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Free Press 2-3-12

Free Press 2-3-12

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02/03/2012

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WWW.CHAMPIONNEWSPAPER.COM • FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2012 • VOL. 14, NO. 45 FREE
REE 
RESS 
• A PUBLICATION OF ACE III COMMUNICATIONS •
 by Daniel Beauregarddaniel@dekalbchamp.com
T
he stands in theMiller Grove HighSchool gymnasiumwere packed withcheering fans onJan. 28, but it wasn’t a basket- ball game that drew the largecrowd.Students, teachers and par-ents had gathered in the gymto recognize the winners of the 13th annual Helen RuffinReading Bowl.
Gwen Green
, a media spe-cialist at Stephenson MiddleSchool, has been volunteeringfor the reading bowl every year since it began.“The teams are split up likea basketball team; there are fivestarters, five alternates,” Greensaid.This year 84 DeKalb Coun-ty schools participated in thereading bowl: 52 elementary,18 middle and 14 high schools.Green said the students aregiven a list of 20 books to readover the summer and through-out the year, which they aretested on in different roundsduring the bowl.“There are only 10 ques-tions in a round and they don’tknow which ones they’re goingto be asked about. Either youknow it or you don’t,” Greensaid.Green said the bowl, begun by
Helen Ruffin
, started outsmall—at first there were onlyone or two schools participat-ing. Ruffin, a retired mediaspecialist from Sky Haven El-ementary School, soon caughtthe interest of many of her col-leagues and the reading bowlspread county-wide. Now,similar events take place acrossthe state.“The winners of this com- petition go on to compete downin Clayton [County] for the re-gionals. Then, after that, there’sthe division and state competi-tions,” Green said.
Annual reading event brings thousands to Miller Grove High
Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl
 Elementary School:
First place:
Montgomery
Second place:
 Ashford Park
Third place:
 AvondaleShadowrock
 Middle School:
First place:
Henderson
 Second place:
Champion Theme
Third place:
Tucker
 High School:
First place:
Chamblee Charter
Second place:
 Arabia Mountain
Third place:
Tucker
The results of the 13th annual Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl:
 
www.championnewspaper.com
 
www.facebook.com/ championnewspaper
 
www.twitter.com/ championnews
 
Follow us.
Serving East Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, Clarkston, Decatur, Doraville, Dunwoody, Lithonia, Pine Lake, Tucker and Stone Mountain.
See Reading on Page 15AThe 13th Annual DeKalb Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl was held at Miller Grove High School on Jan. 28. The students participating in the compe-tition were tested on their knowledge of 20 books, which they were supposed to have read throughout the year. Photos by Daniel Beauregard
 
Page 2A The Champion Free Press, Friday, February 3,
School board appeals in hope to avoid another lengthy lawsuit
 by Daniel Beauregarddaniel@dekalbchamp.comThe DeKalb CountyBoard of Education is tryingto dismiss a lawsuit that, if itgoes to trial, could cost theDeKalb County School Sys-tem millions of dollars.In 2011, two DeKalbCounty teachers led alawsuit against the boardalleging it owes them, andthousands of other teachers,money that has been with-held from a tax-shelteredannuity (TSA) fund since2009.Plaintiffs
Elaine Gold
 and
Amy Shaye
, both teach-ers in the DeKalb CountySchool System, led thecomplaint on March 16,2011.“When they made thisdecision they were trying to plug a hole in the budget andtheir estimation for this lineitem was $26 million for the2009-10 school year,” attor-ney
John Salter
said of the board’s decision to stop con-tributing to the fund. “It’sour belief that the termina-tion and suspension is in-valid and they should catchup and continue to pay. Nowwe’re getting into the secondand third year of those ben-ets not being paid.”In 1979, the DeKalbCounty School Board be-gan seeking alternatives toSocial Security and accord-ing to the lawsuit, passeda resolution authorizing analternative plan and alsorequiring, “the board of edu-cation shall give a two-year notice to employees beforereducing the funding provi-sions of the alternative planto Social Security.”However, in 2009 theschool board, facing budgetcuts and nancial strain,voted to freeze contributionsto the TSA plan.
The view of the board isthat they acted appropriatelygiven the economic condi-tions of the time,” schoolsspokesman
Walter Woods
said.Late in 2011, DeKalbCounty Judge
ClarenceSeeliger
rejected a motionmade by school board law-yers to have the case dis-missed. The school systemappealed that decision andoral arguments are sched-uled to begin in April.The plaintiffs led thesuit on behalf of “them-selves and all others simi-larly situated.” They areseeking to have the suit el-evated to a class-action suit but before a judge can makethat decision the case mustrst make its way out of theappellate court.“This motion and thisappeal need to be resolved before we can turn it intoa class-action suit,” Salter said.The lawsuit also allegesthe board realized the mis-take and tried to “paper over” it by waiving the pol-icy that required two-year notication.This suit comes on theheels of another lengthylawsuit the board is involvedin against construction rmHeery/Mitchell, which hasalready cost it more than$15 million in legal fees.
GEORGIAPOWER.COM
A hand like this.
It took a skillful hand like this to draft the plans of our nation’s capital city.It was a visionary hand like this which pointed out the moral superiorityof a way based on character and not color. It was a thorough, good handlike this that championed our rights before the U.S. Supreme Court. It tookmillions of laboring hands like this to build the wealth and infrastructureof this mighty country. And it was a raised hand like this that was swornin and gave kids of all complexions and cultures the legitimacy to believethey can achieve anything.During Black History Month, Georgia Power takes pride in celebrating thecountless hands like this which have worked to uplift us all. We’ve got tohand it to you.
 
