Discussions…

There are so many issues being discussed this week, we thought we’d just clue our readers in to a few, in case you’ve been on vacation…

First, Kyle Wingfield of the AJC wrote a very revealing opinion piece in this Sunday’s paper, piggy-backing an AJC report, “Big share of Atlanta education money never reaches classroom” by Mark Niesse, (blogged about by Maureen Downey here) on the administrative costs associated with metro school districts.

‘Tis easier not to have spent at all

Some snippets include:

“But while APS spends more on administrative costs per student than any other school system in metro Atlanta, it’s not the region’s worst offender for “extra” non-teaching staff costs according to the Friedman Foundation’s methodology.

That, ahem, honor belongs to the school system in DeKalb County, where non-teaching staff grew more than twice as fast as student enrollment between 1994 and 2009. Using that modest estimate of $30,000 a head, DeKalb’s excessive administrative spending came out to $50.7 million in 2009. Next on the list in terms of “extra” dollars spent?


› Gwinnett, at $47.7 million;
› Cobb, at $38.4 million;
› Muscogee, at $24.8 million;
› Fulton, at $21.1 million.

APS comes in “only” in 12th place, overspending by $13.8 million. In each district, those dollars would have gone a long way toward avoiding furlough days, layoffs and shortened school years. And cutting that extra administrative spending wouldn’t have been so difficult if the growth hadn’t come so steadily during the good years.

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Next, after many, many months of discussion. planning and hand-wringing worrying about implementation, the state board of education has decided that we just don’t have the money to participate in the 22 state consortium creating the Common Core standards.

This one is a free posting from the AJC! Read the whole thing and weep:
Georgia school chief explains Common Core test retreat: We couldn’t afford it. We will have similar test.

So, in another upheaval in state-mandated testing requirements, John Barge had this response to concerned community members —

While Georgia will be pursuing other options for developing its own state assessments in English language arts and math at the elementary, middle and high school levels, these tests will be very similar to what the PARCC tests will be like. The same level of difficulty and complexity will be reflected in our new tests as is seen in PARCC tests.

Our new tests will not look like our current Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) and End-of-Course Tests (EOCTs), where we know the level of expectations must be increased. Case in point, our new Coordinate Algebra EOCT results showed a much lower passage rate this year than we are accustomed to seeing on other EOCTs. That happened because what was expected of students to pass was increased to be more in line with what expectations will be on the new PARCC tests and, simply, the test was much more complex.

This is the beginning of the type of rigor that will come with all of our new tests, whether it is through PARCC or not. It will not be sufficient for students just to bubble in an answer sheet any longer. They will need to think critically, draw conclusions, comprehend more complex text and explain their work.

If anyone can translate that EduBabble, please do so in the comments.

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In other DeKalb county news, our CEO, Burrell Ellis has been charged with 14 felonies … and replaced by Lee May by the Governor (who seems to be actually running DeKalb these days).

And now, after emphatically declaring Andrea Sneiderman guilty of murder during closing arguments at Hemy Neuman’s trial for murdering Sneiderman’s husband Rusty (Neuman was found guilty but mentally ill), the DA Robert James has dropped the murder charge, going after her full force for perjury, lying and concealing a fact.

Long-awaited Sneiderman trial to begin Monday

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And for the latest news on DeKalb school board activity:

NOTICE OF DEKALB BOARD OF EDUCATION CALLED MEETING

The DeKalb Board of Education will hold a called meeting 5:00pm, Wednesday, July 31, 2013, in the Cabinet Room in the Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex, DeKalb County School District, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain. The called meeting will adjourn to an executive session for the purpose of discussing personnel and legal matters.

The board’s next regular meeting day is Monday, August 5 with a work session at 2 p.m. followed by a 7 p.m. business meeting, where the voting and public comment occurs.

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39 Responses to Discussions…

  1. teachermom says:

    Any idea of what they will be discussing on Wednesday?

