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05/06/2013 – Realtime Blog – May DeKalb Board Meeting

DeKalb County School District
Board Meeting
2pm – Work Session (Agenda)
5:45pm – Public Comments
7pm – Business Meeting (Agenda)

There are a number of important agenda items today. As always, I encourage everyone to closely examine the financial report. There is a sharp increase in legal fees for March. In the last fiscal year (FY12) YTD legal fees were $3.78 million and this fiscal year (FY13) the YTD fees are $6.3 million. I routinely voted against incurring additional legal fees and rejected accepting financial and HR reports with discrepancies. Unfortunately I was not joined in my dissent by most members of the board.

The board is going to approve several policies tonight, including one addressing nepotism. From what I read, I don’t think the new language offers a substantive change. What remains my main concern is the enforcement of the policy. The administration must vigorously enforce the policy.

At the 7pm Business Meeting the CFO will give a FY14 budget update.
In the most recent reports available on the GA DOE websites (FY11), if DeKalb reduced its per pupil general administration costs ($206) to the levels of Cobb County ($83), it could save the district approximately $12 million. I thought it was interesting that Gwinnett’s last report showed that they spent $240 per pupil on general administration. I’m disappointed that these numbers aren’t the most current but they can give insight into budget decisions.

I have long been an advocate for restructuring compensation. Outside of the Superintendent, no central office employee should make more money than the average principal. Highly effective teachers should receive compensation that incentivizes them to remain in the classroom.

Book Recommendations:
I recently read How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character. I recommend it and think it helps direct the conversation about education in a results-oriented direction while avoiding the clichés of much of the “reform” discussion. Another book that also focuses on results and compliments the discussion is Toxic Charity. The author writes about experiences with his urban ministry in Atlanta. I’ll do a blog post in the future discussing these books. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on them as well.

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