Monday, February 1, 2010

Budget Suggestions


This was sent out by DCSS -

Dekalb Community,

We want to hear from you. Your input is solicited, valued, and respected. Please forward any suggestions or ideas you may have regarding the budget that may serve as workable solutions.

Email your suggestions or ideas to:

Budget Suggestions

In addition, you can learn more about the budget planning process and view 4 proposed budgets for the 2010-2011 school year if you click here. We encourage each of you to let Dr. Lewis and the Board of Education members know what your priorities are as a parent and taxpayer regarding the budget for your child's education.

Suggestions may be made in the comments section of this blog. But do not just leave your comments here, please send them directly to the email link above also.

To check out the budget review calendar and public hearing schedule, click here.

School Closings and Transparency
Take Home Vehicles??

240 comments:

1 – 200 of 240   Newer›   Newest»
Cerebration said...

Below are some highlights from Dr Lewis' proposals -

Reduction Options

􀂃 Central Office Positions
􀂃 Programs & Services
􀂃 Schoolhouse Positions through Attrition
􀂃 Utilities Savings
􀂃 Furlough Days OR % Salary Cut
􀂃 Possible Millage Rate Increase

Central Office Positions/Reductions

􀂃 Instruction
􀂃 Assessment & Accountability
􀂃 Leadership Development
􀂃 Professional Learning
􀂃 Support Services
􀂃 Student Assignment
􀂃 Research & Evaluation
􀂃 Area Assistants
􀂃 Special Education
􀂃 Business Operations
􀂃 Substitute Pay Reduction
􀂃 Transfer of Athletics & MIS Salaries off of General Budget

Reduction of Programs

􀂃 ITBS/COGAT (grades 1 and 2 only)
􀂃 High Schools That Work
􀂃 Pre K
􀂃 Scientific Tools & Techniques @ Fernbank
􀂃 High School Summer School/
􀂃 DOLASchool
􀂃 Magnet Points
􀂃 DECA Points
􀂃 Single Gender Points
􀂃 Transportation Plan
􀂃 Montessori Program
􀂃 Collapse Alternative Schools
􀂃 Lithonia Charter
􀂃 Restructuring Textbook Payment

Reduction of Schoolhouse
Positions thru Attrition

􀂃 7--Period Day (4 schools)
􀂃 Targeted Assistance Points
􀂃 Paraprofessionals
􀂃 Assistant Principals
􀂃 Counselors
􀂃 Specials in Small Schools
􀂃 Administrative Coordinator

Utilities Savings

􀂃 Energy Efficient Programs
􀂃 Daily Automatic Computer
􀂃 Conservation Programs (i.e. lights, bulbs)
􀂃 4-Day Work Week (June & July)

Employees Not Affected

􀂃 Bus Drivers
􀂃 Food Service Workers
􀂃 Custodians

Cerebration said...

If the email link does not work for you, copy & paste the address below

budget-suggestions@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

Dunwoody Mom said...

With regards to utility savings - why is Kittredge in a facility of its own with only around 300 students? Why not move it to another facility that is under-enrolled, ala DSA and Avondale? Why not make Kittredge part of the Chamblee Middle School complex. According to projections CMS will be very under-enrolled in a few years.

Cerebration said...

According to the Oct 09 FTE count, Kittredge has 417 students. (Grades 4-6) DSA has 291 (Grades 8-12)

Dunwoody Mom said...

cere, did you notice who is now the new Executive Director of Plant Services? Steve Donahue - former principal of Peachtree Charter Middle School.

Dunwoody Mom said...

How many schools actually have a person assigned to In-School Suspension? Just curious. Is this just a baby-sitting service? IF so, could a SRO handle this?

Cerebration said...

Good ideas, DM. We certainly can eliminate the EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS of many departments - DIRECTORS can surely handle the workload. There have been MANY Directors "Promoted" to EXECUTIVE status in order to provide for a raise. This must be corrected and stopped.

Also - I'm quite sure we have too many Assistant Principals. In fact, there used to be one at Lakeside who signed a form by his name with the job title "Assistant Principle" - and he never noticed until I pointed it out. Now - do you think he should be paid an executive level salary when he can't spell his own job title?

And - we have already discussed here that we seem to be incredibly over-staffed in the SRO, on-campus security area. WAAAAY over-staffed.

Same with Gloria Talley's Curriculum Specialists. WAAAAY too many.

Cerebration said...

Oh, let's see - from the 2009 Salary Report -
DONAHUE,STEVEN E PRINCIPAL $108,156.00

Guess he was still technically a principal in 2009.

Also - for everyone's information, many high school APs make in the 100,000 salary range. If there are 4 or 5 of them - that's an enormous cost. Teachers - are they worth it? I don't know.

Dekalbparent said...

The high schools have an AP for Attendance, and most have an AP for Discipline. The responsibilities of the AP for Discipline would seem pretty clear, but what are the responsibilities of the AP for Attendance? I am not being cynical, really just asking.

The implication is that attendance at the high school level is enough of an issue to require an administrator. If this is the case, what does it mean? Can you tell me,teachers/administrators?

Dunwoody Mom said...

Don't forget those separate AP's for Testing and Instruction. It seems to me those 2 could be combined as Testing certainly does not go on all year round.

I'm just kind of bouncing ideas here - see what makes sense and what does not before I submit my suggestions.

So far, I have...

1. Feasibility of moving KMS into CMS "plant". Resources could be shared, i.e. PE, Foreign Language, Music.

2. SRO's to handle ISS - rather than hiring someone just for ISS.

3. It seems that duties for AP's could be combined.

Anonymous said...

1. eliminate DCSS provided cars
2. eliminate all cellular phone service/ Blackberry service for DCSS personnel.
3. eliminate p card purchases over $50.
4. set limits on p card purchases.
5. longer school day (save electricity/ power on days without school)
6. sell unwanted/ unused property/ buildings.
7. no upgrades on any central admin buildings
8. five year moratorium for all central office employees
9. reduce central office employees staffing by 30%.

Cerebration said...

As far as selling unused buildings, I have been suggesting that we sell the now closed Heritage ES to the county for parkland. According to Jeff Rader, our district has far, far, FAR less parkland per 1000 residents than any other district. We have been paying into the park bond just like everyone else, and we deserve at least a small park. There is money in the county budget for buying up parkland. Heritage is closed - and already has a park on half it's property. Let's sell it to the county. It could possibly make for a nice senior center!

Anonymous said...

School Choice Transportation should be at the top of the list. It was up for elimination when times were not as tough. However, it became a political issue and they moved it to a hub approach. If a parent chooses not to use their neighborhood school then they need to make choices to get them there.

I find that the elimination of montessoris but the retention of magnets is bothersome. I anticipate the magnets cost more money to operate ( separate and many more staff and points, separate buildings,)

I find it unacceptable to eliminated national standardized testing (ITBS) for all county first graders and continue to operate magnets that don't benefit all county children.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Agreed, school choice transportation needs to be eliminated all together.

As far as our unused buildings - yes, they need to be sold. However, in these economy, that's easier said than done. But, why couldn't these buildings be rented out? That would provide some income. I am still trying to find out who is using the gym at the old Shallowford ES/Chamblee MS. Is it a school organization? If not, are they paying rent to DCSS?

Cerebration said...

I know what you mean, I saw people there last Sunday. Is it a church group? I almost stopped to ask them - but I was on a time crunch. That building sitting empty is a big waste.

Dunwoody Mom said...

