Thursday, January 28, 2010

DeKalb Schools Face $56M Shortfall

UPDATE -- There has been a link set up to submit budget cut ideas -- send your ideas to (copy & paste the address below)


Anonymous said...

Here's the LIE:

"A $56 million dollar budget short fall means either huge program cuts or a big tax increases..."

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Those are NOT the only two choices. And NEITHER one will solve DCSS's budget problem.

The solution IS cutting the wastefulness in central administration, eliminating unneccesary central office jobs and reigning in the mismanagment in DCSS. That's the way to fix this mess.

themommy said...

First, the program cuts are only valued at 12 million which makes up about 20 percent of the projected shortfall. So huge? Only if you are impacted.

The teachers' salary cuts make up the bulk of the 56 million dollars.

Before I will support even considering any kind of tax cut, significant restructuring of the central office has to occur.

Anonymous said...

The root of the problem is that Crawford doesn't know how to right-size the system. His career was made as an elementary school teacher, turned principal, turned central office yes-man, turned superintendent. Turk (CFO) doesn't have the experience either -- he inherited the job only by default when his boss left for Gwinnett. Crawford should really call upon the Georgia Superintendent's Association for some professional help and guidance.

Anonymous said...

At the 1:38 mark, when Crawford mentions his salary increase, he is dismissive, has a big smirk, and disingenously says he has given up $30,000 over the past eight months. He himself proposed a 2 percent decrease for all administrators making over $100,000 per year. He makes himself out to be a marytr.

What an incredibly arrogant jerk.

Anonymous said...

Go to

Oncae again a staff member is seen putting on C Lew's coat for him. He expects being treated like royalty. You can see a glimpse of the school police officers that have become his Vernon Jones-like bodygurad patrol.

Anonymous said...

How much would DCSS save if CLew didn't get a new car every year?

How much would DCSS save if CLew didn't get a his new car washed TWICE a week (every week)?

How much would DCSS save if CLew didn't get a tax payer funded car at all?

I'm sure our vaunted BoE is on it...

Anonymous said...

Crawford Lewis is a MASTER manipulator. You don't go from being an elementary phys ed teacher to superintendent without being a master politician, with the top evidence being that he was the main person who orchestrated Johnny Brown's firing behind the scenes.

Lewis makes $255 a year now, and he made $240 last year. He is making a big deal out of taking a $30,000 cut in pat in 2009. It is ridiculous, and something he planned to make him look like he's
a victim of cuts too.

And none of the media is sharp enough to note that he got a pha increase in his monthly expense account, which I believe is now $2500 or $3000 per month.

It is very disturbing that Chair Tom Bowen is so defensive of the superintendent. Tom is drinking Crawford's Kool Aid.

The one positive is parents and taxpayers are going to vote in five new Board of Ed members in November.
WSB News

DeKalb School Cuts; Superintendent Raise

(WSB Radio) -- Facing a budget shortfall of $56 million for the 2010-2011 academic year, the DeKalb County Board of Education held the first of three public hearings Thursday night on next year's spending plan.

Although nothing is set in stone, Superintendent Crawford Lewis is looking at eliminating certain academic programs, including Montessori, magnet schools, special education and pre-k. Dr. Lewis is also considering staff cuts at the administrative level and in the classroom.

Hundreds of parents and teachers packed the school board meeting to voice their opinions, but only thirty people were allowed to speak. One parent told the board "these cuts would, not could, destroy our community and destroy our kids' potential ." Another said "every decision you make needs to be based on does this make a great public school." A veteran teacher added "our teacher's salaries must not be cut."

The superintendent and the board also received criticism for the new three-year contract Dr. Lewis just signed, which included a $15,000 raise, pushing his annual salary to $255,000 a year.. Lewis defended his pay hike. He told Channel 2 Action News "you should know that in the last eight months I gave up $30,000 that, for whatever reason, the media has chosen not to report." DeKalb Schools' documents confirm the superintendent's claim. According to official personnel records obtained by WXIA TV, Dr. Lewis did not accept a 4 percent pay raise in 2009 that would have increased his salary by $10,000. In addition, Dr. Lewis refused another $20,000 in compensation that he was contractually entitled to.

The DeKalb County Board of Education has until May to approve the budget for next year.

Cerebration said...

Again, if he made such significant sacrifices in 2009, how did he end up with this as his reported 2009 income (from


$287,991.63 salary
$9,452.75 expense

On another note - I was very distressed to learn that Tom Bowen is the board rep who put David Moody on the SPLOST Community Oversight Committee.

Anonymous said...


The Board of Education gets bad info. from Crawford Lewis, and assumes it to be 100% fact.

