Updates from the Monday, June 1 Board Meeting

The Monday, June 1 Board meeting was held and a few items of interest are listed below.

Of course our main news item is the hiring of Dr. Stephen Green as our new superintendent. Below are links to his resume and contract. You can read his bio at Stan Jester’s post on the Fact Checker blog.

StephenGreenResume05292015

StephenGreenContract05292015

Employment Contract Overview

  • Salary – $300K/year
  • Length – 3 years (Pursuant to § 20-2-101)
  • Expenses – $2,600/month
  • Car allowance – $750/month
  • Supplemental retirement plan in addition to TRS
  • Retention bonus – $15K/year

For more on the subject of Dr. Green’s generous pay, read our post, Superintendent Green’s Contract: Giving Away The Farm?

Dr. Green has a lot of work to do and a lot of house cleaning in order to win the support of most of us in the community. We are withholding enthusiasm for now. We hope to have news of bold initiatives and personnel replacements. Time will tell if Dr. Green really has what it takes or if he will simply try to convince us that he can work with the current administration to make miraculous change as he collects a lovely salary and monthly stipend. In fact, we would question the character of a person who would accept an additional retirement package, when hired to lead teachers who have had theirs taken away. We will be watching to see if Dr. Green makes the teachers pay [proposed raises], annuities, benefits, and workload [class size and professional support] a first order of business.   DeKalb continues to rank at or near the bottom in student achievement and hiring and retaining the best teachers is the only way to improve student outcomes.

Dr. Green does sound enthusiastic in his first video interview for PDS24.

Additionally, the 2nd Public Budget Hearing, Community Input Session & 1st Public Millage Rate Hearing was held at 5:45. The DeKalb School Board is about to vote to keep your property tax millage rate at the very high [temporary] rate set by the previous board when property values declined during the recession. Read our post on the subject below. We strongly urge you to attend these millage rate hearings and voice your concern. Your ‘rate’ may remain the same, but your property value will definitely increase when set by the county tax assessor. This is very hard to contest once set.

Yes, your property taxes are in fact increasing, as values increase and the Board refuses to lower the millage rate accordingly. Can you say, “Windfall”?

News has been swirling that the school formerly known as DSA, Open Campus and Briarcliff High School is now on the docket to be rebuilt in order to house the burgeoning student growth in the Cross Keys cluster. Read Mr. Thurmond’s plan here:

Over Capacity in the Cross Keys Cluster_619548chejyz22amkkvu552432rgf1

Below is a link to the school district’s proposed very healthy, $875 million FY2016 budget, due to the increased property tax rate as well as a substantial increase in FTE credits from the state.

fy-2016-proposed-budget

fy-2016-proposed-budget-detail

QBE Budget Analysis FY 2008-2016_619553chejyz22amkkvu552432rgf1

Further, Mr. Thurmond, after nearly three years at the helm, finally ‘discovered’ that DeKalb has no curriculum! Better late than never. He has committed $500,000 to develop one. Of course, he thinks this is possible using the very same people who have happily ‘led’ the system sans curriculum for over 15 years. Bear in mind, Michael Thurmond allocated over $72.5 million* to his “Bridge Initiative” which has no measurable goals and from what we can tell, is essentially a tv show.  [Look up cognitive dissonance theory.]

And if you’re wondering what is going on with the deadline to choose which kind of school district DeKalb will select, read this post: DeKalb Charter System Update, at the Fact Checker blog.

ANNOUNCEMENTS
1. DeKalb Board of Education 2nd Millage Rate Hearing, 11:30am, Wednesday, June 17, 2015 and 3rd Millage Rate Hearing & Called Meeting, 6:15pm, Wednesday, June 17, 2015, J. David Williamson Board Room, Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain
2. SPLOST Oversight Committee Meeting, 6:00pm, Thursday, June 25, 2015, Conference Room, Same A. Moss Service Center, 1780 Montreal Road, Tucker
3. DeKalb Board of Education Work Session (2:00pm), Community Input Session (5:45pm) and Business Meeting (7:00pm), Monday, July 13, 2015, J. David Williamson Board Room, Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain

For more information on meetings, click here.

 

+++

* We originally reported this number as $3 million, but that is only the ‘unbudgeted’ amount of the Bridge Initiative. The true budget for the program was $72.5 million — virtually the ENTIRE Ttitle 1 budget for ALL schools — proposed by Michael Thurmond and rubber-stamped approved by the DeKalb Board of Education!!

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This entry was posted in Board of Education Meetings, Budget Cuts, Charter School Amendment, DeKalb County [GA] Board of Education, GA Legislature / Laws / O.C.G.A., Michael Thurmond, Stan Jester, Superintendent R. Stephen Green, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Updates from the Monday, June 1 Board Meeting

  1. FWIW, we very much agree with Don McChesney’s post on the hiring of Stephen Green.

    STEPHEN GREEN. A GOOD HIRE FOR DEKALB COUNTY SCHOOLS?
    http://www.donfordekalb.com/2015/06/05/410/

  2. Stan Jester has posted a video clip of Michael Thurmond’s superintendent report at The Fact Checker blog.

    http://factchecker.stanjester.com/board-meetings/2015-2/06012015-workbusiness/06012015-superintendent-report/

  3. Not so casual observer says:

    Thurmond makes a point to say the surplus is NOT from increased tax revenue, but from increased QBE revenue. That is completely false. The increase in QBE revenue was only $12 million over two years ago. How can you spend more money and put $40 million in reserves with only $12 million increase.

