The numbers tell the story

numberWe downloaded the 2013 enrollment numbers for DeKalb from the state DOE’s website. This document lists enrollment and demographic data for each public school in DeKalb county. We simplified the chart to make it more readable and began to see some interesting correlations.

Overall, we discovered that there are 98,298 students enrolled in DeKalb schools. If you subtract the 2,996 Pre-K students (since they don’t earn FTE dollars), we only have 95,302 students enrolled in K-12. Of the larger total which includes Pre-K, 66,256 or 67% are Black / 10,881 or 11% are White / 13,410 or 14% are Hispanic / 5,773 or 6% are Asian / and 1,978 or 2% are ‘Other’.

When you drill down, you find some revealing information, much of which dispels some of the notions people currently hold about race and segregation in DeKalb. For example, we often hear references to all the ‘white schools in the north end of the county’. In reality, of 132 schools on the list, the following schools, mostly North DeKalb schools maintain a majority white status:

Austin (78%)
Oak Grove (72%)
Coralwood Diagnostic Center (72%)
Montgomery (67%)
Vanderlyn (63%)
The Museum School (CHARTER) (62%)
Fernbank (62%)
Kittredge (57%)
Briarlake (56%)

These schools have more white students than other races, however, they make up less than 50% of the total school population:

Dunwoody Elementary (48%)
Dunwoody High School (46%)
Ashford Park (46%)
Laurel Ridge (46%)
Hawthorne (42%)
Sagamore ES (42%)
Kingsley (40%)
Chesnut (40%)

Contrast that with the fact that of the 130 total schools in DeKalb, 94 schools have a majority black student population, and 47 of those schools are comprised of 95% or more black students. It is true that these majority-black schools are concentrated in south DeKalb, but many are in Central DeKalb. And Central and North DeKalb also play host to several schools with balanced, diverse enrollments, in that every racial group is represented and there really is not a solid majority. They are:

Peachtree Middle School (12% B / 44% W / 25% H / 8% A/11% O)
Chamblee Middle School (38% B / 33% W / 14% H / 11% A / 3% O)
Henderson Middle School (28% B / 31% W / 31% H / 7% A / 3% O)
Evansdale Elementary School (25% B / 33% W / 30% H / 8% A / 4% O)
Henderson Mill Elementary School (27% B / 22% W / 37% H / 8% A / 5% O)
Huntley Hills Elementary School (29% B / 19% W / 33% H / 16% A / 2% O)

Some other items of interest include:

We still have some seriously tiny programs, some are charters, that certainly cost exponentially more per student to operate. Destiny Achievers Academy of Excellence has only 110 students, DeKalb Preparatory Academy Charter has 286, Museum School Avondale Estates; 264, Wadsworth Magnet School for High Achievers; 232, Leadership Preparatory Academy; 299, Dekalb Early College Academy; 259, DeKalb School of the Arts (grades 8-12); 327, DeKalb Alternative School; 263, and Gateway to College Academy; 93. Each of these schools has its own building, library, cafeteria, teachers, principal and staff.

It appears that the ‘DeKalb Early College’ (259 students) and ‘Gateway to College Academy’ (93 students) still function as separate entities. One of them may be completely under the control of Georgia Perimeter College, but it seems that these programs could consolidate resources and staff to save money.

Wadsworth program for high achievers is a duplicate of Kittredge, and only has 232 students. Kittredge has 415. Originally designed as a program to integrate schools in response to the federal court order, Kittredge is currently 57% White and only 20% Black. Wadsworth is 91% Black. Obviously, the mission of integration has been diluted in this program and we now have two almost ‘separate but equal’ elementary magnet programs. In addition, we still provide special transportation for students in these programs, costing several million dollars and taking money from the classrooms of DeKalb.

In the arena of Special Education Schools, we find it very interesting that the demographics do not represent the overall system demographics (67% Black / 11% White /  14%  Hispanic / 6%  Asian / and 2% ‘Other’). Special Education needs cross all races, and therefore one would expect the numbers to align with the proportions of the total system. However, they are very much out of alignment. The numbers lead us to believe that special needs are being identified and addressed at a much higher rate for White children in DeKalb. In fact, the the 244 student population at Coralwood Diagnostic Center (which is slated for over $10 million in SPLOST IV renovations, including a therapy pool) is 72% White. Contrast that with the 378 students at East DeKalb Special Education Center with demographics of 53% Black / 29% White / 13% Hispanic / 3% Asian. Although this school serves more Black children, it is still not in balance with the overall countywide system demographics. Again, White students seem to be identified and enrolled in Special Education at a higher rate than Blacks. The Hispanic number seems close to the demographic of 14% of the total. Margaret Harris Special Education Center also has interesting demographics: 70% Black / 20% White / 9% Hispanic but the racial make-up of even this school does not correlate with the system’s racial make-up.

