DeKalb: Redistricting would save $15 million a year

DeKalb parents have been pressing for information on how much money the DeKalb County School System would save from the redistricting and consolidation proposals, some of which split some neighborhoods off from beloved elementary and high schools.

Here is the county statement, which I just received:

The Redistricting and Consolidation plan options, which were presented to the DeKalb County Board of Education by MGT of America on Jan. 3, 2011, are designed to address inefficiencies in the facilities management of DeKalb Schools, including some 11,000 “empty seats” throughout the School District.

The plan, which must be approved by the Board of Education, will be implemented at the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year and includes two options, including a “centralized” and “decentralized” option.

Based on an internal review and consultation with the Georgia Department of Education, the School System estimates the centralized plan will save the School District approximately $150 million over the next ten years, while the decentralized plan will save approximately $161 million over the same period of time.

On an annual basis, the centralized plan would save the School System some $15 million each year, while the decentralized plan would save approximately $16 million. These savings would be realized from increased operational efficiencies as well as anticipated annual increases in the capital facilities funding allowance from the State Department of Education. The School System has through the month of January hosted six public meetings to discuss the Redistricting and Consolidation proposals.

Based on those meetings and other community input, the Interim Superintendent is scheduled to make a final recommendation to the Board of Education on the Redistricting and Consolidation proposals on Feb. 7, 2011. Public hearings before the Board of Education related to the recommendations are scheduled for March 1 and March 3. The Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the Redistricting and Consolidation plan on March 7.

The Redistricting and Consolidation Plan is part of the DeKalb County School System’s 2020 Vision, a comprehensive process that will culminate in a 2020 Master Plan that will describe the facilities, programs and other needs of the school system over the next ten years and the recommended facility improvements required to meet these needs.

From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

47 comments Add your comment

Top School

January 28th, 2011
6:37 pm

Saving money is not what the are interested in achieving.

TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta.com

January 28th, 2011
6:42 pm

IF they were interested in saving money they
would figure out ways to cut at the ADMINISTRATIVE LEVEL.

d

January 28th, 2011
6:56 pm

Can I please have a step increase then?

married to a dekalb teacher

January 28th, 2011
7:12 pm

@ d. I agree. The teachers haven’t received a step increase in years. I just looked at his W-2 that came in the mail today and was shocked to see that he earned that amount about 5 years ago!!! He should be well into the 70’s by now but…….

Jonathan

January 28th, 2011
7:15 pm

How does the decentralized plan, which is the less aggressive plan, save more money than the centralized plan? How can you save more money shifting fewer students and closing fewer schools?

d

January 28th, 2011
7:16 pm

@married – my sister and I both teach in DeKalb….. I’m in my 6th year, she in her first. We both earn the same salary, but because of my 403(b), she’s netting more than me right now….. and because she’s math, if the state funds that pay the math and science teachers more (because they’re the only important teachers anyway) bill, she’ll actually gross more than me. Kinda sad, actually.

d

January 28th, 2011
7:17 pm

@Jonathan – educated guess would be lower transportation costs, but that is just a guess on my part.

MANA resident

January 28th, 2011
7:44 pm

Scrolling down to look that the financial analysis efficiencies – where are the numbers for Briar Vista and Fernbank? This analysis appears to be incomplete…

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Stephanie Hunte, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: DeKalb: Redistricting would save $15 million a year http://bit.ly/hLBb0H [...]

Atlanta Media Guy

January 28th, 2011
8:25 pm

Decentralized, Magnets stay in place has a million more in savings per year. Just think they keep the magnets in place, use the savings, as well as Audria Berry’s “Improvement” Dept. budget (Not Title 1) and you’d have a a nice chunk of change to start Magnet Programs in every cluster and provide specials at every school.. Sound like a no brainer. It won’t be that easy, this is DCSS, we’re talking about.

Dekalbite@MANA resident

January 28th, 2011
8:43 pm

“In conclusion, it appears that when comparing subgroups, Briar Vista can hold its own academically with Fernbank even though it has a greater number of ESOL students and a much greater number of Economically Disadvantaged students.”

