Desperate in DeKalb: Should schools drop sports programs? How about band and drama?

A parent raised an issue at the DeKalb school board meeting that merits more discussion here:  Rather than increase class sizes, the parent said the county should cut athletics. “There’s no point in training student athletes when they can’t read or write or get a job,” she said.

As a parent, I have to agree. But I also have two kids who chose sports — tennis and volleyball — that are largely played outside of school in tournaments and club leagues. So, I am already paying for their sports. My older two played only school-based sports, and it was a lot cheaper.

As we have discussed on this blog, Finland, the model du jour for U.S. schools, does not offer school-based sports teams, relying on community programs to provide them. (A reader from Finland wanted me to note, however, that the Finns are very health oriented and their schools offer vigorous PE classes that utilize public parks for running, public ice skating rings for skating and public ball fields for Finnish baseball. The schools do indoor sports — strength training, basketball, volleyball –  during winter.  “Also we have mandatory recess several times a day when kids go out, rain or shine, and no matter how cold it is,” said the reader.)

When the reform committee formed by Gov. Roy Barnes looked at the dismal middle school scores years ago, the committee suggested that students spend more time on core subjects at the expense of PE and music. There was a a vocal outcry. I can recall PE teacher pointing to the obesity epidemic and music teachers citing the correlation between music and math and the fact that kids in band have higher high school completion rates.

But DeKalb is between the proverbial rock and hard place — no money in reserves and a $70 million deficit. The county was badly hit by the collapse of the real estate market in Georgia, and wearied taxpayers, some of whom owe more on their houses than the homes are now worth, don’t want a tax increase.

So, should DeKalb jettison its sports programs? Should it follow Clayton’s example and at least consider dumping middle school sports?  Should it impose fees on all extracurricular programs, including band, drama, debate, robotics and cheerleading?

I value all these programs and wish schools could offer all of them and more. But is that realistic when you witness the choices facing DeKalb?

I agree that many families can’t afford for the fees, which for club sports can be $2,000 to $4,000 a year for coaches, fees, uniforms and travel.

Why couldn’t Georgia create a tax credit program for public school extracurriculars as it did for private school tuition? People could donate so low-income students could play sports or participate in the band. (Of course, if the program followed the twisted path of the state’s private school tax credit the money would end up going to middle class kids.)

Here is the AJC.com news story on the bad news from the board meeting Tuesday:

DeKalb officials are wrestling with their most challenging budget in years. Unlike most school systems in Georgia, DeKalb has no money in the bank and is on a trajectory to finish the fiscal year in debt. The board took a step Tuesday toward closing what is potentially a more than $70 million deficit by ordering spending cuts and reluctantly setting the table for more taxpayer support.

“I cannot support a two mill increase,” said Paul Womack, who nonetheless voted with the majority in the 5-2 decision Tuesday afternoon. He wasn’t alone. The board had to adopt something prior to a public hearing Tuesday evening to comply with Georgia Department of Education rules. A final budget typically must be in place before the fiscal year starts July 1, and changes are likely.

Nancy Jester wouldn’t vote even for this early draft of the budget because of the tax increase. She said she wants to cut “everything, and more.”

Without that $30 million, the board will have to look far beyond a list of 15 reductions recommended by Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson.

The biggest, a two-student increase in the average classroom size that would save $14 million, may also be the most controversial. Layoffs of about 70 central office employees would reduce spending by $5 million and a pullback in overtime pay would save another $5 million. Assorted other cuts, including the elimination of the Montessori program, transportation to magnet schools and elimination of 25 librarians, would make up the rest.

Atkinson withdrew other options, but they’re still on the table if the tax rate doesn’t rise. Among those options, are eliminating the pre-kindergarten program and outsourcing custodians.

DeKalb increased average class sizes by two students a couple years ago, and teachers say another increase would push them to the breaking point.

Tracey Anderson, an English teacher at Lakeside High, said her student roster would rise from around 150 to about 190, “which is beyond impossible — it’s absurd. … I don’t even know how one would report the grades.”