After speaking to Paul Womack last night, who was defensive and dismissive, he was asked about Executive Director of Corporate Wellness Yvonne Bulter. Womack says that the public once again doesn't know what they are talking about. He swore that Butler was a retired teacher who was only working part-time on corporate wellness and her salary was paid by a grant. He also said she had a lot of good experience. Womack was rather rude about it.

So he brings Don McChesney over, and McChesney says Butler is a retired principal who's salary is paid by a grant and its not a big deal.

Butler admirably had Browns Mill Elem back in 1998 serve healthier lunches and add more physical activity.

Here is the truth: Butler is a former DCSS principal, who is a full-time system employee with salary, benefits, pension, etc., and a temporary grant from Kaiser Permanente only pays a portion of her salary. Yvonne Butler has NO formal education or experience in public health, corporate wellnes, fitness, nutrition, etc. She was a principal who had her school serve healthy lunches, got some publicity for it, and as Crawford always does, he makes up a new administrative position for her.

You know where she got her education on corporate wellness? She "joined an overeating support group.

She is in an Executive Director position which she has no education or experience in, making a large salary. She parlayed some good press and TV appperances to her current DCSS job.

Her doctorate is from an out od state online school of course. There is no Sarasota University!! It's from Argosy, Sarasota.

The Board of Education gets misinformation from Crawford Lewis, and thinks all is hunky dory. When there is an alledged $56 mil shortfall, an Executive Director of Corporate Wellness is one of the first things that needs to be cut. Butler can go back to motivational speaking.

Dr. Yvonne Sanders-Butler
President and Founder of Ennovy, Inc.;

Educator/Principal, Browns Mill Elementary School;

Nutritional Advocate, Consultant and Motivational Speaker;

Has appeared on the Martha Stewart Show, CNN, ABC, and Fox News, PBS and Tom Joyner’s BAW;

Publications in: People Magazine, Black Enterprise, Southern Living, Essence, Upscale, Women Health Fitness, and other media;

Recent Publications by Dr. Butler: Naturally Yours Desserts and More (2003), Dessert Lovers’ Choice (2005), and Healthy Kids, Smart Kids (2005);

BS in Mass Communications from Jackson State University;

Master’s degree in Counseling from State University of West Georgia;

Specialist Degree in Administration and Supervision from Jacksonville State University;

and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership form Sarasota University.

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that Jay Cunningham was involved with Butler getting that job. (And so, I suppose, with the creation of the position to begin with!)

Anonymous said...

Please correct this post:
Butler is the niece of long-time Dekalb administrator Lonnie Edwards. Both published vanity books. Probably most of their sales went to DeKalb schools. Edwards presented his story at our school...we were then given copies of his book purchased by the school. We also received copies of Butler's book.
dekalb looks after its own.
Being on a diet and losing weight does not make you a wellness expert.

Cerebration said...

Are you all serious?!!! OMG!

I stopped trusting our board reps when they not only wouldn't listen to the community when we said that the tiny little Heritage school won't hold 700 high school military students - they actually called US difficult and misinformed! The fire escape map on the door of the building itself shows only 18 small classrooms. The parking lot only holds 40 cars and there is no gym!! No gym -- for a military school!

You wouldn't believe how our board reps, Lewis and Pope treated the community on that one.

Dekalbparent said...

Anon 11:04

You have done an admirable job of reporting a very disturbing conversation with two of our board members (neither of whom is up for re-election until 2012). Two very small observations:

Womack insisted that Yvonne Butler is currently a full time teacher, who only does the Wellness gig after hours. WRONG on both counts.


McChesney insisted that she is a retired principal, and that the entire Employee Wellness Program is being paid for by a Federal grant. WRONG - the grant is from Kaiser Permanente, with whom DCSS was shopping for health insurance. They did not choose Kaiser, so I doubt the grant to carry over. THEN the who will be paying for Ms. Butler, the Wellness Center and the staff?

These vehement assertions of untruths (which they wholeheartedly believed) by two of the people who are making decisions about our money really rattles me.

Ella Smith said...


My undergraduate degree is in Health and Physical Education and I at least am certified to teach Health K-12. This Butler lady is not even certified as a Health teacher and has no formal training in Health and she is the Director of our Health and Wellness Program.

I just learned that the state has 1/2 billion dollars of reserves of lottery money. Why is our state governmnent not making laws to tap this money in times of crisis like this so our students or our school house is not hurt?

It would be better to have hired a Personal Trainer who is certified in Personal Training than an adminstrator who has no formal training at all. This is embarassing. It is who you know and not what you know in this school system. It is politics as usual and not truely about our children.

