The first board meeting of 2015 will take place Monday, Jan. 12; New members, Stan Jester and Vickie Turner will take their seats

The DeKalb Board of Education will hold the following meetings on Monday, January 12, 2015:

2:00pm Work Session, Committee of the Whole & Executive Session for personnel & legal matters and student appeals
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
(Thus far, only one person has signed up to speak to the Board. Email the Board Secretary to be placed on the list of 3-minute public comment speakers. MARGARET_C_FRANCOIS@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us)

7:00pm Business Meeting, J. David Williamson Board Room

The meeting agendas and supporting documents 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.

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Business Meeting Agenda

C. ACTION ITEMS
1. Establishment of Dates & Times of DeKalb Board of Education Meetings for February 2015 – January 2016
Presented by: Board Chair-Elect
2. Official Functions of the Board for Calendar Year 2015
Presented by: Board Chair-Elect (To be Elected in the 2:00 Work Session)

D. 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. Action on the Leadership Preparatory Academy Renewal Charter Petition
Presented by Dr. José G. Boza, Jr., Director, Leadership Development & Charter Schools, Division of School Leadership & Operational Support
5. SPLOST III Project: Acceptance of the Final State Capital Outlay Reimbursement for the Miller Grove High School Addition Project (State Project Number 11-644-016)
Presented by: Mr. Joshua L. Williams, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations
6. Program Management Services Contract Extension Approval
Presented by: Mr. Joshua L. Williams, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations
7. 2015-2016 School Calendar
Presented by: Dr. Kathleen S. Howe, Deputy Superintendent, Division of Curriculum & Instruction
8. District-Wide Beverage Services Contract Extension (RFP 09-20)
Presented by: Dr. Michael J. Bell, Chief Financial Officer, Division of Finance

E. OTHER\BOARD COMMENTS (2 minutes each)

F. ANNOUNCEMENTS
1. Dunwoody-Chamblee Parent Council Meeting, 7:00pm, Tuesday, January 13, 2015, Chamblee Charter High School, 3688 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Chamblee
2. Student Advisory Committee Meeting, 9:00am, Wednesday, January 14, 2015, Auditorium Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain
3. Teacher Advisory Committee Meeting, 2:00pm, Thursday, January 15, 2015, Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain
4. Schools and Administrative Offices Closed, Monday, January 19, 2015 in observation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday
5. District-wide Administrators Academy, Tuesday, January 27, 2015, Auditorium, Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain
6. Educational Support Professional Advisory Committee Meeting, Thursday, January 29, 2015, Auditorium, Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain

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[Watch the meeting live or in reruns on Comcast 24 or stream it live or on-demand online by clicking here.]

2015 Board Members: Stan Jester, District 1; Marshall Orson, District 2; Dr. Michael Erwin, District 3; Jim McMahan, District 4; Vickie Turner, District 5; Dr. Melvin Johnson, District 6; and Joyce Morley, District 7

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26 Responses to The first board meeting of 2015 will take place Monday, Jan. 12; New members, Stan Jester and Vickie Turner will take their seats

  1. Sandy Purkett says:

    Unsure how this works or even if it is possible. The PILOT Program will be involved in two major events beginning Tuesday Jan. 13 and we would like to share this information as shown on the two flyers attached. The FASFA Workshop is always the best anywhere, FREE and hosted by recently retired Federal Agents of OCR Federal Department of Education. The second is a flyer showcasing the Legislative Team in the PILOT Program as lobbyist and speakers for legislative issues on the Georgia State PTA Student Advocacy Day on February 5, 2015.

    These students make a tremendous sacrifice to research, contact their legislators and speak on issues of concern to them relative to Legislative Priorities. The reputation of this team is credited with students lobbying for Bills and able to see them come to fruition where they benefit from them such as “Move On When Ready”. These students were able to enroll in college after their sophomore year and have now completed their education and moved to graduate school. The success continues with these students being recipients of 12 Bill Gates Scholarships since 2005. We are proud of these students who represent what can be done with an education in DeKalb Schools and enhanced through the P.I.L.O.T. (Preparing Innovative Leaders Of Tomorrow) Program with MamaP (SandyP).