Rather than increase class sizes, parent Molly Bardsley said officials should cut athletics. “There’s no point in training student athletes when they can’t read or write or get a job,” said Bardsley, whose children attend Kittredege Elementary and the DeKalb School of the Arts, both magnet schools

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

306 comments Add your comment

Dumb Question

May 23rd, 2012
8:28 am

The AJC article and blog posts mention that Dekalb might cut PreK classes. I thought PreK was funded by the Georgia Lottery — how would cutting PreK save the district money?

Dunwoody Mom

May 23rd, 2012
8:30 am

I am hoping that remark by the parent was taken out of context. The assumption that student athletes cannot read or get jobs is insulting and unfair.

Dunwoody Mom

May 23rd, 2012
8:31 am

And if the school district wasn’t so deep into legal fees, that would pay for Athletics.

WAR

May 23rd, 2012
8:34 am

dekalb stinks and should continue to fall in the sink hole it created when they thought money grew on trees. america’s choice and other ineffective programs are a result of stupidity and arrogance. i hope things get worse…then real change will happen.

Dumb Question

May 23rd, 2012
8:34 am

Another Dumb Question: In the April 30 “Get Schooled” blog entry, “Get Schooled
Contracts delivered today to DeKalb teachers”, you quoted Spokesperson Walter Woods who said that:
“All contracts of employment for the 2012-2013 school year have been delivered to schools. Employees will either receive a contract or a delay letter. Teachers also received a letter today explaining that all contracts are printed with a 6.25 percent reduction in pay. This has been the standard practice for the last three years. Teachers are being reassured that after the Board of Education has approved the budget, their salaries will be adjusted.”

Does anyone really think that the Board of Education is still going to “adjust” teacher salaries back to where they were this year?

Howard Finkelstein

May 23rd, 2012
8:34 am

For all except high school, YES!! Drop band, drama, sports etc.

A reader

May 23rd, 2012
8:37 am

You are assuming that it is free to participate in sports though the school. It is not, at least in Fulton County. I paid more form my daughter to play high school sports than rec league sports. The school provides the fields and the lights. The school also pays teachers a small increase in salary for coaching. The parents of the participates pay for any additional community coaches and all other expenses.

Frankie

May 23rd, 2012
8:37 am

With all the discussion on concussion and other injuries, sports in the youth arena will soon come to an end anway.

Pluto

May 23rd, 2012
8:40 am

Desperate times require desperate measures I guess. How will this effect title ix regulations? Last one out of Dekalb please turn off the light.

Maureen Downey

May 23rd, 2012
8:41 am

@Dunwoody, The ed reform commission made the same point that the parent was making — it is wonderful for kids to play in bands and perform in plays, but, if they are failing basic reading and math tests, the school is failing them.
The issue is not that all kids in sports are failing; the issue is do you invest in extra programs when you can’t afford to fully finance your core mission.
The debate — at least to me — is whether music and sports are also part of the public schools’ core mission and thus as important as AP Literature.
I would argue that in a perfect world, they would be equals, but we are in an imperfect world and that something has to suffer. As a parent, I prefer that it be jazz band rather than AP US History.
I say that even though my husband says it was jazz band that made his high school career and helped him get into Harvard, where he played in the marching band and jazz band for four years and considers both highlights of his college years.

But he lived in a town — Larchmont, NY. — that has one of the nation’s highest property tax rates as well as one of the highest student performance levels. Not sure folks in Georgia are willing to pay for a full orchestra in third grade, which is what his school system offered. I would pay more taxes for more arts programs, but expect I am in a minority.
Maureen

Old timer

May 23rd, 2012
8:41 am

How about dropping more people in the central office…….

The Deal

May 23rd, 2012
8:42 am

Dumb question – not a dumb question! From what I understand, the state does pay for part of pre-K, but having it run through the school system adds overhead like administration, building costs, etc. If the school system drops pre-K, other centers will pick it up, and the state will fund it there. I think I’ve got that right.

