Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Dunwoody High School 2017 Senior Class Prank
Petting Zoo!!

h/t The Aha! Connection...

These get better every year!  I thought the "beach in the parking lot" a few years back was great..this is better.  How appropriate that chickens were involved as the Dunwoody City Council approved backyard chickens at last night's city council meeting..

DHS Senior Prank - The Aha! Connection

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Aha! Connection 2017 Summer Camp Guide

Still looking for summer activities for your child?  The Aha! Connection has you covered.

Click on the following link to view Summer Camp options:  http://www.theahaconnection.com/category/camps/

Sunday, May 21, 2017

2nd Annual Wildcat Classic Golf Tournament
June 6th @ Rivermont Golf Club

The Dunwoody Gridiron Club announces and invites you to participate in the
2nd Annual Wildcat Classic Golf Tournament. 
Please save the date of June 6th, 2017
at Rivermont Golf Club in Johns Creek GA.

To register visit:  http://birdeasepro.com/wildcatclassic

Friday, May 19, 2017

Dunwoody High School Honors Governor's Honors Program Finalists

Noah Covey (Mathematics)
Lydia Fletcher (German)
Valen Lawson (Science)
Paris Ruiz (Theatre Performance)

Bobby Bellen (Communicative Arts)
Alexandra Buhl (Spanish)
Isaiah Gardner-Dinerman (Communicative Arts)
Jackson Grant (Engineering)
Rachel Greenwald (Communicative Arts)
Tyler Sacks (Communicative Arts)
Andrew Sonnier (Engineering)
Alex Eldridge (Mathematics)
Samantha Cameron (Social Studies)
Iman Hoque (Social Studies)
Shreya Nainwal (Social Studies)
Zac Pankey (Social Studies)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Input Needed for Proposed DeKalb County School Board Revised Policy for District-Wide Fundraising

Below is a link to discussion on the Parent Councils United Facebook page regarding the proposed changes to Board Policy KEB-R (District Wide Fundraising).

From the May 15th Board of Education Meeting:

Board Policy KEB is presented for revision and Administrative Regulation KEB-R(1) is being presented for adoption to create a comprehensive District-wide policy related to fundraising. Both are essential to ensure consistency in fundraising efforts across the District.

Tax funds alone are not likely to cover the entire cost of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities and other enrichments that enhance and round out the prescribed educational program. Fundraising activities often help cover these additional costs.

It is requested that the revised Board Policy KEB and Administrative Regulation KEB-R(1) lay on the table for stakeholder feedback in May and be considered for final approval at the June Board Meeting.
Note:  the Board voted to extend the final approval until the July BOE meeting; input from the public on the proposed changes will be taken until June 30th.  These appear to be significant changes and it's important that the Board of Education hear from all stakeholders. 
Comment from BOE Member Marshall Orson on the PCU Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/PCUDeKalb/
The proposed policy and regulations are borne from good intentions--but they need your input and modifications. The goal is to bring some consistency and accountability while also modifying what is permissible (e.g. I have pushed to recognize crowdfunding as an accepted means of fundraising). I believe we need to leave much of the decision-making to principals (I know they are overworked but better to leave such decisions at the schoolhouse than elsewhere). We have pushed this out to 60 days for Board consideration to give sufficient time for input. We encourage groups to come together and give us comprehensive recommendations that can be endorsed by multiple groups rather than lots of individual comments which will be harder to process. In the end, we want a policy that works, is fair, that provides proper accountability and that is modernized to allow us to take advantage of modern fundraising methods.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

9 DeKalb County School Principals Reassigned

The news that 9 DCSD school principals have been reassigned has many parents in those school communities upset and worried.  I get that…I’ve been there.   Children and parents can form close bonds to a principal - especially at the elementary school level. 

I think there can be a legitimate discussion around what parameters should be used to evaluate a school principal.  However, in understanding the type of data currently available to school districts, the criteria decided upon by DCSD does not appear unreasonable. 

As Board of Education member Vickie Turner said at the Monday Board of Education meeting:  “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.   

BOE member Joyce Morley seemed to be more concerned with the feelings of the principals and also appeared to make, in my view, either untrue or uninformed statements about the process.

Mrs. Turner has the correct perspective in my opinion:

Source:  http://www.myajc.com/news/local-education/dekalb-principals-removal-draws-fire-school-board-meeting/KEOEOqGKEOideHW9P0kOUL/

Board member Vickie Turner said while the decision has caused much discussion, the moves should have been expected when Green was hired to lead the district two years ago.

You’re sitting across from a superintendent who says ‘That’s it,’ and … it’s the most difficult decision any of us would have to make,” she said.

