The All New DeKalb School Board to have their first meeting Wednesday

Tune in Wednesday at 6:00 PM to the DEKALB BOARD OF EDUCATION WORK SESSION & MEETING. Assuming they will still broadcast the meetings, you can stream it online [click here] or watch live on PDS Comcast 24. Or for some real fun – go in person!

We will file our minutes in the comments of this post.

AGENDA

A. CALL TO ORDER
By: Dr. Melvin Johnson, Chair

B. INSPIRATION & PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Presented by: Mr. Marshall D. Orson, Board Representative, District #2

C. ROSTER
BOARD MEMBERS:
Dr. Melvin Johnson, Chair
Mr. James L. ‘Jim’ McMahan, Vice Chair
Mr. David Campbell
Dr. Karen D. Carter
Mr. John W. Coleman
Dr. Michael A. Erwin
Mr. Thaddeus Mayfield
Dr. Joyce Morley
Mr. Marshall D. Orson

Mr. Michael L. Thurmond, Interim Superintendent

TEACHER FORUM COUNCIL STEERING COMMITTEE REPRESENTATIVES:
Ms. Inez Colwell
Mr. David High

TEACHER FORM COUNCIL STEERING COMMITTEE ALTERNATE REPRESENTATIVES:
Ms. Donna Nelson
Ms. Curlene Pippins

DEKALB AUXILIARY EMPLOYEES FORUM REPRESENTATIVE:
Mr. Terrell Short

DEKALB COUNTY PTA COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVE:
Ms. Marcia Coward

D. RECOGNITIONS

1. Exceptional Children’s Week Proclamation
Presented by: Dr. Kathleen S. Howe, Deputy Superintendent, Division of Curriculum & Instruction

2. Youth Art Month Proclamation
Presented by: Dr. Kathleen S. Howe, Deputy Superintendent, Division of Curriculum & Instruction

3. Music In Our Schools Month Proclamation
Presented by: Dr. Kathleen S. Howe, Deputy Superintendent, Division of Curriculum & Instruction

E. ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA

F. SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT

1. SACS Update
Presented by: Ms. Ramona H. Tyson, Chief Strategy Officer, Division of Strategic Management & Accountability

2. Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Update
Presented by: Mr. Michael J. Perrone, Chief Financial Officer, Division of Finance

G. ACTION ITEMS
1. Approval of Minutes
Presented by: Mr. Michael L. Thurmond, Interim Superintendent

2. Approval of Financial Monthly Report
Presented by: Mr. Michael J. Perrone, Chief Financial Officer, Division of Finance

3. Approval of Human Resources Monthly Board Report
Presented by: Dr. Tekshia M. Ward-Smith, Chief Human Resources Officer, Division of Human Resources

4. SPLOST IV Acquisition of Support Service Vehicles
Presented by: Mr. Stephen M. Wilkins, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations

5. Approval of Resolution to Phase Out Twelve Instructional Facilities
Presented by: Mr. Stephen M. Wilkins, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations

6. Approval of Plan to Officer Two Surplus Properties for Lease or Sale
Presented by: Mr. Stephen M. Wilkins, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations

7. Approval to Declare 10 Properties as Surplus
Presented by: Mr. Stephen M. Wilkins, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations

8. Dunwoody High School Parking Lot Repair and Repaving Contract Award Approval
Presented by: Mr. Stephen M. Wilkins, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations

9. District Wide Moving Services RFP# 752-13001 Approval
Presented by: Mr. Stephen M. Wilkins, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations

10. System-Wide Imaging Solution Contract Extension Approval
Presented by: Mr. Stephen M. Wilkins, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations

11. Approval of Portable Classroom Lease Extension and Purchase – Williams Scotsman
Presented by: Mr. Stephen M. Wilkins, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations

12. Modular Classroom – ModSpace Lease Extension Approval
Presented by: Mr. Stephen M. Wilkins, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations

13. Termination of the DeKalb County School District’s status as a plaintiff in The DeKalb County School District, et al. vs. The Georgia State Board of Education, et al., Case No. 1:13-CV-0544, pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division
Presented by: Mr. Marshall D. Orson, Board Representative, District #2

