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Friday, September 3, 2010
New Attendance Data to Review
Two new documents are available. One is called Enrollment Report, by school, by grade, which details enrollment numbers school by school as well as capacity and available seating. The other chart is called, “Attendance Area and Enrollment Report, home schools only” and details the attendance numbers as well as the number of students who live in the attendance zone compared to the numbers who transfer in or out of those attendance zones (a process as easy to tackle as herding cats). In fact, there are 550 students from “unknown” locations as well as 465 out of the district altogether.

Friday, May 13, 2011
May 9, Part 2: Ramona Tyson’s report on the 2004 Ernst & Young audit and plans for a new audit
(Transcribed from the Monday, May 9 board business meeting.)
“A high level of events have occurred regarding the 2003 audit. Documents were provided on March 14. Goal is always to remain transparent and open. Although I had been led to believe that the staff had reviewed all of the documents collected related to the E&Y study in advance of that meeting, in fact, it was found that staff had only reviewed roughly 60% of the documents in our possession before I made the presentation.”

Saturday, May 21, 2011
Back to the topic of the Ernst & Young 2004 audit
Some of us at DeKalb School Watch have been culling through the four boxes of documents and have found that indeed, Ernst & Young found many people who were being overpaid. However, those people were not teachers. In fact, we have yet to find data that shows any investigation into teacher salaries by Ernst & Young. Yes, a few media specialists did show up on the list as being overpaid, however, the bulk of overpaid employees were principals, assistant principals, administrative secretaries (school-based secretaries were consistently underpaid), coordinators, security staff and pretty much everyone at Fernbank Science Center.

DCSS vacant properties causing blight countywide
So, with the goal of finding out what became of these closed schools, we took a field trip. We visited all eight of the shuttered schools along with several more that were closed in recent years. We took pictures. We posted these photos of decay, clutter and blight on Flickr, which is what you see in the slideshow above*.

What is Steen Miles talking about?
“School Superintendent Progress Report: failing”

We hate to say, “We told you so”… but
DeKalb County’s new school superintendent wants to shelve or scrap 35 building projects after discovering a $41 million shortfall in the sales tax-funded construction account.

Less is More
Eight words are all that is preventing the separation of the large, unwieldy and corrupt DeKalb County School System into two manageable school systems. Only eight words: “No independent school system shall hereafter be established.”

Sen. Fran Millar Criticizes DeKalb Schools
Senate Education and Youth Committee Chairman Fran Millar (R-Atlanta) lashed out Monday at the DeKalb County school board for failing to put a priority on rebuilding the school system’s tapped out reserves.

The HR & Budget Reports: 2008-2011
Full disclosure: We painstakingly put together documentation that we believe showed that budget cuts were not made as directed by the school board. This documentation formed the basis for this article.

SHOCKING!
Thank you, DeKalb Parent, for taking the time to put together this spreadsheet comparing DeKalb County School System CRCT scores for 2011-2012 with other metro systems!

A Vision as Clear as Mud
SACS is here! SACS is here! Certainly many of you are rejoicing at the notion that our knight in shining armor has arrived.

When adults focus on adults, the children suffer: A DSW editorial
Why do we do what we do here at the DSW blog?
Because in DeKalb county, we all pay a lot of money in taxes that are specifically earmarked to educate nearly 100,000 children in our county and too much of that money is being wasted, squandered and/or spent on legal fees to defend the bad decisions made by a majority vote of our current and former administrators and board. Our school leadership has focused for far too long on providing jobs and inflated paychecks to administrators and non-teaching staff, while cutting teachers and their support in the schoolhouse year after year.

Were 300 jobs really eliminated from the central office?
Or were they simply reshuffled to other departments resulting in little to no savings to our budget?

When adults focus on adults, the children suffer: A DSW editorial
Posted on November 18, 2012
Why do we do what we do here at the DSW blog?

Because in DeKalb county, we all pay a lot of money in taxes that are specifically earmarked to educate nearly 100,000 children in our county and too much of that money is being wasted, squandered and/or spent on legal fees to defend the bad decisions made by a majority vote of our current and former administrators and board. Our school leadership has focused for far too long on providing jobs and inflated paychecks to administrators and non-teaching staff, while cutting teachers and their support in the schoolhouse year after year.

DeKalb school audit shows office cuts not made
According to Ty Tagami at the AJC, DeKalb school audit shows office cuts not made.
“A long-awaited forensic audit has been delivered to the DeKalb County school system, and it may help explain why officials there have had to cut so deeply in the classroom.

The vortex of DeKalb: A long, slow flush
As Yogi Berra used to say, “It’s déjà vu all over again!”

Eugene P. Walker Will You Please Go Now!
The time has come. The time has come. The time is now. Just go. Go. Go.

Thurmond treads into Ramona Tyson’s “Land of Empty Promises”
The latest article in the AJC is very hard to read. Well, it’s not ‘hard’ to read as the content is shallow, but it’s depressing. It’s a one-on-one interview with Michael Thurmond. Granted, he’s new on the job, but his responses show his lack of understanding and no clear direction.

