Saturday, April 17, 2010

Schools to be More Crowded Next School Year, 293 Kids in Trailers Next Year at Vanderlyn.

Well, CRCT testing is done this week, and local kids will coast home the rest of the year.  No sense teaching to a test once the test is over.  Here's to a fun summer to the kids!

Looks like DeKalb School System's latest numbers show yet another increase in population at local schools (the south side DeKalb parents ranting about why only schools on the south side were identified for closure should take a look at the following chart).

Here is a link to the chart in full.  As you can clearly see, every school in the Dunwoody Cluster will have an increase in student population.  DeKalb is referring to this as a bubble.  Problem is, this bubble has been growing for years.  I'm not a demographics expert nor an urban planner, but I do know lots of families with kids continue to live here.  Maybe it is a bubble, and people will soon realize DeKalb's school board is mismanaging close to a billion dollars a year and will leave the district like they did in Clayton County.  Or, the board will change (physically and mentally) and our bubble here will continue to grow and our schools will improve and our schools will no longer have trailers.

Will the trailers hauled away last year (when 4th and 5th graders were yanked from their local neighborhood schools) be brought back to Austin and other schools?

At last week's city council meeting there was discussion about sidewalks.  Council all seemed to agree that new sidewalks should be installed at the schools first.  The Safe School Route program was deemed more important than other streets in Dunwoody.  I've got no problem with that.  Hats off to council for making it safer for kids to walk to school.  But if our city council is so concerned with the local children, why no official Resolutions or Declarations declaring our over-crowded schools a travesty?  Why no calls for redistricting from city leaders, so that Dunwoody kids are not placed in over-crowded schools and trailers during the school year?  Dunwoody is looking for a new brand and logo.  Should the new logo incorporate a rental trailer parked behind a school on a former grassy playground?

On the topics of schools and our DeKalb school board - who will run for school board this fall? Jim Redovian is currently the Dunwoody (District 1) representative.  This is his 4th year on the board.  Not sure if he is running for re-election or not.  How has the Mr Redovian and the rest of the board performed the past few years? I do know the board has approved lots of new positions and 'negotiated' some nice compensation packages. And just last year they praised Crawford Lewis and extended his time as superintendent.  That didn't work out so well for anyone except Lewis. Of course the economy has put the board in a bad spot, something out of their control.  But other counties seem to be doing a better job of managing taxpayer money than does our current school board.

Salary of Central Office Employees:
2004 DeKalb Salary versus Current DeKalb Salary:
LEWIS,CRAWFORD $112,074 - $287,991.63
REID,PATRICIA A $100,010- $197,592.50
CALLAWAY,FRANKIE B $106,698- $165,035.69
MOSELEY,ROBERT G $106,698- $165,035.69
TALLEY,GLORIA S no data available - $165,035.69
TURK,MARCUS T $75,558 - $165,035.69
TYSON,RAMONA H $99,960- $165,035.69
WILSON,JAMIE L $85,502 - $165,035.69
SATTARI,DARYUSH $49,451- $147,539.80
MITCHELL,FELICIA M $96,354- $125,284.87
FREEMAN,TIMOTHY W $106,598 - $124,049.27
GILLIARD,WANDA S $102,594 - $124,049.27
THOMPSON,ALICE A $99,960- $124,049.27
NORRIS-BOUIE,WENDOLYN $100,060 - $122,345.84
DUNSON,HORACE C $90,606- $122,195.84
SEGOVIS,TERRY M $93,888 - $122,195.84
SIMPSON,RALPH L $95,826- $122,195.84
WHITE,DEBRA A $90,426 - $122,195.84
RHODES,CHERYL L $88,804 - $121,202.40
FREEMAN,SUSAN L $85,578 - $120,844.00

Here is a quote from a very involved blogger:
During this same time, classroom teachers have suffered furloughs, loss of retirement contributions, cut-backs and other affronts. I make the claim that the school system has bred bad morale by taking money from the classroom and giving it to the upper administration.
There are so many school things to post, but just go to DeKalb School Watch and read as much as you can take. I could copy and paste for hours, but just go to that site and read for yourself about what board member(s) have campaign managers, children, other family relatives, business contacts' kids, etc. now working for DeKalb School District.  I don't need to call anyone out, the info is already on line.

The past few years DeKalb has steadily increased the size and salaries of central office employees, then increased class size and decreased teacher pay. Meanwhile, our kids are housed in inferior buildings during school hours.  Take a look at the growth of the school system's central office and wasteful spending that has taken place the past four years.  Ask yourself if you think our local schools have improved the past four years or not?  Sure, we have a shiny new building off Womack that has one in four seats empty.  Parents and kids alike need to take responsibility for their own education, but they do need support (smaller class sizes, a trimmed down central office freeing up funds for school improvements, etc) from our local school board.  Property values plummeted in Clayton County a few years ago, largely due to its school board's inadequacies; let's not repeat their failures.

Dunwoody needs a board member whom will not rubber-stamp everything put on his/her desk.  We need a strong voice on the board.  If I could hand pick a candidate for our school board rep, it would be Councilman Shortal. I've never mentioned this to him, but I really think his skills would be put to great use on the school board.  He is doing a good job on Council, but I think he could do even more good for the city as a school board member.  I think he could really shake things up on the school board, cut through all the nonsense, and right the ship.  If a former gym teacher can be our superintendent, then surely a retired Marine Brigadier General can be a dedicated District 1 school board representative and a person to help lead DeKalb's schools.

