DeKalb to close four schools and lose 15 bigwigs. Gwinnett sets furlough days.

The budget axe is falling on four schools and  the central office staff in DeKalb County where Superintendent Crawford Lewis announced Friday, “We can no longer afford to operate schools which are at half capacity.” Lewis said he will pare his cabinet back from 27 administrators to about 12, a move that should placate critics who contend that the central office is full of people who don’t have a real impact on student learning in the county.

The financially struggling DeKalb school system – the deficit is now at $88 million from state cuts and falling revenue — will name the four elementary schools that will close next week, choosing from among 29 schools with enrollments of less than 300 students.

According to the AJC story on DeKalb:

District officials are eyeing schools in south DeKalb now that Dunwoody has become the fastest-growing area of the county, Lewis said.

The Citizens Planning Task Force, a group of 20 residents appointed by school board members, will work with school officials to make a recommendation on which schools to close. The board will then vote on the final closings, school system spokesman Dale Davis said.

Last year, DeKalb’s enrollment grew by about 1,500 students to 101,000 children.

The school closings will allow the district to save about $2.5 million. Teachers from those schools will move with their students and be allowed to keep their jobs, but some other staff may be affected, Davis said.

The closings will mean the district will have to redraw the attendance boundaries and reroute buses before school starts in August.

The school closures are part of a systemwide trimming to meet a loss in state funding and property tax revenue.

“We are working really, really hard not to raise anyone’s taxes,” Lewis said.

Last month, Lewis proposed a series of program cuts, staff furloughs and other reductions to meet what officials thought was a $56 million deficit. He now is scrambling to identify $32 million more to cut from next year’s budget after learning the county’s property values dove 6.7 percent.

“This year’s budget will go back to the figure we had in 2005. That kind of tells you exactly how bad things are,” Lewis said.

Lewis said he will unveil those additional proposed cuts next Friday.

The district has about 14,000 full-time employees, including 8,000 teachers.

The proposed administrative cuts come less than a week after the AJC reported that the district posted a job to replace a deputy superintendent of teaching and learning for $163,900 while calling for teacher pay cuts.

The other staff in his cabinet will see pay cuts, Lewis said.

However, the superintendent does not plan to give back the $15,000 raise and contract extension that the board approved in January. Lewis told business leaders that the raise comes after he lost $30,000 in salary and bonuses last year.

“I don’t think $15,000 is going to have a profound impact on an $88 million deficit,” he added.

DeKalb’s actions are likely to be repeated around the state as all systems face unprecedented deficits.  To cut costs, Gwinnett County has just scheduled three furlough days for employees next school year and will raise class size by one student, according to the AJC.

Can we still see academic gains with this level of budget crisis?

65 comments Add your comment

Tonya T

February 19th, 2010
2:47 pm

No we can’t. But it doesn’t matter; the kids who are are behind will fall even further and those with parents that can and care will fill in the gaps as needed.

chucky

February 19th, 2010
2:51 pm

DunMoody

February 19th, 2010
3:05 pm

“The district has about 14,000 full-time employees, including 8,000 teachers.” Somehow, cutting the administration to 12 just isn’t enough. He still doesn’t get just how much of our tax dollars he’s wasting with central office payroll. Evidently, he’ll recommend closing more schools by 2011. Why wait? The reactions of parents who don’t want to move their children won’t get any better with another year’s anxious wait.

JD Carter

February 19th, 2010
3:44 pm

So funny – the first comment is that those who can will supplement their kids’ educations. Why should those who can be forced to supplement? There is enough tax money taken out of my high school district to make it one of the best and most up-to-date schools in the state, if not the country. Yet these dollars are redistributed. This movement of dollars from north Dekalb to south has got to stop. We must keep tax dollars where they are collected.

And I agree – cutting 15 people is a major cut? Dekalb has almost as many support staff as teachers – and cutting 15 will make a difference? How about we cut half of the central administrative offices – not in the schools, but in Decatur. And instead of a $15k raise, let’s cut Lewis’ salary 50%.

This has gone on too long. Time for real change for a change…

Reality Check

February 19th, 2010
4:54 pm

Won’t do any good…..DeKalb’s Schools are as bad as, if not worse than APS and Clayton County’s. These measures might save a few bucks but they will not improve the educational outcome.

