DeKalb business group releases its school board endorsements. Does it influence voters?

EduKALB today announced its endorsements in the DeKalb school board races, taking a pass in the District 4 contest in which incumbent M. Paul Womack Jr. faces three challengers, Jim McMahan, Jim Kinney and Tom Gilbert.

How valuable are such endorsements? Hard to tell. In elections held in the dead of summer, turnout seems to be the most critical factor.

I am assuming that the lack of an endorsement in District 4 reflects the lack of consensus on the best choice. As an editorial writer involved in endorsements for 12 years, we had a hard and fast rule that we could not deadlock: Voters had to make a choice so we had to as well. It can be tough in races where everyone offers something worthwhile or in races where there is no good option. Having met all four candidates for District 4, I am assuming that this is a case of the former.

A chamber-led group of business and community leaders that organized in response to the school system chaos, eduKALB endorsed five school board candidates last year. Of the five it endorsed, only two won their seats, incumbent Gene Walker in District 9 and newcomer Donna Edler in District 7.

Here is the group’s choices in the remaining three races this year:

District 2: Marshall Orson

District 6: Denise E. McGill

District 8: Pam Speaks (Incumbent.)

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

The AJC is looking for engaged voters with opinions about political issues. The AJC is building a contact list of voters to interview for future political stories leading into the November elections. If you are willing to talk with a reporter on the record about your views on state and federal races, please complete a short questionnaire and we will follow up with you.

168 comments Add your comment

Dunwoody Mom

July 18th, 2012
2:06 pm

EduKalb has no credibility at all. They endorsed Eugene Walker and look where we are at. And to endorse Marshall Orson??? That’s a hoot and a half.

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure

July 18th, 2012
2:48 pm

@D-mom…your comment makes me wonder if you’ve ever met or spoken to Mr. Orson? Or are your opinions based upon this unrealistic, utopian view of our public school system you often articulate here…or even worse, blog comments here and on Dekalb School Watch. I, for one, am quite pleased Mr. Orson has been endorsed. The Dekalb County School Board needs to change, and I will be voting for that change on July 31.

Dunwoody Mom

July 18th, 2012
2:51 pm

@Bill. Mr. Orson has shown time and time again that his focus is on Fernbank and little else. We need candidates who will advocate for all of our children in DCSD. If you have information that will document Mr. Orson’s dedication to DCSD as a whole and not to just his little area of DeKalb, I will be glad to review it.

DCSD Parent

July 18th, 2012
2:58 pm

I’ve seen Mr Orson fight for Fernbank to the detriment of the rest of DeKalb. EduKALB has a history of terrible choices for BOE members.

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure

July 18th, 2012
2:58 pm

@D-mom likewise if you have information you can provide that would document any school board member ever’s honest dedication to an area beyond their school board district, please share.

Dunwoody Mom

July 18th, 2012
3:03 pm

Bill and Ed, there is really nothing more irritating and arrogant than someone trying to turn the subject away from its topic. I asked you for documentation that shows Mr. Orson values the enter DCSD community, not just Fernbank.

Justwondering

July 18th, 2012
3:12 pm

Edukalb has no real funds, unlike Atlanta’s edu PAC. They can’t really do a ton of advertising. That is how endorsements work best.

Tired

July 18th, 2012
3:13 pm

Ugh. I was leaning toward Orson solely because he’s not incumbent (and McChesney – I think that’s his name? – voted for a budget that required layoffs and then voted not to do any layoffs). But if Orson is fighting a battle for Fernbank, which is also unsustainable, then I’m not sure I have anyone to vote for.

over it

July 18th, 2012
3:16 pm

Can you provide documentation that any other board member has valued the entire DCSD community? I would love to see it. Does Nancy Jester look out for the well being of the schools in District 2?

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure

July 18th, 2012
3:16 pm

@D-Mom thanks for the “irritating & arrogant” comment. It highlights your long view…that you are right and everyone else commenting here is wrong. I am not going to spend time collecting data to provide you on Marshall’s record or trying to convince you that he would be better for DCSS than Mr. McChesney…you can go here to find that at http://www.marshallorson.org.

SAWB

July 18th, 2012
3:16 pm

Tired–
I believe that McChesney voted “NO” on the budget.

