CSD District Dispatch

District news from around CSD: September 2019 edition

The City Schools of Decatur District Dispatch provides parents, students and staff with the latest news from around the district each month.

To view a mobile-friendly version of this newsletter, please visit https://www.smore.com/tvp49-csd-district-dispatch.

Table of Contents:

  • Board Spotlight: Westchester Elementary
  • Equity Spotlight: Chromebooks Now Available for DHS Students
  • Board Meeting News and Announcements
  • Calendar Planning Survey Results and Approved Calendars
  • Equity and Student Support Update
  • DBF Authors visit CSD Elementary Schools
  • First DHS Pep Rally and Varsity Football Win!
  • DHS Library Awarded a Grant to Start "Deeper Than Our Skins" Book Club
  • New Decatur Fiber Network Installed Around the City
  • CSD Information Services Updates
  • CSD Research and Analytics Updates
  • News From Decatur Parents Network: Speaker on Vaping
  • Student Athlete Spotlight
  • CSD Operations Department
  • School Traffic Update
  • Administrative Regulations Feedback Needed

Board Spotlight: Westchester Elementary

At the school board meetings each month, a different school's accomplishments are highlighted and celebrated. These have been anything from a recorder performance by 3rd grade, sharing about their celebrations of learning, or high school students sharing their trip to Japan. As we highlight #OurKids' accomplishments, we will share these with you here.

School Spotlight at the September 10 Board Meeting: Westchester Elementary

Westchester Elementary's presentation focused on their third-grade expedition “Shelter in America: Then and Now” where students from the 2018-2019 3rd grade class studied shelters and homelessness today compared to Early American explorers and British Colonial Americans. While students were learning about homelessness and colonization in our country, they worked through an organization in Metro Atlanta - Mad Housers - to build their own 'home' for a homeless person in transition. The students' house was added to a 'neighborhood' called the Perkerson House Shelter Camp. Every student at Westchester was able to see the house as it was being built and look inside to see the 3rd graders' artwork.

In addition to this real-life application of what students were learning, this expedition used Arts-Infused Learning which happens when teachers and visiting artists work together to plan classroom lessons using the arts to engage the students in learning about academic subjects. At Westchester, students worked with a movement artist, Erika Shannon, to learn about math, fractions, contracting, and expansion. Arts Infusion engages different types of learners, promotes creative thinking, builds connections across and between academic subjects, and develops problem-solving skills. This Art-Infused Learning expedition was made possible by DEF's Zara Yee Hawthorne Memorial Fund and Zara's Arts Infusion Grant Program. To donate to this fund, please visit https://decatureducationfoundation.org/zara/. If you are interested in finding out how your school can apply for this program, please contact Nia Schooler at nia@decatureducationfoundation.org.

The presentation and video can be found here.

Board Equity Spotlight

DHS Students now able to check out Chromebooks

At the Tuesday, September 10 Board meeting Eston Melton, Executive Director of Information Services, Ifeude Hill, DHS Media Specialist, and Wes Hatfield, DHS Principal, presented preliminary outcomes of a take-home technology pilot program designed to increase technology access for DHS students. The program was developed to promote educational equity by providing devices and wifi hotspots for students to complete assignments at home.This program is managed through the DHS Learning Commons, and more information is available at https://www.csdecatur.net/Page/3899. This program makes computers and Wifi available for students who may not have access to those technologies at home.

Board Meeting News and Announcements

Do you know regular monthly board meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month? The meetings are held at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom at the Wilson School Support Center at Beacon Hill, 125 Electric Avenue, Decatur, GA 30030. The Board agenda can be found on our Board Meetings webpage at www.csdecatur.net/Board prior to each board meeting.

Highlights of what was discussed at the September 10 Board of Education Meeting:

Senior Tax Exemption Discussion

The progress of the report from Georgia State University, which was commissioned to review Decatur's Senior Homestead Exemption, was discussed. The Board expects to discuss the full report at the next Board Meeting, to be held on October 1, 2019. Since legislation to extend the exemption won't be introduced until January 2021, the Board will not make a final decision on the next iteration of the exemption until Fall of 2020. The Board will engage stakeholders over the next year in order to gather input from the community regarding next steps for the exemption.

