School Recovery Report – DeKalb Schools

All schools and offices in the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) will remain closed on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017. Employees are not to report to work.

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Yesterday (Tue Sep 12 2017) we had 62 schools without power. The Operations Team has been working closely with Georgia Power to assess power outages and triage support. As of 12PM today (Wed Sep 13 2017) there were 32 remaining schools without power. Georgia Power reported that the DeKalb County area was one of the hardest hit areas in Georgia.
As of yesterday there were more outages in DeKalb than in Savannah and the Georgia Coast. There are also approximately 100 downed trees across roads. Many of these trees have live power lines on them.
The School Nutrition Department has also been working to determine the impact of power outages to school cafeterias. They indicate that there are some schools that had spoilage of food due to the power outages, and are in the process of contacting vendors to place orders for replacement food as needed.

Make Up Days – Feb 16, 2018 is a designated inclement weather make up date. Futhermore, DeKalb Schools is a Strategic Waiver School System (SWSS) and is not subject to O.C.G.A. 20-2-168 and State Board of Education Rule 160-5-1-.02. The decision to make-up school days missed for any reason is at the discretion of the superintendent and local boards of education understanding that the student performance accountability terms for each contract remain in place.

POWER OUTAGES (click here to enlarge image)
32 Schools remaining without power. Schools in blue below have power. The other 32 are in various stages of getting power restored.

Stan Nancy Jester

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45 responses to “School Recovery Report – DeKalb Schools

  1. With the state of emergency in Dekalb, what are the guidelines for making up this many days? Also, most families have already planned trips for the announced vacation days yet to come……

  2. DeKalb Schools 2017-2018 Calendar

    Good question Julie. February 16, 2018 is our only identified inclement weather day. When we approved the calendar, Orson was really pushing to identify more inclement weather days to no avail. Lesson learned the hard way on that one. In the mean time, there are no guidelines per se. The administration will need to pow wow and then recommend something to the board.

  3. Why can’t schools with power open and host students from schools that are still without power? It seems silly for the entire county to close when it is only a small number of schools that are impacted.

  4. This article quotes a district spokesperson as saying “we have four inclement weather days built into the calendar. “(

  5. Does a teacher workday not count as an option? March 9th was my best guess for a make up day for inclement weather. We will be in trouble come snow and ice season in a few months if more missed days are incurred then.

  6. Swr, Popular question.
    Why can’t we open the schools that do have power and let those kids go to school? – State law (SBOE Rule 160-5-1-.02) says our children must go to school for a minimum of 180 days. If half the kids go back to school then we get off on which students have so many days.
    [Update – 10pm – It has come to my attention that DeKalb Schools is a SWSS and has waivers from this law. The decision to make-up school days missed for any reason is at the discretion of the superintendent and local boards of education understanding that the student performance accountability terms for each contract remain in place.]
    The central office has no power and it’s currently all hands on deck to get the other 32 schools up and going. Many of the kitchens have rotten food. Many bus routes are blocked by trees and some traffic lights are still out.
    Why not have the open schools host the closed schools? I think doubling the population of a school overnight would not make for much academic progress. It would also cause a number of logistical night mares … lunch for twice as many students, transporting that many students that far in a timely manner, etc … check out the map. I’m not sure there are any open high schools in South East DeKalb.

  7. Tim DeBardelaben

    We will spend $14 million on artificial turf for practice fields at high schools. Personally think generators for schools would have been better use of money. That or upgrade of security at all schools.

  8. Whitney Blackmore

    A LBOE may, without the necessity of authorization from the SBOE, elect not to complete, as make-up days, up to four additional days otherwise needed which are the result of days when school was closed due to emergency, disaster, act of God, civil disturbance, or shortage of vital or critical material, supplies, or fuel as provided in O.C.G.A. § 20-2-168(c)(3).
    You can miss up to 4 days without having to make them up or ask for authorization from the state and not risk any loss of funding. After tomorrow, they will either have to be made up, or petition the state for a waiver.