    I hope we can get this information out.

    Sandy Purkett

  2. Thank you Sandy. Please send pdf copies of your flyers to our email address : dekalbschoolwatch@gmail.com and we will post them with links on the blog.

  3. Hopefully they do not elect Melvin or anyone from that crowd as Board Chair! They also need to get rid of this all meetings in one day. It does not allow for public input. How many parents and taxpayers can attend these marathon meetings that start at 2:00 and go to 8:00 plus. How do you pick up children ? They require taking time off from work.

  4. Watching the Committee of the Whole – or the Board work session now – not sure which it is – but Stan is rockin’ it! He is asking the questions we have all wanted answered for so long – just on the subject of the 1300 page Leadership Prep charter school petition alone! And he asks people to clarify – he asks follow up questions – he doesn’t stop asking until he is given a clear answer. Fantastic!

    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/pdstv-24/

    Principal makes $138,000 – Stan asks how many people that covers
    Class size is far smaller than DCSS schools
    Rent is $12,000 a month
    Wonders is we can approve one year rather than 5?

    We are thrilled at the way Stan is super prepared and fearless! Rock on Stan!! Call us Stan Fans!

  5. Joyce Morley responds to Stan’s line of questions >> We need to trust the staff. blah blah blah blah… She just never stops rambling.

  6. To Joyce’s points >> DUH!! We all think principals should be paid well. We all think teachers should be paid well.

    Now, somehow, Thurmond decides to interject that salaries for charter schools are driven by the free market… LOL – ironic statement there Thurmond – the FREE market is right! Taxpayer paid FREE money to dole out as you see fit – why not just call your little schools the New Birth Publicly Funded Private School System?

  7. thedeal2 says:

    Joyce Morley frightens me. She is so combative.

  8. Steve Arnold says:

    Excuse the typo.

  9. If you just do a google search of the Leadership Prep charter, aka the New Birth private school turned charter you can read the parent comments. The elementary school started out fine, but they have had a lot of teacher turnover. The middle school leadership and teachers are all uppity and think just because they have a degree they can teach, not.

    Then, if you look at the stats, of course they should do better. How many other schools are their that are over 95%. Black ( looks like they have 1 token white, 2 token Hispanics and 1-2 mixed aka other students), that only have a 54% eligible for free lunch ( they made sure to just have enough to get Title one money fill out the forms, that never get audited or live with Great grandma on SSI) and have only 15 kids in a class.

    Then you figure besides the $12 k a month rent to the church of Eddie Long, they are getting a 10% Tithe for each of those Administrators and teachers with the above average pay working their. Just the principal $138k that is 13,800. Let’s guess 20 x 50k for the teachers. That is another $100k for the. Church.

  10. teacher says:

    I looked at this expensive charter school’s website. I can’t figure out what this school has done to prove it should be funded with even more money.

    The leaders devote more attention to the multi-page dress code than their one-sentence vision and their one-sentence mission. Clearly, good leaders have to dress well and differently during the week.

    Click on summer reading. They’ve provided three links. That’s it. Not one book listed.

    Click on school supplies. The school is asking for donations for anything from dry erase markers and glue to notebooks and electronic devices. What are they doing with all the extra money?

    I can’t find one thing about academics. Dekalb and SACS seem to like leaders.Perhaps if we re-name our schools, we can also get the the board to give our schools more money. Leadership High? Fun Times at Leadership High. Leaders in Action or Leaders’ Inaction. No Leader Left Behind. Elementary Leadership.

    Seriously. How has this charter school been in operation since 2010?

  11. dsw2contributor says:

    Let me get this straight: Dr. Frankie Callaway, Principal of Dekalb’s Leadership Preparatory Academy, makes $138,000 a year? If that’s true, then Dr. Callaway’s salary is $10,600 MORE than what Dekalb’s highest paid Principal (Ralph Simpson) made in 2014, according open.georgia.gov.