Ding-Dong! All Is Well. The Hated BOE Is Gone. Or Is It?
Judge Story’s ruling seems to have many in DeKalb rather giddy. Many think prosperity is just around the corner. It is my hope that this will come to pass, but I doubt it. Let’s look at where we are right now.

The elephants in the palace
On the heels of the first meeting of the new DeKalb School Board, and now that reality has set in, we would like to revisit several “Big” items that are still lurking in the halls of the Palace, presenting major hurdles for this Board to jump.

Again, we ask, “Where’s the Plan?”

Interim Superintendent Michael Thurmond was given an extension by the Board to April 30 (today) to submit his 90-day plan. Has he done so?

The new cars are here! The new cars are here!
You know what will help remedy the problems in DCSS? Some shiny new sedans for administrators!

Who is Keeping Score?
The Balanced Scorecard for Outcome Measures that set quantifiably measurable objectives for improving DeKalb student achievement appears to have been developed by Kendra Marsh and Kathleen Howe for the past school year 2012-2013.

Strategic Churn: Recycling a plan and paying for it again
The DeKalb Board of Education recently approved a new strategic planning process. I use the word “new” purposefully. In 2011, DeKalb engaged the GSBA (Georgia School Boards Association) to assist in the development of a strategic plan. As Ronald Reagan would say, “There you go again,” because DeKalb has once again asked the GSBA to perform the same task.

Board Meeting Summary: Rubberstamping Corruption and Incompetence
If you did not have a full day to devote to the most recent DeKalb County Schools Board of Education All-Day Meeting and Rubberstamp Festival (brought to us by Marshall Orson, et al), here is a summary provided by Stan Jester:

Thurmond insists things are better in DeKalb school district since he took over
Interim DeKalb School Superintendent Michael Thurmond told north DeKalb parents the troubled district is dealing with its problems. “Today we are in a much stronger position than we have been in a very, very long time,” Thurmond said.

We Must Say, “Enough is Enough!”
(Geoffrey Canada’s speech – Reprinted from CNN) – While the educational prospects for poor children have improved in the 50 years since I was a young boy going to PS 99 in the South Bronx, our country continues to needlessly lose the talents of millions of children because of a failing, entrenched public education system.

DeKalb County’s unilateral decision against Druid Hills Charter Cluster forces fight to Georgia Legislature for independent school systems.
In a contentious 5-4 vote tonight, the DeKalb County Board of Education rejected the Druid Hills Charter Cluster petition. The “no” vote followed about four hours of tense debate. Those voting for the cluster were Thaddeus Mayfield, John Coleman, Marshall Orson and Jim McMahan.

Trust: The missing link in DeKalb County Schools
I just had the good fortune of attending a conference where Stephen M. R. Covey (Stephen R. Covey’s son) was a guest speaker. You all may be familiar with Stephen R. Covey (the father) and his ‘Big Rocks’ and 7 Habits. Those are excellent tools for management.

Big news day for DeKalb Schools
Several DCSS news items have hit the [newsstands] today….

An interesting little thing that happened at Monday’s meeting
Something strange happened at Monday’s Board meeting. And it piggy-backs on something that happened a while ago. You see, back in February, 2013 the Board met in closed door “executive” session to discuss a never previously discussed ‘legal matter’ – at least that’s what the agenda stated. We all wondered what legal matters they were once again discussing, but since it was a closed session, we were not allowed to know. However, soon after, a request was made and approved for a $150,000 contract with McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP …

The textbook mystery continues… and gets even weirder
One of our regular contributors has shared an interesting video from a curriculum night meeting at Tucker High School. She asked questions regarding the new “Pilot Textbook Program” being implemented by DeKalb County school administrators.

UPDATE: An Open Letter to the Georgia State Board of Education
Posted on January 21, 2013
DSW editorial staff met to discuss the concerns of our readers regarding our call for 4th district representation on the State Board of Education before a decision is made about recommending removal of the DeKalb Board of Education. Having listened to and evaluated your comments, pro and con, we now believe that 4th District representation won’t make any difference and, in fact, may create an unacceptable delay. Accordingly, we have taken that out of our Open Letter to the State Board. We have made a few other editorial changes, as well. (In case you are wondering, that Open Letter had not yet been sent to the individual members of the State Board until we could reach a consensus with our editorial staff.) Thanks for your input!

A Sunday morning textbook chat
A while back we were having a very important and detailed discussion about missing and mangled textbooks on a post entitled, “The textbook mystery continues… and gets even weirder”.  Students seem to be short on them.

The numbers tell the story
We downloaded the 2013 enrollment numbers for DeKalb from the state DOE’s website. This document lists enrollment and demographic data for each public school in DeKalb county. We simplified the chart to make it more readable and began to see some interesting correlations.

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