Jim Kinney Running For School Board

Tucker resident wants to put the focus back on education rather than "a totalitarian focus on discipline."

I was first introduced to the idea of running for the school board when the parent of a tutoring student, then DeKalb County Commissioner Judy Yates, suggested it based on my enthusiasm for teaching. As time went by and I was exposed to the school system as a parent, I began to realize that my physics and math background provided the analytical skills that seemed lacking in the decision process.

The ongoing and current budget crisis, the egregious ethics violations in the central office, the cover-up of a known pedophile in the schools all were the final points that made it clear a change in leadership was required. The apparent focus on education being replaced with a totalitarian focus on discipline first is not productive of an healthy educational environment.

The last straw came at my son's honor awards ceremony at . None of the students were smiling at all as they approached and shook hands with the principal and assistant principal. Then assistant principal called out by name two students who had a history of discipline issues and proceeded to publicly humiliate them by discussing how bad they had been in the past. Many parents were appalled at the total lack of student information privacy and the humiliation was painful to watch.

We can do better than this. We have to do better than this. This generation of school children is supposed to fund out the retirement process. 


I am a Georgia native who grew up in Rome, Ga. I am a public school graduate from East Rome High in 1980.

I moved to Atlanta area permanently in 1983. Attended various schools in the area from Georgia Tech to Georgia State University and DeKalb College studying fields from chemical engineering and chemistry, business and accounting, biology and pre-med, and finally physics and math.

I met my future wife at DeKalb College in 1988 and we married in 1989. My first child to attend DeKalb County Schools was born in 1990 and was two years old when I went back to school at Georgia State to finish my BS in Physics with a minor in Math.

I continued at Georgia State to complete my MS in Physics in 1997 with the research project "Surface Analysis of Poly-Crystaline Diamond." I joined Emory University Department of Physics after graduation as the undergraduate physics lab coordinator where I taught physics, wrote lab manuals, wrote classroom software and mentored students until I left to join a tech start-up in 2000.

After the implosion of the tech bubble, I started and ran a technology consulting practice which provided support, programming and design solutions for small to mid-sized business.

In 2006 I was the technical architect of a highly successful school technology project for Atlanta Public Schools. I leveraged my extensive knowledge of RedHat Linux and educational technology to provide Linux-based thin client computing for seven schools in a pilot project that was the largest of its kind in North America. A deployed 2:1 ratio of students to computers in the classroom benefited 4000 students academically and the teachers were thrilled.

I left private practice in 2008 and joined Google. I have since worked at Cox Communications, Georgia Tech Research Institute and am presently at IBM Security Solutions where I am a Linux Systems Engineer.

Jim Kinney is the husband of Patch contributing writer Ginny Mauldin-Kinney.

Tucker Patch encourages candidates for office to submit articles for publication. Patch does not endorse any particular candidate in any election.

