The administration has repeatedly referenced the online survey as proof that the people prefer Option B. DeKalb Schools administration has now changed their tune saying the online survey was never intended to count votes.
REALLY ?? Because when I asked at the last board meeting why we didn’t go with a Doraville cluster, Dan Drake replied that when the votes came in the, input was for building additions.
The public participated in an online survey from Aug 23 – Sept 16 to “state preferences, rank options, and leave written comments” (secondary school study recommendations pg 11). The survey asked if the participant preferred A) a new Doraville Cluster, B) Building additions at existing schools, or C) Moving the magnet … and why.
Up until Sept 14, 70% of the participants selected Option A, a new Doraville Cluster. On Sept 15, school councils started sending out school newsletters asking the community go to “an online survey and select Option B”.
Was the support of the school councils representative of an organic desire for Option B? Or was something else at play?
Turns out some school council members had been courted by planning staff at the school district and mesmerized by the razzle dazzle talk of upgrades to aging sports, art, band, etc. facilities. As any good salesman knows, you sell the sizzle. After buying the sizzle, some schools councils turned around and told their communities to support Option B. There was no community or school wide discussion about what was in Option B or its implications. Those communities proceeded to the online survey and repeatedly voted for Option B and in two days, the support for Option B went from 21% to 51% (allegedly).
This begs the question from many people including me:
Question: There are valid concerns that many people voted multiple times in the Secondary Facilities Study Survey sited as being one of the reasons the school district administration went with Option B. Were multiple entries from the same people parsed out of the final total? How was that done?
Response from Mr. Joshua Williams (DeKalb Schools COO): The online survey, in addition to the written feedback from the public meetings and the 20 positions statements from the school councils, PTAs, and foundations, was intended to help the District and Board capture the themes of public sentiment regarding the three options presented during the Secondary School Study. The online survey simply captured the qualitative responses from the public and was not intended nor used as a voting mechanism.
This response is telling us the survey was useless. The district did not take steps to design the survey to prevent multiple votes, nor did they parse the data to determine the real volume of support for each option. If somebody votes 1000 times, its in the totals as 1000 separate votes. There is, furthermore, no way for the district to tell if 20 people said 20 different things or 1 person made 20 different points.
LET ME COUNT THE WAYS the vote total was used to justify the decision. Also known as, if it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck and that duck voted.
Key Takeaways from Public Input on Three Options:
Page 18 says, “The survey results show an overall preference for B (51 percent) over Option A (45 percent) and Option C (4.5 percent)” with this image on page 16
That looks like counting “votes” to me. We know that anyone could vote as many times as they wanted to.
11/07 – Project List and Community Input Presentation
Question from Stan Jester: The consultants said at the public meetings there was overwhelming support for a new Sequoyah area high school. If everybody wanted the Doraville cluster, why didn’t we do that?
Dan Drake: We had an online survey and early on there was a strong push for the Doraville cluster. As the process went on and the votes came in, the input swung to a desire to increase the size of our existing schools and not create a new cluster.
One Person – One Vote
At the community input sessions, as the consultants put it, “Overwhelming support for Option A among those who indicated a preference”. Interestingly, when everybody only got one vote, the community supported Option A by 70%
I don’t think we can have it both ways. It seems like the school district asked for everyone’s input and told us that the input shows overwhelming support for something. They actually used the words “votes” and “overall preference.” Nevermind that planning officials were working in the back room to influence the outcome. When deficiencies in the survey were questioned, especially that the survey could be so easily manipulated, we were told that the survey was “qualitative” and “not intended as a voting mechanism”.
Any use of the survey results as evidence of a preference for anything doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. If the school district truly intends to get public input, they should create a survey not susceptible to manipulation. They should also involve the broader community of residents, taxpayers, county, and city officials.
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The DCSD Administration had the survey and the public meetings strictly for show. They knew what they were going to do back in June. Why else would they proceed with drawings in July. Look at the survey and how the ballots were stuffed by one school. Dan Drake should have been held accountable for his lack of planning. Why else do we keep spending money on same schools? Hope that Marshall Orson and Jim Mcmahan lose their next election for their under the table politics. Redistricting is hard enough, add in personal agenda by Board members and you end up with a situation where nobody likes the outcome and breeds mistrust of the entire system. Michael Thurmond told me before he left that the area needed 3 new Elementary Schools and 2 new High School Clusters. Personally think that DCSD should use what the land they have for High Schools and Middle Schools. It is much easier to find property for Elementary Schools because of the amount of land needed. Nobody at DCSD has a clue of what the communities want.
Thanks for sharing, Stan. Hopefully the vote will be delayed so that impacted families have more time to ask questions and make their preferences known. We’ll see if voters around here ever trust DCSD enough to vote for SPLOST again..
And, here’s another instance of DCSD publicly stating that the survey results didn’t “count” for anything, only after being called out on the multiple voting that was going on. Here is a link to the entire article: http://brookhavenpost.co/2016/09/16/final-day-to-participate-in-the-dekalb-schools-secondary-school-facility-planning-and-feasibility-study-survey/.
Taken from the Brookhaven Post on 9/16:
A number of readers have contacted The Post with concerns the Survey allows more than one input per person, where participants have the ability to select one of three proposed solutions to solve overcrowding – Options A, B or C. The survey also allows participants to suggest other options as well.
On Thursday, The Post inquired with the School Board and the School District about this “voting” issue. The DeKalb School District’s Director of Communications provided us with the following statement:
“The online survey is not a contest to determine the most popular plans, ideas, and alternatives. We are not tabulating the responses to the survey. We are looking for thoughtful assessments of the three alternatives that have resulted from a year of study and public meetings including any ideas (e.g., Option D, etc.) that we might not have heard or thought of. In other words, we might end up with an approach that only one attendee or a few respondents offered, if that idea is compelling and best addresses the problems of overcrowding.”
Stan, it sounds to me like you are suggesting the administration employees you mentioned are lying at best, or worse, part of a conspiracy of fraud. These are serious charges that should be reported to DSCD Human Resources at best, law enforcement at worst.
