Board meeting: Monday, December 2, 2013

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

The meeting agenda is below. Meeting information can be accessed online by going to:, click on Leadership, go to eBoard Home Page and click on the date for the meeting agenda\information.


a. AdvancED Status Report
Presented by: Ms. Ramona H. Tyson, Chief of Staff, Office of the Superintendent

b. District-wide Wireless Access Update
Presented by: Mr. Gary L. Brantley, Chief Information Officer, Division of Information Technology


1. Approval of Minutes

Presented by: Mr. Michael L. Thurmond, Superintendent

2. Approval of Monthly Financial Report

Presented by: Dr. Michael J. Bell, Chief Financial Officer, Division of Finance

3. District Wide Beverage Services Contract Extension (RFP 09-20)

Presented by: Dr. Michael J. Bell, Chief Financial Officer, Division of Finance

4. Approval of the Human Resources Monthly Report
Presented by: Dr. Tekshia Ward-Smith, Chief Human Resources Officer, Division of Human Resources

5. Permission to seek a State Grant to support the Establishment of a DeKalb County School District College and Career Academy
Presented by: Dr. Kathleen S. Howe, Deputy Superintendent, Division of Curriculum & Instruction

6. Approval of the District’s Strategic Improvement Plan to include the Vision, Mission, Motto, Beliefs, Strategic Goal Areas, Performance Objectives, and Strategy Map
Presented by: Dr. Angela D. Pringle, Region II Superintendent

7. DeKalb County School District Records Retention Schedule

Presented by: Mr. Gary L. Brantley, Chief Information Officer, Division of Information Technology

8. 21st Century Classroom Technology

Presented by: Mr. Gary L. Brantley, Chief Information Officer, Division of Information Technology (Deleted in revised agenda)

8. Microsoft EES
Presented by: Mr. Gary L. Brantley, Chief Information Officer, Division of Information Technology

9. Approval of the Sale of Hooper Alexander Property (3414 Memorial Drive, Decatur, GA 30032)
Presented by: Mr. Stephen M. Wilkins, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations

10. System-wide Natural Gas Services Contract Extension Approval
Presented by: Mr. Stephen M. Wilkins, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations

11. System-wide Moving Services Contract Extension (RFP 752-13001)
Presented by: Mr. Stephen M. Wilkins, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations

12. SPLOST III Projects
Presented by: Mr. Stephen M. Wilkins, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations
a. SPLOST III Project: ADA Improvements at Ashford Park ES, Evansdale ES and Sagamore Hills ES (Group D_ Contract Award
b. SPLOST III Project: Hambrick ES HVAC Upgrades and Renovations Contract Award
c. SPLOST III Project: Stone Mill ES HVAC Upgrades and Renovations Contract Award
d. SPLOST III Project: Stone Mountain ES HVAC Upgrades and Renovations Contract Award

13. SPLOST IV Projects

Presented by: Mr. Stephen M. Wilkins, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations
a. SPLOST IV Project: Dunwoody High School Door and Hardware Replacement Contract Award

1. Personnel Recommendation
Presented by: Mr. Michael L. Thurmond, Superintendent

E. OTHER\BOARD COMMENTS (2 minutes each)


1. District-wide Administrator Academy, 8:30am, Tuesday, December 3, 2013, Auditorium, Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex,
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain

2. South DeKalb Parent Council Event, 10:30am, Saturday, December 14, 2013, Clark Atlanta University, 223 James P. Brawley Drive, Atlanta

3. Tucker Parent Council Meeting, 7:00pm, Monday, December 16, 2013, Tucker Middle School, 2160 Idlewood Road, Tucker

4. Schools Closed ~ Winter Holiday Break, Monday, December 23, 2013 – Friday, January 3, 2014

Administrative Offices Closed ~ Work Reduction Day for 12 Month Employees ~
Monday, December 23 – Tuesday, December 24, 2013 and
Monday, December 30 – Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Administrative Offices Closed ~ Winter Holiday Break, Wednesday, December 25 – Friday, December 26, 2013 and Wednesday, January 1 – Friday, January 3, 2014

