Flooding Failing Schools With Money And Employees

These are some of the most interesting data points I’ve published. You can read into this table the politics and philosophies of the school district. That includes what the school district is doing about failing schools.

Superintendent Green has been charged with fixing DeKalb’s failing schools. To do so, the school district has flooded these failing schools with paraprofessionals (parapros), social workers, teacher coaches, etc … DeKalb Schools has added over 1,000 school house full/part time employees across the district since 2014 driving the student/employee ratio down in those schools.

The table below shows the enrollment and number of school house employees in every school since 2015. It is ranked by the school with the largest change in the student to school house employee ratio. For example, schools like McNair Middle and High School have seen a large change in the student/employee ratio. Enrollment is half of what it was 3 years ago, but the number of school house employees has roughly stayed the same. The result is that there is a significant increase in employees in the school house per student. Interestingly, at schools where enrollment has increased, the student per employee ratio has remained flat.

If DeKalb Schools can’t address student academic achievement at failing schools now, it is never going to happen.

Note: Demographics are 2015-2016 school year data.

Site Counts By Year.xls
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41 responses to “Flooding Failing Schools With Money And Employees

  1. So I can only surmise from this chart that literally over 400 students transferred to Dunwoody and over 400 more transferred to Lakeside. Problem solved.

  2. Survey Says

    Perhaps the county should spend more of their money screening substitute teachers and providing better IT security controls on computers and devices within Dekalb school houses. As an MES parent, I cannot believe this happened at any school, let alone the one my children attend. What’s also very disturbing is the way in which the incident was handled. The MES community found out about it from a news article this morning, not a peep from the school or district administration about this incident from a month ago. Shameful and unbelievable on SOOOO many levels! Sorry to hijack your thread Stan, but I had to put this out there.

    http://www.11alive.com/news/local/investigation-sub-viewed-naked-women-on-classroom-computer-in-front-of-students/442299887

  3. Russell Carleton

    Stan, can you share the Excel spreadsheet that these numbers are taken from?

  4. Tim DeBardelaben

    Has anybody thought that it might not be our schools that are failing…But our Administrators who are failing?

  5. Kirk Lunde

    Tim hit the nail on the head.

  6. @Tim for the win!!!!❤️

  7. Is there any data that shows that the increase in the number of staff members improve student outcomes?
    For example:
    How is the success of adding staff determined?
    Are there fewer discipline issues?
    Have test scores for students improved?
    Has staff or student attendance improved?
    Has graduation rates increased?
    Has the number of staff members leaving these schools decreased?

    If we are not tracking the changes, how do we know that this is working?

  8. So since when was DeKalb School of the Arts on the list needing improvement? They dropped from 608 to 408 students yet schoolhouse employees went up from 45 (13:1 ratio) to 63 (7:1 ratio). What’s up with that?!!

  9. Kirk Lunde

    I am curious about looking at this data in different ways.
    Would you please break it out by High Schools, Middle Schools and Elementary Schools? It appears as though the highest student/employee ratio is in the high schools, but there are some outliers.
    Also, I would like to see it further broken down by regions to compare elementary schools in different regions and so forth.
    That would be very illuminating to people who believe “the north end of the county gets all the resources.”

  10. Questions >>
    What happened at Wadsworth ES (magnet school)? Enrollment has plummeted!
    What happened at SW DeKalb HS (magnet school)? Enrollment has seriously plummeted!
    What happened at Stephenson HS? Enrollment has seriously plummeted!
    What happened at McNair HS? Enrollment has seriously plummeted!
    What happened at McNair MS? Enrollment has seriously plummeted!
    What happened at Chapel Hill MS? Enrollment has seriously plummeted!
    What happened at Druid Hills MS? Enrollment has seriously plummeted!

    What’s going on at Dunwoody HS? Enrollment has increased exponentially!
    What’s going on at Peachtree Charter MS? Enrollment has increased exponentially!
    What’s going on at Lakeside HS? Enrollment has increased exponentially!
    What’s going on at Henderson MS? Enrollment has increased exponentially!