Updated Code of Conduct and Restorative Practices Handbook

Dr. Fehrman shared a presentation about the updated district code of conduct and restorative practices handbook. She shared information about the revision process that included a thorough review of exemplar codes of conduct that include Restorative Practices and focus group meetings with parents, CSD staff, and students. Once the updated code was finalized, leadership teams from each school were trained in how to use the updated code. The presentation can be found here.

For more about what was discussed at the September 10 board meeting, please view our Board of Education meeting video library here... CSD's Youtube Library of Board Meeting Recordings Please note due to a power outage a portion of the September meeting was not captured on the video.

Calendar Planning Survey Results and Approved Calendars

At the board meeting earlier this week, the school calendars and responses from the latest calendar planning survey were discussed. Out of that discussion, a few key decisions were made. The Board approved the following changes and future school year calendars:

  • CHANGE FOR THIS YEAR: The last day of school for the 2019-2020 school year will now be on May 29. The make-up days that were originally on June 3 and 4 will now be on June 1 and 2.

  • The 2020-2021 academic calendar
    The first day of school will be Tuesday, August 4, 2020 and the last day of school will be Friday, May 28, 2021. Students will have the following days off:

    • Monday, September 7, 2020 (Labor Day)

    • Monday, September 21, 2020 to Friday, September 25, 2020 (Fall Break)

    • Monday, October 26, 2020

    • Monday, November 23 to Friday, November 27, 2020 (Thanksgiving Break)

    • Monday, December 21, 2020 to Monday, January 4, 2021 (Holiday Break)

    • Monday, January 18, 2021 (MLK Day)

    • Monday, February 15, 2021 to Friday, February 19, 2021 (Winter Break)

    • Monday, April 5, 2021 to Friday, April 9, 2021 (Spring Break)

  • The 2021-22 academic calendar
    The first day of school will be August 3, 2021 and the last day of school will be Friday, May 27, 2022. Students will have the following days off:

    • Monday, September 6, 2021 (Labor Day)

    • Monday, September 20, 2021 to Friday, September 24, 2021 (Fall Break)

    • Monday, October 25, 2021

    • Monday, November 22, 2021 to Friday, November 26, 2021 (Thanksgiving Break)

    • Monday, December 20, 2021 to Monday, January 3, 2022 (Holiday Break)

    • Monday, January 17, 2022 (MLK Day)

    • Monday, February 14 to February 18, 2022 (Winter Break)

    • Monday, April 4 to Friday, April 8, 2022 (Spring Break)

Full calendars displaying these dates in a calendar grid format are available at https://www.csdecatur.net/calendar.

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Equity and Student Support Update

New DHS Club: Students Organized for Anti-Racism

We are excited to announce a new student club at DHS called SOAR, Students Organized for Anti-Racism. This group represents our first explicit step in including student voice in the ongoing work around racial equity at Decatur High School and in the City Schools of Decatur. This effort is a key part of our District Improvement Plan.

SOAR addresses issues of race, identity and academic achievement through meaningful and ongoing conversations among and between students and the adults in their schools. The goal of SOAR is to empower multiracial groups of students to take on the identity of anti-racist leaders in their schools and communities and to place no limits on the kind of change-makers students can become.

On Monday, September 9 and Tuesday, September 10, DHS students in this new SOAR club participated in Courageous Conversations- a class that all CSD employees have been taking over the last year. Courageous Conversations helps to open the dialogue about race, racism, and inequality in our society and in particular in our schools. These students are the first to take this course and we hope many more will follow in this effort to discuss and confront racism.

Decatur Book Festival Authors Visit All CSD Elementary Schools

Thank you to all the Decatur Book Festival Authors who came to visit CSD schools the Friday before Labor Day. Students in each of CSD’s seven elementary schools were honored to have best selling authors visit, interact, and sign books for our students. A big thanks to the authors for their time and a special thanks to our media specialists who help organize these visits.

