is up against a loudly ticking clock. We’ll see how he does.

    Here’s an example of empty words >>

    Thurmond said past leadership of the DeKalb system “had totally failed” the students.

    Yet, Thurmond has undertaken no action to cull the employees and top management who supposedly ‘failed’. Let’s start with Ramona Tyson who presided over the worst cuts to the classrooms ever, with very few cuts to the central office leaving students very vulnerable and leading to a massive drop in test scores. Yet Thurmond and the current board leaders along with the state board had nothing but praise for Tyson — putting her on the front line to saving accreditation. Their total faith in her is a sign that they too will fail.

  26. In addition, the Parents for DeKalb Schools Facebook page has some detailed comments from the meeting:
    https://www.facebook.com/ParentsForDeKalbCountySchools

    Parents for DeKalb Schools Report

    MT: describing an inverted pyramid with him at the bottom. [Guess he didn’t get the memo that Atkinson said this too]

    Q: It is my understanding that there is a hiring freeze. There is confusion about what the hiring freeze means.
    MT: Maybe I’ll reissue the memo. We can hire teachers.

    Q: from Brookhaven. How have you opened the dialogue with SACS? Stressed to hear that they haven’t opened the dialogue. How confident are you that we won’t lose accreditation.

    MT: Totally confident. Met with Mark Elgart in 2nd week. We will do whatever we need to restore full accreditation. Are you confident? He said no, confidence is based on experience and I haven’t worked with you. He said that I do have faith that you can do it. [ This was quoted in a recent AJC article]

    DHA has videotaped the meeting. It will be online dunwoodyga.org ASAP

    Terry Nall thanking Michael Thurmond. The door to Dunwoody and N. DeKalb is always open. The concerns of the parents and community here are the same as that on the S, E, West side. Quality education comes first.

  27. Allegra Johnson, president of the newly formed Dunwoody Parents Concerned about Quality Education, which sponsored the meeting a week earlier, said Thurmond needed to get parents involved in improving the system.

    “I think I’ve heard it all before, but I’ll give him a chance,” she said. “If he wants me to give him opportunities, then he needs to give parents opportunities as well – opportunities to help. It’s a two-way street. I’m encouraged, if he listens to our opportunities.”

  28. bjy1946 says:

    I retired from DCSS in 2010. The salary for my position is now $10,000 less. Can you imagine the effect a $10,000 loss of salary would have on your morale? Especially when one considers the money wasted on lawyers, superintendents, interim superintendents, travel, non-teaching and non-certified personnel?

  29. Concerned Citizen says:

    I’m still waiting to hear what Thurmond is saying about the hiring freeze, which I KNOW is in effect, but he seems to be declaring is “just rumors” or he’ll “reissue another memo.” What did the first one say?

    I fear some major lying is going on. We cannot trust anymore liars as supt. Supt Thurmond, you will find if you keep up this double-talk, no one at all will ever trust you. Now, why are certified teachers not being hired in their subject areas? Why are we not using PT retirees as the wonderful asset they are? Someone in HR told me that “the principals make the call.” I think not. I’m asking for disclosure. WHO is saying that teachers are not being hired except on the sub level (although fully certified, but not necessarily in the field they are teachingi) Double talk, doublt talk, and soon after making an enormous amount of money, you will be gone. And your name will forever be mud, as you should have known before throwing in your lot with them(some of the past but not all of them boardmembers and the upper administration). The upper administration is in total chaos. Do something and man-up. .

  30. For a pretty scary perspective on the state of Atlanta, read this:

    Suburbs secede from Atlanta
    http://www.wnd.com/2013/03/suburbs-secede-from-atlanta/

    And this quote is key:

    A key leader in the black community and a driving force in support of the lawsuit, who wishes to remain anonymous, bemoaned the “disturbing tendency of black electorates to not elect the smartest and brightest, or even the cleverest.”

    Nonetheless, he believes that there is a social contract between the northern and southern parts of the county.

    “So when you allow powerful groups of citizens to opt out of a social contract, and form their own, it may benefit the group opting out, but it hurts the larger collective,” he said.

    The rest is pretty much spot on.

  31. To take it a step further, read this essay about Detroit — could Atlanta be the next Detroit?

    Detroit: An American Autopsy
    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/03/10/Detroit-review-Charles-Hurt

    Don’t dismiss this theory. Really, 20 years ago, did you dream of the DeKalb we have today?

  32. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    I said it on another thread, as long as Tyson is advising Thurmond, and she is, nothing will change. When the state BOE praised her, I knew then real change will not be fast coming. Tyson was selected, by the indicted one, to continue the status quo. Why is this woman still employed with her golden parachute assured. She is the one constant over the last 10 years, head of MIS and ridiculous purchases and out of control spending, an awful interim who did not have control of her staff and now she is leading the way with her second attempt at a response to SACS. We needed another 6 figure politician to make that silly decision.

