DeKalb School Board Meeting Monday, September 8: Tune In!

The DeKalb Board of Education will hold the following meetings on Monday, September 8, 2014:

2:00pm Work Session & Executive Session (adjourning for the purpose of
discussing a legal matter)
Cabinet Room
Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

5:45pm Community Input Session & 1st Charter District Public Hearing

7:00pm Business Meeting

J. David Williamson Board Room
Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain, GA 30083

The business meeting agenda is below. Meeting information can be accessed online by going to: www.dekalb.k12.ga.us, click on Leadership, go to eBoard Home Page and click on the date for the meeting agenda\information.

Plan to attend the meetings in person at the locations above or stream them live at PDS Comcast 24.

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1. RECOGNITION
a. Industry Certification Recognition of Career Technical & Agricultural Education CTAE Teachers and Programs
Presented by: Dr. Delmas L. Watkins, Director, Career Technical & Agricultural
Education, Division of Curriculum & Instruction

2. SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT
a. School Crossing Guards
Presented by: Dr. Alice A. Thompson, Deputy Superintendent, Division of School Leadership & Operational Support
b. SPLOST Projects Update
Presented by: Mr. Joshua L. Williams, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations
c. Infinite Campus Rollout
Presented by: Mr. Gary L. Brantley, Chief Information Officer, Division of Information Technology
d. Instructional Materials
Presented by: Dr. Morcease J. Beasley, Executive Director, Curriculum, Instruction & Professional Learning & the Office of Federal Programs and Dr. Ron H. Adams, Coordinator, Textbook & Learning Resources Division of Curriculum & Instruction

C. CONSENT AGENDA
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. Approval of Monthly Human Resources Report
Presented by: Dr. Tekshia M. Ward-Smith, Chief Human Resources Officer, Division of Human Resources
4. Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) and the City of Decatur Schools regarding Students with Disabilities.
Presented by: Dr. Angela Crawford, Director, Special Education Department, Division of Curriculum & Instruction
5. Athletic Cloth Uniforms (Bid #12-436R) Extension
Presented by: Mr. Horace C. Dunson, Jr., Executive Director, Athletics, Division of School Leadership & Operational Support
6. Athletic Equipment (Bid #12-445R) Extension
Presented by: Mr. Horace C. Dunson, Jr., Executive Director, Athletics, Division of School Leadership & Operational Support
7. Approval of Athletic Cloth Uniforms (Bid #12-436R) and Athletic Equipment (Bid
#12-445R)
8. Purchase Presented by: Mr. Horace C. Dunson, Jr., Executive Director, Athletics, Division of School Leadership & Operational Support
Presented 8. Purchase of Vehicles for Public Safety
Presented by: Mr. Horace C. Dunson, Jr., Executive Director, Athletics, Division of School Leadership & Operational Support
9. CrossPointe Software Annual Maintenance
Presented by: Mr. Gary L. Brantley, Chief Information Officer, Division of Information Technology
10. Catastrophic Student Accident Medical Insurance
Presented by: Mr. Ronald B. Ramsey, Chief Legal Officer, Division of Legal Affairs
11. School Nutrition Services Presented by: Mr. Joshua L. Williams, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations
a. Purchase of Grocery Products (Bid No. 15-397)
b. Extension Bid No. 14-20R1 Sanitation Services & Materials
12. SPLOST Projects Presented by: Mr. Joshua L. Williams, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations
a. SPLOST IV Project: Fernbank Elementary School Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment (FF&E) Purchase Approval
b. SPLOST IV Project: Peachcrest Elementary School Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment (FF&E) Purchase Approval c. SPLOST IV Project: Southwest DeKalb High School Renovations – 5100 and 5200 Halls
Construction Contract Award
13. Program Management Service Contract Extension Approval
Presented by: Mr. Joshua L. Williams, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations
14. PLACEHOLDER – Personnel Recommendation
Presented by: Mr. Michael L. Thurmond, Superintendent
15. Wallace Foundation Principal Supervision Initiative Grant Award Acceptance
Presented by: Dr. José G. Boza, Jr., Director, Leadership Development & Charter Schools, Division of School Leadership & Operational Support
D. ACTION ITEM
1. Re-establishment of the Date and Time of the October 2014 Monthly Meeting
Presented by: Dr. Melvin Johnson, Chair
E. OTHER\BOARD COMMENTS (2 minutes each)

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26 Responses to DeKalb School Board Meeting Monday, September 8: Tune In!