Dunwoody Mom – agreed. The mess DCSD is in was created by adults and should be borne by the adults. Central office should be cut to absolute bare bones like classrooms. Have they tried either paying for or running a fundraiser to buy their own Clorox wipes, soap, toilet paper, copy paper, and office supplies? Until the administrators are feeling the same pain as the classrooms, they have not been cut enough. The audit said to cut 336 central office staff, not 73, and that is the second audit in 6 years to say that major cuts are needed. $5 million is just a start to the savings that should be coming out of central office. Law firm representation is something else that can be done immediately. Cut the two that have almost immorally robbed our system blind and go with the one the grand jury said was more experienced and less expensive.

Once the large, adult-created financial problems have been taken care of, I would be in support of some fiscal review on the school level but not before then. I have not been convinced that there is any need to do any cuts in areas that are a part of a student’s daily life.

Shar

May 23rd, 2012
8:52 am

There really isn’t any question about this. The justification for tax funding of public schools is their value to the taxpayers in terms of creating an educated populace to contribute to the economy and become responsible citizens. Athletics were added as a ‘nice to have’, as was music and drama and debate and language and all of the other mission-creep extras to the basic English/science/math/social studies requirements that warrant the tax investment. Those extras are popular and valuable, but they are still extras. They have taken on a life of their own as they have become perceived as entitlements, but they are in fact taxpayer funding of optional activities that those of us whose children choose alternative sports or music or camp or whatever else accept the need to pay for privately. And yes, it gets expensive, but it is a parental, not a public, cost.

I know that arts and athletics reinforce classroom learning, provide interest to the school day and offer non-academic students a chance to grow and succeed. However, making it impossible to deliver English instruction in order to maintain a football team is ludicrous.

There are already private/public groups like the Boys & Girls Clubs or the recreation centers that Mayor Reed restored funding to that can and should pick up the slack for those who cannot pay their own way. Asking underwater homeowners to continue to fund these extras, particularly within the context of astronomical current spending and simply terrible results, is indefensible.

A budget catastrophe like this may be the best opportunity to change the mindset of larding the schools with non-essential responsibilities that obscure and entangle the primary goal of public investment – basic education for the state’s children. Just as things like Latin or “domestic science” or typing or shop (all of which were once seen as integral to a school’s function) have been jettisoned, so should these activities that are not the responsibility of taxpayers to provide. Parents may want their children’s extracurriculars funded but their children’s ability to sing or kick or play an instrument is not why taxes are collected. Invest in the basics and leave the optional areas to parents or charities.

Interested Participant

May 23rd, 2012
8:55 am

I understand that money is tight. BUT….if you cut athletics, band and drama realize that all of the kids who participate in those programs that can leave, will leave. And I can promise you that those kids with the means to leave, who place a premium on those activities, are probably the ones who are doing well in school and getting good scores on standardized testing. So what are you going to be left with?

Dunwoody Mom

May 23rd, 2012
8:59 am

@Shar, music, art, athletics – these offerings have been available in Public Schools for decades upon decades – these are not recent offerings. And I don’t believe any student is losing out on English instruction due to athletics. English or Langugage arts is a core subject – not one a student can opt out of. I don’t have a problem with removing sports from middle school temporarily, but at the high school level – athletics, music and art provide many scholarship opportunities for those students that might not otherwise be able to afford college.

DeKalbedOut

May 23rd, 2012
9:04 am

What DeKalb Government needs to cut is all the wasteful spending at the top. Secretaries with government vehicles and paid as top executives; 100 “Chiefs” earning over $100K at the police department and not enough “little-indians” to do the work on the road; employees who have nothing to do but walk around with a piece of paper, a cup of coffee and an attitude toward the tax-payer who pays their salaries. There is money in DeKalb, we just need to change its form of government!