H. AMENDMENT TO THE BYLAWS & POLICIES: FIRST READING
1. Amendment to the Bylaws & Policies: Board Policy BBFA
Presented by: Mr. Marshall D. Orson, Board Representative, District #2

2. Amendment to the Bylaws & Polices: Board Policy BC
Presented by: Mr. Marshall D. Orson, Board Representative, District #2

3. Amendment to the Bylaws & Policies: Board Policy BCBI
Presented by: Mr. James L. ‘Jim’ McMahan, Vice Chair & Board Representative, District #4

4. Amendment to the Bylaws & Policies: Board Policy BDC
Presented by: Mr. James L. ‘Jim’ McMahan, Vice Chair & Board Representative, District #4

I. OTHER\BOARD COMMENTS (2 minutes each)

J. ANNOUNCEMENTS
1. South DeKalb Parent Council Meeting, 6:30pm, Thursday, March 28, 2013,
Redan Middle School, 1775 Young Road, Lithonia

2. Visual Arts Annual Student & Faculty Art Exhibit, Friday, March 29, 2013,
5384 Manor Drive, Stone Mountain

3. DeKalb Board of Education Work Session & Business Meeting, 6:00pm, Monday,
April 1, 2013, J. David Williamson Board Room, Robert R. Freeman Administrative &
Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain

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Follow Nancy Jester’s live blog here:

http://whatsupwiththat.nancyjester.com/2013/03/19/335/

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79 Responses to The All New DeKalb School Board to have their first meeting Wednesday

  1. So – the meeting has begun. Marshall Orson is speaking – welcoming audience. Need a positive direction. If things we did in past don’t work, we need to abandon them. Need to ensure that every child receives a good education. Leads the pledge.

    Melvin Johnson (Board Chair) introducing board members and superintendent. DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis is also in attendance (that’s a first!)

    +++

    First up:

    This week is Exceptional Children’s Week.

    This month is Art Education Month. Student art will be shown at Art Station in downtown Stone Mountain.

    It’s also Music in our Schools Month.

  2. Oh surprise! Mel Johnson just stated that they have to have an Executive Session after this meeting to deal with a legal issue today. Added it to the agenda…. Welcome to the DeKalb Board of Law ahem, Education!

    Also added a resolution.

    Added the Success for All program as an action item.

    [Personal note: Sure does look like a lot of testosterone to me. So sad that there’s only two women on the board now.]

  3. Michael Thurmond. Promised that accreditation would be saved. Has been ‘listening’. Says he has heard from teachers, students and parents. During this listening phase has talked to teachers, admin, bus drivers, … no big ‘I’s and “little You’s”. Went to Cross Keys – most diverse HS in America. Went to Tucker. Met with leaders in county – Chamber of Commerce – Dunwoody Homeowners – DeKalb Commission – ELPC – South DeKalb Parents. Offers his apology to anyone who feels this district has come up short and not done its job. Failure is not an option. We will not falter. We will not lose accreditation. We will return to a place as an elite school system. Will meet with Elgart next week.

    Tyson gives a SACS update.

    Presents monthly report to AdvancedED. Have a tech support person assigned to DeKalb. Working through 11 actions. Internal team – broken into sub committees according to 1-11 actions. Thurmond said Failure is Not an Option. Will restore full accreditation. She presented a PPT and chart – will post it on the website for the public. Tomorrow a SACS team will be in DeKalb to review the work.

    Superintendent has charged that we hit about 10 communication channels to let the community know how we’re doing. She listed them. [We don’t recommend that you hold your breath and wait for them to tweet. They rarely use these channels – but they often boast that they have set them up. I’m sorry, but I no longer believe a word Ramona Tyson says and wonder why on earth she is still employed. She is the MAIN reason we failed to make the cuts approved by the Board and ended up millions in debt. She is NOT qualified – and is only there to protect the old guard and the jobs program. Although she speaks loudly and confidently, she does nothing else. We reported on her promised as interim super to the ELPC and then her total lack of fulfillment of those promises – including her VERY empty promise to do a full complete forensic audit after finally admitting that indeed, there was one done in 2004 by Ernst & Young and that it was buried and ignored.]