In other areas, we noticed that many of our schools are not serving boys as well as girls. For example, our high achiever and magnet programs enroll more girls than boys. You have to get this data directly from the original spreadsheet from the state (linked below), but of the 1,276 students enrolled at Arabia Mountain High School – Academy of Engineering, Medicine and Environment, 758 (almost 60%) are girls. And SW DeKalb (magnet program) has 717 girls with only 664 boys. Kittredge is well-balanced by gender (211 girls and 204 boys) but Wadsworth has 122 girls and only 110 boys. DSA is even more out of sync: 261 females to only 66 males. The same is true for the Elementary School of the Arts (98% black): 377 females to 139 males. In addition, DeKalb PATH Academy Charter School, a school a refugee, immigrant and local children from the Chamblee, Doraville and Clarkston shows 200 of their 370 students are female. DeKalb Early College (88% Black) has 164 girls and only 95 boys. Other charters and theme schools show the same trend – many more girls are enrolled in these boutique, specialty schools than boys.

So where are all the boys? First, they are in our traditional, neighborhood schools, most of which show more boys on the rolls than girls. In addition, they are in the alternative programs. Beginning with DeKalb Alternative School: 59 girls, 204 boys. Elizabeth Andrews has 275 girls and 363 boys. East DeKalb Special Education Center has 113 girls and 265 boys. Even Margaret Harris Comprehensive School shows only 27 girls to 39 boys and UHS of Laurel Heights has 11 girls and 26 boys. Coralwood has 139 boys and 105 girls.

So overall, yes, we do think there is segregation in DeKalb schools. Although, much of it is self-selected, either by choosing where you live, or by choosing to apply for and attend a theme, charter or magnet school, some is by way of special education or remedial education. The schools that have a majority of white students are located mostly in the north end, however, the percentages are not solidly majority white — these schools are home to every demographic at some level. Arts schools heavily serve girls while alternative schools serve many more boys. Special education needs a deeper look – it appears as though there is a problem with identifying everyone who has special needs and getting them enrolled in helpful programs. Coralwood, an intense, cutting edge sensory integration program is heavily geared toward serving white children, but behavioral-based programs are serving more black children.

Read through the documents and let us know the stories you ‘see’.

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Click here to view the original Excel spreadsheet from the GA DOE.
Click here for our simplified Excel spreadsheet.
Click here for a PDF version of our spreadsheet.
Click here to see the detailed budget including school by school allocations.
Click here for the FY14 Consolidated Budget ($1.25 Billion).
Click here to check out school by school spending at Stan Jester’s Fact Checker blog.

To dig deeper, take a look at the per pupil funding document we received via Open Records in March, 2011. This shows the disparity of funding per pupil from school to school – not including special transportation.

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46 Responses to The numbers tell the story

  1. Dekalbmomof3 says:

    School funding is a complicated issue that most citizens don’t understand. Following the “drop” of no-show students this Fall at our elementary school, nearly every classroom was out of compliance. We were at risk of losing several staff members. The principal had to work with an administrator at DCSS to create new rolls for many classrooms. Students were shifted to new classrooms several weeks after the beginning of the year. This is disruptive to all parties – students, teachers, and parents. There must be a better way!

  2. For those interested, here are the submitted enrollment numbers for the schools listed as part of the [failed] Druid Hills Charter Cluster proposal:

    The Druid Hills Charter Cluster proposes to serve grades K-12 during all five years of the charter term. The school’s proposed location(s) are:

    1) Druid Hills High School, 1534 total students: 57% B / 21% W / 7% H / 11% A / 4% O
    2) Druid Hills Middle School, 996 total students: 51% B / 23% W / 11% H / 10% A / 4% O
    3) Avondale Elementary School, 518 total students: 90% B / 2% W / 2% H / 5% A
    4) Briar Vista Elementary, 443 total students: 19% B / 24% W / 42% H / 10% A / 4% O
    5) Fernbank Elementary, 667 total students: 14% B / 62% W / 3% H / 16% A / 5% O
    6) Laurel Ridge Elementary, 453 total students: 22% B / 46% W / 15% H / 13% A
    7) McLendon Elementary, 473 total students: 58% B / 6% W / 9% H / 24% A
    8) Avondale Middle School, (there is no data for Avondale MS)

    The total number of students in this proposed cluster is 5,084.

    We are assuming that they asked to include the [closed?] Avondale MS as that is where students will attend while Fernbank is under construction. Obviously, the cluster doesn’t need two middle schools. [Wasn’t Avondale MS proposed to serve as a k-12 School of the Arts consolidating DESA and DSA?] It’s not a very old building BTW. This is from their website: http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/avondalems/aboutams.html

    History — Avondale Middle School opened its doors on October 30, 2000. Today we serve approximately 550 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. Diversity is evident in our student population as we currently have students representing 21 different countries enrolled.

    Also, after Fernbank is completed, the capacity will jump to 900 for that school – allowing for 233 more students.

  3. DecaturMax says:

    Dekalb schools will not recognize North Dekalb diversity. The administration wants them known as white schools. Forget about academics. Keep up a good North/South debate and bring all issues down to race and no one will blame the central office for failures. If a school in the north scores well it must mean S. Dekalb is not getting something from the county that the South does not get. No focus can be given to what matters and all can agree on; lower class size and individual approaches based on school needs. This simple idea will hurt divert money from the bloated over paid administration, so they must focus on race. The mass exodus of teachers will continue. Only the best and brightest can get out. After a few years of quality teachers retiring early and leaving, instruction quality has to go down further. Very sad… and still no retention plan. Maybe we can add some more other horribly depressed areas of the country except Detroit and S. Chicago to find teachers. I can’t believe, they hired Thurmond for 2 more years.