For Community Based Sports

May 23rd, 2012
9:06 am

Most sports these days are played year round outside of school. Even football plays 7v7 in the summer. What do other leading countries do? Is the USA the only plublic system that also supports athletics. Look at the issues we have had with GHSA. And they are not even governed by the schools. Maybe it’s time to give this some serious discussion. Can this even be put back in the bottle???

A Conservative Voice

May 23rd, 2012
9:08 am

You know, folks, even though the DeKalb School System has been hit with lower tax revenues because of falling home assessments, the problem facing the school systems finances could have been averted. Families do this kind of thing all the time……if salaries decrease, they adjust to reflect the decreases. The problem in DCSS is there weren’t and aren’t anybody willing to step up to the plate and make a stand for decreasing expenses. No, they kept hiring, they kept building new schools, they kept spending money, money, money….they kept making bad decisions, one after another. I guess what I’m trying to say is this……the people managing (and I use that term extremely loosely) the enterprise that is the DCSS are a complete bunch of IDIOTS and the Idiots (I didn’t vote for them since I live in Decatur) voted to the school board to oversee the enterprise need someone to oversee them…….You know, their inadequacies affect everyone in DeKalb County, not only those with children in the schools. This ineffective enterprise should be shut down, every employee fired and re-organized. The whole school board should be impeached. What I don’t understand is why you people paying those high school taxes for a sub-standard school system are sitting there doing nothing about it except commenting on an AJC blog.

Maureen Downey

May 23rd, 2012
9:10 am

@DeKalbedOut, Both Burrell Ellis and Cheryl Atkinson came to office promising reform. Both promised to trim staff, but that seems to be something that few elected officials can do, including governors. I am not sure what happens between election day and inauguration day, but many, many politicians who pledge to reduce government immediately start creating new cabinet positions, expanding their communications staffs and launching new agencies. Maureen

tony

May 23rd, 2012
9:10 am

if you had a public school in dekalb that had no sports programs and focused on math and science it could end up being one of the best schools in the state

say what?

May 23rd, 2012
9:11 am

Do away with transportation to magnet programs, return Pre-k program funds to the state for them to manage through private early learning centers. Take away middle school sports and develop a MOU with the government funded public parks and recreations, or use church leagues.

Do away with DSA, DESA, Kittredge, public funded Montessori programming- do away with all of these specialty schools. Put these children back in their home schools and if the parents are so involved with the specialty programs, then surely they will want the best for their children at the local school.
Stop allowing employee children to attend school in the county. For example, a central office staff uses her rental home property address to bring her child to school in Dekalb. Because no matter what rules are put in place, employees cannot do what it right.

Stop purchasing new textbooks annually. Math is still 2+2 no matter how many times the book sales staff tell curriculum staff that it is necessary to purchase books for newer techniques and learning.

CAncel the reorganization of central office to look like Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system. Do away with the area office supervision concept (area superintentendent, area curriculum coordinators for ES, MS, and HS, area directors).

No more summer school. Do like Clayton County, test earlier, and retest the last two days of school. Teachers teach up to those last two days from the first administration of the exam. No more summer teaching for a month for staff, no more transportation cost in the summer.

Place all building on same summer schedule, including central office to further reduce energy cost. No opening of building for community organizations to use the facilities after hours.

Do not allow police detectives to take home cars and use gas the way they do. For many years, coming along 285,I see the police detective driving as if gas is free. To him/her it is.

No more hiring of the superintendents friends and associates. The $219,000 HR audits in addition to the one the BOE voted for was a rip off. Strange that the 5 companies were brought in so quickly to do 1-2 days of evaluation but being paid out $50K, $25K, etc so as not to involve the BOE voting the proposal of hiring these outside auditors.

These are just a few suggestions, I am sure that other people will think of more.

catlady

May 23rd, 2012
9:12 am

Dunwoody Mom: I am not sure it is the school’s place to provide a showcase for students’ artistic or sports skills, with the hope of them getting a scholarship. (Our system, a few years ago, gave a coach released time with the time to be used to “find scholarships for atheletes.” Not appropriate–not the school’s job to do.

