State School Superintendent candidates opine on city school systems

Reprinted from “Decaturish” >> DSW2 comments are in Bold.

From right to left: Valarie Wilson, Alisha Thomas Morgan, Richard Woods and Mike Buck get ready to answer questions during a League of Women Voters forum held on June 30. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt (Decaturish)

From right to left: Valarie Wilson, Alisha Thomas Morgan, Richard Woods and Mike Buck get ready to answer questions during a League of Women Voters forum held on June 30. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt (Decaturish)

Candidates running to become the next head of Georgia’s schools worked to distinguish themselves from their opponents during a June 30 forum held by the League of Women Voters of Atlanta Fulton County.

All four candidates who will appear in the July 22 primary runoff attended the forum. The Democratic runoff will feature Valarie Wilson, a former member of the City Schools of Decatur Board of Education, and Alisha Thomas Morgan, a state representative. The Republican runoff will feature Mike Buck, the chief of staff to outgoing superintendent John Barge, and Richard Woods, a former high school principal and teacher who currently works in the private sector.

Donna Lowry of 11-Alive served as moderator with guest panelists Carol Sbarge with WSB-TV and Dan Whisenhunt, editor and publisher of

Below is the question posed about HR 486 and the push to form new, independent schools and their answers:

Q) As you might be aware, there’s a movement in Dunwoody, Ga. to create an independent school system. Georgia’s constitution limits the number of school systems. Would you support a constitutional amendment allowing new cities to create their own school systems?

Buck: “That’s a new one on me. Before I would consider a constitutional amendment to do other things to education, I would like for us very much to fully fund the educational systems that we’ve got and improve upon our past performance.”

DSW2: OMG. Seriously? This is a “new one” on him? How can someone so uninformed get this close to the top job in education in Georgia? It’s frightening that he has already been second to the top dog in the Georgia DOE and is this much in the dark. He really thinks more money will fix things?  Did this guy just emerge from the Okefenokee Swamp?

Woods: “As an individual who has always spoken in favor of local control, I think this needs to be a local decision, and if the people of Georgia decide this is the pathway they want, then I’m all for that. If it’s the people of Dunwoody, if they believe it best serves their children and their community, then I am for that. First and foremost we still have to go through the process. That means following the Constitution and the rule of law, and if we do that and it’s something that the people of Georgia agree on, then it’s the proper step. I have no issues with that at present.”

DSW2: Pretty good answer! Still a bit vague and still somewhat under-informed on the issue, but we do like his open mind! Keep going Mr. Woods – do some digging and some research. This is a game-changer for thousands of Georgia students! Do not be a part of the brick wall at the Capitol that continues to condemn all DeKalb students to the failing status quo. Allow some of us to grow wings and take flight. Hopefully others will follow and eventually all children will be served a quality teacher and education rather than watching helplessly as Educrats stuff their pockets. There is no excuse for the poor results the ‘leadership’ in DeKalb Schools manages to generate with the over $1.2 Billion taxpayer dollars they blow through each and every year.

Morgan: “We considered this legislation this session, and it’s why I want to emphasize tonight the importance of having a state legislator as a state school superintendent, who knows these issues, who has the relationships and the track record of getting things done in the Legislature and who can move over to the state department of education to do that. As a whole, I do not support this legislation currently. Philosophically I think it’s important for local communities to have the ability to choose for themselves if they want a school district, I think with this particular issue though, there are serious ramifications for DeKalb County in particular, and with all of the creation of new cities and new government, I’m deeply concerned about funding, I’m deeply concerned about what that will do to the overall school system, but as a whole I think that this should be something that as a state, we should consider to allow voters to consider for their own communities.

DSW2: This is political BS and rhetoric. No one has shown any kind of proof that break-away school districts would cause any kind of harm to DeKalb county schools. (Jobs from bloat may be harmed, however…) Remember – DeKalb county will no longer have to educate, transport, counsel, protect, coach, or feed any of these children. Or maintain the buildings. PERHAPS the real issue is that the transfer of funding will be harmed — as the Druid Hills Charter Petition proved**, DeKalb county can no longer underfund some schools and the students attending them in order to transfer extra funding to other, more favored schools, their staffs and the central office bloated staff. We think somebody is listening to a certain paid PR shill and the mantra from a certain politician turned superintendent. Wake up honey! You have been played.