  1. Sensitivity_training says:

    “If you want to be an auto technician and make more money than you would teaching, that’s just as well,” Thurmond said. “What we want to recognize is we have students and parents who see multiple ways to be successful.”

    This was quoted in an article covering the new Career Academy.

    Maybe not a good time to reference teacher pay in DeKalb County?

    Or maybe I am taking it the wrong way.

  2. momfromhe11 says:

    Was there any general publicity about the “1st Charter District Public Hearing” listed in the agenda? Is it different from public comments? Was it supposed to follow public comments? Did I miss the announcement? Looked as if everybody else did too…

  3. Nikole says:

    It’s just another check mark in the “we did that” category. There has to be one more opportunity for public comments. I think it’s on Oct. 6th, right before the board will vote for the resolution.

  4. thedeal2 says:

    I tuned in, and Jimmy Mac is doing his stupid platitudes and complimenting everyone on the Infinite Campus rollout, including Michael Thurmond.

  5. thedeal2 says:

    Jimmy Mac with more effusive praise for Michael Thurmond and the administration on their hire of someone to work for Joshua Williams. Where do we get these idiots?

  6. howdy1942 says:

    This is just another instance of Mr. Thurmond’s mouth getting ahead of his brain – that seems to happen so often. He may have meant this as a joke, but not too many people are laughing. On the contrary, this is a slap in the face to our teachers.

    Regarding this charter petition by the DCSS – this is a done deal. It will be approved by the school board on October 6, 2014. I’ve made my public comments twice and also sent them to this “listening” panel via email. I like Trenton Arnold, but he has been used by the DCSS to complete these mere formalities and check the appropriate boxes. To borrow a phrase from the Atlanta Falcons, we should “Rise Up” and let the State School Board know if the very significant objection by such a large portion of this County. We did that last year and we can do it again.

  7. howdy and others: Send your comments to Ty Tagami at the AJC. He may be interested. He – like most of us – is curious about the details, and the pros and cons of this proposed charter system. Enlighten him.
    ty.tagami@ajc.com

  8. Just Wondering says:

    Can a part of that 30 million dollar surplus be used to start paying back the TSA for educators? We spent several years with no pay raises. We were not paying into social security. We did not have the TSA. We can expect the price of our benefits to increase. The small raise that we have gotten will probably be gone. We trusted DeKalb to do the right thing. When we left Social Security, it was with the understanding that the money would be put into a TSA.
    The purpose of this question is not to debate with someone who will say that many companies have no funded retirement plans, and we have the Teacher Retirement System. My question is one that would like an honest answer.I love education. It was my choice. It is not only about money. It is also about keeping the faith of the employees of DeKalb.

    If we hired over 800 people, we lost a lot of valuable experience. Look at the list. There were teachers, paras,, counselors and some custodians. Even though some were not released from their contracts, they still left. I

    Does anyone try to determine the real reason that people leave to go to other school systems. This would be great information to gather, Some excellent teachers at my school left for other school systems and are making more money. Due to the needs of my family, I could not leave at this time. Isn’t there anyone on the BOE to speak for the rights of the teachers and staff of DeKalb?

  9. Here’s the thing, Just Wondering … federal law (Windfall Elimination Provision) says that “if you work for an employer who does not withhold Social Security taxes from your salary, such as a government agency or an employer in another country, any pension you get based on that work may [read: “will”] reduce your Social Security benefits. The Windfall Elimination Provision primarily affects you if you earned a pension in any job where you did not pay Social Security taxes and you also worked in other jobs long enough to qualify for a Social Security retirement or disability benefit” — or if you qualify for Social Security benefits based on a spouse’s earnings under Social Security.