  2. concerned citizen says:

    Perhaps how to open school without teachers and other staff

  3. dekalbite2 says:

    Mr. Thurmond could have avoided much of this problem for students by filling the many positions that were left vacant by the unprecedented number of classroom teachers who retired in January. Instead, this spring he chose to fill those classrooms with “subs” because DeKalb could pay them $90 (or was it $80 a day) as substitute teachers and pocket the money. If Mr. Thurmond had gone ahead and filled these classrooms with certified teachers, a good percentage of them would have stayed on as teachers for the upcoming year.

    Who advised Mr. Thurmond to fill the classrooms with “subs” instead of teachers. Anyone with any sense would have realized how hard it would be to replace these “subs” with teachers and also try to replace the 700+ teachers (wasn’t that what one poster says is on the HR report) who are fleeing DeKalb this upcoming year.

    In addition, Mr. Thurmond and the BOE should not have filled any administrative positions outside the classrooms until they ensured the classrooms were staffed. Looking at PATS, ALL of the non teaching Coaching positions have been filled while the teaching positions still remain at record levels. Mr. Thurmond should take the close to 150 Coaches taxpayers are paying $12,000,000 for and let them staff the classrooms until students have certified teachers. They are certified teachers after all. Unless parents become proactive, the administration will allow their children to have subs instead of teachers.

    Any parent who has a child without a certified teacher when school begins needs to lay this problem for their child at Mr. Thurmond’s feet. Who advised him to hire subs after Christmas instead of certified teachers? Who is advising him on these critical decisions for students? Mr. Thurmond needs better advisors since he does not appear to understand that teachers instructing students is how learning and content mastery occurs. Parents who have students in classrooms with substitutes need to be asking for appointments with Mr. Thurmond and their BOE representative.

  4. howdy1942 says:

    Does anyone know the definition of a “substitute”? How many consecutive days can they be in a classroom and remain a “substitute”? Do they receive any benefits, such as healthcare, at all? I would think that there are laws – both Federal and State – that would address such situations that @Dekalbite2 describes.

    When I think of a “substitute” teacher, I think of someone who is called in, usually on short notice, to teach in a classroom for a brief period, as in a few days at the most, while the permanent teacher is out sick, tending to an emergency, or receiving some training. “Substitute” should be the exception and never the rule. How can a substitute teacher provide any continuity in the classroom for a longer period of time? How can the students effectively learn when that continuity is broken?

    If there is some strategy to use “substitute” teachers in the classroom to avoid using permanent teachers who are paid as such, I would advise DCSS lawyers to check this out very carefully. As Stan Jester points out, Dekalb has the second highest millage tax rate in the State (behind Rockdale). Our residents expect permanent teachers to be in the classroom because we pay for them. I hope that this administration is not playing games with our teachers, our students, and our people.

  5. I don’t know the definition of a substitute, but I do know that there are short term and long term subs – and one of the budget cuts was to reduce their pay – from $90 to $80 a day, I believe.

    At last count, we had 1,300 people on the sub list — Read this blog post on the subject:

    Oh the budget, budget, budget

  6. teachermom says:

    I wonder why the press has not reported on this? I hope Dekalb does some serious recruiting, they could have had a job fair or other special hiring event. This is not something that you can hide for long.

  7. Dekalbite2 says:

    @Howdy
    Long term subs can stay for weeks or months in a classroom and they do lesson plans, grade papers, etc. – all the tasks a regular teacher does – but no health benefits and for low pay $80 or $90 a day (not sure how far down DeKalb has taken them). Short term subs are for a day or few days and they execute the plans in place. They do not have to be certified teachers.