Concerned DeKalb Mom

July 18th, 2012
3:32 pm

Bill&Ed…Lots of people to go after on these blogs, but I wouldn’t count Dunwoody Mom among them. The vast majority of her comments reflect interest county-wide as opposed to cluster-specific.

I don’t begrudge people their own biases–if Marshall Orson is a Fernbank supporter, that’s his right for sure. But I’m hearing that the concern is that he can’t widen his lens.

DCSD Parent

July 18th, 2012
3:35 pm

Orson is just in it for Fernbank. Don’s blog says it pretty well at http://blog.donfordekalb.com

Mildred

July 18th, 2012
3:41 pm

McChesney voted against the budget — to his credit. Orson has a history of myopic concern for the Fernbank Science Center — not to his credit. I’m voting for McChesney

If I were in District 6, there is NO way I would vote for McGill. She doesn’t seem capable of handling criticism and appears to have a history of conflict in relation to her sharing authority in a group. I would vote for Johnson in that DIstrict only because he has an intimate knowledge of DeKalb County Schools at every level — from teacher to superintendent’s office.

glad to be gone

July 18th, 2012
3:45 pm

just glad to not have to deal with th bunch of incompetents any longer.

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure

July 18th, 2012
3:45 pm

We’re talking about the same McChesney that supported Crawford Lewis tooth and nail, right up til he was arrested?

DCSD Parent

July 18th, 2012
3:50 pm

Bill.
Crawford Lewis … excellent question. If you can be more specific about how Mr McChesney allegedly supported CLewis, I would be happy to give you my two cents.

Dunwoody Mom

July 18th, 2012
3:57 pm

Bill & Ed…let’s not dance around here and attempt to turn the conversation. Again, tell me how Marshall Orson will advovate for the entire school district and not just Fernbank.

DeKalb Inside Out

July 18th, 2012
4:04 pm

Hold on a second … David Schutten of Organization of DeKalb Educators (ODE) is on EduKalb’s Board of Directors. I see David everywhere with Orson. OF COURSE EduKalb is going to support Orson.

I thought I saw David support firing the teachers in one of the AJC articles I read.

The Bishop's Deacon

July 18th, 2012
4:17 pm

Mildred,
Do you have any idea or concern about the “Friends and Family” culture that is ruining our children’s education in DeKalb?
Mr. Johnson does have intimate knowledge of the system. As an area superintendent for the school system he helped orchestrate a $120,000 year lease of a few classrooms at his church, New Birth Missionary Church for his school, Leadership Prep Academy. DCSD has paid New Birth over $720,000 over the last 6 years for leasing space to run this academy. The principal is none other than Frankie Callaway, another “F&F” insider that has bled our tax dollars.
So if they are delivering a quality education should I complain?
Look at Leadership Prep’s 2012 CRCT scores.

4th grade math passing 54.5%
4th grade science passing 66.7%
4th grade SS passing 54.7%

This is for a charter school that has low teacher to student ratio (1:16) and a total student population of around 200? My children are in their neighborhood shcool that has much higher scores and is overcrowded!

Please save your breath for other’s who are not as informed.
We need a change in leadership for DeKalb and Denise McGill is the right person for the job!

Your Deacon!

Internet-Libertarian

July 18th, 2012
5:00 pm

It is not possible to be more critical of Denise McGill than me. That being said, Denise is not stupid or a floor mat. She doesn’t seem like the type to do whatever Dr Walker says. I would vote for Denise over the others.

Unfortunately, Johnson is a New Birth member and will probably get elected on that alone.

Dura lex sed lex

July 18th, 2012
5:23 pm

Voters, Board Members and candidates,

Why is the school attorney claiming that you can’t cut salary for high paid County Executives?

I seem to recall “executives” from the County Office being given “bonuses” to retire early.

If memory serves, this happened twice: once under Dr. Brown, the other, under Dr. Lewis.

This extension of goodwill was targeted to reduce County office employees. Again, if memory serves, most who took these packages to retire did return as part time employees.
No teachers, 10 month employees, were invited to avail themselves of these packages.

So, School Board lawyer, explain this double standard!