The senior administration reports to the Superintendent and the superintendent reports to the board.
Wonder how many thought when they voted for ESPLOST that $14,000,000.00 would be used for artificial turf for practice fields. I know it never entered my mind. Exactly how does this improve the academic performance of any student. Know if it had been on a list of projects produced for what funds would be used for I would have very serious doubts on how I would have voted. Kim, you called me out before for saying this…..this is looking more like a Pat Pope project list.
The invisible/forgotten “Vocal Minority” …
Didn’t follow that, Stan. Are you saying you have addressed your complaints about these employees with Dr. Green and it’s up to him to take it up with HR or law enforcement?
Let’s examine the facts here. We have plans that were developed in July. We have options that were purposely identical (A & C) in order to split the “vote” so that “B” would win. People had the ability to vote multiple times. There were under the table deals. This whole thing should be reported to the press. Marlon Walker at the AJC would love to write about this.
Given the current climate, the board has no choice but to defer the note indefinitely until new plans can be developed and then voted on in a fair and legitimate election.
Kim G – Hear that sound? That’s your whole sham plan being flushed down the toilet.
The survey results were rigged as well as its options, and the alternative ideas it produced were not taken seriously. There wasn’t ever an option for nixing the Briarcliff site altogether. That Briarcliff site should never be used for a Cross Keys MS or HS as envisioned by Options A-C. Historically, the Briarcliff site didn’t serve people on the opposite side of I-85. Instead, it was used by the Druid Hills Cluster before these students were rezoned for Druid Hills HS. Using the Briarcliff site for a magnet school location would be perfect, as it would be centrally located, and because magnet parents are willing to put up with more traffic to get their child to school. The fact that the Briarcliff site is near an I85 exit would make it idea to serve magnet families in multiple regions; but this same location is horrible for a regular public HS or MS. If Education Planners, LLC actually listened to the parents and responded to their ideas, especially their concerns with staying in their neighborhoods, they would have changed the Briarcliff site to a magnet center. These plans were too hastily thrown together by Marietta residents without using any innovative ideas or input from parents who actually live here. The vote should be delayed, and alternative ideas from parents who actually live here need to be incorporated into a new plan with a Doraville HS and Briarcliff Magnet school.
Gocke, did you say the superintendent should report this to HR or law enforcement? You’re a real butt munch, but … I know you’re not that ignorant.
Hi DIO. No. If I had evidence of fraud or conspiracy by DCSD employees, I would file a complaint with HR AND law enforcement.
Kim, do you think there is enough evidence of fraud or conspiracy by DCSD employees to file a complaint with HR and/or law enforcement?
That is my question to Stan based on this post.
You are the one coming to the conclusion that DCSD is lying or doing something criminal. I think what Stan has presented is facts and one logical interpretation of those facts. Perhaps one reason for posting this publicly is for those who disagree with that interpretation to offer other logical conclusions. The fact that you immediately leaped to the conclusion that Stan’s observations meant that DCSD did something dishonest or criminal is interesting. Wouldn’t it be more useful if you, or someone, could show how the data collected by the survey was useful and contributed to a well-designed plan?
In hindsight, I think as a minimum the survey should have been designed so that people could vote only once but would have multiple opportunities to offer suggestions.
Anon. You can call it a leap if you want. I took it to be a clear implication. That’s why I asked to be clear.
I agree that there was complete conspiracy and the school planners ‘facilitated’ the conversation so they got what they wanted with fake public support. However, it’s not like forced diversity isn’t accomplished with plans A or C. All 3 plans envision the exact same redrawn district lines so that the Buford Highway crowd is inconveniently and forcibly mixed with that happy crowd pictured above. Plan A they win, and we voted for destroying our neighborhood. Plan b they win and we voted for destroying our neighborhood. Plan c they win and we voted for destroying our neighborhood. You argue for alternatives, and you are insulted with labels like ‘white privilege’. Because this is about reverse racism and disinheriting us from our schools and neighborhoods.
There is no such thing as reverse discrimination. You all are just feeling the pain of not getting your way and having decisions made to include all children. Private school is available.
I’m wondering what the huge objection is to deferring the vote? I understand and totally agree that there is a problem and it needs to be fixed. However, if we are spending this much money shouldn’t we do it right the first time? Rushing and quick “band-aide” solution is what created this mess. Let’s slow down, just a bit, and do it correctly.
Reverse discrimination is alive and well here on this forum. Take GoGreen’s comments on the Austin Elementary post when he states “Dr Green needs to spread out the white privilege children across the county. We need these stay at home moms to run our PTAs, to volunteer, to donate to our schools. They get all these tax breaks and homesteads so we can’t get money for our children. It’s not fair that Dunwoody schools are so white. Change the lines or make them bus like we did. No school in DeKalb should have more than 25% white based on our numbers.” This isn’t one random comment. This is the motivation behind all the school plans. Every survey and school planning choice envisioned forcing those white numbers down in an identical pre-drawn district. And this district map that isn’t being shared with us. It’s obvious that plans a, b, and c on the survey all involve the exact same student moves. This, my friends, is what subtle reverse racism looks like. If you have any doubts, visit the Georgia Educator woman’s website where she posts about diversity non-stop while pretending that certain communities aren’t allowed to have valid opinions. This just isn’t acceptable. My kids will definitely attend private school as I will not have their new English teacher be the Ga educator blogger. However, I’m also calling out ‘what’s hidden in plain sight’ and recognizing the war being waged against my community and neighborhood. I won’t play dumb, and I WILL mention that elephant in the room.
This is a silly way to conduct the business of running a school system. It is not a ‘democracy’ where the majority rules simply due to their own fears and preferences. The employees of and consultants to the school system should have the best professional knowledge and be able to make the best decisions based on what is best for the school district as a whole. If the employees we currently have are not competent to do this, then they need replaced. The ‘voting’ method is just a squeaky wheels get the grease management style. Pitiful.