    On the PATS job posting DeKalb made a distinction between long and short term subs because Mr. Thurmond decided god way to save money was to use long term subs for all of the elementary positions left vacant when so many teachers retired in December and did not come back in January. I noticed Coob did this as well (not exactly a model of educational enlightenment). Gwinnett on the other hand did not do this. Gwinnett hired certified teachers to replace their retiring teachers. Two weeks ago I went to the Gwinnett HR website and counted 120+ postings for teachers while DeKalb had over 260 postings for teachers. Please bear in mind that Gwinnett has 165,000+ students to our 95,000+ students. This is one way to determine if Mr. Thurmond’s decision was good or bad for students. High attrition of experienced personnel and filling the classrooms with low paid and in many instances uncertified personnel may save money, but it is detrimental to student achievement. And who saves money – certaily not the taxpayer. We are still being asked for the same amount. It saves money for the non teaching admin and support positions that Mr. Thurmond wants to keep.

    I cannot verify the number of 700 teachers needed in DeKalb to fill vacancies because I did not see the HR reports one poster referred to. However, I did go on PATS over a month ago to count the number of teaching positions that needed to be filled and my count was close to 490. I counted twice to make sure because I was astounded that we needed so many positions filled.

    I’ll say it again. The short term thinking that led Mr. Thurmond to hire subs instead of teachers when that unprecedented number of teachers didn’t return after Christmas (due mainly to state retirement benefit changes) contributed to this problem. We have dealt for a decade with superintendents and administrators that cared naught for the long term even though the long term is what school is all about for students. They are and always have been in a short term mode lurching from one chaotic personnel restructuring to another, one expensive learning program to another, etc., displaying an abominable lack of critical thinking skills and a heart trending lack of respect and concern for students. I agree with DSW. Mr. Thurmond should be very short term. We need to search for a competent superintendent who has no political or personal connections to the current administration.

  8. September says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I think a long-term substitute teacher must be certified.

  9. dekalbite2 says:

    @ September
    I honestly don’t remember the exact wording of the HR postings, but I do remember it was different for the long term subs, and I believe your are correct. However, it did not specify that the certification be in field. In other words, if you were certified in high school, you could long term sub for elementary. In addition, the job paid so little that it appeared to be a placeholder while those subs looked for a permanent position (wouldn’t you if you were making $10 an hour but required to perform as a professional instructing students?). If a teacher is on an approved leave (e.g. sick or maternity or adoption) and the county can’t find a certified person (e.g. special ed, gifted, math, etc.), then that can happen occasionally. But this idea of hiring subs to replace all of those retirees to save money has come back to exacerbate the problem. If Mr. Thurmond had concentrated on hiring highly qualified in field certified teachers for those classrooms, the probability of those competent teachers returning to the schools would have been greatly improved. Couple this with neglecting to provide marketplace compensation for teachers, and that is why I counted 490+ teaching positions to fill last month.

    That is what I mean by this and prior administration’s absence of critical thinking skills. their concentration on short term gains that have nothing to do with student achievement rather than long term plans that have quantifiably measurable performance objectives has brought us to this situation. Cleaning house and getting a competent administration is the only hope students have for academic improvement.

  10. I know a sub with a marketing degree and no teaching certification who subbed several weeks or months for a 2nd grade teacher who was out on maternity leave. We also heard a story of a long-term sub in a high school Spanish class who did not speak a word of Spanish. One more story – a high school class that went without a teacher at all – students were simply expected to sit in class and read the text books. The custodian checked on them regularly and admonished them if they were noisy. Not sure who gave them their tests. These are anecdotal stories from our readers over the past 3 years (with the names of the schools removed), but they are true and cause great concern.

  11. More updates on the regular board meetings:

    NOTICE OF DEKALB BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETINGS

    The DeKalb Board of Education will hold the following meetings on Monday,
    August 5, 2013:

    2:00pm Work Session and Executive Session for a legal matter
    Cabinet Room
    Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex
    1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
    Stone Mountain, GA 30083

    5:45pm Community Meeting for Public Comments
    J. David Williamson Board Room
    Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex
    1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
    Stone Mountain, GA 30083

    7:00pm Business Meeting
    J. David Williamson Board Room
    Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex
    1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
    Stone Mountain, GA 30083

    Meeting information can be accessed online by going to: http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us, click on Leadership, go to eBoard Home Page and click on the date for the meeting agenda\information.