  9. Message from the Georgia Department of Education regarding make up days regarding waivers from O.C.G.A. 20-2-168 and State Board of Education Rule 160-5-1-.02 School Day and School Year for Students and Employees regarding the number of days and hours of instruction required in a school year. Note: DeKalb Schools is a SWSS

    We have received several inquiries regarding school closures as a result of Hurricane Irma especially since the closures are so early in the school year and because some school systems experience school closings as a result of weather events that often occur later in the school year.
    [yada … yada … yada … boring stuff]
    Strategic Waiver School Systems (SWSS) also have waived these provisions if they included O.C.G.A. 20-2-168 in Exhibit B of their performance contract. Therefore, for Charter Systems and SWSS (that included O.C.G.A. 20-2-168 and State Board of Education Rule 160-5-1-.02), the decision to make-up school days missed for any reason is at the discretion of the superintendent and local boards of education understanding that the student performance accountability terms for each contract remain in place.
    [yada … yada … yada … more boring stuff]
    What this means is that school systems without a performance contract (or a SWSS that did not include the O.C.G.A. 20-2-168 waiver) have four emergency days provided in state statute plus relief for each school day during a declared State of Emergency. If these school systems need to claim the relief from the days covered by the State of Emergency, they must seek a waiver from the State Board of Education.
    Garry W. McGiboney, Ph.D
    Deputy Superintendent of Policy and External Affairs
    Georgia Department of Education
  10. Shannon Pierce

    I wish we could split the county up into those regions when making the decisions. Our county is so large that making a decision for the whole county on issues of road safety makes it difficult. What is true for one area is not true for every area in a county our size.

  11. Francine Peterson

    Add them on to the end, please. Do not take our much needed breaks here and there.

  12. I hear that’s what teachers and bus drivers are worried about. They already made plans

  13. It seems to me that asking students to take a yearly assessment test (milestones) with potentially 4 less instructional days is a disservice to the students and just not fair. Making up days at the end of the year doesn’t help that at all. I just want my children to get the best education as possible and not making up the days clearly doesn’t do that.

  14. In the 70s this happened. Schools closed for a week due to an ice storm. Same scenario just ice instead of tropical storm. A couple of days were made up on Saturdays. In the 90s days were made up by adding on to several days. It can be done! And yes, it was DeKalb County Schools!

  15. There are a few nine-week classes in high schools that end October 11. We’re not doing much for the students in those classes. That being said, Gwinnett builds in 3, so they’ll be fine for now. We have one in February. Adding days to the end makes little sense. I have a plan in place for my students and I shared that with parents during curriculum night and just emailed them again today to remind them.

  16. Hollye Letourneau

    Have we forgotten the need to get buses through the neighborhoods to pick up the students. Glad the schools are ready. I’m ready as soon as I get power!

  17. Yes it is great that we can turn around when because of blocked trees in the road. A bus can not. Today home from work I had to turn around 3 different times.

  18. Please do not add them to the end. Testing is in April and May, adding them at the end is of no value.

  19. By the time the end of school comes around, many of our kids are gearing up to go to camp. For middle and high schools, we are still required to give final exams. I think there will have to be a lot of discussion as to what is best for the kids academically. I am concerned about my high schoolers on a block schedule.

  20. Jennifer Wright

    The problem with this is the assumption that the teachers live nearby and can get there. After my kid sat in the gym doing worksheets at Henderson when the trailers flooded, I’d rather have them at home than sitting in the gym with a 109 other kids because teachers aren’t available.

  21. Dear Mr. Jester
    Thank you for providing us with information. I am sure this is a hard decision for everyone. There are so many things to consider. I feel that the safety of everyone has to be the first consideration. Closing schools seems like the best option. There are still trees blocking some streets. This could be dangerous for students, parents and staff. Also , there has been no one at the schools to get rid of the spoiled food and accept the new food. As some one mentioned earlier, I wonder how many buildings are leaking?
    I know the issue of make up days will be difficult to resolve.

  22. I want to make sure people are aware that DeKalb County had more power outages than any other county in Georgia. According to the county, approximately 54 percent (170,000) of the homes in DeKalb County lost power during the peak of the storm. As of 11 a.m. on Wednesday, 62,000 customers were still without power, more than any other Metro Atlanta county.

  23. While the SWSS lets DCSD off the hook for make up days, academically it hurts the students and teachers. The pace will have to be faster to cover everything teachers are expected to cover for the milestones or the materials won’t get covered because the students aren’t able to proceed at the accelerated pace.
    The high schools on block are missing the equivalent of 8 days at this point. It’s close to impossible to make that up without adding days this semester, esp. in fast paced AP/IB classes.