Schools Closed & Teacher Planning Day, Monday, January 6, 2014

5. DeKalb Board of Education Work Session (2pm; Cabinet Room), Community Input Session (5:45pm) & Business Meeting (7pm), Monday, January 6, 2014, J. David Williamson Board Room, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain


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47 Responses to Board meeting: Monday, December 2, 2013

  1. Also, download and review the latest ‘Strategic Improvement Planning Report’ here ::

    Apparently, this will be an 8-12 month process.

    Strategic Improvement Planning Executive Summary

    On August 5, 2013, the Board of Education of the DeKalb County School District voted to use a process developed by the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) and Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement (GLISI) to develop an updated strategic improvement plan for the school district. This comprehensive process engaged the community and all stakeholder groups to create universal ownership and support for district and school improvement. Highlights of the process include:

    • A comprehensive community engagement component to allow stakeholders to have a voice in the strategic improvement planning process
    • A diverse planning team that represented stakeholder groups to develop the plan
    • A facilitated planning process that assisted the planning and action teams in analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the school district and developing/defining the mission, vision, beliefs, goal areas and elements of the strategic improvement plan
    • A plan that is developed to align the region/cluster, school and District plans
    • A facilitated process to work with experts within the district and community on developing initiatives and action steps to implement the plan

  2. teachermom says:

    Again commenting from the school house—All of this looks great on paper but here is what is happening in my school with technology:
    I have zero student computers that can access the web, which I have reported several times.
    My computer has a connectivity issue which I reported. A ticket was sent, which was closed TWICE without anyone actually coming out and fixing it. The second time the ticket was created by talking to an actual person who seemed concerned over the phone and created a new ticket. Wait a week, do nothing, close the ticket.
    None of Thurmond’s tech plans will work until they revamp the system we have. Seems there is plenty o money to breathe down teacher’s necks…
    Where is the TEACHER retention plan???

  3. concerned citizen says:

    There isn’t one, teachermom. There also is no technology plan, no book plan, no nothing. But yes the agenda looks fine on paper! Anybody could produce an agenda, but content is an entirely different matter.

  4. another comment says:

    So the big question is how many millions will they be paying Herry to Settle the case and pay Heery’s attorneys. They own Heery for $500K plus interest in unpaid bills that are now 6 years old. They owe Heery for loss of profit for the entire term of the contract that was illegally terminated so Ms.Reid/Pope could colude with her husband in RICO activities to be steal 1.4 million from the district. All of Heery’s legal fees and costs, plus 3x of Heery’s actual costs as Punative Damages. So how many million and what sort of Public Statement are they going to make exonerating Heery? This will be at least a $6-10Million dollar hit to the budget. Heery said they had used up thier insurance coverage for attorney fees. That had to be in the $5 million + range.

  5. acheolus says:

    No Change. Money is sent everywhere but to the students, and given to everyone but the teachers. I think sometimes the county office would feel better if the rest of us all went away….

  6. Word Wall says:

    Classroom student to teacher ratio? Social Security-equivalent teacher Annuity fund? Agenda is Silent on those chief issues….spooky quiet…..So who bought Hooper Alexander building? Do we know the Price and intended use?

  7. another comment says:

    Probably the Charter School which will be started up by the yet to be unindicticted co-conspiritor with Burrel Ellis, aka his former Chief of Staff, also Eugene Walker’s best Friend and selection to be President to the Technical College. How crooked can we get???

  8. From our emails:

    According to the revised work session agenda, it appears the BOE will get an update on the “after school funds” audit. As I recall, Mr. Orson pushed for the audit to be done by October with the understood flexibility that the admin. could come back with an update and request more time if it couldn’t be completed by then. Looks like it is just now being revisited. Does anyone know if schools have been able to use their money yet?