HitWithBigStick

February 19th, 2010
5:02 pm

8,000 teachers, with an additional 6,000 employed as “support” personnel. Granted, there are lunch people and janitors, but are 43% of all staff is “support”?? Or, is DeKalb Schools like City of Atlanta, where once you’re on, you’lll never leave?!

Mr. G

February 19th, 2010
5:09 pm

When will “WE THE PEOPLE” learn that it is up to us to take care of us? Government, regardless of the level, is not concerned with the well being of its citizens. How is closing a school even an option to save money? How about the salaries of top county officials, have those been touched? Seems to me that if their concern truly was for the best interest of the common man/woman, then as a civil servant you’d want to willingly reduce your salary. Why should honest, hard working mothers and fathers have to carry the load on their poor financial planning? Schools are overcrowded as is, my child is not in DeKalb schools…he’s a 5th grader in the Fulton Co. system and the class size already sits at 30+. 1 teacher. How do they expect students to learn? Talking about schools at half capacity, we need smaller class sizes so that teachers can give the attention that is needed to students. Things are bad and getting worse. Wake up America! The politicians are not concerned with solving anything, they perpetuate the problem. We have to work within our own communities to support and invest in our children. We can’t continue with this “me, me, me, me” mentality…look around you and see where this has gotten us! This is just a precursor of things to come. From what I understand, to keep from closing schools Coweta Co. is flirting with the idea of 3 day school weeks. What do mama and daddy do then? Who is going to watch the children? Does anyone care?

catlady

February 19th, 2010
5:38 pm

Watching the children isn’t really the purpose of education.

MS, Sharon

February 19th, 2010
5:53 pm

If possible could you list the school locations that will be closing.

Tonya T

February 19th, 2010
5:59 pm

I have just given up trying to justify education in this state. Dekalb is beyond bloated in it’s central office, just like APS. Every district is making moves to cut what goes to the classroom, thinking teachers will just ‘make do’. I can’t county on the public school system in GA to fully educate my kids anymore, which is made even more sad because my husband is a teacher.

d

February 19th, 2010
6:09 pm

Can we find other jobs for the people who have teachers wasting time making instructional boards, writing concept maps and putting other useless stuff on our walls that don’t impact student learning? My philosophy is if I was to take a student and ask the question: “Will this improve little Johnny’s learning?” and the answer is no, then the task does not need to be performed. Dr. Lewis keeps saying his $15,000 isn’t a big deal — well that’s 15 teachers who could receive their step increase. Kathy Cox’s salary was about half of Dr. Lewis’s. Why does he deserve so much more than the state superintendent?
Will the county sell these buildings it’s closing? If a private individual or corporation were to buy these buildings, guess what, they’d be taxable properties so not only would the county get the revenue from selling surplus property, they could tax it as well.

to Mr. G

February 19th, 2010
6:12 pm

Not sure where you heard that Coweta is considering 3 day weeks – I work there and there is no mention of that. Coweta’s school board has done a great job of staying ahead of the budget crises and has managed to keep from dipping into reserves (even when budgeted to do so). Don’t think they would need to consider closing schools.

Maureen Downey

February 19th, 2010
6:16 pm

MS. Sharon, They have not announced the schools yet. Maureen

Henrietta S

February 19th, 2010
6:22 pm

I am reading that the school closings will be elementary schools – if the drop-out rate is almost 50% – why aren’t high schools being closed instead. When children are in elementary school the parents (I meant parent because most of them don’t have but one these days) can half way make them go then, but when they reach high school they do what they want to. I constantly get angry with the fact that we have all of these schools and continues to pay retired teachers and an assistance at these GED programs locations. When the military will not take these GED certificates and some jobs, it’s just a waste. Most of these kids only enroll because it’s part of their probation. Maybe the only GED PROGRAM LOCATION should be on Memorial Drive in those condominiums we pay for called JAIL. If they will not go to school then bump them. And far as the foreigners (and the drop outs) make them PAY THE SALARIES of these people. The country, states, counties have got to stop taking the responsibilties that belong to parents – you had them – they are yours. And if foreigners want to go to school here charge them for it – America tries to take care of the world.