    Beasley was an ass, as usual. His presentation was the curriculum one. This is the same guy who refuted a respected teacher’s statement that teachers had no curriculum to use. The same guy who bragged about all the resources available to the teachers. The same guy who boasted about the curriculum he developed. The report to AdvancED from May 2013 talks about the curriculum aligned to the Common Core Standards: “and new curriculum that addresses the Common Core Anchor and Literacy Standards in all content areas including Science, Social Studies, World Language, Fine Arts, Health, and Physical Education.”

    You know the Common Core Standards only exist for math and language arts.

  4. teachermom says:

    In elementary schools we were given a math workbook aligned to common core as supplementary material. The rest of the curriculum was pieced together from instructional units put together by the county and some frameworks from the DOE. It was so hit or miss. For example students were expected to be able to create data from charts before they learned addition or subtraction. Copy machines burned through thousands of sheets of paper per day as teachers virtually created their own textbooks from online resources such as teachers pay teachers. Teachers were encouraged to have students study their notebooks, which by the way , was really the only thing they had to refer to when studying for tests or even reviewing for the milestone. One teacher told me that basically she felt the students were making their own textbooks. I don’t know how parents could help students with homework without a text to refer to.

    For language arts we were give practice books from Storytown but told not to use the texts or readers that came with that curriculum. Even though it was the only resource we had for teaching
    grammar we were told it “isn’t rigorous enough.” No other curriculum was given to us except the units. No textbooks given for ELA. Again we had to make our own from the internet and copy machine, which was constantly breaking but that is another issue. I felt like we were in a third world country sometimes.

    We actually did have a science and social studies textbook aligned to Georgia Performance Standards.

    Finding a surplus is easy when you don’t have to buy curriculum or textbooks.

  5. kirklunde says:

    Dear DeKalb School Watch,

    You misspoke when you said the Bridge Initiative was $3 million. The original proposal was for over $70 million.

    I did an open records request for the any and all spending for the Bridge Initiative and the response was essentially, “we didn’t track that.”

  6. Thanks Kirk. We got the $3 million number from Michael Thurmond’s original proposal presented to the board dated 09-09-2013. But you are right – we only quoted the unbudgeted number of $3.3 million. The total budget was $74.5 million!!! And he had the nerve to make a very puffy announcement that he was allocated a lousy half-million to create a freeeaking curriculum!! [Sorry, hair is on fire…] We will fix the number in the post. Shocking!! But not really, as it is yet another way to control ALL of the Title 1 and RT3 (read that; Morcease Beasley) funds allocated to schools in DeKalb. Who is in charge exactly? With Dr. Lewis, it turned out to be a very nice fiefdom for his lover, Ms. Berry.

    https://dekalbschoolwatch.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/the-bridge-initiative-09-09-2013.pdf

  7. It is a no brainier to privatize the Pre-K program. Why take up public elementary class room space with it, when your schools are full. Cobb and Fulton County for ever have Privatized the Pre-K and not provided it in their Public School. So guess what has happened, the Private sector has provided the State funded Pre-K in the area’s that people use it. In the area’s that people demand higher quality or want 1/2 day programs Private Programs have also popped up.

  8. We could not agree more, another comment! We have said for a VERY long time, to let the lottery-funded pre-k programs be run by private initiatives or at least use vacant public school buildings for ‘Pre-K Academies”… Pre-K students DO NOT COUNT as FTE credits, therefore, they should not be utilizing space in regular buildings and causing over-crowding in the classrooms, libraries and cafeterias. Separate the Pre-K.

    Also, separate the SPLOST budget and all the employees paid with SPLOST funds. Use a private accounting firm to manage the funds, pay the bills and maintain the record-keeping. In addition, use an outside payroll company like PayChex or First Data to handle ALL payroll, including SPLOST-related employees, thereby reducing the need for such a large HR department. Also, when SPLOST dries up and goes away, these employees should also go, or they can apply for other relevant, open jobs in the school district.

  9. There are class C apartment complexes that could be bought and demolished in Brookhaven or along Buford Hwy. that would be perfect for a new school site. They will accomplish several things. First be an impetus for urban renewal. Second, centrally located to the area of need. Third, their demolition will reduce the number of students. (When Sandy springs approved the demolition of two aged class C apartment complexes to build the Gateway mixed use Project on Roswell Rd. at Wieca Rd., Fulton County Schools estimated that 1,000 students alone were enrolled in the elementary, middle and high school for those two apartments that had less than 300 units. The new Mixed use complex is a Higher density with over 500 units but mostly 1 br. And a few 2 bedrooms with luxury price points, so they only expect a few students if any.

  10. Everyone needs to be greatful that the well connected Devolopers plan to purchase the Briarcliff High school fell through by the grace of God and that great Location is still available.