This is embarassing and this position needs to be one of the first to go. Hire a young trainer for a little bit of money who is working his or her way through school. Be smart is we need someone. However, advertise the position, take applications and hire someone based on knowledge and experience vs. who they know. Let Dr. Wilson do his job and stop micro-managing.

SongCue said...

In now way am I defending Yvonne Butler's position but I wonder if the grant is from the Kaiser Family Foundation, not Kaiser Permanente? They aren't the same money stream. Kaiser Family Foundation provides grants for a number of programs.

Ella Smith said...

I just heard that 1/2 billion dollars is in reserve lottery dollars in the state not being used. Why is'nt out state legislative body doing something to tap the usage of this money in an emergency situation like this so our students in the school houses are not hurt?

Dekalbparent said...


It was Kaiser Permanente. From their July 28,2009 Press Release:

Kaiser Permanente funded a $275,000 grant to the DeKalb County School System in Atlanta, Ga., to build a wellness program for students and staff that will include fitness assessments, health education and a fitness center available to students and staff at two high schools during the school day. The money will also be used to staff programs throughout the system during non-school hours and to support an outreach worker to ensure students are enrolled in a health insurance plan for which they are eligible.

Read the description - I still question whether DCSS is REALLY adhering to the terms of the grant.

Anonymous said...

Yvonne Butler has a lot in common with Crawford Lewis. They are both masterful self promoters. She has absolutely no business holding that position. But C Lew even more has no business handing her that position. She has absolutely no background in anything close to corporate wellness. And it looks like she was handed the job illegally, as the position was never even advertised as required by law.

Funny to see that Butler lists her doctorate being from Sarasota University, which doesn't exist, instead of Argosy, the online dimploma mill.

Anonymous said...

After reading about Womack and McChesney dissemble, mislead and repeat untruths, I'm starting to understand why Jim Redovian didn't show up last night. Maybe he's the one BoE member capable of feeling shame and embarassment over what's developed on his watch......

Anonymous said...

Again, Jim was out of town.

Anonymous said...

We need to make sure there are public debates whenever there is a Board of Ed election. Other than Bowen, no one on the BOE is impressive. And Bowen has suddenly become the biggest defender of Crawford. Bowen took a major hit to his credibility when the public found out Bowen appointed David Moody to the school construction committee. Now Bowen is circling the wagons.
We really, really need all new BOE members. They are not there to be good friends with the superintendent, but that's what happens. The Board of Ed is elected by the public, but instead of looking after the public's best interestes, they quickly become cheerleaders for the superintendent and upper administrative staff. it's pretty FUBAR right now, and not changing without a new BOE, new superintendent, and new upper level admin staff.

Anonymous said...

Well, there you go...

Jim Redovian (like the rest of the BoE members) is NOT
"capable of feeling shame and embarassment over what's developed on his watch..."

He was just out of town...

Anonymous said...

Corporate Wellness has no business in public education. Whether a grant is funding this program, a portion of the program, or none of the program, it is a program that is really not needed, as it does not directly affect our children. The people who work for DCSS, myself included, should be able to pay for a gym membership. This is not a perk that people working for a school system with a budget shortfall should expect, want or need.

The cuts that are being made are not what will make DCSS a stronger organization when this crisis is over. DCSS is not working toward being a leaner, meaner well oiled machine. It is cutting back on it's customers (the children) while keeping the fat cats (people working in administrative offices). Doesn't make any sense to me.

Makes me wonder if Lewis earned his PhD from the internet as well.

Our school board members need to get a back bone, ask real questions and demand honest answers. It's obvious to anyone with two brain cells rubbing together that Lewis has a problem with honesty and looks out for himself and his friends instead of the children of DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

We also need to revist the practice of DCSS staff and teachers who do not live in DeKalb being allowed to bring their children to a DCSS school. This is a $10,000 per child perk, and there are other ancilliary costs.

If you don't live in DeKalb, you don't pay the soon to be increased property taxes. You should not be allowed such an expensive perk. Sorry, but times are tight. We don't need an Executive Director of Corporate Wellness, and we don't need children who don't live in the county to attend school here for free.

Ella Smith said...

I attend Argosy-Atlanta. They are trying to become a Research University. They bought Sarasota.

However, Argosy is not an online graduate mill. It is anything other than that. I have attended graduate schools at the University of North Carolina, Florida State, Georgia State, Central Michigan University and now Argosy University and I would rate Argosy right at the top of the universities I have attended in graduate school. My masters degree in in Curriculum and Instruction-with Emphasis in Adult Learning. I think Central Michigan and Argosy are more in line with Adult Learners and involve them in the learning process more than just lecture to them. This is a good thing as someone who majored in this area.