    Because you likely will retire from DCS, which does not pay into Social Security, you will lose approximately 1/3 of your Social Security benefits. That can be a substantial hit to what you think you will have to live on when you retire.

    In addition to that, you have lost about 7 or 8 years of compound interest growth on the money that has not been contributed to your TSA (Tax-sheltered Annuity) account. And that doesn’t show any signs of ending anytime soon.

    Plus, you have lost years of contributions to Social Security for the whole time that you have worked for DCS while it has not been part of Social Security. That means your Social Security account is smaller than it could have been, so if you do qualify for Social Security, you will lose approximately 1/3 of already reduced benefits.

    No step increases for the past six or seven years. And, if you started with DCS at some point in the past seven or eight years, your first step increase would not have come until after your sixth year, anyhow. If DCS was still paying into TSA, you would not have received a contribution until you completed your third year, which means you would have gone without Social Security AND TSA for 3 years. Both accounts would be reduced.

    It adds up, doesn’t it?

    What DeKalb County Schools has done to its teachers — financially and emotionally — just to enable overpaid, under-talented friends-and-family to stay on the payroll, getting paid for doing nothing or for make-work “jobs,” — is SO WRONG on SO many levels. It’s the “gift that keeps on giving” and it will follow you right into retirement.

    Don’t believe us? Make an appointment to meet in person with a Social Security representative. You can go online with TRS to estimate your benefits there.

  10. Bamay says:

    It is so sad that we have lost so much. Some of the clerical staff have lost so much when they reclassifed their jobs and make them clerks paying them less than what they were getting 10 years ago. DeKalb School System needs help to get out of this situation.

  11. The Palace + District Charter = FAIL! Simple as that.

    It is a done deal and the Dr. Walkers friends and family will be safe for another decade of no work for pay! Teachers sorry to say your retirement is screwed if you stay in DCSS too long. Thurmond wants me to cheer about a surplus?! Sorry Mr. Super, your predecessor, Ramona, who still works for you, balanced the budget on teachers backs for two years and that was after the INDICTED ONE Clew did the same for the first time ever before her. ENOUGH! If the Super does not give every cent of the surplus to the teachers retirement or in teacher raises, I think the teachers will know that DCSS does NOT or will ever care about them.

    DCSS mired in the muck of mediocrity for over 10 years and still sadly counting!

  12. howdy1942 says:

    Everything starts in the classroom with a student and a teacher. I graduated from high school over 54 years ago and I can still give you the names of teachers that did so much to positively impact my life. Teachers are special and probably no other single person has so much to do with the success of any child (other than a parent) than a teacher.

    Even if one can accept the possibility that the Great Recession created the necessity of the DCSS suspending its contributions to the TRA, I strongly believe that restoring those contributions should have been the top priority of the DCSS school board and administration. Perhaps my greatest disappointment in the current school board is that it has totally failed to even begin that process and that is just pitiful. They have found the funds to pay lawyers to fight the teachers, found funds to buy administrators new cars, found funds to pay hefty severance packages for superintendents, found at least $100,000 for Crawford Lewis to defend himself, found at least that much for Eugene Walker to defend himself, found the funds to pay people to provide response after response to SACS questions, found funds to hire parent counselors, found funds to pay that guy who works out of that little white house in Chamblee for placing teachers at the last minute to fill classrooms with a “teacher” that should have been filled by our Human Resources, and I just paid an increase of 9,33% in my taxes to help fund this mess that is the Dekalb County School System. Back to my point – this school board and this superintendent need to get their priorities right. Those priorities are not a new “charter” system, not more lawyers, not more cars, not more administrators, but the one single priority above all others should be on the classroom and the teacher in that classroom.

    You know, I get so tired of fighting this school system and long for one that will actively seek the input and support of our community. We have so many people who live here who could be the source of so much wisdom and energy to make Dekalb such a great school system. The only effort that is required of the DCSS is to sincerely ask and then truly listen and not just go through the motions or check the boxes. It’s just incredible that this school board and this administration choose to just continue with its top-down, “know-it-all”, political approach and treat the rest of us like we are on a lower step than they are. When they do that, they look down and not up and that just says so much about what we could be but choose not to be.