  4. Concernedmom30329 says:

    Before we get to elite, lets just try to get to good. Aiming high is good but shooting to high can set you up for frustration and could lead to failure. Just good, would be good enough today.

  5. Strange. Michael Thurmond is more or less running the meeting. I think he is only supposed to make the superintendent report and answer the board’s questions along the way. The chair should run the meeting.

  6. Ok. Melvin Johnson is now introducing the agenda item. A resolution from the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce. Let it be resolved that they offer their full support to the board and super as they work swiftly to save accreditation… etc. Will convene community stakeholders. Long term partnership. They are committed. Unanimous. So nice of them to finally show interest!!

  7. Monthly financial report. Perrone. 7 months of expense through the end of Jan. (Wonder why he couldn’t have included February?) Page 1 far right numbers show YTD expense $392.5 million – 56% of budget – better than projected. Feb numbers not as positive (says he does have them) Deficit elimination plan from last year. Min $3.7 million. Hiring Freeze. Spending Freeze for discretionary. Not school based jobs. Expense for direct instruction is not frozen.

    David Campbell asked a question about the text book lease. $26+ million. Spent $11m on books. Sent back $12.9 to bank. When we signed the lease, we actually got all of the money and it was in our account as positive cash. We had to give unspent $ back.

    Another Question! Mayfield asked about graph that shows that revenue coming in is lower than cash going out. Are we really going to have enough? P: yes, good Q. Our collection is down. But the state pays differently now – they paid less at the beginning for QBE and will pay more later. We may get rev we didn’t anticipate. And local rev is higher than last 3-4 years. Has enhanced this chart for next time.

    And another!! From Colman: Q about amended budget. Amended upwards – legal, transportation and buses. Highlight areas over budget. Perrone: NExt month we plan to have a more detailed report. Amended Budget is transfers when we see items not doing well. Received news that impending litigation would require an increase in the budget. $8.3-$8.4 million – when we balanced the budget last year we cut more than we needed to. Confusion about transp budget regarding drivers base hours. Actual 7 hours and we only built in 5.5 — corrected that. Buses: A positive as we received money from the state for new buses.

  8. HR report: Tekshia Ward-Smith. Jan 23-Feb 12. Pages 1-5 rep new employees. Then resignations and terminations. Total of 28 vacancies. As of today still 28 vacancies. Subject to increase. After March 1 we will hire temp teachers to fill vacancies. This is because principals can’t assess this late in the year. From early March will bring in certified teachers to fill vacancies.

    Report passed with no discussions and no questions. 9-0

  9. HR report: Tekshia Ward-Smith. Jan 23-Feb 12. Pages 1-5 rep new employees. Then resignations and terminations. Total of 28 vacancies. As of today still 28 vacancies. Subject to increase. After March 1 we will hire temp teachers to fill vacancies. This is because principals can’t assess this late in the year. From early March will bring in certified teachers to fill vacancies.

  10. SPLOST IV service vehicles. Stephen Wilkins. Item G4: Service support vehicles. Declare a list for disposal and the amount needed to replace. 67 vehicles $1.7 million.

    Motion by McMahan. Second: Orson. Discussion – Colman – asked about obsolete vehicles. [Didn’t catch the response but I think he said auction or scrap.] Erwin; what about 15 support vehicles. — Needed for crossing the county – for construction and maintenance – to check properties and to visit school. Regional supers travel between their schools. Supervisors who manage bus drivers need cars to check buses and respond. These purchases were pre-approved in the SPLOST IV vote. McMahan. Any money coming out of classroom? No. Mc: So [does math] each car has over 180,000 miles. Thanks to staff for driving them so long. Laughs. Go to GovDeals.com to bid and make a purchase. Thurmond: Great deals! only used to drive back and forth to school! laughter.

  11. Phase out 12 instructional facilities. Wilkins again. SPLOST program decisions that have already been made. Must close a building in order to open a building. Had public hearings in Jan.