    And why does Arabia need to beef up on staff? Aren’t they an application-only magnet school for high achievers in math, science and engineering? …Complete with their own special transportation hubs? $$$

    Is Lakeside a Title 1 School yet?
    Is Dunwoody HS a Title 1 School yet?
    Time’s a wastin’.
    Money. Money. Money.

  11. Stan Jester

    Raw Data >> Site Counts By Year.xls

    Cere … like I said, this table gives you all kinds of information about what’s going on in DeKalb.

    Will this change the trajectory in academic achievement for the students at these failing schools? How will we know? I’m quite certain the school district will point out as many of the successful data points as possible. We’ll have to pay attention to the others.

    Big question … if this doesn’t work … what’s the plan?

  12. I have long said that we need to encourage the best teachers to teach in schools with underperforming students using bonuses and other incentives. At those schools, we need to sharply reduce the class size. Third, we need to get disruptive students out so the other students can learn. Fourth, we need to give these exceptional teachers total control of his/her class and get everybody else out of the way. My sense is that past administrations have filled the classrooms with friends and relatives. We currently have a President and Secretary of Education that are pushing charter schools and private schools and the State of Georgia is no big fan of Dekalb. We have got to get it right this time.

  13. @Howdy42>> Good to chat with you again!! I wonder if all of these new employees are actually interacting with children or if they are mostly ‘administrators’ crunching numbers and pressuring teachers … adding some parapro support and expecting big results. With this many new employees – if they were all teachers – then class sizes could be reduced in failing schools to a dozen or so – which would yield good results — if the teachers are good. It all comes down to the teacher and the children. That’s really it on any given year.

  14. @Cere,
    FYI, we are spending $34 Million in E-SPLOST-IV funds to replace McNair Middle School. This school has gone from around 1400 enrollment to just over 700 enrollment. At the May BOE meeting they voted to approve the first $3 Million for this replacement.

    McNair MS is in Region 5. Per a presentation last fall on Middle School capacity, Region 5 middle schools are only at 59% capacity. That means there are PLENTY of middle school seats in Region 5.

    Why we should spend $34 Million to build more capacity than is needed is beyond me.

  15. @Anonymous >> Not much has changed I guess. Just the fact that the chart still has columns showing the racial makeups of the schools shows that not much has changed and DeKalb is still hyper-focused on race rather than just numbers, logic and facts. That’s how SPLOST money is spent in DeKalb – dollars are distributed evenly across the county, so it’s ‘fair’ to every region – not where the seats are really needed. In fact, why on earth are we adding seats to Lakeside and Dunwoody? I would challenge the school administrators to first do a deep investigation as to whether these schools are over-crowded due to students from the attendance zone – or simply due to doling out transfers to students leaving the schools showing a big drop in enrollment. Is that right? Is that fair? Let’s just build a small college campus on Lakeside and Dunwoody’s properties and send all high school students there. I’m really half kidding – I have long advocated for a large, campus-like, comprehensive high school on the former Briarcliff HS site. There’s PLENTY of space – and a stadium! Same campus could be set up for Chamblee (if you take out the magnet program). Why add on to Lakeside and Dunwoody? That’s insane!

  16. The DCSD Title 1 threshhold is now around 40% free and reduced lunch.

    Per October 2016 FTE data, Lakeside has 39.25% free and reduced lunch. Dunwoody HS is still less than 25% free and reduced lunch.

    VERY IRONIC that the Engagement Now video that I’m listening to right now (May 24) features the Flat Rock ES Principal Mr. Phillips talking about Title 1. Mr. Phillips was one of the 9 Principals that was demoted by DCSD for poor performance.

    It’s hard to reconcile a Principal chosen as a spokesperson for a great Title 1 program is no longer fit to be a Principal.

    The video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLpr81XukAFEYemGxGAveA19VDefWvOM5K&v=7lKT7cRIIrw.

  17. Stan Jester

    I’ve come to understand we are adding seats so the school district can balance out the racial and socio economic diversity across the schools in North DeKalb.