These recent blog posts do make it appear as if Stan is strongly implying that some kind of monkey business is going on. If so, Stan needs to report it – not just blog about it. My main point is – the staff – if competent – should be making the best decisions for the district as a whole. This works beautifully in Gwinnett. Things get built as the system grows according to that growth. Students get redistricted all the time. That’s how it goes in a big school district. They can’t worry a lot about squeaky wheels. If you don’t like it, the only way around it is to break it up into 5 or 6 smaller districts. Or get a much better qualified staff.
Cere. Agree completely.
Placing dots on a wall or picking one of the A,B,C options in a Google form was never a critical decision criteria articulated by DCSD in any sessions or instructions.
The folks that want a delay in their own comments make it clear that it mattered to them what the online survey “vote count” was in the beginning (which was driven by the instant CCHS PTAs instructions to “vote A” in week one) and that the survey results shouldn’t be referenced when the “vote count” was balanced between “A” and “B” (as driven primarily by Cross Keys, Dunwoody and Lakeside area councils and others).
Had the online survey “vote count” resulted in an overwhelming “A” trend, these same folks would be saying, “See! DCSD is corrupt and is ignoring our votes!”
It’s all too much, really.
The whole “controversy” about the online survey is a fabrication to stir things up. Could staff had made it more clear and unequivocal that the online survey was … a survey? Yes. If DCSD learns anything from this current backlash, it will be to spend less time and effort on this type of “public engagement” and more time making decisions to move things forward.
Best professional DeKalb school district employees … there’s a contradiction in terms
Well, DIO, my view as “Butt munch” may not carry weight with you but I have had a different experience in the past two years than the previous years interacting with staff.
I have not seen the current level of professionalism, accountability, and commitment before. Now you can say you expect more and that’s fine. But please, you’ve been around DeKalb a while and must acknowledge how far we’ve come, especially under Dr. Green’s leadership.
Whatever policy disagreements you have with Dr. Green don’t you agree he is the best leader the BoE has hired in eons??? Let’s please agree on that if nothing else!
Nobody has done anything illegal. Who do you recommend I report this too?
Interesting anecdote … Nancy was at county training in Athens this past week with Michael Thurmond and other elected county officials from across the state. We were trading text messages during the day and this was one of them.
I’m Listening to a city manager just say “we set up an advisory committee and we just listen and smile and move on.”
Kim, the facts are the facts. I just assume the administration didn’t have these dog and pony shows if all they are going to do is “listen, smile and move on”
Stan, this is the “Fact” I’m concerned about in your post: “Nevermind that planning officials were working in the back room to influence the outcome.”
This sounds like a code of conduct violation and a firing offense to me. That is why I asked if you had filed a complaint with HR.
Perhaps DCSD HR policies aren’t up to the standards I’m used to in the private sector. I’ve escorted employees out of the building for lying about their status as a contractor vs an employee to get a free parking space.
You are mistaken. Dan Drake has said that the “survey” was a deciding factor for the staff. Regardless if it was or wasn’t that is hardly why I am in favor of slowing this freight train down. The project list being proposed is an irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars – period. The additions are ill-conceived and do not provide any room for growth. I for one do not want to repeat this ridiculous process again in 5 years.
Cere, Last time I checked we do indeed live in a democracy. These are our tax dollars and our children. The board members have a fiduciary responsibility to their constituents to provide oversight for how these dollars are spent. The members of the community, and parents of the children in these schools have a lot of nuanced information about these schools that County employees couldn’t possibly know due to the huge scale of the school district. Case in point, when the County shut down Nancy Creek parents told them this was a mistake, that their projections were incorrect. Look where we are now.
I am grateful that they have engaged the stakeholders. Furthermore I hope that follow through with that by listening to input about the proposed project list now that stakeholders finally have all of the detailed information and can provide detailed feedback. Perhaps we can avoid repeating the mistake made with Nancy Creek…
Hilary, I have no issue with any of the substantive concerns raised by many who earnestly believe “Option A” type solutions would be better. That is fine.
What is not fine is tactics designed to undermine the District. There are those who clearly are trying to undermine the integrity of THE ENTIRE SYSTEM to meet their goals. I am one who supports significant reform to our public schools. Specifically, ISDs would be lovely. However, I would never get behind an effort to undermine the success or the credibility of the public school system in DeKalb.
I have seen this before and I call it the “scorpion effect.” Otherwise thoughtful people get so angry at DCSD for this or that issue they damn the whole thing. That is short-sighted and counterproductive.
I am not saying we all have to agree on each issue that DCSD puts forth. I AM saying that we have to fight the issue and not the system. The vilification of the system that goes on here is nothing more than equivalent ad hominem attacks made against opponents employed when we are losing a debate.
If you can’t discredit the argument, discredit the arguer. I think trying to discredit DCSD staff or BoE as a way to gain support for this delay the vote effort is extremely and fundamentally harmful to our public education system and our communities at large in the long run.
Lastly, please refer to me as “Butt Munch” from now on – it makes me feel more liberated to speak my true thoughts. 🙂
Hilary, one other thing on this survey “controversy.” Just like we have folks saying that Mayor Pittman said this or that and Dr. Green said this or that please know that I have a bias towards this type of hearsay. Let people speak for themselves. If there’s a dispute about what was or wasn’t said or what should have been said, let’s take that to the person in question, ok?
I’ve spoken to all parties who have been “quoted” (see what I did there?) here and I have a different conclusion based on those inquiries. I will not quote or testify on anyone else’s behalf and I encourage fellow bloggers to avoid it, too.
Dear Butt-Munch, sorry – can’t do it! 🙂
Kim, I think your points are valid. Please know I am referring to conversations I have had personally with Drake. Trust should be given, but is also earned. Given history there are many in a place of not trusting DCSD. While the SI and Board has turned over many of the same players remain on staff. I think it is fair to question the integrity of the community input process. Hundreds of concerned parents took time off of work,arranged for childcare to attend community input meetings and thoughtfully reviewed data to provide input. I have yet to see how that input was used in a meaningful way.
Thanks for trying, 🙂
I have no pushback on the general concern of the integrity of the community input process. I have personal experience of the many ways parent groups have learned to “game the system” in past years. It is critical that we all guard against this type of gaming.