“But we all know we’re in business for children, and we’re held to a standard of accountability. We knew when Dr. Green came in that we had some broken components to our systems. I read somewhere that to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result is insanity. We must rise our children up to a level of success.

“If it’s broke, we must try to fix it.”

Let’s look at the criteria used to evaluate these principals.  Source:  http://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/254853426-story


DeKalb County School Board Honors Georgia Educational Tech Fair Winners

The DeKalb County School District and Board of Education honored the 2017 Georgia Tech Fair Winners at the May 15th BOE meeting:

The Georgia Educational State Technology Fair is an annual student technology competition produced by the Georgia Educational Technology Consortium. The Georgia Educational State Technology Fair is the highest level of student technology competition in Georgia. This competition is open to all 3rd-12th grade students residing in the state of Georgia.

Among the local winners are:
  • Akuoma Elekwachi & Milan McKinney of Chesnut Elementary;
  • Noah Covey of Dunwoody High School
  • Will Wright of Chamblee Charter High School.  Will has placed three times consecutively since 2015 in multiple categories. 
  • Anish Kumar of Chamblee Charter High School.

Monday, May 15, 2017

**Update**DeKalb Schools That "Beat The Odds"

Beating the Odds is a statistical analysis that compares a school’s actual performance on the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) with the performance of schools with similar characteristics across the state. See "Georgia Schools Like Mine" data dashboard: https://schoolslikemine.gosa.ga.gov/

Note: I have some concerns as to how the GOSA is choosing "Schools Like Mine". More on that later.

Schools that perform higher than similar schools are considered “Beating the Odds.”

A DCSD stakeholder pointed me to the updated "Beating the Odds" Calculation - thanks!!


On May 5, 2017, GOSA released a recalculated BTO for 2012-2016 to correct a minor error in the calculation formula that affected a small number of schools. Any schools that previously "Beat the Odds" but did not under the recalculated model are "held harmless" for their BTO status in that year.

Last month, a school district staff person identified an issue in the Beating the Odds model where schools serving multiple grade clusters had inaccurate CCRPI Scores without Challenge Points in the dataset if one or more of those grade clusters had not earned a CCRPI Score. GOSA analyzed the issue and realized that the formula did not properly account for proportional enrollment in schools where a grade cluster had too few students to yield a CCRPI score. Most of the schools spanning clusters earn CCRPI scores in those clusters, so the number of schools affected in any given year was 15 or less (less than 1%).
To address this issue, GOSA decided to recalculate the analysis. Because BTO is a statistical model that generates a "predicted CCRPI" based upon all schools’ data, the CCRPI and grade cluster changes outlined above required the entire model to be reanalyzed. Therefore, the BTO statuses of schools that did not have grade cluster estimation errors were affected, particularly those that were previously just above or below the threshold.
For 2016, 2 DCSD schools had their CCRPI scores (w/o Challenge Points) recalculated: 
  • International Student Center: Original CCRPI 26.3; Post recalculation 26.5.
  • DeKalb Alternative School: Original CCRPI - 25.5; Post recalculation 41.4

For 2016, 2 DCSD schools who were originally named BTO schools, lost that designation with the recalculation:  
  • Lithonia High School 
  • Bethune Middle School
For more details on this correction and to see what schools were affected, click on the May 2017 BTO Calculation Correction Overview document:  https://gosa.georgia.gov/sites/gosa.georgia.gov/files/related_files/site_page/Beating%20the%20Odds%202012-2016%20Recalculation%20Overview%2005052017.pdf
February 28, 2017 More than 1,000 Georgia schools beat the odds in 2016, performing better than statistically expected on the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI).

The CCRPI is Georgia’s statewide accountability system. It measures schools and school districts on a 100-point scale based on multiple indicators of performance.
The Beating the Odds analysis predicts a range within which a school’s CCRPI score is statistically expected to fall – given the school’s size, grade cluster, student mobility, and student demographics (including race/ethnicity, disability, English learners, and poverty). If an individual school’s actual CCRPI is above the predicted range, then that school beat the odds.

Most (731) of the schools that beat the odds had poverty rates of 25 percent or more, and 437 had poverty rates of 40 percent or more.