Wilson: “While I support local control, I believe it is important that we pay attention to the impact decisions such as this could have to an existing local school district. Being on the ground, working with city schools of Decatur, I know how challenged we are with our budget, and I know how challenged DeKalb County has been with its budget, and I think that we have to be very, very careful when we start looking at creating a separate school system, when the school system that we currently have hasn’t been a priority in the state of Georgia and it hasn’t been funded adequately. I do believe in local control. I do believe that the people should have the opportunity to speak, however I think that we should move very, very carefully on a situation like this because it could have negative impacts to the DeKalb County Schools system.”

DSW2: Spoken like yet another “I got mine” Decaturite. First, DeKalb county schools have plenty of money. Money is not the problem. If a $1.2 Billion annual consolidated budget can’t get the job done, then we are all in major trouble. All Dunwoody wants is what you have in Decatur, Ms. Wilson. But for some reason you are apprehensive about granting that kind of local control to others.  That is so elitist. How about this then – Decatur schools rejoin with DeKalb and you too can enjoy the corrupt, inept, lawyer-loving leadership the rest of us endure. Fair is fair!

(ps. Note to Donna Lowery: A better way to phrase the question would be to ask, “Do you support removing or changing the 1943 tenet in the Georgia Constitution (section VII*) that put a stop to the creation of new school districts?” You see, this was ratified during fiscally turbulent times over 80 years ago, and aimed at saving money by combining small districts. No one at that time envisioned a school district with 100,000 students!)

* Section VII, Paragraph 1 of the 1943 ratified GA Constitution linked above states:
Independent Systems Continued; New Systems Prohibited. Authority is hereby granted to municipal corporations to maintain existing independent school systems, and support the same as authorized by special or general law, and such existing systems may add thereto colleges. No independent school system shall hereafter be established.

It has since been amended several times, and now reads:
Paragraph I. School systems continued; consolidation of school systems authorized; new independent school systems prohibited. Authority is granted to county and area boards of education to establish and maintain public schools within their limits; provided, however, that the authority provided for in this paragraph shall not diminish any authority of the General Assembly otherwise granted under this article, including the authority to establish special schools as provided for in Article VIII, Section V, Paragraph VII. Existing county and independent school systems shall be continued, except that the General Assembly may provide by law for the consolidation of two or more county school systems, independent school systems, portions thereof, or any combination thereof into a single county or area school system under the control and management of a county or area board of education, under such terms and conditions as the General Assembly may prescribe; but no such consolidation shall become effective until approved by a majority of the qualified voters voting thereon in each separate school system proposed to be consolidated. No independent school system shall hereafter be established.

Removal of those last eight words is all that’s necessary. Changes are made to this document all the time. As stated, the passage about new school districts has already been changed several times. In addition, the state constitution was changed a few years ago when we reduced the school board from 9 to 7 in DeKalb. It was changed in 2012 to add the Charter School Amendment. It was changed in 2004 when voters voted to define marriage as between a man and a woman… Georgia’s Constitution has the most recently ratified version of all the states (ratified last in 1983) yet has been amended more than most other state Constitutions.

In fact, that same original ratified version in 1943 that was first to disallow new school districts, also says the following about education:

Paragraph I. System of Common Schools; Free Tuition, Separation of Races. The provision of an adequate education for the citizens shall be a primary obligation of the State of Georgia, the expense of which shall be provided for by taxation. Separate schools shall be provided for the white and colored races.

And we all know that there was no ‘rush’ to change that one either!

For more Q&A on other topics from the forum, visit this link at Deacturish.

**Our district EARNS $40 million from the students in the Druid Hills cluster, but we only allocate $29 million back to these schools. That $29 million comes with a reduced allocation of teachers, furlough days, increased class sizes, instructional material cuts, etc., etc. So we ask – WHERE is the other $11 million?

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26 Responses to State School Superintendent candidates opine on city school systems

  1. anothercomment says:

    Well, there are three not to vote for. It looks like two think its more important to protect the Black Elite Jobs program.

    I guess by the process of elimination, only Woods garners a vote from me. We absolutely need to change to one high school large districts. Just change the 8 words.