I think assumptions are being made about Argosy that are very incorrect. The University of Saratogo was a place many administrators went on week-ends and in the summer to work on their Doctorial Degree who do work at the county office.

However, I also have had one of them as a professor and I was extremely impressed with the knowledge this individual could provide me as a future leader. This administrator had a doctoral degree from Sarasota.

Anonymous said...

I was at the meeting last night, and no one mentioned that DCSS fails to double check residency. Some estimate there are a thousand or two non-county residents sneaking into our schools because DeKalb is the most slack of all area school systems with checking residency. Gwinnett and Decatur do regular checks on residency, and have always found parents trying to game the system.

Ron Ramsey should be leading this cause as Director if Internal Affairs, but he's too busy being a state senator (and he should be a 10 month employee). It is simple not acceptable to have non-county resident students in our school system. Their parents are committing a crime. 1000 times $10,000 equals 10,000,000. Our Board of Education seems to have no issues with having out of county students sneak into our DeKalb property taxpayer funded schools.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree about people working in DeKalb and sending their children to DeKalb schools for free. This is not a perk that I have experienced in other states. Not sure if it's a perk in other districts. It is something that needs to go, as these children get to go to our best schools and not pay a dime. It doesn't seem fair to me as tax payer or a teacher.

We also need to be checking the status of where children live who are attending our schools. For example in my class, I have two cousins who have the same address, their grandmothers listed as their place of residence. Neither child lives at their grandmother's home and one does not live within county limits. This needs to stop. We cannot afford to pay for children who do not live in DeKalb-Period!

Anonymous said...

I don't see any articles in the AJC about last night's budget meeting. All the TV stations were there. The AJC is flat out horrible these days.

Ella Smith said...

This is true.

The School Board does need to get tough on county lines and school attendance. It is true that other districts are strict.

However, if we do this then we will have to let employees go and the School Board does not want this.

Cerebration said...

Any grandparent who sponsors a grandchild into DeKalb schools should immediately lose their reduced tax rate (seniors pay far less than the rest of us). This old lady with the 2 grandsons is probably only paying about $900 a year in property taxes if she's a homeowner.

Also, check the residency of the Arabia students. I have trouble believing that all of their students are really residents of DeKalb when 2 other counties are within a stone's throw.

Anonymous said...

I saw several differnet video's last night on the various local TV stations, and was appalled by Crawford Lewis' demeanor regarding his pay. He repeated he gave up $30,000 last year, as if he was a hero. And Tom Bowen made the point to a few stations that Lewis has sacrificed more than county teachers did.

This is so offensive I'm about to scream. How dare Lewis, with his $30,000 a year expense account, free vehicle that gets washed by Sam Moss staff, personal bodyguard patrol, etc., try to make a hero out of himself over $30,000, especially when he makes $255,00 per year.

Ella continues to say he's a nice person. He is not a nice person. He is an egomaniac, he is a manipulator, and his judgement is incredibly questionable. He is a complete embarassment, and needs to be fired or allowed to retire.

Cerebration said...

Again, if he made such significant sacrifices in 2009, how did he end up with this as his reported 2009 income (from


$287,991.63 salary
$9,452.75 expense

Anonymous said...

Cere: I bet Lewis' contract has the board contributing extra to his retirement account and Open.Georgia.Gov includes this under the total category for "salary" -- this would boost his income from the board to the figure they report.

Ironic that he gets such a generous contribution to HIS retirement while the thousands reporting up to him get theirs cut. I'd like to see the AJC report on that!

Anonymous said...

How come the Board of Ed has never took the lead to take a pay cut, even is just 5%. Just to show some symbolic sympathy to the bus drivers, cafeteria workers, our teachers, etc.

Oh boy, Zepora and Copelin-Wood would FREAK if you ever suggested that to them.

Anonymous said...

Gene "No Ethics Needed for the BOE" Walker not so surprising linked to embattled Dekalb Comm. Sharon Barnes Sutton, who despite her financial problems, bounced checks, outstandng warrants, etc., somehow found $70,000 of her own money for her commission campaign.


All told, Sutton’s loans and cash contributions made up nearly three-quarters of the $108,000 or so that she spent on the 2008 commission race.

How could Sutton find herself that deep in debt and still spend that much money on her campaign? We asked, but couldn’t get much of an answer.

Warren F. Mosby, her campaign manager, said he was not privy to the particulars of Sutton’s financial obligations — “That is not my job to manage a candidate’s personal finances” — but he would not talk about them even if he were.