    I worked down the road for many years, it was a major cause for concern for people of the surrounding community when for years the location was used as the Alternative High school. It soured so many, when the first of the series of Black Superintendent’s thought that was a wise idea to ship the mostly Southend residents up to Briarcliff. As, you went to lunch everyday or ran an errand you had this out of place crowd hanging out in the front of the school or near the Marta stop. It was no wonder the neighbors were willing to sell what had been the fabric of the area to the developer, to get rid of the undisciplined element.

    It was an example of how you could drive by the Dekalb schools and see them decline over 25 years from the top to worst, by mismanagement or lack of management.

  11. September says:

    I wonder if our board members realize that Parents do not pay for PreK even at daycare centers. The only advantage is that at DeKalb schools the children can ride the school bus. Parents still have to pay for after school care if they want it. PreK academies would be the way to go. PreK classes in our elementary schools often take an inside classroom from another class.

  12. @ September many private day cares with the lottery funded Pre-K provide buses for students. Low income folks can also receive subsides to the before and after school programs at many of these Private schools. I often wondered in Cobb County, why anyone would pay to send their children to one of these private daycares for after school when the ASP program was only $5 per day then later $7 per day per student. It was excellent at the elementary school my child attended at the time with many of the bright energetic young teachers doing double duty as the ASP teachers ( helping with all the homework it was a lifesaver when I worked). I would see these vans pick up kids and shuttle them off to Concord Rd or South Cobb Rd. places that just didn’t appear as high quality learning centers. Then one day someone told me, they get childcare subsides from the State or DCFS all things that many of us have no clue about. ( To me dropping down from over $200 per week at a high quality daycare over 15 years ago to $25-35 wk., then having the bright 22-24 year old first and second year teachers trying to earn extra money to pay off those UGA Education school loans was wonderful. My oldest had top tier school grads. Back when Roy Barnes was Governor).

    Another advantage of the private Pre-k is that they are more nimble with facility needs. They can build closer to where the need is. They can build where the demographics indicate a need based on a business model. If an apartment complex switches from being a mostly young professional crowd to a more modest income young family complex with many children then they can get a school up and running in a matter of months instead of years. For example, if a couple of new mixed use complexes are built “near Lenox” then the 15 to 20 year old apartment becomes obsolete to the young professional crowd. That investor owner then is faced with declining occupancy so they become section 8 or loosen requirements for renters, the whole complex turns rapidly. Or just changing the name to a Hispanic friendly name changes the occupants. The same thing with the announcement that a new employer is going to open a call center or a warehouse in a office park could create a need for a school.

    A private Pre-k allows much more flexibility for parents. It allows parents to put their children in centers convient to them, not restricted to zoning. So if they work at Perimeter they could have more Pre-k’s there or their could be more by their apartment complex in walking distance. Only 20 children or less are needed for a Private Pre-k to be profitable. So much more flexibility for all.

  13. howdy1942 says:

    @DSW – perhaps I should post this on “Giving Away the Farm”, but I think these comments also fit here.

    Do we have any expectations of Dr. Green? Is there anything measurable that we expect him to achieve? Within what time frames? For example, is it reasonable to expect him to restore full accreditation of the DCSS by June 30, 2017? Is it reasonable to expect him to improve test scores by 10% by the end of the school year 2016-2017? Is it reasonable to expect him to insure that all teachers are hired by the DCSS and none through outside firms by the beginning of school year 2016-2017? Is it reasonable to expect him to reduce class size by 10% within two years? Do we have any performance measures in this contract?

    I don’t like just giving him $15,000 more per year if he just sticks around. I also don’t like just giving him an expense account (tax-exempt) for which he is not accountable. That controversy in Kansas City about his frequenting those high-end restaurants while leading an impoverished school district doesn’t speak very well of him. With the free-lunch rate in Dekalb County approaching 70%, our school board should insure that his extravagance doesn’t happen here. If SACS doesn’t like that -tough!! It is just wrong to expect our taxpayers to fund a bloated bureaucracy and this kind of extravagant behavior. It seems to me like this contract is awfully one-sided. What happens if he leaves? What happens if he doesn’t perform? Do we owe him anything? Or do we just not pay him the $15,000?

    This contract is, in my view, grossly overgenerous, especially when the DCSS has taken so much away from our teachers. We either cannot or will not find a way to even discuss that topic in a board meeting that even hints at possibility of restoring the TSA contributions for our teachers – and then we give this guy this kind of contract? Are you kidding? MJ won’t even put the topic of restoring TSA contributions on the agenda and his lawyer won’t let it be discussed otherwise! Given that my taxes are going up by 13.4%, it seems to me like the school board could take that deluge of additional money and restore the TSA contributions in full and not waste it as has been done in the past on trips for administrators, payments to “hiring firms”, lawyers, increasing an already bloated administration, etc.

