The Monday, March 2, 2015 Board Meeting

The DeKalb Board of Education will hold the following meetings on Monday, March 2, 2015:

2:00pm Work Session, Committee of the Whole & Executive Session for personnel & legal matters

5:45pm Community Input Session

7:00pm Business Meeting

All will be held at the Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain, GA 30083

Meeting information can be accessed online by going to:, click on Leadership, go to eBoard Home Page and click on the date for the meeting agenda\information.



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 **Title 50 Waiver Have a look at the actual request HERE.
Presented by: Dr. Michael J. Bell, Chief Financial Officer, Division of Finance

**Here is a chart of DeKalb’s classroom spending (2013-2015 budgeted)
Percent-Classroom-SpendingDSW NOTE: As you can see, we haven’t even increased classroom spending by 1% in the two years Thurmond has been at the helm. The law requires increasing by 2% each year until you reach the goal of 65%. We aren’t even doing that. And here they are asking for a waiver in hindsight–long after having not spent the budget as required by law.

4. Approval of Monthly Human Resources Report
Presented by: Dr. Tekshia M. Ward-Smith, Chief Human Resources Officer, Division of Human Resources
5. Catalog Discount for Hand Tools & Supplies & Equipment Related to Career Technical and Agricultural Education, Bid #15-134
Presented by: Dr. Delmas L. Watkins, Director, Career, Technical and Agricultural Education, Division of Curriculum & Instruction
6. Catalog Discount for Audio Visual Equipment, Supplies and Accessories, Bid #15-131
Presented by: Dr. Delmas L. Watkins, Director, Career, Technical and Agricultural Education, Division of Curriculum & Instruction
7. Approval of 2nd Conversion Charter Amendment for Chamblee Charter High School
Presented by: Dr. Jose’ G. Boza, Jr., Director, Leadership Development & Charter Schools, Division of School Leadership & Operational Support
8. Approval of Petition for Voluntary Termination of Gateway to College Academy Charter Contract
Presented by: Dr. Jose’ G. Boza, Jr., Director, Leadership Development & Charter Schools, Division of School Leadership & Operational Support
9. Purchase of Title I Summer Reading Resources from Scholastic, Inc.
Presented by: Dr. Morcease J. Beasley, Executive Director for Curriculum & Instruction, Professional Learning and the Office of Federal Programs, Division of Curriculum & Instruction
10. Approval of the DeKalb County School District School Nutrition Three-Year Meal Price Plan
Presented by: Mr. Joshua L. Williams, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations
11. RFP No. 14-460 Global Positioning System (GPS)/Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) and Driver Time and Attendance Software System Contract Extension Approval
Presented by: Mr. Joshua L. Williams, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations
12. Sam Moss Fleet Service Center Paving Project Award Approval
Presented by: Mr. Joshua L. Williams, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations
13. Attendance Area Alterations for Peachcrest Elementary School
Presented by: Mr. Joshua L. Williams, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations
14. Approval of the Submittal of the Revised FY2015 Capital Outlay Application to the Georgia
Department of Education for the Henderson Middle School Project (#15-644-001)
Presented by: Mr. Joshua L. Williams, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations
15. E-SPLOST IV Project: Clifton/Gresham Park Elementary School Construction Contract Award
Presented by: Mr. Joshua L. Williams, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations

D. OTHER\BOARD COMMENTS (2 minutes each)


1. Student Advisory Committee Meeting, 9:00am, Tuesday, March 4, 2015, Auditorium, Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain
2. Teacher Advisory Committee Meeting, 2:00pm, Thursday, March 12, 2015, Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain
3. SPLOST Oversight Committee Meeting, 6:00pm, Thursday, March 12, 2015, Conference Room, Sam A. Moss Service Center, 1780 Montreal Road, Tucker
4. School Board Member Appreciation Week, Monday, March 16 – Friday, March 20, 2015
5. District-Wide Administrators Academy, 8:30am, Tuesday, March 24, 2015, Auditorium, Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain
6. DeKalb Board of Education Work Session (2pm) Cabinet Room, Community Input Session (5:45pm) & Business Meeting (7pm), Wednesday, April 1, 2015, J. David Williamson Board Room, Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain

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29 Responses to The Monday, March 2, 2015 Board Meeting

  1. Has our District 1 board member received his county email, keycard and paycheck yet? I don’t see that on the agenda.

  2. Concerned Dekalb Mom says:

    I certainly hope that the county’s request for the Title 50 waiver is denied…but it begs the question, what actually happens if it is indeed denied?