Why are you saying that adjusting or cutting the (inflated) salaries of County Office executives is illegal because all employees have to be targeted?

Teachers were not targeted for severance pay.

Middle School Mom

July 18th, 2012
5:55 pm

You’ve Got to be Kidding

So, apparently, for some of you this entire election turns on whether Marshall Orson supports Fernbank. Well, of course he does—as every parent with a child in a school should do, he is an advocate and volunteer for his child’s school (something McChesney, who never had kids in the system, would not understand). But, that is only part of the story, Dunwoody Mom and others. Let’s look at the record and just a few examples:
-Marshall was on the board of directors of the Pubic Education Network, a national advocacy group for public schools.
-Marshall is the school council chair of Druid Hills Middle School which actually is not in Druid Hills but is a Title I school.
-Marshall is the co-president of the Emory-Lavista Parent Council. Those of you with any real interest in the system will recall that under Marshall’s leadership, ELPC has sponsored programs that:
1. Cleared up the on-going misinformation campaign perpetuated by the administration and Board members on how state school funding works.
2. Focused on instructional management and that showed how far out of his depth was Dr. Beasley
3. Showed how other, functional systems have school boards that work in contrast to DeKalb.
All of these programs focused on the entire county and how we could improve DeKalb schools for all children. But, even that is not the entire story.
In his oft-quoted and typically misrepresented letter from2010, he advocated for retaining pre-K, keeping media clerks and cutting the central office (his language was that the system should cut “non-instructional/non-schoolhouse personnel”). These are positions that are in agreement with what you all have advocated for—am I missing something such as your unwillingness to look at the facts.
And, thank you DCSD Parent for referring to Don’s blog because it provides the most compelling example of why Don is unfit to serve on the school board. His blog entry entitled “Game On’ is an apt summary of how Don views the world—he sees this as a game and not as a responsibility. He thinks provocation is the same as thoughtfulness, knowledge and capability. His sad record of the last four year includes supporting spending $37 million of our money on one lawsuit, giving Crawford Lewis a pay raise and contract extension (while also paying $100,000 of his criminal defense fees in violation of Board policy—a point directly made about McChesney in the DeKalb Grand Jury report), and his complete lack of understanding of how budgets even work. All the while he has shown no interest in student achievement or outcomes (in fact, calling it irrelevant is some contexts) or in how to make the school system better, as in making sure all children get a good education.
So, Dunwoody Mom, DCSD Parent and others—you can have more of the same and contribute to driving all of us off the cliff or we can elect a thoughtful, involved and committed parent and businessman who might actually make a positive difference. I would venture to say Dunwoody Mom has never met Marshall or spoken with him personally; her opinions are purely second-hand and speculative, at best. EduKALB, on the other hand, had a candidate selection committee (on which David Schutten did not serve) that conducted research of, and interviews with, the candidates, as well as putting the candidates through a candid forum moderated by Ms. Downey. EduKalb did its homework.

Married with (School) Children

July 18th, 2012
6:09 pm

Please take this election seriously.

The board you elect will be looking for a replacement Superintendent before the upcoming school year is out.

David Schutten

July 18th, 2012
6:29 pm

@DeKalb Inside Out. Let’s set the record straight. I am on the EduKalb Board. However, I did not serve on an Interview Team or the Endorsement Committee. The recommendation to endorse Marshall Orson was made by the EduKalb Endorsement Committee. Your remarks are ridiculous. You always see me with Marshall? I run into him at School Board meetings. You know, Maureen, I don’t often read or respond to the blogs because there is no way to have a fair debate with an anonymous person, for whom the facts or truth have little relevance. Like DeKalb Inside Out.

I am not advocating laying off teachers. I am concerned that by Georgia law, a school system must have a balanced budget by September 30. Dr. Walker hopes that enough teacher will resign to prevent lay offs. When I asked him yesterday if he would guarantee me the Board would not vote to lay off teachers in September, he replied he could not guarantee this. My concern is that people will lose their jobs in September after other school systems have finished hiring. You can only cut so many people from the Central Office before HR starts having customer service problems. Ask anyone attempting to interact with DCSS HR now.