DCSS should participate in the bulk purchasing deal between the GADOE and the state of GA. Gwinnett schools have done this and claim they have saved over $1 million dollars. Here is the link:

http://www.ajc.com/news/bulk-sales-to-save-275562.html

Dekalbparent said...

Everybody, please disseminate the information in the post to your neighbors and, if you have one, to your school email list.

DHHS went to a different arrangement for APs this year - more like the middle schools. There is anAP for 9th & 11th grade, and one for 10th & 12th grade. They take care of the discipline stuff, so there is no AP for Discipline. Still one for Instruction and one for Attendance. No AP for Testing- I guess Instruction takes care of that.

It would seem as if this is a more logical arrangement, but there are still four APs...

Dazed and Confused said...

Anon at 12:18 makes some very precise suggestions that would result in very real savings.

DCSS needs specific cuts that realize genuine savings.

Last year this BoE approved the "Superintendent's Transportation Efficiency Plan" beacuse it was promised to save DCSS $16 million annually. A year later, the plan has saved nothing. Nothing.

History has shown that this superintendent and his BoE are not capable of instituting "plans" or "initiatives" or "programs" that will "save" money. DCSS needs specific targets whose elimination will result in genuine savings.

Anonymous said...

Graduation coaches and the 40 instructional coaches Lewis put in place when times were better should be reassigned to the classroom. I have had a number of APs and principals say they don't need more coaches. They actually end up assigning them a lot of administrative duties because they really need people to teach in the classroom - however they have to do something with them. These teachers could help fill the attrition vacancies of retiring teachers and teachers leaving DeKalb.. This is especially true of Americas Choice schools. They already have America's Choice coaches so Lewis's Instructional coaches was redundant. Between the Central Office personnel and perhaps 80 coaches reassigned to the classroom, DeKalb could fill many teaching positions that Lewis wants to cut while keeping these people employed in jobs that are beneficial for our students.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the Central Office should be reduced by 30% as well as Sam Moss and information Systems. Is outsourcing some the Sam Moss and Information System functions off the table? The state of Georgia outsourced most of their Information Systems personnel this year. It didn't take long - IBM won the bid and Dell is oneof the subcontractors.
Dell already does all of the installations of new computers and the Interactive boards for DeKalb County so it's not like Information Systems does any new installations anyway. Dell also maintains a great deal of the equipment for DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 12:18 great ideas!

Anonymous said...

Cere, I've been meaning to say this for a while now, so here goes. As a teacher, I find this blog tremendously helpful, and you have my utmost gratitude for all of the hard work that goes into it. With the exception of my fabulous principal, this is the only place that I can find honest, PC free dialogue on what is happening in DCSS and how the parents and other teachers truly feel. All of our meetings are just Central Office spin which can become quite tiresome and insulting. So, once again I thank you and request that you keep fighting the good fight.

Cerebration said...

Thanks, Anon. That means a lot. I hope teachers feel safe voicing their thoughts here. We're all about the classroom - which boils down to the teacher and the kids.

Anonymous said...

1. Eliminate America's Choice program and use stimulus funds to purchase ELA and other much needed textbooks, increase and update technology, improve and update school buildings.

2. Offer early retirement packages to all employees.

3. Eliminate many central office positions.

4. Reduce pay of any employee from the central office that is placed back into the classroom, instead of allowing them to receive their current pay for a year.

5. Reduce and/or eliminate travel expenses paid to administrators and other employees.

6. Eliminate seven periods and return to six periods for all middle and high schools.

7. Shorten school year to 160 days, instead of the current 180 days.

8. Begin and end school at the same time for elementary, middle, and high school.

9. Eliminate some of the magnet programs that are ineffective.

10. During the winter break, spring break, and other designated non-report days for students and teachers, close the central offices and all school buildings and facilities as well, instead of having 12-month employees working.

11.During summer months, schools and central offices should only be open four days per/week.

Shayna said...

I think we lose a lot of money by not having "experts" in certain roles -- one of these is in purchasing and another is in transportation. There are other roles that can probably be identified. If we were to sit back and take an "adult" reorganization or turnaround approach to what is to come, perhaps even hiring an outside turnaround expert (okay, my business background is in bankruptcy), they could probably find many areas that we miss as we toss about ideas. But to return to what I think are two of the more obvious: purchasing and transportation. In the business world, purchasing is done by folks who really know what they are doing, they know how to negotiate for the best prices at the best possible deals for the situation. In transporation, the experts apparantly know that idling costs money as do left turns. There are other things folks with backgrounds in these specific areas know that former principals, educated to teach children in a system with supervisors who have also been educated in teaching children, have no way of knowing. This is not the best way to spend taxpayer dollars and it really does not work in this economy. We need the experts doing these functions.

Anonymous said...

Begin and end school at the same time for elementary, middle, and high school.

That would require hiring more bus drivers and more buses.

Anonymous said...

The four day work week for June and July for admin staff is a good idea, however, there is no way our spoiled, slack administrators would ever work 10 hours a day (plus lunch). Yvonne Butler is out the door as soon as she can to go work on her personal public speaking and book selling. Ron Ramsey is a nother who would never work ten hour days. He has a mini-business empire that needs tending to.

A ten hour day in June and July makes sense, if and only if we had administrators who bust their tail (we do have some but they are few and far between). Don't believe me? Stand outside the Central office at 4 pm on a Friday.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:18, great post!!

Anonymous said...

"In the business world, purchasing is done by folks who really know what they are doing, they know how to negotiate for the best prices at the best possible deals for the situation. In transporation, the experts apparantly know that idling costs money as do left turns"

Shayna, don't get my hopes up. That's how the business world handles purchasing and transportation. But the C Lew way is to have an ex-principal and son of a Board of Ed member handle those positions, neither with any prior experience of course.

Anonymous said...

FYI - seems they have put the new budget timeline online and guess what? They are planning to tentatively adopt it before the 2 open budget meetings?!? Huh?

I just found out about it on www.dekalbparentsareunited.com

themommy said...

This process is what state law requires. They are having the required public hearings -- since they have the tentative dates by which they must pass a budget. The state law requires that you first tentatively adopt a budget, have hearings and then have a second vote to formally adopt it. In other words, you are putting it on the table to discuss it, having the discussions, and then voting on it.

I expect that the dates are very tentative as DCSS can't really complete its budget work until the state and feds finish theirs. If the legislature extends its session (by taking days off to work unofficially) then it could be April before the state adopts a budget.

Nothing precludes DCSS from having other meetings to discuss the budget. However, again, state law has a process for school systems (and I think local governments) to adopt their budgets.

themommy said...

The stimulus funds came with lots of strings -- basically the funds (at least the first round) could only be used for special ed and Title 1 schools/expenses. The funds were not to replace current spending, but rather supplement. (Obamas/Duncan's original proposal was far larger but allowed for spending on all schools. The Congress gutted it.)

Cerebration said...

Here's a new article for the always reliable news source, CrossRoads News.

Seems our leader of Internal Affairs, who also serves as a state senator and is away from his DCSS post for the legislative session, has been appointed to the Senate Judiciary Committee; the State Workforce Investment Board, under the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development; and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority Oversight Committee.

Where oh where does he find the time to do so much? Can we trust that he is able to do his job as head of DCSS Internal Affairs? Can we trust that he is even-handed when dealing with our schools - especially Dunwoody - when he stood on the floor of the Capitol and made a passionate speech calling the Dunwoody incorporation move racial and demanding a complete boycott of Dunwoody businesses. (Can we be certain he won't also "boycott" Dunwoody schools?)