If gaming is going on and anyone has evidence, they have an obligation to bring that to the table. Otherwise, it is corrosive and actually accomplishing the opposite by bringing into question public engagement that may have been valid.
Stan (and you?) seem to be saying “prove it was not corrupt?” Accusations do not count as evidence in my view of these type of interactions. We’ve seen how productive that has been in our national electorate: people can say whatever they want. Evidence is what we need.
As the Urban Debate Teams at Sequoyah and Cross Keys are taught, “Think Critically and Demand Evidence.”
Hilary, consider this analogy … let’s say I am skeptical of the number of people interacting here on Stan’s blog under anonymous monikers. I could say that Stan’s blog has no credibility and should be ignored, right? Shouldn’t we demand that Stan disclose all the IP address and email information associated with this anonymous posters to prove they are valid and unique?
I could be here under false names arguing with myself just to feed myself the “sound bites” I want in my counter argument, right? I could be DIO and insulting myself to make it look like my opponents are petty and hateful, no?
That’s ridiculous and any accusation of such should be completely rejected by Stan because it is groundless and simply an attempt to raise credibility questions about this blog and associated commenters.
I hope this makes sense. I’ve been online jousting with shadows and drive by blog trolls since gopher days. It just goes with the territory.
Whoa! I am saying nothing of the sort. I am saying let’s make the best decisions possible. Let’s use everyone’s tax dollars in a responsible way.
IF (and I am not accusing anyone of anything) DCSD is making decisions without truly utilizing community input then each and every one of us needs to decide if that is what we want for our school system. It would appear that Cere is okay with that which is his/her prerogative. I personally am not okay with that. At a minimum be honest and tell us that’s what you’re doing. Then we don’t have to take time off of work, arrange for childcare, etc. if they are truly just going to smile and nod and do what they think is best. Is it too much to expect honesty from our County employees?
Right, Kim. We all know you’re a race-baiting libtard. Try it somewhere else.
Wow, that was uncalled for, MyTrueIdentity.
I get your analogy, but don’t think we’re talking apples to apples. No tax dollars are being spent based on comments on Stan’s blog. It is a FACT that the survey allowed for stuffing of the ballot box. You don’t question that do you?
Hilary, see how that works? That is me up there ^ insulting myself. If you can’t beat’em, join’em! Lesson over.
Btw, Hilary. I respect you for standing up for what you think and doing so in honest dialog. Sincerely.
I honestly do not know as I do not use Google forms. It is completely believe-able. Do I believe that individuals spent two weeks sitting on their phones, ipads, and PCs voting incessantly for A or B? No, not really. If the integrity of the survey “vote” is an issue, we should just ignore it, right?
And let me repeat my point of analogy (sorry) – what I am saying is it is easy to try to undermine any process by making claims against it without any proof. We can also make such claims and then demand that the accused proof their innocence. That is a tried and true way to disrupt any human communication.
So, again, sure this is not a public asset here at FactChecker. But I have some expectation of integrity, no? If not, we should simply ignore this blog, too, due to any wild assertions I might make.
It’s ok to call people obscene names here. Is that enough to reason to discredit what is said? Usually that is my standard for listening to anyone.
I guess the real question is what facts and data were used to choose Option B for the proposed list; what facts/data were used to decide against Option A.
In my opinion the name-calling discredits the name-caller not the blog.
At the meeting with Dr. Green, Dan said they got the community input from the survey which showed a majority for option B. Because he said this, I stood up and explained that the survey was flawed (allowing people to vote as many times as they wanted).
When I spoke with him after the meeting and brought it up again he told me that they had had their IT people delete all duplicate ip addresses and felt that it was a fair survey.
Hilary, or the blog that tolerates it 🙂
Ok. off to a matinee. I think your call for a comprehensive rationale for the recommendation is completely reasonable.
Kim, what are you talking about? That’s rhetorical. Feel free not to answer because everyone on this blog has a clear understanding of your position from the volume of comments you make.
When I read this blog, I did not see Stan making accusations. He presented facts. The administration tabulated results and used it in their presentation to the board as, at least part, of a justification for their recommendation. It’s a fact that it was in their presentation. That is not an accusation.
Fact, Dan Drake had behind the scenes meetings with certain groups of parents. That is a fact. It is not an accusation. In those meetings, he told parents things that the administration has never shared publicly. He worked to convince them to support Option B. That’s why the school councils sent out emails saying, “go vote for Option B”. Now that the school councils are finding out that what Dan told them didn’t come to pass they are asking to defer the vote. That’s a fact. Stan posted Dunwoody High School’s letter asking for a deferral on this blog. No accusation there. In fact, that is solid, unambiguous evidence that people were told one thing by the administration to get them to do something (pick Option B) and once they did that, the administration changed the deal on them.
It is a fact that people have spoken for themselves. Stan has links to people speaking for themselves. The mayor wrote an email saying she was advocating for a Doraville High School. That isn’t hearsay. Those are facts.
It is a fact that this blog is fighting the issue. If your view is that in fighting the issue, the system is indicted, I agree with you. If, in the course of discussing an issue, you find that something in the process wasn’t done correctly, consistently, or transparently, that does have an implication on the system. But it is the system that brought it on themselves. You can’t say that the system has no culpability for this mess when it was their mishandling that got us here. It can’t be treason to say the emperor has no clothes, if in fact, he made an affirmative, announced choice to walk around naked.
In my opinion, you are trying to accuse Mr. Jester of making accusations and undermining. I think you should apologize to him. He is generous enough to host this blog where we can have community discussions. He puts out all kinds of information. No other board member does this. The school district doesn’t do this. I, for one, thank him for his transparency. This is how you build trust.
Would there have been an option that satisfied all? No. Were there concerns with the survey? Sure. Would similar options still be on the table? Probably. Are there alternative options that have been suggested in writing to the board members? Probably lots. Was the ~30 days since the November 7th board meeting enough time for the broader community to consider other options or suggest alternatives? I think so. What do you think will happen in the next 90 days that will gather enough data to make everyone satisfied with the project list in its entirety? Likely very little. At some point, a vote needs to be made like grown-ups and elected Board members need to move the project list (amended or not) forward. Sooner, rather than later.