Look at this analysis of Fernbank and Briar Vista subgroups on the CRCT:
http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2011/01/fernbank-vs-briar-vista-by-numbers.html

oldtimer

January 28th, 2011
8:48 pm

You can save all you want..but no child should be move from a good school to a crummy school..ie Druid Hills to Clarkston……Not good. Where kids go to school matters

oldtimer

January 28th, 2011
8:52 pm

Taught here in TN made $22.000 less and no health benefits…and NEA does salary benefit negociations. IS that worth $300 a month in union dues? Also I have learned getting tenure is not what it is cracked up to be…Teachers in thefirst three years have NO rights……even good ones who get replaced.

say what?

January 28th, 2011
9:07 pm

Do kids lose their “smartness”, parent involvement, and testing prowness if they are split up and move from one building to another? NO, NO, NO. Stop the madness and let’s see how we can work together for the DeKalb county School SYSTEM. BUT I would fight tooth and nail on the move to Clarkston and its feeder pattern.

Dekalbite@say what?

January 28th, 2011
9:58 pm

Enter your comments here

Dekalbite@say what?

January 28th, 2011
10:10 pm

“BUT I would fight tooth and nail on the move to Clarkston and its feeder pattern.’

Why would you do that? The DCSS student population has shifted north as the population in the south has “aged out” of the school system. The lines need to be redrawn to give the southern schools more students.

If DCSS had been working to make all schools equal, there wouldn’t be such dissension. $128,000,000 in federal funds flowed through Dr Audria’s Berry’s Office of School Improvement last year. The bulk of these funds should go to “leveling the playing field” for Title 1 schools (those with the lowest income students – Clarkston is one). Dr. Lewis and Dr. Berry chose to spend this money on expensive and ineffective learning programs, highly paid Instructional Coaches and Coordinators, and costly conference trips. Almost no money goes to teachers directly instructing students.

Perhaps if involved parents have their children rezoned to Clarkston, they will advocate for funds to be spent in direct instruction and improve the school for ALL children.

DCSS must redistrict in order to save money and remain competitive with other system. It is the responsibility of the DCSS administration and the BOE to ensure all schools are equal in opportunities. They have sidestepped their responsibility and let schools become uneven. Hopefully, the redistricting of schools and sending admin and support personnel’s administrative transfers back to their home schools will give involved parents a greater stake in making the educational opportunities for all students equal.

DCSS teacher

January 28th, 2011
10:16 pm

Uh, can I get a local supplement???? There are a number of DCSS teachers who are making ONLY state salary scale this year.

say what?

January 28th, 2011
11:09 pm

Dekalbite- until DCSS straightens out Clarkston, I as a parent would not want to place my children there after a 6 mile bus ride. This school could be the best school in the county. It is culturally rich and diverse. Parents from other countries believe that school and learning are for the teachers, so the students should not cause any problems. They also tend to believe that school should not intervene with home. BUT then you have children whose parents blame every problem in their ecological sphere on the government, schools, and other people.

I am in support of redistricting and closing schools as there are schools with just as many vacant seats than filled seats. I think all schools should receive additional Title I funds because the county overall is title I. I recognize that this is a federal issue and change that would come from the federal level, and perhaps RTTT funds will do just that-raise the entire school system.

amazed

January 28th, 2011
11:40 pm

@jonathan

They assume transportation costs are the same since they deliver to fewer schools even though they know they are moving more kids. In other words, they have no idea what transportation costs are.

This is just a simple analysis of the costs saved by closing schools + some sort of analysis of projected state funding (which isn’t really explained-and with no explanation it appears incomplete but may not be). The reason the centralized saves less is because it leaves Avondale MS and Avondale HS open as magnets under the centralized option instead of totally closing them. In the centralized they do close Wadsworth Magnet Elementary and Livesey Elementary (Kittredge isn’t really closed but is just switched from Magnet to neighborhood), but they each cost 500k-700k less to operate than Avondale MS and HS.

