Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Video of DeKalb School Board Candidates - Bobbi Gillis and Nancy Jester

I missed the eduKalb Candidate Forum at Dunwoody City Hall on September 28th but found this 15 minute edited down video of the responses between Ms. Bobbi Gillis and Ms. Nancy Jester that I thought was worth sharing. Our current school board member, Mr. Jim Redovian missed the event but I saw that he and Ms. Jester will be attending the Ashford Alliance event on Saturday. Jim also published an explanation in today's Crier (love the new look & size, kudos Dick.) but it hasn't been published on line yet.
Crier article snipit by Brent Adams.

It wasn’t who showed up to the eduKalb Forum debate at Dunwoody City Hall that was the news, it was who did not come: incumbent DeKalb Schools Board Member Jim Redovian of District 1, who represents Dunwoody.

Redovian said he had a last-second scheduling conflict. Out of five contested DeKalb Schools races, only one incumbent showed to the debate: Zepora Roberts, of District 7 in south DeKalb.

Steen Miles, a former area television journalist and Georgia state senator also known as “Newslady,” moderated the debates to a sparse crowd.

Nancy Jester, of unincorporated DeKalb, and Bobbe Gillis, of Dunwoody, debated their ideas for District 1. Gillis opened up by saying she sees good public education as a necessity to quality-of-life in DeKalb County; and Jester, whose aggressive campaign has included online marketing, “coffee talks,” and many visual aids, said despite the sour outlook for DeKalb Schools, she remains and must remain optimistic for the future.

However, Jester pulled out a sign that showed in 2004, DeKalb Schools had a 14 percent failing rate for Annual Yearly Progress regarding the federally mandated No Child Left Behind measures. This past year, that rose to 44 percent.

“This is unacceptable and what I strive to change,” she said. “Complete reform is necessary in DeKalb Schools.”

When asked about what budgetary changes the candidates would make, Jester said she’d require a “zero-based budget, requiring all programs to justify themselves and why they need funding” in order to give more control to the schools themselves. Gillis called for a more “corporate-style” bureaucracy, which she said would save taxpayers money. Gillis also said a desk-by-desk complete audit of the schools was necessary in order to cut out waste and save money, which she said would lead to paying teachers and staff appropriately and eliminate furloughs.

Both candidates agreed that the primary roles of a school board member would be to advise the superintendent and other staff as well as develop peaceful consensus with the rest of the school board. But both also said they would demand results and command fiduciary oversight on the district, as well as revitalize priorities.

In one of the hot-button area issues, a resident asked the candidates what they would recommend doing about Dunwoody Elementary School, a 4th- and 5th-grade school on Womack Road.

Originally, the school was built to relieve overcrowding at Vanderlyn, Chesnut Charter and Austin elementary schools by re-drawing attendance lines. All three schools have significant overcrowding with a number of trailers outside the schools — including a staggering 24 trailers at one time at Vanderlyn. However, a number of Vanderlyn-area residents fiercely protested the idea, so Dunwoody Elementary was built, comprising 4th-graders and 5th-graders from Vanderlyn, Chesnut and Austin. However, the three elementary schools are still overcrowded, and Dunwoody Elementary is underpopulated.

“I would maintain the 5th-grade class there, but move it to a traditional elementary school and enroll Kindergarten through five,” Gillis said.

Jester agreed. “There needs to be common-sense enrollment in DeKalb County,” she said. “Better allocation means proper funding and it’s better for the kids, too; which is the ultimate goal.”

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Anon said...
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