DeKalb County’s unilateral decision against Druid Hills Charter Cluster forces fight to Georgia Legislature for independent school systems.

Reposted from Heneghan’s Dunwoody blog:

As per Maureen Downey of the AJC, In a contentious 5-4 vote tonight, the DeKalb County Board of Education rejected the Druid Hills Charter Cluster petition. The “no” vote followed about four hours of tense debate. Those voting for the cluster were Thaddeus Mayfield, John Coleman, Marshall Orson and Jim McMahan.

The charter petition would have put Druid Hills High School and six feeder schools under the management of a nonprofit organization and freed them from the reach of the central office. The cluster of schools would have its own administrators and board of directors. The petition, the first in Georgia involving the conversion of a cluster of traditional public schools, had to win the blessing of the school board to proceed as there is no appeals process in the state law.

With no other options, the fight for an independent school system moves to the State Legislature where HR 486 presented by Representative Taylor of Dunwoody offers options for new local school systems.

House Resolution 486
By: Representatives Taylor of the 79th, Jacobs of the 80th, Riley of the 50th, Wilkinson of the 52nd, Dudgeon of the 25th, and others

A RESOLUTION

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution so as to authorize any municipality created on or after January 1, 2005, and any municipality which is contiguous to a municipality created on or after January 1, 2005, irrespective of whether such municipalities may be in different counties, to establish individually or collectively by local law an independent school system; to provide for related matters; to provide for the submission of this amendment for ratification or rejection; and for other purposes.

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA:

SECTION 1.

Article VIII, Section V of the Constitution is amended by revising Paragraph I as follows:

“Paragraph I.
School systems continued; consolidation of school systems authorized; new independent school systems prohibited. Authority is granted to county and area boards of education to establish and maintain public schools within their limits; provided, however, that the authority provided for in this paragraph shall not diminish any authority of the General Assembly otherwise granted under this article, including the authority to establish special schools as provided for in Article VIII, Section V, Paragraph VII. Existing county and independent school systems shall be continued, except that the General Assembly may provide by law for the consolidation of two or more county school systems, independent school systems, portions thereof, or any combination thereof into a single county or area school system under the control and management of a county or area board of education, under such terms and conditions as the General Assembly may prescribe; but no such consolidation shall become effective until approved by a majority of the qualified voters voting thereon in each separate school system proposed to be consolidated. No independent school system shall hereafter be established; provided, however, that any municipality created on or after January 1, 2005, and any municipality which is contiguous to a municipality created on or after January 1, 2005, irrespective of whether such municipalities may be in different counties, may establish individually or collectively by local law an independent school system.”

SECTION 2.
The above proposed amendment to the Constitution shall be published and submitted as provided in Article X, Section I, Paragraph II of the Constitution. The ballot submitting the above proposed amendment shall have written or printed thereon the following:

“( ) YES or ( ) NO
Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to authorize any municipality created on or after January 1, 2005, and any municipality which is contiguous to a municipality created on or after January 1, 2005, irrespective of whether such municipalities may be in different counties, to establish individually or collectively by local law an independent school system?”

All persons desiring to vote in favor of ratifying the proposed amendment shall vote “Yes.”

All persons desiring to vote against ratifying the proposed amendment shall vote “No” If such amendment shall be ratified as provided in said Paragraph of the Constitution, it shall become a part of the Constitution of this state.

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109 Responses to DeKalb County’s unilateral decision against Druid Hills Charter Cluster forces fight to Georgia Legislature for independent school systems.

  1. Maureen’s article quotes Thurmond:

    “I solicit, I pray for all strategies to help students who are not performing as well as they can or should. That has to be the priority. Any proposal, any petition, any request should maintain the success, but, more importantly, lift those who are not achieving at a high level . . . I extend to the petitioners, as I always have, a true desire to work to help the quality of education in DeKalb, not just by word but also by deed.”

    Our question to him is – Don’t you understand that DEKALB SCHOOL DISTRICT is responsible for the current level of low achievement of low income students? How can you use the argument of your own failings to judge a group proposing to try to do better? Same for the parental involvement issue. DEKALB is responsible for the low participation and the FACT that many parents do not feel welcome in the schools. How can you grill a proposal for a new group to do better than your latest proposed solutions? Especially after seeing that your man in charge, Dr. Beaseley already failed at his 2011 “Triage” plan for student achievement improvement.

    That is the weirdest circular thinking!