  14. Concerned citizen and teacher says:

    I am a retired DeKalb teacher. I used Storytown for a reading series in elementary school. It was a wonderful series and it is so sad that teachers were told to set the textbooks aside and just use the workbook. This is all so scary. These teachers are suppose to teach the standards without the materials. A couple of years ago, a principal collected all the TE’s for Storytown and the teachers didn’t even have those for guidelines. It is really hard to teach the standards when the teachers do not have resources at their fingertips. It takes hours to plan and teach lessons and it is hard for teachers to be effective when they have to create or find a lot of their resources online. With all the money the county takes in, they need to spend more on materials to help the poor teachers. There is a great inbalance in the percentage of property tax that is allocated for school tax when you compare DeKalb and Gwinnett. I often wondered why, in my Gwinnett neighborhood, that there are five county parks within a five mile radius. DeKalb has hardly any. Now I know why. When I look at my Gwinnett County property tax statement just a little more than half is allocated for school tax. In DeKalb the MAJORITY is allocated for school tax. From what I can figure out, 25 percent more is allocated for school tax in DeKalb County than Gwinnett County. DeKalb has less money to run their county because so much money is being drained and wasted in the school systems. Dekalb tax payers need to compare their tax statements to your neighbors in Gwinnett and you will see what I am talking about.
    Maybe this explains why administrative salaries in Dekalb County can be higher than administrative salaries in Gwinnett.County.

  15. Howdy, the situation with Green’s contract is even worse than you have described. We went through Green’s contract, item by item. From that we created a spreadsheet so we could understand just how much Green was going to get. Melvin Johnson and Jim McMahan signed a contract that is full of blank spaces. All of the promised dollar amounts have NOT been filled in. Plus, missing are some items that usually are part of compensation for moving — i.e., packing and moving expenses; at least one house-hunting trip; and real estate fees to name a few. To see that spreadsheet, go to a previous DSW article, Superintendent Green’s Contract: Giving Away The Farm?

    We asked questions about each of the blank spaces in the contract, as well as about the few individual amounts that were included. We know Stan Jester reads DeKalb School Watch. So far, he has not responded at all to the concerns we expressed.

    Yes, the contract does address what happens if Green leaves. If he leaves before June 30, 2017, the most he will have to pay is $150,000. The thing is, all Green has to do is fog a mirror for 2 years, then not sign another contract with DCS. At that point he is old enough to retire, he has been paid a million dollars, give or take, and he has probably cut some kind of backroom deal to transfer his previous service as an educator to the Teachers Retirement System. So, Georgia is on the hook to pay him a lifetime pension. One of our contributors had checked into buying some service years based on teaching elsewhere. Teachers can buy only one service year, each year, and the cost for that several years ago was around $25,000 per year purchased. We have no idea what kind of deal Green has cut.

  16. @concerned citizen and teacher, and all: We have tried to get answers regarding the curriculum for years. Back when Dr. Lewis hired Gloria Talley (famous leader of the great Hollywood trip), the original DSW blogger filed an ORR asking for the curriculum. Talley told her that DeKalb did not have one, that teachers just create their own lessons to satisfy the Georgia Standards. If Michael Thurmond ‘just discovered’ this fact, then obviously, he does not know Cerebration or anyone else who has been asking for a real curriculum for years and years. We think Mr. Thurmond is now saying he ‘discovered’ this in order to take credit for the one Dr. Green will hopefully implement. Or at least to try to keep jobs for the people who were supposed to have created one long ago, but obviously do not have the skills to do so. Dr. Green needs to hire a true curriculum professional, a true HR professional and a true and trusted head of internal affairs — for starters. Then, there are several others who just need to go – and don’t need to be replaced. Ms. Tyson comes to mind. Unless Dr. Green makes some serious personnel changes, nothing at all will change for DeKalb students. You cannot make change with the people currently at the helm. Anyone who thinks that needs to read Einstein’s definition of insanity. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alberteins133991.html

  17. concerned citizen says:

    Once again, the students and teachers are not important to the powers that be. They never will be with the sorry people in place: Ramsey, Thurmond, Beastley, Ramoona, Lewis, MJ, HR lady. I don’t think it will happen, but the newest addition needs to kick all of them out. They have damaged so many lives. It’s so frustrating to see the asinine parade of crooks and incompetents pretending to be working. I am leery of Dr. Green with his unimpressive background. DeKalb never seems able to get outstanding people, just day-trippers.

  18. dekalbteacher says:

    I can’t help but think that the school district’s inaugural Dekalb Educators’ Annual Conference scheduled for June 16 and June 17 is further evidence of the school district’s leaders trying to compensate for years of curriculum and instruction neglect.

    The first newsflash we teachers received about this inaugural event was on May 15, just one day after Melvin Johnson’s newsflash about our new superintendent. What legitimate professional organization announces a conference only a month before?

    On May 8, Stan Jester’s website announced we would be getting a new superintendent soon. Does anyone know when this inaugural annual event was being planned?

    I like the title. It’s inaugural and annual. We’ll see about that.

    The May 15 announcement does include the program, but I’d like to know how this conference was organized. The district website doesn’t list all staff members by department, but it appears that none of the people presenting are in any of the super or director positions of curriculum and instruction. Pretty scary. One would assume these leaders would be doing just that-leading in “innovation.” Don’t these professional have to create materials and deliver presentations at conferences as part of their job requirements?