  2. Gregory Walker says:

    dsw – with all due respect, Morgan’s answer is neither “political bs” or “rhetoric”. As I’ll continue to articulate, if all one is interested in is figuring out how to let the “oppressed” in Brookhaven and Druid Hills ‘soar’ without any regard to how the rest of the county (much less the rest of the state) will cope with the fallout, then it’s hard to expect having too many allies outside those territories.

    The reality is that, across the state, there isn’t much appetite for this change, primarily because it could cripple any county system that would have a (relatively) larger city suddenly decide to pull away and form their own. Yes, DCSS would likely survive if Brookhaven left. I still, personally, am much more leery of the Druid Hills cluster proposal precisely because it’s NOT linked to an actual city, would still have to be financially backstopped by the County if anything did go wrong, and since it would be some sort of weird ‘subsidiary’ within DCSS, I think there’s an obligation to figure out what happens when the next 2 “clusters” seek their independence. It will not simply be a winnowing of the central office staff/resources. If the entire northern half of the County’s schools essentially set up 4 independent ‘clusters’, it will not all be apple pie and whipped cream for the County as a whole. Daring to suggest this is not ‘bs’ or ‘rheortic’ or some campaign to deny our kids a chance to ‘soar’. We all want that. But there are those of us who want it for all the kids in the County, together, rather than be content to only allow that opportunity to some.

    The reality is: we didn’t vote the leaders we wanted in. As a County, we didn’t demand that kind of radical change. Until we can muster that first step…

  3. What fallout? Can anyone show us numbers or is this just a fear tactic used to avoid making a change? Education dollars are allocated per pupil. These cities will not take any more than the pupils within their borders are entitled to. How on earth does that effect the rest of the school system? UNLESS – they are not really using monies as they are allocated – which was shown by the Druid Hills Charter proposal to be the case. Those Druid Hills students are allocated over $40 million, but DCSS only actually budgets $29 million for them. Where does the rest go?

    FWIW, this IS about all of the kids in the county. There is a very strong uprise brewing in South DeKalb as well. They are absolutely as tired of the bloat, misuse of funds and lackluster test scores as anyone in Dunwoody or Brookhaven. They are looking for a way to break away as well. The Druid Hills Charter and the cityhood efforts could serve as blueprints for others. They can’t do worse than the current system – which has students in DeKalb coming in dead last in test scores – while first in per pupil spending. Maybe if half of the system breaks away, the resulting smaller system will have to streamline and will not have as much wiggle room for bloat, lawsuits and excuses.

    The momentum has begun to break up this corrupt, enormous, ineffective school system into smaller, more manageable, more caring, more successful parts. No about of political talking points or fear-mongering can stop it. It may start with Dunwoody, but it will continue. The only thing that could stop it is a new, highly qualified superintendent leader who cleans house, orders a full audit, cuts out waste and bloat, streamlines schools and focuses on the classroom and attracting and retaining quality teachers. We don’t see that happening. Heck, we are deep in a LAWSUIT with our teachers!! Our current superintendent, Michael Thurmond, has hired a THIRD law firm costing taxpayers $50,000 a month to ‘consult’ with him and the board!!!

    Whatever happens, we bloggers and parent volunteers will work to ensure that every child in DeKalb has access to the quality education they deserve and that taxpayers pay dearly for. It should not be that hard to simply educate children well. Our leadership is making rocket science out of something that children do naturally –– Learn!

    This won’t stop with Dunwoody.

    In the words of Martin Luther King, “None of us is free until all of us are free.”

  4. Check out this teacher’s description of the flipped classroom, along with his honesty about the failure to really teach everyone in his class the ‘regular’ way :

  5. Briarcliff and Lakeside combine forces for cityhood

    They currently are only focused on becoming a city. But certainly, taking control of their own schools is in play for the future. This will be the ‘city’ school district to carve out the biggest chunk of students from DeKalb.

  6. concerned citizen says:

    DSW – great work! Thank you.

  7. For more on what blogger Jim Arnold is calling “Bizarro” education practices, read his essay below >>

    An Alternative Universe

    Dr. Jim Arnold is a former superintendent of Pelham City Schools.