    Here is the link to the agenda ( It looks like the audit is agenda item “C” and it refers to it as “audit progress report’ which sounds like it still isn’t complete.

  9. An update to the revised work session agenda – we note that this issue is not on the docket at all for the business meeting. So apparently, it is simply a work session discussion item, but will not be formally discussed, approved or even submitted at the business meeting.

    1. After School Funds Audit Progress Report
    Presented by: Dr. Michael J. Bell, Chief Financial Officer, Division of Finance

  10. former dekalb parent says:

    Just another thought for the folks that care….Big $$$ were flying when the new Super came on board to quiet the loudest complainers…for about a month now SPENDING if you are waiting on something new, or to be repaired, there is no spending to get anything done…WHERE IS THE $$ GOING?

  11. dsw2contributor says:

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SACS UPDATE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SACS is in DCS this week and next, interviewing administrators for the accreditation review.

    TEACHERMOM and other teachers – please take a moment, stop by your Principal’s office and remind him or her about the unfixed computers and other problems you have posted about here.

  12. Busy day today —


    Want to Hear From Your Neighbors about the proposed City of Tucker? Join Us December 2nd!

    Friends and neighbors across the Tucker community are abuzz with questions about the proposed City of Tucker! Join us tonight Monday, December 2nd at 7:00 p.m. at Northeast Baptist Church, 4046 Chamblee-Tucker Road for another in a series of community dialogues aimed at ensuring ALL Tucker residents have a voice in decisions that will forever impact the place we call home.

    The truth is there IS legislative support at the State Capitol and significant strength in the viability of Tucker as a city, given our 120-year history and valuable assets such as Henderson Park, Northlake, a thriving Main Street, and close-knit neighborhoods. Your voice deserves to be heard in preserving the community you love.

    The community meeting will include an overview of the proposed cityhood initiative, followed by community dialogue in a question and answer format. For more information about this meeting and the proposed City of Tucker, visit

  13. concerned citizen says:

    SACS will interviewed the teachers, too, and are now, even as we speak, being told what to say by their principals. Who briefed the principals and gave them page after page of garbage to present to their faculties? Would this be the area superintendents, by chance, with a little help from the mastermind Thurmond? There may be many teachers (but zero administrators!) who think for themselves and could tell SACS lots and lots. But with all the terrible things that have gone on since SACS’ last round of interviews, I doubt that any teacher will speak out. Sadly, both principals and teachers are afraid of losing their jobs, not to mention the Palace and those at the out-skirts of the Palace’s F& F network. Many people now believe that SACS itself is highly involved in the corruption of the DeKalb Schools. Let me say that a lot of time, money, and effort has been put into preparing the endless document which apparently is supposed to convince SACS that principals and teachers now have great faith in the Palace. It’s a script that employees are supposed to recite if they are interviewed by SACS. How disgusting is that? jAnybody else been exposed to its BS yet? Well, heads up…

  14. So, it appears that the speakers have begun addressing the board. I missed some. Ms. Peirce asked the board to consider McNair for the career academy (at least that’s what I think she said). Then another person gave a long speech on how wonderful the International Community School is. Next, James Waddell from SW DeKalb HS. Says they are under attack. No security. Asking for resources to keep away people who aren’t interested in learning. One young girl just got up and left the campus the other day out of frustration. Says you can transact drug trades and have sex in cars on campus. Begging for protection. Keeps getting hollow promises. Construction is providing another area to conduct unsavory events. Offers to take them on a tour. Will come back every month until he gets action. Marney Mayo: Sad history regarding Hooper Alexander. No problem with sale. Feb 2009 – Hooper was DeKalb ES of the Arts. Didn’t want to leave. As chair of International Community School asked Lewis if they could rent. Pat Pope took 13 minutes to tell them nothing would be for sale. HB 555 requires discussion of sales. Pope said building was worth $4.5 million. After a year, $3.3 million worth of vandalism had occurred. Wants it in the record that she had to take her children to 2 separate campuses, and now one is on the sale block for $640,000 – bad stewardship. Break till 7 pm meeting.