Let’s use the sports money to shore up academics in the middle school. That way the scholarship/learning cannot be taken away by injury, but the learning would be always with the child.

I think PE, music, and art are important at the high school level. They are part of an EDUCATION.

Howard Finkelstein

May 23rd, 2012
9:13 am

Maureen Downey

May 23rd, 2012
8:41 am

EXCELLENT POINT. Where I went to school if one played sports and their numerical “grade” dropped below 80, at midpoint progress report and/or quarterly report card, then you were bounced from the team. No negotiating. You were done.

tony

May 23rd, 2012
9:20 am

if high schools in dekalb got rid of sports there would be a mass exodus of certain kids , but in turn over time there could be a influx of kids to the area who want to attend schools who only care about education and high achievers

RCB

May 23rd, 2012
9:21 am

Dekalb used to be the top district in the state until the late 60’s-early 70’s. How times have changed. It’s the administrations we’ve had since then and the lack of parenting over the last few decades. Parents, YOU are responsible for your child. There is no excuse these days for not getting an education. It’s available for everyone.

Dunwoody Mom

May 23rd, 2012
9:22 am

skipper

May 23rd, 2012
9:24 am

Very simple: if they got rid of the dead-weight AND had someone who actually knew something about fiscal management (and integrity) there would probably be enough $ to host the Super Bowl………..the most mis-managed place in the country, but if you point it out, its either race, class, or political warfare! This is a group of incompetants who have screwed up the system beyond repair with their hiring of “Assistant to the Assistant”, etc.

T-Square

May 23rd, 2012
9:26 am

Dunwoody Mom – I would have to disagree with you there. Students do miss out on instruction because of athletics. Especially football and basketball players. This is the South, those kids walk around their schools like demigods and many of the teachers treat them that way. They’ll look the other way when they’re cheating on tests, give them passing grades they haven’t earned, and generally, they have a much easier time going through high school. I had a friend, great football player, but on his best day he was an average student. Notre Dame wanted him to play football for them. Suddenly, he had a tutor going to class with him, helping him with tests ect. to get his grades up high enough for their entrance requirements. And, I realize this is on the college level, but the behavior was learned much younger, look at Reggie Ball. He was the starting QB at Georgia Tech for 4 seasons. During the last game of his senior season, he benched himself. It took about two weeks for the school to announce that he was “academically ineligible” to continue at Tech. Trust me, it takes more than one semester for them to decide that, but it had been being overlooked because he was the starting QB.

Ned

May 23rd, 2012
9:33 am

Absolutely love this comment: “Have they [central office] tried either paying for or running a fundraiser to buy their own Clorox wipes, soap, toilet paper, copy paper, and office supplies? Until the administrators are feeling the same pain as the classrooms, they have not been cut enough.”

That said, we probably do need to look beyond the needed draconian cuts to the Palace Guard, since even the greatest cuts won’t be enough–remember, it’s not just the immediate need, but sustaining DCSS into the future.

In that spirit, a partial list of what the Board of Education is still placing ahead of classroom education:
–middle school sports
–continuation of obscenely expensive lawsuits we are more likely to lose than to win
–Central Office salaries, including Dr. A, Ms. Tyson, and others
–middle school non-sports extracurriculars (sorry DM, but band is not more important than keeping classrooms under 35 kids)
–exhibits at Fernbank Science Center
–school security staff in excess of our need
–feel free to add . . .