    It is time to look beyond the present financial situation. With property values up 10-30%, what will they do with next years big haul of money? Will they claim success with the same failed academics and a full wallet. The central office may need raises and retention bonuses. The teachers may get to work a normal year and will be told something wonderful was done for them.

    I immediately donated to a cityhood movement when the Charter was denied. It is now clear how little funding is making it to instruction. If it becomes legal to start a new schools district, I am now sure this is what is best for the children of all of Dekalb and want to be ready with a city in place.

  4. Kim says:

    As the data you’ve shared shows, the DeKalb public system is a defacto “minority” system and has been trending this way for quite some time.

    The pockets of caucasian majority have been retreating to well-known enclaves during the same periods and eventually seem destined to be “minority” schools themselves in the not-so-distant future. My fellow caucasians have been removing themselves from the system through self-selection for at least the last decade or two, if not longer, and have done so in not-so-subtle ways.

    We are doing so primarily by choosing private options or choosing to move out of DeKalb County all together. I have had otherwise reasonable and progressive individuals tell me flatly that once a school goes < 50 % "white" they will not be comfortable with their kids attending. Surely this view of things is known to our neighbors of "African" heritage of one type or another, right? Wonder that many harbor resentment …

    Even so, don't let me mis-represent my own view in a unidimensional way. I think there is much more than bigotry driving things in our system. There are plenty of middle- to upper- class African-Americans who are elitist in their views of DeKalb public. In addition to the many magnet schools supporting the stratification of black families in DeKalb schools, on a visit to an event at Marist I was boldly taunted by an African-American father of a Marist student for being associated with the second-class community at Cross Keys. So, racism and classism is not a one-way street. It's not even a two-way street – more like the roundabout at the Avenue des Champs-Élysées near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris with disdain spewing in all directions.

    I hear regularly celebrations in DeKalb of our diverse schools but the reality is that too many Caucasian and too many African-American parents in recent past see diversity as a black/white or rich/poor continuum only and are only "comfortable" when their favorite demographic makes up half the enrollment of a school or more.

    The good news is our generations are dying off and a younger generation is bringing a new set of expectations and perspectives on diversity that is no longer bi-polar. I see these trends in smaller charter schools and neighborhood elementary schools in areas like Decatur. Having the blessing of being engaged in Cross Keys areas in what I'll call the war front in DeKalb schools' black vs white political obsession, I can tell you the future is bright in a non-white and non-black world. Our school brim over with what I call "gray" children – neither black nor white, they represent every continent and culture and are a mis-mash of races that are viewed monolithically only by outsiders.

    For while we sport virtually no caucasian families and only 10% or less African-American families in our attendance area enrollment, the schools and the children are benefitting from good educational opportunities and an unparalleled cultural experience. Cheers from the border and the frontier at Cross Keys!

    P.S. A note on Path Academy – it is located in the heart of Brookhaven and serves a large number of our Woodward and Montclair kids. It is very much part of the Cross Keys "eco-system" in Brookhaven stretching all the way up to Doraville at Sequoyah MS.

  5. Kim says:

    DecaturMax: “I immediately donated to a cityhood movement when the Charter was denied.”

    I told the DeKalb District leaders who would listen in September that if they denied the NDHHS cluster charter they were going to light a match to the independent school district powder keg … other than Rep. Tom Taylor from Dunwoody, the DeKalb BoE has done more than anyone to strengthen and accelerate the ISD case.

  6. @DecaturMax: Curious – I wonder if the rest of DeKalb could sue the state for unfair tax competition. You know – Decatur can command higher taxes due to their better schools – since they were grandfathered in when the amendment was passed not allowing any more school systems to form. Decatur has been given an unfair advantage over the rest of DeKalb – to entice business, to entice homebuilding and to use SPLOST dollars as deemed important by the community. Perhaps the rest of DeKalb could challenge the original amendment as Unconstitutional? It really isn’t fair that the rest of us have to sit and admire Decatur schools from across the road, wishing we had your kind of control over your community schools.

  7. hopespringseternal says:

    “The numbers lead us to believe that special needs are being identified and addressed at a much higher rate for White children in DeKalb.”

    My supposition is purely that — supposition. As the parent of a south-end black male special education student in a non-boutique school, here goes, and cue the reaction: I believe there are reasons for the misalignment of special education students by race in this district. (I warn you, this one is going to hurt and will require self-examination — something we’re collectively poor at.)

    (1) Minority parents are less savvy at early identification. (2) Minority parents, once educated on the subject, are too quick to buy what the school district sells as the plan for educating their children. (3) Teachers in minority schools, of all races, are too quick to label a child a trouble-maker, thereby marking the student and delaying the opportunity for help. Hit the pause button on this one. Would there be such a quickness with a white child? (4) Since the district special ed leadership has to march to the district drum, it takes an incredibly astute parent to fight the urge for “interrelated” teaching if it’s not appropriate. Interrelated means, in many of our schools, that another adult is installed in the classroom, and it’s a roll of the dice as to whether the special ed student will derive any benefit from that adult’s presence. (5). Many parents don’t realize that because of the gutting of non-core teachers in schools, the school won’t even offer a class until a position can be filled for the corresponding interrelated teacher. It’s the reason my son isn’t taking math this semester — they couldn’t fill the position for an interrelated teacher to accompany the core teacher. Now how much sense does this make? Special ed students, more than others and depending on their challenges, should be the FIRST in line for full year math instruction. But nnnoooo — when in trouble, throw the least of these under the bus.

