Here’s the deal about funding public education in DeKalb County – and why city-based independent school systems will improve all public school education opportunities, including education for students in unincorporated DeKalb County:
• There is more than enough money in DeKalb County [GA] School System’s billion dollar budget to successfully educate each and every public school student in DeKalb County. However, DeKalb County [GA] Schools chooses, instead, to spend many millions on:
(2) funding too many special programs, with special transportation and per pupil costs that are way out of line from the per pupil costs of traditional schools;
(3) highly overpaid “senior” administrators who were directly responsible for taking DCSS from best to worst in terms of student outcomes; and
(4) continuing to fund an ongoing jobs program for overpaid, under-talented Friends-and-Family.
• DeKalb County Schools receives the same amount of money from the State of Georgia for each K-12 public school student. City-based schools won’t negatively impact that.
• Most South DeKalb schools are Title I, so they receive substantial federal funding in addition to receiving the same amount of money, per pupil, from the State of Georgia. City-based schools won’t negatively impact that.
• Based on the excellent financials put together by the Druid Hills Cluster when they were seeking to become a charter cluster (petition denied by DCSS), what DSW has said all along was confirmed: DCSS does not make the classrooms, students and teachers the first priority in funding.
• Smaller school systems (city-based as well as a school system serving unincorporated DeKalb County) will have to:
(1) be more transparent because the budget will be smaller with far fewer places to hide people and monies;
(2) spend their funding efficiently and effectively, focusing on teachers, classrooms and students – something DeKalb County School System has no interest in doing; and
(3) be more responsive to parents and taxpayers because there is no place to hide in a lean organization.
It’s quite obvious that DCSS has “balanced” its budget on the backs of teachers to the detriment of our students. DeKalb County Schools refuses to make the adult and fiscally responsible decision to fully fund the classroom first — smaller classes; technology that works reliably; textbooks (or e-books) and other learning equipment and supplies for all; clean and safe learning environments in good repair; and well-compensated (including a tax-sheltered annuity* or TSA, as promised) excellent teachers.
Students are paying the price for DeKalb County Schools’ mismanagement.
That MUST stop, but DCSS decisions (i.e., continuing the Friends-and-Family jobs program, denying the Druid Hills Charter Cluster, paying exorbitant rents to New Birth Missionary Baptist Church for facility leases when vacant and acceptable school buildings exist, singling out only our teachers* to lose TSA contributions, etc) have made it clear that they won’t change anything.
* (We really like our bus drivers who do continue to receive TSA contributions. We bear them no ill will. But without teachers there would be no students to drive to school. Watch for an upcoming article about discrimination against our teachers by DCSS.)