  24. I am one of those unfortunate people. I live near DHS. A bus could not get down my street as power lines are hanging so low due to 2 broke power poles. The last estimate for restoration that we were given is Sunday!

  25. Wendy Hornick-Dell

    While I appreciate the fact that we are looking out for the safety of our teachers and students, I do not understand the concept of an all or nothing approach. Based on this map, our entire region (with the exception of one school) has power. Why are our kids denied going back to school because other regions are still down?? Every other county is making determinations on a school by school basis.
    Can we really not find a workaround for some of these issues to get our kids back in school:
    Schools have spoiled food – have kids bring lunch themselves for a few days.
    Buses can’t get through – have a central pickup point or tell parents that they have to bring their kids to school for a few days.
    I realize that these solutions are not ideal but to close schools for an entire week is just unacceptable in my opinion.

  26. Dr. Green stated in a WSB-Radio interview this morning that his hope is to have staff report tomorrow and students report on Monday. That is what I heard at 7:15 this morning.

  27. Cindy Cheatham

    I think we are ready to open schools that are ready ! Let’s get the kids and teachers back to school who can safely do so!

  28. Wendy, This is a popular question. There are a number of large factors and some smaller factors involved. There were approximately 100 downed trees across roads. Many of these trees have live power lines on them. This makes it difficult to run bus routes.
    Approximately 54 percent (170,000) of the homes in DeKalb County lost power during the peak of the storm. As of 11 a.m. on Wednesday, 62,000 customers were still without power, more than any other Metro Atlanta county. Even if the school has power, many of the families and/or employees do not.
    Many students are on free or reduced lunch/breakfast. It’s alarming, but for many students, school meals is the only time they eat. Obviously this is a topic in and of itself.
    The central office has no power. As of yesterday, there were 32 schools without power. It’s all hands on deck just to get power restored.
    With 120(ish) schools, it would be challenging to effectively communicate on a day to day basis which schools were open and which schools were closed. Half the kids and employees might show up, I would expect a mess.

  29. So, they opened with a few exceptions. Clearly, it’s a logistical challenge to keep track of communicating which schools are open, but it can be done. Just seems we should look into that…it’s just crazy for 60 or so schools to be in good condition, but still closed because 60 others aren’t ready.

  30. Wendy Hornick-Dell

    While I get that it is not ideal, why can’t we tell parents that they have to get their own kids to school or do a central pickup where the buses can get to?
    For those kids on free/reduced lunch… if they aren’t in school, they aren’t getting their food either so why is this a factor?
    I don’t mean to be combative but it seems like every district is managing around this but ours.

  31. Many parents don’t have the means to get their kids to school. Organizing central pickup spots for 100,000 kids would be challenging especially since many of them don’t have power. If we can’t get all the employees and all the students to a school, it becomes exponentially difficult to have any academic achievement. The school district administration is having discussions about F/R lunch students and the possible lack of nutrition during this crisis.

  32. So, let’s imagine for just a moment that Peachtree is open, but three of the feeders aren’t…. Where are those kids going to go? We already are busting at the seams and are sharing our rooms during planning periods. Do we put them in the gym? We have nowhere for our gym kids to go because they are building a baseball field. Do we put them in empty classrooms? A classroom is MAYBE open one period a day. In the cafeteria? SO, 30 teachers trying to teach a class in the gym or the cafeteria at the same time? Did the kids bring all their books for all their subjects? Do you think they can actually concentrate? We could just have all the teachers eat in the classrooms, but kids would still have to come in and out to get lunch. There is a lot more to it than people realize.
    I have been sending messages to my kids through Remind and Edmodo, but that doesn’t guarantee that they have the power to read it. My neighbor, across the street, does not have power because a tree fell in her yard. Everyone thinks Dunwoody is okay because the schools have power… a lot of our neighbors still don’t have power. Last check, Kittredge was still on the list of schools that didn’t have power. They had to relocate to Chamblee last week because they did not have water in the school. Do you think much got done that day? NOPE! That isn’t the fault of the teachers… it’s just the reality.

  33. Yes, there is so much more to it. The situation and damage in DeKalb was apparently much worse and more widespread then in Fulton or any other County. Without a central office to coordinate communications, etc. how in the world do people expect the District to even plan, let alone communicate effectively some school openings?