  18. Tim DeBardelaben

    Stan, will you please explain how adding classrooms will balance out these schools? To me the numbers do not add up to really do anything other than cover the growth in those schools. Lakeside is overcrowded by over 499 students. DCSD is adding 750 seats. So you get a real gain of 350 seats. Which is the projected growth of Lakeside if nothing is done. Where are the balancing coming from? Which neighborhoods or schools will be realigned? I do hope DCSD realizes that what use to be almost automatic E-SPLOST vote will be much more difficult to pass in the future. Especially if they do not give a list of projects like they did with this E-SPLOST vote. Think the real cost DCSD will pay is peoples trust. I do not know how other people feel but I think someone is peeing on my leg and trying to tell me it’s raining.

  19. Stan Jester

    Hey Tim,
    Hightower, Cary Reynolds, Pleasantdale, etc …. are 85% hispanic. A Doraville High School would concentrate these areas into one cluster. Adding on to the existing schools allows the school district to divide up all these minority populations around Doraville and the Buford HWY. The school district can balance out race and socio economics by putting them into the Dunwoody, Chamblee, Lakeside and Brookhaven clusters. I don’t like this idea. I don’t like social engineering. The school district went through the motion of public input, so they can say it’s what the people want … because making decisions like this based on race on socio economics is against school policy as well.

  20. Tim DeBardelaben

    Stan, I understand building High School in Doraville leaves everybody where they are. What I want to know is how does adding 750 seats to Lakeside change anything…. Enrollment at Lakeside is 2123….Capacity is 1698…That means right now Lakeside needs 425 seats…How many students will be sent to Lakeside from Cross keys Cluster? Which schools will they come from? It might not need another addition when this addition is completed like the last time it was added onto., but how long until it does? What is the definition of crazy????

  21. Stan Jester

    Which students from the Lakeside cluster will be sent to the Cross Keys/Brookhaven cluster? It ultimately depends on where the new high school is built. More than likely, they will be students that go across 85 on Clairmont. If that’s the case, it’ll be Sagamore and/or some combination of Oak Grove. If Shallowford is the closest street then it would be Hawthorne and/or some combination of Oak Grove.

    Why are we doing this if this just helps for a few years? Good question. We can’t keep adding 750 seats to Lakeside HS every 5 years. This is not a scalable solution. Back in November, the school district published a FAQ that touched on it …

    FAQ – School Facility Planning Study

    10. Wouldn’t it be best to build the schools a little bit larger to allow for higher than expected attendance levels in the future? Put another way, why build to a utilization of 100% rather than adding additional capacity?

    District staff are aware of the uncertainty inherent in any future forecasting. Rather than risk the cost of “overbuilding” by adding much more capacity than is needed, or “underbuilding” by building much less capacity than is needed, the District is recommending adding capacity as the forecast data indicates is needed. These forecasts will be updated annually as we track demographic shifts across the District. Our buildings will be designed so that, if warranted, we can add additional building capacity to accommodate future student capacity needs at each school where possible.

  22. Chad Peterson

    From above:
    “I would challenge the school administrators to first do a deep investigation as to whether these schools are over-crowded due to students from the attendance zone – or simply due to doling out transfers to students leaving the schools showing a big drop in enrollment. Is that right? Is that fair? ”

    I believe this analysis is publicly on the DeKalb website.

    What’s going on at Dunwoody HS? 63 from out of region
    What’s going on at Peachtree Charter MS? 63 from out of region
    What’s going on at Lakeside HS? 85 from out of region
    What’s going on at Henderson MS? 50 from out of region
    http://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/documents/planning/2016-2017/high-school-matrix.pdf
    Maybe I’m reading the charts wrong but it doesn’t seem that the 4 high growth schools are growing due to transfers. I can’t believe these totals have changed much over the last 3 years. I think it has to be that families aren’t leaving as much as they used to.

  23. @ Chad. Those are the ones that are transferring and following the rules. Go to a school the first time newsletter are sent home and see how many “return to senders” there are. It happens unfortunately. I can remember seeing on Craigslist several years ago ads for people that would rent their mailbox for a fee so that others could go to CCHS or LHS.

  24. Chad Peterson

    What procedures do we need to have in place? I was under the impression that I was going to have to provide a utility bill. But not sure what the procedures are.

    I wouldn’t call it a “transfer” when someone is illegally enrolled in a school.