I'm just not sure Ramsey is serving the entire school system well. And, if the IA department runs separately from the school system, who on earth is supposed to serve as watchdog over IA? I think there could be room in the department for some major budget cuts. However, it is difficult to actually determine that department's budget.

Ramsey's two salary entries on the 2009 State Report are below -

RAMSEY,RONALD B
MISCELLANEOUS ACTIVITIES $3,261.00

RAMSEY,RONALD B
LEGAL PERSONNEL $112,120.37

Cerebration said...

BTW - for those of you who have been thinking of taking on more of a leadership role (perhaps running for a school board seat?) Leadership DeKalb is taking applications for their next session!

Read all about it here --

Leadership DeKalb Application/Nomination

Anon 12:18 Alliance said...

Anon at 12:18 NAILS IT

Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, should submit this list to DCSS and DEMAND they implement ALL of them.

Thank you Anon 12:18, whoever you are....

Anonymous said...

Cere - Have ANY of the current DCSS BoE members ever completed Leadership DeKalb? During the 2008 BoE campaign there were some candidates (who did not get elected) who were graduates of Leadership DeKalb. I just wonder if any of the current board members are.

Anonymous said...

"Leadership DeKalb is taking applications for their next session!"
But.....if I were to apply and be accepted, and then run for school board, I sure would be criticized (on this board at least) for using any of those connections!

Dekalbparent said...

I like Shayna's idea about having professionals make purchasing and transportation decisions. I would extend it to maintenence and grounds.These areas do not require education professionals.

Place copier and office machine maintenance on a contract where the vendor is held responsible when there is extended downtime.

Require the contractor or subcontractor to correct problems after construction, rather than leaving the problem to wait until DCSS personnel get to it. Do a final punch list just like is done for home construction.

Summer school online.

Stop the practice of automatically buying new furniture for renovated areas - ask the people at the school whether the new furniture is needed; if yes, THEN replace it.

I don't know enough about the programs DCSS is using in the schools, but evaluating the value of each and eliminating the ones that have produced weak results and/or require a large number of "supervisory" personnel would be a good idea.

Evaluate the need for a car before assigning it. It should be thoroughly justified.

Same with mobile phones. Assign Blackberries only to the positions that have a provable need.

I agree with limits on p-card purchases.

Definitely sell unwanted/ unused property/ buildings.

I agree with not upgrading any central admin buildings. Necessary repairs only.

I agree with reducing central office staff as well as offering early retirement. Central office employees moved back into schools should not be paid any more than their position and seniority merit.

Look at the feasibility of moving KMS into CMS.


Look at what the APs are doing on a school-by-school basis and combine responsibilities where possible.

Justify the need for traveling - never schedule a meeting, retreat or conference outside of DeKalb.

Use teleconferencing or video for meetings where all DCSS employees have to be there - don't transport people to somewhere else.

During summer months, schools and central offices should only be open four days per/week.

rumors and preverifcations said...

Has anyone noticed that they changed there website and you can no longer see the agendas of the past or future board meetings.I thought they did that for transparency, it just got foggy.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Has anyone noticed that they changed there website and you can no longer see the agendas of the past or future board meetings.I thought they did that for transparency, it just got foggy.

No, they are still there - just accessed differently. Under the BOE link, go to eboardssolution link. Meetings tab is at the top.

Anonymous said...

Someone please explain why we need Assistant Principals for Attendance??

Anonymous said...

Someone please explain why we need Assistant Principals for Attendance??

Because there are only so many central office jobs to go around. Until a Deputy Superintendent position or a Associate Director of Magnet Programs position (of which there are THREE!!!) open up in C.O., the overpaid do nothing employee is placed in a "holding pattern" as Assistant Principal for Attendance.

Cerebration said...

Well - this is yet another "Health and Wellness" slap in the face --

Here's the text from a flyer sent out today cheering on the new center --

The DCSS Employee Wellness Center has been open for 6 weeks and we’ve had over 1,500 visits to the Center.

The top 3 employees with the most visits are:

1. Luis Gomez @ Sequoyah Middle School
2. Teresa Lass @ Warren Tech
3. Lauren Phipps @ Stone Mill Elementary

The top 3 locations with the most visits are:
1. Sam Moss Service Center
2. East DeKalb Campus
3. Elizabeth Andrews High School


There's a schedule for exercise classes including Low Impact Aerobics, Zumba, Boot Camp and Kick Boxing

It really is as our original post declared -
Audacious!
The Audacity is Astounding!

Cerebration said...

Oh - to answer the Leadership DeKalb question - Zepora is a graduate, as is Dr Lewis. But then we also have David Moody, Philandrea Guillory, Gwen Keyes, Bob Moseley, Stan Pritchett, Marcus Turk, Garry McGiboney among others...

Curious said...

Atlanta City Schools announced today they received a $10 Million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

This Gates Foundation grant is in addition to the $13.5 Million grant was ACS previously awarded.

Questions: Has our beloved DCSS ever received a Gates Foundation grant? If not, why not?

Cerebration said...

This is from the AJC blog - Get Schooled. It's a comment in the DCSS budget discussion. I thought I'd repost it here -- I thought it was very good.


Out of the 13,285 employees of DeKalb Schools, only 7,500 are teachers while 5,800 are administrative and support personnel (acknowledged by Lewis and the DeKalb BOE). 42% of our employees as administrative and support personnel is simply too high. And I’m quite sure all 5,800 are not grant writers (Primarily two people write most of DeKalb’s grants, and you would be surprised how many of our teachers and parents write their own grants in order to get supplies and science and technology equipment for their classrooms).

91% of our budget is spent on personnel (straight from an AJC article and acknowledged by Lewis and the BOE). Other metro systems average 85% (also from an AJC article, acknowledged by Lewis and the BOE, and recommended as the target by SACS).

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 of our budget 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.

Our abnormally high personnel expenditure on those 5,800 administrative and support personnel drains us in other ways that negatively impact students. It causes us to have little (and often ancient and non-working) science and technology equipment for students and teachers. We also have many schools that are literally falling down and environmentally unsafe (mold, cracked sidewalks, old and filthy bathrooms, etc. – drive out and take a look at Cross Keys as a perfect example).

We taxpayers pay taxes to educate our children, not to guarantee that all employees keep their jobs, the primary goal of Lewis’s new budget proposal (internal memorandum sent to DeKalb employees states this as his primary goal – I’m sure all you teachers read it and were livid).

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 the furloughs on the 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 personnel 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.

Sad but true said...

Face the facts, neighbors.

Crawford Lewis and his Board of Education are NOT running a school system. They are running an employment agency. It's purpose is to provide employment. It's not about educating children. It's about putting our tax dollars into the pockets of over 5,800 employees who will NEVER see the inside of a classroom.

We can fuss and fight about which school gets this or which students get that. But those arguments fail to address the root cause of DCSS's failure.

DCSS is not operated or managed to educate the children. DCSS is operated and managed to transfer our tax dollars into the pockets of Crawford Lewis and the 5,800 employees who will never teach a child anything.

Anonymous said...

These are great ideas and I hope that people are sending them in. We need to bombard the people with our good ideas, so that they hear our voices, even though I am sure that their heads are already made up. We cannot give up and have to show the people in charge that we are watching and mean business.

Anonymous said...

The Gates Foundation is very careful and cautious about whom they give money to. They investigate organizations thoroughly and do not just hand money out. I am sure that DeKalb would not pass their sniff test. Someone from Gates would come in and see how money is so mismanaged and ask why we need their money, when we're not spending tax payer dollars effectively. DeKalb needs to clean their act up, if they want real grant funding.