It is pretty basic, but does give a general idea. They includes salaries & benefits of non-teaching staff and electricity and natural gas. Isn’t clear if they consider that some utilities are needed to maintain empty buildings or if they are assuming all the costs would go away, but the bulk of the $ (over 90%) are in salaries & benefits. There are other costs they aren’t considering that would drive the savings somewhat higher.

The state funding improvements are similar under each, $5.174 million centralized and $4.838 decentralized.

d

January 28th, 2011
11:56 pm

@DCSS teacher – a huge problem is that the state has been giving step increases but lowering the local supplement to absorb it – to the point that many teachers were actually making less than the state salary scale…. until ODE pointed that out to the board so teachers got a supplement to bring them back up to the state scale. The local supplement is messed up anyway – I’m making about $700 in local supplement, but my sister is making about $4,000 in supplement.

MANA resident

January 29th, 2011
8:52 am

After poring over these numbers, I have a lot of questions (and no idea how to get answers). For example, the points currently allocated to Laurel Ridge currently and for next school year are barely different, despite the fact that roughly 90 additional children will be at this school. That makes me think that there will be no additional teachers added to cover the influx of students from Medlock to Laurel Ridge. And we expect the number of kids coming from MANA to only get bigger in coming years given the baby boom we’ve had in this area. Am I misreading something?

bootney farnsworth

January 29th, 2011
9:10 am

I wouldn’t send a juvie kid to Clarkston.
cruel and unusual punishment

Oh yes, I'm the great pretender......

January 29th, 2011
9:57 am

Yeah, I don’t doubt that it will save the DCSS money (they could do a lot of other things that would save as much, too :) but, the cost of ruined neighborhoods and lower property values across the county will be astronomical, which will in turn lead to reduced ad valorem taxes, which will lead to less money for the DCSS, which will lead to utter and complete chaos within a school system that no one will want their children to attend (except, of course, those needing a baby sitter). I think this is an issue the DCSS BOE should consider very carefully, but given their propensity for making horrible decisions, I believe they have made a decision and will stubboringly cling to it.

Educated Dekalb Taxpayer

January 29th, 2011
10:39 am

I don’t know where to start on this so called “Financial Analysis of the Two Options”. Do you realize they have “estimated” the cost to close schools, relocate equipment and bus either 13,000 or 16,000 students to their new school at LESS THAN $9 PER STUDENT??? Who do they think they are fooling! We must insist on real cost numbers to execute either of these plans not just a one page with no supporting financial information. There is no doubt that either plan will cost at least 10 to 100 times the figures they have used in the “Cost of Implementation”. And they say that after the plan is approved, they will figure out how much it costs to bus the thousands of kids out of their neighborhood and away from their neighborhood schools. We can’t let them move forward and start spending our tax dollars based on this “Analysis”. This has to stop now.

Oh yes, I'm the great pretender......

January 29th, 2011
11:27 am

@Educated Dekalb Taxpayer

January 29th, 2011
10:39 am
We must insist on real cost numbers to execute either of these plans not just a one page with no supporting financial information.

EDP – I doubt the DCSS employs anyone that can do the “higher math” it will take to compute the “real cost”. They probably have someone “working on it” though……. Let’s get rid of all the waste in the CO before we start closing schools…….yeah, I know, we’ve already taken a look at our costs and have cut all the waste :)

Name One

January 29th, 2011
11:59 am

If any teachers were involved, they obviously did so under direction of their principal or Asst. principal.