    Dr. Arnold states, “It has become fashionable in this decade to blame teachers for many of the shortcomings that are in truth societal problems. The Georgia Legislature, following the governor’s lead, has developed an anti-public education agenda that has succeeded in directing over $3 billion dollars away from educating the 94% of students in public schools and toward other areas funded by the state. They are sacrificing the needs of the many for the benefit of a privileged few.”

  8. Thought of the Day >>

    Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.
    Benjamin Franklin

  9. Another comment says:

    Looks like Gregory Walker is part of the friends and Family clan of Eugene Walker . A short time ago on the AJC site their was an Olivia Walker exposing the same quackery. When she was exposed as part of the clan she shut up.

  10. Walker is a very common name. And people are entitled to their opinions. We welcome open debate here. Walker does have a case and we said similar things a couple of years ago. Now, however, we just think we have long passed the point of reconciliation for this school district. Too many lives hang in the balance. Children can’t wait for adults to get it together.

  11. Stan Jester says:

    Let’s simplify the question, “Are city schools a good idea?” If not, then we should work on closing the existing city schools. If so, we should allow the other cities to have their own schools. I would argue that city schools do well for the most part and we should have them.

  12. Gregory Walker says:

    Another – no, I wouldn’t consider myself part of the “clan”. And no relation to either Eugene, Olivia, or any other employee of DCSS. Unlike many who post here, this is my real name. Live in the community, have kids who attend 2 different DCSS schools. I haven’t given up on the system, like many here seem to. I’m all about constructive criticism and believe that taking shots at people simply because they don’t seem to share your particular scorched earth approach doesn’t elevate your cause; it make you look petty.

    Look, these are really big, complicated problems. They deserve big, thoughtful answers. Simply chopping staff isn’t going to win. I do, firmly, believe that the ratio of classroom to administrative costs have spiraled way out of control. But guess what? That’s happening all over education – you can find articles like this all over:

    My goals have been pretty consistent throughout every post made on this and in other public forums: if we’re going to burn down the house, we at least owe it to our children to have an emergency exit plan in place. And right now, we don’t. “CUT, CUT, CUT, CUT” sounds great in a blog – and there are some genuinely valid categories that dsw (the person and the blog as a whole) have identified as places to start. Great! I’m all for it.

    What scares the hell out of me, frankly, is the complete disintegration of the County and school systems. If you want to chop us up into 5 different cities and let each run a school system like Decatur, then great. Be prepared for the full costs of running that – Decatur pays substantially higher tax rates that unincorporated DeKalb. The (very) optimistic projections by Brookhaven all assume there’s a County still left to handle all their big infrastructure costs – the ones that they and Dunwoody (and Lakecliff) all leave out. Who’s going to pay for all that? We will. The Druid Hills charter cluster might work – and I’d be all for it… IF…. that charter did a comprehensive study on what the financial impacts of the system as a whole would be. If they don’t then either the system or someone independent needs to. Because that’s a much more radical step and I want to understand how every other part of the system is impacted. This is not a city leaving like Brookhaven wants to – it’s saying “my group is a little more special than all the other groups”. So, why the hesitancy to conduct that study by the cluster group? “Not my responsibility – only my kids are”. Which is exactly our problem overall.

    DCSS is a big ship. It’s not going to turn overnight. No ship that big can. That’s not my opinion, that’s a reality of looking at tons of organizations over the years. We still need a believable blueprint on how to get there but it’s not going to happen as rapidly as many people on this site would like. Someone like myself, articulating this viewpoint, does not, though, make me “friends and family”, nor happy with the status quo. Just more than simplistic.

  13. @Gregory: Isn’t that exactly what we said? The only thing that can turn this ship around is a forward-thinking, student/teacher-focused board that hires a highly qualified superintendent leader and works very hard to set goals, align schools, conduct a full forensic audit and educate the children of DeKalb.

    However, we have been pleading for this for over a decade! We have been here for decades bemoaning the same issues and it’s actually insulting that you call our viewpoint ‘simplistic’. People like you have come and gone. Lots (ourselves included) have advocated for fixing the system as a whole. For YEARS!