    6 to be torn down and rebuilt:

    Austin, Fernbank, McNair, Pleasantdale, Rockbridge, Smokerise.

    Says we’ll get $475 million from SPLOST and another $20+ million from the state over the next 5 years for construction. We have to make application. Will continue in the process.

    Joyce Morley wants to make sure the buildings are not eyesores.

    Wilkins – have an action item coming up that will address this concern.

    Thurmond: Met with John Barge – very supportive. Extended continued support to access state dollars.

  12. Offering for sale: Former Central Office – A&B building (North Decatur Road) and former Hooper Alexander ES (Memorial Drive).

  13. Offering for sale: Former Central Office – A&B building (North Decatur Road) and former Hooper Alexander ES (Memorial Drive). Sale price will not be lower than a professional appraisal.

    Appraisals: (lowest amount we can accept)
    $620,000 – Hooper
    $1,770,000 – A&B

  14. Then declares 10 properties as surplus. Random properties that Board of Ed owns.

    Former Atherton ES, Former Clarkston HS, Transition Academy, Wesley Chapel, Chamblee MS, Old Rock Gym – Mimosa Drive, Former SkyHaven ES, Former Tilson, 1 acre property off Flat Shoals, Env Study Center and adjacent property that’s 20+ acres. [Watch for these to go up for sale soon.]

    Erwin: What happens to the occupants of the three properties with tenants?
    Wilkins: We may not terminate their lease. May offer for sale.
    Colman: Focusing on same properties. Leased for 0. From 1962 or so. Can you explain?
    Wilkins: Can’t go back that far to determine why. I need the ability to disengage.
    Colman: Quite a few that have been vacant a long time? How many others are vacant or leased for 0 at this time?

    Introduces Dan Drake: One lease is for $1200 mo for DeKalb Board of Health. As far as other vacants – 4 others declared surplus a couple months ago. Thinks we covered all… Except Misty Waters site: 30 acres – no structure – vacant over 20 years. Never had this kind of planning before. Plans to stay ahead.
    McMahan: My perception – commends super and admin in dealing with surplus. Just starting to see how to increase revenue. Something about turning them into income producing (?)
    Morley; Commends super. No longer holding assets and looking for ways to save.

  15. Approved to use SPLOST IV to fix Dunwoody HS parking lot over the summer.

    Approved moving services to move building contents.

    Approved Imaging Solution contract (copiers).
    Brantley explained that copiers kept breaking down. [This is another person we don’t hold much esteem for. When Atkinson’s text messages were requested as evidence in a civil lawsuit, Brantley took up all of the upper admins staff cell phones and replaced all of the SIM cards. No text messages were ever discovered, however, the plaintiff was offered her job back through Ron Ramsey and a state senator if the plaintiff would drop the request for the text messages.]
    Erwin asked if teachers and staff were happy with the copy vendor. (!) Brantley thought yes.
    Carter: Wanted to know about surveys or teacher/staff opinions of the equipment.
    Brantley couldn’t say. When it doesn’t work, the office ‘blows up’. Says he uses a see and feel – hasn’t been as much noise.
    Carter encouraged studies and feedback. When will we send this out for bid again rather than extend a contract?
    Brantley: Company offers service and maintenance. (Not sure that answered her question.)
    She asked again. When will we bid.
    Brantley: We consider it every year. Right now it’s working well. We’ll consider it next year.
    Wilkins: We take the performance of any vendor very seriously.
    Morley: It’s essential that we look at the people who actually use this equipment and get their feedback. Without their feedback we don’t know. If you step in and randomly check you might not know what happens on other days when it’s not working.
    Wilkins: Well taken. Thurmond says we must put customer service top priority for that reason.
    Orson: Do you track service tickets?
    Wilkins: Yes. We watch and dispatch. We have a birds eye view of our network. Even though we can’t walk and see all equip, we can tell when it’s not working within the network.

    Contract approved. 9-0 (as were all above items.)

  16. Wilkins: Portable classrooms. Wants to reduce the number. Want them to be in the best condition [Have you ever seen them? They’re HORRIBLE!]

