DeKalb Schools works to fill teacher vacancies; board approves central office hiresFILE PHOTO USED FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES: DeKalb County School District Bus. Photo by Dean Hesse.
This story has been updated.
DeKalb County, GA — DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Devon Horton updated the school board at its Aug. 14 meeting about the opening of school for the year and about the district’s attempt to fill teacher vacancies.
Last month, the school district needed to hire 350 teachers. At the Aug. 14 meeting, Horton said 259 teacher vacancies remain. He gave a quick update on his plans to reorganize the school district’s top-level staff and said anyone promoted from within would not start their new jobs until their current jobs had been filled.
“They will not come out of those positions if they’re hired until their position is properly interviewed and staffed,” Horton told the board. “We don’t want to hold up anyone, we want to keep our schools fully staffed with the right people for our students.”
Human Resources has added additional onboarding sessions and the district’s public safety department has extended hours for fingerprinting, Horton’s Aug. 14 report says.
Horton is pursuing a $12 million reorganization plan. For more information about it, click here.
Horton said the district’s warm body count as of Aug. 14 is 80,740, about 1,272 students below projections. The warm body count is the number of students recorded at the very beginning of the school year, but more families often join the district after Labor Day, according to one board member. The district won’t have the final enrollment numbers until October.
In 2016, the county schools had more than 100,000 students. Enrollment declined sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic, dropping by about 5,000 students.
The school district also launched its Evolv Weapons Detection System at schools this year, which led to some frustrations with long lines on opening day, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
School Board members said from their perspective, opening day had gone smoothly.
“This is the first year I have not had multiple complaints,” Board Member Allyson Gevertz said.
School Board Member Whitney McGinnis said she was impressed with the responsiveness of maintenance staff.
“You could feel it in the air, visiting the schools, there was a sense of excitement,” McGinnis said. “We’re going to do great things this year. One of the schools we visited did have an HVAC issue, and they were right there fixing it.”
In other business:
— The school board approved several new hires, over the vehement objections of Board Member Dr. Joyce Morley, who has generally been opposed to Horton’s plans for the districts.
The new hires are:
– Darnell Logan, Director of Student Relations in the Division of Student Support Services
– Keith Singleton, Director of Business Services in the Division of Facilities and Operations
– Ateshia Lester, Area Superintendent for Elementary Area 3 schools
– Markisha Mitchell, Chief of Continuous Improvement and Accountability
– Michelle Dillard to the new position of Chief of Schools
— The board approved the following change orders related to sales-tax-funded projects:
– A $228,271.47 increase to a contract with Construction Works Inc. for the Redan Middle School Facility.
“It is requested that the Board of Education approve Change Order No. 1 to Construction Works, Inc. for a not-to-exceed amount of $230,238.37 for DeKalb County School District requested HVAC controls, and for Material Escalation,” the agenda says.
– A $240,291.42 increase to a contract with Centennial Contractors Enterprises, Inc. for the E.L. Miller Elementary School Facility. This contract increase covers the increased cost of several items, including price increases for certain materials.
– A $230,238.37 increase to a contract with Construction Works Inc. for the Salem Middle School Facility. The money will go for HVAC controls and “carrier equipment escalations.”
– A $121,801.93 increase to a contract with Construction Works Inc. for the Fairington Elementary School Facility, also for HVAC controls and carrier equipment escalations.
— The school board awarded a $350,000 contract to MSSA-PBK for architectural and engineering services related to the Druid Hills High School modernization project. The modernization project will be finished by 2027 at the earliest.
— The school board approved a fourth settlement payment of $22.5 million related to a lawsuit over the district’s retirement fund. The settlement required the district to pay $117.5 million over five years, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more information about that case, click here.
— The school board awarded a $210,000 contract for auditing services to Mauldin & Jenkins, LLC.
— The school board approved a non-resident student annual tuition fee of $4,758.51 for the 2023-2024 school year.
— The school board approved a $560,000 memorandum of agreement renewal between the Georgia Department of Education and the DeKalb County School District on behalf of the Georgia Learning Resources System.
— The school board approved the 2024 Carl Perkins V Improvement Grant Application in an amount of $1.4 million that provides funding to improve Career Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) programs throughout the DeKalb County School District.
— The school board approved purchasing instructional materials, supplies, and equipment from the identified vendors in an amount not to exceed $16 million.
— The school board approved a letter of agreement between Communities in Schools of Atlanta, Inc., and the DeKalb County School District (DCSD), for an additional year for an amount not to exceed $325,000.
“Communities in Schools (CIS) will work collaboratively with DCSD, to deliver community-based integrated student services through the implementation of the Community in Schools Model that includes Needs Assessment, Planning, Integrated Student Supports, Monitoring/Adjusting, and Evaluation,” the agenda says. “CIS will also provide case management services for at-risk students.”
— The school board approved the purchase of internet connectivity options and associated infrastructure components from T-Mobile in an amount not to exceed $500,000.
— The school board approved the extension of the Enterprise Resource Planning (“ERP”) system and project implementation services with Tyler Technologies in an amount not to exceed $2.4 million.
— The school board approved the contract extension for HVAC Water Treatment Services to Superior Water Services, Inc. for an additional year. The extension price is not to exceed $200,000.
— The school board approved the contract extension of portable air conditioners to Sun Belt Rentals, Inc. and Spot Coolers, Inc. for an additional year in an amount not to exceed $1.2 million.
— The school board approved Controls Concepts, Inc., as a single source vendor for the installation of HVAC Instrumentation and Controls district-wide in an amount not to exceed $300,000.00.
— The school board approved a $300,000 contract award to Southwestern Communications, Inc for communications equipment replacements and upgrades.
— The school board approved a $750,000 contract with Orkin, LLC for pest control services.
Clarification: An earlier version of this story contained information about enrollment counts. That portion of the story has been updated after getting additional context from a school board member.
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