If I felt the money would go to ending furlough days, restoring pension cuts to teachers, and reducing (at least maintaining) class sizes I’d be first in line behind a tax increase. But I don’t want to pay one penny more until the Board of Education makes classroom education of children its top priority.

pierre1852

May 23rd, 2012
9:36 am

The elephant in the room is taxes and that fact that sometimes you just have to raise them. When a system is primarily funded by county property taxes and the bottom drops out of property values, you have to either find another source of revenue or raise property taxes if you expect to receive the same level of services when times were flush. Cuts alone won’t do it, unless you want to just bleed the public school system to death (which is I think exactly what many conservative/private school advocates who scream cut cut cut every time anyone dares to mention tax increases want). I’m a De Kalb county property owner and I’ve lived in other states where both my property taxes and the educational achievement of the schools those taxes funded were considerably higher than here. Is there a correlation perhaps? You do get what you pay for. Property taxes in De Kalb (City of Decatur aside) are laughably low. Certainly there are massive inefficiencies, there’s unspeakable incompetence and there’s a Tammany Hall-style patronage system in the head office that makes me incredibly angry and needs to be seriously addressed. That alone isn’t going to solve the enormous class sizes, crowded schools and demoralized teachers that currently characterize the system though. Nancy Jester might have been quoted out of context when she said she wants to “cut everything,” and I think the board really needs someone like her, because she is always asking serious questions about how they and the central office do business. However, I’m tired of people who want to just cut education to the bone, and at the same time complain that the schools are overcrowded and under-serving students etc. They want to have their cake and eat it too, and they refuse to pay a little more to receive quite a lot in return.

bu2

May 23rd, 2012
9:37 am

Music and art are important components of an education at all levels. There is more to education than the 3 Rs. The priorities for cutting should be:
1) Central office-studies have repeatedly shown it is bigger than necessary and that is beyond debate. Some may argue there is value there, but there is more value in controlling the teacher/student ratio. If valuable, its still an unneccessary luxury.
2) Outsourcing. If this is beneficial, why are we not looking at this anyway?
3) Optional transportation.
4) Middle school extra-cirricular sports-starting with 6th grade.
5) Pre k. Its valuable, but not essential. And its not available to everyone as there are limited slots.

They are dealing with this so late, things like re-districting, taking a hard look at magnet programs and looking at privatizing the Fernbank Science Center are simply not options.

I am opposed to a tax increase at this time as they haven’t shown a truly serious effort to control costs other than furlough days on the teachers. Further, there is no room to increase again, so we could be in a true crisis next year and we need that flexibility.

Hopefully, we get 4 new school board members this fall. The existing members have repeatedly demonstrated their incompetence. We need to get a decent replacement for Bowen and Womack, McChesney and Speaks need to be defeated to send a clear message to the remaining members. Unfortunately, the 3 worst board members aren’t up for election this time.

God Bless the Teacher!

May 23rd, 2012
9:37 am

“Why couldn’t Georgia create a tax credit program for public school extracurriculars as it did for private school tuition?” Therein is the problem…more tax credits. Too many tax credits! Own up to the responsibility of the general public to provide a quality education to all if we (USA) ever plan to keep our foothold in the global economy.

Getting rid of sports in schools FREES UP participants to be in whatever program they want. Programs that are sponsored by communities or (catch my breath) professional leagues who want to fund feeder programs. Such programs could lease existing facilities for practices and games, thereby infusing more money into districts. If such a move results in fewer teachers needed to teach core subjects, even more savings for the districts. No more Title IX issues. No more GHSA issues. Participants interested in securing college scholarships could choose the best program without being confined to an attendance area, and it wouldn’t take long for colelges and pro teams to recognize which feeder programs have the best participants. This should be a no brainer.

Music, art, drama, and such should remain in schools because much research shows involvement in such courses improves performance in core academics. Sports…concussions, heat related deaths, fights/killings after games. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take the arts any day.

Teacher first, coach second

May 23rd, 2012
9:38 am

As a teacher and a coach, I would like to know how much the county spends on sports out of my own curiosity. In our county, the only thing the school supplies is a stipend for the coach, the field, and the lights. We have booster club dues that pays for the rest. I do worry about the 100’s of students who have earned scholarships in Dekalb county alone. You would be hurting them if you cut the programs. And who ever stated that they can’t read or write, the NCAA makes sure they can before they are accepted into a university.