  2. From the “Triage” Powerpoint:

    Topics for Discussion
    −Triaging the Lowest Performing Schools – Dr. Morcease Beasley
    −Accountability Training for Principals – Trenton Arnold
    −School Operations Steps-up Accountability – Robert Moseley
    −Title I Recalibrates to Impact Success – Dr. Audria Berry

    Interesting to note what became of each of these people.

  3. And more of the “Triage” plan:

    Teaching and Learning Triage for Low Performing Schools
    −Parents of struggling students will be invited to participate in conferences to discuss their student’s Individual Plan (Level 1 – below grade level) for remediation and support to improve. Studentprogress on the plan will be communicated and strategies for parental assistance will be provided by September 9th. Thefollowing will be shared with parents during the conference:
    •Individual Student Score Reports for below grade level studentswill be analyzed and used to determine performance gaps (CRCT, CRCT-M, GAA, EOCT and GHSGT)
    •Diagnostic assessments in the district-provided resources
    •The student’s Individual Plan to accelerate, differentiate and receive additional instruction to impro
    ve performance

    -Coordinators from Special Education, Educational Media, Professional Learning, Title I, Career Tech, English Language Learners, etc., have been assigned to each school to provide direct monitoring and support of school’s actions to implement appropriate interventions for all level 1 students each week.

    −Coordinators have been grouped into teams to conduct Focused Walks at the school to assist in the school’s implementation of the curriculum. Focused Walks will occur monthly with priorities for the year as follows:
    *Ensure the teaching of the written curriculum and use of instructional resources as provided by the district
    *Appropriate student engagement and differentiation

    Sound familiar? Read the Bridge proposal!

  4. Lots of great comments found on the AJC blog – here’s one:

    Posted by bu2 at 1:38 a.m. Nov. 12, 2013

    It was a very dishonest performance by the staff and by Mr. Thurmond. Effort to hide from the public (by claiming attorney/client privilege) the staff documents shown to the board was detestable. Mr. Orson objected that board documents in an open meeting could not be privileged and after the closed door meeting the documents were released.

    Found Thurmond’s performance very distasteful throughout. Tried to stop legitimate conversation and questions.

    The staff repeatedly refused to directly answer simple questions by Mr. Orson and Mr. Mayfield. Thurmond refused to answer a question by Mr. Mayfield. Thurmond interrupted and admonished Orson for simply trying to get Bell and others to give a simple straight answer.

    Staff objections were basically 3:
    1) No innovation. Clearly the cluster was doing things very differently. Totally unjustified.
    2) Concern about administrative staffing. Good question. Cluster leader reasonably addressed it. It wasn’t 26.5 to 5 (Comparably sized Decatur central office vs. cluster budgeted administrative personnel). Cluster leader mentioned far more than 5, mentioned how principals, board and teachers would handle other things and how the budget surplus allowed for more employees if needed. Also, there was no way for anyone to know what 26.5 they were talking about at Decatur.
    3) Budget issues for DeKalb County Schools. CFO Bell repeatedly evaded questions on the issue. He raised legitimate issues and then evaded any effort to understand what he was saying. Ultimately, his 40% increase in charter expenses was misleading. He was saying the charter wanted $40 million in funding and direct costs were $29 million. However $2 million of the $40 was lunch revenue and $1-$2 million was maintenance that wasn’t relevant. The rest appeared to be allocated overhead from the central office. They tried to confuse the issue with their “conversion charter” vs. “start-up Charter” conversation that had no basis in law.

    It was very clear the negative response was organized and coordinated by Thurmond and his staff. They repeatedly tried to be opaque and mislead the board.

    They complained that the charter document didn’t explicitly address Title I schools and low performing students. The charter is putting money into teachers and lower class sizes instead of putting into parent centers and coaches like the district is. Its doing different types of testing to identify students’ weaknesses throughout the year.

    No better argument for a charter than watching that board meeting.

  5. Here’s another:

    Posted by TheDeal2 at 7:34 a.m. Nov. 12, 2013

    Cindy, follow the money. Are you kidding me? Follow the money now! Oh, wait, you can’t because they hide it so well and lie about it. We pay at least 10 of our administrators over $140,000, and we pay our superintendent more than the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. It’s not follow the money, it’s where’s the money?