    Shall we plunge forward? If the student goes too long without identification and help, s/he fails. Or gets suspended. Or simply thrown out of school. Or beat up. Meanwhile, parent conferences, as one (white) teacher gently said to me, are nothing but a gang-bang on the student. They do nothing but make both the student and the parent feel frustrated and inferior.

    I’ve had some great principals and teachers who don’t fit the mold I describe above, but I’ve also seen and have been subjected to the complete scenario. Is it any wonder there’s this misalignment?

  8. concernedmom30329 says:

    A huge percentage of Coralwood students are not special ed. They are there for the inclusion programs and they are typical learners. Based on data from 2011 (the most recent I could find), less than half of the kindergarten students at Coralwood had IEPs. The racial composition is explained, in part, by the huge competition of neighborhood parents to get their typical kids into PreK and Kindergarten there. I wonder if E DeKalb is an inclusion model or self-contained? Anyone know?

  9. concernedmom30329 says:

    My source for Coralwood data…
    http://reportcard2011.gaosa.org/(S(gv4irv0owgnjakqxmdeqvolm))/k12/Demographics.aspx?TestType=Demographics&ID=644:5016

  10. September says:

    @ Hope. I don’t want to discount any of your personal experience. I know how difficult it can be to get the kind of instruction that your child needs. It is also very, very wrong that your child is not receiving the math instruction he needs. I agree that parents don’t always know what questions to ask and may have no choice but to accept what the school is offering. FIFW regular ed. and gifted children sometimes have behavior problems, too.

    One thing that did not come out in the data on this post is the percentage of low income students at each school. Unfortunately, schools with the highest free/reduced lunch rates may also be highly transient. Families move for a lot of reasons and not every child responds well when this happens. The simple act of moving during the school year, especially moving from state to state, can put a child behind in school. Add in several moves or even a minor learning problem, and the results can be devastating. It is a lot harder for the school to build the required case for a special needs designation when a child moves frequently. There are learning problems (e.g., ADHD, dyslexia) that require a medical diagnosis that a school can’t make. It takes time and documentation to get a student the right kind of help. Some students move on before the process can be completed.

  11. Take a look at Thurmond’s 2013-14 budget.
    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/budget/budget-detail-%282014%29.pdf

    Scroll down to the school allotments. There are some interesting discrepancies – for example:

    Seqoyah Middle School has 1,099 students, and they are allocated $5,590,364.00
    Druid Hills Middle School has 996 students, and they are allocated $5,997,353.00

    Wonder why so much more for Druid Hills MS?

  12. stanjester says:

    DSW,
    You can get a break down here for how each school spends its allocated money in the budget.
    http://factchecker.stanjester.com/wp-content/assets/documents/financial/FY2014/Budget/120%20-%20SCHOOLS/

    Druid Hills has 2 more teachers and their teachers are paid on average a couple thousand more.

  13. dekalbite2 says:

    “Wonder why so much more for Druid Hills MS?”

    Perhaps Sequoia had a greater turnover in teachers so they have less experienced teachers. We really need Mr. Thurmond to publish the turnover rates for each school and for the school system as a whole.

  14. Interesting Stan! Great data!! So here’s more on the subject of Druid Hills Middle vs Sequoyah Middle.

    DHM interestingly, ahs reduced their teacher budget from 3,874,354 in 2011 to 3,693,342 in 2012 to 3,266,350 in 2013 to 3,090,794 projected for 2014. But the TRS remained about the same at $529,274 . Most everything else was reduced, with subs being reduced to zero. (Subs must be deducted from some other budget somewhere?)

    Costs for teachers at Sequoyah actually went up. From 2,671,780 in 2011 to 2,885,395 in 2012 to 2,672,211 in 2013 to 2,861,473 projected for 2014.

    So the teacher costs appear to be similar. Sequoyah’s TRS cost went from 384,160 in 2011 to 487,393 projected for 2014.

    It’s all very open to interpretation.

  15. dsw2contributor says:

    Sequoyah Middle is majority (70%) Hispanic, so it is underfunded compared to other DCS middle schools.

    As for why Sequoyah’s teacher costs increased, that might have to with federal DOE’s slapping DCS for how Atkinson violated the civil rights of Hispanics/ESOL learners.

  16. More interesting items from Stan’s data:

    TEACHERS (high school operations in total:) 2011: $3,325,405 2012: $3,201,006 2013: $3,081,828 2014 (Proposed) $2,991,403

  17. Total cost – sample per pupil costs

    DeKalb School of the Arts: $2,381,614 / 327 students = $7,283 per pupil

    Lakeside High School: $9,335,339 / 1890 students = $4,939 per pupil

    Arabia Mtn High School: $5,834,741 / 1276 students = $4,572 per pupil

    Cross Keys High School: $5,790,708 / 1,014 students = $5,710 per pupil

    Southwest DeKalb High School: 7,736,205 / $5,601 per pupil

    Chamblee HS: 6,968,985 / $5,707 per pupil

  18. Alexandra says:

    In addition, we still provide special transportation for students in these programs, costing several million dollars and taking money from the classrooms of DeKalb. Can you please tell me how you identified this number? How much is several millions? More than 20?