First Pep Rally of the Year at DHS

On Friday, August 30, DHS had their first pep rally of the year! The band played, the cheerleaders and color guard cheered, and all the DHS athletes were celebrated.

Their spirits must have been lifted because the Decatur Bulldogs Varsity Football team won by 5 against Miller Grove leaving them 2-0 for the season. Also DHS player Marshall Toole was honored with the play of the game by Fox 5 Atlanta for stopping what could have been a Miller Grove touchdown. What an amazing example of tenacity and perseverance... way to never give up! See the video below.

DHS Library Awarded a Grant to Start "Deeper Than Our Skins" Book Club

“Deeper than our Skins” book club at DHS

Congratulations to DHS library media specialist, Ifeude Hill, who was awarded a grant from the American Library Association to start a program called "Deeper Than Our Skins." This book club will teach students to use racial healing circles and literature study to move beyond the constructs of race to engage with people on a deeper human level. We are thrilled for our DHS students and look forward to hearing more about this book club in the future.

New Decatur Fiber Network Installed Around the City

New Decatur Fiber Optic Network!

Have you heard about Decatur's new Fiber Network? City Schools of Decatur's Information Services is partnering with the City of Decatur to create a municipal fiber optic network. This network will provide CSD and the city with high-speed connectivity for our respective buildings, and it is intended to provide service for the next 20 years. The capital investment is expected to save CSD about $1 million over the lifetime of the network. Installation of their fiber network started in the northwest quadrant of the city in August and will take 12-14 months. The city estimates the installation schedule would be about 3 months per zone, meaning Zone 1's install would go through November, Zone 2 possibly December to February, Zone 3 March to May, and Zone 4 June to August.

Please note that this installation will affect the use of city sidewalks. More information will come as we learn how this will impact bus routes or Safe Routes to School. Bus riders whose routes will experience a change will receive a note home for three days before the route is affected. Thank you for your patience.

For more information about this project, visit http://www.decaturmakeover.com/status-updates/construction-begins-new-fiber-network-city-school-system/.

CSD Information Services Updates

Information Services Launches New "Technology @ Home" Webpage
Information Services invites families to look at our Technology @ Home page, https://www.csdecatur.net/technologyathome. We've compiled recommendations and links to tools to facilitate family discussions about technology use. There's also a Q&A about student use of technology in CSD. If there's a question missing to which you'd like an answer, please pass it over to informationservices@csdecatur.net.

CSD Information Services Looking for Advisory Council Members

The Information Services (IS) department is reconstituting its Advisory Council. The IS Department provides technology leadership, equipment, and support to City Schools of Decatur. They are stewards of enterprise systems that support staff and student safety, efficiency, and innovation. The IS Advisory Council provides input on feature and service requests, identifies possible program evaluation measures and staff training needs, and acts as a conduit to provide feedback to the IS Department. It is not a governance or decision-making body.

The IS Advisory Council is looking for staff, parents, students, and community members. If you would like additional information and might be interested in participating, please visit https://forms.gle/Q8K185HvfitcgP3e8.

CSD Research and Analytics Updates

Why do we test students?

There are a lot of assessments given in public school. Some are state required and some are used to identify students for academic programs of support. Most tests are given to monitor how students are learning. Effective instruction is not about if a teacher has taught a skill, but if a student learned the skill. Our assessment tools help us to know what skills students have learned. Below is a quick list of the assessments given in CSD and a quick description of how the results are used. In addition to the assessments listed in the tables below, schools or teachers may be using a variety of other tools to monitor student progress, such as iReady, STAR, or DIBELS. For more information, please visit the CSD Research and Analytics page here https://www.csdecatur.net/Page/445.

News from the Decatur Parents Network: Speaker on Vaping

Did you know the Decatur Parents Network is hosting a Speaker Series? See below for more details on the next Speaker event.

