Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Notes from DCPC Meeting of 9/1/10

Here are my notes from the DCPC meeting. My note taking was pretty poor, so bear with me. John Heneghan was at the meeting and I believe he tape recorded the meeting, so, hopefully he will post it on his website. WSB-TV was also recording the meeting.

BOE attendees were Ms. Roberts, Dr. Speaks, Mr. McChesney.

A bit of good news in that Dan Weber has been appointed by Governor Perdue to the Office of Professional Standards for our state.

Ms. Tyson spoke for about an hour on various subjects. She started out by going back and providing an update to the items she spoke to DCPC about last May. She reiterated several times that she sees her role as interim superintendent as only lasting about 7 or 8 more months.

School Consolidations. She admitted she would give herself a “C” on this as she had promised that there would be school consolidations and closings. However she and some of her staff met with Lynn Jackson of the GA Dept. of Education last May which told DCSS they must come up with a vision, perhaps to 10 to 15 years out, in order to properly plan and carry out school consolidations/closing. This plan would be based, in part, on enrollment projections and building needs. By the end of this calendar year or the first of 2011, a plan will be presented to the board to close a certain number of schools. She is not committing to a number at this time. Fran Millar asked the question if redistricting was going to be part of this closing/consolidation plan and Ms. Tyson indicated that it was.  Dan Drake promised to share the demographic data being collected and analyzed by DCSS.  A company called Metrostudy is charged with gathering that info for DCSS.  We'll know more about school enrollment once the first FTE reports are released in early October.

Communications Office. Ms. Tysons’ goal for this group was to hire an experienced individual from the corporate world to head up this office. She had offers out to a couple of well-qualified candidates but the they turned the job down to the salary being offered. DCSS could not match the salary these candidates were making in their corporate jobs. She has decided that for now she will privatize this and let the next Superintendent make the permanent decision about the direction of this group.

The DCSS website is in the process of being relaunched. All the information with regards to SACS response, Superintendent search, etc., is now on the website.

SACS. Response is due September 11th. Ms. Tyson is in constant communication with Mark Elgart of SACS as they are partnering with DCSS to try and make things right. There are 7 questions that DCSS must address, along with the supporting documentation to those responses. Everyone at DCSS that is involved in the SACS response has been working nightly and on weekends to get this ready to be delivered to SACS. Ms. Tyson plans to get the response to SACS a few days early.

Comprehensive Policy Revision Inititative. The first set of 4 policies was submitted to the BOE yesterday for their approval. 2 polices are new, Ethics For Employees and the Whistleblower Policy (DCSS is the only school system in the state with a Whistleblower policy). 2 existing policies, Conflict of Interest and Purchasing, were amended. 

Ms. Tyson understood and acknowledged that the community was upset that we were only given 3 days to comment on these policies, but she did want to allow some input before these policies were included as part of the documentation submitted to SACS, in fact SACS indicated that the community should be made aware of the new policies and input allowed. For the remainder of the policies the community will be given 30 days for review and comments.

There are 247 policies that will need to reviewed and amended, if necessary. Most of the policies have not been reviewed since 2000. Policies will be eliminated if not needed and there will be a discussion of what policies are needed that DCSS does not currently have in place. Ms. Tyson noted that it took the board 2 ½ hours to discuss and approve 4 policies, but from here on they will be reviewing and approving 10 to 15 policies per month.

Budget. DCSS is in good position if the state goes ahead and makes mid-year cuts. DCSS needed to cut $88 million, but $104 million was cut for this year’s school budget.

DCSS was awarded $18.3 million via federal funding. The school system will receive in Oct, but these funds can only be used for salaries and benefits. The board will need to decide how to use these funds, but Ms. Tyson warned they should be used cautiously due to the still precarious economy.

Splost III. Splost III will end in 2012. Due to decrease in construction costs the district has saved $40 million. The BOE will have to make some decisions about how to use these funds. There were many Chamblee HS stakeholders in the audience and they wanted answers as to when CHS would be addressed as they have been promised a renovation since SPLOST I. Ms. Tyson explained that Chamblee was allotted $11.7 million from SPLOST III. Consultants have told DCSS that Chamblee needs to be a tear-down, build up and will cost much more than $11.7 million. The Chamblee stakeholders would like to see if the $40 million can be added to their $11.7 million and a new facility built. The vote for a SPLOST IV may take place May 2012.

Mr. Beasley. Due to the amount of time Ms. Tyson spoke and answered questions, Mr. Beasley only had a few minutes. He announced that there will be “Teaching and Learning Seminars” held on the following dates: Thursday, 9/9 at Columbia Middle School 6:30 pm, Tuesday, 9/14 at Dunwoody Elementary School also at 6:30 pm and Saturday, September 18 at AIC at 9:30 am. Mr. Beasley did review his 7-Step Instruction process which did meet with several approvals from those in the audience. One speaker said that there needs to be 8 steps and the first step needs to be Parental Involvement.

There are still some hard, hard feelings toward DCSS with regards to the closing of Nancy Creek and well, there should be.

Next DCPC meeting is October 6 at Chamblee High School. The speaker will be Allyson Gevertz of “eduKalb”.