DeKalb Schools Superintendent Statement on Betsy DeVos

Betsy Devos was confirmed this afternoon as the next Secretary of Education. DeVos and DeKalb schools underline the differences in philosophy in how to fix public education. Any thoughts?

DeVos believes a child’s education should not be limited by race, income, zip code, disability, home language, or background.

Betsy DeVos

Betsy DeVos
United States Secretary of Education

We do not have equal educational opportunity in America. This is not just an inconvenient truth, it is immoral.

Let the education dollars follow each child, instead of forcing the child to follow the dollars. This is pretty straightforward. And it’s how you go from a closed system to an open system that encourages innovation. People deserve choices and options.


DEKALB SUPERINTENDENT STATEMENT ON BETSY DEVOS CONFIRMATION AS U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION

Superintendent Stephen Green

Dr. Stephen Green
CEO & Superintendent, DeKalb County School District

The DeKalb County School District welcomes Secretary DeVos to her position as Secretary of Education.

We invite Secretary DeVos to join us at a point of common understanding for DeKalb public schools and public schools everywhere: The true mission of education should be providing every student – gifted, mentally challenged, expatriated, or burdened by distracting socioeconomic or family needs – with the foundational elements to succeed.

We ask Secretary DeVos to lead a transformation in solving the most serious problem facing public schools today – a real and growing need for dedicated services and programs that help address the consequences of poverty (mobility, nutrition, emotional, family instability, health, etc.). These problems affect education in ways no standardized tests can measure.

For kids to succeed, we must shift from politics to problem-solving. We invite Secretary DeVos to become our partner in finding ways to give public schools what they truly need to succeed. It’s time to bring together resources … and resourceful collaboration … to support socioeconomic improvements that boost schools and students.

30 responses to “DeKalb Schools Superintendent Statement on Betsy DeVos

  1. Stan,
    Thanks for posting this.

    Do you think Dr. Green proposes for all of the services he mentions to be housed at the local school? I think he must, or he would be asking for direct help from the agencies that provide these services, rather than asking the Department of Education to provide them.

    If he does, then schools must get a lot bigger. Schools don’t have extra classrooms to house folks who would meet with students/parents and dole out these services. I’m not sure that I would want my child’s school to be the resource center that would draw in lots of adults during the school day.

    I guess we can watch and see whether the plan for the new Cary Reynolds ES includes space for these services. Cary Reynolds has a free and reduced lunch rate of over 95%, so surely that’s a school that Dr. Green is targeting.

  2. The GA voters soundly defeated the OSD in November saying local control is critical. Sadly, today, our US senators ignored the voice of constituents and voted along party lines to confirm DeVos whose background would suggest she leans away from public schools and toward privatizing education. More interesting times in the world of federal education reforms are coming our way.

  3. William Johnson

    To me, the appointment of Betsy DeVos as United States Secretary of Education is a small opening showing the light at the end of the tunnel. May we at last have hope of freeing ourselves from the mind numbing control of the education establishment.

  4. It is difficult to envision the circumstances under which the school system has the human or financial resources to even contemplate addressing “the consequences of poverty.” “Mobility, nutrition, emotional, family instability, health, etc.” are indeed important challenges, but how can it be our schools’ job to tackle them?

  5. Dr. Green has been charged with, among other things, addressing DeKalb’s chronically failing schools. Many of the problems with these schools, I believe he would say, fall outside the purview of education itself. But, if no other government agency is going to address these issues, then the school district will. He has invited state, feds or any other agency to help and partner in this endeavor.

    DeKalb Schools has created a Student Support and Intervention Division to provide “Wrap Around Services” and address the diverse needs of students and families. The current profile of “Wrap Around Services” available to support students and families in DeKalb Schools include School Counselors, School Social Workers and Homeless Liaisons, School Psychologists, School Nurses, Student Support Specialists, Post-Secondary Transition Specialists, Parent Liaisons, EL Success Facilitators and Check and Connect Mentors.

  6. From reading DeVos’ speeches, she believes that we can’t keep dumping money into chronically failing schools and school districts. Either school districts need to succeed or we need to give parents the ability to go to another school that will better serve them.

    Unfortunately, Georgia has no mechanism to address chronically failing schools or school districts. If a school district can’t fix itself, there currently is no Plan B. In many other states you can create new school districts. Failing school districts are dissolved and broken up to be governed by the surrounding public school districts.

