Meeting Minutes, October 20, 2010

Emory Lavista Parent Council Meeting October 20, 2010
Redistricting: 2020 Vision and Consolidation and Redistricting Plan
Nancy Moore, 404-728-4427
Marshall Orson, 404-378-9116
Ellen Schwartz
Donna Toulme
Lisa Brown

Mr. Orson welcomed all and shared the ELPC goal to provide interesting, timely conversations relevant to our district. He highlighted our next meeting’s focus on governance, another important issue. He commended Gwinnett County School Systems receipt of the Broad Award while noting that more than 50% of that school system’s students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. Mr. Orson recognized the many important audience members including DCSS BOE members, Dr. Speaks, Mr. Womack, Mr. McChesney, Mr. Redovian, and Dr. Walker. He recognized DCSS BOE candidates Ms. Edler, District 7 and Ms. Jester, District 1. Retiring State Representative, Levitas was acknowledged as were State Senators Henson and Millar. District 40, State Senator, candidate, Mr. Eric Christ was in attendance as was candidate for State Superintendant of Education, Mr. Joe Martin. State Superintendant of Education, Mr. Brad Bryant was greeted. Interim DCSS Superintendant, Ms. Tyson and many representatives of her administrative leadership team were acknowledged including Area Superintendant, Mr. Segovis. Principals and Assistant Principals were applauded by all. Briarlake Elementary Principal Dr. Culbreath, Ms. Jenks and Ms. Brown welcomed all in attendance and were thanked by Mr. Orson for hosting.

Mr. Orson defined some ground rules for the discussion including generic questions about process, metrics, analytics, intangibles, methodology and value judgments. Questions to clarify prior assignments of outside consultant would be fair.

Interim DCSS Superintendant Tyson and Dr. Carnes, Senior Consultant for MGT of America, a subcontractor for Parsons Corporation, were the principal discussants though Ms. Tyson acknowledged the significant on-going contributions by her leadership team, many of whom were in attendance.

Interim DCSS Superintendant Tyson began with a recap of the school closing controversy [consider for a summary]. From that controversy, the need to repair the relationship between DCSS and GA DOE was apparent and has been a focus so that DCSS can address the hindrance of nearly 11,050 empty seats that limits the system’s eligibility for significant state and federal funds.

In addition to her commitment to adhering to all local, state and federal guidelines, Ms. Tyson remains committed to parental involvement as evidenced in her attendance at today’s ELPC meeting. She stated that today’s meeting served as a practice for her upcoming countywide conversations with 75 stops to address “all moving parts of the process” of the sensitive matter of school closings. Firmly, she conveyed “there is no list of proposed school closings” while noting her commitment to go to the people collect information and work together to determine the district plan.
Master Planning Process Diagram
Public Engagement Plan (Round 1)
Input Options
Public engagement will be critical for the 2020 Master Plan and the redistricting and consolidation effort. Our goal between now and November 19, 2010 is to engage and listen to the stakeholder and the public using five input options:
1. site visits
2. interviews
3. focus groups
4. public charrettes
5. survey
We will utilize the proposed outsourced public relations firm to execute a communications plan to ensure the targeted groups are aware of the process in advance and to provide public transparency and awareness of the site visits, interviews, focus groups, five public charrettes, and the survey.