  6. Dekalbite2 says:

    Here is the Bridge Initiative. Talk about nothing new! This is a recycling of old ideas that have driven achievement in DeKalb into the ground.
    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/superintendent/the-bridge-initiative-(09-09-2013).pdf

    Wasn’t Mr. Orson the BOE member who brought Mr. Thurmond into DeKalb as Interim Superintendent per Dr. Walker? And didn’t he vote for him as Interim Superintendent and then as Superintendent with a two year contract? Perhaps Mr. Orson’s constituents need to ask why he has been such a supporter of Mr. Thurmond.

  7. bettyandveronica1 says:

    You reap what you sow. What comes around goes around. Karma is a B%$#H.

  8. concerned citizen says:

    This supt is beyond contempt. Thank you,everyone who has commened for your insightful remarks.

  9. thedeal2 says:

    This is the ultimate in fox guarding the henhouse.

  10. Thanks DeKalbite! We didn’t have that file…

    Interesting final point in the PPT:

    Theory of Change

    If opportunities and resources exist
    To empower parents/guardians to actively participate in the learning process
    To provide a funding structure based on students’ needs …

    then DeKalb will…
    Rebuild trust with internal and external
    stakeholders;
    Address the needs of local school communities
    and all students; and
    Change and innovation will occur to improve
    student performance….

    then students will…
    Meet and exceed the minimum standards thereby eliminating under-performance.

    It’s like magic!!

  11. howdy1942 says:

    I was afraid that this vote would happen. It didn’t matter how strong the petition for the Druid Hills Charter was or what the people thought. It just wasn’t going to happen. The five districts represented by the five who voted against this Petition makes it very obvious to all of us – those districts are going to vote for these types of people regardless. The Governor can’t even appoint someone in those districts who thinks otherwise. In about an hour, I’ll be going to a meeting of the TuckerNow group. That seems to be the only recourse available to those of us who want to change our school system. We must start with cityhood and go from there. The Dekalb County government is what it is and the Dekalb County School System is what it is (or I should say has become). I feel sorry for the kids who live in those five districts – they have no representation.

  12. concerned citizen says:

    Who ARE the trolls(s) making these down-rated scores? Nobody who cares about students and teachers could in any way “rate down” these excellent comments. I would so much rather they spoke up and admitted their commitment to DeKalb’s filthy Palace. I suspect they are part and parcel of the Palace, probably area supts.; let me guess. Thurmond, Beastley, Ramoona, and the rest of you rent-an-administrators,kindly step down. Thurmond’s performance at the board mtg. was the biggest mess I’ve almost never seen. Where did we get this wanna-be supt? On the face of it, it’s preposterous to see his swagger and bravo when he is so off-the-mark! Perhaps he, too, should rent out his house to his ak minions. They lap up the bs he deals in. DeKalb County never has had any supt. more illiterate than this one,although it’s a close call with Crawdaddy. This man is an all-time low. Have any of you actually worked with his people except me? Still, many residents of DeKalb will accept this and probably think he’s a genius. GMG. Meanwhile, back in the jungle…

  13. midvaledad says:

    Concerned Citizen,

    I gave your last comment a “thumb down” because of your immature name calling and poor grammar.

    I do agree with you that the disconnect between Superintendent Thurmond’s words and the reality of DeKalb County Schools is preposterous.

    Last night’s meeting has me looking for a job in a different state. DeKalb County Schools are not going to change and Thurmond isn’t going away.

  14. Read the Druid Hills Charter Cluster reps response at the AJC Get Schooled blog — they are definitely not happy!

    http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2013/nov/12/druid-hills-charter-cluster-supporters-board-denia/

    A snippet —

    What is clearly not in the public interest is the denial of this petition.

    At the November 11 called Board meeting, DeKalb County Superintendent Thurmond and his staff stated that the petition met all legal requirements for a charter, concurring with the conclusion of the Georgia Department of Education, but advocated that about 1/3 of the per student state required funding for charter cluster students remain with the school district rather than go to cluster classrooms.

    Other events at Monday’s meeting showed an equal disregard for the charter process and public interest. Thurmond’s Charter Office seemed confused regarding petition approval criteria and reversed its position on key petition issues. Thurmond’s Charter Office and counsel refused to provide Petition organizers with any information on the district’s recommendation on the petition, and tried to withhold documents provided to Board members in the public Board meeting, attended by hundreds of Petition supporters.

    Ultimately, the petition denial and Superintendent’s refusal to meet with the petition organizers or provide information will generate enormous and additional ill will toward the district from many of the 5,000 students and over 400 personnel in the cluster.