  13. thedeal2 says:

    Howdy, I think we are the same person sometimes. I agree with everything you said.

    I talked with a friend who watched some of the board meeting. I can never go to or watch the all-day sessions being stuck in the office. She said that Marshall Orson spent quite a bit of time quizzing Trenton Arnold on why or how the district got to the point where charter system was the only option. Michael Thurmond spoke up to say that his office had been the ones to do the research and they decided on the charter system. Marshall apparently really hammered away at them saying that there were other choices, such as the very interesting concept of a system of charter clusters. He kept going back to the negativity of the parent input sessions held recently. He said they did not want to glaze over that. Thurmond said they would go back and look into the other options. Trenton Arnold confirmed that everything that Marshall was saying was spot on.

    I don’t have any idea how or if this was discussed in the evening meeting or any of the other discussions, but I thought it sounded promising.

  14. dsw2contributor says:

    The AJC is reporting that Nancy Jester is one of five candidates running to replace Elaine Boyer.

  15. Let’s hope Nancy wins!

  16. @deal: We missed the meeting but thanks for the input. Good for Marshall for finally doing his job.

  17. @AMG: We have given up wondering why Ramona is still employed. All we can figure is that Michael Thurmond is not (capable of) doing the day to day business of running the school system so he has Ramona as his sidekick – essentially we’re paying for two superintendents. It’s all so incestuous. The current leadership’s entire focus is just keeping each other employed.

  18. Yes, here is the AJC’s report on the commission special election:
    Candidates pledge to fix DeKalb

    Five candidates pledging to sweep out corruption and restore honest government to DeKalb County began their race Wednesday to replace former Commissioner Elaine Boyer, who pleaded guilty to a kickback scheme.

    The four Republicans and one independent will have less than two months to campaign before the Nov. 4 special election to represent about 140,000 residents in the northern part of DeKalb County, including the cities of Brookhaven, Chamblee, Doraville and Dunwoody.

    The candidates are Wendy Butler, a land use attorney; Larry Danese, a retired electrical and nuclear engineer; Nancy Jester, an actuarial consultant; Tom Owens, a Vietnam veteran; and Holmes Pyles, a retired state government employee.

    +++

    FWIW – we did find this bio on one of the other cnadidates, Wendy Butler >>

    Wendy Butler For Dekalb Commissioner

  19. howdy1942 says:

    If there were “options” other than the charter option being trumpeted by the administration, why weren’t those options shared with the board and a report given as to what it (the administration) saw as the advantages and disadvantages of each? Why was the school board not informed? Why was that not done before critical dates were missed leaving only the “charter” option”?

    I was at the Lakeside meeting and there were far more good questions than there were answers. That was not the fault of Trenton Arnold – he was the messenger and he didn’t have a lot of information to share. Thedeal2 – it appears that Orson was well within his responsibilities as a member of the school board to raise the questions he did and to expect answers. There should have been answers to: “Why the charter option?” “Why were the other rejected?”. As superintendent, Mr. Thurmond should have been able to answer those questions very specifically. There were at least four board members at that Lakeside meeting and they learned firsthand that few questions asked by those in attendance were answered. As presented, this whole “charter” option appears to have little forethought, has few specifics, provides few incentives to local areas to go through the nightmare of preparing any charter petition, and leaves complete control, supervision, and even governance to the administration. Local governance boards appear to have little more than a “face” that would be in a subordinate position to the administration and have to grovel to its every whim.

    As I listened to this whole presentation, I concluded that it is a bureaucratic jungle that essentially leaves the existing system intact. Mr. Thurmond is trying to put lipstick on the pig that is the Dekalb County school administration leadership and he is very good at talking a good game. Frankly, I’d like this school board to simply put this whole charter thing on the back burner and focus on getting a new superintendent for Dekalb County who knows what he or she is doing. Our current leadership cannot be effective as long as they continue to have such little support. Mr. Thurmond not only has kept the same top level officials in place that led Dekalb to the brink of losing its accreditation, he strongly opposed the efforts of the State to remove the former school board. When a leadership has performed so poorly, then there is absolutely no way that the same people who so royally messed up can ever be effective.