    You said, “DCSS is a big ship. It’s not going to turn overnight. No ship that big can.” Do you know how many others have said those same words over the years to no avail? We say, children can’t wait any longer for adults to get it together. The clock has run out. These people have literally ruined tens of thousands of young people’s educations. At what point do you give them an “F” and take away their keys? We think they have done enough damage. Breaking up the system will definitely create good schools for about half of the 100,000 students in DeKalb right away if city schools are allowed to form. The other 50,000 or so can either follow the new cities examples or can become a charter system or county system or charter clusters or some such. But there will be fewer places to hide bloat and corruption and therefore, most likely, a better education for the children.

    Why is this even a discussion? It’s just SCHOOL! Tax dollars need to be used to hire quality teachers and staff necessary to properly educate the children in a community – in buildings that aren’t crumbling and leaking. Why on earth has this become rocket science and a big ‘discussion’ about money? The same amount is spent per pupil regardless of where.

  14. Pingback: The Latest and Greatest – a review on recent education articles and blogs « Nancy Jester

  15. Gregory Walker says:

    “Isn’t that exactly what we said? The only thing that can turn this ship around is a forward-thinking, student/teacher-focused board that hires a highly qualified superintendent leader and works very hard to set goals, align schools, conduct a full forensic audit and educate the children of DeKalb.”

    Ok, we agree on the basics. Most of us do.

    “Breaking up the system will definitely create good schools for about half of the 100,000 students in DeKalb right away if city schools are allowed to form. The other 50,000 or so can either follow the new cities examples or can become a charter system or county system or charter clusters or some such.”

    The crux of my caution. And my children will be in that better half. But, I do think you seriously underestimate how quickly the “other” 50,000 would be able to follow, and with the same level of success. And, if we’re going to allow that to happen – that half the County schools become a group of cluster charters – then is it unreasonable to ask for a study to convert all of the County to the same system? Meaning, let’s just go ahead and plan to bust the whole thing up that way. All I’m advocating for is an ‘all at once’ approach. Letting individual clusters keep getting peeled off one at a time is not, at all, in the best interest of the County overall, no matter how quickly it may or may not force an issue of reducing administrative costs. But that’s just my position – I’m simply saying it’s a reasonable, defensible position. The reason I responded so vocally to begin with is that holding this position is neither contradictory to the idea that I love “the kids” every bit as much as some on here nor is it rhetorical, political b.s., as had been asserted in the candidates review.

  16. Gregory Walker says:

    Stan – I can get behind the idea of a city school system more than I can these charter clusters. They’re very different creatures. I do have a question for you in that regard: has anyone from the DeKalb delegation reached out to legislators in, say, Cherokee, Henry, or other counties in GA that would be equally impacted by changing the State Constitution to figure out how they think this change would impact their counties? My sense talking to various legislators last year was that most of them thought this was a “DeKalb” issue and that there was a genie in the bottle they didn’t want to let out. It also seemed like the rule limiting the creation of new school districts to cities formed since 2005 was a complete non-starter with them. I’m not in the trenches of that particular issue (I’ve got others I work with the Legislature on) – am genuinely curious since it looks like my neck of the woods (Briarlakecliffside) is probably going to have a much better chance to get through next year.

  17. ICARE says:

    Thank you DSW2 well said,

  18. We aren’t fans of the cluster idea either. There is little independence from the ‘mother system’, DCSS, in reality. Starting with having to give something like 5% to DCSS right off the top – for nothing. Cities and city schools are the way to go. This is how much of the rest of the country (with more successful schools) is set up. We’re not sure why Georgia insists on carving out a different way from proven success.

    Ask anyone in Decatur schools – even with the increased taxes – would you be remotely tempted to ditch your city schools and join in DeKalb?

  19. @Gregory: “Letting individual clusters keep getting peeled off one at a time is not, at all, in the best interest of the County overall, no matter how quickly it may or may not force an issue of reducing administrative costs.”

    So, how do you know this? Have you run any numbers? Do you have any kind of proof? If so, would you please share? We would definitely read it with an open mind…

    We simply disagree. We think that in reality, a slow peeling away of independent (city) school districts will force change in the management of the rest. The only reason taking funding allocated to a group of students and using it to fund a new district would harm DeKalb’s super-sized district is if DeKalb has not been equitable–if they are not fully funding schools (and students) the same as they collect funding for. The Druid Hills Charter proposal pretty much showed this to be the case. DCSS collects $40 million for the students in that district. Yet they only budget back $29 million toward those schools (this includes all areas of the budget). They are moving money around to fund pet projects – and that is beyond wrong.