  19. concerned citizen says:

    Let’s start by eliminating DeKalb School of the Arts – it’s pure nonsense, let along $7,283 per student. Next, SWD if the student numbers are low. We the taxpayers have spent a fortune at SWD for years – Why? The football program? Yes, the neighborhood idea is good but at what cost? The SWD parents don’t seem to care what Thurmond does as long as they have their school in place; some days, I can understand that. But, as a taxpayer, I deeply resent this mentality. DSW2, could you please provide any information about the legendary Towers High School? Not much is forthcoming, so have these parents slipped back into the invisible mode? Is the felon still the principal or has that changed? I still see an inordinate number of teaching positions open at Towers, not that that is unusual.

  20. @Alexandra – we got that number from the budget cuts — two cuts in a row, the magnet transportation was reduced. In 2010, we first went to a ‘hub’ system, with pick up points. This reduction in magnet routes was projected to save $2 million – maybe. Then in 2011, further cuts were supposedly made to magnet transportation – but we are unsure if they were ever actually implemented:
    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/05/amazing-may-10-board-meeting.html
    Cunningham proposed instead of cutting the magnet transportation completely (as has been the plan since last year when the hub system was implemented), to go to 9 hub locations instead of the current 18. Oddly, they simply cut the savings of that line item in half, but I just can’t believe that was logical. The savings to implement the full transportation cut plan was $4 million – this change won’t simply cut that in half – you still have to get drivers to fire up buses to make the trips, regardless of how many hubs you pick up from. Plus, there were other transportation cuts in that line item. This may be a net zero savings. But I did understand that if they save the magnet school points, but eliminate transportation, it’s kind of senseless. PASSED (Although, I don’t understand why Sarah voted on this at all, she had no idea where the satellite hubs were, she seemed totally unaware of their existence, and confused as to what she was voting on.)

    There is also the cost of bus transportation to the Fernbank Science program. This is from the old blog:
    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/03/are-proposed-dcss-budget-cuts-going-to.html
    Bus transportation for the students who come to Fernbank – transportation costs are huge. The costs for bus drivers and gasoline may run into the millions. Fernbank trips are probably the single highest contributor to bus driver extra pay cost.

  21. Dekalbite2 says:

    County transportation to Fernbank Science Center was eliminated except for the STT (Scientific Tools and Techniques) program that serves 90 students a semester (180 per year). Virtually all of the Fernbank Science Center teachers go to the schools to teach one shot science classes. So this begs the question of why there are 19 science teachers out in the schools all day and 21 non teaching admin and support staff sitting at the science center.

    Please count the number of Instructors (teachers) versus the number admin and support personnel:
    http://fsc.fernbank.edu/faculty.htm

    We pay around $4,000,000 a year for Fernbank Science Center (those figures come from Thurmond’s budget). What is the return on investment in science achievement are we achieving? Our science scores are worse than ever. Does Mr. Thurmond ever look at the data?

  22. Right DeKalbite. The transportation to Fernbank for field trips was cut – but the door to door transportation for the 90 students per semester in the Science Tools and Techniques (magnet-like) program continues. At a high cost to the budget.

  23. Ned says:

    As an exercise, check the census data for DeKalb vs. the school census data. Census data shows the county 54.6% Black of African American, 34.5% white, 5.0% Asian, 4.0% Other, 1.5% mixed, 0/3% Native American or Alaskan, 0.1% Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.

    A few caveats:1. “Black of African American” includes immigrants fitting that racial description; there is a difference between someone born in Morrow and someone born in Mogadishu the census isn’t designed to capture. The same with “White”: a native Bosnian is not the same as a native Atlantan, but in these numbers he/she is. 2. These numbers are age zero to died the next day, so they are ‘off’ from school-age numbers.

    Still, it’s an interesting contrast: http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml###

  24. Very true Ned. I think this is part of the fear of those thinking that if Druid Hills were to become a charter cluster, many of the whites in that area that use private schools would return to public school and push out the blacks that are currently enrolled in the district. It’s impossible to do, I know, but it is a belief held pretty firmly by many in the black community. Some say that when the white enrollments increase, the Druid Hills cluster will start pushing out black students, by expulsion and other means. Given the racial history of DeKalb, one can understand their fear.

    What they really don’t understand though, is that many of these upper-crust, mostly white communities partake of private schools and country clubs as a way of life. They actually pay very little attention to what goes on in the public schools. I have met many who can’t even tell me the name of the public school their children would attend. The only exception is Sarah Smith Elementary in Fulton Co. The country club set loves this school, but they go private after that. Bottom line, there is little fear of wealthy whites returning to public schools in Druid Hills and other areas of DeKalb. They really don’t give local public schools a second thought. Many wouldn’t recognize Crawford Lewis, Pat Reid or Tony Pope’s names.