  20. Northlake Mom says:

    You know, even though they missed the deadlines for other options, there is still one option available other than “Charter System” — it’s “Status Quo.” While no one wants the true status quo to continue in DCSD, the “Status Quo” option has one enormous benefit — under this option, DCSD LOSES all of the state law waivers it’s currently using — so no more class size waivers! They’d have to go back to following the class sizes prescribed by law, which haven’t been met in years. I truly believe that’s it’s these waivers that are the main thing driving the administration’s choice of “Charter System” — they don’t want to have to reduce class sizes. Heaven forbid they actually put the money in the classrooms! I agree that we should oppose DCSD’s “Charter System” proposal at the state level — what does DCSD propose to do that is novel, and would produce better testing results? I can’t see how they can meet the standard for charter school approval.

  21. momfromhe11 says:

    FWIW, Mr. Arnold said at the Lakeside meeting that the state had backtracked on cutting the waivers right away. Someone asked whether “Status Quo” would mean lower class sizes and he told those in attendance that the state will be too overwhelmed reviewing the petitions/proposals of all 120+ school districts that they will put that action on hold for a while – at least until they have looked at ever schoo system’s plan.

  22. momfromhe11 says:

    I got onto PDS 24 at about 2:30, during the business meeting (where they put agenda items on the consent agenda, because they have “pre-discussed” them), and I found it really interesting. I will watch again whenever I can.
    That is where the back-and-forth between Orson and Thurmond took place. I didn’t see the public business meeting at 7, so I don’t know whether the same amount of discussion took place then. Did it?

  23. niah says:

    Please read the article below. The Compensation manager (Kevin Sherman) refer to in this article is now working in DeKalb County as our Compensation Manager. I’m confused do we not do back ground checks. What happens if he repeats the pattern in Dekalb? ……interesting
    http://www.mdjonline.com/pages/full_story/push?article-HR+director+retiring+as+probe+ends%20&id=16041265

    It’s time for someone to answer questions.

  24. @niah: That is one very interesting article. Amazing.

  25. howdy1942 says:

    @Northlake Mom – Thanks for your great comment! Very informative. There is just something about this “charter” proposal being floated by the DCSS that does not pass the “smell” test. And the loss of any waiver forcing Dekalb to adjust the student sizes of its classrooms would cause great problems for the DCSS.

    Also, did you see the article in today’s AJC about Governor Deal’s desire for the Legislature to consider the charter system adopted by the State of Louisiana? I earlier posted an article about the charters in New Orleans and one comment cited the terrible results from that action. However, Gov. Deal and La. Governor Bobby Jindal cited student test results that had moved those schools in New Orleans from the bottom tier of the State to the middle tier of the State. I don’t know which is right, but my point is that any such system would allow the State of Georgia to intervene and take control of low performing schools and replace them with a charter. To the extent that the State would use such authority in Dekalb, the Dekalb County School Board and administration would lose control and power as well as State funding. I am encouraged by this prospect because it offers hope to those children stuck in those schools under the control of a school board and administration who seem to be confined to making decisions based on “adult” matters.

    I don’t think that I am the only one in Dekalb County who smells a rat in this Dekalb “charter” woodpile. Already, there are strong voices opposing this “charter” at the State level. Dekalb would be wise to table this whole thing for now and see if it can’t somehow ameliorate those voices by listening to their concerns and making adjustments to its plan. Otherwise, it risks significant opposition and increased probability of outright rejection.

    Dekalb County has the highest millage rate in the State in one of the wealthiest counties of the State. It has the money that it needs to fund an excellent school system. That has not happened because of extremely poor management, poor governance, and just very wasteful spending at the DCSS. The people involved are, for the most part, still in place. And that’s why, despite all the money that has been spent, we still have the same miserable results.

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