New report quantifies DeKalb’s woes

A new $300,000 report generated by a Texas firm has just been released, revealing that DeKalb county is in pretty serious trouble. And the school system is a big part of the problem. After all, it’s nearly impossible to entice new businesses to locate in DeKalb, when our schools are not able to offer their employees a quality education for their children.

From the AJC >> New report quantifies DeKalb’s woes

By Bill Torpy

Sometimes an alcoholic must look hard in the mirror before shelving the bottle. Or someone who’s obese must stop denying what the scale says.

Download the full report here >>
DeKalb County Market Assessment report, by Angelou Economics and delivered on Feb. 17, 2014.

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20 Responses to New report quantifies DeKalb’s woes

  1. DecaturMax says:

    I read the report. I would not have paid 30k for the obvious conclusions and the lack of any solutions. No great insights…no recommendations. It states the obvious. A 300k down payment for a TBD plan that will justify a 25% budget increase that can’t normally be defended with a decreasing population to serve(new cities). This is a political move to defend the budget. I wonder if this study was put out to bid or authorized administratively several times just below the $ amount required for competitive bidding. Kinda funny….. almost every picture from the 300k study was taken in City of Decatur. Not sure they left downtown Decatur.

    In other news…Decatur City School just hired the principal from Dunwoody HS. Death by a thousand cuts. Where is the teacher/school admin retention plan? Why would a top quality principal put up with “The Palace” if other options are out there. Mr. Thurmond thinks the answer is central policy and analysis.

  2. H.A. Hurley says:

    DC & DCS love, love, love…..LOVE to spend our money! If we added up all the wasted Big Bucks we could have fixed some deficits in the school system and done something to keep the County from slipping into its current sinkhole. Any sociologist, psychologist, economist, business person and long term resident of DC or Metro area could have predicted this long laborious slide into dispare. Now, that it is broken and cities are pulling away, teachers are leaving by the numbers, we spend more thousands to conclude DC needs to make money to be viable, money to educate kids, money to reduce crime, money to attract people with money.
    Reading Mjchael Thurmond’s comments is only more fluff talk along the lines of the ever present sharecropper story. How can we ever enter the 21st Century, attract business and movers and shakers who are light years beyond share cropping survival. We must do something so drastically different from what has been going downhill for over 30 years. At that time, share cropper stories were more appropriate, but not now. Please, Mr. Thurmond, get some advice from experts befor it is truly too late. Teachers and Principals are sending out their résumés as we type.
    The change needed is most likely not going to be supported by many residents. The racial divide is the swampy undercurrent and will continue to provide a lose-lose scenario. Although, the County has been paying thousands, possibly millions of $$$ on legal fees for corruption, incompetence & stealing from the systems, there are still many who support such unethical and criminal behaviors, inspite of the cost to the residents and our children.
    I sound like Debbie Downer, but I have been screaming : Watch Out for the Iceberg for years. Many shouted, many dedicated their professional lives to rescue the County, while many more were part of its demise. Short of a miracle, we will continue to unravel and start more cities.
    We have. to hit bottom yet! May need to wait until the next $300K study

  3. Word Wall says:

    The report was very detailed and factual. Summarized, Dekalb is going to hell in a handbasket and the Crawford Lewis crowd is STILL calling the shots …. the people who “balanced” the budget on teachers’ backs. Seriously, basic Social Security equity, normal step raises, and real classroom size issues are not going away….

  4. Another comment says:

    Unbelievably, back in 1989, while preparing the Master Plan for the CDC’s campus in the Atlanta area, we were asked what would it cost to totally abandon CDC’s campuses in the Atlanta area. When I received that call and told my boss, I think you might want to give this figure to the Powers to be to give up to DC. At that time Lianna Levitan aka the hat lady was the CEO of Dekalb. There were 2,600 to 2,800 employees of CDC. Most long term employees had lived and raised their families in the North Druid Hills, Briarcliff, Lakeside, Tucker, with a few venturing out to Stone Mountain. This was 24 years ago, when the schools were still good in Dekalb. When there was the Clifton Corridor with Emory/ CDC that was promoting that this was going to be the next Bio-tech corridor.