Instead of removing teachers, we should remove the BOE’s Gene Walker!

http://www.accessnorthgeorgia.com/detail.php?n=150517
“Parole board member on trial for sexual harassment”
State parole board member Gene Walker is on trial for allegedly sexually harassing an assistant then having her transferred because he didn’t like her physique.
A similar lawsuit against Walker when he was a state senator was settled out of court. This lawsuit, which seeks at least $1 million, will be decided by a Fulton County jury.

http://www.accessnorthgeorgia.com/detail.php?n=165732
“State paid $190,000 to settle earlier sex harassment suit”
The sexual harassment lawsuit pending against state parole board member Gene Walker isn’t the first time he’s been named in such a case. The Associated Press has learned that the state quietly paid $190,000 a dozen years ago to settle the first lawsuit in which Walker was accused of sexually harassing a secretary.
The payment has never been identified as such in a state budget or audit, but following inquiries by The AP, the Legislative Fiscal Office and the state auditor confirmed the money was paid through a budget category labeled “other operating funds” of the state Senate in 1993.
The earlier lawsuit was filed when Walker was a powerful state senator. The state paid to settle allegations that he and two legislative colleagues sexually harassed a secretary in the state Senate.
An even bigger payout potentially is at stake in the current lawsuit against Walker, which was filed by a former parole board secretary. Plaintiff’s lawyers have told the state’s risk managers they believe their claim is worth $1 million to $3 million in damages.
Walker, who helps decide when murderers, sex offenders, and other felons are released from prison, declined a request for an interview. He referred questions through a parole board spokeswoman to his state-paid attorney, Bruce Edenfield.

Michelle

January 29th, 2011
12:23 pm

The DeKalb County School System is reporting savings with both plans without any cost analysis. The numbers they are posting are simply the current operating costs of schools slated to close. They have provided no data or numbers to indicate the continual education of the 16,000 students moved. We need data to show the net savings. We need the transportation numbers, not a sentence explaining that they will likely be offset. We need a realistic number for implementation. They are not accounting for relocating furniture, equipment, textbooks, trailors or students to any new location. Their attempt to placate taxpayers and community members with numbers from the DCSS checkbook register is deceitful. And if they intend to shove through their plans to disrupt up to 16,000 students without an actual cost analysis, it is criminal.

Top School

January 29th, 2011
12:31 pm

http://www.alliancetheatre.org/en/Our-Plays/Now-Playing/Bring-It-On.aspx

ATLANTA PUBLIC SCHOOLS Musical Top Girl meets Top School-Cross the Line with rezoning and redistricting, North vs. South, Awards, Faking your way to the TOP, and the political power of the board members. BRING IT ON captures the challenges of APS and Dekalb schools. The perfect combination of elementary/high school drama on the NORTHSIDE of Atlanta. Story told by my friends. Jackson school has crossed the line..
Bravo for taking a bad situation and making it into a comedy and musical! Thank you my musical friends!

Ole Guy

January 29th, 2011
2:26 pm

D, through your comment, you have illuminated a big problem. Receiving wage/salary adjustments is not a “please-and-thank you” game. It is the result of a negotiated figure agreeable to all parties. I won’t start harping on the union thing again, only to establish, within your mind, and the minds of your fellow teachers, not to expect someone within DOE to suddenly realize that your profession has “done been wronged and, omigosh, let’s do right by em”. You folks (teachers) are supposed to set examples for youth…examples of tenacity, working tirelessly toward a desired goal. If your students simply complained because math was too tough to conquer, and were content to stand by while the standards were lowered so that the prevailing grades would become the “new pass” (come to think about it, isn’t that precisely what has transpired over the last dozen or so years?), you would urge them on to new heights of achievement.

So if you take a really hard, though unpleasant, look at your (teachers) situation, D, I am quite sure you will have to agree that you are not practicing that which you preach. All you (collectively) do is whine and complain, hoping that someone else will do the dirty work, “kiss it where it hurts”, and make it all better.

