DeKalb Schools Convocation 2017

DeKalb Schools can’t balance a budget, but they can find money to rent out the World Congress Center for graduations and the Gwinnett Infinite Energy Arena for a Convocation.

What are your thoughts?

DeKalb Schools Convocation 2017
Friday, August 4, 2017
Infinite Energy Arena : 8:30 am – 11:30 am

We are excited about our Opening of Schools Convocation on Friday, August 4, 2017 at the Infinite Energy Arena at 8:30 a.m. It will be a time to celebrate, educate, motivate and dedicate ourselves to a new school year. This event is mandatory for all DCSD employees whose start date is prior to the first day of school, August 7.

I received this email from a DeKalb Citizen yesterday that sums up the general consensus online about the convocation…

I felt compelled to share this article because I know enough teachers who will really be stressing out that someone is being paid a very generous amount, I am sure, from outside the district, to use up a half day of their time. Besides that, as a taxpayer, I am horrified that DCSS would rent space at Gwinnett Infinite Energy Arena for this event.

We do not want to see this system falling back into the business of outside consultants, specially-purchased programs and high-salaried personnel to oversee more high-salaried personnel. This system needs to focus on support for teachers and the operations of our schools with ALL the reasons for their being to support teachers, students and principals and those people involved with feeding, teaching, caring for and transporting students.

How much did you spend per teacher on this inspirational meeting? Don’t you think that every teacher would have rather had that amount to buy supplies for their classrooms or students who come to school with nothing? You might be shocked at how much teachers spend out of pocket for their classrooms and they only do it for their students—to inspire them to learn and succeed.

Maureen Downey with the AJC talked to Superintendent Green today and wrote this article. Note: I don’t ever recall discussing this with anybody or this item coming before the board.

maureen downey

DeKalb superintendent promotes systemwide convocation as powerful and unifying

In a 45-minute phone conversation today, DeKalb Superintendent Steve Green defended the convocation, which he said grew out of discussions with school board members who wanted an event to unify the “DeKalb family” and highlight the progress and the work yet to come.

The school board was committed enough to approve $50,000 to stage the event at the climate-controlled Infinite arena and pay for buses to transport 12,000 employees from their schools to Duluth, he said. DeKalb does not know the bus cost as it will depend on how employees drive themselves.

“The sentiment was there needs to be a chance for the entire DeKalb family to hear the charge from the superintendent, to come together as one DeKalb in a collegial way and to see each other across boundaries, regions, geographic areas, north, south, east, west,” said Green. “So, there was a commitment early on to create that kind of synergy, knowing there would be opposition to it. But there was also a thirst and clamoring for it. There are tradeoffs for doing it and for not doing it.”

As a classroom teacher himself for 14 years and a former athlete, Green said he benefited from convocations that provide the same bonding and spirit building as a team huddle. “It is a way of pulling the team together for a well-planned, powerful kickoff. It is about getting the juices flowing and getting pumped up.”

Other educators reported their districts, including Bibb and Newton, have held similar gala events to kick off the new year. (Those teachers, too, would rather be spared the group affirmations and remain in their classrooms. As a teacher explained, “Personally, my strength and support always comes from my colleagues in my schoolhouse; they are all I need.”)

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50 responses to “DeKalb Schools Convocation 2017

  1. Stan,
    What is the cost of this?

  2. Stan Jester

    .pdf link icon Consolidated Budget Detail FY2018

    Page 28
    $100,000 – Convocation
    $50,000 – “I Love DeKalb Schools” marketing initiative.

  3. Adding insult to injury!!!

  4. Stan, will you be able to attend and report on how our tax dollars are being spent?

    Will citizens be able to attend and see for themselves?

    The starting salary for Elementary School Teachers is just over $40,000. DCSD could pay 3 teachers ALL their annual salary for less than they are spending for this 3 HOUR program.

    This is absolutely nuts.