    [DSW Note: Frankie Callaway is a retired DCSS administrator and receives a pension. The same is true for her husband. We are fairly certain she no longer leads Leadership Prep. Her husband, also a retired DCSS administrator, was principal at Destiny Academy, another DCSS charter school near New Birth, and whose former DCSS school building is now owned by New Birth. We are uncertain if he is still employed at Destiny Academy. Maybe they finally figured out that their pensions were enough…]

    According to GADOE’s College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) websites, the Leadership Prep Academy’s Elementary School and Middle School both DECLINED from 2013 to 2014. Here are the Leadership Prep Academy’s CCRPIs for 2013 and 2014:

    Elementary School: 82.9 –> 67.2
    Middle School: 71.4 –> 68.3

    That’s a 15.7 point drop in the Elementary School’s CCRPI…. something is not right with that school!

    Three weeks ago, DSW posted an article “Good News about some Dekalb Schools!”
    https://dekalbschoolwatch.com/2014/12/23/good-news-about-some-dekalb-schools/
    That article described the dramatic improvements at MLK Jr High, Indian Creek Elementary and Pleasantdale Elementary Schools. Here are the salaries for those three Principals, per open.georgia.gov:

    Indian Creek’s Principal: $ 98,752.41
    MLK Jr High School’s Principal: $ 95,604.56
    Pleasantdale’s Principal: $ 87,760.80

    To read parent reviews of the Leadership Prep Academy, go here: https://www.redfin.com/school/163241/GA/Lithonia/Leadership-Preparatory-Academy

  12. howdy1942 says:

    Ah, another dysfunctional school board. It must be another day in Dekalb County. Is there any wonder that so many people are clamoring to get as far as possible from this system?

    I live in Tucker and I’m looking forward to becoming a city. In fact, I had lunch with some of my Lavista Hills friends and neighbors recently and we are enjoying our healing process! While Lavista Hills is planning to have its own police department and Tucker is not, we both agree that the County government is making progress in improving its communication with the community and its services. However, all of us agree that the Dekalb County School System has done little, if anything. Tonight’s meeting was just another bit of evidence that the Dekalb County School Board, administration, and system is broken beyond repair.

    While some may differ, SACS ought to just put a nail in this broken coffin. That would cause short term pain, but would force the State into addressing the elephant in Dekalb’s house – its school system. We’ve been arguing for years. This board is split 4-3 and, like this board, the community is split. This is truly a house divided. Does anyone really believe that this board is going to get together enough to even find a superintendent, let alone one that is competent and qualified? Does anyone really believe that this board will even find two or more search firms? Does anyone believe that anyone who is halfway qualified will even bother to want to work for a board such as this one? It has been very, very clear for years that the solution is to divide this school system into two or more entities along the lines of the geography represented by the 4-3 split in the school board. Surely, no one except the administrators who crave power can enjoy the price all of us are paying and, most of all, the price that our kids are paying.

    Folks, this board is an embarrassment to all of us who live in Dekalb. These people don’t care about our kids – they care about themselves!! I have some suggestions. Why don’t we take a headcount of the kids in each school. Then take all of the school tax dollars that come in from the taxpayers and divide that number by the total number of kids. Multiply that number by the number of kids in each school and allocate that number of dollars to each school. Disband the school board. Fire the administration. Sell the buses and administrator cars. And sell the palace. It couldn’t be much worse than what we have now. In fact, it might even be better. (Besides, that building that houses the palace made a much better American Fare!)

  13. Fr says:

    Who was elected Chair and Vice Chair?

  14. dsw2contributor says:

    The latest from Channel 11: “Video shows DeKalb teacher choking student”
    http://www.11alive.com/story/news/local/doraville/2015/01/13/student-choked-by-teacher/21679913/

  15. thedeal2 says:

    Chair and Vice-Chair didn’t change – Johnson and McMahan. Orson nominated Erwin for chair, and Erwin declined.

  16. FormerDekalbParent says:

    Again with the city hood will fix all that ails you…just because you break off into your own city does NOT mean you get your own school system.. You need to get this one fixed FAST if you want it to do any good……..I have NO confidence that this will ever get accomplished..so please note my name– FORMER DEKALB PARENT….made the move away and have not regretted it EVER….for the sake of my children.