  3. howdy1942 says:

    @Concerned Dekalb Mom – Let’s all write to Ms. Dunn and ask that this Title 50 waiver be denied. There is absolutely no reason why Dekalb County cannot spend 65% of its funds for the classroom. The economy has recovered – the DCSS has not and it will not under the present management and governance. Dekalb County has provided and is providing the financial resources to have a first-class school system. For too long, too much of the financial resources provided to the Dekalb County School System has been wasted on excess administration, lawyers, and bloated staffing outside of the classroom. The State should not subsidize this waste.

  4. dsw2contributor says:

    Why is it taking so long to announce tomorrow’s (Wed) closing? APS, Cobb, Coweta, Fulton, Marietta, etc., have already announced they’re closed…. state offices are closing at noon, federal offices are closed all day — anyone know why DCSS hasn’t also announced?

  5. dsw2contributor says:

    A clarification to howdy’s post: “There is absolutely no reason why Dekalb County cannot spend 65% of its OPERATING funds for the classroom.”

    Remember, the “capital” funds (including SPLOST) are not part of that 65% requirement.

  6. dekalbteacher says:

    Does anyone know what constitutes “funds for the classroom”?

    Do substitutes’ salaries count toward this?

    We have a dearth of subs in the school district. Many of us teachers are saving the school district money by covering the classes with absent teachers and no subs. Even if every teacher covering a class submitted the necessary paperwork to receive compensation, the daily rate the school district would pay a sub is higher than the individual rate per teacher. Most teachers don’t submit this paperwork anyway. Not sure how Thurmond calculated this budget item in the “financial hardship.”

    If the district used its many out of school leaders/directors/instructional supervisors/coaches as actual teachers who work with students in a substitute capacity, then wouldn’t some of this money be considered “funds for the classroom”?

    Do administrative assistants and secretaries or parent centers in a school building count towards this 65%?

    Some schools have taken on additional administrative positions that appear to have no direct or even indirect impact on the classroom. Does an employee’s job base in a school building contribute to “funds for the classroom?”. If this is the case, I’m guessing this 62% is inflated.

    How does the state determine responsible approaches to financial hardships?

    Thurmond hired a highly compensated communications director, Quinn Hudson, despite the acknowledged financial hardships.Thurmond requested funds for monthly legal consultations and accepted a generous monthly spending allowance despite the AJC’s revealing astronomical legal spending in the school district only a few months into his leadership. Some of you may remember that the superintendent of Decatur City Schools refused her pay increase when her school district was suffering from financial difficulties. I believe Thurmond also stated numerous times and on the record that he didn’t see any unnecessary administrative positions at the central office. I believe we’ve lost a significant number of teachers to retirement and better school districts. So if the state were to compare years-as Thurmond does when providing the 1% increase-would we find that even less money being devoted to classrooms when we have fewer teachers working with students?

    How do RTT funds impact this spending?

    Haven’t the previously named instructional coaches now working as academic data coaches been paid with RTT funds? Can the district cite these employees in direct classroom spending when the funds come from other sources?

  7. dekalbteacher says:

    Does anyone know anything about the Gateway to College Academy?

    According to the posted documents supporting the early termination of this charter school, ” the school has failed to meet its academic performance goals, and has not been able to meet and exceed District and State test scores [for the entire charter term].”

    I believe Thurmond proposed that Dekalb become a charter district. Scary prospect if this charter school is any indication of how he and his numerous leaders help the many at-risk students in our school district who need more than a facade of learning cloaked in misapplied “rigor” and “differentiated instruction.”