2019-2020 Speaker Series:
Vaping UPDATE: Important New Research & Current Trends
Wednesday, September 18, 2019, at 6:30pm
DHS Performing Arts Center
​310 North McDonough Street, Decatur, Georgia 30030
Presentation by:
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Marietta Neonatology
Chair of the Board, Cobb Community Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse
2017-2018 President, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners

For more information, please visit https://www.decaturparents.net/vaping-update-2019.html

This complimentary presentation is sponsored by Decatur Parents Network, a sub-committee of DHS Parent Teacher Student Association and Decatur Student Center.

Student Athlete Spotlight!

Two DHS cross country runners were named “5A Runners of the Week” two weeks in a row at the end of August.
Eoin McNally received the distinction for his performance at the Battle of Atlanta, and over Labor Day weekend on Jekyll Island, Christian Gonzalez received the same honor! On top of that, the DHS boys team took home first place over Labor Day weekend! Congrats to Eoin, Christian, and the entire DHS cross country team!

Last week DHS Senior Jordan Walker was named the #1 High School Baseball Player in the country for the class of 2020 by Perfect Game, the organization who ranks all high school players. Last month Walker was named the MLB High School All-Star Game’s Player of the game. Congrats Jordan!

Another reason to be proud of our Bulldog student athletes...

Watch this outstanding Decatur Bulldog Booster video created by DHS Student Zachary Thompson entitled, Why I Play. The youtube link is embedded below.

Why I play

CSD Operations Department

CSD Nutrition Department Update:
The City Schools of Decatur has had a record start to our school year! We have enjoyed seeing all our students come back to school with an appetite for fresh and nutritious foods. The Decatur Farm to School program showcases a "produce of the month" that is featured at least once per week for the month. Our produce of the month for August was tomatoes. We served over 537 pounds of locally-grown tomatoes in every CSD cafeteria during August 2019, from a total of 2,409 pounds of locally-grown produce served over the entire month. The produce of the month for September will be Georgia-grown apples!

CSD Transportation Department Update:

Thank you for your patience as we work through our bus issues and adjustments. Each year our routes need a little adjusting but with the opening of a new school and more construction around our city, our adjustments have taken a little more time than normal and we really appreciate your patience as we work through these issues.
We are proud to announce that over 1,800 of the eligible 3,600 students have been riding the bus during this school year. This is a significant increase over previous years and we are happy to welcome these additional students to our buses. Thank you for trusting us to get your children safely to school.

School Traffic Update: South Columbia Drive Traffic Signal Installation Begins this Week

(This story is reprinted from the Decatur Makeover website.)
Construction of the new South Columbia Drive traffic signal at Talley Street will begin on Wednesday, September 11th. Construction is anticipated to last 2-3 months.

Once completed, South Columbia Drive, Shadowmoor Drive, and Talley Street will all be signalized. A new crosswalk at South Columbia and Shadowmoor is also included.

For more information about this traffic signal installation, please visit http://www.decaturmakeover.com/status-updates/south-columbia-drive-traffic-signal-installation-begins-week/.

Administrative Regulations Feedback

We are continuing to create, review, and accept feedback on the Administrative Regulations(ARs) that help govern our schools. We would like the public's input on these ARs during step three of the process outlined on the page below. The full lifecycle of these ARs can be found here https://www.csdecatur.net/adminregs.

Administrative Regulations Currently under Review:
You can see the ARs that are under consideration as well as the current ARs in place, by visiting the bottom of this page, https://www.csdecatur.net/adminregs.

Again, we value your input and we hope you will use this opportunity to voice your views on the ARs as they come up.

City Schools of Decatur

If you would like to submit some good news, a shout out or a student or staff recognition, please feel free to submit it here or by emailing Sarah Jones, Communications and PR specialist, at sjones1@csdecatur.net. Also we love photos! Please share your photos with us and we will share them with the district here and on CSD’s social media pages. You can also tag us in your photos once you've liked our page!