And of the 1,037 schools that beat the odds last year, 271 beat the odds in each of the past five years. Eighty-one of these schools had a 2016 poverty rate of 40 percent or more, and more than half – 157 – had poverty rates of 25 percent or more.
The following DCSD schools "Beat the Odds" in 2016:

2016 DeKalb County Schools That "Beat the Odds"
2016 DeKalb County Schools That "Beat the Odds"
2016 Single Score CCRPI without Challenge Points
2016 Free and Reduced Lunch Rate
2016 Single Score CCRPI without Challenge Points
2016 Free and Reduced Lunch Rate
Arabia Mountain High School
Henderson Mill Elementary School
Ashford Park Elementary School
Kelley Lake Elementary School
> 95%
Austin Elementary School
< 5%
Kittredge Magnet School
Bob Mathis Elementary School
Laurel Ridge Elementary School
Briar Vista Elementary School
Lithonia High School
Brockett Elementary School
Marbut Elementary School
Cedar Grove Elementary School
Mary McLeod Bethune Middle School
> 95%
Cedar Grove High School
Miller Grove High School
Chamblee Charter High School
Museum School Avondale Estates
Chamblee Middle School
Narvie Harris Elementary School
Chapel Hill Middle School
Oak Grove Elementary School
Columbia High School
Redan High School
Columbia Middle School
> 95%
Redan Middle School
Cross Keys High School
Robert Shaw Theme School
DeKalb Alternative School
Southwest DeKalb High School
DeKalb Early College School
Stephenson High School
DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts
Stepenson Middle School
DeKalb PATH Academy Charter School
> 95%
Stone Mill Elementary School
> 95%
DeKalb Preparatory Academy Charter
Stone Mountain High School
DeKalb School of the Arts
The Champion Middle Theme School
Druid Hills High School
Tucker High School
Dunwoody High School
Wadsworth Magnet School for High Achievers
Edward L. Bouie, Sr. Elementary School
Woodridge Elementary School
Eldridge L. Miller Elementary School
> 95%

Off topic, but the Free & Reduced Lunch rate at the Museum School of Avondale Estates is low.  It was my impression that stand alone Charter Schools are to reflect the diversity of the local school district.  Kittredge Magnet School's F&RL rate of 7.69 is low as well.  Oh, well,  I will stay off my soapbox on this one....

The following list are DCSD  schools that "Beat the Odds" for 5 straight years:  http://www.gadoe.org/External-Affairs-and-Policy/communications/Documents/2-SchoolsthatBeattheOddsforFiveYears.pdf

Arabia Mountain High School, Austin Elementary School, Cedar Grove High School, Chamblee Charter High School, DeKalb Alternative School, DeKalb Early College Academy, DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts, DeKalb PATH Academy Charter School, DeKalb School of the Arts, Miller Grove High School, Robert Shaw Theme School, The Champion Middle Theme School, Wadsworth Magnet School for High Achievers.

For further information, you may access the GADOE Press Release at this link: http://www.gadoe.org/External-Affairs-and-Policy/communications/Pages/PressReleaseDetails.aspx?PressView=default&pid=510

Friday, May 12, 2017

What Is "Georgia Code § 20-2-260 - Capital Outlay Funds Generally"

In summary, my opinion, do not look to the State of Georgia and/or the Georgia Department of Education to hold local school systems accountable with regards to the Capital Outlay program.  Local control of our school systems is needed.  That is why I support Tom Taylor's Independent School District legislation.  
The DCSD Board of Education will be asked at the Monday, May 15th meeting, to approve the school districts 5 year Local Facility Plan: https://simbli.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/Attachment.aspx?S=4054&AID=809076&MID=58912

In accordance with Georgia law (20-2-260), in order for a local school district to be eligible to participate in Georgia's Capital Outlay Program, the District is required to develop and maintain a five-year local facilities plan. Every five years, school districts apply for eligibility for this funding by completing two major requirements: first, report the number of schools the District expects to operate in that five-year period and second, a capital project scheduling plan for same five-year period, (which properly aligns with our voter-approved E-SPLOST program.)

I am familiar with a bit of this code, but was curious as to the entirety of Georgia Code 20-2-260.    As I read it, I was struck as to how vague and "open it is to interpretation" in certain areas.  I questioned, other than loss of funds, what are the consequences for local systems not completely abiding by the "code"? Also, the title of the code contains the word "Generally".

Also, here is the very first statement that appears in the code, which we know from past experience with DCSD (I believe Dr. Green is sincere in his efforts to correct this), and numerous other school systems, has not adhered to:

(a) It is declared to be the policy of the State of Georgia to assure that every public school student shall be housed in a facility which is structurally sound and well maintained and which has adequate space and equipment to meet each student's instructional needs as those needs are defined and required by this article.

So, it is "declared" - what are the consequences if a local system does not "adhere" to this declaration?