Dunwoody Mom said...

am sure that DeKalb would not pass their sniff test.

But Beverly Hall did?

Anonymous said...

Do you want to know where the $8,187 per pupil DeKalb spends goes?

Go to Dekalb Schools official website at www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/about/fastfacts.html. You’ll find that:
DeKalb has 13,285 employees
53.1% or 7,054 are Teachers, Media Specialists and Counselors
42.3% or 5,620 are Support Personnel
4.6% or 611 are Administrators

I think a 30% cut in Support and Administrative personnel is certainly warranted when almost half of your employees are not even teachers. How did we ever get in this shape?

Anonymous said...

Students not living in our county but attending our schools without paying tuition also needs to come to an end. This includes employees. We cannot educate children who live elsewhere for free. I realize that principals don't want to bring this up, as they want to keep their numbers up. I wonder how many kids do not live in the county, but are being educated not at their parent's school, but at some of the "best" schools in our county. Doesn't make sense to me.

Anonymous said...

Cere,
Today's DCSS article by Maureen Downey entitled in the AJC blog - Get Schooled is excellent. It is entitled "DeKalb Parents and the Budget: Getting Angry and Organized".

Maureen says:
I received this note from a DeKalb parent. I thought I would share it as it reflects the extent of this budget mess and what is at stake. (If any other parent groups are organizing, send me the public links and I will post here.)

Has anyone sent her the link for "DeKalb County School Watch" blog so she can post it like she did the DeKalb Parent website?

Dekalbparent said...

Geez, I didn't even know there were people on staff to write grants!

I myself (as a parent) have applied for four grants for my child's school. Several teachers have also used their own time to do so - and we were all pretty darn successful. I even know a woman who is a clinic staffer who has written several grants for the science classes at her school.

I imagine you would have to wait a pretty long time to get someone in Central Office to write a grant for you, so it's better to do so at the schoolhouse level.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Wellness Center, even it Kaiser gave the $275,000 grant to establish this center, the initial capital outlay pales in comparison with the personnel (salary + benefits) that are necessary to run this facility.

This sounds like another way to employ people in DeKalb Schools who do not teach children.

Anonymous said...

The grant writers for DCSS are terrible. And there are no performance standards for them. All they have to do is some butt kissing and their nice salaries are staff from budget cuts.

Even the City of Atlanta school system got $10 mil from Microsoft. I've heard from multiple sources Microsoft and other such corporations want NOTHING to do with DCSS.

Anonymous said...

Most people who don't work in schools don't understand what's necessary to keep them operational.

Attendance APs handle truant students...and most high schools have tremendous problems with skippers.

The Wellness Center and the instructional coaches and graduation coaches are not paid by Dekalb. They're paid federally or by grants.

Regarding Central Office cuts...everyone wants to cut the "fat cats" until they become the fat cat. hmph
It's easy to say get rid of "support" staff (secretaries), but you'd hate to see a school operate without them.

Regarding getting rid of

Anonymous said...

To DeKalb Parent 6:04 pm.

Yes, one of the grant writers is Paula Swartzberg, a DeKalb Central Office employee. The other is Dr. Malinda DiSalvo, Assistant Director, Grants and Community Programs in the Information Systems Department. According to Cerebration on the "DeKalb County Schools System as Mr. Potato Head?" blog Dr. DiSalvo is paid $110,196.00.

Gee, with your track record maybe DeKalb will hire you at a $100,000+ salary.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I just got back from a meeting at Peachtree with regards to 9th grade schedules at Dunwoody next year. I am going to attempt to calm down before I explain how DCSS in all their "sneakiness" is demoting "gifted" students. OMG, I AM SO MAD!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

How in the world can DCSS commit to anything schedule-wise when the Board won't decide until March (or later) what the heck they're going to do to further erode education quality in DeKalb County? I can't wait to hear what you heard.

Dekalbparent said...

Dunwoody Mom -

Are they perhaps changing the name of the classes to "Accelerated" so they don't have to limit the number of students in a class??

Helen said...

"Are they perhaps changing the name of the classes to "Accelerated" so they don't have to limit the number of students in a class??"

No...they still offer gifted classes.

Anonymous said...

"I am going to attempt to calm down before I explain how DCSS in all their "sneakiness" is demoting "gifted" students. "

Please tell...I was at the meeting and didn't catch that!

Dekalbparent said...

Anon 6:54 -

1) I asked about APs for Attendance because I really wanted to know if it was indicative of a very bad truancy problem in the high schools. I suspected it was b/c there is a very bad truancy problem in our high school. I do not begrudge them their jobs. I do think, however, that if we need an Attendance AP in every high school, then DCSS needs to do some brainstorming to address the truancy problem.

2) I know that the Wellness Center is paid for by a Kaiser Permanente grant, and it might well be costing the taxpayers nothing right now. BUT is the grant going to renew perpetually? If not, is DCSS going to shut the Wellness Center, sell the eqipment and fire all the Wellness Center employees? Or will it stay with the taxpayers assuming the costs?

3) I am not aware that anyone has advocated firing secretaries at the school level. I don't think anyone thinks it wise to fire secretaries to administrators - but some of the secretaries to administrators make more money than I made running the databases of an international company. I believe that is the issue under discussion.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:54 pm

I'm well aware that some of the instructional coaches that Dr. Lewis put in the schools are funded with Title I funds. However, these funds could be used in other ways that would not impact our budget in the same way.

Let's consider heath care benefits (about $6000 per year), retirement (9.25% of a teacher's salary per employee picked up by the BOE - over $4,000 per year), TSA (6% of a teacher's salary picked up by the BOE - over $2,500 per year ) would. So the school system does pick up thousands of dollars in health care and retirement and annuity costs - over $12,000 per year.

I'm sure that Title I does not pay these costs. On the other hand, Title I funds can be used for other equipment such as technology equipment, something our students are sorely lacking in.

I know that Kaiser gave the money for the Wellness Center, but I'm sure they didn't sign on for the cost of personnel to staff this facility. Yet more non-teaching personnel to add to our budget.

No one says to do away with all support personnel. But you must admit that half of our personnel should not be admin or support. Someone must actually teach the students.

Addressing your statement:
"Regarding Central Office cuts...everyone wants to cut the "fat cats" until they become the fat cat."

I'm well aware of the "fat cats". Support personnel talk of "upper management, career paths, and climbing the corporate ladder". (I've sat in meetings and heard them say this). They consider teachers the lowest people on the totem pole.

The school system is not a corporation regardless of what the 6,000+ support personnel think. We do not turn a profit. If someone wants to have a "career path" and "climb the corporate ladder", I suggest they go work for a corporation. They can contribute to the bottom line of the corporation.

Believe it or not, many people want to be teachers. They genuinely like to teach and want to be with children. The feelings of the "fat cats" are that teachers must be without any ambition if they are satisfied with being in a classroom working with children and not following a "career path".

I think the people that foot the bill for DeKalb County Schools are beginning to understand that fact. I really don't think the people that pay the bill care about the "career paths" of the Support personnel. They just want good teachers and a safe environment for their kids.

A 30% reduction in Support Personnel (Central Office, Service Center, and Information Technology personnel) would go a long way to freeing up funds for the business of educating our children.

Dunwoody Mom said...
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Dunwoody Mom said...
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Dekalbparent said...

Dun. Mom,

This is a variation of what I have railed about at the high school level. There is a state limit on class size for gifted, and if every child were assigned to all gifted classes, they would have to create more gifted classes to accommodate them. Simpler to just move them into some classes that don't have the stringent size limits.

