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CrossRoadsNews

Community

April 12, 2014

“With greater autonomy, schools would be in a better position to innovate their own approaches to reaching students.”

Electronic recycling set Free shredding and more at Saint Philip Families and individuals with old and outdated electronics can recycle them on April 19 in Decatur. Commissioner Stan Watson and Keep DeKalb Beautiful are co-hosting the event from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the corner of Kelley Chapel and Boring roads as part of the Great American Clean Up. Items like desktop computers, laptops, televisions, cell phones, game consoles, video games, microwaves, stereos and networking equipment will be accepted free of charge. There will be a charge for CRT televisions and monitors, wooden consoles, and projection and plasma televisions.

Residents can shred sensitive documents, recycle old and unwanted electronics, and dispose of household hazardous waste for free on April 19 at Saint Philip AME Church in Atlanta. The church’s Community Development Corp. is hosting its fourth annual Community Green & Clean/ Earth Day Celebration from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the church’s parking lot facing Candler Road. Curbside Recycling will recycle plastics, bottles, glass, cans, newspapers, magazines, phone books, computers, telephones, TV sets, video games, cooking grease, paint,

and batteries. Sensitive documents will be shredded onsite free of cost. There also will be a rebuy/reuse yard sale and flea market for new and gently used clothing and arts and crafts. The event takes place rain or shine. Six-foot vending tables for $20 are available on a first-come, first-served basis or by April 14. The church is at 240 Candler Road S.E. at the intersection of Candler Road and Memorial Drive. For more information, visit www.saintphilip.org or call 404-3710749 to reserve a table.

State has until Nov. 1 to approve charter system for DeKalb Schools CHARTER,

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tract term would be five years, with annual reviews to ensure that performance goals are being met. Subsequent contracts may range from five to ten years. DeKalb would join Decatur, Marietta and Fulton and Barrow Counties school districts as charter systems. Gwinnett County, Georgia’s largest district, has chosen a middle ground to become an “Investing in Educational Excellence” district and keeping more central control than a charter system. Decatur and Marietta school districts which became charter systems in 2008 was just renewed to 2023. Barrow district was approved in 2011 and Fulton in 2012. Trenton Arnold, who chaired Thurmond’s appointed Flexibility Advisory Committee, said April 9 that the official notification to the state, is a letter of intent due by May 1. “It’s saying ‘we intend to pursue a charter district option,’” said Arnold, who is the district’s Region 3 Superintendent. The Flexibility Advisory Committee, made of the members of district’s strategic planning committee, met Dec. 13, 2013 to March 17, 2014 to review the options available to the school district in order to meet this legal obligation. It reviewed the elements associated with the state’s recommended flexibility options, including waivers from Title 20, fiscal impact, governance implications, accountability and performance evaluations, and consequences, and to develop an

Executive Summary for the Superintendent detailing these options and their impact on the DeKalb County School District. It met five times and reviewed data from other districts already operating as IE2 or Charter Systems; synthesized citizen comments and questions from the five Community Engagement Sessions; and contributed to the narrative and information in Thurmond’s executive summary. In its community sessions, parents and other stakeholders told the committee they want an equitable school system that places as many resources as possible back in the schools; and clarity in the status of current magnet, theme, and conversion charter schools. The state Department of Education has until Nov. 1 to give its approval. “If the state board approves it, we’ll become operational in the 2015-16 school year as a charter district,” Arnold said. Under a charter school system, school districts must provide each school with substantial autonomy and maximize school-level governance and decision making over budgets, programs, personnel, and innovation and student performance goals must meet contract goals, exceed state averages and previous system performance, and meet all federal and state accountability measures. Arnold said local school governance would comprise of parents, teachers and administrators. He said the Superintendent has been visiting schools throughout the district to build parental engagement.

If a district’s charter status is revoked, it reverts to a Status Quo System. Thurmond said that choosing a charterbased system will increase student performance expectations, increased flexibility and autonomy will be moved to the local school level to allow for innovation. “By choosing the charter system option, the district and its schools do not limit themselves to only a few enumerated waivers as required by an Investing in Educational Excellence contract, nor are they at the mercy and whim of the Georgia Department of Education and state legislature by remaining a status quo system and requesting no waivers,” he told the board. But Thurmond said school flexibility and autonomy will have to be earned. “Local school leadership, both from administrators and school stakeholders, must be demonstrated,” he said. The board rejected the last charter proposal to come to it for a vote. In a contentious four-hour meeting on Nov, 11, board members voted 5-4 to reject a petition to create a seven-school Druid Hills charter cluster. The arrangement would have taken five elementary schools, a middle school and one high school in Central DeKalb out of county control and put them under a private board of directors. Petitioners said the plan would have given teachers and parents more direct input into improving the quality of educaton at Druid Hills High and Hills Middle Schools and their feeder elementary schools: Avondale

Estates, Briar Vista, Fernbank, Laurel Ridge and McLendon. Dr. Melvin Johnson, the School Board’s Chairman said April 8 that the board rejected the Druid Hills cluster because the total cost was too high and Melvin Johnson the charter system might have excluded some students. “We were worried that the rules as they were written would have given them the authority to keep certain students out for whatever reason,” said Johnson who plans to support Thurmond’s charter proposal at the May 5 meeting. “Really, the only purpose in choosing district-wide charter is its potential to improve student achievement and it will not be exclusionary.” Johnson said the charter system would have better tools for improving the district’s graduation rate which is less than 60 percent. “With greater autonomy, schools would be in a better position to innovate their own approaches to reaching students who are at risk of dropping out either because they are having trouble or because they are gifted and not sufficiently challenged by the curriculum,” Johnson said. “Certain kids might need to be put on a fast track to graduation.” Thurmond told the board that the district’s charter could do more than support flexibility, innovation and autonomy at the local level but could also allow for potential

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CrossRoadsNews, April 12, 2014  

CrossRoadsNews, April 12, 2014