  17. howdy1942 says:

    Did anyone see that article in today’s AJC about the Niche.com rankings of school districts in the metro Atlanta Area, in Georgia, and nationally? You can see it on the AJC’s web site and it is not behind the pay wall.

    Once again, Dekalb County brings up the rear. Of 57 school districts in the greater Metro area, Decatur City Schools is ranked Number 2 while Dekalb County is Number 45. Gwinnett County is 6, Cobb County Schools is 12, Fulton County 14, Rockdale County , and Atlanta Public Schools 43. While Decatur City Schools is also ranked Number 2 across Georgia, Dekalb County was not ranked within the Top 100. The areas ranked included academics, administration and policies, educational outcomes, health and safety, resources and facilities, student culture and diversity, and teachers. You can go to the AJC site and read the details – they are not pretty. Our academics are C+, Admin and Polices C+, Educational Outcomes B-, Resources and Facilities B- and, of great concern, Health and Safety is ranked D+.

    Decatur is the County Seat of Dekalb County and is geographically at the center of the County. Why is Dekalb County ranked so far below Decatur? Why is Dekalb ranked below the Atlanta Public School District? And we wonder why so many people want to leave the DCSS?

    Now let me return to the matter of the Dekalb County School Board and its superintendent. These numbers tell a real story. These numbers say that all of you ought to get your priorities in order. You are failing our kids. You are big boys and girls and you need to start acting like that. Get your priorities in order. Start with finding a superintendent with a proven background in running a school system. Stop with the lawyers and settle the Druid Hills issue as well as the issue with our teachers. Audit this school system and find out where our resources are going. Get our teachers and our kid the resources they need.

    I’ve said it so many times – our taxpayers provide the financial resources needed to have our school system ranked among the best. What is clearly lacking is management of those resources. Frankly, I think that we ought to study what Decatur is doing in its schools – it is obviously doing something right! For sure, it is better managed and perhaps that is because it is smaller and, as a result, it is more manageable. It is way, way past time to get this Dekalb County School System in order.

  18. John Oselette says:

    howdy1942

    I have come to the realization that the only way to improve the system is to break up the system. It can not be changed from within. It is too intrenched with corruption and incompetence. To the majority of the Board, the administration and the F&F they protect, it is, and will continue to be, all about jobs. They have created a perception (and for many, a reality) that the School District is an economic engine for the County. In reality it should be, but not as they have conceived it. There is a reason Mercedes and other large firms are relocating to Fulton, Gwinnett and Cobb and not DeKalb. They see DeKalb Schools as a poor choice for their employees to place their children as they relocate. They see the corrupt officials and inefficient governance as an impediment to progress. They are right.

    The upside is that this is killing the beast. Cityhood, annexation and independent school districts will kill the beast. All they have to do is keep doing what they are doing.

    Tom Taylor has pre-filed for the independent school district constitutional amendment:
    http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/display/20152016/HR/4

  19. We agree 100% John, and also must say that we are shocked the voters in your district chose to reelect Jim McMahan instead of electing you to represent them on the school board. Then again, their track record in board reps is not great. And we, ourselves, fell for Jim’s very empty promises and supported him in his first run against Paul Womack. Fool us once…

  20. Very good points Howdy. In fact, our school districts consolidated budget is $1.3 Billion – with a “B”. That equates to about $13,000 or more per student. That should be enough. But somehow, we find our teachers with overblown classes and begging parents to bring in paper towels.

  21. John Oselette says:

    Steve,

    Thanks for your comment. Although spiteful in nature, I understand where it comes from. You must be a beneficiary of the incompetence and fraud. I am not a sore loser, just a realist. I didn’t run to be popular or to get along with the boys on the Board. I ran because I wanted accountability for our tax dollars and a better school system for the children. What have you done to make the schools better for students?

    I’m not sure how you know that the information is speculation, but why don’t you enlighten me? Was DeKalb in the running? Do they have the best schools in Atlanta area? How about the graduation rates? What about the work force? How about the DeKalb County Government?