This is not a new maneuver .

Anonymous said...

I am stunned, Dunwoody Mom. My DHS 11th grader has always had exactly the level he qualified for, except in two cases where the block schedule didn't have room for a gifted math or history class or because he'd do better in a different level because of the content. We punted to Accelerated/High Achiever and he still had sufficient rigor to feel challenged. But bumping a gifted student to General for Social Studies? That's outrageous.

Dunwoody Mom said...
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Anonymous said...

The forms at Peachtree had recommendations, not class assignments. I've been told by DHS parents that students in high achiever classes at PCMS typically track into the general classes and those in the gifted classes split between gifted and accelerated.

I honestly don't think that DCSS is trying to deny children gifted services. I think the PCMS teachers are trying to place your child correctly. If you have questions, I'm sure the Peachtree teachers would discuss the reasoning behind their recommendations. I plan to talk to one of my child's teachers this week to discuss placement questions.

Anonymous said...

Here's a budget idea: Crawford should hand out his personal credit cards to drivers of school district owned vehicles and let them fill them up whenever they get below half a tank. He and his wife Sandra can foot the bill.

How is this any different that his requiring us to pay to fill up the his, Sandra & the kids cars when he charges the gas to DCSS?

Scumbag. Use my tax dollars to educate children!

Dunwoody Mom said...
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Dunwoody Mom said...
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Anonymous said...

How many of the children label "gifted" truly are gifted? It is easy for elementary schools to test students and get them qualified for Discovery, so that they get more funding and keep parents happy. If elementary schools were following the rules for gifted than this wouldn't be such a huge problem. When the 1/3 of the children are labeled gifted in my grade level. It's all about funding.

Dunwoody Mom said...
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Cerebration said...

Here's a new bit of info from the pipeline - regarding the Title 1 program "America's Choice". Can anyone confirm?

We have been informed that DCSS is sent 150 people (some principals, retirees, and upper admins) to California today and it has to do with AMERICA'S CHOICE. Airfare is $350 per person and this does not even include the hotel accommodations, meals, car rentals, etc.

This could be a really big bill for a really big junket if true. I'm not sure it's a great "choice" for spending our stimulus-provided extra Title 1 funds.

Dekalbparent said...

AAAAAAAHHHHHH!

If that info about Title I is right (retirees???, RETIREES???), I don't know whether to $hit or catch fire...

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom- I have had two children in DCSS and both have always been classified gifted and high achiever with very high grades. But for several years the DCSS policy for the Impact program (middle and High school gifted levels) has been that they only guarantee that the gifted student gets ONE gifted class. This policy is on the website.

So my child was in one gifted high school course and all the other courses are Advanced or Accelerated (and have 30 plus students).

So reading your email really burns me up because I thought all schools were following the same "only one gifted" course rule. I expect that the State will make some sort of "emergency" rule that does away with class size for gifted classes anyway.

Dunwoody Mom said...
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Anonymous said...

Well my cut and paste of the link did not work (past my bedtime).

But if you go to the DCSS website and go to the Gifted and High Achiever section, scroll down the introductory page to the IMPACT program description. It says each gifted student will receive instruction in at least one gifted course (but that is all they promise). Dr. Porcher explained to me 3 years ago that this means only one gifted course because the county cannot afford to pay for so many small classes. Our high school counselors say the same thing although many of our teachers are gifted certified.

Frankly, I have found that as long as my children were in the Advanced section (so they cover more material), the quality of the teacher is the key. One had a gifted Literature teacher who was just so-so and then he was in a science class with 35 students but the teacher was incredible.

Anonymous said...

Every time someone says that it's Title I paying for a program, you need to remember that the DeKalb Central Office Administrator who runs the Title I program makes the decision as to the expenditure of the money.

DeKalb has long used Title I funds as a center of influence making other employees and school personnel beholden to their decisions.

All or most of Title I funds could go directly to the schools where the principal and the teachers could decide to spend them on what they feel is best for their particular students. But he who controls the money has an enormous amount of power. That's the real story of Title I in DeKalb. It's politics as usual.

Dunwoody Mom said...
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Anonymous said...

@ Cere 9:15

Here's a new bit of info from the pipeline - regarding the Title 1 program "America's Choice". Can anyone confirm?
**** CONFIRMED*****
We have been informed that DCSS is sent 150 people (some principals, retirees, and upper admins) to California today and it has to do with AMERICA'S CHOICE. Airfare is $350 per person and this does not even include the hotel accommodations, meals, car rentals, etc.

Schools implementing the program must send their principal and two other attendees from the school using their Title 1 funds.

Not many "upper level employees" attending other than those in the Title 1 Office (ie ALL Title 1 Coaches and the Title 1 Directors- who appear to be running instruction with their purse strings).

I have not heard of any "retirees" attending.

If you check the "America's Choice" website- the registration alone was $495-545 per participant.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:17 PM, who is the Title 1 coordinator for DCSS?

Cere, what is the name of the former DCSS administrator who America's Choice hired? DCSS only purchased America's Choice after the DCSS administrator was hired.

Cerebration said...

That's Deborah Rives. Dr. Lewis was also a speaker at an AC conference where Arne Duncan was the keynote. So, he appears hip on the program.

I have nothing against the program, or the conference per se, it's just such a blatantly expensive choice to send so many people out there - in a time when we're talking about chopping over $50 million from the general budget. Seems the only budget with any money is the Title 1 budget.

It's a credibility issue. How are we to believe that the rest of us have to make such huge sacrifices for our children and schools - when others are throwing money around like they're going to Vegas! (ala the "Wellness Center" and free workout facility). The response is "that's grant money - or that's Title 1 money" - but it really doesn't matter - it's perception. The PR folks should know this.

Here's a claim made by America's Choice at their website -
Rigor & Readiness brings America’s Choice and ACT together to deliver the first comprehensive instructional system in the US that prepares all high school students for college and careers without remediation.

And here's the link to the conference brochure if you're interested -

https://register.americaschoice.org/natconf_brochure.pdf

Cerebration said...

Also, I don't know who the current Title 1 coordinator is, but I do know that current board rep Pam Speaks used to hold that job.

Anonymous said...

Audria Berry was the coordinator of Title 1 for the last 4 or 5 years. According to the Mr. Potato Head conversation strand found on this blog, Audria is now a Deputy Assistant Superintendent making $114,774.00 a year. She has had a great "career path".

Anonymous said...

Some great figures as to where our money is spent (so we know where the cuts should come) versus Fulton County are found on this page at the website Community Radar:
http://www.communityradar.com/story.php?title=DeKalb_County_Schools_System_as_Mr-_Potato_Head-1

We are compared with Fulton County per pupil expenditures.

Anonymous said...

Cere 8:21 -- Totally agree with you on this one. Wouldn't it be cheaper to bring the America's Choice pro(s) here instead of sending 150 persons to the west coast? Even at a consultant rate of $1000 per day the District would save money. Heck airfare and registration alone, not to mention food, lodging, and transportation expenses near $60,000 for this west coast gig.

This overspending would NEVER occur in the corporate environment.

Cerebration said...

I agree. I notice the keynote speaker is from North Carolina. Seems we could have brought him here for an in-service. Also, I once attended a conference on dyslexia right here in Atlanta where one of the featured speakers was Joe Torgeson, Research Professor of Psychology and Education, Emeritus, at Florida State University. He was a fascinating speaker and I learned a lot -- for $99 for the day! Also, I remember being pretty disturbed at the time because there were very, very few public school teachers in attendance. I had even offered to pay for my child's teacher to attend (it was on a Saturday) and she politely refused. Seems she thought her degree in special ed from UGA was all she needed. (Even though she had never heard of much of his research, or the practices such as Orton-Gillingham used in private schools.)