I am sure you will tell your students, stuck on a difficult problem, to “hunker down; burn the midnight oil, etc”…this is precisely what you, and your cohorts, must do. Just exactly what you do, and how you go about doing it is entirely up to you. But you better get cracking and DO it soon!

d

January 29th, 2011
3:42 pm

Ole Guy – At the beginning of this school year, I took the time to sit down and compare the State salary schedule to the DeKalb salary schedule when I first noticed the problem I mentioned earlier. I put the information into an Excel spreadsheet so I could quickly see exactly how much we were getting ripped off. As far as your opinion of my union, let me just say I did speak with some of the board members personally about what I found, but I was ignored. I gave the spreadsheet to one of the ODE officers who mentioned the disparity to the board at a public meeting – the result, teachers received a stipend to offset the difference. The problem is, it’s easy to ignore an individual. It is much harder to ignore nearly 5,000 of your employees when the all speak with one voice at the local level, almost 45,000 at the state level, and 3.2 Million at the national level. You’re right, we do need to take our career into our own hands for not only the benefit of ourselves, but also our students. Don’t get me wrong, I think about them with every decision I make, but I’m honestly having to start looking for a part time job so that I can make ends meet now. How is that going to affect my students? It won’t be in a positive way.

Hmmm...

January 29th, 2011
6:49 pm

DCSS better have their act together regarding cost savings, because the Lakeside PTA led by Amy Powers is talking seriously about suing the system. A lawsuit such as this would cause irrepairable harm, but Lakeside wants “theirs”, and to be damned with everyone else is their credo.

Top School

January 29th, 2011
8:03 pm

The way it works on the NORTHSIDE of Atlanta…TOP SCHOOL

“BRING IT ON” …THE MUSICAL see it at the Alliance Theater.

Jackson …Top Girl …Awards…and redistricting the schools. APS-Dekalb woven in a musical with just the right amount of comedy to get the point across.

My friends involved in this soon to be Broadway Musical have used the issues of Atlanta Public Schools

http://www.TopPublicSchoolsCorruptionAtlanta. to create JACKSON and crossing the line…from Elem/ to High School. This is “HOW IT WORKS” The TOP SCHOOL and AWARDS.
Go TOP girl!

Top School

January 29th, 2011
8:04 pm

Linda

January 29th, 2011
9:29 pm

Um Hmmmm 6:49 – Amy Powers is the president of the Fernbank PTA. Lakeside folks have no intention of suing the system. They don’t want to waste money that should go to DCSS students.

MANA resident@Dekalbite

January 29th, 2011
11:09 pm

I’m aware of the link you posted, my question is with respect to financial analysis efficiencies posted by DCSS last night – Briar Vista and Fernbank are conspicuously absent.

LSH parent

January 30th, 2011
5:08 pm

I hope it never comes to it. But, sometimes a lawsuit, or the threat of a lawsuit, is the only thing that makes DCSS do the right thing. It does take money from the students. But, so do the many many many ridiculous things done by DCSS. We have called, written, attended BOE meetings, public workshops, make reports to Dekalb DA, reported to SACS, etc to work within the system. We have elected new board members. Some have picketed. But, when a school system continues to operate secretively, inefficiently, and foolishly,citizens have to resort to whatever means necessary to force DCSS to act in the best interest of all DCSS students.

Jane

January 30th, 2011
6:23 pm

Even is this is approved in some manner there is NO WAY, all these buildings could be closed and the contents moved. It took Kittridge 1.5 years of planning to move to Nancy Creek – and that was one school. Where is the 2020 plan that is always thrown out there by DCSS? Let’s have the plant first then decide about changes.

chillywilly

January 31st, 2011
7:53 am

Dekalb County Schools would save a ton of money by closing Livsey & Medlock. Close em!

Michele

January 31st, 2011
8:08 am

Can we please STOP saying that “the plan fills 11,000 empty seats?” It does not! Either plan would only fill about half of those seats while affecting about 17,000 students!! When will someone in the media clarify this? Regarding their poor excuse for a “cost analysis,” it is truly an insult to all of us who have had to wait months for this report. Summarizing costs at just $9 per student while saying they won’t know the actual cost per student until AFTER the Board approves the plan is just a way of saying, “it’s going to cost way more than we’re actually telling you.” This is a farce.

MANA resident@chillywilly

January 31st, 2011
9:11 am

Maybe you have access to some numbers that I haven’t seen, but I have a lot of questions about the figures provided by DCSS on Friday. I’m a Medlock parent, so of course I’m thinking about it from this perspective, but parents at other schools slated to close could easily have the same questions and deserve a better accounting than we’ve been given thus far.