  5. Dear Stan,
    Please excuse my free flow of thought and ambling sentences. Your post hit a nerve with me and some very raw emotion.
    I have been a teacher for 20+ years. I am not returning this year. I have spent thousands of my own dollars on my classroom, students and school. I have spent nights, weekends and evenings doing after school activities, attending concerts, providing club opportunities, sports etc. that I never received any sort of compensation for initiating or running. None of it was acknowledged or rated on my TKES performance evaluations. I spent time mentoring and helping new teachers, trying to be involved in the community to help the school and likewise the school system. All of this was time away from my family and friends. I am angry at my poor choices, I should have spent that time less devoted to my job and more devoted to my family. I spent years raising other people’s children while mine grew up with out me. I poured my money, time, effort and energy into every one else. DeKalb refuses to pay teacher for their time, refuses to pay step increases for years devoted to the community, school and serving the students. DeKalb will not hire people who are highly qualified and have experience to fill the open positions in the Board of Ed, yet continue to pay people who have been MIA for months.
    When it was published that the Governor had approved a 2%raise that was intended to be used for teacher salaries, and DeKalb decided not to use it for that, it made me throw up.
    … I believe I need to stop writing now… I have been traumatized by my experiences, and I have been working. Very hard this summer to get past the last few years and the treatment I have experienced.
    At the end of the day: I can go anywhere and be treated poorly. I may as well find somewhere that will pay better.

  6. Stan Jester

    Mandatory attendance. 15,000 employees. I don’t see how they will tell who is there. I should live stream it.

  7. Stan, I vote for live streaming it. DCSD should really live stream it on PDS-TV24.

  8. So we can assume that Orson, McMahan, Johnson and Turner support this gross waste of taxpayer money, since they voted to pass the insane 2018 Budget.
    Also, not that it really matters, but isn’t Infinite Energy Arena in Gwinnett County, rather than Cobb? I guess Dr. Green wants to spread DeKalb taxpayer money around to all the surrounding counties.

  9. Stan Jester

    Hmmm, so it is. I’ve changed the references from Cobb to Gwinnett.

  10. A good Principal would send half the staff to represent the school ! Total waste of time and $$. As a tax payer I’m appalled I demand to see total cost for this event. I would also like to know exactly how the Superintendent feels the students will benefit from such a stupid event.

  11. concerned citizen

    How many times, DeKalb Supt and other highly-salaried administrators. are you going to act like idiots? Johnson, Turner, Orson, McMahan, and the wonderful supt. should be held accountable for this outrage. Who in this world would have suggested such a very stupid idea? I still want to know when these “super principals and assistant principals” will be named. Where are the students’ and teachers’ schedules? Who is at the helm? Who is doing the work? I think I get it.

  12. Would love to know the real cost? How many EIP teachers could be hired to effect real change at the school house level verse this showmanship. Very disappointing. Teacher will be expected to work all weekend to be ready for the kids Monday? Great for morale.

  13. Wow. For the amount of time, money, and energy invested in a single event, I sure hope it will be amazing and life-changing. As a former teacher, I can tell you that leaving my school and classroom on the last workday before students arrive would cause tremendous stress. Who comes up with these ideas?

  14. It is a huge waste of money, absolutely unnecessary and a waste of the teachers time. It needs to be stopped. Resources should be used to fix for example the air conditioning in classrooms. It has not worked in my classroom for three months. The windows can not be opened. Just my thoughts…

  15. Dear Sam,
    I, too, have been a teacher for 20+ years. My heart ached when I read Melissa’s entry. Every word of it could be about me and my life and my family and my money spent on materials not available to me through school funds. I love my school and my students. I am nearing retirement age and developing health issues, but I can’t retire. I can’t afford to…The gala planned for this year’s “convocation,” is exactly the kind of gathering teachers resent most. It glaringly reminds us how it’s all about “image,” and no substance. It reminds us that we are not being heard and that we are not valued for our sacrifice, but our jobs only made more difficult by people who understand them the least. I have taught for long enough to remember when we were actually given a realistic amount of time to plan for a new semester. No more. We are expected to create out of thin air in a matter of hours a plan for sometimes 3 or 4 different subjects accounting for students with special needs and on different levels and abilities. Our time IS our most Valuable resource. I remember when Crawford Lewis assembled teachers from all over the district driven in school busses at the beginning of the school year to an unairconditioned gymnasium so we could sing, “When Your Happy and You Know it Clap Your Hands.” It was the year they cut our retirement contributions and didn’t contribute to social security taxes, either. It was when teachers were furloughed and our salaries were cut. Soon after that, Lewis gave himself a pay raise…and how long after that did he face charges of embezzlement and directing $80 million dollars to a construction company in which he had an interest? When does it stop? When will education really be about the children and the teachers and parental support? The Convocation is only going to bring up anger and resentment for teachers and the district could have received that for free.