  34. Christine Cooper

    Did I see where Fulton County schools opened all of their schools except for the ones that were affected? I think that should be the future rather than just doing a blanket closing of the entire school system

  35. As of yesterday afternoon, Fulton Schools said they might have 3 closed schools. Yesterday evening they restored power to those three schools.Update as of 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 13 – All Fulton County schools will be open Thursday, September 14, and operating on normal schedules. Schools that were previously without power have had their lines restored.

  36. I’m just not worried about exams. Teachers will get it covered. After being covered up with summer work, I’m grateful that my daughter has a break and is actually having an opportunity to wrap up her college apps.

  37. In my kid’s middle school: First three weeks until Labor Day are spent in review, map testing, pre and post testing, etc. because everyone knows the schools get an influx at Labor Day. Then we have a week where we actually might, and I say MIGHT, get some work done. Now we have a hurricane – no one’s fault – but we’re way behind the eight ball here. Maybe if DeKalb killed the majority of this ridiculous testing this year in recognition of the extreme circumstances (Irma) and let the teachers teach, we might actually save what so far has been a sub-par year, even for DeKalb. How about it? Kill off some testing, so instead of losing days spent with pre/post testing or map testing, we can catch up.
    And I love the idea of splitting DeKalb into sections – but you’ve gotta be kidding me. Obviously you have no idea of the “history” of this district. That would be one step to moving the northern schools out, and the southern-loving home office would rather hinder education for all than ever see this come to fruition.

  38. I support DeKalb’s decision to cancel school. This is a case where they are unfortunately damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
    Teaching is a difficult task under the best of circumstances. I shudder to think of the potential chaos of dark classrooms full of hungry kids, who may or may not have showered in the dark before getting on a bus that has to drive around downed power lines, trees, and police tape, only to arrive at school later than their peers to discover a substitute teacher with no lesson plans who is replacing the teacher whose street is still blocked by downed trees or who has food poisoning from eating the last contents of his/her warm refrigerator. How much quality education is going to actually take place?
    There are no easy solutions. I’m assuming that those who are in a position to make decisions have knowledge of conditions in every corner of the county and are trying to keep all kids safe. Consider the number of clueless drivers who don’t bother to treat intersections with out-of-order traffic lights as 4 way stops. I’ve heard countless accidents, screeching brakes and horns blowing since my power went out on Monday. I will happily keep my kids and my friend’s kids at my house for another day or two.
    There are plenty of valuable things to be done at no cost in one’s home: clean up the mess left behind by the hurricane, read a book or magazine, draw a picture, take a walk, play a board game, or talk to each other. Have power? Well then the Internet offers virtually unlimited educational opportunities.
    Until the school system is willing to let go of their top-down, all-or-none, central authority and allow individual regions or clusters to function as mini-districts, we are going to have to rely on the powers that be to make the best decisions possible for the entire school district rather than risk the safety and well-being of any of our students.
    I certainly feel for the parents who cannot take another day off of work and have no one to watch their children. That is sad. We need to reach out to form relationships with people in our communities, so that we can support one another in times of crisis.

  39. Tim DeBardelaben

    Does anybody know how many bus routes are actually blocked? What is the Operations Dept doing to get our schools open or are they even working?

  40. As of September 12, the county reported there were approximately 100 downed trees across roads. I don’t have any updates from the county on that. Last I heard the central office didn’t have power.

  41. Tim DeBardelaben

    Of those 100 downed trees, how many school bus routes were actually blocked? Are maintenance people working? Know DCSD has some heavy equipment, could they be using it to help open bus routes?

  42. The county doesn’t have a map of all the downed trees. Tree removal from streets is the county’s jurisdiction. Dekalb schools has all hands on deck trying to restore power and prepare the schools to reopen.

  43. Tim DeBardelaben

    Stan, I am not trying to be hostile, but what I am saying is during normal times sitting back and waiting for somebody else to do their job is the right thing to do. During a natural disaster of the size of this one might mean doing something’s yourself. Seen several neighborhoods that have dug them selves out. Think it would be wise if DCSD had their own map showing which bus routes were actually blocked. Also which trees had hot wires and which ones could be pushed out of the way. If school is closed do year round employees get paid or will some be facing financial hardship?

  44. As of last night there was still a tree blocking Brendon Drive which is where Kingsley Elementary is. The school itself has power but the tree down in the road limits accessibility.

  45. Tim DeBardelaben

    It’s gone now.