  15. @concerned: Maybe we’re practicing the ‘fake it till you make it’ theory…

  16. Not sure what Ramona presented. Something about another strategic plan I think. Now Morcease Beasley is very excitedly talking about data and the purchase of a universal screener. In fact, data is about every tenth word. He is super hyped up about this data. It’s a 6 step protocol. The Bridge Initiative uses this data. It’s a process to inform their decisions. So now another guy is talking about the results and the fact that they can add staff as needed…. Talking about the Strategic Plan, the Data, the Bridge, the 6 Step Protocol, the STAR program, and more about this ‘new and evolving culture’. Decisions are not being made here and there. It’s proven and can be validated. Can analyze programs, develop new programs. Use the data to write school improvement plans. Lots of Eduspeak in these presentations.

  17. Now we’re talking about a Change Management Process. A way to manage new processes and new initiatives. A stakeholder survey was conducted. Research was conducted. Lasting changes and initiatives. Looked at some other districts. Found the Strategic Plan was the common thread. There’s more, but it’s more of the same. There’s even a Change Request/Implementation Form (?). They have a process for change, but I can’t figure out what exactly they want to change. Anyone?

  18. All that is to say that Required Action #7 has been completed. Onward to Required Action #8.

    Conduct internal audit on technology
    Identify need
    Support actions by researching appropriate training to ensure proper use

    Lots more words in this presentation as well. Summary is available on the website for review by all stakeholders.

  19. teachermom says:

    We got the powerpoint regarding SACS today in our email. We were told to read it before our staff meeting this week. It explains some of the busy work we had to do recently, including registering all of our students on parent portal (as if we are parents, including accepting the terms and changing the students passwords, seemed a little shady). One of the tasks we were told to do was to go onto a certain database and click things and links, they are actually counting the clicks. Doesn’t matter what you do just get on there and click so you can create usage statistics (my words not theirs). We will see the results of Beasley’s excitement in the schoolhouse soon, I’m sure. It will take the form of more busy work and testing which will be used against teachers even as it takes away the instructional time. Don’t blame us if scores drop, it wouldn’t surprise me with all the junk they keep throwing at us…

  20. $27 million sunk into these initiatives

  21. We’ve just off the Required Action #4.

    Now on to #1, and others. Dr. Johnson is telling us how the Board governance has improved.

    (We’re still on the Superintendent’s report led by Ramona Tyson — the SACS update).

    Required Action #3 – Dr. Irwin — Board norms and key policies. Commitment to serve in partnership with the superintendent. Respect. Cohesion. Communication. Support. Trust.

    Required Action #5. Dr. Carter. Board policy BAB. Governance. Strengthens other policies. BBI, board-staff communications. Stakeholder communications. Superintendent performance review. Addresses concerns found by SACS in May.

    Required Action #2 – Jim McMahon – but he’s not there. Thurmond will present since he went to the training at Harvard too. Goes over what they learned there. Leadership project. Carter, McMahon and Johnson. And a parent rep. from south DeKalb. Laid the groundwork to address under-performing, economically disadvantaged.

    Dr Johnson – actions 1, 2 3 and 5. Snapshot of the work that has occurred. Work is on-going and never-ending. Setting for boards to come and future generations. Must monitor ourselves individually and as a unit. Look at the results (Slide) Board uses metrics and performance data to make decisions. Shows a clip of Marshall Orson exemplifying what he means… Beasley points out the metrics and data available to help with goals. Also – Board and super have established parent involvement as important. Shows another clip as an example. Parent thanking board and says you can feel the changes. Big claps. Johnson declares the work done for effective board governance.

