Join us tonight at 6PM as we watch the Board meeting streamed live. The Board will adjourn to a Committee of the Whole where Dr. Mark Elgart of AdvancedED (SACS) will present an update. We will add to this post as Elgart makes his report.
Tune in live by clicking here or watch Comcast 24 and then join us in the comments!
Also, be sure to check Nancy Jester’s live blogging at the top of the DeKalb School Watch blog side panel.
Well, it looks like the streaming isn’t quite working yet — so tune in to Comcast 24 if you have it.
Elgart said you can’t have a dysfunctional board and high student achievement.
Elgart is saying it’s better to have an appointed board than an elected board.
This community is diverse – not just African-American and Caucasion. You are urban. Some Boards do better because they acknowledge the changing community. Problems are more complex. Not a north – south issue.
Coleman: asked what Elgart considered best type of classroom – a good system.
A: Good question – will answer later.
History: Challenges weren’t created in last 2 years. Been saying that… evolved over at least a decade. In 2004 system on probation for governance issues. Underpinnings as to why: operating environment has emerged that practices aren’t written down, but carried forward. Unintended orientation, for example, when you got on the board your ability to visit a school changed. I have two daughters in HS but can’t walk in there as a parent. I have to engage staff differently than other parents. You’ve added a position of authority. None of you has authority as an individual but when you walk in a school you are a board member and if you engage with staff it’s as if you are their boss.
In the last ten years the volume of info between board and staff has increased. His mother was a board chair and [he was a student?] and they didn’t talk about it at home. Emails and phone calls cause tremendous disruption in school operations. It is not your job. Your job is to govern. You should only go into schools when invited as a guest to an event.
Columns – day to day operations or long term issue? Focus on future topics. Thurmond is the day to day. No blame on a certain group – it’s just that it’s been done wrong for over a decade. Carrying on of tradition.
How to deal with barrage of phone calls. Can’t solve individual problems. There’s a process through staff for that. Don’t do it. Once you solve one you’ll have 100 more – it doesn’t stop. Say, I understand your concern but this is not the right process. Don’t even say you’ll pass the concern on. That’s hard – I understand for the three of you who were voted in. You feel responsible to the voters.
Then, board member against member to debate whose individual problem is more important. Don’t advocate for a student. Not your role.
You have the financial resources that are in the upper tier for a system your size – yet you operate with debt. Ten years of bad decisions – individual basis. Far greater dollars on central office resources and far less in classrooms and achievement stagnant for a decade. More attorneys and fees than three systems each your size combined. You don’t need the number of legal advisors. Glaring issue to address. Budgeted amount has been $1 million. Retainer fees exceeded $2.5 million. Spent much more in reality. No other system has two law firms on retainer. And how could you budget only $1m when you have contracts for a minimum $2.5 mil?
Last: No community collaboratively developed plan that galvanizes and focuses on student achievement. Plans have been produced but not collaboratively and not galvanized. (That shortfall points to Ramona IMO)… The strategic plan should set a direction. Superintendent – organization and budgets should be strategically planned.
We realize you won’t fix this in one year. Will take 3-5 years to turn an urban system around – significant challenge. Our commitment: we will be with you to guide support advise monitor and reinforce. Blind spots will arise. We will help you see the full picture and bring in professionals to help.
(I’ll continue with the detailed report in the comments)