  7. Katie Fullerton, Druid Hills High School

    sent via email
    While school choice may sound like a good idea to parents who are empowered to be involved, our commitment as a society is to our most vulnerable students. Vouchers leave those students behind, and allow us to shirk our responsibility. My classes of 35 students each are filled with students whose parents don’t speak English, can’t read, or are unable to navigate the complexities of a system like the one implemented (and currently failing) in New Orleans. It is antithetical to the American dream to condemn my students to an inferior school so that a handful parents are offered a choice.

  8. My wife and I live in Brookhaven. We have a 3 year old and 6 month old. We are putting on hold any decision on upgrading our home until we get our first child to Kindergarten. The school choice programs are keeping us in DeKalb County. Our current list of options is as follows:
    1) APES German Immersion
    2) GLOBE
    3) International Charter School of Atlanta (possibly move)
    4) City of Atlanta – Spainish Immersion (requires move)
    5) AIS

    I think that Dr. Green is correct that support for low income students is incredible important. I fully support that as priority #1. However, keeping families and kids a) in DeKalb County and b) engaged with our public schools should be priority #2. School choice programs, such as the dual language programs, seem to have done an incredible job of answering #2 at what seems to me to have been very little incremental cost. That would seem to me to have led to higher home values, more tax revenue, and increased funds to support priority #1.

  9. DeKalb schools has 28 chronically failing schools on the OSD list. As of Nov 30, DeKalb Schools had an operating surplus of over $660 million. If we can’t address our chronically failing schools now, it’s never going to happen. So, what’s Plan B for any school district that just can’t seem to figure out how to improve academic achievement in their lowest performing schools?

    Georgia Millage Rates By County – The answer for DeKalb can’t be more money. We have the second highest millage rate in the state.

    The Relationship Between Money and Academic Achievement – There are many school districts in Georgia with even more students in poverty than DeKalb that get far better results while spending less per student.

  10. “As of Nov 30, DeKalb Schools had an operating surplus of over $660 million.”

    http://www.ajc.com/news/local-education/dekalb-school-board-approves-962m-budget/NU4Oj32tpdUo5Xo7uJRVeM/
    If the budget is $962M, an operating surplus of $660M seems quite large (if that term means what I think it means, ie revenue of $1.6B). Where does the $660M come from?

    Thanks for all your great information, Stan.

  11. Good Question Chad.
    Fund Accounting – A system of accounting used primarily by government organizations where it is more important to keep a record of how money is spent, rather than how it is earned, unlike corporations. Their accounting records take the form of a collection of funds, each fund having a distinct purpose, ranging from operating expenses to funding the various activities of the organization.

      List of Funds

    General Fund – The primary or catchall fund for K-12 is referred to as the General Fund. DeKalb’s General Fund budget is $962 million. The operating surplus which includes surplus from last year plus revenue not spent from this year for the General Fund is $384 million.

    Capital Outlay – The other big bucket is Capital Outlay, which is the fund E-SPLOST and other capital monies go into. The current operating surplus for capital outlay is $277 million.

    These calculations are on a cash basis. of accounting.

  12. Russell Carleton

    I’m confused. According to this (http://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/documents/budget/fy2017-dcsd-approved-budget-summary.pdf), the General Fund began the Fiscal Year with $124 M in reserves. Anticipated revenues for the forthcoming year are $948M, estimates expenditures are $962M. So, while there is some money in the piggy bank, the district anticipates running a bit in the red on the General Fund.

    According to this (http://factchecker.stanjester.com/2016/06/6616/): “It is estimated that in FY2016 the school district collected about $912 million but only spent $873 million.” (That would suggest a $39M operational surplus last year.)

    On the Capital Outlay fund, while there might be money in the pot, is there any that has not yet been earmarked for a specific project?

  13. Original Approved Budget – June 2016
    General Fund Appropriations – $962M
    General Fund Anticipations – $947M

    FY2017 Mid-Year Budget Adjustment T-Sheet
    http://factchecker.stanjester.com/board-meetings/2016-2/12052016-workbusiness/financial-report/
    General Fund Appropriations – $976M
    General Fund Anticipations – $976M

    Most if not all the money for capital outlay is earmarked for one project or another. The timeline on actually spending it is flexible. There are a number of SPLOST IV projects that are years away from completion.

