Monthly Archives: July 2014

Converting McNair High School to a Start-Up Charter

.pdf link icon DeKalb College & Career Academy Charter School Petition (Searchable PDF)
eboard link icon eboard – Meeting agenda item
 07/30/2014 – McNair Charter Petition Video and Transcript
This evening at 5pm, the DeKalb Schools board will vote to approve converting Ronald McNair High School into a Start-Up Charter School over the next 6 years.  As a start-up charter, DeKalb College & Career Academy Charter School will enjoy autonomy not currently granted to conversion charters.  That autonomy includes personnel decisions, financial decisions, curriculum and instruction, resource allocation, establishing and monitoring the achievement of school improvement goals, and school operations.
Superintendent Michael Thurmond mentioned at the 04/23/2013 Tucker Parent Council that he has been working with the President of Georgia Piedmont Technical College, Jabari Simama, to setup a career academy in DeKalb County.  The Technical College System of Georgia has provided a $3 million dollar grant for construction costs.  Partners with this charter school include Georgia Piedmont Technical College and DeKalb businesses such as Georgia Power, DeKalb Fire and Rescue, Epps Aviation, Siemens and Oglethorpe Power.
Budget (Page 776)
The DeKalb College & Career Academy Charter School charter petition is 861 pages.  In FY2006 the charter school is anticipated to have 300 students and will grow to 1500 students by FY2020.  Ronald McNair High School capacity is currently 1524.  The Georgia Certified Employees Salary Schedule (page 34) will serve as a guide for teacher compensation.  Teachers will presumably be employees of Georgia Piedmont Technical College and can be paid more with waivers granted by the board.  The starting salary of the principal will be $108K and will grow to $122K by FY2020.
Transportation (Page 36)
Despite $0 being allocated in the budget for transportation, the DeKalb College and Career Academy will provide transportation for students from central bus stops. The school will contract with DeKalb County School District for special needs students.
Performance Based Goals  (Page 21)
80% of the students will meet or exceed state standards by year 1 on all Georgia Milestone assessments.  Note: Georgia Milestone assessments are taking the place of CRCT and EOCT.  The percentage of students who meet/exceed standards on the Georgia Milestone assessments will increase by 5% each year thus reaching 100% pass rate in 5 years.
Board Members
DeKalb College and Career Academy shall be governed by the following Governing Board of Directors:

Mr. Michael Thurmond DeKalb County School District
Dr.Jabari Simama Georgia College Piedmont Technical
Mr. Cornell McBride McBride Research Lab
Mr. Corbett Davis DeKalb Fire and Rescue
Ms. Sadie Dennard Georgia Power
Mr. Ray Cheek Snapping Shoals
Ms. Janet Spaulding VideoLarm
Ms. Deidre Pierce Georgia PTA
Adrian Hylton Miller Grove High School

New Learning Cottages at Ashford Park ES

Dr. LaShawn McMilan, Principal of Ashford Park ES, announced last week the 5th grade will be relocated to trailers starting this year.
According to a 2012 Enrollment/Capacity chart, Ashford Park Elementary School was at 124% utilization in FY13 and expected to go to 136% utilization by FY17. Unfortunately, the 10-Year Facility Master Plan “did not consider capacity and projected growth when SPLOST IV projects were identified,” according to Nancy Jester, former DeKalb Schools board member.  “The SPLOST process is political.  The data was made to fit the predetermined decisions in order to justify the building list.”
She goes on to say,

“The DeKalb Board of Education sent a referendum to the voters that funds building new elementary schools where we will only need 40% of the current capacity. Yet, in areas that are already at 100% and projected to need much more, DeKalb is adding very little capacity. Many communities are looking at having trailers in perpetuity. Even if some of the capacity needs were addressed in the next SPLOST, effectively a generation of children will have gone through school in trailers.
When SPLOST IV ends, DeKalb’s taxpayers will have given the school district approximately $2 billion to build and improve schools. It is unconscionable that we have so many children in trailers throughout the district. The weight of this fact was not lost on me during the SPLOST IV process while I was on the board. This is the primary reason I voted against taking this referendum to the public.”

This is the announcement Dr. McMilan sent out:
July 24, 2014
Dear Parents,
As you may know, Ashford Park School has experienced a great deal of growth in the past few years. When I accepted the Principal position in 2012, it was a struggle to keep all of our students in the building. We were only able to keep all homeroom classes in the building by putting non-homeroom classes in learning cottages, and requiring Specials teachers to travel to homerooms to provide instruction. Well, we can no longer avoid the inevitable. The time has now come to move a grade level to the learning cottages. During the 2014-2015 school year, all 5th grade homerooms will be located in the cozy cottages right outside of the cafeteria. The need to move a grade level to the cottages has been predicated by a number of factors. The reasons for such a decision are listed below:
* We have gained an additional 1st grade class due to growth.
* We have gained an additional 3rd grade class due to growth.
* We are required to dedicate a classroom inside the building for STEM activities, if we ever hope to become STEM certified.
* While the 5th graders are the largest students in the school, they are the smallest in number and the most mature students in the school.
* The transition to trailers also prepares our 5th graders for their eventual transition to middle school, where class changes will become a daily practice.
It was not an easy decision to a move a grade level to the trailers, but it is one that could not be avoided. In preparation for the move, the District has added an additional keypad to the cafeteria door that will provide immediate and easy access to the building for our 5th graders. Additionally, each 5th grade teacher will have an extra building key for student use when needing access to the main building. Finally, the Operations Department for the DeKalb County School District renovated all learning cottages last year with new locks; new doors; new floor tiles; new painting; expanded Wifi access; SmartBoards; new lighting; and recoating of all roofs to prevent leaks. Thank you for your understanding. Growth is a great problem to have, but it sometimes comes with challenges. I have no doubt that we are ready for the challenge and we are going to have an outstanding school year!
I hope to see all of you during Open House on August 6th. As a reminder, teachers will meet with families whose last names end in M-Z from 8:00 – 10:00, and A-L from 10:30 – 12:30. Enjoy the rest of your summer.
LaShawn McMillan, Ph.D.