Sigh.

Cerebration said...

At any rate, it does look like a very good conference with cutting edge topics. I hope that everyone in attendance learns much from being there and brings it back to implement in their home schools. Some serious follow-up and additional in-service training should occur after people get back in order for these new ideas to take hold.

Anonymous said...

If Superintendent Lewis sincerely wants input about potential budget cuts, then he should post the following information on the Dekalb County School System web site:

1. A detailed Organizational Chart of all the administrative positions
2. List all administrative positions with a job title along with the responsibilities for each position and the pay
3. A full listing of all school property currently owned and it's status (in use, shuttered, leased)

Also, Lewis needs to come clean with the gas purchases and misappropriation of school property (automobile). He also needs to post Pat Pope's resume and state why he hired her and made her the second highest paid school employee. Also, who is paying Pope's legal fees for both the contract dispute and the sex discrimination case? How much have we spent on legal fees in the Heery/Mitchell case so far and which budget pays for it?

Finally, the District Attorney needs to stop playing games and go ahead and press charges against both Lewis and Pat Pope. They broke the law and should be treated like alleged criminals. Paying back what they stole is a just and a taint on the DA's office.

Lewis needs the County. The County does not need Lewis.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:19 PM, you post is common sense. Which is why it will never happen with this Board of ed. Good ideas, though.

Anonymous said...

Folks, did anyone attend the Budget Committee meeting today? The committee is meeting frequently and I understand the public can observe.

I downloaded the minutes from the 1/28/2010 meeting and they are very informative and answer some questions. Here is the link to the page. You may have to click on the drop down to get the minutes.

https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/meetings/ViewMeeting.aspx?S=4054&MID=13845

Cere: Would it be possible to have a new section on the right side of the site where we could post these word documents?

Anonymous said...

Key points from Budget Committee minutes:

*McChesney thinks Central office staffers returning to classrooms should be paid teacher salary

*Womack said ave. Central office salary is $75,000-80,000

*Reducing varsity sports would save a whopping $850,000 but cutting back ITBS and COGAT only saves $250,000

*Womack and Cunningham want to save Pre-K

* Closing Lithonia Charter saves $2.2M

Cerebration said...

This is hopeful... I know they're working hard and feel a sense of responsibility. Take out the chainsaw board members - and start hacking away. We're with you!

Anonymous said...

We need to push the BOE to not just move administrators to the classroom. There are hundreds of non-teaching positions that need to be eliminated. Crawford is doing everything possible to keep his jobs program in place, knowing that he has an army of administrators loyal to him, along with their families and friends. We could easily cut the 545 instructional specialists/supervisors to 145, with no loss in quality. No more Executive Director of Corporate Wellness. Lewis wants to move around the chairs on the deck of the Titantic. We need many of these non-teaching positions to be eliminated for once and all.

themommy said...

Lithonia Charter (which was actually called the Academy of Lithonia) isn't open this year. State DOE shut it down at the end of last school year.

Dr. Lewis wants to save Pre-K, the state really wants DeKalb to save Pre-k. (The latter wasn't talked about at the committee meeting, but rather my state legislator mentioned it to me.) Pam Speaks mentioned that DCSS needs to look at running Pre-k within the funds the state provides for the program. This means that pre-k teachers and paras would make less than other teachers in the building. (I am ok with this by the way.)

Dr. Lewis recommends closing 4 schools (elementary) as phase 1 by August. The committee begins their work this week and hopefully will make recommendations by April on Phase 1.

themommy said...

I am some news that probably will make some of you happy and some of you not so happy.

Many of the 445 Instructional Specialists are actually Art, Music and PE teachers in grades k-8. Having a life, I didn't check all the names on the list, but I checked the first and last names on each of the 14 page PDF file.

I think it is important that we (as a collective advocating group) try hard to make sure our facts are correct. It gives us more credibility.

In fairness, I would have never thought to check, but a board member challenged the information from the blog at the Budget Committee yesterday.

If you ever have a question about what an employee of DCSS does, simply go to the school system website, go to communitynet and then use the first class directory to search for their name. Their information will be there (sort of, generally just a school or building name, you have to click through to find a bit more.)

I am sending the file to Cere, in case she wants to post it.

Anonymous said...

Are we mixing terms?

Why is an k-12 art teacher called an "educational specialist"?

The are other "educational specialists" who visit teachers in schools to tell them what to do and how present a lesson. These "educational specialists" are underemployed!

Cerebration said...

This is great, Anon! I've always said, if these are teachers, working directly with students - then fine. I do think we need to better describe people's job titles. I know Johnny Brown was very frustrated with the vague job descriptions and tried to make them more relevant. He uncovered many people doing jobs that were nowhere near their job description.

We still need to dig though - somewhere - there are a whole lot of extra administrators - in proportion to teachers -- especially when compared to other districts.

Cerebration said...

I did as you suggested and found several people - I won't post names, just job titles and salaries -

PE teacher - $ 60,394.79

MS music teacher - $ 69,018.00

ES Visual Art teacher - $ 65,043.50

ES Visual Art teacher - $ 74,004.00

ES PE teacher - $ 69,018.00

MS orchestra teacher - $ 45,806.00

This is good - glad to see this! Well-paid teachers in art/music and PE.

Anonymous said...

Under J. Brown's administration the board brought in consultants to fix the DCSS job title mess. The trouble was that you had two people doing the same job, but due to different titles could have been paid differently depending on which title the superintendent wanted to assign them.

As a result of the consultants' recomendation, Brown eliminated hundreds of titles and got people doing similar work classified together appropriately. Literally hundreds of job titles went away.

Anon 12:52 -- Can you tell from your research if all DCSS K-8 art, music, and pe teachers are classified as "educational specialists"? Or has this administration reclassified people doing the same jobs into ones with different titles so they can be paid differently?

Anonymous said...

Somebody is pulling the wool over somebody's eyes...

Full-time or "shared" PE teachers and Music teachers in K-8 are NOT "educational specialists"! They are just teachers!

If there are Music teacher NOT assigned studedents but are assigned schools or teachers to supervise---now that is an "educational specialist"!

There are such "educational specialists" visiting schools to tell them "HOW TO TEACH" music and thse folks DO NOT teach students!

Anonymous said...

Teachers hold either a provisional or a professional teaching certificate.

Teachers are paid on the basis of the level of the degrees they hold. The degrees are:

undergraduate:

1. Bachelor's,

Graduate:

2. Master's,
3. Educational Specialist ( this degree exists-I believe-only in the educational field,
4. PHD (or Doctor of Education)

Within each of these degrees, teachers are paid according to their succesful years of service as well.

Perhaps, we are mixing terms and DCSS is glad we are...

themommy said...

They are called instructional specialists -- not educational specialists and based on my very unscientific research ( I know Art, music, and/or pe teachers at several DCSS schools) they are all on this list as instructional specialists.

These are the "specials" teachers at elementary level or the "electives" teachers at middle school.

themommy said...

Fulton County has 577 Instructional specialists. This make sense that they would have more because Fulton guarantees that all schools have certain specials and electives. (I don't know what the impact of the budget shortfall is, but Fulton has had foreign language and science in every elementary school as well as PE, ART, and music

Cerebration said...

We also have a category called "Other Instructional Providers" with about 50 people in it. Anyone know what they do?