All that being said, if they trim the fat from all the other areas and sports is one of the last places, then do what’s best for the county and cut them back.

God Bless the Teacher!

May 23rd, 2012
9:38 am

Better yet, keep the core academic teachers and reduce class sizes.

redweather

May 23rd, 2012
9:39 am

Tucker High has a big billboard out front of the school advertising its successful football team. The billboard prominently displays the names of corporate sponsors glad to be associated with the Tucker Tigers. No such billboard directs attention to the high school’s scholars.

I believe that much can be learned from participation in competitive sport. I also believe that not enough emphasis is placed on academic excellence. They don’t have school-wide pep rallies for the math and science teams. We need to adjust the culture in our public schools. Students should have the opportunity to excel academically as well as athletically and, most important, receive equal recognition for both. One doesn’t have to be sacrificed to the other.

Dunwoody Mom

May 23rd, 2012
9:41 am

Some of you are suffering from cases of poor reading-comprehension.

Richard

May 23rd, 2012
9:44 am

The school board should never fund extra curricular activities of any kind. They should be funded solely by the participants.

When I was in high school, if you belonged to any club (and there may have been 50 of them), part of the requirement was you either paid dues (noone did that) or you participated in a fund raiser (normally selling candy for $1 per bar). Seemed to work out well. Oh, and newspaper/yearbook sold ads to pay for the publication (woah, you mean like in real life?). Teachers volunteered to be the sponsors.

Come to think of it, the football team was the only group that didn’t do a fundraiser.

Living in an outdated ed system

May 23rd, 2012
9:46 am

This is why public education system is irretrievably broken. The fact that this debate is even occurring is preposterous! First it was AMTRAK, then the US Postal Service, and now, public education. If you would all open your eyes and realize that the system has to be rebuilt from the ground up, and get away from local monopolies ruling the roost, then maybe systems like Dekalb will have a chance at surviving. But all of you will deduce that my comments mean private vouchers, bashing teachers and unabashed conservative principles. You couldn’t be more wrong!

Stop with the labels and start realizing that more funding is not the answer. I feel sorry for the students in Dekalb and other school districts that continue to squander taxpayer dollars and can’t get graduation rates much higher than 50 or even 60 per cent.

What a tragedy. When common sense debate can be had from both sides of the issue, without personal attacks, and focusing on interests, not positions (that’s right, maybe re-read “Getting to Yes”), then maybe public schools will have a fighting chance.

Dekalb residents, you should be SCREAMING at your school board, your legislators and your educators for letting it get to this point.

Cut sports from schools? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Just watch child obesity rates skyrocket. My goodness!

Dunwoody Mom

May 23rd, 2012
9:47 am

@redweather – I totally agree with you. At DCSD Board Meetings, the board will recognize and congratulate their athletic championships, but few academic achievements are boasted about. Nothing about the Gates Scholars, the National Merit Scholars, teams which placed in the top of a world-wide Robotics Championships and I could go on. The DCSD School District and BOE does a poor job of promoting the academic successes of the distict.

Donaldo

May 23rd, 2012
9:51 am

Great point, A CONSERVATIVE VOICE!! Remember this very simple truism, “if you do nothing, nothing is going to happen”!!

Understanding Atlanta

May 23rd, 2012
9:53 am

I will admit, DeKalb is too top heavy. I’ve always thought the BOE handcuffs the Superintendent’s ability to make substantial changes to the structure of the system. They do a good job with the dog and pony show during interviews but show their true colors once hired.

