Monday, November 28, 2016

My Concerns With Board of Education Representative Stan Jester

It’s no secret that DeKalb BOE Region 1 (Chamblee/Dunwoody cluster) Board Member Stan Jester supports a separate Doraville HS.  He and his fellow supporters of “Option A” have often pointed to Doraville Mayor Donna Pittman as a solid ally in that endeavor.  Heck, what community would not desire a brand new, $100 million modern high school for their students?

A little background on my reasons for this post:

On November 16th, Rebekah Morris updated her blog post to include an updated position from Mayor Pittman:  https://georgianeducator.org/2016/11/13/no-new-elementary-school-for-cross-keys-and-more/.

From the updated post, you can read the email exchange between Mayor Pittman and Ms. Rebekah Morris. Mayor Pittman’s priority AT THIS TIME is improving the conditions at current Doraville elementary schools and working toward a new Doraville ES (which were part of the early plans submitted by DCSD). Nowhere in the email exchange does Mayor Pittman disavow her support for a Doraville high school – it is just not her #1 priority AT THIS TIME.

Later in the afternoon of November 16th, Stan Jester posted an entry on his blog, http://factchecker.stanjester.com/2016/11/6873/ entitled “Doraville Mayor on WABE:  I would love a high school in Doraville”. 

What was his purpose?  Was his post an attempt to embarrass Mayor Pittman because she reassessed the situation and believed the priority should be a new elementary school? Was the post an attempt to round up the “usual suspects” on his blog to denounce and harass Mayor Pittman?  It seems many who posted on his blog failed to read that this interview was done in 2015.  To assail someone, in this case Mayor Pittman, because they reassessed their priorities is ludicrous. 

Previously, Mr. Jester posted a letter on his blog that the Kingsley Elementary and Chesnut Elementary school councils submitted to all members of the DeKalb Board of Education.  The letter was to make sure the concerns of these 2 often forgotten schools in Dunwoody were being properly communicated to the school district.  Mr. Jester titled the blog post “Chesnut ES and Kingsley ES Not A Fan of Their School Board Rep” http://factchecker.stanjester.com/2016/11/6857/. 

The letter from the Kingsley and Chesnut ES school councils was in no way a personal attack on Mr. Jester, but one would never know that from the title of the blog post.  Mr. Jester showed a lack of concern for those he was elected to represent by posting this letter on his blog.  Upon receiving the letter, Mr. Jester should have reached out to the Kingsley and Chesnut communities and discussed their concerns privately. His actions have exacerbated the tensions within the Dunwoody school cluster which have never been very cordial, at least at the elementary school level.

For some, Mayor Pittman becomes the enemy, along with Kim Gokce and the Dunwoody HS, PCMS, Kingsley and Chesnut school councils, because they support, for their own different and valid reasons, Option B.  

I was a big fan of Stan Jester's wife, Nancy Jester, during her tenure on the BOE. I will always be grateful for her "unmasking" of the financial malfeasance taking place within DCSD.  I cannot say the same about Mr. Jester’s tenure on the BOE to this point. 

I hope Mr. Jester can put aside his personal desires and animosities and remember that he was elected to work with and engage ALL schools within his Region, not just those schools which support HIS views. 

25 comments:

  1. Thank you for saying the thing that many people from the outside are observing and thinking.

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  2. Agreed. I liked it better pre-Jester when board members made deals in secret.

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    1. I liked it better pre-Jester when the board member didn't use social media to divide and manipulate.

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  3. Ha! Then why has Mayor Pittman on numerous occasions just recently and via email said she wants a Doraville High? Why are you Option B supporters for disrupting the lives of every single high schools student when a Doraville High will get the job done? I think you and Gokce and Morris and the like are scared as hell about the movement that is starting to occur for Option A because people now realize they've been played. Option A isn't going down without a fight!!!

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    1. 1) Right now, how do you fill a 1,600 student Doraville HS using Doraville residents only (per Jester's plan)?
      2) How have people been played?

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    2. I'm glad you will continue to advocate for your view. I believe everyones voice should be heard. However, let me give you a piece of advice. If in using that voice you resort to bullying, personal insults, and bigoted/racist language, YOU WILL NOT BE HEARD, especially amongst the diverse demographics of DeKalb County.

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    3. I am looking through the comments and nowhere do I language you are describing. It sounds to me more like you don't have an argument and are resorting to playing the "racist" card. That's when you know one has no compelling rationale, they resort to playing that card. I've seen Gokce do it, Morris (GA educator) do it, and now I've seen you do it. Maybe you need to go back and come up with a constructive fact-based reason why you think tearing up 5 good high schools with illogical additions and impacting every single student is superior to building one new high school.

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    4. I was not specifically referring to the comments from this blog. However, you and I both know that those type comments appear in the “blogosphere” and other on-line news sites. Let’s not pretend otherwise.

      The district is not planning to “tear up” any high schools – just adding capacity. As I have stated on several occasions, I am not a fan of mega-schools, but Gwinnett County seems to have made it work.

      DCSD has proposed a plan. You are not in agreement with that plan. That is your right to disagree and speak out.

      But, I would ask you, what is your plan? Simply advocating to “build a high school in Doraville” is not a plan, it is a desire.

      Yes, I admire Kim Gokce and Rebekah Morris. They both are trying, and succeeding, in making a difference in the lives of our children. I am sad that you find that unacceptable.