Site Visits
There will be two site visits for each school: an educational adequacy site visit and a facility conditions site visit for the educational adequacy. We have asked each principal to be aware of the site visit time and to invite one parent, one teacher, the plant engineer, and the PTA president, to the educational adequacy site visit. We ask that persons interested in the details or outcome of a site visit of a school to please contact the principal of that school. Please see for this important schedule.
One-on-one interviews with the Board of Education, key staff, and community members will provide the common themes and issues from many perspectives. The interviewees are shown below:
1. Board Chair, Mr. Thomas E. Bowen
2. Board Vice Chair, Ms. Zepora Roberts
3. Board Member, Ms. Sarah Copelin-Wood
4. Board Member, Mr. Jesse Jay Cunningham Jr.
5. Board Member, Mr. Donald E. McChesney
6. Board Member, Mr. James M. Redovian
7. Board Member, Dr. Pamela A. Speaks
8. Board Member, Dr. Eugene P. Walker
9. Board Member, Mr. H. Paul Womack Jr.
10. Superintendent (Interim), Ramona Tyson
11. Chief of Staff, Alice Thompson
12. School Operations, Robert Moseley
13. Operations, Barbara Colman
14. Teaching & Learning, Morcease Beasley
15. Finance, Marcus Turk
16. Assistant Area Superintendent (1), Terry Segovis
17. Assistant Area Superintendent (2), Angela Pringle
18. Assistant Area Superintendent (3), Debra White
19. Assistant Area Superintendent (4), Horace Dunson
20. Assistant Area Superintendent (5), Ken Bradshaw
21. Student Support Services, Felicia Mayfield
22. School Improvement, Audria Berry
23. Athletics, Ron Sebree
24. Planning, Dan Drake
25. Management Information Systems, Tony Hunter
26. Career Technology, Delmas Watkins
27. Transportation & Fleet, David Guillory
28. Support Services, Tim Freeman
29. Security, James Hanson
30. School Nutrition, Joyce Wimberly
31. Public Safety/Police, J.M. Wood-Shuffett
32. Parent Teacher Council, Marcia Coward
33. SACS, Dr. Mark Elgart
34. Chamber of Commerce, Leonardo McClarty
35. Georgia Department of Education, Lynn Jackson
36. Plant Services, Steve Donahue & Mike Worthington
37. Magnet and Theme, Pat Copeland
38. ES/MS/HS Instruction, Ms Harris-Wright, Ms Phillips, & Ms Stepney
39. DeKalb House Delegation, Howard Mosby
40. DeKalb Senate Delegation, Steve Henson
41. Student Support, Gale Thomas
42. ELL, Sandra Nunez
43. Special Services, John O'Conner & Karen Baron
44. DeKalb County Commissioners, Larry Johnson
45. DeKalb County CEO, Burrell Ellis
46. Project Management, Myra Burden
Focus Groups
Another method of listening to the constituents is to bring a dozen or so (12-20) into a group and use that focus group to gather their concerns and to get their input on how the facility design can affect them from their perspective.
1. High School Students
2. Plant/Building Engineers
3. Maintenance (Central Plant)
4. Bus Drivers
5. Elementary Principals (Group #1)
6. Elementary Principals (Group #2)
7. Middle School Principals
8. High School Principals
9. Teacher Representatives (Elementary #1)
10. Teacher Representatives (Elementary #2)
11. Teacher Representatives (Middle)
12. Teacher Representatives (High School)
13. Parents
14. DeKalb Legislative Delegation
15. Chamber of Commerce/Business
16. DeKalb Association of Realtors
Public Charrettes
Developing a consensus on creating a vision of for the DeKalb County School System in 2020 requires a comprehensive and involved process with a broad base of public input to be successful. This charrette process adds a new dimension to educational planning by getting the community engaged from the very beginning.
The charrette process allows every person an equal opportunity to express his/her views in a comfortable environment by allowing people to express their opinions by multiple methods and work through ideas in a responsive group. Here's how the three step process works:
1. Presentation
A trained presenter gives a brief presentation that establishes the goals for the project and explains the charrette process.
2. ResponseCard® and Feedback
The audience becomes actively engaged in the charrette through the use of an interactive wireless keypad called a ResponseCard®. The ResponseCard® enables the participant to vote on issues concerning redistricting and consolidation of schools and the development of the facility master plan. After each question, the audience receives immediate feedback in the form of a bar graph that displays the response trends of the entire group. This allows the audience to immediately identify insights, trends, and consensus. As a result, we can gather "unbiased" responses and then share what the group is thinking for immediate feedback and small-group discussion.
3. Small Group Discussion
Trained facilitators engage small groups in a "drill down" of the predominant topics discovered during the large-group session. These smaller sessions are more conducive to free-flowing discussion as a result of the information gained from the initial presentation.
The location and time of the five public charrettes are:
1. Chamblee High School, Tuesday, November 9, 6:30 PM
