Accrediting chief rebuked in Dunwoody

By Dick Williams For The Crier [reposting in part]

A response to a reporter’s question last week at a Buckhead luncheon by the chief executive of SACS/AdvancED, the school accrediting agency, set off angry comments in Dunwoody.

Dr. Mark Elgart, asked his opinion of the creation of an independent school system in Dunwoody and other new cities said the 181 school systems in Georgia are “far too many.”

Instead he urged consolidation of smaller systems.

“With all due respect,” said state Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody), the problem isn’t the number of school systems. It is the outcomes of the systems we have. We need to consolidate weaker systems and create smaller, more effective operating entities.”

Elgart’s comment came just days after state Rep. Tom Taylor (R-Dunwoody) released the outlines of a feasibility study for an independent school system in Dunwoody. It showed a school system that would have a surplus of more than $20 million, allowing tax rollbacks, smaller class sizes, more teachers and more specialty courses.

Millar and Taylor pointed out that Elgart surely knows the deficiencies of the DeKalb system since it was his agency that placed the DeKalb County schools on probation, an action that led to the removal of the school board by Gov. Nathan Deal.

The Georgia Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on a suit by an ousted school board member challenging the constitutionality of the law used to remove him. …..

Read more >>> Accrediting chief rebuked in Dunwoody

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22 Responses to Accrediting chief rebuked in Dunwoody

  1. I don’t understand how Elgart can simply ‘count’ the number of school systems as if they are all the same, and pronounce that we have ‘too many’. He would be more believable if he said, ‘we have too many small, inefficient systems and too many large inefficient systems’ and so we need to consolidate some, and break down others. His elementary over-simplification of the number of systems in total shows his lack of actual knowledge of the subject. Who made him the state’s consultant? He has far too much power for such little understanding of education and he is wielding that power as a threat. As a result, many are kissing his ring. But there’s an answer – use another accrediting agency, or set up a state accrediting system. Like Clark Howard says, we can vote with our money. We all need to find accrediting sources that care about students and teachers and what goes on in the classroom – not just what goes on in the boardroom and superintendent’s office.

  2. Fred in DeKalb says:

    **Dr. Mark Elgart, asked his opinion of the creation of an independent school system in Dunwoody and other new cities said the 181 school systems in Georgia are “far too many.” **

    Dr. Elgart expressed an opinion shared by many. What’s the big deal? He understands that the Balkanization of school systems will ultimately result in greater costs and overall student achievement going down, especially for those in resource poor areas.

    At the end of the day, it is his opinion and he is entitled to it.

  3. Another comment says:

    The big systems and their traveling superintendents are his money makers. Look at the rest of the country small one high school large school districts that serve the local town and village is what works, This is equivalent to what a Dunwoody school district would be. A Sandy Springs school district with two high schools Northridge ( aka North Sandy Springs) and Ridgeview (aka South or Central Sandy Springs) would be considered a large district in its self in most parts of the country. Chamblee and Brookhaven could have a unified school district with Chamblee high and the Newly named International school at Brookhaven ( which could have some dual track English/Spanish and English/French or English/ Manderain dual language programs, take advantage of the diversity). Lakeside would be Lakeside; Tucker would be Tucker.

  4. howdy1942 says:

    Does anyone know what the smallest school district in Georgia is and how many students it has? Also, any information on what its budget may be?

  5. Fred in DeKalb says:

    Interesting question, howdy1842. I found something on the National Center for Education Statistics though I’m sure something exists on the GA DOE website. Look at the table on this link,

    http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/sdds/ed/index.asp?st=GA

    If you click on the Total Students column, it will sort the information.

  6. @Fred: Did anyone here say Elgart is not entitled to his opinion? NO. We simply disagree with his opinion. We do agree that small systems could consider consolidating — but large systems, if found to by inefficient should consider breaking up. It IS possible to be TOO large — especially if you don’t have leadership capable of serving everyone equitably.

  7. Interesting chart Fred. Thanks for sharing. As you all can see if you click the data chart, the total students column starts off with a few districts with no info, then the following districts with fewer than 1000 students:

    Taliaferro County School District 225
    Clay County School District 324
    Baker County School District 379
    Quitman County School District 386
    Webster County School District 519
    Stewart County School District 540
    Talbot County School District 644
    Glascock County School District 651
    Calhoun County School District 669
    Echols County School District 785
    Warren County School District 789
    Chattahoochee County School District 901
    Twiggs County School District 994

  8. These districts have fewer than 2000 students:

    Wheeler County School District 1001
    Miller County School District 1095
    Montgomery County School District 1102
    Towns County School District 1133
    Treutlen County School District 1194
    Johnson County School District 1212
    Hancock County School District 1231
    Lincoln County School District 1265
    Randolph County School District 1323
    Chickamauga City School District 1338
    Wilcox County School District 1365
    Marion County School District 1403
    Trion City School District 1414
    Schley County School District 1421
    Clinch County School District 1422
    Dooly County School District 1441
    Commerce City School District 1484
    Pelham City School District 1484
    Terrell County School District 1512
    Jenkins County School District 1517
    Taylor County School District 1535
    Pulaski County School District 1565
    Wilkinson County School District 1607
    Seminole County School District 1634
    Turner County School District 1666
    Wilkes County School District 1689
    Atkinson County School District 1703
    Irwin County School District 1751
    Charlton County School District 1768
    Telfair County School District 1773
    Lanier County School District 1801
    Mcintosh County School District 1802
    Social Circle City School District 1811
    Evans County School District 1830
    Macon County School District 1857
    Bacon County School District 1869
    Crawford County School District 1876