What is the cost of renovations/expansions that will be necessary to Laurel Ridge, McClendon, Avondale and possibly Jolly Elementary Schools to accommodate our student population?

What is the cost of renovations to other facilities that will be required to appropriately support the special education students currently housed at Medlock Elementary?

What additional personnel costs will be incurred at each of the above elementary schools as their student populations grow?

Why are the data for other elementary schools in our area missing from the financial efficiencies document (Briar Vista and Fernbank, in particular)? We need this information to assess the broader picture affecting our area.

concerned Dekalb mom

January 31st, 2011
10:57 am

@chillywilly

Are you serious? Closing down a strong performing, fully utilized school in the heart of a thriving neighborhood cannot possibly save “a ton of money”. The fallout of this would be far greater than the operating costs of Livsey:

Declining property values, the loss of committed families and their children to the DCSS, not to mention harming local businesses – have you factored in those costs to the county?

The people that live in these neighborhoods more than offset any nominal increase that may be present in operating this slightly smaller school by the increased property taxes they pay, the businesses they support and operate, and the stability they provide for Dekalb County. Do you want to run off more young educated families that are supporting this county?

If you are that upset that Livsey is a tax drain, then recommend adding a few additional students or expanding the school. Why recommend closing a successful school in a vibrant neighborhood? Completely senseless.

Not Buying It

January 31st, 2011
1:23 pm

Laughing my behind off at anyone who floats the possibility of a parents’ lawsuit as though it should be considered a real threat, regardless of whether the rumor involves the Fernbank CDC wives book club or the Lakeside PTA. And, what body of case law makes these people think they can enjoin a school board from making decisions about proper use of school buildings? What underemployed probate attorney with too much time on his/her hands is getting up at these meetings and rattling sabers?

Hmmm

January 31st, 2011
10:39 pm

Not Buying It: Fernbank PTA’s Amy Powers is a former prosecutor, tough as nails, arrogant, smart mom who’s pretty darn capable of taking on any lawyer DCSS brings on. Whether it’s wrong or right, a lawsuit definite possibility Fernbankers are throwing out there.

Not Buying It

February 1st, 2011
11:05 am

Well, I’ve never known a tough, arrogant former (or current) attorney who didn’t love to throw out the prospect of a lawsuit as a scare tactic. Doesn’t mean you have to take it seriously. Whether Powers is more capable than the DCSS attorney on the other side doesn’t matter if case law isn’t on her side.

Don't trust DCSS

February 1st, 2011
3:43 pm

We should be allowed to sue when a poor decision by the school system impacts our propoerty values and our ability to utilize public schools that we pay for. Should the people who live at the edge of a school district be treated as second class citizens who could be moved from a high performing school to a low performing one at any moment? Should we only buy a house right across the street from the school we wish to attend to avoid fear of being cast aside at any time? (Actually even that doesn’t seem to work in some cases.)

Ernest

February 1st, 2011
9:03 pm

We should be allowed to sue when a poor decision by the school system impacts our propoerty values and our ability to utilize public schools that we pay for.

I guess everyone has the right to sue but in reality, school districts around the country are going through redistricting because of the costs associated with operating small schools. I notice that not many citizens are volunteering to pay more property taxes to that everyone can have small schools.

Another point to consider, if some communities have the means to sue to keep their small schools open, will that mean the closure decisions will be made for communities that don’t have the means to sue?

Not Buying It

February 2nd, 2011
10:10 am

Simply because you are a taxpayer doesn’t and shouldn’t insure you against what you perceive to be negative decisions by a board of ed, county commission, etc. There is no such thing as a zero-sum decision. In any tough decision, someone will be hurt or inconvenienced; it’s inevitable. That’s why courts don’t enjoin local officials from making these decisions according to their best judgment. Now, whether you accept the premise that the DeKalb BOE and administration makes sound decisions is an entirely different matter, but that’s one to be fought out in the public hearings and in the local school board elections.