There is probably more waste in the N. Decatur Road office than in the schools. If Crawford Lewis needs such a big salary – then get rid of some of those AREA SUPERINTENDENTS and get off of his duff and do HIS $200K plus job.

FulCoTeach

February 19th, 2010
7:09 pm

Look at school system allotment sheets and see how money is being wasted on central administration! http://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/qbe_reports.public_menu?p_fy=2000

If schools are so tightly staffed (pretty much strictly by the state allotment), then the central office needs to be staffed according to state allotments. In Fulton, our “earned positions” according to Ga DOE are 1 superintendent and 6 assistant superintendents. (PERIOD – not as well as Deputy Superintendents, Excutive Directors, Directors, Chiefs, Coordinators, etc.) The other central office positions are funded locally, with funds which have – and could again – be used to keep class sizes more reasonable and fund other positions (and programs) which directly impact student achievement. (Alert to parents -they are discussing cutting back parapros at our schools in Fulton. We have LOTS of chiefs going to meetings on Cleveland Avenue, but they want to cut our $18K parapros whose work DIRECTLY impacts students!)

See Fulton’s administrative list at http://www.fultonschools.org/dept_directory.asp and check their salaries at http://www.open.georgia.gov/ Look at what we pay four people to “manage” transportation, the virtual school administrators (when there’s a Georgia Virtual School), and the teaching museum curator. Our area superintendents’ salaries total nearly a million dollars – NOT including their support staff! If paras are being cut and teachers have more students than room for desks, how can we justify paying all that administrative overhead? WE CAN’T!!

Call your school board members and let them know! DeKalb’s cut back twice in central office the past two years – time for Fulton to do the same!

Wounded Warrior

February 19th, 2010
7:35 pm

Time for Crawford Lewis to be paid for his lack of performance. His pay should be docked by 1/2. Did he fire the two cheaters from last year? The man is his brother in law. What an idiot.

????

February 19th, 2010
8:53 pm

Wasn’t his name James Berry? I looked on First Class and he is not employed.

Harold

February 19th, 2010
10:28 pm

According to the DeKalb County website Fast Facts page, this is the employee breakdown:
Employees Total: 13,842
Teachers, Media Specialists and Counselors: 53.1%
Support Personnel: 42.3%
Administrators: 4.6%

That means DeKalb has:
7,100 teachers (approximately 200 media specialists and counselors)
6,500 support and administrative staff

Check out the DeKalb Schools website Fast Facts page:
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/about/fastfacts.html

223 employees make over $100,000 a year in DeKalb County – guess how many are teachers. These 223 employees account for over $25,000,000 in salaries and around $5,000,000 in benefits. To see the salaries of each employee in DeKalb County Schools, go to the following website (state of Georgia website), scroll down and click the I Understand:Proceed button, click on Organization, click on Local Boards of Education, use the drop down menu to select DeKalb County Schools. You can export the information from the web to an Excel file (data sort is available then) by clicking on Export Options CSV at the bottom of the page.

12 employees are a drop in the bucket.

If we don’t cut,consolidate and outsource our support staff, we will have so many students in each classroom that teachers will find it is impossible to give any special attention to individual children who may have problems with subject matter.

No school system can provide a quality education when only half of the employees teach students. I would tell any teacher to steer clear of DeKalb County Schools.

Look at Dr. Lewis’s internal memorandum to all DeKalb employees. In this memorandum he lists his primary goals as guaranteeing employment and not raising the millage rate. I would think his primary goal would be to continue to provide a quality education in the midst of an economic crisis.

“As you are aware, the budget challenges facing DCSS are not unique.
School districts throughout metropolitan Atlanta, the state of Georgia,
and across the nation are forced to make difficult decisions in the wake
of shrinking funding sources and high-stakes student achievement
requirements. ………When dealing with the projected deficit, there are two primary goals: to
maintain employment for all employees with NO layoffs and do the absolute
best not to raise the millage rate. …………..I will present a balanced budget that includes
reduction of positions, reduction of programs, and possibly a reduction of
a certain percentage of pay or work calendar days. But no one loses
employment. “

Harold

February 19th, 2010
10:40 pm

Oops! Forgot to put in the website link that you can go to see the salaries of DeKalb employees (see my post above).
Go to:
http://www.open.georgia.gov/sta/viewMain.aud

Scroll down and click the I Understand:Proceed button, click on Organization, click on Local Boards of Education, use the drop down menu to select DeKalb County Schools. You can export the information from the web to an Excel file (data sort is available then) by clicking on Export Options CSV at the bottom of the page.