    The conference brochure does list the sessions, presenters, and brief descriptions of the sessions, but it offers no presenter bios.. What legitimate conference doesn’t give a bio of each presenter?

    Strangely, this conference is designed for k-12 teachers and academic coaches. Am I the only teacher wondering why the academic coaches aren’t the ones presenting the “innovative” methods we assume they created and offered in interviews to get their positions?

    The May 15 email comes through Howe. By May 22, the newsflash is coming through Brictson who is identified as the interim deputy superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

  19. Stan Jester says:

    DSW, you said,
    “We asked questions about each of the blank spaces in the contract, as well as about the few individual amounts that were included. We know Stan Jester reads DeKalb School Watch. So far, he has not responded at all to the concerns we expressed.”

    DSW, I replied to your email a few hours after you sent it. You must not have seen it. Your email requested the exact expense for about 20 various items including: dental,vision, security for family, unpaid leave, cell phone, cell phone plan, laptop, as well as travel, lodging, dues, fees and membership in GA School Superintendents’ Association and the American Assoc of School Administrators, etc …

    As you know, Dr. Green doesn’t start until July 1.

    My email response to you was,
    “Green’s complete annual comp (adding up his salary and the value of all benefits such as contributions made to TRS that don’t go directly to him, health insurance, etc.) is estimated to be between $400K and $450K. It will be easier to fill in some of those holes after Green is here and gets his hardware and staff together.”

    Unpaid leave is $0 … it’s unpaid 🙂

  20. Sorry, Stan! We saw that answer. We did not realize that was the answer. It seems like Green should have been given a budget on what he could spend instead of blank spaces being left in a binding contract. May we see the contract and any addendums that have all 3 signatures required — Melvin Johnson, Jim McMahan and R. Stephen Green — please?

    We do know that unpaid leave would have a dollar value of $0. However, how much unpaid leave is permitted? And for what reasons? Who approves the unpaid leave? And is it publicly noted or hidden behind the curtain of Executive Session? We are particularly interested in this for several reasons: (1) Because of Atkinson’s inexcusable behavior which resulted in her being paid for essentially abandoning her job; and (2) Because we know that Green is running at least one business on the side.

    Also, what is the difference between paid leave and vacation? How much PAID leave is permitted? And for what reasons? Who approves the paid leave? And is it publicly noted or hidden behind the curtain of Executive Session? We are particularly interested in this for several reasons: (1) Because of Atkinson’s inexcusable behavior which resulted in her being paid for essentially abandoning her job; and (2) Because we know that Green is running at least one business on the side.

    Waiting until Green gets here to fill in all the blanks? Why? Professional expenses are supposed to already have been budgeted for. There should already be a cost associated with each individual item in the benefits package. Technology support should already have been budgeted for, ordered and well on its way to being set up so Green can hit the ground running. COBRA costs should be known. The cost of additional term life insurance should also be known.

    We are not trying to be difficult. We just want to know where our money is going, how much, and why. It appears that the board has basically given Green carte blanche. Why?

    DeKalb County Schools is a poor school system with an exceptionally high number of students who qualify for free-and-reduced-price meals. We do not have enough money to pay teachers competitively or to give them regular raises/STEP increases or even to hire substitutes when teachers are ill. We do not have enough money to provide current curriculum, textbooks, technology and other learning materials to each student. Teachers were let go. Class sizes remained high — in some case there are not enough desks in classrooms. Approximately 70% of our property taxes go to DeKalb County Schools. DeKalb County Schools kept the 5 mils of property tax it appropriated years ago to pay for DeKalb Community College when DCC was owned and operated by DCS — kept the 5 mils even AFTER DeKalb Community College became Georgia Perimeter College and became part of the University System of Georgia. When the economy improved and home values rose, DeKalb County Schools did NOT roll back taxes. There’s never enough money to successfully accomplish the mission: educating students. It appears that there is barely enough funding to keep the jobs program going.

  21. howdy1942 says:

    First, let me extend my sincere thanks to Stan for being a part of the discussions on this blog. I wish that the other six would consider participating.

    So, the Chair and Vice-Chair of the school board signed a contract with blanks that were not filled in when they affixed their signatures. That is hard to believe.

    As I’ve said before, the good news is that Michael Thurmond has but three weeks. Are we paying him anything to “leave”? Does anybody know?

    We need a good leader to be superintendent who is not fixated by the money, but welcomes the challenge of taking something that is badly broken and fixing it. Quite frankly, I’m growing weary by all of the “education theories” and long for someone who knows how to lead, one who can identify problems and who can set goals, one who will set responsibilities, one who know how to measure results, and one who will hold people accountable as well as to reward accomplishments. It seems to me like we need to put the teachers in charge of the classroom, pay them, and hold them accountable fore results. We need to get everybody else out of the way. Our teachers are not babysitters nor are they police officers – they are teachers. Let them teach, get the troublemakers out of the classroom, and give our teachers support. The entire Dekalb County School System seems to be dysfunctional, drifting aimlessly in a fog where no one seems to know what needs to be done let alone going about getting it done. I think that there are some good leaders out there who would welcome the Dekalb County School System challenge and would, without any uncertainty, stay until he/she got the job done. That person could be a retired military officer (there are many in their 50s, or a retired successful corporate executive (Fulton County just hired one to be its County Manager), or a good Number Two in a successful school district. Did we look in Gwinnett County? After all, they do seem to have a lot of stability there and some good schools. For sure, they don’t have the issues that we seem to have.