  25. concerned citizen says:

    Our neighbors of 12 years just moved to Buckhead and the Sarah Smith School after checking thoroughly every possible alternative for their two daughters who are just now school age, including moving a mile away into the Decatur School area, paying for St. Thomas Moore, which six of our neighbors do, moving to Alpharetta, Marietta, Gwinnett, etc. The local schools are McNair Academy, McNair Middle, and McNair High. There is not enough money in the world for educated people to send their children to these dregs of society. Many people who have worked in these places say openly that these schools need to be demolished. Now, the elementary school was, but the results have been the same, no progress academically. Our neighbors are upper-crust Black professionals who know what they are doing. We lived with them through their research and know how well-heeled professionals think. Not in their lifetime would their children have attended the “McNair Cluster,” the mention of which sends shudders down our neighborhood’s spine. And to date no mention of the brave bookkeeper who saved so many lives. Thurmond rolled up his sleeves like he had something to do! If it had not been so tragic, it would have been comical. And, yes, they did know the names of Lewis, Reid/Pope,and many more money-grubbing friends/family. THEY LOOKED INTO THE LEADERSHIP AND FOUND NOBODY WORTHY OF NOTE, nobody they would trust their children’s welfare to. Crawford Lewis, you are guilty of even more than Reid/Pope were found guilty of; yet, you smiled and smiled when let off the hook. You walked away, a free man. This injustice is so deep; people you knew have not been surprised at your stupidity and dereliction of duty. You never have had a clue about schools and nobody has ever mentioned that you “cared” about the children’s welfare. You are a rotten crook and are not even half-smart. You are a known commodity for your lack of brain power. Plus, you also stopped even trying to be “nice,” because “you” felt betrayed by the taxpayers. How so? I don’t feel sorry for you; I feel nothing but contempt that you allowed and made it possible for the corruption you knew to be in place to flourish and prosper.

  26. whyaminotsurprised says:

    Just a couple of thoughts about the High Achiever Magnets: If you think they should be combined into one program, then the transportation costs complained about will go up. The reason Kittredge has more students is likely similar to what @Hope noted – South Dekalb parents may not be as likely to take advantage of what is available. Or, alternatively, the transportation issue creates problems. Several years ago, the Magnets cut costs and stopped providing door to door bus service. It only has a few centralized drop off points. I don’t know about many of stops, but the one my daughter takes lets off at a school with no after school program. So, parents still have to come pick their kids up – either by picking them up midday at the centralized location or by driving in rush hour traffic to get all the way to Kittredge. Not many working parents are able to work this out – and we are fortunate we can. If the schools were combined, even fewer working parents would be able to let their children participate in the program due to the long distance drive.

    What’s sad is that more children are not able to get the higher quality education that they need, in smaller class sizes, and getting educational opportunities matched to their abilities. My kid didn’t need two years of basic multiplication tables with no opportunities to get any higher math (this was before Kittredge). Other kids (like @Hope’s) need specialty math instruction and are getting none. I was incredibly impressed at how well Wadsworth students did at the Science Olympiad regional last year (lots of awards!) – South Dekalb desperately needs more opportunities to give bright kids a place to shine – not fewer. Closing that school will not be enough funding to provide those opportunities back in their home schools. As for the Wadsworth “gender split” – there is a 7 student difference @ Kittredge and a 12 student difference @ Wadsworth. That’s about 5%. Is this even statistically significant? If it is, then it shows that more girls than boys are applying – it’s a random lottery who gets in.

    As for the gender difference at DSA – there’s a huge gender split in general in the Arts. there’s more interest by girls than boys. That’s to be expected. If you want more boys, you have to *spend the money* to attract more boys.

  27. @surprised: There are plenty of opportunities for people in South DeKalb to leave their neighborhood schools for special programs — far more than in north DeKalb. In fact, there are over 3,500 students attending these programs, leaving their home schools under-enrolled and at risk for closure/consolidation.

    Read our post on the subject from the old blog — the data is a few years old, but enrollments have not changed much:

    North vs Central vs South – what’s the deal?

  28. FWIW, here are the Per Pupil costs for Kittredge and Wadsworth:

    Kittredge:
    $2,457,790 / 415 students = $5,922 per pupil (not including the hub system of special transportation)

    Wadsworth:
    $1,473,824 / 232 students = $6,352 per pupil (not including the hub system of special transportation)

    For random comparison:

    Cedar Grove Elementary School – (a Title 1 school)*
    $3,382,945 / 626 students = $5,404 per pupil

    Oak Grove Elementary School – (non-Title 1)*
    $3,510,612 / 679 students = $5,170 per pupil

    * We have no idea the number of special education students in these schools. They are funded at a much higher rate, yet included in the total and can throw off the per pupil spending average.

    Also, as you can see, Title 1 schools, although when combined countywide garner tens of millions for the system, only really break down to an additional few hundred additional spending per pupil on average. Title 1 funds generally bridge the gap of PTA spending in ‘wealthier’ schools.

  29. Reminder:

    DeKalb parent educational conference set for Saturday
    Written by OCG News Staff

    The public is invited to attend the DeKalb County School District’s Parent Educational Awareness & Empowerment Conference on Saturday, Nov. 23, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Georgia Piedmont Technical College’s Conference Center, 494 N. Indian Creek, Clarkston.

    The conference will address questions and concerns about education; navigating the school district; prioritizing ‘life’ versus children; and more. Donna Lowry, 11Alive TV, will moderate the event.

  30. dekalbite2 says:

    “Title 1 funds generally bridge the gap of PTA spending in ‘wealthier’ schools.”