You can sort and see the 223 employees that make over $100,000 – quite a few in the $165,000 bracket. This is why our students are packed like sardines into classrooms, teachers buy toilet paper and hand sanitizer with their own money, and we have less science and technology equipment than any county in the metro area.

Until the BOE members are changed, Dr. Lewis will continue to run DeKalb County Schools into the ground.

Eugene Walker, Are you listening?

February 19th, 2010
10:41 pm

Perhaps Crawdaddy ought to close the Office of Internal Resolutions. It is totally dysfunctional, especially when State Senator Ronald Ramsey leaves it in the hands of Robin Goolsby while he stays three or four months at the State Capitol.

Michael

February 20th, 2010
12:01 am

If they close schools then the sex offenders can move back into the neighborhoods.

Vince

February 20th, 2010
7:23 am

Harold…..

So you think those principals in Dekalb who make over $100,000 are overpaid? Those guys who are there 12+ hours a day, on the weekend, on holidays and on call 24/7 are making too much money??

Those people who have spent their adult lives in school earning advanced degrees so they can do their jobs better make too much money?

Those people who have spent their careers in education, during which they have given thousands of free hours to their schools as teachers, AP’s and now principals are overpaid?

Check out Dekalb’s salaries compared to those in Gwinnett and Fulton. You will see that Dekalb’s people are UNDERpaid.

Vince

February 20th, 2010
7:27 am

Eugene Walker are you listening….

So go ahead and close The Office of Internal Investigations, eh? Does that mean then that it should be okay for employees to break ethics rules, hit kids, abandon their jobs, go off the deep end, have inappropriate contact with students, cheat on standardized tests and have everyone just pretend it doesn’t happen?

Oh, I forgot. In your world teachers never do anything wrong.

Harold

February 20th, 2010
9:04 am

@ Vince

If you take out all the principals, you still have 112 employees making over $100,000 a year. I know what many of these employees do, and I know they should not make more than principals or even the same as principals. Many of these positions could be cut, and DeKalb would not only not miss them, they would be better off without them.

I counted 111 principals making over $100,000 in DeKalb. I counted 83 principals making over $100,000 in Fulton. Yes, they had quite a few salaries over $100,000 but then we have more schools and smaller schools.

I do not consider principals overpaid, but I do consider the 112 non-principal, non-teaching staff in the Central Office overpaid.

We have way too many support staff. You can’t run an efficient school system when only half of your staff actually teachers. Less and less of our staff are teachers as support grows and grows. We have 6,500 support staff.

Being a principal is an extremely tough job in DeKalb, and a very insecure one. If a school does not make AYP for 2 or 3 years, the principal is the first to go. Dr. Lewis nor any Central Office employee will take any blame even if they have instituted programs that are not helpful (and often a hindrance to teachers). They force the school to implement them, contributing to low teacher morale and in many instances actually being a detriment to student learning. By letting principals go or moving them around, Dr. Lewis places the “blame” on the local school administration. He always pretends he is “cleaning house” and the next administration will do a better job.

Principals do not have the power they need. For example, they are forced to accept administrative staff they do not want because someone in the Central Office is playing politics, has a relationship they want to honor, etc. They are not given the Title 1 funds expenditure decisions that they need at their school. Instead, the Central Office reserves too much of the Title 1 funding decisions at a county level. Principals and teachers in Title 1 school should have the bulk of the Title 1 money to hlep implement programs teachers and principals see as necessary. They are after all the ones actually in the classrooms with the students.

In addition, the principals have no power over most of the support personnel who are supposed to keep the school heated, air conditioned, new construction done, the computers up to date and working, copiers working, etc. More often than not, when teachers complain about poor service in these areas, the principals can do nothing about it. There are so many broken pieces in the schools that principals must pick their battles. I’m sure principals would like to see the many dollars paid out in support salaries for poor service changed so that they get the services and technology they need at their schools. It will not happen with the current system of patronage. They are at the mercy of whatever Dr. Lewis and the other 112 Central Office employees decide.