    Tyson recaps what they’ve done about the 11 required actions. Ready for Dec 8 SACS visit. Johnson thanks her for a job well done.

    (This has been a 2 hour superintendent)

  22. Thurmond recommends Dr. Thompson be approved as permanent Deputy Superintendent (currently is interim). Will coordinate area superintendents. Looking to improve overall operations. Undergrad Atlanta U. Doctoral degree from U of Sarasota. Strong team. Work collaboratively — never did in the past.

  23. dsw2contributor says:

    Strategic Plan changes: I don’t comprehend eduspeak, but apparently DCS “stakeholders” developed a Strategic Plan that lacked many of the basic outcomes that most normal people would expect to see in that type of plan. The really basic stuff (e.g. DCS graduates should be ready for college and/or the workforce, etc) was not in the plan. Boardmembers objected to approving a plan that did not have those outcomes in it, hence the need for the Plan to be changed.

  24. Heery Mitchell agreement up now. Mr. Campbell. Requesting a settlement with Heery. No details. Orson makes a few comments. This has hung over us for many years. May have spent as much as $30 million — could have been better spent on students/staff. Nothing is ever ideal. Sunk a lot to date, but it’s time to move on. Had to unwind past agreements. Mr. Thurmond worked hard. Chance to move on and redirect our energies and attention. Primary mission: Educate the children of DeKalb county. Thurmond thanks him and the board for empowering. Agrees – this has been an albatross – a cancer – in excess of $20 million. As a plaintiff lawyer you gotta know when to hold em and know when to fold them. Reinvest $7 million into school district. (?) Passes unanimously.

  25. Approve Phase 1 of Strategic Plan. Mayfield: important issue. Help define our priorities and commitment to execute them. Commend the work. Says it’s a good report, but doesn’t make the level of a ‘plan’. No timelines. Calls attention to Action #1. Board oversight. Requires proper information flow, metrics and control. Action teams are required to dev plans with measures and goals. Moves to adopt as a report – but not as a plan. There are no specific, measurable objectives. Thinks it’s tantamount to signing a blank check. Vote: Coleman and Mayfield no. Orson Abstains.

    Carter, Johnson, Irwin and Campbell vote yes. Passes.

  26. Orson: Policy DKA. Initially on agenda in Sept – After Care Monies. Deferred to Dec. Makes this a first reading. Broadly – memorialize money splits – put financial controls in place – clarify acceptable use for after care money. Will post to E Board for public comment.
    No action today.

  27. Student member Torres asks what board plans for teacher retention. (lots of chuckles). Coleman: great question. Talked about it earlier. Very concerned with teacher and staff retention. Dr Ward Smith presented a list of initiatives. We manage the budget to ensure proper class sizes and teacher pay. Also the initiatives for the SACS report will help improve. By spring we can help retain and also measure which ones are the best ones.

    Now, he asks how they’re going to reduce admin costs. High compared to teacher salary. Ward Smith says salary study showed that annualizing teacher pay it’s similar. Full potential of a teacher is $103,000 annualized. Goal to restore 190 calendar days.

  28. Orson: Holiday season – thank you all for all you do. Can testify to dramatic changes that have taken place. All working together to continue the trajectory we’ve started. Wish everyone a safe and happy holiday. Mayfield wishes all happy holidays to all.

    Adjourn [9:17 pm]

  29. concernedmom30329 says:

    As I understood it, 7 million dollars will be paid to DCSS by Heery. That is at least what i think I heard….

  30. teacher32 says:

    What a slap in the face to all teachers! DeKalb County families, teachers don’t make anywhere near $100,000! The term “annualized” is a smokescreen! Teachers haven’t seen even a cost of living raise in years. As a teacher with a masters degree and 32 years of experience, I barely make it financially each month. Don’t let the unsatisfactory and nervous answers to the pointed and very appropriate questions of Mr. Torres, an 8th grader from Henderson Middle, fool you! Good job, Mr. Torres! Keep those questions coming!

