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’.


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. Followed later by this article from May, 1999:

    M-to-M must end, critics say – Once a proud policy for school desegration, few can see any remaining advantages for DeKalb busing program.
    The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution – Sunday, May 2, 1999
    Author: Diane Loupe; Staff

    When DeKalb County started busing black children out of their neighborhoods to majority-white public schools 23 years ago, the school system was considered one of the state ‘s best — for white children, that is.

    Although the county had abandoned official segregation of schools, the majority-black schools remained neglected. Courts overseeing the county’s desegregation effort concluded there was inequality of opportunity between black and white students and ordered the busing program as a way of resolving that problem.

    Now, with the DeKalb school board ready this month to vote on ending the effort, known as the Majority-to-Minority transfer program, almost everything about the system has changed:

    So many white students have fled the system that the schools no longer reflect the county’s diverse complexion. Three-quarters of DeKalb ‘s students are black, though the county itself remains less than half black. And DeKalb now has a greater number of children in private schools than any other county in Georgia.

    DeKalb ‘s public schools no longer lead the state in student achievement; standardized test scores, though rising, are among the lowest in the metro area — only Atlanta’s are lower.

    Although black and white parents continue to disagree over whether their neighborhood schools get equal resources, the stark funding inequalities between black and white schools are no longer obvious. Indeed, many school officials are certain the county spends much more on majority black schools than white ones, especially when federal and construction dollars are included. The U.S. Supreme Court was convinced enough change had occurred that it released DeKalb ‘s schools from court supervision in1996.

    One thing many DeKalb parents do agree on is that it’s time for M-to-M to go. Critics say the $6-million-a-year program wastes scarce school resources, drains talent from schools in black neighborhoods and burdens black students and their parents with the responsibility for integrating the schools.

    The M-to-M program was once a point of pride for DeKalb . It allowed the county to sidestep the federally forced busing imposed upon many other school systems by giving black children the option of attending majority white schools.

    Even today, DeKalb school board attorney Gary Sams brags that “one of the things we prided ourselves on was that there never was forced busing” in the county schools.

    When the U.S. court of appeals did order forced busing in 1989, the county appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court and won.

    But now, if M-to-M is dropped, it seems unlikely that the county will ever be subject to forced busing. Busing to desegregate public schools is quietly disappearing, as a Supreme Court dominated by Reagan and Bush appointees clears the way for local school districts to escape busing orders. Along with Dekalb ‘s, court decrees have been lifted in Denver, Dallas, Buffalo, N.Y., Savannah and Wilmington, Del., among other cities. And white parents are suing to end busing where it was born, in NorthCarolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenberg school system.

    But how the DeKalb School Board will replace M-to-M with is uncertain. If it votes this month to eliminate the program, the board will have to figure out how to prevent the return of widespread segregation and ensure that the already crowded schools in rapidly expanding black neighborhoods don’t become overburdened by the eventual return of the more than 4,200 M-to-M students.

    The M-to-M program actually began with a 1972 order from federal education authorities. But the program existed only in theory for its first several years because it was not widely publicized and the county did not offer transportation to students who wanted to attend schools outside their neighborhoods.

    The program began to emerge in the mid-1970s after Roger Mills, a white attorney for the U.S. Department of Education enrolled his adopted black daughter in the program and tried to enlist other black students. When the system attempted to limit the program, Mills sued, and in 1976, a federal court ordered the school system to provide transportation. M-to-M busing began in earnest in 1977 with 534 students, and has enrolled between 4,000 and 5,000 students annually since 1986.

    After DeKalb was released from court control, it volunteered to continue paying for the the M-to-M program and a series of special magnet programs designed to attract white students to black schools by offering special instruction in performing arts, math or languages.

    But last year, the conservative Southeastern Legal Foundation threatened to sue over continuation of M-to-M, charging that it is illegal for a program to deprive one set of students to benefit another.

    The DeKalb School Board, already hearing both black and white parents criticize the M-to-M program , last month proposed phasing it out by accepting no new transfers after this fall. The students already in the program would be able to finish attending their M-to-M schools, but would return to their neighborhood schools for the next step in their education, whether it be middle or high school.