  12. concerned citizen says:

    I sent Thurmond personal letters by fax, called his secretary and talked to her about the”sub” situation. I never got a response from him. This was last March, and I warned him three times in writing and called his office three times with no response. I told him that there would be the most dire situation if these retirees and even teachers who were never hired (and there were a lot of these, not one) were not hiring certified in the subject area they were teaching. I warned him In the strongest terms I could. I have been trying hard to warn him and I’ve gone to several other sources, such as HR and area supts. to try to get someone’s attention. I was told in so many words to bug off; this was a budget matter and no certified teachers would be hired. As some of you know and remember, all the open positions were frozen in March. The salary was $90.00 a day. Someone else needs to help me communicate with the supt. Either he really doesn’t understand or as some of us have speculated his advisers are so incompetent and uncaring that nothing has been done and here we are with pre-planning next week. There are at least 200 actual teaching positons unfilled. What is going to happen to the chidren? As long as we’ve got good people in DeKalb who do care, what are we to do? I suggested a protest demonstration, but I haven’t gotten any feedback. Meanwhile, all the new cars are being distributed to the mucky-muckys. Does it make sense? We simply will not be able to open school this year. Can you imagine? I’m so depressed about the situation because only the people who are posting on this great site DSW has provided are involved. It’s not going to work to have no schools. Why are we enduring this situation?

  13. dekalbite2 says:

    @concerned citizen
    “There are at least 200 actual teaching positons unfilled”

    How do you know this? What is your source?

  14. All true, concerned. But think about it — perhaps the administration truly believes that since we now have scripted lessons, that virtually anyone can simply read the script to the students…

    On another note about school readiness: Have you all noticed the comments about Vanderlyn? It’s very strange — Vanderlyn has been ridiculously over-crowded for years – and have not ever been scheduled for construction. Instead, the school system has created an enormous modular (nice trailers) village… in pods of 4 or 8 – complete with restrooms. Well, hey, they are all gone!! Something to do with transitioning from rentals to purchased … but the new ones aren’t scheduled for arrival until late August. Where will these students go? It’s literally like two full grades, art and some specials… lots of classrooms out there! Gone! Bizarre!!

  15. firstgradeteacher says:

    I believe it is unfortunate that our students are at risk of not having “qualified” teachers or a permanent teacher in place before school starts. However, as a teacher I think my colleagues feel as if they are not being heard and are looking for a better situation. I am not getting the feeling that the county cares. Are they saying anything at all about teachers leaving? The term “be happy to have a job” can no longer be used when other counties are hiring and promoting a better situation.

  16. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    Clew budgeted on the backs of teachers…. Tyson budgeted on the backs of teachers…. Atkinson never really figured a budget out, so she had Tyson budget on the backs of teachers again… Now Thurmond has looked to the old Clew Crew, led by Tyson who is budgeting on the backs of teachers again. Coaches all hired! Teachers not so much… See the trend…. It is deja vu all over again! We need a Palace Cleansing!

  17. Dekalbite2 says:

    @DSW
    “It’s very strange — Vanderlyn has been ridiculously over-crowded for years – and have not ever been scheduled for construction. Instead, the school system has created an enormous modular (nice trailers) village… in pods of 4 or 8 – complete with restrooms”

    Vanderlyn parents chose those modulars over redistricting when Lewis was superintendent. Many parents bought their homes specifically so their children would be at Vanderlyn. They were beyond upset when Vanderlyn became so crowded that redistributing was on the table. This was the compromise. All of the community stayed at Vanderlyn and the modulars were installed. The parents had already run their own high speed Internet throughout the school (bypassing DCSS’s fiber and running parallel to it – that was not an easy task to get past MIS). The parents had also ensured all of the classrooms had a bank of computers (also running on the private Vanderlyn network, installed and maintained by parents), and they bought and installed Interactive Whiteboards for any teacher who wanted them (a PTA committee made their decisions based on applications from teachers who wanted the ActivBoards).