2. Towers High School, Wednesday, November 10, 6:30 PM
3. McNair High School, Monday November 15, 6:30 PM
4. MLK High School, Tuesday November 16, 6:30 PM
5. Stephenson High School, Wednesday November 17, 6:30 PM
Following the charrettes, we will open a "survey" to confirm the messages or themes we heard from the interviews, focus groups, and charrettes. This survey will be available online from Friday November 19th until Tuesday November 30th.
Targeted Briefings
1. Press Briefing, TBA
2. Community Leader Briefing, TBA
3. Administrator's Meeting, October 12, 2010
4. PTA Council, October 14, 2010, 6:00 PM, AIC
5. Emory LaVista Parent Council, October 20, 2010, 8:45 AM, Briarlake ES
6. South DeKalb Parent Council, October 21, 6:30 PM, Arabia Mountain HS
7. Dunwoody Chamblee Parent Council [ ], November 3, 2010, 8:45 AM, Chamblee MS
8. Tucker Parent Council, November 4, 2010, 6:30 PM, Smoke Rise ES
The culmination of Round 1 public engagement process will be a summary report of what we heard. It will be presented to the Board of Education at its December 6th meeting (6:00 PM) and published on the website on December 7th.
Ms. Tyson reiterated her desire to have all involved in the walk through visits and represented at the Charrettes. She also made it explicit that she requested assistance with redistricting through the DCSS BOE contract with Parsons Consulting. Ms. Colman recommended MGT of American given their track record in the US with redistricting. Dr. Carnes’ role as an educator and past superintendant in Indiana was highlighted. The accelerated timeline is to have the results of this process to the DCSS BOE by 02/11 to meet state and federal funding deadlines which have been missed by previous administrators.
Dates of Public Charrettes were noted and parental involvement was emphasized: 6:30 to 8:30 pm
11/9 Chamblee HS
11/10 Towers HS
11/15McNair HS
11/16 MLK HS
11/17 Stephenson HS
Dr. Carnes used the metaphor of Sir Ed Hilary’s climb of MT Everest and stated that the redistricting process will be difficult and that the goal of the public engagement process will be to provide the tools to collaborate through the challenge.
Ms. Tyson and Dr. Carnes answered questions.
Q. Please address the issue that the 5 high schools chosen for public meetings appear to lack of representation of Central DeKalb high schools (Druid Hills, Lakeside, McNair).
A. Given intense time pressure, 5 were selected. Ms. Tyson noted that including and additional public forum would be considered and noted that she may request and extension from the DCSS BOE.
Q. Why is this being done without the input of the new superintendant?
A. Ms. Tyson replied that she struggled with this question as well, wondering where is line of demarcation between interim and new superintendant? Dr. Carnes commented that completing this process will enable the new leader to move forward with education. Ms. Tyson reiterated the urgency of the situation to address the issue of empty seats that limits the county’s ability to obtain state and federal educational funds.
Q. Follow up question was asked whether in addition to engaging an outside consulting firm (MGT), was DCSS engaged with Gwinnet to understand their successful strategies.
A. Ms. Tyson’s commended Gwinnett County for their phenomenal program and noted that the comparison of DeKalb to Gwinnett is not equivalent. Yes, Ms. Tyson noted that DCSS was often talking to Gwinnet counterparts from construction, to facilities to the application process for federal dollars. Ms. Colman participated in these day long consultations to capitalize on Gwinnett County’s success.
Q. Will we use data collected in 2006 to save costs?
A. Yes, but the data needs to be updated to be viable for the coming decades.
Q. Why is there a 5 month deadline and can the data be put on the web to be more accessible?
A. Ms. Tyson replied that the DCSS BOE charge was driven by the urgency to increase our eligibility for state and federal dollars. Dr. Carnes noted that data would be placed on the DCSS webpage but asked stakeholders to refrain from conclusions before all of the data was gathered.
Q. How many voting devices will there be and numbers are the facilitators prepared to accommodate?
A. Dr. Carnes stated that at each site they will have 10 facilitators and 1000 clickers.
Q. Where are we getting the money for this process when parents are being asked to give paper to schools?
A. Ms. Tyson’s responded by noting that Parsons is subcontracting with MCG. She noted that the DCSS BOE approved Parsons through a public bidding process 2 years ago. This November there is an itemized expansion for Parson’s role to include MGT’s consultation at Ms. Tyson’s request. Ms. Tyson noted that internal controls for purchasing have been vetted through general council and in accordance with strengthened DCSS BOE policies and procedures. She stated that the dollar amount is being negotiated. She noted that while MGT was being retained they were actively working with Ms. Tyson and her administrative leadership team.
Q. Will additional sub consultants be allowed/used?