  14. Chad Peterson

    Thanks Stan. I was misunderstanding what you meant by ‘Operating Surplus’ meant. Is it correct that they have to spend the ‘Capital Outlay’ funds on buildings? I’m assuming there is some requirement related to the ESPLOST. To me, it seems like the operating surplus is projected to be $398.3M at 6/30/2017 (ie funds available to be spent per the document Russell linked to). Based on previous troubles, I’m assuming they are targeting $100M in available funds, ex capital projects.

  15. Capital Outlay is money for fixed assets … that can be anything from buildings and cars to software. We started FY2017 with a general fund surplus of about $124M. I imagine we’ll start FY2018 with a general fund surplus of $120M – $140M. I haven’t looked at the capital project schedule in a while and couldn’t guess how much money will be in the bank for capital projects starting FY2018. We get roughly $10M per month in capital revenues. Most if not all of the E-SPLOST IV money is already earmarked.

    You can find more SPLOST IV project information here
    http://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/splost-iv/#tab-f1e5b8912a3520731ee

  16. Don McChesney

    I was long a deep believer in the American public schools. I am a product of them and have much to be thankful for especially my DeKalb County 1-12 education. Today my view on public schools is quite different. After serving on the school board and seeing the large sums of money diverted into programs that deliver us little or nothing I have changed my mind. It is time to turn this over to the local community. Let them be responsible for the outcomes. Charters are a possibility but not the only road to success. Money is not the answer. Look at the millions squandered and compare it to the finished product. DeKalb must change a losing game. Our children lose because the adults continue to play the education game. Give Ms. DeVos a shot. We can judge her on the outcomes.

  17. http://www.wsbtv.com/news/2-investigates/dekalb-school-board-questions-personnel-additions-to-school-communications-department/492324727
    What about our kids?’ High salaries of new school employees questioned
    by: Sophia Choi Updated: Feb 8, 2017 – 7:15 PM
    Mr Jester
    I saw this new story on the WSB site. While reading comments on this post, I noticed that there were comments about the budget and spending. According to the news story DeKalb has 9 senior level officials making approximately $ 175.00 dollars a year. In the last 2 to 3 weeks, I have seen news stories about comments Dr. Green has made.
    Is that a function of the communications department?

    Perhaps I am the only person who does not understand how this translates to better outcomes for our students.

    If I placed this in the wrong place, it was not done to create a problem.

  18. Joy,

    One of the 9 administrators is the former head of human resources who is now working in the athletics department. Nobody can say what her responsibilities are because her position doesn’t have a job description.

    The salaries of 9 administrators is nothing compared to the amounts of money being wasted in other areas. On Monday, the BOE will vote on spending $3.1 million on trailers even though the district owns over 400 trailers and has 31 trailers “in storage.”

    That is just pocket change compared to the money that isn’t easily accounted for in the SPLOST IV budget. The district needs an outside audit of purchasing and a financial audit (not just a process audit) of SPLOST IV.

    How many HVAC systems have been installed in the last ten years that haven’t worked? Why did every elementary gym get air conditioners, but no insulation? The list of questions is long and nobody wants to answer any of them.

  19. Hello Kirk,

    Thank you. I also feel that more needs to be done in the area of Special Education. I can never get a clear answer on how we monitor the services and academic performance of our special education students.

  20. Here is the write up I did on the mid year position additions: Appropriations to Cover Directed Position Additions at Mid-Year FY2017.

    I have seen the budget increase by 20% over the few years, but I haven’t seen academic achievement budge. We have 28 chronically failing schools and the second highest millage rate in the state. The added positions is $623K annually in salaries and not a penny of it in the classroom.

    I voted NO … I was the only one. You would have to ask the other board members what they were thinking when they voted YES.

  21. Kirk is right. The approved FY17 DCSD budget for the ATHLETICS Department lists the “Chief Human Resources Officer” at a salary of $175,333 + $41,006 in benefits.

    Check it out on page 287 of the budget at http://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/documents/budget/fy2017-dcsd-approved-budget-detail.pdf.

    On page 108 we see the “Intm Chief HCM Officer” at a salary of $173,203 + $40,646 in benefits. I’m assuming that this is what Dr. Brown, the Chief Human Capital Officer, makes.

    DCSD may not pay well for teachers, but it appears that Central Office staff are very well paid!

  22. .pdf link icon  DeKalb Schools Organizational Chart 2016-2017

    Tekshia Ward-Smith was moved from Chief Human Resources officer to the Athletics Department. She kept the salary of $175K until her contract ran out. The new Chief HCM Officer, Dr. Leo Brown, says as of 7/1/16 the salary assigned is $122,853.13, and job title is now Director of Athletics.