    William-Scotsman: 126 units $23,000+/month – $282,000 per year. Wants to only retain necessary units. Wants to provide staff with flex to approve lease but to buy them and own them. [BAD idea – maintenance issues – plus – hasn’t it been said many times that we have somewhere between 3000-11,000 empty seats?]

    Vote to extend the existing lease for a year and purchase up to 126 units for $779,000. [Which budget?]

    [Um – are these NEW trailers or used?]

    Mayfield: On the surface – we could be allowing a 13% premium as compared to what vendor would accept.
    Combined outlay is $1.1 million. Vendor offered $940,000 – are we paying a premium? Can we waiver interest payments? What is the value of waiver?

    Wilkins: Remember, we are renting units over 20 years. Value is gone. But still paying monthly. Straight cost – difference will be made up in 2 years. [Again – are we buying NEW or USED trailers?!!]

    Mayfield: Can’t the amount we pay for the lease be used to reduce the purchase price?

    [Oh!! Josh Williams now answered – they will either send them back or purchase them – which means they are USED! USED old pieces of junk! With lots of maintenance needs! Don’t buy it board!! Separate the motion – approve the lease and make them look at some kind of new portables to purchase.]

    Colman: What about maintenance and cost of ownership?

    Wilkins: Williams will address. Overall the use of portables has not been managed well for decades. This is a first step in planning for portables in the future. Condition? Some have been on the same site for decades and in bad shape. We would be responsible for maintenance if we purchase. [We don’t have enough staff – they can’t keep up with the buildings as it is — so does this mean more jobs?]

    Drake – we have over 350 portables. Most in fair or poor condition. Most in very poor condition. We do own some of them already. Want to get from a lessee to an owner on all.

    Erwin: Who controls maintenance now?

    Williams: We do. But we want to get out of the portable business. Will use savings to maintain units.

    Erwin: So why are they in bad shape now?

    Williams – as we look forward we look for an outside vendor for maintenance.

    Erwin: Will we be evaluating maintenance?

    Williams – yes, we have a matrix.

    Mayfield – we need a cost/savings formula to evaluate.

    PASSES 8-1 – MAYFIELD VOTED NO — YAY MAYFIELD!!

  17. Wilkins: Now, on to the contract for modulars lease – $95,000+. (in addition to trailers)
    To address previous: We had no maintenance plan in contract. Does not exist. Budget constraints. Want another way to address need – high quality portable units. [Bothers me that they don’t describe exactly what they want to buy!]

    PASSES 9-0

  18. Terminating the status as plaintiff in the DCSS lawsuit. Orson intros. Also removes board from any litigation in any court.

    Discussion:
    Orson: Rocko Testone – here to answer questions. Any hidden time bombs? Beneficial for Testone to address?
    Johnson: No.
    Mayfield: Does the removal as plaintiff terminate the contract itself?? ARe there legal or financial repurcussions? Breach of contract or termination fee?
    Testone: State court was dismissed previously. Blah blah lawyer speak… Regarding contract – the letter allows termination at board’s pleasure. Fee arrangement is with atty.

    PASSED 9-0

  19. Michael Thurmond: Success for All
    As he’s traveled around the district he has heard pleadings to discontinue program. Program is offered in 26 ESs. Also heard from educators that wanted to continue. Felt it was a support and assistance to young people. Continue to consider the options, however, current contract requires a decision by end of March or we will have to continue contract. SFA is willing to give us 30 extra days. Wants to continue to negotiate. Wants power to extend decision date or terminate contract.

    MAyfield: Has there been any evaluation of the program?
    Thurmond: Yes, and there has been some progress. We want to investigate more and speak with principals. The issue could just be the way it was implemented. It was pushed down by admin – and didn’t get teacher buy in. Wants to return to baseline and see if there is buy in. Then he will make a decision. Could use in in a school by school – it works some places and does not in others. Wants to allow teachers and principals either to opt in or opt out.
    Mayfield: Is 30 days enough time to evalutate the program? What criteria will you use and are there other programs that might be more successful?
    Thurmond: Turn it over to Dr Howe
    Howe: SFA is a whole school reform program. Literacy intervention component but not a literacy intervention. Calls for an 80% faculty buy in – that did not take place. We violated the main tenant that makes a program a success. We’re seeing push back. We’ve surveyed principals. Are you willing to implement this with fidelity? Do you want to continue the program? Reasons? Same for teachers. Then, if not this, then what program would you like? [Lots of eduspeak follows…]

    McMahan: Can we get an extension to May 7 so that we can decide at the May 6 meeting?