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  4. Why is it so hard for people to understand that the Doraville mayor wants a high school but it's not just NOW? I think her email that's on the Georgian Educator blog says it all. The WABE interview is from 2015 even though it wasn't (for whatever reasons) initially presented as such. Why can't people have differing opinions without being so vitriolic?

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  5. I'm sorry... I don't see how Doraville would even fill a school. It only has 10,000 city residents compared to Brookhaven's 50,000. All I hear and see behind this plan is a not so veiled effort to redistrict socio economically disadvantaged students out of people's (mainly the Jester's) backyard. So, show me the numbers, the real data, that would support a Doraville cluster with 5 elementary schools, 1 middle, and 1 high school and where that school would go

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    1. Newly built ES, Cary Reynolds ES, Pleasantdale ES, Evansdale ES, Hightower ES, Sequoyah MS, newly built Doraville High. In recent letter from Doraville mayor to Dr. Green, the Doraville city manager has a location identified.

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    2. Will the district allow regions to be crossed? This would pull from Region 2. Would you move the magnet program? Why or why not? Does this impact Chamblee's attendance? Aren't they currently only at 90% capacity?

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    3. Neither Pleasantdale nor Evansdale are located within Doraville city limits.

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    4. Anon - I just read the letter you must be referring to... The letter is referring to land for an elementary school.
      Here is the letter:

      Dear Dr. Green:
      Thank you for speaking with us today. I wanted to say that we really appreciate the efforts you have made to dedicate SPLOST dollars to schools in Doraville. The money for the renovations of Cary Reynolds is much needed and a long time coming. We are also very excited about funding for a new grade school that could potentially be located in Doraville. We understand that the location for this school is still in the exploratory phase and many variables come into play when considering the final plan for this school. Our City manager will be reaching out to your staff to meet and discuss a possible location that we have identified in Doraville.

      Thank you also for listening to me tirelessly advocate for a high school in Doraville. You and I both agree that the priority now is the overcrowding and physical condition of schools in Doraville. A high school is a priority but, I understand will have to come at a later date. We hope that we can continue to have conversations about ways that a high school could be funded.

      Thank you again for your time, and please call me if you ever have a question about where the City of Doraville stands on these issues.

      Sincerely,
      Donna Pittman
      Mayor

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    5. Dunwoody Mom - Do you know what municipalities Evansdale and Pleasantdale lie in (if they lie in one at all)? Have we heard how those schools feel about this suggested alternative? Is this Stan Jester's alternative?

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    6. Evansdale and Pleasantdale are located in unincorporated DeKalb. Both schools are in Region 4 - Jim McMahan's district.

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  6. Kingsley doesn't want more kids from apartments. That's why they fighting so hard for Hightower to stay in cluster. That's why the council didn't support moving Dunwoody students enrolled at Hightower tone transferred to Kingsley

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    1. From where I sit it is not that at all. Kingsley council is advocating for their "apartment kids," or rather their valued students that live in apartments in Dunwoody, to stay at Kingsley, to stay at PCMS and to stay at DHS. These apartments might be closer to Doraville than other apartments or single family homes in the cluster, but they are in Dunwoody and the students there should continue at Dunwoody schools.

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  7. At the very first school council cluster meeting in Dunwoody, the mom from Kingsley said if any Hightower kids come back to Dunwoody, they should go to Austin. It was said as a threat. Truth is Kingsley doesn't really want new students and the statement at the meeting proves it. Ask anyone who was there. They support Option B as it keeps Hightower kids from Kingsley. As Paul Harvey says, now you know the rest of the story.

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  8. Dunwoody Mom

    I actually think part of Evansdale attendance zone is in Doraville. And same with Pleasantdale-- part of its attendance zone is in Doraville.

    And this is the problem with Stan's argument. For the most part, attendance zones aren't neatly encapsulated to be within city limits. Even in Dunwoody and it likely gets closest of all of them.

    Part of Montgomery Elementary lies in Chamblee, but much more likes in Brookhaven. Will those kids go to two high schools? And I can almost guarantee you that the MES parents don't want their kids at Cross Keys, but this is exactly what will happen if Stan gets his way.

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    1. Oh I see. I was just thinking about physical location of the schools.

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    2. Themommy - that is what I was wondering. A previous poster above was talking about the various size of the cities in Region One. With city size ranging from 10,000 to 50,000, how is it possible to have a high school for every city and keep every kid in their own city attendance boundaries? Unless those 50,000 resident cities had buildouts at their HS's and Chamblee and Doraville had 800-900 student high schools. Otherwise, it seems more likely that Brookhaven and Dunwoody residents would be attending schools outside their municipal boundaries. Which seems to go against the grain of what Stan Jester's plan is... Do I have that wrong?

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  9. Jester's plan to keep students within their own municipality won't work for a variety of reasons. He likely knows this, but finds it politically expedient to continue to push for a plan that can't work the way he says it would.
    1. Dunwoody and Brookhaven have too many students within their city limits. Without additions, their high schools would remain overcrowded, even with redistricting.
    2. The city of Chamblee doesn't have enough public school students to fill a high school.
    3. The pesky issue of Brookhaven neighborhoods that currently go the CCHS hasn't been answered. (He dances around it.)

    The big one, to me though, is that the system has no obligation or policy to keep students in their home cities.

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