  9. Compare those to the following large districts with over 50,000 students:

    Clayton County School District 50204
    Fulton County School District 90399
    DeKalb County School District 99406
    Cobb County School District 107245
    Gwinnett County School District 159296

  10. How can anyone talk about these very, very different sizes and styles of school districts with the same broad stroke? ESPECIALLY someone who promotes himself as an educational expert – and accreditation guru? To me, it shows his total lack of true understanding and his complete disconnection from everyday students and parents.

  11. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Kingsley ES Parent Meeting – Cancelled
    It was scheduled for tonight, Tuesday, October 22nd.
    Reason: John Coleman, District #1 board rep, cancelled.

  12. Coleman doesn’t interact with anyone in his district — ever. District 1 lost a lot when the Gov dismissed Nancy Jester along with the rest of the board.

    BTW, Nancy’s radio show this am was very enlightening! Great discussion about the Common Core. The most detailed education-related discussion I’ve ever heard publicly in Georgia! Thank you Nancy – for not letting the big dogs get you down!!

    To listen to archives of Nancy’s new radio talk show go here:
    http://americaswebradio.com/showpages/PEPTalk.php

  13. howdy1942 says:

    Thanks to all for information regarding the smallest school districts in Georgia. We will have a great opportunity to change the status quo at the DCSS school board next May. Get your voting shoes on!!

  14. Howdy — Did you not see our earlier reply? We are fairly certain — Voting will be in MAY, not July. We have corrected your comment to avoid confusion.

  15. The date of the non-partisan election may change — stay tuned!! Could be held in MAY!!

    Federal judge’s ruling could alter Georgia 2014 election calendar

    Read more here: http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/2013/07/22/2594118/federal-judges-ruling-could-alter.html#storylink=cpy

  16. howdy1942 says:

    @DSW – Thanks for the input! No, I didn’t see your earlier comment. I assume that the new board will not take office before January 2015. This will still allow us to see what the legislature does with Rep. Taylor’s bill to allow the State to vote on a Constitutional Amendment to allow the creation of new school districts and it will also allow us to see the results of the school board vote before we would vote on any such Amendment. One question that I have is, under existing law, is it possible for the legislature to simply redo the school districts that we have, but keep the number of districts the same? If we can change the geography of the Congressional districts every 10 years to reflect changes in population, then it makes no sense that we could not do the same with school districts. That seems to me like a good compromise since we have such a wide disparity between the largest and smallest school districts in the State. As I proposed earlier, we could simply do away with the present Superintendent’s position and simply have the existing area superintendents assume the new role of superintendent of downsized school districts. That Amendment was passed in the 1940s when Dekalb County was no more than a rural area. So much has changed since then. Dekalb must be broken up into smaller school districts – that’s obvious and any Constitutional Amendment should not be so narrow as to prevent us from doing what is simply right for our people. The current school district is too diverse, too large, and cannot be managed and the history of this district over the last 10 years clearly shows that.

  17. kingsley parent says:

    BTW John Coleman is rescheduling-he did not cancel, the dates and timing did not work out

  18. Fred in DeKalb says:

    howdy1942, how would you fund each of these school districts? Would you let Dunwoody keep all of the home and business property tax revenue for its city limits (whose infrastructure was an investment by ALL of DeKalb County) and leave a resource poor area to be funded only by home property taxes? Yes, it comes down to who controls the money.

    Thank goodness legislators years ago recognized that creating new counties and school districts did not make sense. That is part of the reason this state has the problems with education it has today.

    Have you seen the salaries for the superintendents for Decatur and Marietta City Schools? Both have less than 10,000 students yet the superintendents make over $225,00 annually. That is the going price in the metro area. How does this compare to what area superintendents make? What about the duplicated organizational structure that would be needed? How much would that cost?

    Can you show us the money for supporting these new school districts?

  19. We are not so sure about this. After all, it was on the calendar and was announced and publicized.

  20. @Fred: Don’t forget – DeKalb has to pay what is it – five regional associate superintendents as well as the superintendent? They don’t come cheap.

  21. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Fred, By your logic, Georgia should just have one big school district.

  22. Stan Jester says:

    DeKalb has 70% Free or Reduced Lunch. Gainsville (78% F/R Lunch) and Valdosta (76% F/R Lunch) are more economically challenged, have much smaller districts and get better CRCT Scores.

    My understanding is that 5,000 students is the optimal size. Any smaller than that and the spending per student on administration goes up. Any larger than that and the leviathan administration grows faster than the student population as well.

    For example, a 2013 study by Georgia College’s Ben Scafidi, Ph.D., showed how the growth in administrators has far outpaced the growth of students. In Georgia, from 1992-2009, we saw a 41% increase in students but a 74% increase in administrators.

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