DeKalb Inside Out

July 18th, 2012
6:47 pm

@Mr Schutten. You’re on the board and didn’t have any influence on the outcome? Didn’t ever talk to the other members about Orson? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Anybody who believes that needs to contact me about a Bridge in Brooklyn I’m selling.

Don knows we can balance the budget without firing any more teachers. You, Dr Walker and Orson can hide behind the budget and make excuses for firing teachers while keeping Fernbank and the administration flush.

Middle School Mom’s post says Orson is a Professional Educrat. No more Educrats PLEASE !

DeKalb Employee

July 18th, 2012
6:54 pm

Mr Schutten. I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I see you and Orson at the palace together from time to time. You guys sit together at every board committee meeting I’ve ever stopped by. You guys seem nice. I just hate to see the lies.

Dura lex sed lex

July 18th, 2012
6:54 pm

@Mr. David Schutten,

I seem to recall “executives” from the County Office being given “bonuses” to retire early. If memory serves, this happened twice: once under Dr. Brown, the other, under Dr. Lewis.

This extension of goodwill was targeted to reduce County office employees. Again, if memory serves, most who took these packages to retire did return as part time employees.
No teachers, 10 month employees, were invited to avail themselves of these packages.

Why are you saying that adjusting or cutting the (inflated) salaries of County Office executives is illegal because all employees have to be targeted?

Why can’t these teachers be targeted for severance pay in return for leaving or retiring?

DeKalb Teacher

July 18th, 2012
7:03 pm

David,
In this recent article http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/dekalb-school-board-rejects-1479051.html, you are quoted as saying
Avoiding layoffs, however, is just wishful thinking, said David Schutten.”

You’re not a friend of teachers. There are plenty of places to cut. I’m tired of being pushed around by people like you. You sit in your fancy positions on the board of EduKalb and the head of Organization of DeKalb Educators and we are the ones getting fired.

GwinnettParentz

July 18th, 2012
7:09 pm

Elections as merely scheduled reminders that another year has gone by … and we still have not put in place the K-12 tuition voucher system that would quickly end all bickering.

When parents are at last free to choose schools they have confidence in—we will all benefit.

bu2

July 18th, 2012
7:12 pm

Middle School Mom
You said it well. Anyone with an open mind should read Don’s blog and understand why he is unfit to serve on the school board. Almost all of it is an attack on his opponent.

And his point 4 is a perfect example of his unfitness. He talks about moving 100 Sagamore Hills kids to Lakeside. The redistricting moved 100 kids from a middle class majority white area to majority white Lakeside HS & its middle school while moving 100 minority kids from a school over 90% low income outside 285 to Tucker HS/MS. And he doesn’t mention that those students were several miles closer to Druid Hills MS than to Lakeside’s feeder MS. In fact they have to almost drive right past it on the way. The move of Sagamore students allowed Druid Hills HS/MS, roughly 50% black, 25% white school to get another 100 kids from the lowest performing, lowest income school in the district which was closing and was already sending 2-300 students to Druid Hills. What he supported was in the interest of 100 kids at the expense of the rest of the district while making it more difficult for DHHS/MS to help the new students.

He also came up with a redistricting plan splitting up the Cross Keys and Druid Hills areas in 3 parts in order to make it easier for Pam Speaks and himself to get relected. That was in his interest and not the interest of the district as a whole.

DeKalb Inside Out

July 18th, 2012
7:27 pm

@Middle School Mom

1. Cleared up the on-going misinformation campaign perpetuated by the administration and Board members on how state school funding works.

Question: I’ve never heard of this campaign. Where are you getting this information? Please point us in that direction.

(while also paying $100,000 of his criminal defense fees)

Here is the school board’s response to the grand jury’s presentment. That $100,000 was part of his contract. My understanding is that most BOE members and superintendents have that in their contract.

All of these things surrounding Crawford Lewis were in his contract. You come across as a smart person, I’m surprised you didn’t know this.

I enjoy talking about things like this. Please let me know if I can shed any more light on these things.

dekalbite

July 18th, 2012
7:32 pm

Read Mr. Orson’s letter to the Board of Education from 2010:

1. Advocating keeping special programs and schools intact:

“In these difficult times, we also believe it is critical to save programs that provide a point of distinction for DCSS and which are instrumental in recruiting and retaining students. The High Achievers Magnet programs fit this role as does the Fernbank Science Center and its programs.”