  22. @John O: No worries. The people didn’t vote for you because they aren’t paying attention. Our highly publicly paid personal PR consultant for Michael Thurmond has been able to access the mainstream media (who, by the way, usually post the school system’s press releases as ‘news’) — and they have convinced the masses that all is well and Michael Thurmond and the board have ‘saved’ DeKalb schools. Jim McMahan had the good fortune of having the letter “I” next to his name. You, however, had to spend a fortune and a lot of energy to mount a campaign in a short window. You did your best. Unfortunately, (in our opinion), the people of District 4 have not realized that Jim McMahan has done little other than collect his paycheck. We deeply regret supporting him in the past and can only say that we did so because at the time, his opponent, Paul Womack was worse. Unbelievable, we know.

  23. Good morning, John! Thank you for posting the URL [http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/display/20152016/HR/4] for the amendment to the Georgia Constitution that will move Georgia from 1946 to the 21st Century. Unlike the amendment previously put forward to allow creation of independent school systems, this one is simple, uncomplicated and straight-forward. It removes the 8-word final sentence in the current-but-outdated, 68-year-old amendment and replaces “prohibited” with “permitted” elsewhere in the old amendment.

  24. thedeal2 says:

    It’s an interesting, fine line that the entrenched bureaucracy and associated board members will be walking with the selection of their next superintendent. Pick an entrenched ringer like Morcease or some unknown loser they can steamroll, and you add more fuel to the fire for annexation and cityhood. Pick an actual good candidate, and they risk their own fiefdom’s survival because they know they are not qualified to do their jobs. It’s like a soap opera, and thousands are watching with great interest.

    John O., I agree with you on breaking things up. The only action in the past 5 years that seems to have made a significant impact on the bureaucracy is the threat of losing Druid Hills to Atlanta because that represents dollars flowing out of their pockets. They cannot stand the thought of someone taking away money, and it has riled them up like nothing else. Hopefully a combination of cityhood, Tom Taylor’s legislation, and annexation will pare down the gravy train and send the pigs to other areas in search of another trough.

  25. thedeal2 says:

    Steve, how is the district improving? Our ranking and scores continue to go down, not up. Do you even look at data, or do you just believe only what comes out of Michael Thurmond’s political mouth? Did you see the data released on which districts would have schools to qualify for a state takeover? DeKalb had the highest number of qualified schools in the STATE. Gwinnett had none.

  26. howdy1942 says:

    I had hoped that Jim McMahan would have been a greater force to bring about positive change in the DCSS. Maybe he does more behind the scenes, but my observation is that he rarely asked any questions in the school board meeting let alone penetrating questions. He is a nice guy, but I’m not sure about his influence on the school board. Based on what I have seen and heard in the Lakeside/Tucker area that he represents, his constituency is not at all pleased with the current state of the Dekalb County School System nor is it pleased with the school board.

    John O., please remember that only 10% of registered voters in District 4 actually voted. You deserved a better showing and I deeply regret that it did not materialize. And Marshal Orson was also re-elected when it is his very constituents that have taken the most aggressive action about parting ways with the DCSS. Perhaps what all of that is saying is that the residents of these districts have just given up on changing the DCSS and are now moving on to seek alternatives to the DCSS.

    By any measure, the Dekalb County School System is badly broken, yet is well-funded. Ranked 45 out of 57 school districts in the Metro Area? Not even in the top 100 State-wide? Decatur is ranked number 2 in both the Metro and Statewide. Gwinnett is ranked 6. The Atlanta Public School System is ranked 43, two notches above Dekalb. Given that Georgia is ranked at the bottom nationally, what does that say about Dekalb? And to think that 20 years ago, Dekalb was ranked the top 5% nationwide.

    I just learned another tidbit of information – did you know that 80% of college-age Cubans were enrolled in post-secondary education in 2011 (Business Week – January 12, 2015, page 13)? Yes, there are engineers driving taxicabs in Cuba and using their skills to build spare part for their 1950s era cars, but our educators and students need to stop and think about what all of that talent will have on our job markets in just a few years. This school board and its administration can just keep on focusing on its “adult” issues, but this County is already paying a terrible price for the failures in our governance and administration. Enough said.

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