  25. @Tim,
    The District’s plan for Lakeside shows that after the 750 seat addition:
    Lakeside Capacity = 2506
    Lakeside Projected Enrollment = 2494
    “Extra” seats = 2506 – 2494 = 12 seats, and Utilization is shown at 100%

    The chart showing this is available at http://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/documents/secondary-school-study/secondary-shools-handout-sept-27.pdf.

    The District FAQ response quoted by Stan states that “These forecasts will be updated annually as we track demographic shifts across the District. Our buildings will be designed so that, if warranted, we can add additional building capacity to accommodate future student capacity needs at each school where possible.”

    But that statement means nothing! I challenge anyone to add more than 750 seats at Lakeside, or 600 at Dunwoody or Chamblee. There will be no more space, and there will be no more money to do so.

    I’m not sure what the right answer is to provide enough high school capacity in Regions 1 and 2. But I am sure that it isn’t the District’s current plan.

  26. Tim DeBardelaben

    What is the definition of crazy? Somebody needs to let DCSD know what it is. After looking at that report I was right. We are going to be chasing to catch up for at least the next decade. Also it will be five years before the Cross Keys Cluster gets any relief. To me it is rather obvious that one or two new high schools are needed. Building a new Cross Keys will just shuffle the students. By the time it gets built another generation of students will have spent their entire time in trailers. Plus the building will need to be added onto. Makes spending 84 million dollars to build a new Cross Keys seem foolish. When you can rehab the old Briarcliff for less than 30 million. That extra 54 million would go a long way to building a second school. All I really know is we build a school or remodel a school and they need more before work is even completed. That is by definition crazy….

  27. Stan,
    Creating a cluster for Hispanic students sounds like segregation, and social engineering sounds like a code word.

  28. Stan Jester

    There are 24 high school graduations this week. I have two high schools in my constituent area. North DeKalb has a serious shortage of High Schools. The school district is building mega high schools on postage stamp sized campuses. Carving Doraville up and driving them across town is called busing.

    Doraville deserves a high school because Distance and Transportation Matter. Doraville deserves a high school because “Community” Matters. Doraville deserves a high school because being able to “participate in activities” matters. Doraville deserves a high school because every other city has a high school within their city limits except Doraville.

    But don’t just take my word for it. Donna Pittman, Doraville Mayor, said on NPR

    “I would love to see a high school in our city. It brings a sense of community and our children on that side of Buford Highway go a very long way. It is very hard for them to participate in after school activities because they have no transportation. So, I think it would be fabulous to see a high school in our city.”
  29. Tim DeBardelaben

    Funny that this post talks about flooding failing schools with money. Areas that need things get squat. You do realize that if the BOE had acted on Michael Thurmond’s plan and reused Briarcliff that next year the overcrowding in the Elementary schools in Cross Keys cluster could have been eliminated. Instead the BOE is still floundering along. How many more years until the BOE is willing to spend the money that is really needed to be spent? DCSD is chasing it’s tail by doing the same thing again. The area needs not one but two new high schools and yet the area is not getting any.

  30. Russell Carleton

    The data seem to tell a slightly different story than the headline would indicate. Using the numbers above, we can panel by region and look at the average number of employees per school, from 2015-2017.

    Region 1: 117, 125, 126
    Region 2: 104, 109, 115
    Region 3: 108, 111, 114
    Region 4: 123, 125, 127
    Region 5: 104, 108, 110

    There’s an obvious upward trend across all the regions, although nothing to really write home about.

    Now, let’s look at average enrollment in each of the regions, again 2015-2017 (and yes, this mixes together ES, MS, and HS. My concern is the trend line within each region).

    Region 1: 916, 964, 947
    Region 2: 706, 719, 732
    Region 3: 901, 736, 724
    Region 4: 1033, 921, 904
    Region 5: 899, 698, 723

    Enrollment in Region 1 and 2 is relatively stable over that three year period, and 4 shows a drop. What the heck happened in Regions 3 and 5? Between 2015 and 2016, that’s a total of 4,800 kids that “left” Region 3 and 3,800 in Region 5. In one year. The data analyst in me is thinking “Are those enrollment data correct?”