  31. Haha says:

    Teacher retention. What a joke they don’t care about retaining or attracting good or even fair teachers in Dekald. I am a teacher who will be leaving after this year my 10 th in Dekalb. My salary has gone backwards, my work load has increased and we are told to do more we are lucky to have a job.

  32. Haha says:

    I would like to thank Mr Torres and his family and teachers for encouraging him to ask the question.

  33. teachermom says:

    I agree teacher32. Way to protect your admin bloat Ward Smith. What a ridiculous but perfectly predictable thing to say. Creative accounting anyone? There is no way we reach that salary average, even accounting for benefits. Teachers are not that stupid. Do not brush us aside like that, retention is not a laughing matter. The goal is to restore the furlough days, what about our step, our retirement match? This county will not attract new talent over the next few years as current teachers leave, either by retirement or to pursue jobs in surrounding districts. It’s ironic that the reason I first decided to teach in Dekalb was that it was known to pay competitively.

  34. On the verge says:

    “What a slap in the face to all teachers.” As a teacher of 16 years in DeKalb, I make only $8,000 dollars more than a teacher with zero years of experience; that is DeKalb’s hiring initiative. As for the retention issue (only speaking for myself) I earn $5,000 less than I did in 2007, with ESOL and AP certification. I still retain my Georgia Teacher Retirement, but have lost the contributions of DeKalb for the “Social Security” potion of my retirement for the past 61/2 years. For kickers, check out our new Healthcare options! One company!

    You may say, then go elsewhere. I have tried, but moving a family of five to another county with one spouse unemployed, makes you want to stay with your support group, colleagues and students that you love, trust, and support. I teach children because I love imparting them with love of my subject and my hope for each one’s success. I love my career.

    The reality of the decision making in DeKalb is completely flawed. DSW YOU HAVE POINTED THIS OUT FOR YEARS. Thank you for your continued reporting, most of us appreciate your due diligence. Keep up the great work!

  35. Ned says:

    Going back to the City of Tucker comment earlier today: it’s amazing how the overlay map ( show all 3 proposed cities snaking down into what’s often considered Clarkston more than anything else to grab a little tax revenue–Briarcliff crossing 285 south of Ponce, Lakeside coming down to Ponce at 285 to grab a few businesses, Tucker coming down past 78 along Brockett to grab all the businesses at Ponce & Brockett. Clarkston has plans for expansion as well, though much more modest–and less gerrymandered– than any of these 3, and a better map would show that 4th overlapping and maybe raise legitimate questions about the viability of some of these plans.

  36. Wow. We really agree with everyone on the ridiculous answer Ms. Ward-Smith gave to young Mr. Torres’ excellent question. Not only was she condescending in her tone, but her actual words were outrageously dismissive. Really?? In answering his question of retention, she can only come up with, well, if ‘annualized’ teachers actually make $103,000. That is a flat out lie and a morale crusher for already over-stressed teachers. We really REALLY need an experienced, professional HR leader — and we need one today!

  37. @Ned: Whoever made that overlay map deserves a big thank you! We have been dizzy trying to figure out these proposed boundaries. We had a feeling they overlapped, but really no idea just how much. Seems like there’s room for two cities here – Tucker and Briarcliff. Lakeside seems to be bleeding over into both… Anyone?

  38. teachermom says:

    On the Verge, your situation is common to many. It is very difficult to move jobs to another county and many teachers stay for that reason. I have my own reasons for not leaving at this time or else I would (but I may change schools). We are often treated like workers with limited choices and taken advantage of because of it. Dekalb is short sited, however, and can’t see the effect that driving those away who can exercise choices will have in the long run. I too have lost money over the past few years and will bail at my 10 year mark. Teachers are so left out of the equation that they were dismissed in a side note at last nights meeting.

  39. teachermom says:

    *short sighted

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