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DeKalb School Board chair who collapsed during meeting resting at home, spokesperson says

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DeKalb School Board chair who collapsed during meeting resting at home, spokesperson says

DeKalb School Board Chair Diijon DaCosta speaks during a swearing in ceremony for Superintendent Dr. Devon Horton on June 29, 2023. Photo courtesy of DCSD.

DeKalb County, GA — The DeKalb Board of Education’s Dec. 11 meeting ended abruptly after Board Chair Dijion DaCosta Sr had a medical emergency.

DaCosta lost consciousness toward the end of the meeting and was transported to a local hospital for continued evaluation. According to the district, DaCosta regained consciousness and was alert and answering questions before he left for the hospital. A spokesperson for the district said, “He’s at home resting comfortably with family and friends.”

The school board had completed most of its business before DaCosta’s medical emergency.

During the meeting, the board heard a presentation on changes to how the district is designating “Lowest Performing Schools.” While several specific designations under this umbrella are switching from an annual to a triennial—every three years—identification process, this year is an identification year, which prompted the review of the changes, ahead of designation announcements in January 2024.

“Lowest Performing Schools” are eligible for state Title I funds targeted at improving student outcomes and performance. Director of Research and Evaluation for the Division of Continuous Improvement (CIT) Dr. Rebecca Bratten discussed how specifically the CSI, “CSI for Graduation rate”, TSI and ATSI schools are being designated.

CSI or “Comprehensive Support and Improvement” schools are eligible for $150,000 in state funds. CSI schools will now be identified every three years (changed from annually) through a process that differs slightly between Elementary, Middle and High school. For example, graduation rates are used to assess high schools, but not elementary and middle schools. These schools are essentially performing in the lowest 5% of all schools in the district. After three years, the schools will be eligible to remove the designation if they no longer meet the entrance criteria and “Demonstrate an Improvement in Content Mastery, ELA achievement, math achievement, or science achievement from the year of identification”

“CSI for Graduation rate” schools are eligible for $75,000 in state funds. All high schools are eligible, but this designation is for high schools where the graduation rate is lower than 67%. These schools will also be identified every three years, but can “exit the list annually if they no longer meet the entrance requirement”.

TSI or “Targeted Support and Improvement” schools are eligible for $75,000 in state funds. This designation is for schools with one or more student subgroup performing in the bottom 5% of schools. Identifying TSI schools will remain an annual process, however it is now a staged process with multiple criterion, rather than a bucket schools fall into.

ATSI or “Additional Targeted Support and Improvement” schools are eligible for $100,000 in state funds. This is essentially a way to give more, consistent help to schools that are struggling most. Dr. Bratten said that the, “Order of priority of the state is CSI, then ATSI, and then TSI.” This designation lasts for three years, though similar to TSI, schools can be removed when they no longer fit the entrance criteria. There is another staged identification process, based on the performance of student subgroups in College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI). A state document explaining how this index score is calculated is listed here.

On top of these changes, the current “Promise schools” or CSI-Promise is going away as a designation.

Dr. Bratten clarified that all designations with a triennial identification, will not be assigned until the next identification year in 2026, meaning no new schools will be assigned one after they are announced in January for the upcoming three-year period.

In other news:

— The board approved spending $750,000 for more physical security services. This time on Access Control, Intrusion Detection and Video Surveillance in the third year of a five-year contract with Convergint Technologies. This follows the approval of a contract with Evolv Weapons Detection for screening devices earlier this year.

— Dr. Tekshia Ward-Smith, Head of the Human Resources Department, is retiring. The board approved a not to exceed $650,000 contract award to IBEX IT Business Experts / H3C Human Capital Consultants Consortium to conduct a search for Dr. Ward-Smith’s replacement and assess how the human resource department is operating.

— The Calendar Development Committee submitted two versions of the 2024-2026 calendar for consideration. Option A has a five-day “February Break” the week of President’s Day, with classes ending Thursday the week of Memorial Day. Whereas, Option B has no “February-Break”, with classes ending Friday,  May 23, the Friday before Memorial Day. The first semester of both calendars are the same, so parents can begin to plan for the new longer Fall Break the week of Oct. 14.  There were concerns expressed from the board about a probable drop-off in attendance for the last few days between Memorial Day and the last day of school if Option A ends up being selected. At the time of the meeting, Chief Academic Officer Stacy Stepney reported stakeholders were favoring Option A.

— The board authorized the Superintendent to execute the Hudl contract not-to-exceed $114,000 for building recruiting profiles for student athletes, hosting stats, highlights and contact information. Board member Allyson Gevertz mentioned that the district should inquire if they do or can do similar work for aspiring artists and their portfolios.

— The board awarded a $450,000 contract with Leslie Regis Inc doing business as Atlanta Cargo Transportation Co., Atlanta Peachtree Movers, Beltmann Relocation Group, AVS Lines Services Inc., The Armstrong Group, for a term through December 11, 2027. The contract is for District Wide Moving Services on an as needed basis.

— The board approved the purchase of eight surface mount drive-on lifts from Stertil-Koni Inc. for an amount not to exceed $2,500,000.

— The board renewed a contract with Sanitech Systems for Sanitation Services and Materials not to exceed $230,000, and spanning from Nov. 5, 2023, through November 4, 2024.

— The board approved a change order and budget reallocation for the Security Vestibule at Ronald E. McNair High School for an amount not to exceed $234,918.24 with Lefko Construction. According to the agenda packet, the “scope of work” changed, and the contract needed to be amended to reflect this.

— The board approved $100,000 contract to Balfour Beatty for a major building systems replacement for Champion Theme School. This contract is for pre-construction work.

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