“It is my understanding that it was a very complicated and complex financial situation,” he said. “Details of that are a private matter.”

(Sutton used $53,465 — about half of her total campaign funds — to pay Mosby’s company, HSI Systems & Consultants.)

Mosby, Sutton’s campaign manager, also ran Gene Walker’s winning 2008 campaign for a seat on the DeKalb County Board of Education. Atlanta Unfiltered reported in June that Walker’s campaign also filed key financial disclosures late.

Walker failed to report nearly $20,000 of campaign donations from interests related to the Sembler Co. until after he had won a runoff election. At the time, Walker chaired the DeKalb Development Authority, which was reviewing Sembler’s request for a $40 million tax break for a Peachtree Road development. Walker has since resigned from the authority’s board.

Anonymous said...

"Sutton’s late disclosures were filed Dec. 3 and Walker’s Dec. 4. Sembler donated $2,500 to Sutton’s campaign as well, records show."

Sembler? What a surprise.

M G said...

Dr. Walker did suggest that the board take a 3% pay cut in Jan 2009 after the board had rescinded the 3% step increase. Anonymous is correct, Zepora Roberts freaked I don't remember Sarah Copelin-Woods reaction. The board refused to even put the item on the agenda.

Cerebration said...

Actually, I think that was Paul Womack who suggested the board take a pay cut to match the teachers loss in STEP.

Anonymous said...

Out of the 13,285 employees of DeKalb Schools, only 7,500 are teachers while 5,800 are administrative and support personnel.  42% of our employees being administrative and support personnel is simply too high

91% of our budget is spent on personnel while other metro systems average 85%.  This creates a $54,0000,000 annual shortfall in our $900,000,000 budget.  Ironically, the shortfall that Dr. Lewis is predicting in 2010-11 is $56,000,000.  This figure is strikingly close to the annual shortfall we have been experiencing for years due to our abnormally high support personnel percentage.

Even though DeKalb spends a higher percentage on personnel than any other metro Atlanta system, our children do not have better pupil-teacher ratios, and our teachers' salaries are not higher.  That means that we have considerably higher personnel expenditures than other systems in the administrative and support area.

We taxpayers pay taxes to educate our children, not to guarantee that all employees keep their jobs.  Reduction in Force, furloughs, percentage decrease in pay, or outsourcing are all options for DeKalb Schools support personnel.  These options would not impact our children's education to the extent that the items in Dr. Lewis's proposed budget would. 

Dr. Lewis's budget proposes cutting teachers' salaries, increasing pupil-teacher ratios, and increasing furlough days for teachers in order to keep everyone in their jobs. Increasing furlough days on a county level as well as well as a state level will eventually force us to decrease student instructional days.

Teachers are the heart and soul of children's education.  Teachers as a percentage of the DeKalb County Schools has been steadily shrinking.  Currently, our teachers are stretched to the breaking point as less and less personnel teach (only 58%) and more and more employees are administrative and support personnel (42%).  The student is the real loser in this situation.

Ella Smith said...


Nice to see you here.

I have class all week-end.

You will have to meet me for coffee sometime with some of my other friends.

I remember that Woods, Roberts, Walker got very upset and they voted not to put it on the agenda.

Your comments are right on target.

Dekalbparent said...

We have seen two different emails to send budgets suggestions to.I tried both and one bounced, but I got a reply from Ramona Tyson's office acknowledging receipt of the other. the address is:

Pass it on.

Anonymous said...

All of the comments about Yvonne Butler is correct. She is a fast talker and didnot manage her former school. This lady was never at school and used this county to promote her cookbooks and enhance her motivational skills deceiving people about nutrition. How in the world can this lady be in a position with no credentials in health. Regardless of who funded the wellness program, Yvonne Butler has no business being paid as a wellness director while the county struggles to pay folks. This lady is very cunning and tries to network with only people who can help her to get ahead. But think about how she used the poor children and her staff for her only benefits of appearing on talk shows and etc. Keep in mind, she was suppose to be working while she was out giving speeches. Keep in mind, she made good money fooling people as a motivational speaker . I guess she was employed as a part time principal since she was never at her school.Cookbooks were sold during school time at her former school. Now, only Butler can tell you how she used the proceeds. Interesting! Oh, she also would cook her big dinners on the weekend at her former school in the lunchroom. Principals in the county enjoyed eating her sugar free meals when there was a principal's meeting at her school I am told. During instructional time, instead of assisting teachers and students, we're told that it was a common thing for Butler to cook for guests who would interview her for her publicity covers and newspapers. Shame on Crawford and Jay if you helped to promote this woman. But I guess Jay saw nothing wrong with this since he also used the county.