    Furthermore, the district’s lack of transparency and fair dealing combined with the Board’s denial of a petition that would bring greater academic achievement to all within the majority minority community is likely to fuel and give momentum to various alternatives, all of which may well remove students and resources from the district. It will demonstrate plainly a continued challenge with basic governance at the DeKalb Board level that is counter to the accrediting guidelines from SACS.

    And it will silence the voices of the hundreds of parents, teachers, and community members who committed themselves in good faith to the process of improving public education for students within the cluster and beyond – the same kind of parent involvement and leadership that is necessary to have successful schools.

  15. howdy1942 says:

    I supported the Druid Hills Charter because it did propose something new and different to replace what we know to be the disaster that the DCSS has become. It was worth trying – if it worked, great. If it didn’t, fine – we could always go back to where we are now. But to not give something new even a chance? To once again paraphrase the old adage, why do we continue to do things the way that we always have and expect different results?

  16. Another interesting comment from the AJC blog:


    Posted by CharterStarter_Too at 9:10 a.m. Nov. 12, 2013

    Well, this SHOULD be a wake up call to DeKalb parents, citizens, and educators for 2 great, big reasons:

    1.) Your DeKalb Board (well, at least 5 of them) and the DCSD staff spent an awful lot of time talking about all the fabulous stuff they “already” do and are planning to do. That’s as good as you’ve ever gotten and as good as you’re going to get. You’re like a rat on a wheel – going nowhere. 59% graduation rate.

    2.) The Board AND your district staff don’t know the law. It’s in black and white – and they chose to ignore it. The Board and staff are willing to break the law and demonstrate unethical and non-transparent processes to protect the status quo. It’s on about 15 cameras. They’ve violated their fiduciary duties – wonder what SACs will say. I have a feeling they’ve created a big mess well beyond just the issues in this cluster.

    3.) The $11 million dollar issue that was a major point of contention is a BIG deal. Here’s the crux of it: Regardless of whether it is the district or the cluster, the students in that cluster earn about $40 million dollars in revenue between state and local funds (not even counting federal dollars). Now the cluster in their budget, took the money the law clearly says they earn and started budgeting in the classrooms, and worked their way up to administrative activities – a good piece which would have flowed back to the district (oh, they forgot to tell you that, didn’t they?) The district argued that under the “conversion model” (which doesn’t exist in the law), the schools should only get $29 million.

    HEAR ME. What they are saying is: Our district EARNS $40 million from the students in this cluster, but we are only going to allocate $29 million back to the schools. That $29 million comes with a reduced allocation of teachers, furlough days, increased class sizes, instructional material cuts, etc., etc. So I ask you – WHERE is the other $11 million?

    EVERY SINGLE PARENT and CITIZEN in DeKalb … particularly the conversion school parents and staff who are obviously getting the short end of the stick with funding for their schools, ought to be asking the question if the district is piping money rightfully due to the schools back into the schools. The answer is NO.

    Follow the money. @Cindy – if you REALLY want to know what’s going on, take the time to follow it and you’ll be in for a rude awakening about the underbelly of what’s going on in DeKalb’s school financing.

  17. It is important to note that the people who denied this petition actually have very little experience with DeKalb schools – or any schools at all. Thurmond, a lawyer and politician was hired behind closed doors by the former board (Orson included – in fact, it was supposedly Orson’s idea to offer Thurmond the job – with no search and no posting of an opening!) The new CFO Mr. Bell, hired by Thurmond after Thurmond forced out CFO Perrone, has a long history of accounting with the county, but has never handled a school system – and certainly does not have a grasp on the laws regarding school funding. The staff attorney answering the questions has a short history with DeKalb and Dr. Morley – a big “no” cheerleader, was one of the recently appointed board members – NOT ELECTED – but forced on us by the Governor, Brad Bryant and RL Brown. Same for the rest of the NO votes – except for the Chair – Melvin Johnson – who is a former high-ranking DCSS administrator, and was identified in the 2004 audit, buried by Ramona Tyson as an overpaid administrator -estimated to be overpaid by over $10,000 per year. And Beasley, well, what can we say? Supposedly a nephew or relative of former Super, Johnny Brown, he was given a job as principal at Columbia and somehow rocketed to his current position (one of many over the last few years). We are simply floored that he was chosen to lead this response to the Charter. His last ‘initiative’, the “Triage” was an abysmal failure. And his new one, the “Bridge” is the same thing but different name.