    Thurmond: I think so . There were many decisions made that we need to go back to square one and re-evaluate. This is one of those – we need to go back to square one on.

    Morley: We have to be very careful in dictating to our teachers. We also have to provide the proper training. [!]

    PASSED 9-0

  20. Amendments to policies – Orson makes recommendations. They are just read into record. Has to sit 30 days. Posted on website. They will vote on them next month.

    POLICIES:
    Board Policy BBFA:
    Local school councils can have more input in principal selection. (Used to exist that way, but prior board changed it.) Orson explained that in the past, if an employee was simply moved into principal role, there was no community input as it was never defined as a vacancy.
    Thurmond: Unfortunately, some communities would create a toxic environment if their choice didn’t get hired. Should ultimately be superintendent’s decision.
    McMahan: This is a first step in building back trust with community.
    [Thurmond is right. This process was completely toxic at Lakeside when Chelf was replaced.]

    Board Policy BC:
    Makes meetings more organized. Business meeting – first of the month. Broadens the purpose of Board work sessions (which are not required) – gives public comments section more time. More effective. Creates a work flow. Encourages thoughtful consideration of the items before us.

    Board Policy BCBI:
    Redline our public input at board meetings and create community meeting instead – create a public meeting – more informal. Still at 6 pm.

    Board Policy BDC:
    AdvancedEd recommendation: No more committees. Too exclusive. Better for Board inclusion and public perception. Everything discussed publicly as a group.

  21. Board Comments:

    McMahan: Thanks board members for commitment to county and students. Thanks them for serving.
    Carter: Thanks staff. Stepped up quickly to get our information for our first meeting. We will dig into the details and do the work. We will be listening to our stakeholders – not talking to them.
    Orson: Trusts all employees with his children – from bus drivers to teachers to custodians. Public needs to know we are determined to make things better.
    Johnson: We want to be transparent and work with stakeholders. Student achievement comes first. Each and every decision we make will be to improve student achievement.
    Morley: Thanks for allowing me to serve. We are a collective unit. I have grown children who are products of DCSS and they are successful. We are all working together. None of us is as great as all of us. It’s about the children. If one of them fails, all of us fail.

    8:49 pm
    Adjourn!! Move to Executive Session.

  22. Board Comments:

    McMahan: Thanks board members for commitment to county and students. Thanks them for serving.
    Carter: Thanks staff. Stepped up quickly to get our information for our first meeting. We will dig into the details and do the work. We will be listening to our stakeholders – not talking to them.
    Orson: Trusts all employees with his children – from bus drivers to teachers to custodians. Public needs to know we are determined to make things better.
    Johnson: We want to be transparent and work with stakeholders. Student achievement comes first. Each and every decision we make will be to improve student achievement.
    Morley: Thanks for allowing me to serve. We are a collective unit. I have grown children who are products of DCSS and they are successful. We are all working together. None of us is as great as all of us. It’s about the children. If one of them fails, all of us fail.

    8:49 pm
    Adjourn!! Move to Executive Session.

  23. Going back to the issue of too many upper admin staff, we would like to repost the original article from the AJC regarding the bloat in DeKalb. Atkinson stated that she reduced the Central Office by 300 and now Thurmond says 600, but we have never seen proof of it in an HR report and certainly it doesn’t show in the budget… What’s going on?

    http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/report-dekalb-schools-have-too-many-administrators/nQQTY/
    Report: DeKalb schools have too many administrators
    Updated: 6:25 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012 | Posted: 8:53 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012

    By Ty Tagami
    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
    Taxpayers in DeKalb County have been funding a top-heavy school system that could stand to shed more than 300 administrators, according to an outside review.
    The audit of management positions was commissioned by new Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson as she sculpts a new organizational structure for the 15,000-employee district. It’s the first comprehensive study of staffing in years.
    The report, released Wednesday , said DeKalb has 1,499 employees in the central office — too many for a system its size. The consultant, Virginia-based Management Advisory Group, recommends that DeKalb slim down to 1,162 administrative slots.