    Was the question Savannah ( the original start of CDC) to Atlanta to a DC suburb ( possible swallowed up with NIH or FDA) or was that Move to W. Va, ( aka Byrd land), in FY 90 and 91 we got a surprise appropriation of an new Lab in West Virginia. ( aka the Byrd house, across from UWVA stadium.

    Today, very few of the 8,000 plus CDC employees live in Dekalb, ( with the exception of Decatur school district) as even the higher Federal salary ranges that scientist, doctors, and engineers are in do not allow for two or three children to attend $23,000 yr Private schools, each. You can’t spend 1/2 your income on private school and pay taxes at a good clip. You don’t get a Private sector bonus like your friends that pays for Private schools at part of the corporate deal in this town.

    Would that decision have been different, would Master planning functions, have determined a different outcome, without Lianne. With these past Supt. of Dekalb schools. You bet it would, even given the higher cost of living, the DC. Va, and Maryland suburbs offer much better Public school choices than Dekalb County. The schools the lack of train stations to upper middle class communities. Make the DC suburbs one of the best places for educated professionals to live. Dekalb is what was SE, DC 35 years ago, an armpit. Not everyone wants to commute 30 miles by car each way.

  5. howdy1942 says:

    While we all know the conclusions of this report, it is still painful to read it and articles about it in the AJC. Our people are hurting, mad, and rebelling. They are racing to form cities and lobbying hard to form school systems and leave the DCSS behind. Good people in Tucker. Lakeside and Briarcliff are fighting each other in creating new cities while standing united in vehement opposition to the DCSS. While it remains to be seen whether the County Government will deliver on it’s proposed changes, the DCSS is fighting to maintain the status quo. It won’t listen, it refuses to even consider any change whatsoever. Thurmond fought to keep the old board, fought the Druid Hills Charter, fought to keep the school board at 9 members – and the school board doesn’t have the stamina to even challenge him. If Dunwoody, Brookhaven, and and of the proposed new cities ever are granted the freedom to create their own school system, the DCSS will collapse without State and/or Federal funds to fill the gap.

    I doubt that I will be voting for McMahan – he has just been on the wrong side of too many votes. I also hope that Cunningham, Morley, and Orson will be turned away and out. Don McChesney seems to be voicing some good thoughts and if we can elect him, Stan Jester, and a good replacement for McMahan to join Mayfield, we may, just may begin to begin to repair this sinking DCSS ship.

  6. Yes, we continue to lose our principals and teachers to nearby communities>>

    New leader – Decatur High has new principal

    Decatur High School has a new principal.

    City Schools of Decatur has hired Noel Maloof, the current principal of Dunwoody High School. Maloof is a Decatur resident.

    The School Board made the announcement during the March 11 Decatur Board of Education meeting.

    “I am just excited,” Maloof said after the announcement. “It was a very hard decision to leave the community I’ve served for over a decade now. This is now my home.”

    Maloof is taking over for Principal Lauri McKain, who is moving on to become the CSD Director of Secondary Education.

    Maloof became principal at Dunwoody High in 2012. He was principal of Vanderlyn Elementary School in Dunwoody from 2008 to 2012, and was assistant principal of Dunwoody High from 2005 to 2008.

    He began his educational career in 1997 as an English teacher at DeKalb Alternative School. He became assistant principal at the alternative school in 2004. He is 44 years old and has two children enrolled in the system, one in Renfroe Middle and one in Decatur High.

  7. The Clew Crew still running the show sums it all up!

    Nancy Jester exposed it, SACS reign of terror came down, the Governor replaced the BOE, the outsiders that Atkinson brought in were run out, and the DCSS F&F party continued! Has anything really changed…….

    To get money back to the classrooms, one would have to think the Palace would have to be cut down to size, do you really think that could occur as long as Ramona Tyson, Alice Thompson and Mr. Beasley are still running OUR school system.