    Vanderlyn parents were not willng to wait on DeKalb to bring their children into the 21st Century classroom so they did it themselves with sweat equity. They had so many gifted students that they had over the allotment of teachers so they dedicated one to be a full time Technology Specialist (before that the PTA had paid a parent to be the technology teacher). EVERY teacher got certified in gifted so they could get the extra funds. The PTA was very proactive and very good with their money, spending it only when it benefited students in the classrooms. Their scores are the highest in DeKalb rivaling the high achiever magnet Kittredge. Perhaps you can see why the parents who were told their children were giong to be moved out of Vanderlyn were okay with this modular measure. I suspect that a new building may have opened a can of worms regarding redistricting. They do not have Marshall Orson or the political clout of Fernbank so perhaps they simply chose to lay low and keep doing what has worked for their children. A Vanderlyn parent could most assuredly tell you more about that.

  18. Georgia school class size increases while funding drops

    Public school class sizes in Georgia have increased as districts struggle with funding cuts and falling tax revenue.

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (http://bit.ly/12uOgKn ) reported Saturday that about 80 percent of Georgia’s 180 school districts approved plans to surpass class size caps last year. Districts are allowed to surpass class size caps as long as they get the decision to do so approved during a public meeting.

    The newspaper reported that Georgia cut $4.7 billion in school funding from its budget between 2008 and 2012, and gave districts permission to exceed class size caps to compensate for it. The caps were implemented before the recession to try improving student performance.

    As funding for schools declined, the state lost about 10 percent of its educators while the student population grew by about 3 percent, according to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. . . .

    “The class sizes are absurdly large,” said Alyssa Montooth, an English teacher at Druid Hills High School in DeKalb County. “So (most teachers) don’t assign writing. Or if they do, they put a check mark on it, and the students don’t learn from that.”

  19. concerned citizen says:

    Yes, Vanderlyn has laid low, and the parents have paid for their own private school. They are the best. They are all so cool. I’ve never met a Vanderlyn parent who wasn’t committed to the school. I congratulate them.
    Dear DeKalbite2, my source is the PATS system; I just count the number of elementary teacher,middle school teachers, and high school teachers. I have not even counted the auxillary personnel, but let a child go without breakfast and lunch, and you can watch what happens. And rightfully so. And I haven’t counted the number of custodians. Well, the public schools are dirty and unkempt. I can ask a Vanderlyn parent it they pay privately for a custodian or even several; you can bet the school is immaculate! it’s a shame they pay taxes for the gross schools we have, but they are willing to pay for what they want. They want their children to have the best, and I want that for all of us! You have to ask why we have to negotiate with the inter supt and his minions?

  20. d says:

    HR Report for August – 136 resignations, about half teachers, and the words “Another Position in a Georgia System” came up 42 times.

  21. concerned citizen says:

    Dear DeKalbite2, I just recounted and came up with elementary 41 actual teaching positions, high and mid 72, Ch. Destiny 11, Teacher support services 3; that’s 124 in-your-face teaching positons. DSW, why would Thurmond or anyone justify not hiring teachers because they don’t value teachers as models; I can’t imagine justifying not hiring teachers because someone thinks the job is rote or robotic- using scripts! I would love for whoever thinks that way to face a class full of learners, say in English or math (and these students are out there!) The “employee” would be massacred!

  22. concerned citizen says:

    Thank you so much, d and DSW and DeKalbite2, for all the information and insight! It comforts me to know that in spite of all the horrible circumstances, some of us are still insisting on having the BEST, or as close to that as possible, in our schools and homes. Thank you, but Thurmod and all your crew, get out of DeKalb and let us try to recover some dignity! For what you have done, how do you look in the mirror!? Let me name some names, again…well, there’s Thurmond, there’s lovely Ramona, there’s Beastley, there’s MJ, there’s Ramsey, there’s Smith, there’s Simpson, there’s,,,,,please add your favorite people to my list!

