Back to the calendar

Calendar-dekalb-schoolsThis email came to us from a teacher. We are hearing that teachers are feeling disenfranchised over the Board’s decision to postpone implementing the much-debated ‘balanced’ calendar approved by our former Board. When Dr. Atkinson made the change from the current ‘traditional’ to the new, ‘balanced’ school calendar, she first surveyed teachers, staff and parents [a SACS recommendation]. The consensus was an approval of the balanced over traditional calendar, thus the change was made. However, it seems our new Board has thrown out the teachers’ opinions and reversed the decision, creating yet another round of schedule changes and reactions. They questioned ‘buy-in’ for the Success For All program at their last meeting, but on the calendar issue, it appears that stakeholder buy-in isn’t as important as the Board’s desire.

Read on>>

…”Is the same decision that caused such upheaval just one short year ago (on this blog and elsewhere), actually happening again? As of April 1st, the new and improved “Board Almighty” has voted to stay with the traditional calendar for next school year (now just 4 months away). I was thinking it to be an April Fools prank… but no. Low and behold, it really happened. They are calling it a “delay” but we all know better than to believe that.”

***”Side note: Can this board also choose to “delay” the nice brand new fleet of cars they have granted to the area superintendents while cutting mileage compensation to teachers who must travel from school to school in their own cars. Can they also “delay” the removal of all interpreters (necessary by federal law mind you) and ESOL registration/testing services that are now placed on the individual schools. Sorry…that’s another topic altogether.”

“Just a year ago, Dr. Atkinson was attempting to make changes to the school calendar and there was complete upheaval, so she surveyed parents, teachers, students, etc. resulting in approval of the new “balanced” calendar for 2013-2014. Now, whether the survey results were actually counted or if it was still an executive decision, the decision was made and the stakeholders of the district have spent time preparing for the new calendar; summer schools have been adjusted, and October and February vacations have been planned!”

“I continue to believe that the balanced schedule is better for teaching and learning. It is more teacher AND student friendly, allowing more frequent breaks. However, I do understand the concerns of working parents.”

“We needed to give the balanced schedule a trial run. Why did they decide against this? I will never understand it. The DCSD “big wigs” are back to doing the same things they have always done. If you support this move because you are in favor of the traditional schedule, then you should still be concerned about the process. How can the schedule be changed only 4 months before the beginning of the 2013-14 school year? The board cannot change things without the process, since that is, as I recall, what the dispute was about previously.”

“I know with certainty that faculty burnout, low morale, and poor staff attendance will surely remain or increase next year. I know with certainty that teachers and children were willing to exchange a shorter summer for more breaks throughout the school year. Who are these nine (10 counting the Super) people to decide in haste to change this with such little time before the next school year? If a need for process was the argument before, then it needs to be an issue now as well. After all, why bother to ask for opinions if you’re just going to discard them?”

“I recognize with every new leader comes new beliefs and initiatives, but allowing one to do the same thing the other was scorned for cannot stand. We must see stakeholders with a voice, and insufficient notice for drastic changes to the operation of a school system should not be tolerated at any time—not just when you agree with it.”

“Please let the board members know if you are for or against this most recent decision. I, for one, am against it, as I was last year. Though I prefer a balanced schedule, the ability to change with such short notice should not be a decision made at this time. If we had to wait a year before, then we should have to wait now.”

Thoughts? Add them in the comments.

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90 Responses to Back to the calendar

  1. Concerned Citizen says:

    Yes, central office people have been sent out to the schools with not a word to the principals. These people just show up! HR does this, of course! Supt., how about talking to Smith and some of the principals of the larger high schools? They’ll (the principals!) tell you the truth. I don’t know the names of the central office people, but I do know some of the principals who’re basically afraid to complain. A position becomes open, the principal makes a decision, but before someone is hired, in strolls the central office bozo. I would be glad to give those names to dekalbschoolwatch.

    Also, Mr. Thurmond, what in the world are you doing????Your plan is overdue, too! Who do you think you’re fooling? You don’t know what’s going on – that’s easy to see. Fire yourself, Ramona, Howe, Smith, Beasley, Ramsey – that would be a wonderful start for the system. HIRE TEACHERS, PART TIME TEACHERS, AND PARAS! and Librarians. What’s wrong with you?