    Dr. Green started a job two years ago to fix an unaccredited school system. He signed a five-year contract. He has not accomplished what he was hired to do and is leaving half-way through his contract. It seems to be like his commitment there ought to be of more importance to him than jumping ship. From my perspective, that sets off many alarms. I’m very troubled by the badly botched, very closed process that the Dekalb school board used to hire him. Dr. Johnson seems to be a nice guy, but he is a career Dekalb County School System administrator. He is clearly biased toward that administration and seems to be very uncertain of himself.

    We are stuck with this board for awhile, but we need to seriously think about making big changes there at our next opportunity. We need four very strong school board members committed to fixing Dekalb County and not just blissfully going through the motions and letting thing just ride along. It just seems to me like Dekalb County residents are paying a lot of money for a below-average school system stuck at the bottom of metro schools and one that doesn’t seem to have any direction or improvement. Something needs to change. The same people have been there for years and the results are the same.

    Again, Stan, thank you for listening and providing your many fact and responses. You set an excellent example for the others.

  22. True points, Howdy. I think you express the frustration we all have with the feeling that it’s Groundhog Day … again. We’ve had enough of “Charrettes”, “Fireside Chats”, Community Liaison Committees, Blue Ribbon Task Forces, Citizen Task Forces, Steering Committees, “America’s Choice”, “Success for All”, “Excellence in Education”, “Five Guiding Principles,” “Theory of Action for Change”, “Victory in Every Classroom”, “Triage”, “Race to the Top”, “The Bridge”, etc., etc., etc. We are ready for someone who will clear the decks and truly focus on the classroom – not just talk about it – do what it takes.

    Read more of our old posts highlighting the same promises from every new ‘leader’ we’ve had over the last decade.

    Monday, November 14, 2011
    Can DeKalb Become a Classroom Centered School System?“Concentrating On Our Core Business of Educating Students”

    Sunday, July 31, 2011
    Back to School Message from Ms. Tyson

    Saturday, July 16, 2011
    Triage! That’s what they’re calling the plan to improve test scores.

    For more, just spend some time re-reading the blog posts from the original DSW. Sadly, they are all still very relevant today.

    And here’s one lamenting yet another Groundhog Day >>
    The vortex of DeKalb: A long, slow flush
    Posted on February 6, 2013 by dekalbschoolwatch

    As Yogi Berra used to say, “It’s déjà vu all over again!”

    At least read our most recent plea for that FULL FORENSIC AUDIT!
    Another call for a full forensic audit
    Posted on April 7, 2015

    Basically, we are very tired of essentially writing the same posts over and over and over… And after reading the article about Dr. Green’s ridiculous, lavish spending on meals for him and his staff in Kansas City as well as his ridiculous defense of it, we can only predict more of the same. We hope he proves us wrong.

    KCPS superintendent defends lavish high-end dining
    Posted: Jul 21, 2014 3:15 PM EDT

  23. This is not the first contract the District has signed with blanks. Teachers are told to disregard the salary amount in the contracts they sign in early spring. They have no idea how much consideration (compensation) they’ll receive for their contracts. Since the only obligation the District has in a teacher’s contract is to pay the teacher, that’s the biggest part of the contract.

    In that agreement, the teachers have hundreds (I exaggerate, but if you parse the general obligations, not nearly so much) of obligations to the District’s one. It would never hold up under contract law.

    But, to my knowledge, this contract of adhesion* has never been challenged in court. Probably because, if the teachers could negotiate their contract and come to a agreement fulfilling the defintion of a contract, then they’d be arrested and thown in jail for engaging in collective bargaining.

    *A standard form contract drafted by one party (usually a business with stronger bargaining power) and signed by the weaker party (usually a consumer in need of goods or services), who must adhere to the contract and therefore does not have the power to negotiate or modify the terms of the contract. (from Legal Information Institute, https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/adhesion_contract_contract_of_adhesion )

  24. dsw2contributor says:

    Howdy said: “the good news is that Michael Thurmond has but three weeks. Are we paying him anything to ‘leave’? Does anybody know?”

    Howdy, my impression is that Mike Thurmond has some sort of consulting gig line up, which will have DCSD paying him after July 1. WABE’s report “DeKalb Superintendent Finalist Expected To Get Contract” (http://wabe.org/post/dekalb-superintendent-finalist-expected-get-contract) says: “[Stephen Green is] expected to start July 1. Outgoing Superintendent Michael Thurmond has said he’ll stay on to help in the transition.”

    Mr. Green is on Kansas City’s payroll until June 30. KC is paying Green to wrap things up there in KC, not to work with Thurmond here…. so when Mike Thurmond says he is going to “stay on to help”, he is saying he will stay on after July 1.