beth May 24, 2012 at 08:55 PM
I am still confused over the school board redistricting maps. Did this situation get resolved? If so, which incumbent are you running against?
Jim Kinney May 25, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Hi Beth, I will be running against H. Paul Womack for the 4th District seat. This link provide the final, official district maps. http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/Voter/maps.html NOTE: They are in pdf format and may take quite a while to load as they are very detailed and large.
Scott Melchionda May 25, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Jim has my vote!
Zoe May 26, 2012 at 03:14 PM
I am part of the Briarcliff Heights community action group, currently fighting to keep 150 foot cell towers from being placed on 9 DeKalb County school yards. November of last year was my introduction to the ridiculous cast of inept people on the school board. After two months of them lying to us...saying" the contract had already been signed" Their "hands were "tied", they signed a contract with T-Mobile in mid-December. I am certain you have heard about all of this. Please visit our web site at briarcliffheights.org. Even if you are not opposed to cell towers on school yards, you will get a real inside view of how these folks operate. You will be disgusted and dismayed to read the transcripts of the hurry-up meeting "about the cell tower". As you will read, NO ONE on that board has any clear idea of anything about how that "deal" was to go down....and what each school was to be awarded. In fact, one of the members wanted a cell tower so the school could have "wireless!" My dog knows that you do NOT need a 150" cell tower to have wireless! These idiots have absolutely no concern for the safety and well being of students. And they are too stupid to even realize how their actions can impact anyone except their own financial interest. To think that my limited concern about the cell tower issue has uncovered such a high degree of confusion and unbridled misuse of power, I can only imagine what other MISTAKES these imposters have been involved in.
Zoe May 26, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Good luck in your desire to try to get on this board! From experience, the best use of your time to truly help in a big way, is to pick any area of controversy with the board, and to do a little digging. Look under the surface of things and you will see the money or mistakes being "covered-up" Then contact the news or form a group or call a lawyer and try to get them discredited. I think you are a well intended guy and would hate for you to become as disillusioned as I have, with DeKalb County government.
Cheryl Miller May 29, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Hi Zoe. Hi Jim. Disillusioned, displaced and disgusted ... that's how we have felt since incumbant Paul Womack brought the cell towers to DeKalb County Schools. We were fortunate enough to get our school, Brockett, off the list in time, but it was a full time job just trying to alert our neighbors about what was going on so we could take action. Others in this midsection of the district that were not so fortunate and may end up with cell towers that will lower their home values and possibly bring health concerns and other safety issues to their schools and surrounding area. In Womack's area are: Lakeside High (wanted the towers to begin with but currently have not received a signed contract or FCC license), Briarlake Elem. (initially said to be in favor but later surfaced as opposed), Jolly Elem. (opposed), AND Smoke Rise Elem. (school ADMINS AND PTA are apparantly in favor but are not serving the surrouning community which is largely opposed). We would love to see a Tucker resident at the reigns on the board to represent our entire area fairly as we seem to be getting ignored while Womack focuses only on his little corner (and even then he fails to deliver on his promises to them, too). But, we see that there is also a Tom Gilbert from Tucker running as well. And, another James from Womack's elite corner. It's a very divided territory right now. Our concern is that the Tucker votes might end up split between you and Tom and that might somehow give Womack an edge.
Cheryl Miller May 30, 2012 at 12:34 AM
In addition to electing a board member, voters PAY ATTENTION and TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW ... VOTE NO to the ballot question JULY 31 that is regarding "telecommunications towers" on school grounds. This is what they are calling cell towers and they are trying to get us to accidentally approve something that currently isn't even allowed - cell towers in residential communities as determined by our own county commissioners. PLEASE VOTE NO so your community will not be next. ZOE - be on the lookout for construction to begin any day and likely be completed before school is back in session early August. Good luck! www.GETtheCELLoutATL.org
Cheryl Miller June 04, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Very disappointed to look back at previous comments made by Jim Kinney on the Tucker Patch to learn that he has been commenting on other blog posts for the past year in a manner that appears to indicate that he does not understand nor share the concerns that many, many parents and residents in DeKalb County have with regard to the placement of cell towers on our school grounds. He has argued on the side of those in favor of the towers, using his physics background in an effort to discredit those of us who have read and understood that the research conducted on the subject of cancer is not complete. We do not want our children to be used as guinea pigs in this human experiment. Mr. Kinney, unless he will publically state otherwise, appears to be in favor of cell towers as a funding source for our school district, keeping Fernbank Science Center at $5 million a year in lieu of an actual systemwide science budget that might exceed the current .50 cents per student per year, and believes that the only way out of the financial problems of the school system is to raise our property taxes in spite of the $475 Million we just agreed to give for the next 5 years for capital improvements and technology enhancements. Let's hope that James (Tom) Gilbert, the "other" Tucker resident running for the District #4 school board seat has a different opinion on some of these issues as we really want to see Tucker represented.
Jim Kinney June 04, 2012 at 03:46 PM
It is my understanding that approximately 1/3 of all DeKalb students do not read on grade level. Presence or absence of cell towers on school property or anywhere within 100 miles will have about the same effect on solving that problem as whether or not Pluto is a called a planet. The grade-level math ability is even worse. For nearly my entire (almost) 50 years on this planet, education has appeared to be more of a political ball to be kicked for power than a community-wide responsibility to be honoured. I am quite concerned that "throwing money" at any problem is often viewed as a solution by some while others decry it as wasteful and irresponsible. Does that mean I want to pay more to fund the schools? Does that mean I want others in DeKalb to increase their funding of the schools? I can't give a simple yes or no answer. Here's why: thanks to the gross lapses of ethics in DCSS and oversight from the board, the budget process is so unbalanced I have yet to unravel what does work, what doesn't, who gets overpaid and what positions are impossible to be successful with given their design.