  8. Terrific questions teacher. We have some research on the significant drop in spending on subs. We are adding it with other data and will be posting more info for everyone to share as soon as we can get it completed.

  9. Peace says:

    If you visit the DCSS website they have scheduled a job fair to hire substitutes. They also have a number of openings for special ed positions on their job website. Wonder why?

  10. teachermom says:

    There are a bunch of immediate hire teacher jobs on PATS.

  11. FormerDekalbTeacher says:

    The reason they are not spending as much on subs is that teachers are covering the classes as subs can only work 16 days a month. Plus a sub is only paid $80 a day compaired to much higher rates in APS and city of Decatur

  12. dekalbteacher says:

    Because of all the sub problems, Dekalb announced last November or December that subs could work as much as they wanted. Guess policies really can be changed.

    I’d say that pay is only one issue. Working conditions are also important. How manageable are the students? How clear are the expectations? What are the subs being asked to do?

  13. Tim McGaughey says:

    The DeKalb School Board and State authorities should require the Superintendent to demonstrate a clear path to reaching the required 65% figure. The one-page request for a waiver is completely inadequate because it does not show how the shortfall results from some outside hardship, as opposed to internal mismanagement.

  14. Stan Jester says:

    Approval of Title 50 Waiver – for FY2014
    Classrooms First for Georgia” – Requires, at a minimum, 65% of a system’s total operating funds to be spent in the classroom.

    Direct Instruction Expenditures / Operating Expenditures

    Direct classroom expenditures” means all expenditures by a local school system during a fiscal year for activities directly associated with the interaction between teachers and students, including, but not limited to, salaries and benefits for teachers and paraprofessionals; costs for instructional materials and supplies; costs associated with classroom related activities, such as field trips, physical education, music, and arts; and tuition paid to out-of-state school districts and private institutions for special needs students. This term shall not include costs for administration, plant operations and maintenance, food services, transportation, instructional support including media centers, teacher training, and student support such as nurses and school counselors.

    Total operating expenditures” means all operating expenditures by a local school system during a fiscal year, including expenditures from federal, state, and local funds and from any other funds received by a local school system, such as student activity fees. This term shall not include capital outlay expenditures, debt or bond payments, interest on debt or bonds, facility leases, or rental payments. This term shall also not include any costs which are incurred by a local school system to comply with any mandate by statute or by the Georgia Department of Education effective on or after January 1, 2006, to add specific nonclassroom staff positions.

    The State Board of Education shall have the authority to impose sanctions against a local school system that fails to comply with the provisions of this Code section or any rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to subsection (e) of this Code section. Such sanctions shall be at the discretion of the board and may include, but not be limited to, requiring the local school system to devise and implement a plan to meet the expenditure requirements of this Code section in the subsequent fiscal year or withholding all or any portion of state funds in accordance with Code Section 20-2-243.

  15. dekalbteacher says:

    Stan or anyone else,

    Would the 107 instructional specialists, the 470 P-8 instructional specialists, and the 31 instructional supervisors that the district paid last year (2014) count as “instructional support” that doesn’t count towards “direct classroom expenditures”?

    If I’m reading the description of direct classroom expenditures correctly, all Thurmond had to do was assign more certified educators to the classroom. Seems pretty simple to me, especially since we employ so many certified educators in this district. I don’t have access to the “research-based” decision driving the need to direct more funds away from the classroom, so I’m going to assume (and hope) everyone starts asking the superintendent and the Dekalb board as well as the State board to find out Thurmond’s rationale and the data supporting the benefits of spending more money out of the classroom while teachers and students work with less: less access to individualized help, less time to do things with more time devoted to working with more students.

    I’m also curious to know if any of the people in the central office suggesting these staffing needs and expenditures are any of the people who want to be the next superintendent or are any of the people supporting an internal candidate. Doesn’t inspire hope or confidence.

  16. Murphey says:

    @Stan, thank you so much for providing the definition of direct classroom expenditure.