We have other teachers described as Teacher of Specific LD or Teacher of Emotional/Behavioral, or Teacher of Hearing Impaired - several more - so why not add Teacher of Visual Arts or Teacher of Physical Ed? It would be so much more clear.

Cerebration said...

At any rate - I am personally VERY relieved to find out that a vast majority of the vaguely described "Instructional Specialists" are actually teachers who have daily contact with students. I was fearful they were all more people hired to monitor teachers - which we do not need.

I would love to see many more para pros - and "special" teachers such as art, music and PE. When we sort our Excel file from the State Salary Reports - the heading TEACHER should be the obvious majority on the list.

It's the 21st Century - this stuff is easily accessible to the public - the board needs to ensure that the info is accurate and clear.

Cerebration said...

From DCSS _ Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Suggestions

Because of declining state revenues and decreasing tax collections in DeKalb, DCSS is facing a $56M budget shortfall for the next school year. We want to hear from you about any suggestions or ideas you may have regarding the budget that may serve as workable solutions. Email your suggestions or ideas to
budget-suggestions@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

A website has been created to keep you informed about the budget planning process and will be updated regularly. For more information, please go to: www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/superintendent/fy2011-budget.html
CLICK HERE FOR BUDGET WEBSITE

Anonymous said...

Don't believe everything you hear from the BOE. They are woefully misinformed. It is amazing how they believe everything they hear from C Lew, like that all of Yvonne Butler's pay was from a grant, which is untrue. And the grant had many options for things for it to cover, not have two-fifth's of it to go to a new made up position for someone with absolutely no experience in the field.

They are so many non-teachers and administrators and support staff in the system. We will never know because this administration will use subterfuge to hide the hard facts. Don't buy into the backlash from the BOE and C Lew that the info. on this blog is inaccurate. We've hit a nerve on many issues, and they are trying to go after the credibility of this blog and those who post to it. At least it's good they are paying attention.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the BOE does not want to make personnel transparent.

Go to the DeKalb County Schools main website - Fast Facts section.

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/about/fastfacts.html

You will see that the breakdown of personnel is:

Total 13,842
Teachers, Media Specialists and Counselors 53.1%
Support Personnel 42.3%; Administrators 4.6%

Perhaps someone should ask the Board members why only 53% of our personnel is listed as teachers on the DeKalb Scools website. I believe that art, PE and music teachers are counted as teachers.

Much of our personnel cost are in the Service Center, MIS, Finance, Human Resources, Food Services, Public Relations, etc.

It's going to be a choice of paring or outsourcing jobs or cut our instructional programs, increase our pupil teacher ratio, be uncompetitive in the teaching realm, forgo new textbooks, leave our students with less and less science and technology equipment, etc.

We should leave the schoolhouse untouched until we make severe cuts in all departments, not just the Central Office. Other counties have pared or outsourced many of their technical, repair and maintenance, public relations, and food services functions. They get the same level or better service for less money as the outsourcing company knows their contract is up for grabs if they don't deliver. As you have seen from the eSis mess, customer service is nonexistent in DeKalb County Schools.

Corporate America has already learned this. If we tell teachers this is a business and they are accountable, then we must run it lean and mean like a business. You can't starve your core business which must have students and teachers to survive and be a job machine at the same time.

We cannot sustain the level of support personnel we have and in addition pay the salaries and benefits we pay to so many support personnel.

Retirement is funded at 9.25% of an employee's salary, TSA 6% of an employees salary and the biggie is insurance. Insurance for low paid employees can be as much as 30% to 50% of their salary.

For example, a lower paid employee with an annual salary of $15,000 pays maybe $300 a month for family insurance coverage, but the BOE pays $900 to $1000 as their part. So a $15,000 employee does not cost $15,000. Rather a $15,000 employee with a family probably costs the county closer to $30,000 (retirement, TSA and insurance). And we have thousands of lower paid employees. Up to half of their salary cost is hidden in benefits.

The choice will be - do you want to eliminate Pre-K, paraprofessionals in Kindergarten and First Grade, have your child in a classroom with 31 other students, make do with old and outdated science equipment, have your child taught by teachers with low morale, and forgo new textbooks.

Or do you want to outsource some technical, repair services, and food services.

Every job function that is not a teacher can be combined or outsourced so hard decisions must be made. I can see why Lewis and the BOE think it's just easier to raise the millege rate, decrease teacher salaries and/or just pack a few more kids into every classroom.

$56,000,000 in savings cannot come out of the Central Office alone. Closing some schools is a good idea. That will allow us to eliminate some bus drivers, cafeteria workers, school administrators, secretaries, maintenance and repair personnel, etc. DeKalb already has more schools than any other system in Georgia even though we don't have as many students.

Our salary costs are 91% of our budget rather that most metro systems running 85% (That 6% of 900,000,000 is $54,000,000 a year). Obviously, they have already made many of these hard decisions.

Anonymous said...

A teacher-friend of mine just went to some Democratic event today and spoke with Jay Cunningham and Zepora Roberts. Both said that there WOULD be a number of teacher furlough days coming up. So much for Crawford's "word" again!

Cerebration said...

Our salary costs are 91% of our budget rather that most metro systems running 85% (That 6% of 900,000,000 is $54,000,000 a year).

To me - that is the core problem in a nutshell. Please, everyone reiterate this statement to your board rep. It's so obvious that it's virtually ignored. Our salary costs as compared to other systems cost us almost exactly the amount of our shortfall. Should we really have to pay more tax in order to continue to over-fund the system?

This reduction can be handled with cuts, outsourcing and school consolidations. IF and when the board makes those moves, and we are still short on fund - then that is when you ask the people to pay more tax. Remember - you are asking people who have lost jobs and homes to pay more tax to save someone else. It's not sustainable.

Anonymous said...

"Our salary costs are 91% of our budget rather that most metro systems running 85%"

Are other systems outsourcing some of their non-teaching positions? If we use mostly staff employees to provide the services that other systems outsource, then that could make a huge difference in personnel costs. For example, if food service were outsourced, the personnel costs would go down, but we would pay a similar amount under some other line item to provide food service.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the outsourcing of support functions:

Sodexo is a very large food service provider of school districts, hospitals, etc. I'm sure there are others. It would be good for the county to look into outsourcing this function. Perhaps we would have more nutritious meals for our kids at a better price. Every low paid employee costs the county twice his/her salary when benefits are added in so there are enormous implications for cost savings. Here is a website link to Sodexo.
http://www.sodexousa.com/

Fulton and Cobb outsource some of their technology functions.

The state of Georgia has outsourced almost all of their Information Systems services. Much of their outsourcing has been to IBM which subcontracted to Dell.

Dell by the way does all the installations of DeKalb's interactive boards and computers although DeKalb spends millions in county technical personnel. DeKalb personnel do the maintenance and ask teachers how well that is done - in particular eSis. Ask the teachers if they feel the technical department meets the needs of their students. So much is spent in personnel that we have pitifully little left for actual equipment for the teachers and students.

I don't know about the service center, but I'm sure many of those services should be looked at to see if we can do it more efficiently and with less cost. Perhaps someone could comment on this.

It's a very difficult decision to outsource functions as behind each job lies a person, but as an earlier post said - if teachers are held accountable for the performance of our students, then like corporate America DeKalb must become lean and mean like a business.

Unfortunately this means paring down and outsourcing the parts of your business that can be pared down and outsourced and investing in the parts of your business that absolutely require full time employees.

I agree with the former posts. We must hammer the board with the fact that 91% of DeKalb's budget goes for salaries while other metro systems average 85%. This represents a $54,000,000 gap every year.