    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2011/05/back-to-topic-of-ernst-young-2004-audit.html
    Johnson, Melvin, Sr Advisor to the Superintendent, $142,332 (+$10,997)

    +++

    In addition, we are still dealing with a long history of deep racial mistrust and hurt — among ADULTS who continually revisit the past and use it as an excuse for not doing right by DeKalb’s students. Quite frankly, the students who are most harmed by these so-called ADULTS are poor black students. It does appear that most students throughout DeKalb County Schools are very comfortable with integration. Yet ADULTS who should know better are nowhere near getting over racial mistrust and “hurt” — continuing to raise the flag of racism while never getting to the root of a problem.

    Rejection of charter school proposal reflects DeKalb divisions

    If any clarity emerged from this week’s messy debate about charter schools in DeKalb County, it was that the regional divisions that delivered the school system to the brink of accreditation loss still persist.

  18. dsw2contributor says:

    I posted the following over at Maureen’s Get Schooled blog:
    ——————————————————————————————
    The real threat facing the Dekalb County Schools (DCS) *Administration* (aka the Palace) is the accrediting agency (Advance-ED.org) has to soon decide whether or not DCS gets off probation on January 1, 2014.

    When I read thru Advance-ED.org’s accreditation standards and indicators, I conclude that there is no way DCS can be fully accredited. For example, Advance-ED.org’s Indicator Number 4.1 is “The system engages in a systematic process to recruit, employ, and retain a sufficient number of qualified professional and support staff to fulfill their roles and responsibilities and support the purpose and direction of the system, individual schools, and educational program.”

    Consider the verbs in that Indicator: Recruit, Employ and Retain

    Recruit: During Michael Thurmond’s term as “Interim Superintendent” (while holding a provisional “educational leadership” license) there has been no attempt to search for a permanent superintendent. Epic Fail!

    Employ: DCS has been a lousy employer. Employees do not receive social security benefits, their pay has been repeatedly slashed, teachers have lost preparation days and they don’t have any real professional development opportunities, etc. This school year, hundreds of classrooms have been staffed with *Substitute* Teachers – Epic Fail!

    Retain: Per a recent board meeting, DCS lost 800+ teachers last year, most of whom left to teach in other GA systems. After a recent pay slash, DCS Principals earn less than they would earn being teachers at either APS or Gwinett; good luck retaining them next year. Epic Fail!

    Basically, the “systematic process” in DCS is to encourage its competent employees to go work in other GA districts!

    DCS also fails to meet most of the other Advance-Ed.org “Indicators”. The very next indicator, 4.2, is “Instructional time, material resources, and fiscal resources are sufficient to support the purpose and direction of the system, individual schools, educational programs, and system operations.” That has not been happening this year; just go over to the Dekalb School Watch 2 blog and read the threads about schools that did not have textbooks this year. (Former Superintendent Atkinson did not order paper textbooks because she started a paperless/”netbook” textbook program… then she abandoned her job, “Superintendent” Thurmond came in, canceled Atkinson’s “netbook” program to save money but neglected to order replacement paper textbooks.)

    The next indicator, 4.3, is the “The system maintains facilities, services, and equipment to provide a safe, clean, and healthy environment for all students and staff.” That has not been happening this year; for proof, just go over to the school watch blog and read about the trailer debacles, including an entire grade level being forced to hold class in the school cafeteria.

    Next is 4.4, “The system demonstrates strategic resource management that includes long-range planning in support of the purpose and direction of the system.” Long-range planning in DCS? Hahahahahah, good one!

    Next comes 4.5, “The system provides, coordinates, and evaluates the effectiveness of information resources and related personnel to support educational programs throughout the system.” Many DCS Trailers (used as classrooms) were rehabilitated over the summer. Last year, those trailers had internet access; this year, they don’t. That’s clearly an epic fail on the “provides” and “coordinates” part of indicator 4.5.

    I can keep going on thru these indicators, but I really need to stop and get some sleep. In short, there is no way DCS can be accredited if Advance-ED.org really follows its own accreditation standards.

    Then again, maybe DCS will be fully accredited come January 1… if it does, that will be great because it will demonstrate what a joke the Advance-ED.org accreditation process is.