Dr. Lewis needs to cut, consolidate and outsource in every area but the local schoolhouse. He needs to give principals in Title 1 schools the decision making power over the majority of the Title 1 funds (they really should follow the students like Gifted funds do now). Principals should not have to accept staff they do not want to hire. Principals should not bear the blame when teaching programs chosen by Dr. Lewis and the Central Office do not work for the students at their school.

jim d

February 20th, 2010
9:38 am

Test Instead of Teach Teacher

February 20th, 2010
10:13 am

Vince, you must be a principal. Your description was not of a typical principal, instead it described the typical teacher (with the exception of weekends- we do not have the keys to get in; if we did we would most likely be there on the weekends too!). I have worked over several Holiday breaks throughout the years and the only people in the building were the custodians and teachers. EVERYBODY knows that principals do the LEAST amount of work in the school. The principal simply passes the “newest” research down to the teachers to implement. The “research” never involves or requires “work” from the principal.
In addition, principals give their responsibilities to the school committees that consist of teachers. I would guess that the average teacher is “placed” on at least 2 school committees. Therefore, we do our work and the work of principals. Teachers do not receive compensation for this mandatory extra work. The salary of a principal is not justified.

foot soldier

February 20th, 2010
10:41 am

I can not believe that Dr. Lewis is still trying to justify his salary increase. Whether or not 15K will or will not make a profound difference is not the point. No one else in the system has received a pay increase in the form of steps which is promised when hired either. In fact salary’s are falling because of furlough days. THE POINT IS – YOU MUST NOT ASK EVERYONE TO DO WHAT YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DO. It is symbolic and CANNOT BE JUSTIFIED. Why is it ok with you to take money from a 20K struggling employee and add to your over 200K salary?

Sally

February 20th, 2010
10:44 am

Instead of complaining on this blog why don’t people show up at the Dekalb School Board meetings and make their complaints. Complaining on this blog is not doing anything. If I had children, you can bet good money I’d be done there letting my feelings be known. Also, I hope more people pay attention to who you vote onto the school board.

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/board/meetings/

Harold

February 20th, 2010
10:45 am

We are missing the broader point of too many support people in DeKalb County Schools. 43% of our personnel are support (not teachers and administrators). That’s 5,700 support personnel – the Service Center, MIS, Finance, Human Resources, Food Services, Public Relations, etc. Do teachers and students in the classroom have abundant and working technology, good heating and air conditioning, construction work done on time and with minimal disruption to the classroom experience, clean restrooms and classrooms, and nutritious meals? If the answer is now – then why do we have 43% of our personnel still employed in DeKalb Schools? What do they have to do but service the classroom?

Angela

February 20th, 2010
10:46 am

DeKalb has 61 people employed in Human Resources. 9 of them make over $100,000 a year and 3 more make over $90,000 a year. Their combined salaries including benefits comes to $4,504,816.

These figures do not include what it takes to run the sub finder computerized system. In addition, I’ll bet there are a number of employees in MIS that work with HR since they use a computerized system for applying to DeKalb. Someone must do the programming, etc.

The breakdown is as follows:
Salaries: $3,591,165
BOE TSA Contribution: $215,469
BOE Retirement Contribution: $332,182
BOE insurance contribution: $366,000

I used the state of Gerogia published salary figures referred to on this blog (I looked up each person and entered their salary information into an Excel spreadsheet and then an AutoSum function).

I went to the DeKalb Schools website and downloaded the .pdf file that lists every HR employee. You can download the HR list by going to the address below and then clicking on the words “Staff Directory” on the right hand side menu.
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/administration/humanresources/

I think you’ll be surprised at how many people it takes to do some of the job functions. There is some consolidation, but not much. Most everyone has their own department.

As you can see almost one million dollars out of 4.5 million is in benefits or close to 25% of the salary cost. Even if we outsourced many departments and paid the same in salaries, we could avoid as much as 25% in benefit costs. That’s a huge savings, and it goes on year after year.

I know people say you don’t know what quality of work you get from outsourcing, but I ask the teachers – could it get any worse?

The great thing about outsourcing is you don’t have to renew their contract if they don’t do the work.