A. Ms. Tyson replied that this piece has to be negotiated and examined within legal framework and may need to be rebidded to be ethical. Ms. Tyson noted her hesitance to restart process but wants to be in compliance with law and policy.
Q. If a Central DeKalb County High School is added as a meeting site, would this information be readily broadcast so that Chamblee is not inundated?
A. Ms. Tyson noted that she heard parents concerns and wanted to pass the listening test and stated that she was working actively with the media to convey these important messages. She advised checking DCSS website often.
C: BOE member Mr. Paul Womack commented that the Board had made school closing decisions previously without consulting the public, noting that the closing of five schools in May 1983 was extremely painful, and that the public charrettes/community forums were designed for the benefit of parents and DCSS stakeholders.
Q: If this process is being initiated to cover budget shortfalls/loss of state entitlement funds, how do we know it will actually work? How will redistricting or taking on more students—particularly in a school like mine that’s already overcrowded and where parents have made significant capital investments—benefit us? And how will it pay back or eliminate the deficit?
A: If three schools are closed and all the students moved to one school, we will have to evaluate the physical condition of the open school and determine the capital outlays necessary to make that school, which formerly accommodated 300, work for 1200.
Q: As we feel the pain of school closings, what will you do to address central office bloat and “take a hit for the team”?
A: In the last 2 years, the DCSS Central Office has cut first 150 positions, then 65 positions and now as we prepare the 2012 Budget we are looking at further possible cuts. I am considering retaining a consultant from Georgia Tech, Emory, UGA or Georgia State to study whether further streamlining of the C/O is warranted.
Q: Will electronic voting (ResponseCard®) reflect my home school attendance area and where each parent voter comes from? We have very different opinions in the various regions within the system.
A: No, it’s almost impossible to do this as the system is designed to address broad questions or concerns.
(Note: This concern was reiterated throughout Q&A and Mr. Orson commented that some way of distinguishing home school or district affiliation would need to be devised.)
Q: Will parents be included on the project teams that make the recommendations presented to the Board?
A: We can do that. We can find some way to accommodate parents in that part of the process.
Q: How will my voice or opinion actually matter if my school is found to be structurally unsound (or doesn’t meet other objective criteria)?
A: We will try to balance both qualitative and quantitative inputs to ensure that educational adequacy (student/teacher performance) is weighed together with physical condition or quality.
Q: There were $1.9 Billion in needs identified in the 2006 assessment and to date SPLOST III has brought in $500 million in revenue. MGT is focusing on the educational adequacy of our current facilities – thank you. How will we include teachers in the process? Please consider adding school councils to the stakeholder process.
A: We are meeting with the teacher steering committee and the teacher advisory committee and with 5 teacher focus groups for elementary, middle and high school teachers. We met with the Parent Advisory Committee last week and have invited the school council on the school walk-throughs. We will meet with the BOE, the Chamber of Commerce and the Association of DeKalb Realtors.
Q: How will you involve teachers and school councils in this process?
A: 5 teachers (3 Elementary, 1 Middle and 1 High) will be included in each advisory focus group—with five groups’ total, each representing one of the 5 regions within DCSS. Parents will be involved in the local school audits or walk-throughs.
Note: Other speakers commented that more teacher depth or participation, particularly at the middle and high school levels were needed.
Q: One in seven students at my home school actually lives outside the attendance area (some through transfers, lotteries or illegal addresses via unoccupied rental property). How will you measure or evaluate these students (illegitimately attending) in your demographic data?
A: This question was not directly addressed.
Q: Where will you post the needs assessment/walk-through dates? When will these dates be available?
A: Locations and dates will be posted on the DCSS web site:
Mr. Orson concluded the meeting by thanking Ms. Tyson and Dr. Carnes and reminded the audience of the upcoming ELPC meetings. All meetings begin with refreshments at 8:45 and run approximately from 9:15 to 10:30.
Nov 17th Medlock Elementary Governance

Jan 19th Hawthorne Elementary Legislative Update

Feb 16th Laurel Ridge Curriculum

March 16th Lakeside TBD

April 13th Shamrock Middle School State of the System- Revisited

To receive information from council, please send an e-mail to
Respectfully Submitted, Thank you to Melissa Kemmerly for assistance