Welcome the new DeKalb Schools Fact Checker!

DeKalb-FactCheckerBadgeWe are excited to share the announcement of a new website that is focused on the facts related to the DeKalb School Board. This site already has posted several videos and transcripts of recent DCSS Board meetings and community meetings with Michael Thurmond. So, not only can you watch the videos, you can now go back and read – verbatim – what was said and by whom. Then, the website moderator checks out those statements and lets us know if what was said is true, false or some kind of stretch.  What an exciting new source of information for those of us who are DeKalb Schools junkies!

The first post we’d like to point out is the meeting Mark Elgart had with the Board on April 3, 2013.  The FactChecker website gives us summary notes, the full video and a word for word transcript of the event.  In it we can see that Mark Elgart has some key areas of concern for this Board to address:

Three Areas of Primary Concern (in priority order)
1. Student achievement
2. Can you get your fiscal house in order
3. Effective governance

First develop a budget and get some training. After the budget, launch into a strategic planning process. We don’t expect to see student achievement for a while. By December we will expect a balanced budget, a strategic plan, the equitable distribution of resources and a framework for improved student achievement.

A few other key statements made by Elgart include:

There’s been no unified leadership and a lot of turnover over the last ten years.

Stability is critical. You need a stable Superintendent, administration and board. I’m concerned with the November 2014 elections.

[DSW NOTE: the School Board elections will actually take place in July, 2014. The entire Board is up for reelection and voting district lines will be redrawn, except the super districts, which will go away. We will then have just seven School Board members. These seven will formally take their seats in January, 2015.]

You have parts of this community who have great capacity and are doing well, but have no incentive. You have other parts of the county where there is little or no capacity, but tremendous incentive to improve. The problem is they don’t have the capacity to do it. The challenge is how to get capacity and incentive to line up. How to get those that have capacity to be able to distribute capacity across this district, and those who have incentive to even distribute incentive. Those who have the incentive to improve and no capacity are fighting tooth and nail every day to get more capacity. Those who have the capacity, but incentive, are fighting tooth and nail every day to protect what they have. That has to stop.

[Elgart further explains that in his description of capacity, he is referring to having the resources – whatever they may be – to get the job done. The required resources will vary from school to school – thus the difference between equity and equal.]

…Use technology to bridge the gap. Technology is one of the greatest strategies to reduce the inequities that our kids come to school with from all different walks of life. Equality will paralyze a system. Equity will allow resources to flow to those that need it and bridge the education gap.

The new FactChecker website was set up and is hosted by Stan Jester (Nancy’s husband). He has made this his commitment as a way to carry the torch for Nancy’s groundwork as a Board member. Go to FactChecker.StanJester.com to read all of the posts. Bookmark Stan’s website and return to find more videos, documents, notes and transcripts as we move forward. We appreciate Stan’s hard work and dedication to getting out the facts!

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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5 Responses to Welcome the new DeKalb Schools Fact Checker!

  1. midvaledad says:

    Excellent work. I think a record of what is said will go a long way towards the district keeping to one narrative. I can’t count the number of times I heard someone at a meeting say, “Last year you told us you wouldn’t…” or “This community was promised “X” and now you are saying it isn’t going to happen.”

  2. DSW, We have had concerns about that Nov. 2014 date. Has anyone been able to find an amendment to the state law that requires the election to take place in November?

    Here is the law:

    Term of Office and Election
    6. Term of office is four years unless otherwise provided by local act or constitutional
    Ga. Const. Art. 8, § 5, ¶ 2
    O.C.G.A. § 20-2-52
    7. Elected in the general election held on Tuesday following the first Monday in November
    in each even-numbered year next preceding the expiration of the term of office.
    O.C.G.A. § 21-2-9
    8. Elected in partisan elections unless nonpartisan elections are provided for by local law.
    O.C.G.A. §§ 20-2-56, 21-2-139

    Click to access qualguide.pdf

    I don’t think that the nonpartisan election mentioned in #8 relieves them of the November requirement in #7. So, how were we able to have a July election in 2012? How were we able to change the terms to two years? And, how did the change to July become permanent?

  3. Stan Jester says:

    Midvaledad, thank you for the kind words.

    OCGA § 21-2-139 says that offices with no primaries, such as judges, school boards, etc … “shall be elected in nonpartisan elections held and conducted in conjunction with the general primary”

    4 year Terms – School boards are still elected to four year terms. The exception to that rule was in 2012 due to Senate Bill 79 whereby DeKalb, among some other counties in Georgia, will no longer have super-districts. DeKalb will go from 9 to 7 local board representatives. My concern is that board elections will no longer be staggered, and every seat will be elected every 4 years.

  4. hopespringseternal says:

    Cell, I would pose these questions to my state rep or state senator. It wasn’t until recently that our nonpartisan elections started in November. In years past, the nonpartisans were always in the summer (and ‘always’ is an uncertainty). My vague recollection is that a patchwork of legislation resulted in what we have today. The elections office itself may also be helpful.

  5. howdy1942 says:

    From what I read tonight, this looks great! People in key positions, such as the Superintendent, School Board members, and key administrators need to keep their facts straight and insure that they communicate with the residents of Dekalb County in an open, honest, and straight-forward way. If this is done and the public is involved when armed with the facts, our school system will be much stronger and better. A big thank-you to all those who put this together.

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