  19. All true contributor. But personally, we don’t believe that the SACS demands are real or that SACS gives a damn about any those written ‘standards’. This has all been some kind of weird political game – but it’s turned out to be a form of Russian roulette – with the futures of 100,000 children hanging in the balance.

  20. During the meeting Thurmond was very upset about the following quote in the AJC –

    “A ‘no’ decision will activate the public to get out their pitchforks and torches,” predicted Bates Mattison, a Brookhaven City Council member who counts himself among residents who think the school district is too big. Board rejection of the cluster plan, he said, would push residents into the arms of a more extreme movement that aims to carve separate school systems from the county by changing the state constitution.

    Thurmond didn’t get that the reference to pitchforks and torches is an idiom. It references the old movies and shows like the ‘Twilight Zone’ series – the crowds always got upset at whatever force was against them and often revolted, carrying torches and pitchforks. Same thing in the Frankenstein movies. It’s just a nod to pop culture – with an implied meaning that people will be very upset. They won’t REALLY show up at the Palace and beat the doors down. lol…

    Thurmond should consult the Urban Dictionary on things like this —

    torch and pitchfork crowd
    A group of angry or vocal opponents who regularly come out against something, usually prognosticating dire consequences.
    [example] Last Saturday’s city council meeting was attended by the usual torch and pitchfork crowd, demanding retractions and threatening immediate action;

  21. howdy1942 says:

    We had a huge crowd tonight at the Tucker2014 meeting at First Baptist Church of Tucker. The meeting was projected to last around 45 minutes and lasted over two hours. The meeting was very positive and very well conducted. The school system was not a focal point, but the school system was obviously on the minds of a large number of attendees. Questions included how the formation of a Tucker city could benefit schools and the very positive answer to that question is that an organized city of Tucker could have a big impact on the quality of schools. The proposed city of Tucker represents around 55,000 people. Now that the Dekalb County School System has completely alienated the Druid Hills community and has long since alienated the proposed Lakeside City and the existing cities of Dunwoody and Brookhaven, the writing on the wall is becoming increasingly obvious. The days of the Dekalb County School System, specifically its governance and administration, are numbered. Just think of how far we have come this year – the former school board was removed, the current school board was appointed, the Druid Hills Cluster had been proposed and rejected by the DCSS, cityhood efforts in Lakeside, Tucker, and Briarcliff have been organized and at least two of them have raised the $30,000 necessary to conduct feasibility studies, legislators have submitted “placeholder” legislation for these proposed cities to be considered in the next session of the Legislature, legislation has been submitted to change the Constitutional Amendment prohibiting the creation of new school districts, and the people in the proposed and existing cities are becoming increasingly galvanized to forcing change in the County and in the County Government. We will shortly be hosting a neighborhood meeting in our home to enhance that support. We are contacting our legislators, hiring professionals to present our case to the Legislature, and making strides that I could not even begin to imagine a year ago.

    My message to Mr. Thurmond and the School Board – you really, seriously need to LISTEN, not talk, but LISTEN, and take serious action to address the grievances of our communities. Like so many, I want the best education for all kids in Dekalb County. Increasingly, we are realizing that we can only impact our local communities and that is our top priority. You need to lead us in addressing our concerns and enhancing the educational experience of all of our kids or you need to get out of the way and stop being a hindrance to those of us to do. You will not for long be able to use your bully pulpit and you appointed “interim” power to control us much longer.

  22. Dekalbite2 says:

    @howdy
    Mr. Thurmond is no longer an Interim. We are stuck with him for two years as the permanent superintendent.

  23. howdy1942 says:

    @Dekalbite2 – I appreciate your observation. That’s why I placed the word “interim” in quotation marks. He may be in the office for two more years, but I’ll always look on him as “interim”. Also, my thanks to @DSW for pointing out Nancy Jester’s educational credentials which I had neglected to do.

  24. Another comment says:

    I am so glad you point out that Sandy Springs is included in the legislation. They can also clearly hop on board with Dunwoody as they are contiguous dispite being in different counties. Chamblee which was created prior to 2005 can combine with Brookhaven.

    This made clear how much money the palace and adult jobs are skimming off of education. 33% for adult jobs at the palace is absurd. That does not include direct benefits for the actual education education jobs in the school house. Then it didn’t consider how much they are making off of Title 1, which they promote fraud on, ESOL, race to the top, which is all Federal funds. This is nothing short of theft.