I doubt Mr. Shortal would actually run for this office, but I'd support him fully if he did.  If anyone out there is interested in running for the school board, go ahead and start work on your float for the annual Dunwoody Independence Day parade.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Dunk Tank Update

I'm sorry to say there will not be a Dunk Tank at Lemonade Days this year.  Seems the organizers were declined the required permit for a 'container capable of holding in excess of 50 gallons of liquid, designed for entertainment purposes'.  Oh well.  Perhaps some on the list will simply line up at the pavilion for a friendly water balloon toss game.  Next year I'll coordinate the permit process with city staff a few weeks ahead of time. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lemonade Days Earns an 'A'

Had a great family night tonight over at DeKalb County's Brook Run Park, site host of the annual Lemonade Days festival.  If you have kids from age 5-15, I'd say the $15 ride bracelet (after using the $5 off coupon) is a real deal. I suggest you buy the bracelet instead of individual tickets. There's no way you can take a kid there, ride only four or five rides, then leave.  The bracelet (with coupon) is the way to go.  If your kid is six or older then the parents really don't need to go on the rides.

With tonight being the opening night, and most kids required to go to school tomorrow, attendance was the lowest of the four day event.  A perfect night for no lines.  I'm sure the wait for rides will be tolerable all weekend, and the weather seems to be cooperating, so I recommend you head over.

Lots of good food selections as well.  Hard to pass on a funnel cake.  I opted for a Varsity chili dog, while some in my group ate some chicken fingers from Guthries.  The food vendors are both local and part of the amusement company.

The whole carnival scene takes me back to my years growing up in PA.  I left home for a while (from age 9 until 11) and traveled up and down the east coast as a Carny.  It was quite enlightening. Eventually I escaped returned home to lead a normal life, ending up here in Dunwoody years later.

A favorite thing of mine is the old-time style art work on the sides of the carnival rides.

The event organizers thought ahead and had special areas for dropping off plastic bottles.

There was also PLENTY of WATER available for the carnival booths and their RVs. 

Not sure who was in charge of printing and hanging the Sponsor signs, but they did a nice job as well.

While watching the kids on a ride I glanced down on the ride's motor housing and saw a few well-worn inspection stickers.  After a closer look, I see Dunwoody now has an Inspector for our Parks and Recreation division.  I did not even know we had such a thing.  (see images below)

The fastest ride on site is the Himalaya.  The Spyder was quick as well.  Bumper cars and the Ferris Wheel are classics.  As the sun went down, so did the temperature.  The bright lights of the Carny booths filled the night with excitement.

Plenty of portable toilets

Being a former Carny (I worked the dart throwing booth, awarding skilled throwers their choice of a Styx mirror or a Coke bottle filled with colored sand or a dark-light poster with a mushroom on it) I avoid the games of chance.  Although I was tempted to win my wife a Teddy Bear at the basketball game, I resisted.  The kids will nag you to play the games (and the game operators will try to lure you in) but stay strong and stick to the rides and food.

Here a couple of photos, one with a FarmHouser doing last-minute sign work.  The park was very clean and all in attendance were well behaved. 

NEW UPDATE:  3:30 Time Slot Just Filled

I was told the dunk tank will be open on Saturday this year, instead of Sunday.  See the list below for the folks scheduled to be in the tank. Expect long waits to throw when some of these folks are in there.

(NOTE: schedule may vary and subject to change or be canceled)

12:00 - 12:30  Farmer Bob
12:30 - 1:00    Councilman Ross
1:00 - 1:30      Warren Hutmacher
1:30 - 2:00     Sustainable Pattie
2:00 - 2:30      John Heneghan
2:30 - 3:00      Fran Millar
3:00 - 3:30      Mayor Wright
3:30 - 4:00      Chicken Posse (assorted members rotating, also includes the Chicken Whisperer)
4:00 - 4:30      Police Chief Grogan
4:30 - 4:35     Dick Williams
4:35 - 5:00      Councilman Shortal

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dunwoody Green Market Update

Here's a link to the Dunwoody Green Market (DGM) newsletter. Seems as DGM has switched from defense to offense after star player Chad of Carlton Farms decided not to play for the DGM team.

Carlton Dairy to leave the market rather than participate under our standards.

 This week, our featured vendors will be Calyroad Creamery and Johnston Family Farm, have solutions to your dairy needs! And don't forget that Annie Okra's Barn, Garmon Family Farms, and our new honey vendor, Hidden Springs Farm, also have eggs. 
 As a reminder, the market is on Wednesdays.  Also, please stop by the Dunwoody Community Garden this weekend (at the back of DeKalb County's Brook Run Park here in Dunwoody.  See some innovative growing methods and see my strawberry plants.  Farmer Bob will NOT be singing to to a contract issue with his label, FarmHouser Def Jam Recordings.  In his place will be Don C. reading tales by The Brothers Grimm.  You can also take a turn and turn the beer compost pile for a few minutes since I forgot to do it last week.