    Tyson was Turks boss, she directed that 49 million dollar loss over 2 years, that alone should have had her OUT! Tyson is responsible for the deficit, she forgot about that 26 million in interest and her staff rarely met a deadline. For the children’s sake Ramona, please resign! Mr. Thurmond, as long as the nuts that got the system in the ditch are celebrated and paid even more as teachers, who actually perform the DCSS mission, you will have a hard time convincing the folks, who have been around the last 10 years and watched the system implode as our taxes went sky high. Thanks Clew Crew, your feckless leadership has been second to none and it even continues today!!

  33. dekalbite2 says:

    Interesting post on the AJC’s Get Schooled blog:

    “He said that while there is a hiring freeze on for the central office, he has no freeze “on anything that affects classroom. …”

    Something is fishy because a lack of supplies affects the classroom.

    Teachers at SWD received this email Friday afternoon (a furlough day):

    PLease be advised, per the Superintendent of Schools, ALL SPENDING FROM THE GENERAL FUND HAS CEASED. This means if you have not received your supply requests, IT WILL NOT HAPPEN. I just got the memo today (3/8/13). I don’t not know if orders that was placed will come to pass. I repeat, I DO NOT KNOW. I will relay information as I receive it.

    The initial deadline has become null and void. As of right now, There will be no orders placed. Please use your current supplies WISELY. Do not waste paper and print unnecessary items. Please be careful.

    Thanks for your cooperation.

    p.s. (I repeat, I DO NO KNOW. If you have not received what you have requested, chances are, it will not happen. I repeat, I DO NOT KNOW)

    Thanks again!

    William T. Stephens, III, B.M., C.A.
    Bookkeeper II
    Southwest DeKalb High School
    2863 Kelley Chapel Road
    Decatur, GA 30034-2298

  34. Kenwoody says:

    Non-residential property owners pay a significant portion of the overall property tax digest w/o direct representation on the school board (or county/city government for that matter). It is highly unlikely that any of these government branches could survive without the tax subsidies provided by commercial entities–Dunwoody certainly could not. Perhaps there should be some Board members appointed by the business community so they have representation commensurate with their taxation. Likewise the attitudes of the community could change to offer a little more respect for the oft-overlooked, under-represented group–those taxpayers that get no direct benefit from the taxes they pay. Perhaps one, maybe two posts could be reserved for those who do not and never have had a child in they system. Right now being such an objective outsider is a political kiss of death–what are the odds that the Governor appoints someone who homeschooled or sent their kids to private schools?

  35. bjy1946 says:

    As a retiree who has applied for many jobs, I can tell you that retirees are not being used. And I can assure you that I have an admirable 30 year track record with DeKalb. I was told (off the record) that the principals don’t want to be bothered with retirees because they are double dipping and short timers. I can only imagine the help my 30+ years of teaching could give to struggling students.
    And, no, I don’t want to sub.

  36. The latest from Mr. Thurmond:

    Dear Fellow DeKalb County School District Employees,

    I’m writing with good news. I’m pleased to announce that we are expecting the district to be within budget at the end of the current fiscal year. However, as you may be aware, we must continue to pay down the deficit that took place last year. In addition, the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute projects that the governor’s proposed budget underfunds public education by $1 billion for the fiscal year 2014, so our district must also prepare for additional reductions in funding.

    To help maximize savings, we’ve implemented a hiring freeze for all positions except those that directly impact the classroom. That means that as long as funds are budgeted and staffing allotments are available, we will continue to hire teachers, counselors, assistant principals, principals, positions outside the general fund and those school-based positions that have direct instructional contact, like nurses, psychologists and special education lead teachers.

    We’ve also frozen all non-essential spending, including travel, equipment and contracted services. Salaries and benefits for existing staff, payments for fuel and utilities and materials and supplies essential to instruction are not included in the freeze.

    While we know these measures create difficulties for our district and our employees, we appreciate your patience and understanding through this process. As we move forward with the budget process, we look forward to receiving your input and feedback. I talk a lot about asset-driven strategies, and certainly the quality of our 14,000 employees is one of our district’s greatest attributes.

    Thanks again for all you do.

    Sincerely,
    Michael L. Thurmond

    Interim Superintendent

  37. We’ve also frozen all non-essential spending, including travel, equipment and contracted services.

    Gee. That could open a BIG can of worms… let’s see… contracted services… Than means Jeff Dickerson, Barbara Dilligard, lawyers, lawyers and more lawyers…

  38. One big thing that needs explained: The DEFICIT. Thurmond alludes to it, but is not clear. We had a $16 million deficit in 2012. We entered a payment plan with the state to pay it down – sort of like taking out a line of credit. So, when we say our budget is “balanced” we really need to mention that we still have an enormous outstanding debt that we must make payments on (something like $3.5 million a year.) It’s like saying your household budget is ‘balanced’ when in reality, you have a $50,000 credit card debt that you are making payments on according to what your monthly income can afford.

  39. sodekalb teacher says:

    eugene walker’s son gets $69,000 for hurrying kids to class and walking the halls with a walkie-talkie?! i’ve been teaching in this county for almost 20 years and i don’t make that much. and you wonder why teachers, while not giving up on the kids, give up on this school system.

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