  24. teacher says:

    I was encouraged by the questions posed by the board, especially Coleman, Mayfield, Irwin, and Morley.
    But their ability to determine valid questions and articlute them succintly highlighted our biggest problem: too many people who don’t know what they’re doing are still in charge.

    How is Brantley in charge of technology? He couldn’t provide a legitimate rationale for extending the copier contract. And Orson had to explain that the county has an on-line tracking system for technology problems (though I think he’s wrong to include copiers in these).

    Did Wilkins ever supply a specific answer to Coleman, Irwin, or Mayfield. He never could answer Coleman’s questions about determing the “gray areas” nor tell Mayfield the rationale for the higher trailer lease amount.

    And how can the person in charge of curriculum and instruction when Dekalb’s costliest instructional program, SFA, was implemented now be conducting qualitative surveys to determine why there wasn’t buy-in or why schools that may not need SFA have it? Shouldn’t she have faciliated the “buy in” and have determined which schools needed this “reform”?

    Wilkins admitted that surplus units and trailers haven’t been managed well for years, and Thurmond acknowledged that previous decisions may need to be-revisited so why are some of the same people (like Tyson) still earning generous salaries?

  25. dekalbite2 says:

    “In the AJC story Ty Tagami reported that Mr. Thurmond stated that the county has a 40 – 50 million dollar “exposure” possible if the DCSS loses the TSA annuity case …”

    Well, thank Lewis and Tyson for that one. They both used a hatchet instead of a scalpel to balance the budget. Instead of looking critically at what admin and support positions could be cut, consolidated and outsourced, they just hacked away at teacher compensation and they both started with the teachers’ TSA (their substitute for Social Security). What were they thinking when they made this decision?

  26. howdy1942 says:

    Does anybody know what the legal issue was to be discussed in executive session? I also caught that about Brantley being unable to discuss rationale for merely extending contracts rather than rebidding them. That was a rather basic question that leads me to wonder about his whole department! That whole thing about purchasing vehicles for assistant superintendents to travel among schools made no sense – let them buy their own vehicles, provide their own maintenance, buy their own gas and reimburse them for mileage. That whole thing about the textbooks needs to come out – purchase requisitions, delivery records, signatures of those receiving the texts. All we have to date is just Dr. Howe’s word that she has proof with a supporting statement from Thurmond – let’s get it all out and put this issue to rest.

    Regarding the trailers, I don’t understand the need for them – they were apparently purchased years ago when the school system was much larger. Today, we are closing schools or tearing them down and rebuilding them, probably smaller buildings. Are all our children attending the school closest to them (local community schools) or are they being bused greater distances?

    This meeting was a refreshing change! We actually have some people who are educated, speak in complete sentences, and make sense. I’m hopeful that this new board will dig, really dig, into budgets, determine where the money is going, focus on reducing the classroom size and reducing staff, insist on a performance plan that sets objectives and measure results, asks the question of “why are you doing this” and “what is the specific input of those impacted by what you are doing?”

    I’m optimistic that we have turned a page and are beginning the restore our once-proud and highly rated school system. I just hope that we don’t turn this page only to vote some of the very people who caused this mess back into office – or their equivalents!

  27. Bill says:

    I called the number on the DCS website, 678.676.1200, and asked who can tell me about information on the website about the BOE. I was transferred, straight into the voicemail of the “executive secretary” of “Premier DeKalb County School System”. Uh? what is ‘premier’? A new charter program?

  28. True exactly DeKalbite2. And worse, the board only jumped in to save the magnet transportation and half the parapros (after riffing hundreds of paras in the previous session). So now, we have kindergarten classes with 25+ students and ONE lone teacher! No para – no help whatsoever. Now, how is that going to return us to our previous ‘elite’ status?