2. Advocating closing neighborhood schools:

“Reluctantly, we must also urge the consolidation of more than four schools. ”

3. Wanting to raise taxes:

“Revenue enhancements may also be necessary, though we understand the challenges DCSS will still face in budget out-years.

3. Expressing the idea that DeKalb’s economic crisis is short term:

“Such enhancements should not be in place of making changes which are needed but should be used to bridge short-to intermediate revenue shortfalls.”

4. Balance the budget on the backs of teachers with increased class sizes (the only recourse left after raising taxes and closing a few neighborhood schools):

“We certainly do not wish to adversely affect the lives of many of DCSS’ tireless employees but economic realities dictate a change in our economic structure.”

Looking at Mr. Orson’s exceptionally fluent “Open Letter to the DeKalb Board of Education”, it is easy to believe in 2010 that he had a firm grasp on the economic and educational needs of DeKalb County Schools. But he did NOT understand the budget crisis at all. His point of view was the same as Eugene Walker and many of the other BOE members who brought us to this financial low point. Close a few schools and raise taxes. Keep everything intact. Increase class sizes to accommodate the budget. If we just wait a while, this budget crunch will pass over.

Having so little understanding of the economic fundamentals and educational inequities of DeKalb makes Mr. Orson a poor prospect for a BOE member – IMHO.

Here is a link to his letter:
http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/03/letter-from-fernbank-elementary-school.html

Old timer

July 18th, 2012
7:34 pm

My mother still loves in Dekalb…..she called because she was unsure who to vote for. I did not know any of the people…..my suggestion…vote against the incumbent. We have recently moved back to Ga and I am having a hard enough time in Cobb.
By the way, after teaching in TN for three years, but not under the new system….it took about 15-20 hours to prepare and discuss with admins….my three one hour evaluations. I had never seen anything like it,. My evaluations were good, but this took a ton of time away from what I needed to do. The HS of 1800 had one principal dedicated to evaluations.

bu2

July 18th, 2012
7:34 pm

Read Orson’s site and decide for yourself. But what I see is someone who is interested in having some excellence in education in Dekalb, not for dragging things down to the lowest common denominator. He’s for efficiency and for tough choices that will allow all the schools to get better.

DSW likes to attack him as part of their prejudice against anything named Fernbank for his letter which recommended the tough decision of closing 4 schools in 2010 (something they supported the next year). The current school board twiddled their thumbs, wasted money for another year and then closed those schools + 4 more in 2011. DSW attacks him for not going after waste in the central office while suggesting any employee should tell them with anonymity about central office waste. Yet they think a school council should directly challenge the school board. I would have had a problem with his judgement if he did that in a letter-there would be payback against the school. The letter put it more subtly as MSM pointed out. They attack him for the legislature’s failure to keep its promise to reduce the school board when the TSPLOST passed. And the legislature didn’t do it because the school board majority wanted to entrench their members in office and Speaks/McChesny/Jester wanted to entrench themselves in office and wouldn’t even talk about redistricting in an open meeting. The hypocrisy of DSW is phenomenal.

Don, as a board member is responsible for a lack of oversight that allowed Lewis to steal, the district to get in its current financial difficulties, the continuing decline in achievement and the lack of a solidified budget here on July 18. He has nothing to say positive about his achievements because he so little to show. He really should be embarrassed to say he has been on the board these past few years.

As for the tax issue, I oppose raising rates when the school board (including Don) continues to make such bad choices in priorities. The money would not go to the classroom, but in supporting inefficiencies. But whatever you call it, we are getting a tax CUT. Appraisals are down 10%, so a 4% rate increase means are actually getting a 6% cut. I have no problem with getting a lower tax cut if it were used wisely.

GwinnettParentz

July 18th, 2012
7:51 pm

Elections as merely scheduled reminders that another year has gone by … and we still have not put in place the K-12 tuition voucher system that would quickly end all bickering.