FulCo teach

February 20th, 2010
11:03 am

Actually, Sally, folks need to complain to their school board members directly – by phone, e-mail, or snail mail. I don’t know how DeKalb works, but if you just show up to a school board meeting in Fulton, you would NOT be heard. Our school board members hold community meetings each month before work sessions (pre-board) and board meetings; THAT is where the community is allowed to ask questions and give input. Unfortunately, most community meetings are held during the day, which eliminates most of their “stakeholders” from direct input, but they ALL have e-mail addresses.

The point all are making, I believe, is that we need to let those who can make a difference hear from us. Our school boards are creating budgets now (most have public budget hearings), and there seems an inherent disincentive to superintendents to cut closest to them. Parents, teachers, and taxpayers need to let those board members (and our general assembly members who set the state budgets) hear that cuts at the local school need to come AFTER central office cuts!

michelle

February 20th, 2010
11:33 am

I just went through each Elementary school and there is only one with enrollment less than 300. The few between 300-400 students are some of the best. Quality public school education for those of us forced to send our children to public school is obviously not the priority.

Angela

February 20th, 2010
12:06 pm

Two ways to email the DeKalb BOe members:

1. Go to the DeKalb website page and email each DeKalb BOE member by first clicking on their name and then clicking on their email address to the right of their picture :
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/board/members/

2. Or this is really easy….
Go to the website DeKalb School Watch to email all BOE members with one email:
http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/
Above Recent Comments on the right hand side menu you will see a link entitled CLICK HERE to Email the entire DCSS Board of Education. Click that link and you can send one email that will go to all Dekalb BOE members.

I emailed all the DeKalb BOE members to ask them to make deep cuts in the admin and support areas before they adversely impact our children by increasing class sizes or decrease teacher morale by cutting teacher pay. I told every BOE member:

“Parents are not interested in job preservation. We are interested in
a reasonably sized classroom with competent staff. That is the sole
reason we support the school system with our taxes.

Please look into cutting, consolidating, and outsourcing as much of
DeKalb’s administrative and support staff as possible in order to
preserve our children’s classroom experience. Only after this has
been done should we even consider impacting our children’s classroom.”

I also expressed my disappointment with the $15,000 raise Dr. Lewis received. In a tie of austere budgets, this was totally inappropriate. A leader leads by example.

Welcome to our little world of Dekalb

February 20th, 2010
1:23 pm

I have mentioned this in an earlier blog. It very much needed to close down some of these schools. Espsecially those schools with less than 300 students. Just look on Dekalb’s website and see for yourself which schools have 450 and less students. I worked at school that has about six empty classrooms. Dr. Lewis shouldn’t only target the schools in South Dekalb only. He needs to look into the schools on the north end of the county such as Livesy, Brockett, and Ashford Park. These schools have less than 350 students.

Welcome to our little world of Dekalb

February 20th, 2010
4:27 pm

Dr. Lewis is also going to have cut unnecessary spending among the schools. Principals has too much freedom in how money is spent. Just this past year a principal bought tables and furniture the lounge and hallway. Furniture was also purchase for the office. It wasn’t cheap furniture either. It was purchase from one of the most popular expensive furniture stores in the USA. The principal just could have gotten furniture from the warehouse. The furniture is not getting an education the children are. This type of spending goes on in all of the Dekalb Schools. Also get rid of the consultants. I need to be on the panel to help with spending. I would look at schools books and begin chopping. By the time I finishing chopping the budget in the schools, I would find about 30 millions and still save jobs. You would actually have to be there everyday just to see all the foolishness spending.

Vince

February 20th, 2010
5:12 pm

Test Instead of Teach Teacher….

I have done both jobs in the school house. Teacher for 21 years and principal for 9. There is no comparison as far as the work load. Granted, you probably do not get to see much of what your principal does, but the workload is enormous. I long to return to the classroom but need to work the extra two months. The pay of a principal is better, but really only because of the number of days worked. The “per hour” pay is not significantly different.

Come on Vince

February 20th, 2010
5:57 pm

You don’t think that taking a wizz when you want to is worth it? I have heard of teachers 6-month pregnant waiting for some one to relieve them so they can go…..