    A full forensic audit would tell the truth – but they have done everything in their power to not only bury the results of one conducted in 2004 (the ONLY one ever conducted) – they have ensured that no other forensic audit has ever been ordered. This is in spite of the FACT that Ramona Tyson promised one while serving as superintendent. She even included a timeline. You see, this is yet another example of full out lies and promises made with no intention of fulfilling except to create a temporary false sense of trust and stall positive progress. There have been NO repercussions for Tyson’s false promises, and (apparently unnecessary) budget cuts to our children’s teachers and their schools. Tyson (hand chosen by her criminally indicted predecessor) continues to be a highly paid, very involved administrator. No change has actually occurred. Some deck chairs have been rearranged, but essentially nothing has changed.

    Read some of these posts from the original DSW blog to either catch up to speed or refresh your memories >>

    Sunday, April 18, 2010
    The $$$ is There, but Who’s Follows It? The Central Office, BOE and a Complete Lack of Checks & Balances

    Monday, November 8, 2010
    It’s time for that salary audit

    Sunday, January 2, 2011
    It appears we were correct about Tyson’s pension boost

    Friday, May 13, 2011
    May 9, Part 2: Ramona Tyson’s report on the 2004 Ernst & Young audit and plans for a new audit

    Saturday, May 21, 2011
    Back to the topic of the Ernst & Young 2004 audit

    Sunday, June 5, 2011
    A True Kleptocracy: The Children Be Damned!


    After you all have read these posts, please comment as to how you think things have changed (or not changed … )

  20. For more old reports from the original DSW, check out our page “Best of the Oldies” under the DCSS Spending tab at the top of the blog.

    Or click this link directly >>

  21. Stan Jester says:

    Hello Gregory.
    Clusters vs City Schools – I look to the local communities to decide what is best for themselves. The Druid Hills community voted and was in favor of the cluster by 92%. The current election has given me the chance to speak with many people from the Druid Hills cluster area and their responses reflect the community vote.

    Counties Affected By HR 486 – As a review, HR 486 was the house resolution to amend the Constitution to allow the establishment of more independent school districts. It was sponsored by representatives from Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett. It only affects counties with municipalities created since 2005. The new cities come from Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties – Sandy Springs(2005), Johns Creek(2006), Milton (December 2006), Chattahoochee Hills (June 2007), Dunwoody (December 2008), Peachtree Corners (November 2011) and most recently Brookhaven.

    The rule limiting school districts
    Tom Taylor tells us how this rule came to be saying,

    “The state currently limits the number of school districts to 180. In 1945, when they wrote the current constitution, they wrote in there shall be no new school systems. Prior to that, the constitution from 1877 to 1945, any municipal or subdivision of state could establish their own school system at will. The counties did not want competition from the smaller municipalities. In the context of that, we had small county populations. I don’t think they anticipated the size of our current school districts. In 1945, DeKalb had about 10,000 students.”


  22. Gregory Walker says:

    dsw – Unfortunately, I’m in the middle of proposal writing hell at the moment, so I don’t have quite enough time to dig into a forensic analysis. If I understand the formulas correctly, the 40M vs. 29M has to do with property tax values vs. the number of students in a particular area, correct? Meaning, if you look at the geographic area and the number of residences, that comprises the 40M in revenue. The 29M “paid back out” is entirely related to # of pupils in the district and a consistent formula for per pupil spending (recognizing there’s all sorts of caveats for different programs, etc.). If I’m correct, that’s not an unusual scenario in a city/county/country where some areas are generating more revenue via taxes than others, especially property taxes. My memory of the Druid Hills charter was that they were planning on negotiating transportation, maintenance (which looked far too low in my opinion), some of food services, IT (at least for internet/phone service) etc. Perhaps those costs are truly higher?

    Just one complication that I can think of offhand: how would SPLOST’s be handled under this scenario? The current one is set in terms of which projects are being funded, but if you only have half the County under a charter cluster system, how do you do a County wide referendum on projects, without dedicating certain portions to go to certain clusters? If that’s the preferred method, are we all naive enough to think the politics in those decisions would be less vicious than anything else we’ve seen to date?