    It is Deja Vu all over again and again and again and again……

    Many at DSW said it 3 years ago, clean the Palace totally! Would there have been operational delays in areas, sure. New leadership can make the tough calls, that are not coerced by friends, families and political favors. Why do you think Eugene’s choice for interim went ahead and changed his mind about being permanent leader….. Clews F&F crew RULES!

  8. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    We need a formal Superintendent search. Who is going to pull the trigger on that?

  9. Word Wall says:

    Probably the same person who has the courage to say the words “Social Security” at a board meeting…or “Step Raises”…not in the Palace, those words are never used by the F&F clewless crew…

  10. Very True Inside Out!! Now that we are no longer on ‘probation’, it would seem that the path to hiring a new super would be clear. I would imagine that the current group will not initiate the process – they are not big picture thinkers nor do they understand the importance of a quality leader for our district. Heck, they think Michael Thurmond is great! I will give him this – he’s done a good job of politicking. But then again, after all this is his specialty.

  11. bettyandveronica1 says:

    The only thing worth saying about this $300k report is…DUH. $100k per letter. That sounds about right for this bunch. We said it years ago, why isn’t dekalb more concerned with the school system circling the toilet bowl?

  12. concernedmom30329 says:

    Does anyone know where the school system ranks as an employer in DeKalb? 1st, 2nd, etc

  13. Fred in DeKalb says:

    @concernedmom30329, that is an interesting question. A logical answer would be 3, behind Emory and the CDC. If you don’t count contract employees, it would be 2 as the CDC has quite a few. I’m sure the Doraville GM plant in its hey day was one of the larger employers in DeKalb. The impact of that loss on our school system is devastating on many fronts.

    See the links below about Emory (University and Healthcare) and CDC,

  14. Sarah says:

    I wasn’t sure where best to place this, but here seems as good as any. I haven’t commented much lately, after the textbook debacle at the beginning of this year, but I am a faithful reader and will continue to be, even though we are no longer in that insane district. Yes, we have moved out of DeKalb. I really feel as if I should apologize for this. We saw the problems, and the fight that was needed to fix them, and we packed our kids up and left. I am sorry. After exposing the textbook lies, (even though it went NOWHERE) my children had a really hard time at school. It was rough for both of them, but especially for my son (a senior who is a bit of a troublemaker himself) I’d have loved to be part of reorganizing and “rehabilitating” the DeKalb county school system, but I couldn’t let my daughter go through high school at Tucker facing the same problems that my son faced for four years. All children are different; and, while my son thrives on the conflict of having a righteous cause, my girl is wired to flourish in a less contentious environment. She loves a cause, but she does not understand the type of people who are willing to make innocent children suffer because of their parents actions or beliefs. I couldn’t allow her to continue to be exposed to that.

    I am available to anyone that has questions about our experiences with Tucker High School or that would like copies of my research on DCSS policies, finances, etc. (Although if you have followed Stan Jester, you have most of it and probably even more)

    I am so sorry, I feel like I’ve deserted something that I was called to do. I hope you can all understand the choice that I made, and forgive me for it. I will keep DeKalb and all of you who love it in my prayers and I will be here often to check on how things are going.
    Good Luck and Godspeed.

  15. Another comment says:

    There are so many flaws in this report. It is outrageous. CDC buildings and powerplant cooed out as Emory campus. The only see I see in that photo that is Emory is parking deck on Houston Mill.

    It is embarassing that this report starts off with a run-on sentence. It is never made clear why they choose PG county in Maryland as a compatible city. Their is a lot of blame on the county tax base falling apart because of new cities being formed. Then why compare PG county Maryland, they have always had cities or towns within up in Maryland. The real issue has been that these counties have become overwhelming black. Intercity and formerly housing project blacks have moved to these counties. We keep on giving black culture passes. As virtually all other groups have moved from lower rungs of society out they have valued schooling ands property ownership among all other things. Asian immigrants do this. All of the at one time lower tier groups,, Irish, Italians, Jews, and now Asian groups their gear themselves to saving to buy a house and to educating the next generation of the family. African American culture especially in the South, is still blaming everything on Slavery, outlawed in the 1860’s, 150 years ago, multiple generations. Any money is quickly spent of frivolous purchases, not saved for home improvement or education approvement.