    The board is expected to vote on the issue this month, and many parents are expected to air their concerns at a 6 p.m. board meeting Monday at Southwest DeKalb High School.

    Some will miss the program. Librarian Juanita Curry watched the influx of M-to-M students at Henderson High, now Henderson Middle, starting in 1978. At first, she thought black students were isolated from many of the school activities and didn’t have a voice in the school. But she saw integration take hold.

    “Over the year, things started to change, and the black students, whites, Asians, Indians, etc., all began to bond, respect, and recognize each other other,” says Curry, now a librarian at Stephenson High.

    Some black students who attend Lakeside High School through the M-to-M program, where the program accounts for the majority of black enrollment, say it has offered them a far better and safer education than they could have received in their neighborhood schools.

    Angel Madueke, a junior, says the program allows “black kids to learn about white kids as much as allowing white kids to know about black kids.”

    Virtually all of the county’s white public school students attend integrated schools, while most black students attend schools with almost no one of another race.

    “The world is not like that” — peopled with only one race — says Benjamin Houston, another M-to-M student.

    DeKalb ‘s M-to-M students have done as well as their classmates in their new schools, according to recently released test data. It shows M-to-M students overall performed about as well on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills in 1998 as the other students in the schools they attended, though they tended to score lower than their classmates in the schools with the most white students.

    But even its supporters note that M-to-M has its drawbacks. Jacqueline Jordan Irvine, an Emory University urban research scholar, had her daughter in the M-to-M program for 11 years. Her daughter did well academically in the program — she’s now a lawyer — but Irvine thinks the program largely failed in its mission to integrate schools. Black kids didn’t fully participate in their new schools, and weren’t well represented in advanced classes, she says.

    ”What happened is the burden of desegregation landed flatly on the shoulders of black parents,” says Irvine. ”These are the parents who got their children up at dawn, stood in the dark and waited for buses to take their child from one part of the county to another.”

    The growing dissatisfaction with M-to-M found its most prominent representative in Jamie Sibold, a white lawyer who volunteered his kindergarten-age daughter at Kingsley Elementary to be a plaintiff for the threatened lawsuit against M-to-M.

    Sibold says he believes the program has diverted resources away from his daughter’s classroom. When the M-to-M bus is late, classes are delayed until after the bused students have eaten breakfast, cutting into instructional time, says Sibold. And parents, he says, resent having to raise money themselves to pay for such school expenses as school nurses, supplies and reading programs when the board is spending millions of dollars on a program benefitting relatively few students.

    ”Parents here don’t understand why their children are selling wrapping paper so that black children can go to whatever school they want,” says Sibold. ”We need to address equity without shortchanging any children.”

    While DeKalb School Board members and administrators have been vague about how they will do that, they all say they want to preserve school choice. The board has asked Superintendent James R. Hallford to submit an alternative proposal by November that meets three criteria: improving instructional quality, making better use of existing school facilities and optimizing school choice.

    Board members Frances Edwards and Mike Kelly both said they expect Hallford to propose a plan that allows students from crowded schools to attend schools with excess capacity. That might actually provide more seats for black students in white schools than M-to-M does, both board members say.

    Edwards cites Dunwoody High as an example. Under the M-to-M program, which cuts off transfers when the school’s black enrollment reaches 50 percent, Dunwoody can only accept 160 black M-to-M students. But if the school accepted students based on available classroom space, over 300 students could transfer, Edwards says.

    Such a program “will offer more diversity,” saus Edwards, because it would open seats to Asians and Hispanics, now mostly excluded from the M-to-M program. One issue the district would have to deal with is whether to provide transporation for transferring students, and if it does, how.

    Board members and Hallford also say they want to visit some school districts that have dropped busing to see what solutions they have found. Hallford also plans to appoint a committee to study alternatives to M-to-M .

    School officials have another, more difficult goal: making DeKalb ‘s schools more attractive, and effective, for all races by raising standards and student achievement.

    Sarah Copelin Wood, the board’s vice chair and its newest member, says the board ought to work to improve black neighborhood schools.