    When the FY2016 DCSD budget is presented, I hope other BOE members will join you in asking the Administration to state the % direct classroom expenditure that their proposed budget represents. It seems to me that this statement, which is basically stating whether the Administration intends to spend 65% of their total operating expenditures on the classroom, or not, should be included in any budget presentation.

  17. News Release
    26 February 2015

    SACS Notes ‘Significant Progress’ but District is at a “crossroads”

    The DeKalb County School District’s accreditation status has been ungraded [sic] from “Accredited Warned” to “Accredited on Advisement,” one notch from unconditional accreditation.

    “The Board of Education, principals, teachers, and staff working with parents and community leaders have made great strides in meeting the needs of our students,” said Michael Thurmond, superintendent of the DeKalb County School District. “SACS recognizes the progress we are making toward stabilizing the District in a manner that allows us to refocus our efforts on academic achievement.”

    The decision to elevate the District’s accreditation status was based on a three-day visit in December 2014. The SACS report recognized the “concerted effort and focused work of the Board, Superintendent Thurmond, system staff and personnel at all levels to stabilize the system and create a culture of trust and transparency.”

    SACS also acknowledged the District’s considerable fiscal progress, noting a budget surplus of $31 million for Fiscal Year 2014 and for operating in a “financially responsible and transparent manner.” In addition, the District “has developed and systematically implemented a comprehensive technology plan,” according to the report. The launch of the Infinite Campus student information system was described as a success.

    The report concluded with an observation that the District is at a “crossroads” and faces two “major transitions” — the search for a new superintendent and transition to a seven member Board. The report challenges the Board to “leverage the progress” that has been made in the past two years to resolve these challenges.

    SACS directed the District to address 14 required actions in order to approve its accreditation status. Eleven action items have been completed.

    The most significant remaining action item requires the Board of Education to revise Policy BAB to “eliminate all references to Board members meeting with, and requesting information from Senior Staff” without prior notification and approval by the Superintendent. The report documents that the Board is undergoing a “culture shift”; however, there is no written policy that specifically prohibits Board members from “circumventing the Superintendent” in the daily operations of the District.

    “The Board is committed to creating an environment that ensures trust and transparency between the District and its stakeholders,” said Melvin Johnson, chairman of the DeKalb Board of Education. “We will resolve these remaining issues in order to restore full and unconditional accreditation to our District.”

    Quinn Hudson

    NOTE: The original newsletter said “ungraded” instead of “upgraded. ” Last night the district also had to send a revised announcement – posted on the Facebook page – because the original announcement had the wrong date.

    Quinn Hudson goes back a long way with Michael Thurmond as he served as Thurmond’s political campaign manager in the past. We believe his main true job is to keep Michael Thurmond’s personal and political reputation intact. We looked up Hudson’s earnings last year: more than $97,000. According to the organizational chart, four communications people report to him. And he can’t get these messages right? We believe he has an assistant, too. Thurmond’s ” hardships” have more to do with his higher level employees than finances.

  18. IMPORTANT NOTE OF IRONY: That email quoting SACS pride in DeKalb’s fiscal progress comes right along with the DeKalb schools’ announcement that they need a ‘hardship’ waiver going back to July 2013 to spend UNDER the legally required 65% on direct classroom expenditures (after the fact!). Now, that’s one way to ‘create’ a $31 million budget surplus!

    [In reality, 65% of the approx $800 million operating budget is $520 million. Reducing that to 62% is only $496 million – a savings of $24 million! — Just one part of Thurmond’s DEEP cuts to spending in the classroom in order to reign in the budget. Add to that, approx $30 million NOT paid into teachers retirement funds each year since cut by Lewis and Tyson in 2009 [even though it was promised in the 1970s in lieu of Social Security] as well as the nearly $50 million increase in local property tax collections due to increased property values and you have a approximate net ‘surplus’ right there of OVER $100 million – begging the question, Thurmond is showing a $30 million surplus – but in reality, where exactly is other $70+ million that should be showing up as surplus in the budget?]

