2015 DeKalb Schools Testing – Open Letter to Dr. Green
August 24, 2015 – I am writing today to express my concern about the dates for the upcoming administration of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) and the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) in the DeKalb County School District. As you know, the testing window includes two of the most sacred holy days for the Jewish faith. We are also the only metro district that has chosen to administer these tests in such a way as to conflict with these important holidays (1).
Practice Fields for Atlanta United FC – Here are the details – What are your thoughts?
July 30, 2015 – As reported in the media, DeKalb County has been in talks with Atlanta United FC regarding a location for their practice fields and headquarters building. Atlanta United FC is a professional soccer team owned by the Home Depot co-founder, Arthur Blank. This week, the administration presented the Board of Commissioners with details of a proposed agreement between Atlanta United and DeKalb County. The Board of Commissioners is being asked to vote on this agreement on Tuesday, August 4th.
I have many concerns about this matter. In no particular order, they include:
1) What return on investment can the taxpayers of DeKalb county reasonably expect from this agreement?
2) Has the county performed any economic analysis regarding expected economic activity generated by this land use?
3) How reasonable is the county’s expected land preparation cost of $3-$5 million? Based on the the requirements presented to the board, the preparations include, demolition, entrance construction, detention ponds, irrigation systems, and sod.
4) Why is the county proposing to use money from the General Fund to pay for this? Is not the correct fund for this, the Parks and Recreation fund?
Here are the details of the potential deal:
Mid-Year Budget Update – Millage Increases and Waste
July 30, 2015 – I voted against the mid-year budget because it did not: (1) incentivize efficiency, (2) reform wasteful departments, or (3) improve DeKalb competence levels. Furthermore, it increased the the millage rate for the General Fund by 2.17 mills, thereby increasing the DeKalb County millage rates paid by all the cities. Taxpayers are getting hit again with significantly increased property assessments.
DeKalb Doubles Down on More Taxes – County and Schools
June 7, 2015 – This week the interim CEO for DeKalb County, Lee May, presented the Board of Commissioners with a mid-year budget. As luck would have it, most of us received our Annual Notice of Assessments in the mail. The overall tax digest has increased almost 10%.
The most important facts to note about the mid-year budget are:
- If you live in a city, DEKALB COUNTY raised your DEKALB COUNTY millage rate for 2015.
- Property values are higher than initially expected, netting $36.6 million more in taxes from you.
- DeKalb County intends to spend and keep most of the unanticipated tax revenue rather than trim the size of the county government and rolling back your taxes.
Commissioners Respond to Interim CEO’s Criticism.
May 22, 2015 – In finally resigning his Commission Seat after 23 months as Interim Chief Executive, Lee May has made much of the resistance of “three Commissioners” of the BOC to his efforts to install a hand-picked successor to represent District Five. As the “three Commissioners” he referred to, we think the public might benefit from a broader perspective on the issue.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
August 29, 2014 – The now former, DeKalb County Commissioner, Elaine Boyer is facing Federal charges and likely, a jail sentence, for stealing the public’s money. Recently we also learned that Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton has a proclivity for paying her boyfriend to “consult” for her. Last summer’s indictment of the CEO was, apparently, just the tip of the iceberg. In fairness, other counties and government officials outside of DeKalb haven’t been immune to corruption and bad decisions. But, here, in DeKalb, the sheer volume is proving that incompetence and corruption are the norm rather than the exception.
Incompetence, Fraud, Constitutions and Kids
August 12, 2014 – You only get a county like DeKalb, in a state that lets it happen. We only have two problems in DeKalb: Incompetence and Fraud. But, DeKalb isn’t unique.
Subsidizing failure in government
July 8, 2014 – So, what’s the solution to bad government? More government! DeKalb’s Interim CEO, Lee May, recently created a new full-time position: Chief Integrity Officer. The word ironic comes to mind but doesn’t really do justice to the situation.
The Latest and Greatest – a review on recent education articles and blogs
July 5, 2014 – Like many of you, I’ve been enjoying my summer with little attention paid to the latest in the political or research world. I hope you are having a terrific summer and enjoying your family time.
Alas, I’ve spent a few days catching up with some of the most important developments as I see them. As most of you know, Mr. Jester ran, unopposed, for the DeKalb Board of Education seat from District. I am thrilled that Stan will be our representative on the BOE. He takes office in January. Rest assured that he has been following matters in DeKalb like a hawk.
What is the Georgia GOP’s Platform on Education?
June 23, 2014 – Where is the Republican Party on the fiasco that is public education in our state? What is our platform? K-12 education is the single largest expenditure in the state budget. Why don’t we have some way to measure, rate, disclose and hold high level officials accountable for the quality of their financial and academic management? Shouldn’t the Georgia GOP have something to say about this? Some goals? A study committee?
Georgia Education Per Pupil Spending, Graduation Rates, Tax Climate, Poverty Rating & Free/Reduced Lunch Percentage
June 17, 2014 – Georgia is still spending more per pupil and has a lower gradation rate than all of our border states. Texas, Tennessee and Mississippi all spend less per pupil, have higher graduation rates, better tax climate rankings and more poverty than Georgia.
State Superintendent – Republican Primary Runoff
June 9, 2014 – The AJC had an interesting article about the Republican primary runoff for State School Superintendent. The article should be particularly interesting for school choice advocates, parents and anyone interested in government spending on education..
Georgia Loses Money Earmarked For Teacher Merit Pay
January 31, 2014 – Georgia, has now become the first and only state to forfeit Race to the Top (RT3) grant money. Officials in Georgia were warned last July to address failures in implementing a new teacher evaluation system or lose almost $10 million in funding for a teacher merit pay system.
I am pleased to hear the DeKalb school system’s accreditation status has been upgraded from “probation” to “warned”. I worked diligently to shine light on the poor fiscal management of DeKalb. Some of my work was even cited in the SACS report from 2012. Clearly DeKalb still has a long way to go.
Education Spending and Results in Georgia
I put together a spreadsheet for you so you can see Georgia’s spending on education from Fiscal Years 2005 through the current Fiscal Year 2014. I have graphed Georgia’s education spending, the federal money Georgia spends on education and the total budget for our state.