Page 3A The Champion Free Press, Friday, February 3,
Youth summit to be heldat Sanford Center
Commissioners want controlof county’s auditors
 by Andrew Cauthenandrew@dekalbchamp.comCommissioner 
Lee May
 is recommending that theve auditors in the county’snance department be putunder thedirectionof theBoard of Commis-sioners.“It’swithin our duties andrespon-sibilitieswithinDeKalb County’s organiza-tional act for the Board of Commissioners to providethe auditing function,” Maysaid. “Historically, it’s beendone under the administra-tion.”Currently, all external andinternal audits are performedor overseen by the adminis-tration.“That’s asking the ad-ministration to handle theday-to-day operations of thecounty, to also audit its ownoperations, to disclose thendings of those audits andthen implement the changesthat need to occur,” May said.“That’s a lot to ask of anyorganization and there are nochecks and balances.”May’s proposal was madeduring a Jan. 26 meeting of the Board of Commission-ers’ nance, audit and budgetcommittee, which is meetingweekly to review DeKalbCEO
Burrell Ellis
’ proposed2012 budget of $547.3 mil-lion.The proposal, which is1.2 percent higher than the2011 budget and contains notax increase and no countyemployeefurloughdays, alsoincludesfunding for all countyholidays, alower-costhealthcareoption for countyemploy-ees and implementation of arecently announced home- buying initiative and jobsstimulus program tied to a billion-dollar water-sewer improvement plan.The Board of Commis-sioners is set to adopt a bud-get in its Feb. 28 meeting.May said he made the proposal during the budget process “so that we can beresponsible for the auditingfunction.”“When you deal with au-diting it needs to be as openand free and unfettered as possible,” May said. “Sincewe don’t handle the day-to-day operations of this gov-ernment, we should be under-taking those functions.”County Finance Director 
Joel Gottlieb
said movingthe auditors would eliminatehis entire audit staff, “but itdoes not eliminate the func-tions that [they] have to per-form.”The auditors “do variousnancial audits and someoperational audits that are re-quired by our annual audit,”Gottlieb said.The county should be aug-mentingthe staff,not reduc-ing it, Got-tlieb said.Gottliebsaid thatabout 25 percent of the audi-tors’ timeis spent onthe coun-ty’s annual audit.During the meeting, thecommissioners and the rep-resentatives from the admin-istration agreed to come upwith a feasible plan for put-ting auditors under the Boardof Commissioners.“We’ll work it out,” said
Richard Stogner
, the coun-ty’s chief operating ofcer.The commissioners’ -nance committee will bemeeting with county depart-ment heads during two all-day sessions on Feb. 2 andFeb. 9. Department headsare being asked to presentalternatives to their proposed budgets, which have cuts of ve and 10 percent.Stogner said commission-ers should expect the coun-ty’s constitutional ofcers toask for additional funds in the2012 budget.The 100 Black Men of DeKalb County
 
incollaboration with seminar promotions and professional speaking company
 
CS Inspires Inc.will host the Seventh Annual Youth Summit onSaturday, Feb. 18, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.Under the theme
 
So You Want to be Rich,this year’s event will be at the Porter SanfordPerforming Arts
 
Center in Decatur. It will behosted by WSB-TV 2 anchor 
Monica Pearson
 and will include a theatrical production
 Faces of  American Justice,
featuring youth dancers fromBerean Christian Church.Invitations have been extended to
BurrellEllis
, CEO of DeKalb County, and
CherylAtkinson
, superintendent of DeKalb CountySchools.
 
The keynote speaker will be
John HopeBryant
, founder/CEO of Operation Hope.“The goal of this year’s summit is to inspireand empower the 500 students expected to attend by talking honestly and candidly about becomingrich, including dispelling many of the commonmyths. The focus will be on improving nancialliteracy within the minority community. Whilemany of today’s youth aspire to wealth, mostlack positive role models and a sound plan for achieving their goals. The objective of thesummit will be to arm students with practicalinsights and proven strategies that will empower them to make better nancial decisions,”states an announcement from the sponsoringorganizations.“This year we want to use the summit togive special recognition to young leaders.Especially, those who have exhibited academicexcellence, community
 
service and the spiritof entrepreneurship,” said
Cornelius Stafford
,chairman of the Youth Summit. In addition,he said, it will also recognize an adult leader/organization that has contributed signicantly toyouth causes and programs.The honorees, who will receive a
 
WilliamC. Brown Award in honor of the foundingchapter president, will include 13-year-old
Stephen Stafford
, who will be recognized for his academic achievements. He is a junior atMorehouse College pursuing a double major in math and science. The second honoree,14-year-old
Marypat Hector,
will be recognizedfor community service. She organized asupport team that aided the tornado victimsin Alabama and recently launched the Shake-Off the Violence town hall meetings in Fulton,Clayton and DeKalb counties. The third youthhonoree is
Tony Betton
(aka T-REP) 15-year-old entrepreneur who is an actor, model, host,speaker, columnist and 2012 Stellar Awardnominee.
E. Lamont Houston
, president of the 100Black Men of DeKalb County, said, “Weare very proud of all of the recipients of theWilliam C. Brown Awards.” He added that theorganization is especially proud of an awardto
Porter Sanford III
, which will be awarded posthumously to his widow
Bobbie Sanford
for the many things he did to advance the causes for youth.The 100 Black Men of DeKalb providesan after-school leadership and developmental program called The Leadership Academy for students enrolled in the sixth through 12th gradesof the DeKalb County Schools.
EllisStogner May

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