  25. kirklunde says:

    DeKalbSchoolWatch,

    DCSD is NOT a poor system. In fiscal year 2014 the district received $9,120 per student in revenue. Compare that to Gwinnett County which received $7,762 per student or Cobb County which got $8,025.

    The problem with DeKalb County Schools is poor management. Generally speaking, the administration doesn’t tell the BOE where the money is going and the BOE doesn’t raise any concerns.

    The exception to that is Stan Jester who does ask questions and tries to get money directed to the classrooms. He is treated as the red-headed stepchild of the BOE.

  26. Very true Kirk. That was actually more or less tongue in cheek. Punctuated by the last sentence >>

    There’s never enough money to successfully accomplish the mission: educating students. It appears that there is barely enough funding to keep the jobs program going.

    Yeah, right… we ALL know that $1.2 Billion should get the job done. But sadly, it doesn’t. Too much is skimmed off the top and that includes Title 1 funds, meant to help in the classroom. Even Mr. Thurmond – the great ‘savior’ to some, uses almost all of the Title 1 funds for his behemoth program “The Bridge” — over $70 million to be exact! Contrast that with the $500,000 he has allocated to develop a curriculum after ‘finding out’ that we didn’t have one.

    LOL – but not really.

  27. FWIW, even when school districts actually do announce three finalists, there are groups that come to the fore to call the process out >>

    New finalist announced for Charleston County schools superintendent

    Of the three, one is from DeKalb >>

    [Lisa] Herring holds a doctorate in education administration from Georgia Southern University as well as a master’s degree in education from the University of South Carolina and a bachelor’s in English from Spelman College, according to her resume (.pdf).

    At the Charleston County School District, she has served as deputy superintendent for academics, chief academic officer, associate superintendent and executive director for student support services. Herring was also the director of student support services at the Bibb County School District in Macon, Ga., and previously was assistant director student of support services at the DeKalb County School District in Atlanta.

  28. howdy1942 says:

    @kirk – thanks for the information about the funding per student and @DSW – thanks for the information regarding Charleston,

    I attended CEO Lee May’s community meeting tonight and found it to be very informative. My Commissioner, Nancy Jester, was also present and available. There were some very good questions asked. One had to do with significantly higher property tax assessments and what the County was going to do with that money. While minimal, the County is reducing taxes by about $50 on a $300,000 house, but that is a small step in the right direction. There were other questions, but the point is that, at least, CEO May is coming out into the community, getting input, and providing responses to questions. And he does get back to people.

    The school system stands in start contrast. I don’t know about Stan Jester or the other school board members, but my District 4 member (Jim McMahan) has never, to my knowlege, held any announced public meeting in this District. Nor has Superintendent Thurmond. That is one reason why there are so many people who do not support the administration of the Dekalb County School System. The board did hold meetings last Fall to tell us that they were going to file with the State to become a charter system. They did take questions and, except for the post from Trenton Arnold on this blog provided by Stan Jester, provided no feedback. Perhaps those questions were the only questions that Mr. Arnold heard, but there were many, many others. That charter system is no charter – it will still be overwhelming run by the DCSS.

    We will be paying the new superintendent twice the salary earned by the Dekalb CEO (Lee May). Dr. Green comes from an unaccredited school system and leaves in the middle of his contract. There is simply no reason why we should be paying him this much.

    @dswcontributor – thank you the update. I suspected that Thurmond would be staying on. You would think that someone being paid well over $300,000 would be able to come in and do the job without any coaching. I would greatly prefer that he come in, assess things, and make up his own mind without the “assistance” of Thurmond. That, alone, leads me to believe that few, if any, changes will be made.

    @kirk – I wish that our school board would simply have the courage and conviction to simply TELL the superintendent that beginning on July 1, 2016, the budget will be $8500 per student that it will be $8,000 per student on July 1, 2017. That gives him plenty of time to get his feet on the aground, set his priorities, and budget for those priorities. I would further TELL him that beginning on July 1, 2016, 65% of funding will be for the classroom (teachers, textbooks, etc.) And on July 1, 2017, that would increase to 66%. And to SACS, I would say that the administration can ask for whatever it wants, but the school board can approve or disapprove that request. This would likely require some downsizing in administration staff. But that has been done for ages in industry and, even Dekalb County government has 1,000 positions less this year than last year. Kirk, I did some math tonight and took the $1300 difference per student between Dekalb and Gwinnett and multiplied that by 100,000 students to get $130,000,000. Gwinnett seems to be doing a better job than Dekalb is with essentially the same demographics, so we should be able to take that money, restore the TSA funding, raise our teacher to the metro average, AND pave our roads.

    @DSW – all three of those candidates in Charleston look better than Dr. Green. How much is Charleston paying? Bet it’s not as much as Dekalb. And, I suspect that all three of those candidates hold positions in accredited school system! And it appears that Charleston did considered candidates from all races. Again, I say that the Dekalb County School System is what it is because that is what the school board has chosen the DCSS to be – results and all. The DCSS will improve when the school board decides that it wants the DCSS to improve.