Central office can and should be streamlined….limit the number of associate superintendents to ES, MS, and HS. Change titles and the pay scale for Area Superintendent to Area Directors and have them follow the Principal’s pay scale. Eliminate ES, MS, and HS coordinators (or whatever they’re called) for each area. Look for ways to liquidate the office on North Decatur Road since they’ve built this new facility on Mtn. Industrial. There are ways the cut costs that aren’t being considered and it’s not because the Superintendent hasn’t looked or at least she should have, but when you need a group of people that can’t look past my “friends or relative” will be out of a job (when they probably shouldn’t have been hired to begin with) what do you expect. In her mind, there’s no sense in proposing something that won’t get passed. But it would allow voters a chance to see who the BOE is looking out for….and it’s not the students.

edugator

May 23rd, 2012
9:58 am

No one is mentioning furlough days. As a teacher, I can do a better job with fewer students on fewer days than I can with a mob of kids over a full 180 day year. Save the programs, cut a few days, and look for savings that don’t destroy the diverse needs of a quality education.

The thought of MS without music, art, or PE is not a pretty picture. A school with just the basics doesn’t truly educate.

Donaldo

May 23rd, 2012
9:59 am

Yet another terrific observation from :”An Outdated Ed System:. You hit the nail on the head, we need to re-evaluate our public systems funded by prop taxes. Times have changed, and our systems need to change with them. This requires visionaries and bold leaders………see any out there??

Angela

May 23rd, 2012
10:03 am

Might I express my two cents. I can tell you no matter what the budget comes out to be, if teachers are not better respected and paid AIN’T much teaching GONNA take place. The county is still paying Cheryl her 300K plus expenses and other salary. She has not taken a cut in pay or even stated that she was willing to take a cut in pay. Teachers in the United States and in DCSS are the least respected and are always blammed for the none success of students.

It might just be me but when DCSS paid all of these auditors to come in and look at everything why were these monies not mentioned/found. It seems to me that something still does not smell right in the HOUSE. If all of this money was out of control why was it not seen when Crawford was released? Why did’nt Ramona find all of these problems? Oh, I forgot she was busy making sure that her contract and pay was going to remain 170K.

Ernest

May 23rd, 2012
10:09 am

As someone who played sports in high school (not well enough to get a scholarship in it though) and who children have also participated, I understand the values those experiences provided in developing leadership skills along with building camaraderie with others. At the same time, I look at the current budget situation and know that tough decisions must be made. There is a precedent with a few school districts that did eliminate sports programs in schools as a means to address dwindling revenues.

If a decision was made to either sharply cut back or eliminate sports, I’d be disappointed however I would support it if it meant greater attention would be given to the basics. I hope another solution can be found. We should keep our eyes wide open as we all probably know of some children that would not be in school if it was not for sports or other extra curricular activities. It was that way when I was in school many years ago. If they aren’t in school during the day, what do you think they will be doing?

Just A Teacher

May 23rd, 2012
10:15 am

@Maureen . . . The debate — at least to me — is whether music and sports are also part of the public schools’ core mission and thus as important as AP Literature.

The answer is yes, these programs are part of the public schools’ core mission. That is if that core mission is to develop physically fit and culturally literate students. I find it interesting that you place AP Literature up against drama in this debate. I believe a student performing Shakespeare gets much more out it than one who just reads his plays.

RCB

May 23rd, 2012
10:18 am

Pierre1852–taxes are NOT the answer. My taxes are quite high and have never gone down. Throwing more money into a black hole is just business as usual. Extra-curriculars need to go until Class sizes are reasonable and core subjects are mastered. I routinely had 30 students per class when I was in school and the testing results were better than they are today. Of course, we had discipline then, which seems to be sorely lacking not only in schools, but in the home. Parents, if you want your child to have arts, music, etc., you need to pay for it. Why do parents want the schools to do EVERYTHING??

Todd - Lwrenceville

May 23rd, 2012
10:26 am

Absolutely not… find a way for the kids. Perhaps lowering Administrators salaries woudl reduce the deficit… PLain and simple, NO!!

Stupid Idea

May 23rd, 2012
10:28 am

Alot of these kids need sports to stay out of trouble.

sean

May 23rd, 2012
10:28 am

*GASP*

And focus on education … OH MY GOD SMITHERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!