  25. Former DeKalb School Board member, Don McChesney has weighed in on the subject at his blog:

    ‘DEKALB HAD A CHANCE AND THEY BLEW IT’
    By: Don McChesney

    The Druid Hills Charter Cluster has been passed over by the school board. It is
    truly a shame. The central office staff wins and the children lose. The vote
    turned out just about the way I had predicted in previous blogs. You could see
    this one coming.

    Read more >> http://blog.donfordekalb.com/2013/11/13/270/

  26. howdy1942 says:

    I read an editorial in today’s issue of USA Today written by Richard Whitmire (author of On a Rocketship) wherein he discussed exceptional improvement in the schools in Tennessee and Washington, D. C. In his article, he cited their adoption of the Common Core Curriculum and listed measurable improvement results. He also pointed out that in Tennessee, teachers had previously been rated every 10 years but now how they were rated each year. He went on to say that the purpose of this annual rating was to provide feedback to teachers that focused on developing excellence in the classrooms and on individual development programs.

    Perhaps his most important point was the critical role that charter schools played in the significant improvement of all students. More specifically, he cited increased parental involvement, local control that was closer to the people, and increased accountability.

    Contrast that to Georgia wherein Governor Deal rejected the Common Core Curriculum because of its “cost” and the rejection by the Dekalb County School Board of the Druid Hills Cluster Petition. Georgia and Dekalb County are where we are because of the unwise decisions that we make. Georgia CAN afford Common Core. Georgia CAN peg its standards to those of Massachusetts. And the Dekalb School Board COULD HAVE given the Druid Hills Cluster a chance. I don’t live in Druid Hills, but I supported its Petition because it presented an alternative and a positive change from the System that we have today. The Druid Hills community worked hard to prepare this alternative and it reached out to the School Board and said “let’s work together – give us a chance – who knows, we might succeed in a big way”.

    Dekalb County was just plain wrong to reject this Petition. Dekalb County was just plain wrong in trying to keep $11 Million that had been budgeted to students in Druid Hills in addition to the $29 million. The proposal to, at a minimum, deny that $11 million to Druid Hills was about the most selfish, ill-founded, unfair, and dumb decision I have heard of in recent days.

    Change is coming to the Dekalb County School System. There are simply too many people who want something better for this kids.

  27. d says:

    The 2005 date will kill the amendment. Remember, this has to be approved state wide and how many new cities have been created outside of the metro area?

  28. comment via email:

    On Common Ground News has an excellent report on the meeting:

    Sparks fly as DeKalb School Board rejects charter schools cluster

    With photos. And the photos show quite well just how much contempt still exists in our school system. The contempt is coming from the board and administration. There was much arguing and disrespect from Governor-appointed member, Joyce Morley towards her board peers – well toward elected member, Marshall Orson anyway. They even had the police lead John Evans out of the room! Get this: That never happened when the ‘fired’ board was in charge. And everyone insists things are so much ‘better’ now. How crazy!

  29. d says:

    I will say first and foremost that I do support the idea of charters in general, but each should be weighed on its merits. I didn’t support DHCC for a few reasons.
    1) As a teacher who had an administrator who just didn’t like me, I can’t imagine working where I didn’t have fair dismissal and the draft contract for DHCC teachers specifically required them to waive that right (but since the board denied the charter, the state BOE said that charters cannot waive that law, so fear has been eliminated).
    2) I still don’t buy how offering the programs that DeKalb already offers (Montessori, IB, etc) is offering innovation. What new ways did DHCC want to do this? As much as I want a raise and lower class size, that just isn’t innovation.
    3) I predict had the board authorized the charter, they would then have turned around and said, well we had to give DHCC 29 or 40 or whatever million, so the rest of you teachers now have to teach 38 kids and have 8 furlough days. It was just a bad deal for the entire county. If something like this is going to happen, it has to be everyone at once, not piecemealing it like DHCC wanted to do.
    4) What would DHCC said to the student who lives across the street from Druid Hills High School if he gets expelled from the cluster? Where are they sending him? How are they getting him to school?

  30. howdy1942 says:

    Maybe I missed something, but if the funding figure is $40 or whatever million, isn’t that amount already allocated on a per-student basis for the kids living in the proposed DHCC? What difference would it make whether that money were allocated to the DHCC or the Dekalb County School System? It only makes sense that if DCSS is no longer responsible for educating those students in the DHCC that it would not be able to retain any of the money allocated for the education of those students – is that a correct statement? If that is true, then how would the DHCC impact classroom size in the remaining portions of the DCSS? If all of this is true and the DCSS simply cannot afford to give that money already allocated to students in the portion of the DCSS that would form the DHCC, then the Dekalb County School System must be using a portion of those funds to subsidize portions of Dekalb County and/or DCSS administration – does that make sense? I would appreciate some help in better understanding this matter.