  23. dekalbite2 says:

    @concerned citizen

    “Yes, Vanderlyn has laid low, and the parents have paid for their own private school.”

    Vanderlyn’s PTA has less money than the average Title 1 allotment for Title 1 schools, but it is HOW they have used that money that is important. The parents raise the money themselves and the PTA watches every penny like hawks ensuring it is only spent in the classrooms. The Title 1 money group in DCSS employs the trickle down approach in which very little trickles down to the classrooms in the Title 1 schools. Rather most of the Title 1 money is spent on non teaching Coaches and Coordinators and Parent Involvement personnel (one of the new BOE members has a Parent Involvement family member), canned learning programs that the teachers do not want and have not embraced, travel funding for administrators, etc.

    I would not term Vanderlyn parents who give up their weekends and nights to wire a school or plan a fundraiser as paying for “their own private school.” What they have done is washed their hands of DeKalb and put their own efforts into improving their school. They are a tight knit and committed group and IMHO – the most impressive of all of the affluent areas (my own included). .

  24. dekalbite2 says:

    @ concerned citizen
    “They want their children to have the best, and I want that for all of us!”

    IMO….

    EVERY student in DeKalb deserves:
    1. A clean and safe learning environment
    2. A competent teacher in a reasonably sized classroom
    3. Abundant access to cutting edge science and technology equipment

    Mr. Thurmond should be funding the 3 components above, and then he can take the leftover money to hire his admin and support personnel. Why spend tens of millions a year for highly paid non teaching Coaches and Coordinators or $10,000,000+ on a bloated security force (highest per student cost in the entire metro area) or $4,000,000 on Fernbank Science Center when all students do not have the simple basics listed above?

  25. howdy1942 says:

    I went out to Vanderlyn’s web site – was I impressed! They did their own network! They cleaned their own school! What an example they set for Dekalb County. Do they get anything from Dekalb? Congratulations to the faculty and staff at Vanderlyn – great job. And to the parents and community – what pride and achievement – you set an example for all of us. Just hope that the County will stay out of your way and watch your results!!

  26. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Dekalbite2
    Subsequent to Lewis’ tenure as Superintendent, half of the Vanderlyn community was redistricted to DES when they got rid of the 4-5 Academy. There was a vocal minority that opposed it, but that move has otherwise gone over very well. Another school in that community would go over just as well.

    DCSD has royally screwed planning up there now.

  27. Dekalbite2 says:

    @DeKalb Inside Out
    So why were they not on the SPLOST list?

  28. Stan Jester says:

    Hi Dekalbite2.
    SPLOST List
    Enrollment and capacity were not factors in the SPLOST list. According to the ten year facility master plan, renovation or replacement of a school is determined by the score on their Facility Condition Assessments Reports.

    This is why we have 3 schools at 50% utilization getting new schools while we have so many other schools approaching 150% utilization with no relief in sight. To quote Jack Sparrow, “Strains credulity don’t it.”

    Vanderlyn Modulars
    On that note, Vanderlyn modulars will not be ready when school starts. All 4th and 5th grade classes will be squatters in whatever space can be found for them. Feel free to communicate your feelings regarding this matter during public comments at the board meeting on Monday.

    –Stan

  29. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    Montgomery Elementary is looking great with their 6 to 8 beautiful, not really new, learning cottages.

    Folks when CLEW took Nancy Creek for Kittredge, so he could sell the Druid Hills Road, Kittredge to Sembler which never sold, CLEW and his cut and paste demographers report said there was no growth going on in Huntley Hills, Chamblee or Brookhaven and there would be no need for trailers at Montgomery or Huntley Hills, if Nancy Creek was closed…. The parents in the community tried to tell those callous Palace leaders but Clew and Fran Millar said sorry, it was already a done deal before the first public hearing. I am glad Kittredge moved into the neighborhood, but the community wanted to have a resident program, as well as the magnet, like Chamblee Middle and High Schools have today. Community folks knew the large multi-family units and new homes were going up everywhere, but DCSS would not listen. DCSS has never looked forward, they go from crisis to crisis. It has gotten better since Dan Drake arrived, but their lack of long range planning, back during the Clew days, has really bitten them badly today.