Jim Kinney June 04, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Ideal scenario: We find out that we can solve all of the DCSS problems while also being able to cut the millage rate in half. This is total "pie in the sky" fantasy land. Reality scenario: We are about to go through a horribly painful budget crunch that will harm the working portions of DCSS and exacerbate the grade-level performance issues we already have. I don't see how a blind toss of cash over the wall will make this situation better. What I do see is a strong need for total transparency of operations from the board through the entire staff operations that are supposed to be working for the teaching process support. As for the health and safety issues of cell towers, the best way to preserve the health of children in regard to the radio frequency radiation, it's microwaves, emitted by cell phone use is to not provide cell phones to children. See these links for the math behind the process: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverse-square_law and one close to home http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/forces/isq.html From a health standpoint, I am far more concerned with the known health issues, obesity being a rapidly growing issue, general nutritional education, lack of overall student physical fitness; all of these are of immediate concern. I am, however, greatly concerned with the total lack of transparency of the business process around the cell towers. It smells of cronyism and general malfeasance.
Jim Kinney June 04, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Fernbank, DSA and magnet schools: I see Fernbank and DeKalb School of the Arts as examples of what DCSS has attempted to do right. Fernbank should be the central producer of the best science education process in the country. It has the talent but DCSS has a long history of not stepping up in the leadership role it will take to let Fernbank really shine. DSA is to the arts what Fernbank is to the sciences. They could be doing so much more for so many more directly while providing much needed teacher resources to all the schools if we can just give them both a little nudge in the right direction. Sadly, DCSS is not prepared to make best use of a $475M capital fund (which does not yet exist as this is sales tax based and revenues are down here as well) by taking advantage of lower cost of land and willingness of construction crews to work for less profit and build/fix now. Tucker High was just completed and more schools are in a similar state of decay as the former Tucker High building. Technology: where do I begin?
Jim Kinney June 04, 2012 at 04:10 PM
I work in technology. I do things with computers that 90% of the population doesn't understand (or want to understand!). I have performed technology "magic" in another large metro-Atlanta school system. I have seen DCSS making strides towards improvements while it also "throws money" and gee-whiz toys with no educational merit (smart boards are a huge pet peeve of mine - for the cost of 1 installation every student could be sitting in front of a computer in that same classroom actively participating instead of passively "watching teacher tv").
Jim Kinney June 04, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Last and not least: I think the cell towers on school property are a bad idea. I see them in the same way I see for-profit business buying research access from public university scientists as a bad idea. I provides a non-electable route into the school decision process that can hold a funding sword over the neck of the educational or research process. I don't like the idea of a soda company providing vending machines for their products, even if they are "just bottled water", as a fund raiser for the school. To allow for-profit business to literally set up shop on campus is a slippery slope towards a future I see as not conducive of high educational aspirations. "This next topic lecture was brought to you by Dewey, Cheatham and Howe Attorneys at Law. They get the most money for your pain and suffering" is a phrase I don't want to hear from any teacher. (with apologies to the Car Talk guys for using their lawyer names)
Cheryl Miller June 04, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Glad to hear you make that connection between the disregard for the rights of the taxpayers and the cell tower issue. They would love for us to debate the science all day because that takes the heat off of them for making a controversial decision without the input of the community affected. I tend not to trust people who are behaving in a dishonest and sneaky manner. It forces the rest of us to try and figure out what they are trying to hide. The majority of the schools getting the towers (all but 1) are elementary schools. Our children do not have cell phones so there is no need to warn us about the dangers of allowing our children to use them. They don't. And the issue of obessity is certainally important, but it is a matter of direct choice of the child and the guardian of what is served and what is consumed. We don't have the choice with a cell tower to say "that's enough," or "my child isn't allowed to have that," or "honey, watch how many microwatts of radiation you get today when you are on the playground." This is something that would be added to the exisiting background levels already in existence and is completely not necessary nor is it even legal by virtue of our own county ordinances for safe sitinig practices. The schools were being used as a way around the rules. We should not accept that from our teachers, our board members or the businesses we patron.
Cheryl Miller June 04, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Well, good. At least we can agree on that note. There were school policies in place to assure the community that the schools would not be used in this manner and that they would be notified if the school was considering any change the might affect them as well. Of course that is all disregarded with the chance at some coin. The money, by the way, cannot be put to any real use at the schools. Since it is not from taxpayers, it cannot be used to fund any of the basics of education. So, any of the things one might think the money could help with - it likely will not. Incumbant Paul Womack even suggested to a group of irate parents that they use some of the funds to "throw a party." Yeah, that's what we want to do. Radiate the kids for no other reason that to assist with the corporate objectives of Womack's business buddies and, as a direct result we can throw one big PTA Party and call it even.
Cheryl Miller June 04, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Please refer to my blogs on the Tucker Patch from a year ago when the topic of cell towers on school grounds was first brought to us via our school system. And, to follow the timeline, see www.GETtheCELLoutATL.com. So, Jim has taken a soft stance against the cell towers, saying they are a bad idea, but not making a firm committment that he would not vote in favor of them if given the opportunity to place more towers at more schools in the future. If you decide to take a position that is opposed to the cell towers, Jim, even if only because you know this is how the majority of parents in District #4 feel, please let us know. We will be glad to award you our second "Get the Cell Out - Atlanta, Seal of Approval" if we can get your word publically that you will uphold the wishes of the school communities with regard to keeping cell towers away from our homes and schools if the issue comes up again.
Cheryl Miller June 04, 2012 at 08:58 PM
to review the comments from around DeKalb, see: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/GTCO-ATL


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