    Those deep cuts to the classroom were all Michael Thurmond’s doing – happening while he was serving as superintendent. He can’t blame it on anyone else. Michael Thurmond is simply playing a shell game with the budget.

  19. In addition – this whole situation also begs the question — do we really want an accrediting agency that pats a superintendent on the back for cutting spending to the classroom as required by law?!!

  20. Thurmond’s March 2, 2015 letter to Ms. Dunn at the state, asking for a waiver on classroom spending says the following [with our comments in italics],

    “The DeKalb County School District experienced a financial hardship [wah!] that impacted our ability to meet all of the necessary requirements in providing a quality education for our students. The economic hardship [wah!] experienced by the district is a result of a substantial decline in state and local revenues [and our inability to make appropriate, corresponding cuts in spending].

    The DeKalb County School District is not in compliance with SBOE Rule 160-5.29(2)(a) that requires a minimum of 65% of total operating expenses be spent on direct classroom instruction. Our percentage has increased to 62% from 61% for FY2013. Because of financial hardships [wah!], the DeKalb County School District continues to minimize expenses during our financial rebuilding period. During this rebuilding period, we will continue to investigate other areas in order to maximize available funding [which has increased substantially because we did not roll back the 2012 millage increase to property taxes when property values returned to their previous high values].

    In view of these hardships [wah!], the DeKalb County Board of Education is requesting approval from the State Board of Education [in hindsight!] of a hardship waiver [wah!] of the following SBOE rule:

    160-5.29(2)(a) – Beginning with fiscal year 2008, and for every fiscal year thereafter, local school systems are required to either spend a minimum of 65 percent of their total operating expenditures on direct classroom expenditures, or increase their direct classroom expenditures as a percent of total operating expenditures by two or more percentage points over the previous fiscal year.

    Because of our financial hardships [wah!], the DeKalb County School District hereby requests a hardship waiver [wah!] of SBOE Rule 160-5-1.29(2)(a) (Minimum Direct Classroom Expenditures) by the Georgia State Board of Education for a period of one year beginning July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014.” [Because oops! I am not a trained school superintendent and I didn’t know any of these rules, so I just made all kinds of cuts willy nilly in order to make it look like our budget was recovering.]

  21. Read more about the ‘budget surplus’ here >>

    Open Letter regarding FY 15 budget
    Posted on February 25, 2014

    Something does not compute
    Posted on June 26, 2014

    DeKalb School District Boosts Budget Surplus to $30.9 Million: Truth be Told
    Posted on September 13, 2014

  22. teachermom says:

    Why be accountable when you can just ask for waivers or pay enormous fines with taxpayer’s money instead? This district is a perfect example of the tail wagging the dog. Those in power just take what they want from the teachers and students, and it is always our money. It is sad but not surprising that SACS is turning a blind eye. They are just as much to blame for this fiasco as Thurmond and the Central Office.

  23. Word Wall says:

    These are not “waivers” as much as an admission of criminal guilt & a violation of State and Federal law. Crawford Lewis and Pat Pope were prosecuted for racketeering, running the system as a criminal enterprise — isn’t this the same behavior? The law says 65% goes to the classroom – PERIOD. By “diverting” 2% to central office, the law was broken. 2% of the one billion dollar budget is in the $30 million range. So $30 million – required by law – enriched mysterious main office staff, lawyers and consultants — in violation of law! Do the Math! IF Dekalb county had given each teacher a $5000 RAISE – then they WOULD NOT be in violation! But the 6000 classroom teachers were DENIED $5000 dollars each (in step raises, waivers, furloughs, cancelled annuities and Social Security payments) — and now the system will requests “waivers” for non compliance…. Clearly this is criminal diversion of funds — $30 million tax money was diverted from “direct classroom expenditures” to the central office.

  24. @Word Wall: Thank you! We agree. Also, the amount of $40 million has been bandied about — first lost, then found. Or was it the other way around? DeKalb County Schools finances and funding is a confusing shell game. We wonder if $40 million of SPLOST funding was illegally diverted so that the state believed DCS was spending 65% of its budget in the classroom.