    Finally, if Dr. Green is going to bring in his own team, then for each team member he brings in, one of the current team must leave. One one position will be funded. When is our school board going to start listening to our people and getting its program more closely aligned with their thoughts. But I suspect that this board does not want to engage the community, listen to its questions and concerns, and then respond.

  29. Concerned citizen and teacher says:

    All the school systems in the state follow the Georgia core curriculum standards which are available for all to see on the GADOE website. All state tests take their questions from these state standards. The schools need to have textbooks/materials so that the teachers can do their jobs and not have to be constantly reliant on outside means such as the internet and school supply stores.

  30. Concerned citizen and teacher says:

    When is the school system going to get rid of Ms. Rosemary Malone, the principal of Idlewood Elementary? Seventeen teachers left during the school year 2014-2015. Four went on medical leave to just get temporarily or permanently out of the school. When teachers went to the county office to complain they were told that she had connections way up the ladder. More teachers resigned or asked for transfers. She used to be at Avondale Elementary and the teachers were very happy when she left.

  31. dekalbteacher says:

    If you’re wondering what’s happening with the charter school petition, don’t expect to find any information on the school district’s website.

    In the community section, there is a charter system petition link. What’s there? Information posted in August, 2014. An out-of-date timeline that ended in October. Don’t bother clicking on resources, board updates, or key documents. You won’t find any.

    A few things don’t add up. Trenton Arnold’s August 2014 explanation of the charter system petition claims that community feedback will be used to draft the petition. However, the charter system petition update that Stan has posted (and is curiously missing from the very charter system petition section of the school district’s website) explains that a petition has already been created.

    Our website is embarrassing. It’s as if people had to post something for an assignment and then forgot about it. In other cases, it appears that someone googled a topic and found one resource and that was it. I can’t believe some of these people are making double and triple what we teachers make.

  32. Three points about the Idlewood Principal:

    (1) Idlewood is one of five elementary schools that feed into Tucker Middle and Tucker High schools. Here are the 2014 College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPIs) for those five elementary schools:

    84.4 – Livsey ES
    72.7 – Brockett ES
    71.4 – Midvale ES
    61.8 – Idlewood ES
    58.2 – Smoke Rise ES

    The CCRPIs show that something was wrong at Idlewood and Smoke Rise during the 2013-2014 school year.

    (2) Idlewood’s Principal was moved to the school at the beginning of last school year (August 2014), which was when the Palace would have received the 2014 CCRPIs from the state.

    (3) She is obviously doing something right because she has been given the top ranking (for Dekalb) on Dr. John Trotter’s website. She is in good company on that website — Alvin Wilbanks and Erroll Davis have the top positions for their systems!

  33. Weary Worker says:

    Malone’s connections have long been spoken about. I was told she played cards with Crawford Lewis. She’s very strange and appears ill at ease to talk about her background. One of the board members of the Museum School told me they were thankful she did such a dreadful job at Avondale for she activated to community to establish a charter school. Regardless when you are in a management position a high level or turnover by staff is one of the prime indicators that you are not doing a good job. In any real business she would have been dismissed long ago.

  34. sawyerbrown68 says:

    Weary Worker,

    Talk about connections or luck. Or maybe it’s just knowing where the skeletons are buried that matters when it comes to shielding certain administrators from employment justice.

    Teachers are leaving my neighborhood high school at an increasing rate under this current principal. Just today, there were 8 positions open on the county employment website for the school. I am told there are actually close to 15 teachers who have secured or are actively seeking a release to go to other systems.

    The last assistant principal that started out with this new principal in July 2013 is moving to the middle school on Henderson Road this week. This cowboy is toxic!

    I am pretty sure my fellow homeowners don’t think this deuce of a man deserves to be the sole repository of the entire institutional administrative acumen that was envied in the the last 20 years.

    Imagine that!

  35. sawyerbrown68 says:

    These job postings for Lakeside are so carelessly written. Read them for yourself.

    For instance, there is a Spanish position listed that is probably a Science position if you read the shallow description. It’s to be expected if you are cutting and pasting these descriptions much like you are treating your staff. Two iconic Science teachers left and one retired at the end of this year. Nothing posted for these 3 positions?

    Maybe they are really looking for a Spanish teacher to teach Science. Really?

  36. Not all too long ago, when Wayne Chelf was principal, Lakeside had a long-term sub teaching Spanish. The man didn’t even know one word of Spanish! And he had the nerve to fail several students!

  37. Bucky Rogers says:

    Sawyerbrown68, you said last week that it was announced in a principals’ meeting that he was going to be replaced! What happened?

  38. ^ There are already two HS Principal (Chamblee & Redan) and three ES Principal (Brocket, Fairington and Montgomery) openings posted on PATS….. so don’t expect to see Jason Clyne moved.

  39. We have it on good authority that Jason Clyne is still the principal at Lakeside and has no intention of going anywhere else. So let’s drop that topic please.

  40. jbgotcha says:

    Rosemary Malone has destroyed Idlewood Elementary. She ran off some really good teachers. Of course, the school district doesn’t care because most of the students there are indigent or refugees. Don’t they deserve a good education too? They’ve had good principals in the past, but they were all shipped off to wealthier and whiter schools. What DeKalb has done to this school system is criminal.

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