    Ha ha ha…. Huntley Hills got their cottages the very next year and Montgomery has had 2 in the back for a couple of years.. now they have a whole encampment, on what was a great parking lot. Oh well. when was the last time the so-called leaders at the Palace actually told the truth….

  30. Montgomery Mom says:

    Atlanta Media Guy. Before you post, please check your facts. The reason that Montgomery has so many trailers at this time is due to HVAC installation. They are starting with part of the 5th and 4th grades and swapping classrooms as they finish a section. Is this going to cause a great disruption during the year? Yes. Is it needed? YES!

  31. @AMG: Good points but you are wrong about Drake. He’s in charge of the ‘learning cottage’ fiasco you write about (over HVAC construction that should have been done during the summer – when there is no need to move and disrupt hundreds of students and deplete the parking lot in order to host a trailer village) — and worse, the one going on right now at Vanderlyn — they took away the 16 modular classrooms that housed the entire 4th and 5th grades as well as some specials like art and Discovery… School starts in 12 days – and Vanderlyn is missing 16 classrooms!!! Did these people work at all over the summer?

    Drake: FAIL.

  32. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Dekalbite2 hit the nail on the head saying “administration does not think DCSS has an academic problem. They think it is a public relations problem”.

    I’d like to take DSW’s characterization of Dan Drake a little further. Not only is Mr. Drake incompetent, he’s just plain evil.

    Dan Drake is Evil – Part 1
    Dan Drake is one of the main DCSD players in Friends of DeKalb. Brief summary of “Friends of DeKalb”. Dan Drake, Barbara Colman, Thad Mayfield, Marshall Orson and Amy Powers used this organization to collect money from building contractors and promote SPLOST. In return, Fernbank numbers were fudged so they could get a new school and Thad Mayfield was appointed to the board.

    Dan Drake is Evil – Part 2
    Even though Fernbank just received a $10M renovation, Dan Drake blatantly fudged an assessment number so Fernbank would get a new school. Like Mr. Jester said, the SPLOST priority list comes from the Facility Condition Assessments Reports. If you look at page 50 of 55 of Fernbank’s Condition Assessment Report, you’ll see a score of 5.43 out of 16.45 in general classroom size. 5.43 is an unusually low score compared to all the other schools. Also, 16.45 is an unusually high weight. Most ratings get a 1% – 5% weight, but this particular rating gets a 16.45% weight. So, by fudging that one number, Dan Drake allowed Fernbank to jump all the other schools.

    Ashford Park ES, for example, is in dire need of a rebuild but scored 16.45 out of 16.45. That’s how the Cross Keys schools get screwed.

  33. concerned citizen says:

    Who in the *** is Drake?

    Stan, I think that the mobile classrooms were moved out of spite over Vanderlyn’s independence. I remember in a post you said you were told the new trailers would be there for the first day! Lies, lies, lies, yes, I’m mad. I am going to stage a Protest at the Palace (PP) on my own since I can’t get any commitment. It’s OK, it’ll be worth the trouble.

  34. Dan Drake used to work in the transportation department. Then he got promoted to the director of the planning and forecasting department (he is supposed to track population data, growth areas, capacity, etc. and make ‘plans’ – building and redistricting – to respond to projections). He was integral to planning the list of SPLOST IV projects. He had many email conversations about it with Marshall Orson (now a board member – one of the 3 elected last year and not dismissed by the governor).

    check it out here >> https://dekalbschoolwatch.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/summary-of-orson_drake-communitynet2.pdf

    In it, you will read Orson’s attempts to ‘give away’ BriarVista to Atlanta schools or make it a Hebrew academy — ANYTHING other than redistricting some Fernbank students there!