  23. TWS was an asst. principal before becoming the HR director, for which she had no training or experience. Green sent her over to Athletics, one of the DCSD “dumping grounds” (like Facilities or DOLA) when you don’t perform well or they want to send you a ‘subtle’ message. Now she is Director of Athletics assigned to special projects making $122,853! With what expertise? She must have some goods on someone or know something – clearly they created a position to “keep” her. Rumor is she was told to bring a book to read when she was sent there to wait out her contract last year, not unlike many employees before her.

  24. It might be interesting to look at the org chart and check some of the names/salaries on the open.georgia.gov site. For example, under Ms. Tyson, you will see Lukas Ngote. His role in the org chart says: special projects. (Rumor is he does errands, gets coffee and papers and chauffers folks). If you check him out on open.georgia.gov, he is listed as a warehouse man and made $80,257 in 2016!!! Way more than teachers. Check out the site for yourself: open.georgia.gov.

    NGOTE,STEPHEN L WAREHOUSEMAN $80,257.03 $0.00 DEKALB COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATI 2016

  25. Barbara Fountain

    Thanks for the posting Stan and if taxpayers would only read information as this, attend meetings, vote out these board of education member who keep the crooked waste of money labeled for education but is not used for the students, teachers’ pay, services for students we might see a change. More money as you stated is not the answer, what we need are competent administrators who understand education.
    Leadership should be removed from these incompetent morons and placed in the hands of people who have knowledge of achieving results in the education process. It has been obvious for 20 plus years DEKALB needs a good old fashioned housecleaning, draining the swamp, whatever you call it. They remove her from HR to hide her away (read a book – lay low) until contract runs out. Good old days, you get fired– goodbye! Hired a guy $80,000 plus to run errands, get coffee, drive people around, how are these actions helping raise scores and then they want more money for budget. It is a NO WIN SITUATION as long as these are the people leading. Green WILL NOT CHANGE THINGS! Deal won’t change it either, give this lady a chance it can’t get worse!! There are good teachers still hanging on but my guess if truth be known 80%of teachers wouldn’t be hired in a great school system. DEKALB SCHOOLS are the pits.

  26. So DCSD Athletics has the
    Executive Director of Athletics – $128,297 salary + $33,048 benefits = $161,345
    Director of Athletics – $122,853 salary + benefits (estimate at $30,000) = $152,853

    * Total for these 2 positions = $314,198!!!!!!
    These 2 people earn 36% of the DCSD Athletics budget!!!

    To put these salaries in context,
    DCSD pays ESOL Interpreters from $23,000 – $44,000, plus benefits. (page 328 of DCSD FY17 budget)

    I think a strong Athletics program is important, but it seems to me that these salaries should take a hair cut so that the more than 10,000 ESOL students in DCSD could have proper Interpreter services.

    This is just an example. I don’t mean to pick on Athletics any more than they deserve based on the facts, and I realize that there are many other areas where an extra teacher working with children (imagine that!) could make a difference in student achievement.

    But how do we stop the madness?

  27. @Chad – if you live in Brookhaven why aren’t Ashford Park and Montgomery ES on your list?

  28. DeVos is inline with most of Trumps appointments. Bring in an outsider and shake things up.
    Its not exactly working that well in DCSD so I say give her a chance.
    USA is richest country in the world and has a mediocre public school system and one of the most expensive private school systems. Doesn’t make sense.

  29. Stan,

    TWS’s position is listed in the staff directory as Director, Athletics Community. The phone number listed goes to HR.

    The FY ’17 budget for the athletic department lists the “Chief Human Resources Officer” at a salary of $175,333 + $41,006 in benefits. She may be making $123K. If so, what happens to the other $50K? Does the athletic department get to play with that money?

    She is not listed on the Athletics staff directory webpage. http://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/athletics/staff-directory/

    Can you ask Dr. Brown for a job description for Director, Athletics Community? When I search for that on the district’s website, I get no relevant results. http://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/?s=Director%2C+Athletics+Community&lang=en

  30. Bill Armstrong

    Thread is old, but worth posting anyway. Maybe Dr. Green should issue new statement, this time regarding Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

    I’m so glad we can close out Black History Month with a clear understanding on where the administration is heading when it comes to education, especially the priority of “school choice?”

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos: HBCUs are “real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and great quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.”

    Forget the distraction of Kellyanne’s shoes on the couch. This is the real story. Not fake.