04/23/2013 – Thurmond at TPC

Tucker Parent Council
Tue 04/23/2013 @ 6:30 PM

Meeting Summary
Michael Thurmond met with a concerned but agreeable Tucker Parent Council Tuesday afternoon on 4/23. Most of the concerns centered around over crowding and affidavits. Kirk Lunde, local watch dog, came prepared with capacity and planning data to back up parental concerns. Mr. Thurmond came prepared himself, bringing in tow Dan Drake, Director of Planning and SPLOST Programming at DeKalb County School District. As usual, the current data, as reported by Mr. Drake, didn’t match the data Mr. Lunde captured in recent reports. “At the end of the day”, as Mr. Thurmond likes to say, the real solution will be in fixing our low performing schools. One of his talking points on his county wide Parent Council tour is Enlighted Self Interest. “Enlightened self interest”, as defined by Mr. Thurmond, “will allow you to rise above the interest in your own child, your own school, your own neighborhood and become interested in the education of other people’s children.”
DCSD Updates

  • Top 15 High SchoolsUS News and World Report reported that 3 of the top 15 high schools in Georgia are in DeKalb.
  • Scholarships – DeKalb Chamber of Commerce raised about $125,000 dollars that will be distributed as scholarships.
  • Nepotism – A new nepotism policy will be addressed at the May board meeting.
  • Success For All – Surveys have returned, to no surprise, that teachers who have been using it are very much opposed to it.
  • Balanced Calendar – DCSD decided to backup and re-evaluate the balanced calendar
  • SACS – Looking forward to and excited about the upcoming visit.
  • $16 Million Dollar Deficit – In 2014 we will have an additional $16 million dollars in expenditures that we did not have in 2013
  • Enlightened Self Interest – Enlighted Self Interest will allow you to rise above the interest in your own child, your own school, your own neighborhood and become interested in the education of other people’s children.

Fact Checker

Thurmond: “I was surprised actually to find out that DeKalb does not currently have a policy prohibiting nepotism. We couldn’t find that we’ve ever had one. So, if you don’t have a policy against it, it’s kind of difficult to what … violate it.“
There is an Employment Of Relatives Policy, but it just doesn’t use the word ‘Nepotism’. The policy is consistent with state law which prevents the hiring and promotion of relatives of the board to positions of AP or higher. It delineates when board members must abstain from voting on a hire. It demands that every employee disclose all familial relationships with the board and senior staff. If an employee does not, they are subject to termination.
“The District permits the employment of qualified relatives of employees, provided such employment does not, in the judgment of the Superintendent or his/her designee, create actual or perceived conflicts of interest. d. All District employees are required to disclose, on an annual basis, whether they are a relative of any other current District employee.”
Thurmond: “State mandates and increases in insurance and benefits and step increases have increased our expenditures by about $16 million dollars.”
While it is true that benefit costs determined by the state have increased, this happens frequently. DCSD should be able to build in some increases to benefits just as private companies are forced to do. Please note that step increases are not COLA (Cost Of Living Adjustment) raises for employees. They are increases in pay required by the state’s pay scale of years employed.
Thurmond: “You all may or may not be aware, and it’s been over a decade since the DeKalb School District had or implemented or even followed a strategic plan for the district. Even had one.“
In 2011, DCSD spent a great deal of time and money on this strategic plan. As recommended by SACS, DCSD contracted with GSBA to “assure that the 2012–2017 plan is congruent with current and future needs, the 2011 Strategic Steering Committee will solicit input from parents, teachers, students, administrators, auxiliary staff, business, and civic leaders in order to develop the district’s strategic plan.”
Thurmond: “20% of our population speaks English as a second language.”
Parent: “So, how many [students] are currently attending Tucker High School?”
Kirk Lunde: “1,756”
Dan Drake: “Our last enrollment report, March 25th, showing 1,655”
I’m incredulous the administration never pulls out the same number twice. I’m convinced whoever is in charge of enrollment/capacity numbers could count their ears twice and come up with a different number each time.
Note: Kirk’s numbers are from October.

12 responses to “04/23/2013 – Thurmond at TPC

  1. Maggie Adams

    Thank you so much for doing this. I, for one, really appreciate it.

  2. Kirk Lunde

    I have to say, Dan’s enrollment information was from the March count and I was using last October’s count.
    Isn’t it interesting how over 100 students left THS between the beginning of October and the beginning of March? What does THAT say about the school?