When parents are at last free to choose schools they have confidence in—we will all benefit.

living in an outdated ed system

July 18th, 2012
7:58 pm

Fire them all, and the superintendent too.

dekalbite@David Schutten

July 18th, 2012
8:01 pm

“You can only cut so many people from the Central Office before HR starts having customer service problems.”

Who said the Central Office is the only place to cut?

We have plenty of places to cut $13,000,000

Security – $12,000,000

Look at the $12,000,000 DeKalb spends for Security as compared to other metro systems including demographically comparable and the same size. No other system even comes close.

Eugene Walker’s son is a Security Officer so is it any wonder that he wants to keep these personnel 12 months:
http://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/dcss-spending/the-cost-of-security/

Maintenance:
Close to $13,000,000

http://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/dcss-spending/the-cost-of-maintenance/

Fernbank Science Center – $3,000,000

Still being funded at $3,000,000+ even though transportation for students has been cut from the center, the forest reverted to the Fernbank Museum, and they lost the SEMMA (NASA) funding.

Transportation to “choice” schools:

Almost $2,000,000 for transportation funding for “choice” schools as parents decide they do not want to use local neighborhood schools.

$8,000,000 for Special Education Lead Teachers

There are 90+ DeKalb Special Ed Lead Teachers, Coaches (not to be confused with the above named coaches) and Coordinators (not to be confused with the above named coordinators. They are termed Special Education Specialists on the Salary and Travel audit. They serve 130+ schools and cost $8,000,000+ a year in salary and benefits. They are in charge of paperwork for the special education program and never teach a single child.

By contrast, Gwinnett Schools has 20+ Special Education Specialists serving 130+ schools costing them around $1,700,000. DeKalb has 7,500+ Special Education students while Gwinnett has 16,000+ Special Education students.

$13,000,000 for Coaches

Instructional, Instructional Change, Graduation, Literacy, Math Coaches, etc. are all certified personnel who could teach but do not teach. There are 165 of them (called Instructional Specialists Literacy Coaches and Graduation Coacheson the state Salary and Travel audit), and they consume around $13,000,000 in Salary and Benefits. DCSS is only obligated to spend around $4,000,000 on Instructional Coaches per Title 1 guidelines. We are not required to have all of those other coaches.

Coordinators – $5,500,000
We have 50 coordinators which make around $100,000 a year per employee in salary and benefits for a total of $5,500,000. DCSS used to have less than 20 coordinators. Programs and services were consolidated and good clerical support allowed them to wear several hats.

Travel – $1,500,000+
DeKalb spent $1,500,000+ in travel in 2011. This summer administrators are traveling and we are paying for airline tickets and hotel rooms in large cities while we borrow to make our payroll. Ms. Tyson reinstated travel this past year.

Legal fees: $5,335,858

ALEXANDER & ASSOCIATES $151,861
ALEXANDER & ASSOCIATES $1,095,796
$1,247,657

SUTHERLAND ASBILL BRENNAN LLP $509,825
SUTHERLAND ASBILL BRENNAN LLP $1,869,887
$2,379,712

KING & SPALDING $348,183
KING & SPALDING $1,360,306
$1,708,489

Amazing that we can’t find any place to cut but teachers.

Dekalbite@bu2

July 18th, 2012
8:08 pm

“DSW likes to attack him as part of their prejudice against anything named Fernbank for his letter which recommended the tough decision of closing 4 schools in 2010 (something they supported the next year).’

The concern was never that the under enrolled schools were being considered for closing. The concern was that we were increasing class sizes by eliminating teaching positions while making Fernbank which had more admin and support personnel than teachers immune to any rightsizing.

See the article from 2010 that Orson responded to as the cost of Fernbank was discussed on DSW:
http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/03/are-proposed-dcss-budget-cuts-going-to.html

That’s the thing about the internet. Words live on in perpetuity.

Dekalbite@bu2

July 18th, 2012
8:10 pm

You forget the tremendous support Eugene Walker received from the Fernbank community. They voted for him overwhelmingly.

David Schutten

July 18th, 2012
8:13 pm

I consulted with an employment attorney this week. His initial assessment was that the Board attorney was correct, however, he will do more research. He told me the school system would probably Be in violation of the Federal Equal Protection Clause if only one segment of employees was targeted for a pay cut. I am contacting another attorney at one
I lobbied for teachers to be included in early retirement.