    “If a kid wants to go to a school outside of his or her area, it should not be because the education he or she is receiving at the home school does not reach the level of their expectation,” said Wood.

    John Evans, president of the DeKalb NAACP, says it is a mistake for black parents to continue to think that “the only way we can get a quality education is going to the white schools on the north side of the county.”

    Parents have demonstrated enthusiastic support for efforts such as the recent establishment of four traditional theme schools in the system, camping out to enroll their children in programs where they are required to wear uniforms, receive nightly homework and focus on core academic skills.

    Also popular are the magnet schools, which offer smaller class sizes and specialized instruction. They account for virtually all the white students who attend such majority black schools as Avondale, Columbia and Southwest DeKalb High schools. Other programs have already raised standardized test scores among the lowest performing schools.

    ”Increased academic achievement will be more attractive to all parents and all students,” says Kelly. ”And that’s the only way we are going to attract people into the system from private schools and from suburban counties.”

    But Irvine, the Emory researcher and former M-to-M parent, thinks it would be a mistake to cut black students off from the opportunity to attend majority-white schools outside their home districts.

    ”Children lose when they don’t have the opportunity to understand the culture of others and to participate on an equal status basis with other children,” says Irvine. ”We all lose.”

    Caption: Photo: Long ride home: Keisha Reid, a 10th grader at Cross Keys High, heads home on her school bus as part of DeKalb County’s Majority-to-Minority transfer program. / LEVETTE BAGWELL / Staff Photo: End of the day: Dee Dee Troher gets on a majority-to-minority school bus at the end of the school day at Cross Keys High School. In the future, black students in DeKalb County may attend classes closer to home, but will they get the same education? / Levette Bagwell / Staff Graphic: TRADING PLACES When DeKalb County schools’ majority-to-minority program began providing busing in 1997, enrollment at the county’s schools was majority white. Since then, demographic shifts and other factors have altered the county’s, and the school district’s, racial balance. Graph illustrates the following information: White Students 1977 76.3% 1998 12.5% Black Students 1977 22.4% 1998 76.4% Other 1977 1.3% 1998 11.1%

  2. midvaledad says:

    When comparing the dollars per student of schools, you have to make sure you know if the Title 1 money is included in the budget you are using. I think the link Stan provided is the general funds budget which does not include Title 1 money.
    The result is the Title 1 schools actually get more money than the amount used in your comparison.

    Please correct me if I am wrong.

  3. I am not certain at all really. I ‘think’ the Title 1 dollars are included in the school totals. As you can see, they only amount to a few hundred more dollars per student if at all. We also all know that much of the Title 1 funds are being spend on administration — ie; coordinators, etc. These are people who monitor and ‘coach’ teachers, but do not actually work with students. They historically have been paid more than teachers — same for the Parent Center Coordinators – which is also paid with Title 1 money. Parent programs of some kind are a requirement of Title 1.

  4. Dunwoody Parent says:

    I wouldn’t look at Coralwood as an indicator of the racial makeup students in special ed. Most of the special ed students are in local schools, either included in regular ed classes or in self contained classes in local schools. My son has been in special ed classes at Coralwood, Kingsley, Ashford Park and Dunwoody Elementary. Everywhere except for Coralwood he was the only or one of two or three caucasian children in the class. Also, most of the students in the classes tend to be boys, usually there is only 1 or 2 girls in a class of 6 to 10 kids.

    At Coralwood roughly 60% of the children are on IEPs but the remaining 40% are typically developing kids largely drawn from the Oakgrove and Briarlake attendance zones.

  5. midvaledad says:

    According to Dr. Beasley Title 1 is over $400 per student.

  6. Thanks midvaledad, I hadn’t heard him say that. I knew it was around $300-500 but wasn’t sure. That doesn’t pay for a whole lot of extra tutoring if you have to pay for private services. But if you have 600 students, then you have $240,000 for a school, which could pay for at least 2 or 3 support teachers who could work directly with students one on one or in small groups on reading and math skills to bring them up to speed for the classroom teacher.

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