  31. Dekalb Homeowner says:

    Dekalbschoolwatch, thank you for the “On Common Ground News” link to photos from the Dekalb school board’s Druid Hills Cluster meeting. Where is the video of this board meeting posted?

  32. @howdy: This is the biggest revelation that came up during the charter cluster debate! The school system had to lay their finances out on the table (though still partially covered with the tablecloth). We now KNOW that although the system is granted $40 million from the state for the students in the Druid Hills cluster, they are actually only SPENDING $29 million on them! So yes – the big question of the day is “Where is the $11 million?” Our theory is that the new “balanced” budget took this money directly from schools and placed it into legal fees, debt, and beefing up the savings. (This is also why so many students don’t even have books!!) The clouds have parted! They CAN’T give ANY school their earned dollars because they are scrambling to use every penny to plug the holes in the dike before it breaks for good.

    Isn’t is interesting though, that SACS thinks things are better?

  33. @Homeowner: The video is not posted in the ‘video on demand’ area of PDS 24 online. In fact, NO videos have been posted there since July! Hopefully, Stan Jester – the Fact Checker – will have downloaded the live stream and will get it posted on his website. That’s the best we can hope for!

    http://factchecker.stanjester.com/

  34. Dekalb Homeowner says:

    Thank you, DSW. We’ll keep checking his site for it.

  35. Dekalb Homeowner says:

    DSW, is this board less transparent than the previous board? Did the previous board post videos of all of their meetings?

  36. I don’t have the numbers but it seems to me that the old board did post the videos of all of their meetings – and they posted the minutes from the meetings too. You can go to the system’s websites and see where the information-sharing stops:

    Videos:
    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/pds-tv24/index/video-on-demand

    Minutes: I can’t find these at all anymore — anyone have a link?

    Press Releases:
    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/news-and-info

    Budget info: (the budget hearing videos were never posted as far as we know – if they have, please share the links)
    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/budget

    ps – if you want to dig up documents and meeting agendas, you can find them here: https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/MeetingListing.aspx?S=4054

  37. Dekalb Homeowner says:

    Incredible, DSW! And with a new communications director, too! Communicating with the taxpaying public (the ultimate “stakeholders”) is one of the board’s primary responsibilities. It’s profoundly surprising that they’ve been allowed to get away, since July, with providing less information than the removed board! So much for transparent “board governance.”

  38. Yes, in fact, there are only minutes from the very first meeting of the SPLOST IV oversight committee posted – http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/splost-iv/oversight-committee/minutes-splost-oc-%282013-03-14%29.pdf

    There are many other SPLOST IV related documents at the link below, however:
    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/splost-iv

    The SPLOST audits end with 2011. In fact, we are fairly certain that a 2012 SPLOST audit was not completed. (It is required by law.)

    You CAN go to the Central Office and ask for any documents you wish. However, we have well over 30 Freedom Of Information requests unanswered – or answered with a request for several hundred dollars to conduct the research, so be aware, they may try to charge you or stall if you try to go to the office.

    You can also attend the SPLOST oversight meetings. Here is the text from their one and only semi-annual (2 1/4 page) report back in March, 2013.

    Conclusion
    The Committee looks forward to continuing its efforts to watch over the SPLOST III andIV programs on behalf of the community. Community input in that process is, of course, welcome, both at the Committee meetings 8 and via e – mail.

    +++

    7
    Details on the technology projects can be reviewed here.
    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/splost-iv/projects/
    8
    To maintain order during the meetings, members of the public that wish to speak must be recognized by the presiding committee member
    . Comment may be limited at certain times to permit the Committee to complete its agenda in a timely manner. Committee members may be available at their discretion before or after meetings to discuss relevant matters with members of the public.
    9
    E-mails can be sent to the Committee at: splost-oversight@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

  39. Dekalb Homeowner says:

    Thanks, DSW. Equally as important, though, basic information pertaining to public meetings (such as videos and minutes) should be made readily available in the most readily accessible format. In 2013, that format is the Internet!

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