  29. concernedmom30329 says:

    We have been Premiere since Dr. Lewis — can’t you tell?

  30. John Dewey III says:

    “Premier” DeKalb was the re-branding motto of the school system under Dr. Crawford Lewis. His racketeering and corruption trial starts Monday April 15. He is charged with using the DeKalb County School system for personal gain in a multiple count RICO indictment…”Premier” indeed.

  31. Chamblee Dad says:

    @DeKalb inside out & others I have been told by McMahan (via prompt e-mail reply) that the rest of the board should have e-mail addresses updated online by the end of business day. I know I’ve been looking for it.

  32. Concerned Citizen says:

    It would be wonderful for the teachers and kids if Ramona, Kendra, Cathy, and HR people were summarily fired for ruining our school system. What good is it if Gene is replaced by Mel? I surely don’t like what I see from the supt, either -. which is a BIG nothing but a lot of talk and meaningless words. What is he trying to say? Finally, can somebody give old Mel a lesson in subject/verb agreement; he is especially weak with sentences that start with “there” or “here.” He also seems to have trouble getting people’s names straight; he always has floundered as if questioning himself who is he actually talking at!

  33. Concerned Citizen says:

    Thank you bettyandveronica and dekalbit 2 – I believe under the circumstances I need to talk to The AJC.

  34. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    I just wish the entire BOE could vote for who they think is best to be chair. Right now only three voted for the New Birth Elder to be Chair. I will give Mr. Johnson a meeting or two to get used to sitting in front of that screen with names that are very hard to read. That said, if the new 6 voted for Johnson, if given the chance, then I will live with that vote, however Melvin currently has final say on the agendas and what gets presented and voted on, that is a very powerful position to hold.

  35. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Redline our public input at board meetings and create community meeting instead – create a public meeting – more informal. Still at 6 pm.

    So nice to know they think that listening to the public speak about the issues is a waste of their time. The odds are some or all would be missing from the meetings, there would be issues raised, it would a free for all at times. Public would get confused as to when the meeting occurs, what happens when it’s rescheduled. Public knows now that we won’t get answers but it is our time to have them listen. I don’t think it is appropriate for them to cut this out of the meeting.

  36. Chamblee Dad says:

    @DSW As promised, the e-mails are finally up for all the board members. So we can start firing away! I didn’t test them all yet, but I’ve used a couple. So perhaps the “send an e-mail to all” link can now be updated. And I’ve got to say, so far, I’ve been pleased with the responses I’ve had. I’m not happy at all about the attempt to move public input as well. But, mock me if you must, I’m going to try to communicate with this new board, each & every member, polite & diplomatic out of the gate & see how it goes.

  37. We agree. However, anyone who is truly interested in getting their message to the Board and senior administrators should put it in writing and send it via e-mail so they will know it has been read. Otherwise, the Board can and does just tune out what is being said. All they hear is “blah, blah, blah.” We use ReadNotify.com. It’s not enough for Board members and senior administrators to just glance at the subject line of the e-mail and/or in some cases the first paragraph. They must open the e-mail in order for us to get a report that it has been opened and for how long.

  38. We wish you luck, Concerned Citizen, if you talk with the AJC. We have provided the AJC with information and access to the documentation we have. And we have A LOT! There is no interest at the AJC — and never has been. In fact, when we talked with the AJC reporter (not Ty Tagami — Atlanta Media Guy will probably remember her name) years ago about the faux demographic study commissioned by Crawford Lewis for which we paid more than $100,000 (Fairfax County Schools, VA, a much larger system, got the same study, word-for-word, for $50,000), the AJC reporter went straight to Lewis with a list of names of parents who were investigating.

  39. “Premier” was the name give to DeKalb County School System by Crawford Lewis (Clew-less) after he was named superintendent. It was removed from use after Clew-less was arrested on RICO charges and it was clear that the state of DCSS was something less than “premier.” The fact that it is still on voicemail is due to the incompetence of the BOE’s overpaid “executive secretary” in the Palace.

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