A few highlights of the code:

(1) To adopt policies, guidelines, and standards for the annual physical facility and real property inventory required of each local school system.
(2) To adopt policies, guidelines, and standards for the educational facilities survey required of local school systems.
(3) To adopt policies, guidelines, and standards for educational facilities construction plans.
(5) To develop a state-wide needs assessment for purposes of planning and developing policies, anticipating state-wide needs for educational facilities, and providing assistance to local school systems in developing educational facilities plans.
(7) To review and approve proposed sites and all architectural and engineering drawings and specifications on construction projects for educational facilities to ensure compliance with state standards and requirements, and inspect and approve completed construction projects financed in whole or in part with state funds
(8) To coordinate construction project reviews with the state fire marshal's office and the Department of Public Health.

(d) In order to qualify for and receive state capital outlay funds in accordance with provisions of subsections (g) and (h) of this Code section, each local school system must meet the following conditions and requirements:
(2) Complete a local educational facilities plan in accordance with provisions of subsection (c) of this Code section. Each proposed construction project shall be identified according to the purposes for capital outlay funds as provided in subsection (e) of this Code section. Each local school system shall specify the order of importance of all proposed construction projects, giving priority to elementary school construction projects.
6) Submit descriptions of proposed educational facility sites and all architectural and engineering drawings and specifications for educational facilities to the Department of Education for review and approval in accordance with provisions of subsection (c) of this Code section;

(i) Local school systems may receive capital outlay funds for construction projects to consolidate or reorganize schools under an advance funding category; provided, however, that each construction project meets the following conditions:
(1) A school size and organizational study has been completed by the Department of Education;
(2) The local school system has adopted a comprehensive plan to reorganize so that each school within the system funded under this subsection shall meet or exceed the minimum sizes specified in subsection (q) of this Code section or contain all the students within the local school system for the respective school level; provided, however, that nothing contained in this subsection shall be construed so as to require an existing school to change its current grade configuration;
(3) The local facilities plan to implement this reorganization or consolidation of schools has been approved by a comprehensive survey team and the State Board of Education;

 You can find the entire code at the following link: http://law.onecle.com/georgia/title-20/20-2-260.html

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Aha Connection! Book Review: "Thirteen Reasons Why"

I'm grateful to Audra for posting this.  My oldest daughter is a leader of a group of middle school young ladies at her church.  The church leadership has requested that all individuals involved with young people view "Thirteen Reasons Why".  Church leadership feels is it necessary to be prepared if questions or issues arise from these young ladies if they have viewed or plan to view this series.

The post also provides links to school warnings and other articles that, I believe, should be read by all.

Book of the Week: Thirteen Reasons Why - The Aha! Connection

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Dunwoody Reporter: "Dunwoody City Attorney: DeKalb schools code enforcement up to state

Another excellent article from Dyana Bagby.

Dunwoody city attorney: DeKalb schools code enforcement up to state I believe these comments from Lynn Deutsch are the most salient concerning the trailer "issue".

Deutsch said the recent arguments by the Jesters and others over what the city should be doing when it comes to code enforcement of DeKalb schools buildings actually buries the bigger picture issue of the school district not abiding by state law.

“The argument has gotten framed in such a way that the important point has been lost, that the school system is not doing what they’re supposed to do … and I think there are a lot of reasons for that,” Deutsch added. She did not elaborate further.

“It is the utter failure of the school system to do what they know is required,” Deutsch said.

“[A]nd we’re pretty powerless, from your take, to penalize them?” she asked.

“The power to penalize [DeKalb schools] goes to the state board,” Riley answered.

Click the following link to read the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Dunwoody and DeKalb County School Board of Education:  http://www.jkheneghan.com/city/meetings/2017/May/05082017_MOU_DeKalb_BOE_IGA_inspections_portable_classrooms.pdf


Monday, May 8, 2017

Congratulations to Dunwoody Elementary, Hightower Elementary and Huntley Hill Elementary
Designated As "No Place for Hate" Schools

No Place for Hate® is an initiative of the Anti-Defamation League offered free to schools.

The initiative is designed to rally the entire school around the goal of creating a welcoming community committed to stopping all forms of bias and bullying. No Place For Hate® provides a unique framework to incorporate new and existing programs with one consistent message. No Place For Hate® can help your school foster a culture of respect and create a safe, bully-free learning environment for students at all grade levels.

No Place for Hate® is embraced by public, private and parochial schools across the country, because bullying and bias are an unhappy reality in most schools today and pose a threat to the safe learning environment school officials know is essential for students to succeed. The campaign has the added benefit of preparing young people to live and work successfully in our pluralistic nation and global community. Corporate leaders understand that this cultural competency increases the productivity and effectiveness of all staff.

Click on the following link to learn more about the "No Place for Hate" initiative and a complete list of designated schools for the 2015-2016 school year:  http://atlanta.adl.org/npfh_/npfh/