    We do agree on city schools though – I’m for that. It solves a lot of the headaches of a fractured county system.

  23. Gregory Walker says:

    Stan – thanks. I do remember this history of it and agree with the structural issues that it’s trying to address. I think my question is: outside our little slice of Georgia, I didn’t hear much support. And, there’s still more people outside those 3 counties than in them. Is there any plan to either broaden that support and/or extend it to other counties that do want something similar? I know Athens-Clarke County and Savannah have already integrated their city/county schools so it’s less of an issue for them. Was Cobb behind this? Cherokee? Any of those other areas?

  24. @gregory: No absolutely not. You really need to go back and read everything that went on during this proposal. The board went to A LOT of trouble to conceal information from the charter writers. In fact, after the vote denying the charter, they then could not articulate a reason. They kept passing the buck. Read the following from a response letter from the DHCC >>

    The April 1, 2014 teleconference with Dr. Boza is the same meeting referenced above in which Dr. Boza told DHCC representatives he had no information regarding the bases for denial in the Board’s January 9, 2014 letter. Dr. Boza indicated only the Board would have that information. The teleconference was attended by DHCC representatives and Dr. Jose Boza, Ms. Maleika Vaughner, Ms. Campbell and Ms. Frazier. DHCC again presented the January 9, 2014 letter and requested detail regarding the bases for denial. Dr. Boza emphasized repeatedly that the January 9, 2014 letter was not a letter from the School District, and that he had no information regarding the bases for denial in the letter, and that neither the Office of Charter Schools and indeed, to his knowledge, no one at the School District had information regarding the bases of the Board’s denial. Dr. Boza stated that the Board of Education – not the School District – would be the only entity that could elaborate on the bases for denial of the DHCC Petition.

    Property taxes have absolutely nothing to do with per pupil spending across the district. ALL DeKalb county school property taxes (about 60% of your tax bill) SHOULD be compiled in one big pot, along with per pupil funding from the state (known as QBE funding – click here to read about it) and federal governments (according to formulas as to student needs regarding special education, gifted and Title 1). Then those monies SHOULD be redistributed as budgets per school – according to the needs and numbers of students in each building. But – we have long known that is not the case whatsoever. Per pupil funding is wildly unequal across DeKalb county. The students in the Druid Hills cluster ‘earned’ $40 million but were only budgeted for $29 million. Where did the other $11 million go? Check out the chart we acquired via an Open Records Request in 2011 – that the board has since refused to update for anyone who asks.

    Click to access per-pupil-expenditures-general-and-title-i.pdf

    In fact, read all you want about student population and funding at our page titled “FTE: Enrollment + Capacity Reports” under our Facts & Sources Tab.

    Gregory, we know you want the school system to do well as a whole, but their track record for over a decade has shown utter incompetence. You can’t defend them using things you have “heard”. That is also what the state school superintendent candidates used and why we called it out as bs and rhetoric. It came directly from the politically well-connected and politically-motivated Michael Thurmond and his DCSS taxpayer-paid “communications” manager, Quinn Hudson, who was his former campaign manager. Please research. Please do your own thinking. Please consider what really is best for the future of education for the 100,000 children in DeKalb county schools. They can’t wait any longer for adults to get it together.

  25. Stan Jester says:

    There are various groups advocating for new independent school districts in Georgia. The people in those groups take off from work and/or get babysitters so they can spend time at the capitol. They speak to senators and representatives from across the state explaining why Should Georgia Have New School Districts?.

    How well received are they? HR 486 passed the House Education Committee this year but did not make it out of the Rules Committee. I can’t speak in broad strokes about the bill’s support outside of the House Education Committee vote. As you know, it’s an uphill battle since the largest employers in most of the counties are hospitals and the school district. These school districts enjoy the constitutional monopoly granted to them, so the bill was written in such a way to not affect them.

  26. Nikole says:

    As a Region 5 teacher, I welcome a smaller DeKalb. And if everyone north of Memorial Drive would leave, I think that would positively impact my students. DeKalb can no longer claim mediocrity by averaging out our poor scores with higher ones. They will actually have to pay attention to this region, and LISTEN to what teachers are saying we need to succeed there and then actually GIVE US what we need.

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