  16. James McKenzie

    I see it as a pep rally for the teachers. I believe there are some who need to be inspired.

  17. Don McChesney

    Stan. Is it not state law that the budget must be balanced? It was when I served. Are we still using cash accounting to report our budget each month? When I was leaving we were moving toward accrual accounting to stop deficit spending. Wasn’t a previous board ousted in part because of budget deficits? The BOE members who voted for the horrendous budget were publicly out front about ousting the deficit challenged BOE I mentioned. What gives?

    Are we doing accrual accounting? If not bills and deposits can be held and pigeon holed to give a completely false read to the budget. Cheerleading meetings we don’t need. Students and teachers that can perform are.

  18. I am increasingly concerned at the remaining jobs – mostly teachers and principals, that remain unfilled on the PATS site. Only 2 more weeks until pre-planning week. Filling those openings should be priority #1.

  19. If someone wants to provide some “pep” for the teachers, I can offer another suggestion.
    1. Make sure that the school has been cleaned for the return of us and our students.
    2. Make sure that the supplies that we have need are at the school.
    3. Please tell the principals to share important information with us. Give us a real pre planning agenda. ( Our principal usually tells jokes. He goes around and MAKES every staff member tell him something good about HIM.)
    4. Please make sure our schedules are ready.

    5. Allow us time to really plan for our students.
    6. Tell the teachers and the ones who have retired or left the school system that the money taken from our TSA is being returned to us.
    7. When we call or email HR, have them respond to us.
    8. Make sure that the air conditioning is working.
    9. Make sure that our building is not leaking.
    10. Take that money and let teachers apply for mini-grants for things that they need for their classes.
    Realize that being at the Gwinnett Infinite Energy Arena means that some teachers will have to make additional arrangements for someone to watch our own children earlier. This is because some of us will have to leave home extra early to get there.
    There are many ways that you inspire your teachers.

  20. Stan Jester

    Don, By dipping into the fund balance It’s balanced as far as the state is concerned. It’s deficit spending as far as I am concerned.

    The school district reports on a modified accrual basis of accounting … allegedly.

  21. Wait. Wasn’t it Dr Green who arrived in a helicopter to announce the STEM program? What a show horse! Budget be damned. I need some personal spotlight!

  22. Adrienne Duncan

    I’m already on edge about getting my son off to a good start with his inclusion class in a new school. Registration is slightly different, and he needs some extra time to get used to the new surroundings. I’ll bring coffee and food just for a few minutes of the teachers’ time to go over the points of the IEP and some important info that the IEP doesn’t cover but will mean the difference between his success or failure in the classroom.
    I already know that I’m imposing and trying to mitigate that while getting PJ transitioned well.

    And now this crap.

  23. Tim DeBardelaben

    I have been saying for awhile now that DCSD is backsliding and reverting to what I call a Taj Mahal mentality. To many things that they do helps the bloated Administration with no real benefits for the students education. Waste of money is the way. Whether it be ESPLOST or their regular budget. Honestly think students are a necessary burden for them.

  24. In the last decade Dekalb has been interested in putting on a show….substance just never seems to matter. Who remembers “Premier Dekalb” As all hell was breaking loose.
    I would love to hear the rationale of all board members who think a pricey convocation on a precious pre planning day is a good idea.

  25. I no longer have a child in the district so I don’t use these services. But I sure as Hell pay school tax to this inane county school system. Why isn’t this being done as a presentation at the Palace and sent out through the miracles of the internet and/or pds-24 the bridge, blah blah blah. Is this dude for real? Wow.
    What is so wrong with gathering all the teachers in each school in the library to receive this message via those Promethean boards so many PTA’s fund raised for because the system was too cheap to buy them?
    These board members and superintendent have learned nothing. Why, cuz certain parts of this county keep electing them. This is a severe waste of my taxes. I need that money to pay my own bills. I guess they figure that $10.00 per person cost is just not an issue. I bet there are a 1000 class rooms out there that could use $150.00 worth of supplies for the year! OMG, this is a pile of poop, not smiling.

  26. chamblee getting screwed

    Green Must Go! Green Must Go!

    Shoves the horrible I’ll thought out ill conceived SPLOST program down our throats that relies in huge gang invested megaschools and now this!

    Go Away

  27. StillwonderingwhyIworkforDCSS

    Have you factored in the cost of bus transportation for all the employees?