  25. thedeal2 says:

    Funny how we are in dire financial straits when trying to justify a violation, but we are in amazing financial shape when bragging about our progress to the press.

  26. We need to document where any of this funding — the required 65% of the DCS budget for the classroom — is required by federal law and/or is actually federal funding. For example, are federal funds (i.e., Title I or funding for disabled students or even funding for JROTC) part of the required 65%? Or do federal funds supplement, not supplant, the required 65% Word Wall, can you or anyone else help us with this? We are not trying to question or disprove what you said. We agree with you! However, there is no point in bringing up criminal activity regarding DCS’ usage of state or county funds. We already know that will not be prosecuted.

    Read more on the 65% requirement and DeKalb’s (non)compliance here >>

    Does 100% of INSTRUCTIONAL and EMPLOYEE BENEFITS from the Monthly Financial Report go into the Direct Instruction Expenditures sum?
    No not 100%, but only those components that relate to “direct classroom expenditures” or “direct instructional expenditures” as defined by the State.

    What other Monthly Financial Report budget categories makeup the Direct Instruction Expenditures sum?
    Using this cost classification – under the Accounts Included for 65% Reporting issued by the State – the other areas that would be included (in the numerator) would be:

    Charter Schools
    Capital Outlay (mostly)
    Employee Benefits (mostly)

    READ THE LAW on the 65% spending here >>

  27. don’t forget when Roy Barnes was Gov. we were at 17 students in K, with aides, aides in First Grades. 22 kids in 1-3, and less than 27 kids in 5 the. We did not have these ridiculous 36-40 student classes. But Purdue and his campaign lied and said Barnes was going to take away their pensions, when he mentioned tenure, Now look at how much worse Teachers are under Republicans huge classrooms, horrible insurance, no raises, loss or raises. Dekalb is the worse, with the theiving Friends and Family, corrupt members of the House of the Perve Eddie Long.

  28. Roy Barnes initiated the QBE spending formula and pushed for higher spending in the classroom. But it was Sonny Perdue who actually passed the requirement for 65% classroom spending. The State School Supt at the time, Linda Schrenko disagreed saying we would have to build more schools and it would cause a teacher shortage (then she promptly spent state funds on her facelift). There was a big opposition led by Supt. Wilbanks of Gwinnett to Sonny Perdue’s election. In reality, teachers only have themselves to thank for voting out Barnes and voting in the Republican leadership.

    A slap on the wrist
    By Tom Crawford | Published: May 15, 2006

    When Roy Barnes was upset by Sonny Perdue in the last governor’s race, the opposition of teachers and educators played a major role in the Democratic incumbent’s defeat.

    Teachers especially were angry at Barnes over his massive education reform bill, which eliminated some job protections for teachers, and by remarks in which Barnes blamed the state’s educational shortcomings on “bad teachers.”

    On election day 2002, the politically active bloc of teachers got their revenge by voting against Barnes, in the process helping put the first Republican in more than 130 years into the governor’s office.

    Four years later, Barnes is gone but teachers and administrators still have some reservations about Perdue, who is using education as a primary issue in his effort to win a second term in office.

    That dissatisfaction has surfaced dramatically in recent weeks as Gwinnett County School Supt. Alvin Wilbanks publicly accused Perdue and the Republican-led legislature of using education as a “political football” to win votes.

    Shortly after Wilbanks made those incendiary remarks, a group of 21 local school superintendents signed a letter supporting Wilbanks’ statements and reinforcing the message that they were not happy with some of school legislation adopted by the General Assembly.

    Local school officials are distressed by heavy cuts in state funding for education during the Perdue administration (which cumulatively totals more than $1.2 billion), a new law that mandates local systems allocate at least 65 percent of their yearly budgets on what the state defines as classroom expenditures, and related laws like the one that tries to crack down on school clubs aimed at gay students.

    Read more on the history of education reform in Georgia, including Roy Barnes’ introduction of the Quality Basic Education Act here >>

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