School Council Rep,
What Dan told you is at odds with what Josh Williams told Mr. Jester. Looks like Mr. Jester asked about how they filtered out multiple survey submissions, and all he could say was:
“The online survey simply captured the qualitative responses from the public and was not intended nor used as a voting mechanism.”
Either Dan didn’t know they didn’t/couldn’t filter out multiple survey submissions or…..
Since DCSD used Google forms for the survey, there is no way to parse out IP addresses for a true tally of the votes. The only way to parse out responses is to have each survey respondent register using their Google account. Everyone taking the survey knows there was no sign in or registration required to answer. Here is an article explaining this very issue: http://www.labnol.org/internet/prevent-multiple-form-submissions/28675/.
While I am confident the planners won’t be able to produce a parsed out list of respondents, I’ve placed an open records request with DCSD for this information. I’ll be happy to share what I get back from them.
From reading all of these comments and positions, it seems to me that the Dunwoody Cluster (or some schools) position is: I don’t want the 600-seat DHS addition. I want a school built in Doraville. It seems like the CMS/CCHS Cluster (or some schools) position is I don’t want the 600-seat CCHS addition. I want 2 new high schools built in Region 1, one of which needs to be in Brookhaven. That is fine to state what you want. I support that. But, be clear and concise about it. It seems like DHS and the Chamblee Cluster are hedging bets and in all of the wishy-washiness about what they really want, are only asking for a 90-day delay to have more of the same. More of the same facts, some traffic studies that say that traffic will be horrific at arrival and dismissal, more figures that say there isn’t enough money to go around.
This entire process has been a joke.As far as Dr. Green performance as the Superintendent goes I have to question his performance and it’s transparency. Regardless of what you think of the survey and public meeting, where DCSD went wrong was not publishing a list of projects to be voted on for passage of the ESPLOST vote. Without a list they basically said trust us and now many taxpayers feel their trust was abused. I know I will not vote FOR ESPLOST again without knowing exactly what the money will be used to fund. Honestly think somebody should be held accountable for the misinformation. Either Joshua Williams or Dan Drake has intentionally misled the citizens of Dekalb.
Dear Mark Reed,
I think you have misinterpreted the Chamblee cluster response. If CCHS believes the DCSD 2022 forecast, then 2300+ students are coming. Whether those students come from schools in the existing Chamblee cluster or the re-clustered Chamblee cluster, doesn’t matter.
What Chamblee wants is a campus that is at least as good as its current campus. Chamblee doesn’t want a crammed in campus on less than half the land the state recommends for a 2400 seat school. Why would any thinking person want this for their children, for their community?
We have looked at the DCSD plan, which adds 600 seats with NO purchase of land, depends upon features that the City of Chamblee did not approve just 4years ago when the current design was finalized, and doesn’t take into account the need for additional athletic space – fields, gyms, lockers – needed to serve the PE needs of 600 additional students plus the features that all other athletic teams from mega-high schools have.
Goals for the 60-90 Day Delay
1 – During the 60-90 days, I think that Chamblee would like its very first public meeting with DCSD Operations to discuss the plan, and hopefully obtain genuine commitments to provide more land and to include the necessary athletic features.
2 – During the 60-90 days, I think Chamblee and all Region 1 and 2 schools would like to have DCSD tell them the advantages of its plan. DCSD data shows that their plan calls for spending nearly $150 million on high school capacity in Regions 1 and 2, yet ending up with only 81 more seats than the projected 2022 enrollment.
Their FAQ document says that they want to avoid “much more overbuilding” and “much less overbuilding.” I agree with that.
But having a capacity safety margin of less than 1% seems foolish. Perhaps DCSD can convince Region 1 and 2 that this is indeed a wise plan. But if it isn’t, let’s work together and develop a plan that is feasible and leaves the schools that are at least in no worse shape than they are today, and with a reasonable plan if unanticipated growth occurs.
3. During the 60-90 days, I personally would like to also address the academic impacts of the Chamblee/Cross Keys reclustering, but this concern is much less immediate than the first 2.
I think that all Region 1 and 2 stakeholders would support going ahead with other E-SPLOST-V category projects, plus the additions to Clarkston HS and Freedom MS. We don’t want other schools to be delayed because of these capacity issues.
Asking for a delay has nothing to do with whether the survey was rigged or not. Belief that it was rigged makes it harder to trust DCSD – I get that. So perhaps re-building trust could be another goal of the 60-90 day delay.
PS. I failed to add that I don’t think that the new Brookhaven high school and Cross Keys renovation should be delayed either. I don’t know if this view is shared by others.
I think that a feasible solution must either find more land for the Dunwoody HS, CCHS, and Lakeside HS additions to make them facilities that DCSD can be proud of, or perhaps include the dreaded new high school in Doraville.
But in either case, go ahead with the new Brookhaven high school. It will be needed. If it should possibly happen that a Doraville HS is added, then perhaps the new Brookhaven HS could be smaller than the 2500 seats.
Very well said. The one item that I personally would add, is that the deferral period would also be used to bring together all of these communities to creatively problem-solve. The Hunger Games, winner-take-all approach has been counter-productive. I have seen so many communities come together since the project list was announced. Let’s take that one step further and develop a plan that everyone can live with. I don’t live under any false perception that everyone is going to get everything that they want out of this process, but let’s work together and use these tax dollars in the most effective way possible. Clearly decisions in one cluster impact other clusters, so let’s work together as a larger community.
@Hilary >> We do not live in a democracy. We live in a representative republic. Ask your child’s middle school civics teacher. In this case, the ‘representatives’ are school system board members, superintendent and staff. That said, I hate to say I told you so – but I told you all not to vote Yes to SPLOST V – as the list was far too vague. You all should’ve made staff go back to the drawing board then. Instead, you all said, let’s vote to collect the money – and then we will strong-arm how it is actually spent. Not a good plan at all. Now here you are …
ps, if it’s true that ‘Dan Drake has said that the “survey” was a deciding factor for the staff. ” then Dan Drake needs to move on and the superintendent needs to hire someone who can do the necessary research to make solid decisions without deferring to members of the community who have personal agendas at stake.