    These pep rallies don’t work. We have seen them before.

    I can promise you, most teachers will be resentful as they load the bus. The emotion will continue. It won’t change no matter how inspirational the speaker or experience. “Time stress” is real and teachers suffer more than most. This forced “opportunity” will not be appreciated.

    Joy (July 7, at 3:10 PM) of #’s 1-10 got it right.

  28. I wrote to protest. I know teachers can’t complain but maybe if they hear from enough of the rest of us, they at least know that this is a bad PR move.

  29. I was at the pep rally in 2002 with Chamblee’s marching band. My teachers were not happy, and I knew it.

  30. Eric Oliver

    What I find shameful is other counties (Gwinnett – Cobb – Fulton) have facilities to accommodate this and other events like this.

  31. Lynn Johnson

    As a retired DeKalb County teacher, I am outraged on behalf of the teachers for this useless, out of touch mandate. The teachers need to be in their rooms getting ready for the students. Anything else is superfluous. I find it insulting that you can throw away money on this self promotion display that should be spent within the classroom. I find it further insulting that you know the teachers will spend all weekend getting ready for Monday. You obviously don’t care that you are robbing them of inhouse prep time so that you can put on your suits and look good on stage. Nothing about this waste of time will benefit the students.

  32. When will the new principals be named?

  33. Stan Jester

    We should get Principal update during the HCM report at Monday’s board meeting.

  34. Frustrated Candidate

    Currently, I am vying for a principal position with DeKalb County School District. Initially, I was quite elated about the opportunity. However, the process in selecting the “best candidate” has “at best” been unorganized, unprofessional and quite frankly, insulting. After serving as a principal in Atlanta Public Schools, and another school district, I know firsthand, how this process could have been less fragmented, yet effective. Please know that I fully understand the process; I agree wholeheartedly in vetting the absolute best candidates. My main concerns are the number of times the process has changed, the lack of communication, and the late date in which all of this is taking place. Is anyone taking into consideration the date in which teachers return? If I were still at Atlanta Public Schools, I would already have been selected, and into week 4 of preparations. If you want to see the results of the selections you make, you have to be fair in giving new principals ample time for preparation in opening a school, hiring personnel, and ensuring a building is ready to receive students.

  35. No one has said anything about the “I love DeKalb Schools” initiative. What is it and why should we be spending $50K to tell folks that our schools are fabulous? If they are so fabulous, dont the board members think that by word of mouth we would have teachers running to work here, parents keeping their kids in the schools and businesses moving into DeKalb for our amazing schools?

    The fact that Green wants to spend these funds to have to create something that should already be there based on the amount of money this system spends on it self is crazy to me. This county school system is always concerned with PROCESS not progress. ugh.

  36. Stan Jester

    The school district is going public with this initiative on Monday “[unveiling] the first pieces of a revolutionary marketing effort designed to highlight the community’s investment in the success of its schools.”

  37. Wow. My heart goes out to “frustrated candidate’. It sounds like she has really had a bad experience with DeKalb.As a school district, we have not had the time to select new principals. But we have had the time to do the PR for our convocation. I am sorry something just does not seem right about that. Are we putting our focus in the wrong place?
    I was talking to my daughter on yesterday. It is hard to realize that in about one month school will have started.

  38. Thanks, Stan, for posting the link to Maureen Downey’s post. I am even more disappointed to learn that Dr. Green fully supports spending $150,000 for a Convocation. At first I was hopeful that this was a Communications initiative that he would stop when he found out about it, but apparently he is behind this 100%.

    DCSD seems to be moving more and more towards providing a good show rather than addressing the serious problems with teacher shortages, principal and assistant principal shortages, the lack of a Human Resources manager, as well as the dismal 2016 DCSD CCRPI score of 66.6.

    God bless those dedicated teachers who stay at DCSD.

  39. concerned citizen

    What in the devil is a “convocation”? Who in the devil initiated this horse manure? We need names of anybody who came up with and supports this horse manure! DeKalb taxpayers and all employees need to stop playing patty-cake with the supt. and whoever else is involved. Let’s see if anyone will step forward to say if he/she wants his/her name associated with this ridiculous display of ignorance. So, who are you? Identify yourself.

  40. If this event continues, please survey the teachers (anonymously) before and after the rally and publicly post results. Then, the success of the event can be measured. Thank you.