    Except very little of the funds are spent in the schools for direct instruction or classroom supplies and/or equipment.

  31. Well now that is exactly true in DeKalb, dekalbite2. Dr. Lewis started this whole idea to usurp ALL the Title 1 funds and use them to fund a bloated central office department — and he gave the job as the six-figure leader of the Title 1 department to his secret lover – the one Pat Pope was ‘blackmailing’ him about. If you ask me, Lewis did even more damage to the school system than the Popes. At least Tony Pope actually built something with the money he was allocated for construction. Lewis just hoarded and then gave it all away in a very ineffective jobs program that we are still trying to recover from. Atkinson then came along and made it all exponentially worse.

  32. dekalbite2 says:

    “If you ask me, Lewis did even more damage to the school system than the Popes. ”

    Absolutely right.

    Lewis moved the Title 1 money out of the classrooms and into funding:
    1. Non teaching and non certified highly paid Parent Center employees (many of them Friends and Family)
    2. Non teaching and highly paid Coaches (Academic, Literacy, Graduation, ESOL, etc.)
    3. Non teaching and highly paid Coordinators, Assistant Directors, Directors and Managers

    These non teaching personnel who are certified to teach but do not teach consumed/consume tens of millions a year in Title 1 funding as well as taking money away from the General Fund that pays for the teachers that deliver the content of math, science, language arts and social studies to our students.

    Lewis suspended the TSA for teachers which placed us at the bottom of the barrel in compensation for teachers. This also led to the up to $50,000,000 class action lawsuit from the teachers which will be up to taxpayers to pay if we lose. Oddly enough, this left us taxpayers paying the most expensive lawyers in Atlanta to fight the teachers who are instructing our children and watching out for them every day. So we are fighting against the personnel who are charged with ensuring our children learn the academic content that will enable them to be successful in life.

    Lewis kept the funding for the Fernbank Science Center with its top heavy admin and support group even as science scores plummeted. Millions a year of scarce science education dollars were/are spent for this outdated, musty old building that houses more admin and support personnel than teachers.

    Lewis expanded the Security force to hundreds of employees as he built it into the most expensive security force in the metro area. The $12,000,000 (and $10,000,000 now) spent on Security dwarfs the security expenditure of EVERY other metro school system.

    Lewis began and pursued the legal wrangles that have sucked tens of millions out of our school system.

    Lewis began this fiasco, but Ms. Tyson continued it and so did Dr. Atkinson. Now Mr. Thurmond is changing nothing. He is still fighting our children’s teachers over the TSA which rightfully belongs to them and which makes us uncompetitive with other metro systems when we try to attract and retain quality teachers. He is still primarily using Title 1 funds for non teaching personnel. He is increasing the funding for Fernbank Science Center. He is bringing back the non teaching Parent Centers (at least Atkinson pared those down). He has not settled the expensive lawsuits. He has overseen the largest exodus of teachers from DeKalb in its history.

    Mr. Thurmond has not established any quantifiably measurable academic objectives for students. He has not lowered any class sizes. He has not ensured every student has a highly qualified teacher. He has not instituted the pay scale, customer service, and involvement that will attract and retain the best teachers. He has not been transparent with taxpayer dollars.

    Mr. Thurmond has surrounded himself with the same administrative group that was in place when Lewis and Reid compromised our children’s future. There does not seem to be a way forward academically for students when Mr. Thurmond keeps the same policies, procedures, and personnel that Lewis put in place.

  33. hopespringseternal says:

    For clarity, superintendents can’t create or continue legal actions. Boards do. And boards can, when they find themselves enmeshed in stuff they or prior boards stepped in, consider a fix. But even then, the ‘fix’ may be worse them the ailment. Boards go into executive session and God knows what they’re told by their own counsel. So we never know if they’re listening to what they think is sound advice or acting like fleeced sheep. And board lethargy is as dangerous as impulsive stupidity. I fear that’s where we’re headed with the litigation for the contributions to the TSA.

  34. hopespringseternal says:

    Sorry, “worse THAN the ailment”.

  35. hopespringseternal says:

    I lived in Cobb County in the early 90’s as a single parent with two young children. One day I got a call from the local elementary school informing me that my oldest child was struggling “just a bit” with reading, and they thought since he needed remediation, they might as well strengthen him in math as well. Before I had time to think and bristle up (he really showed no signs of struggle I thought), they’d snatched him up for intensive reading and math individual and small-group instruction. I fought the urge to get defensive and rolled with it. A few weeks later I figured it out during a PTA meeting; this school had just become flush with Title I $$ and hunted for ways to spend it. They dived deep with the individual instruction strategy and parent seminars. It was there that I learned, for example, the one place on the body where all fears can be calmed with a simple rub. I had reason to bristle: my sons represented a tiny number of minority students in that school, and we’d already been invited off the soccer practice fields because the other mothers said “it was getting too dark” for them. We played soccer games at one field where we had to run a gauntlet of KKK recruitment rallies near Powder Springs and New Macland Roads. I thought it was great, because I got to instruct my sons on bigotry in real time.

    That oldest son will receive his Ph.D. this coming spring from The Ohio State University in English, and my middle son is one of the young Navy men, a MSU graduate, who helped pull up that confederate gunboat off the Savannah River bed last week.