Also, you can delegate some—teachers delegate to whom? They are where the rubber meets the road, you know.

South Dekalb??

February 20th, 2010
8:32 pm

I though it was interesting that Lewis singled out South Dekalb for the school closing since the most of the schools with the lowest enrollment is in North Dekalb. He thinks he picked the the path of least resistance. Speak up South Dekalb! Make Lewis go by the numbers (which is fair) and not by the money!

Test Instead of Teach Teacher

February 20th, 2010
8:42 pm

@Come on Vince- Your right I have to send a note to several classrooms to find someone to supervise my students so I can go to the restroom! Sometimes, it takes 30 minutes or more before I can find someone who can come to the classroom because the other teachers are alone and can’t leave their students either!

Rhee fan

February 20th, 2010
11:06 pm

@Harold: I like the idea of outsourcing HR administration. There are so much low-hanging, “cost savings” fruit to pick like these – so much preferable to closing schools.

I vote for Michelle Rhee (DC Superintendent) to come down to Georgia. Dekalb Board of Ed should recruit a leader like Rhee with vision and the energy to shake things up, fire incompetent staff, and focus on results.

OverlyInvolvedMom

February 21st, 2010
6:40 am

@Rhee Fan – I just said out loud after about 10 of these comments “Michelle Rhee where are you when we need you!”

OverlyInvolvedMom

February 21st, 2010
6:45 am

…and has anyone broached the subject of tenure yet? Part of Rhee’s plan is eliminating tenure (as is the case in many private schools) and forcing adults who teach children to be fully accountable to those that they teach (and their parents). My husband and I have worked in executive positions in our industry for years and we have never, ever had a job with “tenure.” If we don’t perform, we are out the door. So we make sure we give our best, everyday, all the time. Getting rid of that safety net also weeds out those who see teaching as an “easy” way to make a living, until they realize later that it’s actually hard work (I am also a former teacher). Give people higher salaries and “at will” employment and you will attract some of the most passionate, highly educated, seasoned professionals out there. Heck, I may even step back into the classroom… Just a thought….

Vince

February 21st, 2010
8:41 am

Okay guys, I’ll admit it is probably easier for an administrator to go to the restroom…..but the rest of the job is much, much more demanding.

South Dekalb…… Numbers don’t tell the whole story in Dekalb. Some of the small schools in north and central Dekalb house huge special ed populations because they also serve as “centers” for certain disabilities. Those schools, thus, have no empty classrooms. Many of the schools with 400 – 500 students were built for 1000 students and are half empty….and so are their neighboring schools. Taking that into account, it would make more sense to close those schools because the displaced students have a place to go without overcrowding the receiving schools.

say what?

February 21st, 2010
12:55 pm

@south Dekalb? really most of the smaller schools are on the south side, he is not favoring the North over the South- please stop that madness. The FTE count can be found on the school system website, and those numbers were from October, and enrollment has changed since then. I know of three schools in the Gresham Park area that could consolidate because they are within 2 miles of each other from Bouldercrest to I-20. Not much growth and development along that corridor, tehn why have 3 principals, 3 APs, 3 fully staffed cafeterias, several buses at each school, and 10 custodians for these 3 small schools? think about the classrooms with less than 19 kids in a class compared to other areas with more than 26, yet the teachers receive the same salary. please don’t start the North v.South war again, as it is true that most industry has shifted to the North side of the metro area leaving behind nothing more than chicken wing restaurants, beauty supply stores, and empty real estate. This factor is beyond the control of the BOE or Dr. Lewis.
Because MANY schools do not include the parents in the budgeting of Title I funds according to the school council rules, IT IS NOT FEASIBLE TO ALLOW SCHOOL PRINCIPALS complete control of Title I funds. Title I appears to be the only department working hard with less than 20 staff directly coordinating all services according to HB1 of 2000, better known as No Child Left Behind. If everyone on this blog could understand the nearly 700 pages of NCLB and implement without having to sanctioned by the Fed’s during ongoing evaluations and visits, then please go ahead. The amount of documentation necessary for the state and the feds is unbelievable and to be able to find every piece of documentation for the past 3 years when demanded is a challenge.