  41. Castigated Teacher

    Another reason to NOT be a teacher in DeKalb County! At the beginning of the last school year, Dr. Green’s initiative was for teachers to “Knock, Walk, and Talk”. We were to go to the community to knock on doors and talk to people about the “Back to School” Rally. There were too many things wrong with this initiative to even list. The entire faculty, even the principal, openly joked and laughed about this during the school’s meeting about this. Ugh!

  42. Worried Principal Candidate

    I am also a principal candidate and I’ve also been appalled by the lengthy and unorganized
    process. The schools that are getting new principals are in need of urgent attention. I am concerned that having a principal start at the same time as the teachers doesn’t provide time to prepare anything substantive. These children and the impacted communities deserve more than lip service.

  43. At yesterday’s BOE meeting I think Dr. Green said that he is interviewing all principal candidates.

    On the one hand that’s good, but if he doesn’t completely clear his calendar to get these absolutely key folks in place then the schools are the losers.

    Doesn’t he trust his HR department? Perhaps not, since the Interim HR Chief hasn’t been at BOE meetings for a month.

    Kudos to “Dr. Woodard,” who apparently has re-joined DCSD HR and had the honesty to tell the BOE yesterday that she didn’t know how their vacancy/hiring report was generated. BOE members were pointing out inconsistencies in the numbers of openings and hirings.

    The FY18 Human Capital Management part of the budget shows that it has
    Chief, HCM – $177,242 + benefits
    Manager, III, Human Capital – $118,180 + benefits
    Director, Employment Services – $109,082 + benefits

    Plus we are paying two former HR chiefs over $100,000 + benefits to do non-HR jobs.

    Something is very wrong.

  44. What is the status on the search for a new CCHS principal?

  45. “New Principal Top 4 Candidates ” was on the CCHS Governing Board Meeting – Agenda (June 19, 2017). At the board meeting yesterday Superintendent Green said that he will interview the candidates recommended by the school governing boards and councils. There are currently 17 open principal positions and 10 open assistant principal positions. I’m concerned that we are a little behind the ball here. Gwinnett is already locking down new principals.

  46. This is nuts!!! >> “We are excited about our Opening of Schools Convocation on Friday, August 4, 2017 at the Infinite Energy Arena at 8:30 a.m. It will be a time to celebrate, educate, motivate and dedicate ourselves to a new school year. This event is mandatory for all DCSD employees whose start date is prior to the first day of school, August 7. ”

    Nothing about this is remotely smart. Not allocating so much money to a feel-good event for ‘leaders’ rather than doling out cash cards for teachers to buy supplies. Not paying to use a Gwinnett facility thousands of DeKalb tax dollars. Not paying bus drivers and gas to transport thousands of staff when perhaps they should be practicing their Monday routes. Not making a mandatory meeting of something that is impossible to check attendance. Not using the Friday before the Monday that school starts for a pep rally for the administration, when teachers NEED that day for pre-planning. Not recognizing that taxpayers would go insane over this colossal waste of their money.

    Dumbest move since Johnny Brown did the same thing … except he had the decency to use Adams Stadium.

  47. Former Teacher

    I love how DCSD can afford this but it appears as though they are cutting teacher salaries again? Why give teachers a raise only to reduce it the next year. Looks like they just posted a 2017-2018 salary schedule and many steps are lower than last year….

    GET COMPETITIVE DeKalb… hiring woes will diminish if you recognize the value in your people.

  48. That doesn’t sound accurate. Can you post a link to the new salary schedules?

  49. If you compare this year’s salary schedule with last year’s, you will notice that a step was added at the top of the pay scale (last year’s scale had 32 steps–this year’s has 33). Every salary moved up one slot on the schedule. So teachers will not receive a pay cut–they will receive the same pay as last year, but the schedule has been changed to move last year’s salary to this year’s step. Thus not giving teachers a step increase. This has been standard practice for the last 7 or 8 years. If other districts are keeping the same number of steps on their salary schedule, then we are back to the same problem that DeKalb is paying lower salaries given certain levels of experience.

    From what I read, I believe Gwinnett gave their teachers a step increase this year and a pay raise.
    Gwinnett 2016 salary schedule:
    Gwinnett current salary schedule:

    At some point, DeKalb needs to give teachers their step increases instead of adding more steps to the salary schedule. DeKalb will continue to lose teachers to other counties unless they are willing to pay competitive salaries.

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