Wednesday, January 19, 2011

School & City Council Meetings

Nancy Jester
School Meeting

I attended the meeting at Dunwoody Elmentary School last night in which concerned parents got the opportunity to speak with newly-elected DeKalb County School Board representative Nancy Jester about the redistricting process. Nancy was gracious as she listened to the specific concerns of the parents, but did not give much insight into her thoughts on the process.  She said right now she is gathering as much information as possible.  Nancy encouraged all parents with concerns to attend the county's public input workshops.  There is one tomorrow night at 6:30 pm at Chamblee High School.
Many of the concerns expressed by the parents last night were about Dunwoody Elementary becoming a K-5 with potentially, if not likely, over 1,000 students.  One parent even said that DeKalb County's elementary schools with similar populations have not fared well (I have no idea where she got this information or what, specifically, that meant). 
Parents were concerned with rental units comprising 60 percent of the population of the proposed new school.  History tells us that there is much less PTA involvement, etc from parents who rent (whether it be rental homes or apartments, regardless of income level).
What I found interesting last night is that both teachers that were at the meeting, as well as the two principals, said that the current K-3 at Vanderlyn and the 4/5 at Dunwoody Elementary appears to be a better learning environment that a traditional K-5.  Mr. Johnathan Clark, the principal at Dunwoody Elementary, gave the example of a special ed teacher.  Instead of having to focus on all 6 grades (like in a traditional set up), that teacher now only has to focus on two grades at Dunwoody Elementary.  He said the "specials" are better served as well. 

Dunwoody City Council Meeting

I was unable to attend the Dunwoody City Council meeting last night, but thanks to Councilman John Heneghan, I am able to watch the meeting online, at my convenience.  John, as always, has his webcam running at the meeting.  He then makes the webcast available on his blogsite,
Click on the photo above to watch last night's meeting (you will have to first watch a 30 second advertisement).


I said...

The turnout was impressive for the third public input workshop for redistricting and consolidation of DeKalb County Schools. The participants filled the seats around the tables and filled the bleachers in the gymnasium as well as filled the cafeteria. Dunwoody was well represented including some conflicting views.

Each table was asked to first list the positives in the plans, then name the negatives and finally list alternatives. The alternatives were then proposed to the entire audience.

Some organized groups were represented in the crowds. There influence could be witnessed by statement T-Shirts saying things like "Community first," and people carrying e-mails with crib notes. You could also hear their influence in some of the proposals. A few tables proposed changes using verbatim language, probably drawn from the crib sheets.

Some key themes included:

* Students and performance first, community boundaries also matter.
* Many tables said the process was moving too fast and should not be completed until the 2020 Vision was completed
* Many tables said the cost-benefit analysis should be completed before the process is complete
* K-5 is good and should be one of the top priorities for Dunwoody schools - In other words support the current proposals
* Placing all of the children from multi-unit homes in DES appears to create a situation of inequality and goes directly against the stated goals of the DCSS - In other words, change the proposals.
* Also against the stated goals of DCSS is placing 1,200 students in DES. DCSS wanted to hold all elementary to 900 - In other words, change the proposals.
* Blue Ribbon schools (eg. Livsey Elementary School) should be emulated, not shut down

The greatest applause and cheers from the crowd came after some speakers took shots at the school board for incompetency.

One of the most interesting revelations of the meeting were claims that redistricting of DES would result in the population being 60% children from multi-family dwellings, and that could make DES eligible for Title 1 money from the feds. Conspiracy theory or not, speculation in the crowd was that this was a strategy to get the funding and completely intentional.

Bob Fiscella said...

Thx I!