Officials from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools met with DeKalb County Schools officials earlier this week to offer input and recommendations regarding numerous issues facing the system, according to a SACS official.
“DeKalb had contacted us, recognizing they were facing some significant challenges and asked for external help assessing their current situation,” said Jennifer Oliver, vice president of communications for SACS.
SACS members met with interim superintendent Ramona Tyson, school board members and select principals, parents and community leaders on Jan. 24 and 25, Oliver said.
Some of the issues that were discussed, according to Oliver, were the search for a superintendent, budget concerns, school consolidation issues and the fallout created by the arrest of former superintendent Crawford Lewis. Oliver said the school system is scheduled for a district-wide visit during the 2011-12 school year and this week’s visit “allows them time to find out what areas they need to make improvements on.”
SACS will prepare a report to reflect its observations and recommendations within 30 to 45 days, Oliver said.
“[SACS] was gathering information to make sure we are taking the right steps to find a superintendent and to give us guidance on other issues as well,” said school system spokesman Walter Woods. “Accreditation was not on the table.”
The school system faces a $55 million shortfall in the budget. It also is grappling with a proposal to close 14 schools in an effort to eliminate empty seats in more than 20 schools in the system that have less than 75 percent occupancy, which is needed to receive certain state funding.
A series of public workshops concerning consolidation and redistricting over the past two weeks have drawn large crowds. Woods said the system was redistricted eight years ago, but on a much smaller scale.
Also last week, the school board made official by a 6-3 vote Tyson’s $76,000 raise and 18-month contract. Under the agreement, Tyson will earn an annual salary of $240,000 through June 30, 2012. She will continue to serve as interim superintendent until a new leader is in place. After that, Tyson will serve the remainder of the contract as an advisor to the new superintendent. She will return to her previous salary and her position as deputy superintendent after the expiration of the contract.