If this comment is true >> “Fact, Dan Drake had behind the scenes meetings with certain groups of parents. That is a fact. It is not an accusation. In those meetings, he told parents things that the administration has never shared publicly. He worked to convince them to support Option B. That’s why the school councils sent out emails saying, “go vote for Option B”. Now that the school councils are finding out that what Dan told them didn’t come to pass they are asking to defer the vote. That’s a fact.”
Then I stand by my recommendation to replace Dan Drake with someone who has the competence and desire to do what’s right by the entire school district. These decisions should not be left to the most vocal of parents.
Anonymous | December 4, 2016 at 2:36 PM | “I did not see Stan making accusations. He presented facts.”
… I’ll keep it short since you have heard enough from me.
You may call this a fact but to me it is a serious accusation/assertion that begs clarification or backup. Sure, ignore it but I have not. Stan wrote, “Nevermind that planning officials were working in the back room to influence the outcome.”
How is that only interesting to me and no one else? This seems to point to the “smoking gun” everyone here is looking for in conspiracies. Butt Munch out!
@Anonymous: “the dreaded new high school in Doraville?” Please expand on that … What is so ‘dreaded’ about it?
Fact is – there is not room to add hundreds and hundreds of seats at Chamblee, Dunwoody and Lakeside. That solution is ridiculous. There is also not room for more traffic in those tight corridors. Why did people think that was a good idea? I would think that a new Doraville HS and one at the Briarcliff site would be very helpful. Not ‘dreaded’…
Sadly, what we have here, in reality, is incompetent staff and community members reacting to it.
It is well documented that Dan Drake had meetings with school councils. ORR his calendar if you like. Based on those meetings and conversations school councils wrote letters in support of Option B. In Dunwoody, the school council was told they were going to get much needed additions and renovations to common areas. Now that the plans were revealed that showed no such additions or renovations, just more seats, the school council has requested a delay. This is a fact. It isn’t speculation.
I also do speculate on a few things. I speculate that he listens to a small group of parents and activists outside of the administration. Allison Gevertz comes to mind. Tell me Kim, have you ever met with Dan to discuss facility needs and/or redistricting?
Cere, no need to get snippy. I have a degree in Political Science, but thanks. If you really want to split hairs: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/05/13/is-the-united-states-of-america-a-republic-or-a-democracy/
Moving on…I agree with you completely about the ESPLOST vote. I do wish I had listened to people like you. I assure you the next time I get to exercise my direct democratic rights through a referendum I will not make the same mistake twice.
You are write about the eSPLOST vote. I still think that the referendum should be challenged in court. We could get our delay then. I also agree with you about a Doraville High School. Option B devotees, trying to prevent a Doraville High School seem to have the agenda that the school district is listening to. The solution is obvious. Yes, Cross Keys needs to be rebuilt/renovated and Doraville needs a high school. That solves the problem.
I should have used the sarcasm font for “dreaded.” Like you, I see this as a much more realistic option than adding hundreds and hundreds of seats at Chamblee, Dunwoody, and Lakeside.
However, I have been repeatedly told that having a Doraville HS is equivalent to segregation, keeping those students isolated rather than crammed into another high school.
It’s as if the only possible motivation for opposing the current plan is because of a concern over demographics or test scores.
There are many reasons to request a deferral of tomorrow night’s vote. Call me crazy, but perhaps the most important one is to give the Board time to investigate potential ethics violations during the process. I’m not saying they actually exist, but I’m not comfortable with any vote until that question is resolved. It sounds like there may be evidence pointing to this. I would encourage anyone with specific evidence of this nature to report it to the proper parties.
Stan, can you briefly outline the procedure for members of the public to report suspected ethics violations?
Any ethics violations by senior administration should be reported to the board.
@Anonymous >> The idea to legally challenge the vote seems like the best one to me. By law, the school system has to stick to exactly what was promised on the ballot to voters. Anyone know exactly what that said? As I recall, it was the vaguest SPLOST proposal ever.
What are the procedures for reporting possible ethics violations by a BOE member?
@Anonymous – thanks for the clarity – I didn’t pick up on the sarcasm. That said, it’s funny everyone is so concerned about integration. Have you checked out DeKalb schools racial dynamics lately? There is no way to integrate unless, as some have apparently proposed, you put the 11,000 white kids and the 17,500 Hispanic kids (out of 100,000 total) as well as several thousand Asians on buses and sprinkle them evenly to schools around the county. It’s a moot point. We need to drop the race discussions.
Want to check out DeKalb’s demographics for yourself? Go here and run a report >> https://oraapp.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/fte_pack_ethnicsex_pub.entry_form
Anonymous | December 4, 2016 at 5:49 PM |
Yes, of course. I’ve been in meetings at least once in all the public interfaces that have been part of this process: the general meetings at Clarkston, Cross Keys, Sequoyah, Chamblee, Tucker (for both secondary and primary school meetings), I was asked by the CK principal to sit in one Secondary Schools Study Steering Committee Mtg at CCHS when he was not able to attend, I’ve been in working sessions on the ES response, and I’ve been in regional stakeholder sessions like I think you are suggesting are the source of the cabal theories you’re promoting around Dan Drake.
As someone who has openly and consistently advocated for the Secondary School Councils to support Option B, I can testify first hand that what you saying happened did not happen at all. Maybe there were secret breakout session in those sessions that I was not invited to … no. That is what is so silly about these speculations.
All the various representatives from Lakeside, Druid Hills, Tucker, Chamblee, Cross Keys, and Dunwoody that were in those sessions went back to their own clusters to work out whatever could be in terms of consensus. Some were leaning toward “A” and some were leaning towards “B” and some were not able to find any consensus at their own schools. I think we see that in the resulting Secondary School council letters that resulted.
