Meeting Minutes, September 2017

Emory LaVista Parent Council
September 2017

Notes from conference call, August 20, 2017
On the call:
Morgan Potts
Laura
Jeanie Christian
Wendy
Amity Farrar
Future​ ​meetings:
October 24
● Topic: Title​ ​1​ and local school councils - something along the lines of - “Title 1 can bring new
opportunities to your school: How Title 1 works and how you can get involved.” - This is wordy so
please, anyone, feel free to recraft this...
● Location: tbd
● Arrive 8:30 (?), program starts at 9
November 28
● Topic: tbd
● Location: tbd
● Time: tbd
January 23
● Topic: Legislative​ ​Update​ (Peachtree Gateway may be interested in partnering on the legislative
update. Amity will follow up.)
● Location: tbd
● Time: tbe
February 27 (?)
● Topic: Capital​ ​visit​ (This was done in past but we didn’t finalize for this year)
● Location: tbd
● Time: tbe
March 13(?)
● Topic: ELPC​ ​Legislative​ ​Update​ (Not sure if this is in addition to the January meeting?)
● Location: tbd
● Time: tbe
Late in school year
● Did college admissions session last year - maybe partner with another school on this
Roles:
● Communication - Jeanie and Wendy
● Recording - Morgan
● Someone to work on locations - Laura can do this
● Someone to work on topics/speakers
● Roles are flexible if someone wants to do something else
Other​ ​Topic​ ​Ideas/Discussion:
● Title 1 discussions have been happening - political and divisive. Also a lot of misinformation out
there. Wondering if having a Title 1 informational meeting would be useful. Maybe not even a
whole meeting on this. General discussions around race, equality, etc. come up. What has Title 1
done for a particular school? What benefits have been seen at particular schools. Also highlight
the TItle 1 schools that have demonstrated improvement and how Title 1 played a part in that.
● College admissions program towards end of the school year was successful last year. Other
schools doing this, too. How do we connect? Or can we connect? Maybe reach out to Druid Hills
High School - September program. Maybe we can promote this in our newsletter.
● Multicultural and equity literacy last year was great so one meeting touching on some of this
would be great. Rena Hernandez WIlliams (?) facilitated the meeting. She might be able to do a
continuation.
● Support Dr. Green and some of his initiatives - example, asking his office about Title 1 related
initiatives. Social services proposed as wrap around type services - discussed briefly by Dr.
Green but not able to go into it in detail. Would be nice to hear how this is playing out.
● Elementary recess programs are different at different schools? Henderson Mills has a more
extensive recess time. Morgan will research this - is this a district policy? Do schools do this
differently?
Other​ ​Notes:
● Website will be updated with the dates with topic TBD
● Mailchimp notifications to follow
● Copies of historical topics/locations will be emailed.
● State of the District date TBD - WIll be decided next Saturday.
● Evening sessions? Should we consider doing some in the evening to allow for working parents?
Also could have the student panel at one of those.
● Meeting prior to October session - Tuesday, Oct. 3 - ask if mornings or evenings are better.
● State of District meeting - maybe we could meet before that too if we need to.
SurveyMonkey​ ​to​ ​email​ ​list​ ​to​ ​get​ ​feedback​ ​on​ ​topics​ ​of​ ​interest.​ ​Topic​ ​ideas:
● Map testing
● Accommodations for testing
● Recess time in elementary
● Social justice in the schools
● Understanding and getting involved with your local school council (Maybe some changes to this
from the district this year - make sure we find out if/what before putting time into this topic)
● Student panel to discuss transitions from different schools
Dekalb's new cirriculum

Past: April 2014
State of the System Address with Superintendent Michael Thurmond
April 16, 2014
Lakeside High School

It’s only been 14 months, but Mr. Thurmond feels like he’s known us for his whole life. DCSD has made significant progress in a short time. The good news is that we are a long way from where we were when we started this journey. DCSD had a $14 million deficit in February 2013. Now we have a $10 million surplus. Fiscal Year 2015 is expected to start with a $20 million surplus. We need fiscal stability to do the job. Accreditation crisis—good news—DCSD status was elevated from accredited probation to accredited warning. He expects full accreditation by the end of the year. Being out of debt and off probation makes you average, not exceptional.
The focus now will be on academic achievement and graduation rates. Mr. Thurmond expects improvement in these areas. The problem is that adult issues used to be the focus, not the children. Tests—tests are a test of the system, not a test of children. Children are a proxy for the administration’s success. Children don’t fail; adults often fail children. Goal: continue to build foundation for the future of the district. Mr. Thurmond believes DeKalb is a natural model for urban public schools. It’s not events that matter, it’s how you interpret the events. There always will be ups and downs, it’s how you handle them that count. A major benefit of this work has been to see the interconnectedness of the people in this county.
Mr. Thurmond spent the last 30 years positioning and strategizing to get to the next election. What has changed is that now it’s about the next generation, not the next election. He thinks we’ve been too negative in the narrative about the district and children in DeKalb County. Three of the highest performing schools in the state are DeKalb schools.
Questions and Answers
Q; Flexibility system—what changes do you envision?
A: We need to better inform parents of opportunities that exist. DCSD spends $15,000 on informing parents about options out of a $2.1 billion budget. His mission is to build a community of learners.
Q: Can we include zero based budgeting in a system charter?
A: It’s possible but it will be up to whoever drafts the charter.
Q: What changes will we see with the budget surplus?
A: The surplus is not to be spent. APS is reducing its surplus to make FY15 budget. We don’t want to spend surplus unless we have a crisis. There are four remaining furlough days. Two were eliminated. The hope is to eliminate or significantly reduce furlough days.
Q: Assuming we move to a charter system, what are three ways to have autonomy at the school level?
A: The Flexibility Options Committee will monitor the writing of the charter. The charter will be written by the administration. They will decide what goes into it. Not everyone wants to be in a charter.
Q: Textbooks?
A: This year we are spending $5 million on textbooks. Last year no money was spent on books. Next year, DCSD is looking at more money in the budget for both rebinding and new books. DCSD is one of the few districts in the state that is 100% wireless.
Q: Most metro systems have budgets with raises and less furloughs. Worry about teachers leaving.
A: We want to be more certain about how this year ends before we set the budget for next year because there is little room for error. When he became superintendent, there was less than $100,000 in the savings account. Other districts draw from savings. Last year, 93% of employees returned their contracts. This year, 95% returned contacts. More people stayed this year. The narrative is different from reality.
Q: What surplus number do we need to hit?
A: Were already investing. Finance people would say we need $60 million in surplus based on a budget of $2.1 billion. He predicts three budget cycles are needed to recover without an economic downturn. $60 million is one month of expenses for DCSD. DCSD is cutting expenses. We cut $6 million on legal costs this year. When Thurmond became superintendent, we spent $10 million on legal fees in one year.
Q: Security guards at schools?
A: Responsible for protecting all kids and all schools, but that doesn’t mean every school needs a security guard. Looking at how to organize the security department.
Q: Status of redistricting?
A: No discussion at this time.
Q: Specifics to move achievement and graduation up?
A: GAM Model—Growth and Achievement Model. DCSD purchased “universal screening” before this. Couldn’t track strengths and weaknesses of individual students. This screener is revolutionary. Dr. Pringle: GAM standardizes the way we assess students. Identify gaps and strengths and grow children. Also, evaluates students by class so we can see what works. Gives feedback to parents. Assessments are not just for low achieving students. Everyone can grow. Policy being looked at for promotion for children who already have met standards.