    Moral of the story: forget the canned program crap. If there’s Title I money spend it closest to the individual student. We all let this county down when we allowed for the consolidation of Title I dollars for canned programs, pimped by company snake oil salesmen. We’re paying the price now in the form of all those young men and women who presented themselves recently for the umpteenth retake of their high school graduation test. And we had the template for best Title I practices right next door.

  36. Exactly Hope. That’s why I was wondering who the other two board members being ‘blackmailed’ by Pat Pope were. They also, it appears, were unable to do their jobs, due to their inability to act with integrity.

    ps – I’m very sorry about your son’s experience on the Cobb soccer fields – but glad you were wise enough to take full advantage of the Title 1 extras – they obviously are very successful young men. You deserve to be very proud. Title 1, if implemented correctly, can make a difference. It’s shocking really, that our own black leadership chooses instead to use Title 1 funds to continue their jobs program for adults with insider connections, when they should be spending that money to help (mostly black) young students to do the very best they can do and become the most they can become. Instead, we have to only look at our very large, imposing DeKalb county jail (also a jobs program in my opinion) to see a large collection of the results of our own inability and unwillingness to do the right thing for children.

  37. teachermom says:

    Exactly DSW and Hope. We have instructional coaches that suck the small group money instead. The teachers are supposed to do it (while ignoring the other students in the class who are expected to work independently by helping each other.in teams). The teacher is required to sit with that small group and not move, I kid you not. Teachers in my school were given bad scores on evaluations for getting up to check on the other students progress during tasks. Meanwhile instructional coaches circle the building looking for teachers who are getting up and do not run small groups because “that’s not my job.” What a waste of title 1 funds! I know I’ve said it before but our students are being denied the direct help they so desperately need.

  38. Meeting Announcement:

    NOTICE OF DEKALB BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETINGS

    The DeKalb Board of Education will hold the following meetings on Monday,
    December 2, 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 Input Session
    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

    The meeting agendas 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.

  39. From the very old AJC archives — almost 25 years ago — showing the history behind the magnet schools.

    DeKalb desegregation delay rejected – Court orders schools to start work on plan
    The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution – Monday, December 4, 1989

    Author: WATTS, ROBERT ANTHONY, Robert Anthony Watts Staff writer: STAFF

    The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected a request by the DeKalb County school system that it be allowed to delay drawing up a new plan to further desegregate its schools.

    DeKalb officials, who were ordered Oct. 11 by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to draw up a broader plan to desegregate the county’s 73,000 student school system, the state ‘s largest, had sought a reprieve from the Supreme Court until officials filed their appeal to the high court .

    The Supreme Court ‘s refusal to stay the ruling means county school officials will have to begin preparing a new desegregation plan. The case is expected to come back before U.S. District Judge William C. O’Kelley.

    “I’m very happy, obviously,” said Marcia W. Borowski, attorney for the plaintiffs in the 21-year-old desegregation case.

    DeKalb School Superintendent Robert R. Freeman said he was disappointed by the ruling, but expressed optimism the high court still will review DeKalb ‘s case. The system has until Feb. 13 to appeal.

    “Within the next few weeks, we’ll no doubt go back to the district court and have some discussion on what the plan will be, and we’ll proceed to come up with a plan,” Dr. Freeman said. “I’m still optimistic that the Supreme Court will hear our case, and I’m still optimistic that we will prevail.”

    The federal appeals court ruling did not specifically explain the type of plan DeKalb officials must devise. But the court said DeKalb had to consider redrawing attendance lines, busing and expanding its magnet school program to bring more black and white students together.

    Although Monday’s order was not a decision on the merits of the case, the ruling suggests that DeKalb officials face daunting odds in getting their case reviewed. Two of the criteria the high court uses for granting a stay are whether four justices want to review the case and second, whether it is likely that five justices will reverse the lower court ‘s decision .

    School officials had argued that the appeals court ruling represented a death knell for neighborhood schools in Georgia, Florida and Alabama – the states served by the 11th Circuit. Officials also argued that the ruling conflicted with decisions from other circuits and with previous Supreme Court desegregation rulings.

    Ms. Borowski, however, argued against a reprieve on the ground that school officials need to begin work as soon as possible to come up with a plan that has community support.

    “I think that if you’re going to draw up a plan that is a successful plan and one that has the support of the community, it’s not the kind of thing you do overnight, on the spur of the moment,” she said.

    It is not clear how much time officials will have to come up with a plan or exactly what the plan must include. Those questions will be cleared up when Judge O’Kelley, who has presided over the case since the early 1980s, meets with school officials and gives them specific direction in line with the 11th Circuit’s ruling.

    Today’s ruling was the latest in a series of legal setbacks for the school system. Since its October ruling, the 11th Circuit has rejected school system requests to reconsider its ruling and in late November denied officials a stay until the case reaches the Supreme Court .

    In a related development, Dr. Freeman said that he will begin meeting with DeKalb parents next week to solicit their views on creating new magnet schools that would offer specialized programs to voluntarily attract black and white students. Expanded magnet schools are expected to be a part of the new plan.

    “I want them to know what I’m thinking and I want to know what they’re thinking,” said Dr. Freeman. “I’m not attempting to find out what the parents want so much as what they will support. In the final analysis it has to be what the court wants.”

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