  2. @Concerned: Please send us some names to check out…

  3. Bamay says:

    If there is going to be another lay off this year, we hope the people who made the decisions for the last two lay offs will not be the one who will make the decision this time, because they did not lay off their families and friends. Hard working employees with years of experience were laid and that was not fair. It seems like they prefer younger employees. They got rid of the people with the experience.

  4. Concerned Citizen says:

    worldunitenow, thank you. I’ve described the very same thing today and saw it happening, as you did. Plenty of teachers know where the central office people are hiding – it is no secret. Did any of the people at your school, worldunitenow, know that the bookkeeper was messing with you? There are “no books” sent to the central office at all. But it sounds like she is playing both sides, telling partial truths and partial lies.

  5. Embarrassed Employee says:

    True…..books aren’t sent anywhere…

  6. Just Saying says:

    When DeKalb continues to bring in consulants, it is hard to understand the lay offs. Every school is now sending three people to be trained on, “How to use data.” The purpose is not a bad one. The bad parts are:
    1. It is being taught by consultants from out or state.
    2. It is being done at a very busy time of year.
    3. The people being trained may be at different schools next year.
    4. The people being trained may have left the school district by next year.
    5. It is being taught now, but will not be used until next school year.
    6. When are the school suppose to use it?
    7. The SACS Report informed us that before DeKalb continues to “add new programs” without evaluating the sucess of program already in place.
    8. There have been so many “new things” for school based staff to learn this year.

    From last year to this year, my salary has decreased by over 3,000 dollars. I have a family. I love my students, but I must find another job.

    Pray for us. I do not see any hope coming.

    When you are not sure of your salary for the next school year, it is very hard to embrace new programs.

  7. This is what the curriculum ‘audit’ contracted by Atkinson had to say about supplemental programs:

    Survey results showed more than 300 separate programs being used in schools. Schools are not always aware of programs available from the district and central office is not always aware of programs being used in schools. Principals cannot tell with accuracy how many students are served by a program or cost/student. Principals do not have the skills and tools to determine if programs are aligned to district goals or effective in improving student achievement. Programs used in areas such as Title I, ELL and Special Education appear to be independent of other programs in schools, both in funding and implementation.

    Read more>>

    Click to access curriculum-and-instruction-audit.pdf

  8. dekalbteach says:

    Just wanted to add that contracts went out March 25 and the calendar change happened at the April 1 board meeting, with employees getting notice the following day. Many people had already signed their contract under the guise of the balanced calendar dates. As already mentioned, plans have already been made by employees based on October and February dates. As a note to the comments by ‘Another Comment’- it’s not needless complaining when you are expected to sign a contract for employment without knowing your final pay (telling me the rate per day doesn’t help when DCSD is free to change that number at will), nor the days you are expected to be at work.

  9. Achelous says:

    If you are a teacher who would have been able to make ‘plans’ to be off during the balanced calendar, consider yourself extremely lucky. For those of us involved in sports or the arts, especially at the high school level, that is simply not possible. DCSS was merely taking another week or two away from me without proper compensation, just as they take time from my family for the same reason.

    I don’t do this job for DCSS, and I certainly don’t do it for the money, but having one county out of a very blended metro area adopt a radically different calendar (as has been done by Rockdale and Cobb in the past – Cobb did return to a ‘traditional’ calendar after the ‘balanced’ one failed) throws a wrench in many families. The additional costs of childcare and the additional work – which DCSS was not prepared to pay for – does not make up for any undocumented benefits.

    The survey that we filled out was poorly made and was done without any proper regard for actual marketing or research practices. There was no possible way for those of us who did not want a new calendar to appropriately voice that in the survey, other than noting it in the comments, nor was enough time given for proper analysis of the data resulting from a biased survey before a decision was made.

    The best possible course of action, to dial back the decision rather than move ahead with an obviously flawed plan was one of the few bright spots in the news coming from the AIC in the past few years.

  10. Achelous says:

    Contracts were due on April 4, and the meeting with the new board was made public before it occurred, so news of big changes resulting form that meeting should have been easy to predict.

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