    I lived in a Cobb upper middle class neighborhood, where we had a former Tech BB star. he played in the NBA a couple of years, then in Europe for a long time. He bought the $350-400k house new like the rest of us. After a few years everyone had repainted their house, stained their decks every couple of years. Not him, a couple of the white ladies who lived on both sides at first thought he is not making any money in Europe. Then an neighbor who worked for sports radio told them he is still making $500-800k a year playing basketball in Europe. They next confronted him and said your house is falling apart, be cause he hadn’t stained the deck, Had not painted the wood trim, the windows were rotting. They said don’t you see everyone else has done this. Finally, they offered to hire and supervise contractors to do the work, he would just write the check. it turns out his whole family had never owned a house. He didn’t grow up in a family that had homeownership.

    This is why I have heard over and over from friends that have rental property. One time at section 8, and the guaranteed monthly check, it still a nightmear. They would rather have the illegal Brazilian family, who wants to exchange work on the house for rent.

    We have to stop excusing black culture. That is why Dekalb county thinks nothing of keeping someone like Kelvin Walker still over purchasing. Do you think a white person would remain after taking the 5 th 350 times.

  16. Another Comment,
    I agree that there are problems in DeKalb that can be tied to an ignorance of how, historically, things have worked for the common good. I even agree that too many people here in our great state behave as if they can recall the Civil War themselves. But I have to I disagree that this is “black” culture. It is ignorance and poverty. It is division and strife. It has nothing to do with skin color. There are white politicians that steal our money and lie to us about it. Black people don’t cause that and certainly didn’t invent it. This should not be about skin color at all. It should be about character. We should be blind to skin color and look ONLY to the content of a person’s character, however you may privately believe it was formed. Otherwise, we are only keeping old wounds bleeding ourselves and ensuring that nothing in DeKalb will be made better anytime soon.
    Whatever your opinion, every time you bring race into it, you invalidate yourself a little. We must be above that if we expect anything to change.
    Black people are not the problem. People with objectionable character are the problem.

  17. Ned says:

    Another comment, you state “Today, very few of the 8,000 plus CDC employees live in Dekalb, ( with the exception of Decatur school district).” Not discounting some of your points (at least in your first comment), but that one is an exaggeration. First off, you’re not accounting for the several hundred CDC employees who don’t even work at the Atlanta campus, but more to the point, take a walk around the parking deck sometime. There are a LOT of Dekalb county tags, and they are hardly all from Decatur. Dekalb has, despite itself, retained a core of professionals. Things have not been moving in the right direction, but we’re not in so dire a situation as you maintain: of the population 25 and older in the county 15.7% hold a graduate or professional degree and 23.4% hold a bachelor’s, per the ‘factfinder’ tool at
    And CDC was indeed founded in Atlanta: MCWA, CDC’s predecessor, wasn’t here (or all here) but CDC begain July 1, 1946 in Atlanta, GA.
    Now, as to whether I’d like to live in Savannah instead . . .

  18. former dekalb parent says:


    I feel your pain…we too moved before we would be in Tucker as I just felt it would not be the right place for my children. I will tell you that moving my children out of that district was the hardest, but best decision we have ever made as parents.

  19. Sarah says:

    former dekalb parent ,
    Thank you for your words. It was a hard choice. Seeing children be shoved aside, as they are in DeKalb, so that the interests of selfish adults can see fruition is not something I ever imagined I would run from rather than challenge. I am adult enough to admit that I am ashamed of it. Was it the best choice I could have made? Possibly. Also, possibly not. Hopefully, everything will work out for the best. Now that we’ve gone, I wish that I had taken your route and never let my kids enter school there in the first place. Never knowing what lies beneath in that district would have been much kinder than knowing and choosing to leave.

  20. concernedmom30329 says:

    There is a huge article in the AJC today (behind the pay wall of course) that outlines Elaine Boyer’s poor habits with her government issued P-card. Smacks of Crawford Lewis behavior.

    She blames sloppy record keeping, but it is telling that she didn’t reimburse the county until after the AJC started sniffing around.

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