08/05/2013 – Work/Business

Link to Meeting Summary – 08/05/2013 DeKalb School Board Meeting Post

Recap and Highlights

School Readiness Report

Administration Theme
New leadership, new vision, new direction: Improving student performance through parental engagement.
* 6,500 teachers
* 99,676 students
136 Schools and Centers
77 Elementary Schools
19 Middle Schools
22 High Schools
9 Centers
9 Charter Schools
16 New principals have been hired
1 school doesn’t have a principal
Staffing & Vacancies
DeKalb Schools are currently 98% staffed for instructional classroom positions
* 133.5 instructional classroom vacancies
* 15 out of 127 schools have 2 or more vacancies
Welcome New Teachers
* More than 700 new teachers were hired
* 4 placement agencies were utilized
* Teachers were hired from across the country
Students Scheduling Update
* 95% of all students have a full and complete schedule
* 850 bus drivers
* approximately 60,000 students will ride the bus
* All bus stop information has been published on website
* Hotline – 678.676.1305 where you will get a live person
Parental Engagement
Parental engagement is a big initiative this year and a pet project of the [glossary slug=’interim-superintendent’]Interim Superintendent[/glossary]. These things will be based in South DeKalb, primarily in district #5, based on profile data.
* Establishment of Family Centers
* Provision of parent fairs and academies
* Provision of systemic structures for student mentoring
* Cultivating of parents on the language of schools
* The board approved $5.3M for new math books and the repair of existing textbooks
* The repair process covers approximately 10,000 textbooks.
* Textbooks were not repaired last year
First Week of School
* Instruction will begin on the first day
* Schedules will be 100% complete
* Code of conduct handbook review
* 100% bus route accuracy
* Safety and security plans complete
Central Office Support
* Central office staff will be deployed to schools the first week of school
* Central office will hold daily debriefings

Financial Report

End of June is the end of the fiscal year.
FY – Receipts —– Disbursements
2012 $754,631,325 – $821,320,989
2013 $761,817,778 – $733,653,936
When we ended FY2012, a report which substantially replicates this financial report but not in its exact entirety, called the DE46, was sent to the state of Georgia. It indicated we ended FY’12 in a negative position in excess of $14 million dollars.
If we take care of the negative position from FY’12 and impute the appropriations payable and some other adjustments, the DE46 as of today is substantially positive. That will take us out of the deficit position.
Fund Balance – June 30,2013 – $7,402,293 (page 16)

Human Resources Report

Dr. Tekshia M. Ward-Smith: A majority of the new teachers will show up on the next report. On target to be 98% staffed or better by first day of school. 131 instructional classroom vacancies.
Orson: How does this compare to past years.
Dr. Tekshia M. Ward-Smith: On target or better. We were at 97% last year. A majority of these positions will be filled by Monday.
Orson: Will the vacancies be filled with subs?
Dr. Tekshia M. Ward-Smith: Yes
Orson: There is a pervasive feeling that we are losing teachers to other districts.
Dr. Tekshia M. Ward-Smith: Yes. We are working on a retention plan.

Orson: My understanding is that you can resign from a contract for a promotion. A salary increase, however, doesn’t qualify as a promotion. I empathize with people, but it concerns me if people are hiring away teachers in violation of the [glossary slug=’gapsc’]PSC[/glossary] rules. If people can constantly leave for more money, then this will bring instability to our system.
Dr. Tekshia M. Ward-Smith: While we respect individuals and their request to be released from their contracts, the PSC (Professional Standards Commission) does have a process in place that states you are forbidden from being under contract with 2 districts at the same time.
When individuals ask to be released from their contract, there are 4 provisions for which a clear release will be provided: Married, moving, promotion or illness. Many districts abide by the PSC rules. Ultimately, we want the individuals who want to be here. If they have indicated they want to leave, then we let them leave if we can.
We are working with legal counsel to insert a clause in the contract to address some of these issues.
Orson: My understanding is that new teachers are paid more in line with the going rate, but more experienced teachers are under paid compared to other districts.
Dr. Tekshia M. Ward-Smith: Our main goal is to eliminate furlough days.
Mayfield: There’s been a lot of concern about attracting and retaining high quality teachers, especially AP teachers. What type of teacher performance are we looking for?
Dr. Howe: We now have teacher leader keys for the first time to evaluate teacher effectiveness.
Mayfield: Do we have a retention plan for high performing teachers?
Dr. Tekshia M. Ward-Smith: Using the teacher keys, I can pull together retention numbers. But I’ll have to get back to you.
Mayfield: Can we get those retention numbers and the plan?
[glossary slug=’interim-superintendent’]Interim Superintendent[/glossary]: We’d be happy to make that presentation. Many people are leaving for more money and some have given up hope in DeKalb Schools. We have an outstanding crop of new teachers coming to rebuild our urban school district. I hope the retention plan will be part of the strategic plan. 6250 teachers out of 6500 teachers. I’m proud of those 6250 teachers. While we can mourn those that left, we should celebrate and thank those that stayed.
Morley: We need people in the classroom. Are we looking at fining teachers that break their contract?
Dr. Tekshia M. Ward-Smith:Yes
Morley: For some reason, it’s believed that government employees should be paid less and not at a higher level. In a corporation, you can make 6 figures without an education. But, the average counselor has to have a masters degree and it’s not expected that they should be paid for the education they have and time they are putting into this. We need to put our money where our mouth is.
Coleman: We should evaluate our turnover. Our previous strategic plan doesn’t address retention. I would like our staff to start engaging retention and turnover. That would be a valuable part of balanced score card.

Student Activities Funds Management

The [glossary slug=’interim-superintendent’]Interim Superintendent[/glossary] is slow walking this policy and has recommended an audit. Orson recommended this go on the November agenda. Dr. Morley argued we should leave it off any agenda until we’re ready for it.

Student Attendance Lines

Mr. Mayfield hit upon some of the potential abuses. It passed with little discussion 7-1 with Mayfield in descent.

English Language Learner District Plan

Sandra Nunez: If a district hasn’t made academic improvements in 4 consecutive years, the state requires the district to create an improvement plan. Currently have 11,000 English learning students speaking 141 languages. 3,000 are refugees.
Mayfield: In the past, the interpreters were eliminated. This new program includes hiring interpreters. Is there a way to measure having this program versus not having it?
Nunez: Interpreters are important for many reasons. We can’t quantify the importance of this program.
Mayfield: How are other districts doing?
Nunez: Cobb is the only district that met the achievement standards.
Mayfield: What is different about this plan compared to our other plans?
Nunez: We have enhanced the curriculum, brought back interpreters and centralized services.
Coleman: What graduation data do we have for English Learners?
Nunez: We don’t have much data except how many graduate. So many come and go it makes it difficult to track anything else.
Coleman: Can we get more data on the top 5 foreign languages?
Morley: Let’s not belabor the top 5. That list could change anytime. We need to talk about the services we can provide and stop worrying about the statistics.
Orson: Hiring interpreters has been well received. I’ve spent time with the refugees. DeKalb is the first point of entry into America for many refugees. Our improvement plan should reflect the challenges we have.
Nunez: The state chose DeKalb for placing refugees because they do so well compared to the other counties.