So, yes, yes I was in the room and no one from the Planning Dept was advocating for any option. They were there in facilitating role only and when we had questions of fact (capacity, enrollment, projects, etc) they helped us quickly find the data.
Sorry, very anti-climatic. Let’s keep it 100, tho.
Would being emailed by a BOE board member outside of your own region telling you to contact your own school council because the “school council isn’t as interested as getting involved as you are” an ethics violation? At the very least, it was rude to the volunteer parents on the school council and PTA that were in the process of working to submit a letter to the board members.
To all who are offended because a Board member exercises freedom of speech, you might be interested in knowing that the Georgia General Assembly passed a law in the past session that states:
“A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Chapter 80 of Title 36 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to general provisions regarding counties, municipal corporations, and other governmental entities, so as to provide that the governing body of any county, consolidated government, or municipality; local board of education; or any other governmental entity shall not adopt or maintain any policy, rule, or other provision that has the effect of preventing the free exercise of the right of freedom of speech by the members of the governing body and the ability of members of the governing body to discuss freely the policies and actions of such entity; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.”
Glad our lawmakers put in this explicit statement in Georgia Law to remind people that board members still have the First Amendment. Yep, the tolerant left seeks to curtail speech when they don’t like or agree with it. No one is forcing you to read this blog. When we start punishing people for speaking their mind, there’s a name for that.
From the April 19, 2016 AJC >> “DeKalb County School District Superintendent Steve Green is firing back at assertions made by a state lawmaker that the district’s proposed E-SPLOST vote could be subjected to a legal challenge over a lack of specific projects.
State Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, said in a letter to Green that such a challenge could deprive county schools of the projected $500 million to be derived from a penny sales tax to assist with capital projects.
“Contrary to assertions otherwise, the resolution and ballot question calling for the continuation of thie source of educational funding in DeKalb County does contain a constitutionally sufficient description of the specific capital outlay projects to be funded with the tax,” Green says in a letter written to Millar dated for today.
Included in the resolution language, which voters will see on May 24:
•Safety and security (enhancing surveillance systems, fire alarm systems, fire sprinkler installation)
•New facilities and additions (modifying and replacing schools, creating new schools and facillities)
•Facility condition improvements (roofing, plumbing, painting, physical education facility upgrades)
•Purchasing buses and classroom furniture
•Expenses related to projects”
And from another AJC article >>
“But school board members can appeal to voters by proposing projects in more affluent, politically savvy parts of the district where they believe they’ll get the most voter support for the tax — even if other areas of the districts have greater needs, critics say. And they sometimes overpromise to curry support, but pull back later.”
…”Some schools fall through cracks
Sometimes, existing needs are overlooked for a long time.
Northwestern DeKalb County’s Cross Keys cluster of six crowded schools, including Cross Keys High School, is populated mostly with poor, minority students whose primary language is not English. The schools were built for 5,700 students, but hold more than 7,500, because immigrants moved in and schools have been overcrowded for years. More than 100 portable classrooms are used the AJC reported last year.
Eileen Houston-Stewart, a spokeswoman for DeKalb schools, said: “Due to unforeseen changes in demographics and housing occupancies in the Cross Keys Cluster over the past several years, the district was unable to accurately anticipate the dramatic increase in student enrollment.”
This school year, new Superintendent Steve Green led a plan to move 1,600 students to other schools to alleviate overcrowding, and long-term plans call for two new elementary schools.
Rebekah Morris, who teaches ninth-grade English at Cross Keys High, and others have said penny tax money should have been spent years ago to fix the sub-par conditions, which affect teaching and learning. For example, teachers can’t transport laptops or other technology to the portables because there are no paved paths on which to cart them them.
In at least one portable, there was once a tree growing through the floor, she said. The lunchroom can’t accommodate all the students, and many end up not eating or waiting in a long line. They don’t have enough books in some classes, and students have to share texts, Morris said.
“The basic needs of students have been affected,” she said. “Students are not getting the full learning experience.”
So you see what happens when those who are most vocal skim more for their schools from the top? Schools like Cross Keys go without – again and again. It’s a scarcity mentality. And it really must stop.
Who’s offended? I’ve been called a Butt Munch here and I’m not even offended yet.
Kim- Apparently Paula Calderella and Gina are offended. They are inquiring how to report Mr. Jester to the Bureau Against Free Speech, Unrestricted Email, and Thought Crimes. Apparently, if Mr. Jester has a blog or email they don’t agree with, that’s a Thought Crime. This is why we are where we are in this nation.
I have said for a very long time that all SPLOST dollars should go straight to a fund that is managed by a professional accounting firm – not in-house accounting. All invoices must be submitted and paid by the firm and reports to the public should be generated often in order to maintain transparency. It’s the only way to build trust and tamp down these petty arguments about equity.
Whoops, should have added an LOL before my post. Offended, no. Irritated, yes. Lied to, very likely.
What about the secret focus groups that were had with Dan Drake and Joshua Williams that were stacked with Option B supporters (and not school councils)?
I think the forest is being missed.
Many of the current senior administrators have long records of “misleading” parents, school councils. parent councils, and pretty much anyone whom they speak with. The district has a history of “going through the motions” regarding public input and ignoring stakeholder feedback.
All of those in favor of Option A seem to think their votes are valid, but the votes for Option B which came near the end of the survey are not. That is an incorrect assumption. What was to prevent supporters of Option A from voting multiple times? The whole online survey was flawed by design. Thanks DCSD.
Kim’s point about employees not conducting themselves professionally is laughable. The number of times administrators have flat out lied to the BOE during the work sessions is frightening. Admittedly, it hasn’t happened very much in the last year. Yes. The BOE has a fiduciary responsibility, but why do people care now and not when the administration spends $400K on a program which is free from the U.S. Department of Education? The BOE does not provide oversight of spending or the budget. When I found $200K budgeted for an elementary school principal, and $10,000 budgeted for travel in a department with only one employee (Ramona Tyson), the BOE did not even ask Thurmond to justify those things.
It seems as though there are several different “stories” coming out the administration. I believe this is because stakeholders are asking questions the administration didn’t see coming. Dan Drake is an excellent forecaster. However, don’t believe everything he says.