    On the BV idea, I wrote Ramona this evening to let her know we stand ready to assist with the development of the Hebrew language charter school at BV, We are reaching out to people we know, we have discovered that there is an incubation fund in NY which will fund up to $90000 of start-up costs and we are also tracking down the operators of the Broward County school.

    On a related note, I have a call into Beverly Hall’s chief of staff to see if APS would have interest in temporary use (in part or whole) of the BV facility given their space needs due to Morningside, Mary Lin and Springdale Park growth. They seemed interested in Medlock before they knew the distance from the city line. In the case of BV, it literally is almost in the city and houses a city of Atlanta voting precinct.

    Regards.
    Marshall D. Orson

    also – check out our page of enrollment data >> https://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/facts-sources/fte-enrollmentcapacity-reports/

  35. Later, Orson asks Drake how many students attend BriarVista’s Montessori program from out of the attendance zone — Drake’s response:

    From: Daniel E. Drake
    To: “Marshall Orson”
    Subject: Re(2): What is the school choice enrollment

    15 students from out of area for Montessori.

    Now, that seems innocuous. However, Drake had to go to a bit of trouble to get this information – it’s not something that’s just stored online and can be accessed with a click of a button. Why so important? Orson REALLY didn’t want to redistrict Fernbank into the available seats at nearby BriarVista – he REALLY wanted a brand new school. And he got it. Even though it involves tearing down a multi-million dollar renovation at Fernbank that is only about 10 years old. Fernbank will be built for 900 – but enrollment will be far less than that.

    Ironically, completely off Drake’s radar — Vanderlyn is so over-crowded that they have had a modular trailer village for years – even though Dunwoody Elementary School was built nearby and will be at full capacity this fall. Oh, and now what have they done? They removed all of the trailers from Vanderlyn. They did this just last week – even though teachers were asked to clear out their things last May to get ready for the move out. (Do you suppose they ‘forgot’?) School starts in 12 days — just 7 of which are work days available to bring in and prepare 16 new trailer classrooms for an August 12 start. And 5 of those work days are SUPPOSED to be teacher work days – so that the teachers can prepare their rooms — so there’s really only today and tomorrow to get this done on time.

    EPIC FAIL.

  36. concerned citizen says:

    Oh, the web is getting more tangled; so it’s also Orson and Drake. How dare they make these secret plans to control to system! I knew absolutely nothing of this until today. Can anyone provide Drake’s e-mail because I am going to write him. I have Orson’s. What a bunch of evil-doers. It’s frightening their need for power. It’s an outrage.

  37. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Don’t forget this email from Orson talking about how Fernbankers can control the redistricting meetings. Briar Vista types are not welcome by Fernbankers…

    “If anyone suggests making Briar Vista a PK-K or PK-1 campus for Fernbank’s children, talk about 1100 students and families with multiple children driving back and forth and back and forth along Clifton Road during the morning rush hour. Enough said.”

  38. Not So Special says:

    Just got this… I have my special needs daughter in a special school because DeKalb can’t handle and now I need to pay even more that I can’t afford.

    Special Needs Scholarship Program Student Award Sheet

    The FY 2014 budget (HB 106) adjusted the method used to pay for teachers’ health insurance under the K-12 Quality Based Education (QBE) formula. Additionally, K-12 education funding was reduced 14.1% this year under austerity cuts. These changes mean that there will be a reduction in the Special Needs Scholarship award for the school year 2013-2014.

    A student’s scholarship award is the same amount of state funds that would have been given to a school system if a student had continued attending a public school. This is the maximum amount the Georgia Department of Education can give out for a student’s scholarship.

    Carmen Hernandez-Freemire
    2053 Twin Towers East
    205 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive SE
    Atlanta,GA 30334
    (404) 656-2800

  39. d says:

    @Not So Special – I’m sorry to hear what the state has done. Unfortunately, it’s a trend that started with Governor Perdue and continues to this day. This is where people have to set aside differences and come together to fight for what is right for children in this state – and return to fully funding K-12 education.

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