  3. Hello, Stan – Please excuse me by how can we be having a “final” budget meeting when we haven’t even had one? Also, I believe some things have changed on the budget, or at least according to the supt.

  4. Stan Jester

    It’s a dog and pony show like everything else. We have the highest millage rate in the state (Rockdale doesn’t count), yet we still have furlough days and class sizes are way above the legal state limits. Just like selecting a Principal, they pretend to ask for input and end up doing whatever they want to do.
    We have had 2 board meetings this month and neither of them have been posted on PDS 24 or the DeKalb Schools YouTube Channel. There were a couple of nuggets of information I’d like to dig out.

  5. GETtheCELLoutATL

    I second that about the posting of video and updating of the website in general by the school system. There are so many broken links and whether they want to remember it or not, there WAS a public board meeting where Thrumond appeared with the former board members. Nancy gave the inspiration. I spoke at that meeting. It was in February 2013. Why is it not posted? That was the very last meeting where we gave public comments at the beginning of the meeting and I spoke about the cell tower issue. Thank you, Nancy, for reminding people about that vote that took place over the Summer in 2011 and with barely 24 hours delivery of the financial portion of the entire deal for public or board consumption (or at least they had not given Nancy her copy, yet.). The vote was rushed but at the very least we should have expected some action on that decision by now. That was under Tyson. We have gone through Atkinson and now are on Thurmond. Cell towers should no longer be on the table as a pending issue, yet we never know for sure. A little glitch / loophole in the final contract to be signed (Lakeside High School) says that all the contracts will execute upon the final signing of that final document. So, remember to be on alert and report suspicious activity to 911 if you believe anyone is building on school grounds without a permit. Thank you!

  6. GETtheCELLoutATL

    Please Stan, finish the transcription from the TPC meeting! Thank you for this excellent resource! It is a godsend to those who cannot get out to some of these meetings but want to remain informed and find out what is being said as certain issues go forward. Thank you!

  7. Stan Jester

    Good Afternoon GETtheCELLoutATL. Thanks for the props.
    The 1 hr and 42 minute video is posted, but the last 20 minutes is not transcribed (as you’ve noticed). If anybody else is inclined to transcribe the last 20 minutes, I would be inclined to post it 🙂
    I anticipate a 2 hr Northlake Community Alliance meeting on Thursday with Mr. Thurmond, half the board, and a star studded audience in attendance. I’ll get the Thursday video, transcript and analysis posted ASAP. I’ll try and swing back around and get the end of the TPC meeting … for posterity if nothing else.

  8. GETtheCELLoutATL

    Stan, we will be glad to do the ending of the TPC meeting at Brockett since we might be among the few who want to hear the riveting conclusion of that one! 🙂
    We were unfortunately unable to attend the Northlake meeting but were very, very interested in what transpired, esp. as we were told that Super. Thurmond wore a Lakeside City Alliance pin on his lapel. Not sure if someone just gave it to him or if it is a prize you get after a large donation to their city feasibility study fund.
    At any rate, please don’t hesitate to move on to Northlake and we will help with the previous one. These comparisons of comments and agendas are very helpful in gaining insight to the issues that all areas share as well as how they go about getting things done (or not). Thank you for this great service!

  9. Stan Jester

    Fantastic! Thank you very much!! I’m moving on to the Northlake meeting. LCA pin … interesting … I didn’t notice. LCA has a fundraiser on Thursday. I’ll try and make it. Have a GREAT Memorial Weekend!!

  10. Stan Jester

    With the help of GETtheCELLoutATL, I have posted the last 20 minutes of the TPC meeting. Thurmond, Orson and Wilkins spent most of it discussing cell towers. Mr. Thurmond believes the answer to the cell phone tower quagmire is with the county commissioners.

  11. Mary Kay Woodworth

    If Superintendent Thurmond was wearing a Lakeside City Alliance pin, he and his staff must have manufactured it. The LCA does not have pins, t-shirts or bumperstickers. Our supporters receive a thank you letter for their donations.

  12. GETtheCELLoutATL

    We did not receive any confirmation of an LCA pin. It may have been something related to Northlake, or something entirely different. Since there was no insult intended by the comment, we do not believe it is necessary to apologize to Ms. Woodworth. The LCA would likely gain in popularity had the Superintendent been identified as a supporter.