    It doesn’t seem that the district has been flooding schools with new employees, but that Regions 3 and 5 are losing kids, and that there’s been no downsizing to compensate in those areas.

  31. Stan Jester

    Russell. Glad you jumped in to share your thoughts.

    I don’t see that upward trend in Region 1 or 2 except in the ESL schools.

    Enrollment Data
    You can double check my enrollment data by cross referencing 5 years worth of enrollment data at DeKalb Schools
    Enrollment, Capacity, & Utilization Data

    What kind of employees
    I didn’t get a breakdown of these employees. The page 1299 of the DCSD FY2017 APPROVED BUDGET DETAIL, lists the staff for McNair MS. It only lists 83 employees and the data I presented here say 128 employees. I assume the 83 are provided from the normal Staffing Allotment Formula that all the schools use. The other 45 must come from paras and other support staff put there to address McNair’s academic challenges.

    Class Size
    I think they have kept some teachers around to drive class size down some, but I don’t think class sizes are half of what they were 3 years ago. Take a look at FY2017 Class Size for Elementary Schools. Dunaire ES has gone from 868 to 643 students. Those classes are smaller than most schools but within the normal range.

    I was talking to Dr. Green yesterday before one of the graduation ceremonies. He mentioned that many classes in South DeKalb have 3 to 5 adults in the classroom. There might be 1 teacher, 3 academic paras, and some sort of coach. I haven’t seen this, but that’s what he said.

  32. Russell Carleton

    I get that you pulled from a reasonable source, but that source says that 4,000ish kids “disappeared” in the space of one year (2015-2016) from two different regions. According to these numbers, in 2015, there were 26,126 kids in Region 3. In 2016, there were 21,365. In Region 5, the corresponding numbers are 17,084 and 13,528. Literally within one year, the census went down 20-25 percent within those two regions.

    If the numbers shift around by a percentage point or two, then you can chalk it up to random variation in birth cohorts, etc. Something that would cause a 20 percent drop in one year in the census would be something that everyone would notice, but I can’t think of anything off the top of my head that would (or could!) cause that sort of effect. That’s when you start to think that the data source might be acting weird.

    Most of the schools that are driving the effect that you’re suggesting (the ones at the top of the list) are in Regions 3 and 5 and they all show the same pattern, a sizeable drop in enrollment numbers between 2015 and 2016 (that tends to hold mostly steady in 2017), but for the most part, stable numbers of employees across the three year period. For example, McNair HS went from 1,524 students in 2015 to 791 in 2016 (but stayed consistent at 784 in 2017). The number of employees stayed consistent at 138, 141, and 141. So, either McNair lost half of its students(!!!) but no one was let go to compensate, or the 2015 enrollment number is errant.

    My guess is that something happened with the way that the district started counting noses between 2015 and 2016. Even if these numbers are actually true, the effect on the student-to-employee ratio isn’t being driven by the district sending in more employees, but by those regions losing a lot of students. The problem isn’t the denominator. It’s the numerator.

  33. Tim DeBardelaben

    DCSD likes playing with numbers. Go back and look how times they have shown different capacity numbers for schools. Never could get an answer why they change. Shouldn’t that be a fixed number????

  34. I’ll use McNair HS as just one example, but there are more. In the table above it shows that McNair had an enrollment number of 1524 students, but that is actually the capacity. Enrollment in 2015 was 791 according to the link you provided. GaDOE website shows 795 in 2015.

    I think the information we’re trying to tease out of this data is whether or not funding for additional staff has an impact on student outcome. But we know social economic factors play a very strong role in student performance, the correlation is so strong that it will obscure almost any other relationships if you don’t correct for it. It would be better to break schools out into subgroups (less than 25% Free/Reduced Lunch, greater than 90% FRL, etc.) and, within those subgroups, we can compare student outcome vs student to teacher/staff ratio.

  35. Russell Carleton

    Thai seems to have found the hole. Stan, if you were copying columns into the initial spreadsheet, you probably grabbed the wrong column for 2015. It’s worth re-importing the numbers and seeing if your conclusion still stands.