@DeKalb Teacher. Your statement that I am pushing you around is absurd. I advocate for and assist employees on a daily basis. Your quote was a fact I stated, that was reinforced by Herb Garrett. I did not advocate lay offs. Dr. Walker shot down cutting back SROs to 10 months. The Board rejected several other savings options. If you know of other areas that can be cut, tell your school board member. I do know that DCSS must have a balanced budget by September 30.

And as usual a spiteful anonymous blogger throws rocks at me. I am used to it. Everyone in the school system knows how to contact me. If you are serious about being part of the solution, instead of perpetuating the problems and you have specific suggestions call me. But of course that would not be as much fun as sitting in front of your computer screen hurling insults. I

I place far more value in the suggestions and recommendations of people who contact me directly, than in anonymous ones.

yes i am worried

July 18th, 2012
8:19 pm

David

It would be ok for DCSS to have customer service problems for a while. Customer service was the excuse that Dr. Lewis used to justify the massive expansion of the central office.

If it takes a little while for a non-urgent phone call to be returned so be it. Let us put every bit of resources back into the school house to serve the customers that really matter — the children.

Dunwoody Mom

July 18th, 2012
8:20 pm

I’m still waiting for some information as to how Marshall Orson will support ALL children of DCSD.

David Schutten

July 18th, 2012
8:21 pm

@dekalbite
The School Board rejected many of your recommendations. Have you contacted your board member? If you call me, we can talk about Special Ed suggestions, and I will pursue it. I believe Dr.Atkinson is already making the Special Ed Department justify all of these positions. The school system is undergoing a shift in direction. Central Office Staff is being get accountable in many cases, for the first time. Give Dr. Atkinson credit for paring down the bloated Title 1 office and sending those resources back to the schools.

David Schutten

July 18th, 2012
8:27 pm

@yes I am worried
I am concerned about the teachers who have told they were displaced and can’t get answers, not simple inquiries. People came away from last week’s job fair frustrated, depressed and demoralized. Now we have 100+ pre-K teachers who are in limbo. Dr. Walker is living in a dream world if he thinks more than a handful will agree to stay in pre-K at a more than 50% pay cut.

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

July 18th, 2012
8:29 pm

“violation of the Federal Equal Protection Clause”?

You mean the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution?

You are being told that cutting Central Office pay is a violation of the 14th Amendment?

So once you have pushed enough bad policies and practices to be promoted to the nirvana of the Central Office in these various school districts, it is a violation of the 14th amendment to say these are absurd amounts to pay someone? Or anyone in the Central Office?

I really want to see that case law or cite.

Or did everyone think treating it as an Upper Case Proper Noun Clause would make everyone back off in retreat from touching the Holy Grail of the Central Office?

bu2

July 18th, 2012
8:32 pm

to answer Maureen’s question, no it doesn’t influence me. Not after what I saw in Fulton with the Chamber of Commerce trying to help conceal the truth in APS.

Dekalbite@David Schutten

July 18th, 2012
8:33 pm

Yes. I have. Paul Womack is not willing to cut anywhere but teachers and other personnel who have direct contact with teachers. He even kept the canine unit while voting to eliminate over 300 teaching positions in DeKalb showing that he values the dogs over the teachers.

Dr. Atkinson inherited this mess and certainly deserves credit for sending the Title 1 dollars back to the schoolhouse. She has made some other tough decisions as well that cannot have endeared her to the Friends and Family supporters. It is disappointing however that she is still relying on highly non teaching personnel such as coaches and coordinators when highly qualified teachers directly instructing students are what moves students forward.

tim

July 18th, 2012
8:35 pm

Who is the “business group”? Are they a bunch of losers who live sourh of I20?

yes i am worried

July 18th, 2012
8:43 pm

David

I am horrified about how DeKalb is treating our teachers. Every day, I hear of really good teachers leaving and it is breaking my heart.

I hear you about the HR mess and make no mistake, this is on Atkinson as this isn’t a problem created by Lewis et al. She hired the wrong person to lead HR and now we are in a total mess, but once the year gets started, and all these issues have been ironed out, customer service need not be a priority. Educating students must be.