People complaining about “support staff” this includes the custodians, MIS, transportation, cafeteria staff, accountants, HR, school secretaries, safety staff, media clerks, registrars. Glad that everyone feels they should go and the teachers and principals can do these jobs as well as teaching. Unfortunately, outsourcing did not work in relation to installation of computer systems. The last contractor received the contract and money, but lacked in services in a multiyear contract. by the time the contract was over, DCSS was even further behind. Outsourcing is not the solution as well, because by the time the contract(s) up, damage is done. Same thing will occur with the awful America’s Choice they will have the 8.5M, and our kids will be dumbererer.

say what?

February 21st, 2010
12:57 pm

Mandatory retirement at 30 years of service should be implemented.

Harold

February 22nd, 2010
11:49 am

If teachers and students got stellar service from DeKalb’s support staff, I don’t think you would hear so much complaining. But broken toilets, electrical work that takes months to complete, inadequate heat and air, broken computers and interactive boards that don’t get fixed, moldy ceilings and carpeting, etc. is the reality teachers and students live in every day. No one should have to spend their day (students or teachers) in some of the Third World conditions DeKalb classroom are in.

DeKalb teachers are lucky if they have 2 computers in the classroom for 30+ students. Other metro systems (Gwinnett, Fulton, Forsyth to name a few) have interactive boards in every classroom. Other metro systems (Gwinnett, Cobb, Fulton, APS, Forsyth) have given every teacher a laptop for professional use. DeKalb teachers are lucky if their teacher computer works. Some still have the old clunkers from 7 and 8 years ago. MIS chose the vendors you are talking about. Nothing was “oursourced”. MIS recommended that the county contract with first an HP subcontractor and then switched to Dell during the last RFP to do all of the installation and most of the servicing of the new computers and interactive boards. What did that leave the hundreds of DeKalb MIS employees to do? The 291 MIS employees’ salaries cost DeKalb over $19,000,000 a year. With benefits that’s almost $24,000,000 a year. And let’s not forget MIS gave us eSis, the online gradebook from Hades. This sucks up enormous amounts of teacher time, make grade disappear, etc. I encourage you to ask any teacher how they feel about the level of service they get from the technology department.

America’s Choice was a poor choice. Very expensive scripted teaching with expensive support personnel called Instructional Coaches. Teachers are having fits about the treatment they are receiving from the 80 Instructional Coaches. The salaries of the Instructional Coaches cost DeKalb approximately $6,000,000 or $7,5000,000 including benefits. America’s Choice cost $8,000,000 just for the program. Title 1 funds paid for this program that is very unpopular with the employees who actually teach our students. How’s that for motivation? I think the schools (meaning principals and teachers) could certainly have used $8,000,000 to implement initiatives tailored to their specific students.

Millions and millions down the drain.

Momof2

February 22nd, 2010
12:53 pm

Maybe we could have a show of hands here – who has actually received any responses from their emails to the Dekalb BOE? I’ve gotten one (1). And it wasn’t from the one on the ballot I used. I have a problem with that.

Angela

February 22nd, 2010
1:14 pm

I mailed every DeKalb BOE member. I got 3 responses.

Mac

February 22nd, 2010
1:55 pm

This! So much this!

“Mandatory retirement at 30 years of service should be implemented”.

Roberta

February 22nd, 2010
7:31 pm

1 – I thought it was agreed that teachers don’t get paid enough money. Isn’t a superintendent worth as much as a CEO of any finance company in Buckhead? I assure you they make way more than the superintendents here in GA.
2 – You really think that the money schools get is enough? I have more degrees than many of the people in this state. I make pennies compared to so many ‘private professionals.’
3 – When was the last time any of you (responding to the education system in this state) volunteered to help schools – before, during, and after hours. Schools offer tutoring programs but volunteers would be greatly welcomed. Should would help all those kids dropping out.
4 – Closing schools is very sad, but doesn’t it make sense? Would you LIKE to see your money spent better? Less buses, less heat/air/water….?
5 – And yes – I agree there are way too many people who are not needed in some of these positions. But I truly believe that no one in the education system is paid what they are worth.

When Kathy Cox compared the pressure that GA teachers are under to the kind of pressure that the footballs players feel before the superbowl – … really? How much do they make? I assure her – my pressure is very different. I live in a modest house … I’m not living the life of any super bowl player.