    As far as whether paraprofessionals have an effect on student achievement, that’s a question worth looking into. As thai suggests above, it’s going to be difficult to dis-entangle the effects of poverty. It’s also tempting in these situations to look for evidence that paraprofessionals are solving the whole problem, when that’s neither realistic nor a good standard to begin with. For example, if these types of programs increase CCPRI scores or reduce the drop out rate by a couple of percentage points, we can figure out long-term economic models of what that sort of improvement means. (That’s been done.) If the benefits to the program, even if they are modest, outweigh the costs of implementing them (mostly salary), then it is the financially prudent thing to do to.

  36. Stan Jester

    I think some of the numbers shifted on the copy. I’ll redo later this morning.

    I can say the school district has added a lot of employees to the school house … 1000 over the last 3 years.

  37. I have been involved in the elementary school level for 10 years and have seen an increase in staffing, especially for co-teachers, parapro teachers, and interrelated special education teachers supporting students with IEPs. More parents are having students evaluated for several criteria and are becomeing more aware of the benefits available.

  38. Stan Jester

    OK. School Year Enrollment for 2015 middle schools, high schools and a couple elementary schools are fixed … capacity was sucked in for those schools. All the other numbers should be right. The rank in largest change in the student to school house employee ratio has been updated as well. Thank you for help.

  39. Russell Carleton

    As to what sort of employees have come aboard among the new employees, I pulled the 2014 DCSD budget (available here: http://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/documents/budget/approved-budget-(2014).pdf ) and compared it to the 2017 budget linked above. It would be lovely to have original Excel files that the budget documents were based on, because it would make counting things easier, but we can at least get some idea of what’s going on.

    In both documents, paraprofessional positions are listed as “Para, ” and then there’s usually something that follows , so in both documents, I did a Ctrl+F for “Para, ”
    2014: 575 matches
    2017: 608 matches
    Some of them are listed as “Paraprofessional-“, so I did a search for that as well.
    2014: 495 matches
    2017: 635 matches
    There were also counselors listed, although that word popped up in other contexts in the budget, so I searched for “Counselor I”‘
    2014: 420 matches
    2017: 565 matches

    As some other points of comparison, for “Teacher, ” we get 7,732 in 2014 and 7,846 in 2017. “Custodian” went from 621 to 667. I think it’s fair to say that most of the new positions have gone toward support/non-teaching staff.

    Now the question of whether it’s worth it. The budget data show that we’re talking about positions that pay around $40,000, fully loaded (salary + benefits). An analysis done in 2007 shows that the societal costs of one single student dropping out from lost tax revenue, increases in public health costs and incarceration costs, and welfare expenditures is over $209,000. (source: http://www.literacycooperative.org/documents/Thecostsandbenefitsofanexcellentedforamerchildren.pdf) That was ten years ago. I’m assuming that inflation has increased the benefit in present dollars.

    If you put five of these people in a school and they prevented _one_ additional kid from dropping out, they pay for themselves. Anything else that they do (help two kids not drop out? help another kid learn something else? referred a kid to a program that kept him out of trouble?) is pure economic frosting. I’m not basing this argument on anything other than a simple self-interested economic cost-benefit analysis. As a taxpayer, I would be better off paying for those five positions, even if the only yield that I got was one less student who dropped out.

    I would grant that we don’t have evidence as to whether these positions do lead to a reduction in the drop out rate or any other positive outcomes, but for the ROI to be positive, they only have to clear a very low bar.

  40. Where have the awful principals been reassigned? Does anyone know?

  41. Does anyone besides me think that Thurmond/Green/Freeman(dead), Halford, Hinson,(dead) Cherry(dead) are one bit different than just awful ? Shouldn’t all of them have been given “second chances”? Yes, the Sheriff should be allowed to run around naked, shaking his stick, and be given a second chance, according to Thurmond. And, yes, this is truly DeKalb County, once a great county. Forget test scores, Stan and others. Do the best you can for your own children, but never think you can get all this unholy mess cleaned up. It first started getting really bad in 1967; nothing will ever change the crash course it is on. With people like Melvin Johnson still calling the shots, forget anything good. Dumb, dumber, and dumbest. All the data is the world is just a pile of nothing when you deal with people of limited intelligence. Children and teachers are the victims of this hideous assortment of dumb bunnies.