People are correct to question how the administration decided on a modified Option B. When you are dealing with people who have misled you in the past, they have to earn your trust back. Regardless of what some people believe, the district has not earned our trust and this whole process only increased the level of distrust.
Kim, You never responded to my question about you having meetings with Dan Drake. Secret Focus Groups alleges that you had secret focus groups with Dan and Josh. I think you should respond to me and SFG especially given how you said in a comment: “…serious accusation/assertion that begs clarification or backup. Sure, ignore it but I have not. Stan wrote, “Nevermind that planning officials were working in the back room to influence the outcome.” Were you an influencer behind the scenes?
I have heard that Mayor Pittman sent an email in the last 48 hours supporting the plan being voted on tomorrow night. I have not seen this. Stan, have you?
The survey mechanism was a joke. I think I even sent an email to staff/board saying so. But as someone who followed the comments section, it was clear that at the beginning of the survey it was CCHS cluster status folks answering and later other clusters did the same. Not nearly enough original thinking going on.
I don’t think the all the groups that met with staff necessarily had a plan that they supported but rather upon studying the options chose a path. That said, I wasn’t there. I will say that the panic over the potential relocation of the magnet to S. DeKalb likely caused some of the chaos. At the pre proposal meetings I attended the suggestions were to move the magnet to the center of the county. And there was a lot of support for this option. Not sure how the consultants changed that one.
I am curious if any group asked for a meeting during this process and their request was decline.
If there were secret meetings with “Option B supporters” I’m going to be very ticked I was not invited. Unless you mean the interactions with the Parent Councils from around DeKalb. Those sure as heck weren’t “Option B supporters” (some very animated and sometimes hot debates) and if they were supposed to be secret someone should have told me. Good gracious. This grows so tiring but as long as you guys are throwing around vague, scary sounding conspiracies I’ll share what I know to debunk the ones I can. For the ones I have no knowledge of I’ll shut-up and make everyone happy.
anon2, yes I understand the same thing regarding the Mayor supporting Dr. Green’s recommendation. Shocking, if true, after all the claims here to the contrary.
Kirk you and I agree on much of what you shared in your most recent comment. You have been much more deeply engaged in many areas I have zero interaction with staff and I respect your focus and commitment. I continue to believe that the conduct of leadership during the past year is light-years ahead of previous years in terms of candor and accountability. That is where my focus has been and remains for the moment.
I do want to add two other area of activity that has been encouraging to me:
1. In my participation in the ongoing dialog with the Montclair, Woodward, and Fernbank school communities, the DCSD staff have been very responsive and accountable for gaps being identified by the schools, front office, parents and service providers. Much material progress is being made not only in terms of communication but also in setting new expectations and policies in areas I care about.
2. The Regional Cabinet format seems to be proving out fairly well from what I hear anecdotally so far. The MES boiler issue and cases I’ve heard in Region 2 point to greater delegated authority and faster responsiveness to operational issues.
I realize we have much more we should expect and I know you’ll continue holding DCSD accountable. Thank you for all the time and effort you invest – I regularly am in awe of what you put together and analyze.
Kim, did you have ANY meetings with Dan and/or Josh and/or other county officials about how to address facility issues?
Ask Ashford Park!
And the Mayor of Brookhaven
Here’s the official letter from Mayor Pittman.
Hallelujah! The mayor supports a Doraville High School! Everything else is what she thinks so they won’t lose e-SPLOST money and DeKalb will do right by the city and fix the elementary school situation. Unfortunately for her, the vote tomorrow will mean decades to come without a high school for Doraville unless we stop this vote. Defer the vote!
I voted against ESPLOST because the administrators who did such a poor job in the past remain in place today. They are carry overs from past failed adminisrrations. Changes first need to be made there.
Read very carefully BOE Board Policy BH: Board of Ethics Policy and Board BH-R Board of Code of Ethics. It is my opinion that Stan has violated several of those policies. Stan is an elected official bound by his oath to follow these policies.
Some of you, and rightfully so, demand more from our district officials. I also demand that, but I also expect my elected officials to follow the oath of office.
Pretty vague there Paula. Is this how you start the constructive conversation?
Did you miss my comment above? The state legislature passed a law this year so that Board of Education members aren’t bullied into silence. Boards can’t have a policy that prevents school board members from speaking freely about anything, including the school district.
Why don’t you look into the activities and ethics of school district employees like Dan Drake who misled parents and school councils?
Didn’t the school district settle a whistle blower lawsuit in the past 2 years brought forward due to the COO’s behaviors related to contracts? If so, it doesn’t seem reporting misconduct makes much difference. They remain employed -presumably with a slap on the wrist. The internal auditor position established as a direct report to the BOE for the sole purpose of preventing future CLewis escapades has since disappeared. Who would you report to? All district employees report to the superintendent. Unless he chooses to bring their behaviors to the BOE, the BOE’s hands are tied. If you report to the BOE and they bring it to the superintendent, they get accused of meddling.
Millini said that Chief Operations Officer, Joshua Williams, ordered her to give him access to her password protected contract file so he can make changes which Matheny said were illegal.
Authorization of Settlement Agreement between Millini Mathney and DeKalb County School District – According to the January Meeting Minutes, the board authorized a settlement with Matheny. COO Josh Williams remains with the district.
A really big aside >> Is it true Stan, that the school system is sitting on $400,000,000.00 of cash right now. If so – – USE IT!!! Problems solved. Geesh. These are tax dollars – collected for the purpose of building necessary structures in which to conduct the business of education. NOT savings accounts designed to collect millions in interest in order to balance the books. (See why I advocate for separating SPLOST money and having an accounting firm manage the funds?)
According to the October 2016 Monthly Financial Report the CFO will be presenting today, the OPERATING SURPLUS as of OCTOBER 31, 2016 is $596 million (that’s cash … not accrued).
$319 million – General Operations
$277 million – Capital Outlay (includes E-SPLOST)
Thank you to School Board member Stan Jester for keeping us informed!