Lewis and the BOE must leave nothing on the table to get to this 85%, and that does not mean balancing the budget on the backs of our kids. The students are why anyone in the school system has a job. That is why all we parents work so hard every day. Somehow Lewis and BOE have lost their focus.

I've already written my BOE member about the inordinate percentage spent on salaries (91%)and told him (Womack) that I expect them to bring us to 85% of our budget in salary expense without touching our teachers. I also asked that he and the BOE take a look at combining and paring back personnel and outsourcing any functions that can be outsourced. I'm also for closing some schools. We have a lot more schools than other systems.

I think it will take some hefty Central Office cuts (223 people account for $25,000,000 in salaries without even considering benefits), but obviously it will also take collapsing and combining and outsourcing lower level jobs as well.

Don't let the BOE members tell you it takes a long time to outsource. The state of Georgia outsourced their Information Technology department last year. Perdue said get bids, they evaluated them, and it was done.

Dell, IBM, Sodexo, etc. are all hungry for business. They are much more flexible than the school system. They would probably do backflips to get DeKalb's business. And if they don't provide the customer service our teachers and children deserve then they can be replaced.

Really, it's not our job to go out and figure out which jobs should be cut, combined or outsourced. It's the BOE and Lewis's job to figure this out without touching our classrooms. They need to concentrate on how to maintain a quality education in this economy, not provide full employment. Our children are the vulnerable ones in this scenario. Lewis and the BOe need to realize they are there for the students, not vice versa.

Anonymous said...

"We must hammer the board with the fact that 91% of DeKalb's budget goes for salaries while other metro systems average 85%. This represents a $54,000,000 gap every year."

Yes, but if we outsource, we're not going to save $54 million per year. We might save something, but we still have to pay a company to perform the service.

When you pay a company to provide an employee to perform a service, you also have to pay the company's overhead, which includes money to pay for the employees retirement, health benefits, and the company management and profit. If the service that you are contracting for is one that requires a full-time employee (like food service) you might end up paying more in the short term. Typically you pay about twice an employees salary to bring them in on a contract. The advantage is that you can fire the employee and the company at will (or at least when the contract is up).

We might get better service, but it might not be cheaper. It will not save anything close to $54 million.

Anonymous said...

What does it say about a school systems leadership and its School Board when parents and concerned citizens have to be the ones to propose budget adjustments to make ends meet?
Seems to be a general consensus that the Central Office is too big, but if you look at the Organizational Charts posted on the DeKalb website there is no way to tell. The charts only showl high level positions.
For example, some time ago a poster mentioned the budget comments go to a Sarah Neely and Pam Talmadge. I assumed they are in the Central Office. Could not find on the charts. Where are they and what do they do? I checked the Open Records info and found that their salaries are $81,000 and $51,000. How many hundreds of other folks are there like this? Does the Board have this info?
If does no good to just move folks from the central office to the schools, if you are trying to reduce expenses by $50 million.
How about if the School Board posted the complete organization charts for the Central Office!!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Anonynmous 7:15 a.m. Sorry, but I disagree about outsourcing. My medium sized company outsourced several services over the past few years and we saved tons of money. And it is not a one time savings - it is perpetual because you are not paying benefits to the companies you outsource. And by the way no company in private industry still provides retirement benefits. (Well some of the auto manufacturers did but that is history now.) Only the government continues to pay fixed benefit retirement plans.

Dunwoody Mom said...
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Anonymous said...

If outsourcing was as expensive as you say and its only benefit was the ability to get good customer service (which by the way may be worth looking at since ours is so awful - ask any teacher), then why would corporations and even small businesses be embracing it.

Whey don't you ask the state of Georgia how much they saved by outsourcing their Information Technology department. I'm sure it's common knowledge. I know people who lost their jobs in IT with the state and some of them were hired by the Dell and some weren't. The efficient and more productive personnel kept their jobs and the less productive personnel Dell passed on.

There is such a thing as productivity. Increased productivity leads to decreased expenses.

To say that outsourcing always costs the same is simply not true. Perhaps you are concerned that the BOE and Lewis might outsource to friends of their who own companies. That's a sad commentary but one I can see DeKalb Co. citizens fearing.

Why don't Lewis and the BOE compare our departments with other school system departments to see where our "excess" is (I'm sure it's not in pupil teacher ratio which is what they want to increase)? Internally, it's called doing the things the "DeKalb Way" - they actually say that. Well, the DeKalb Way has gotten us inflated salary costs.

Parents should not even have to be involved in the budget process. How ridiculous. When the 223 top people are paid $25,000,000 (I got that from the state site I was directed to on this blog), they need to be coming up with these ideas.

This is really a smokescreen to make the taxpayers feel they have a voice (DeKalb has done this so many times). They feel this will diffuse much of the anger towards them. maybe Sarah Neely and Pam Talmadge came up with this idea.

Dunwoody Mom said...
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Dunwoody Mom said...
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Dunwoody Mom said...

Do you know how sad and ridiculous some of you sound? First, Lewis and the BOE are bashed because they don't seek input from the public and now that they have asked for public suggestions on the budget we get comments such as "Parents should not even have to be involved in the budget process." Basically, for some of the posters on this blog, it is not about a discussion on how best to educate our children, but it is a means that you can bash Lewis, the BOE and anyone else you can think of to bash. Shame on you.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Anon 8:00, here's the main advantage of outsourcing: You pay for a service, but are not stuck with paying employee pension and benefits for decades after that employee retires. Teachers deserve a pension. Outsourcing is not a cure-all. Not everything can be outsourced in a manner that both saves money and provided efficient, quality customer service. Info. technology and heating and air conditioning are outsourced by many local cities, and it works. Dunwoody and some of the new cities is North Fulton outsourced almost all operations to companies like C2HM Hill. Some of the services worked, some didn't. But the ones that worked mean a service is provided, and the city isn't paying a retiree for twenty, thirty, forty years. A oension is a fixed cost, but what really affects the bottom line and taxpayer pockets is the health benefits for retirees: Those costs continue to escalate, and are budget busters. The fixed cost of a pension makes it easy to plan and budget for the cost, but the health insurance part drives city and county budget administrators crazy.

One of the main reasons why Crawford Lewis would never consider outsourcing is his ability to hire a large number of non-teachers builds a power base for him. Those people, along with their families and friends make sure a tax increase is always the top option, never eliminating positions and have efficiency experts come in and evaluate. You want change? Then hire a top firm for forensic and personnel audits.

Our Board of Ed is supposed to provide checks and balances. They need to weigh the needs of students and parents, administration and staff, and taxpayers. A little more than 80% of DeKalb households do not have a child in the school system. The BOE has a duty to them to make sure that the DCSS budget is as lean, efficient and productive. And that ain't happening right now.

Dunwoody Mom said...
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Anonymous said...

Something tells me that old people who cannot work have to have income to live on.

If their job provided for retirement, they and their employer have made provision for that during their working lives.

If their job did not provide for retirement, you and I have to pay for it through social services like we already are for all these Waffle House and Temp agency employees between gigs.

Shifting current burdens for future burdens is what US corporation do!

Back to Dekalb County Schools: We need to outsource when the economy of scale requires it and we need to outsource to REPUTABLE companies who provide for just and fair compensation/retirement for their employee.

We "outsource" Deborah Rives to America's Choice already!

Cerebration said...

Meow! Gee, you guys are up early! Sorry - had to delete a few comments --

So - let's get back to discussing the budget - without mentioning names and posting ugly comments about people.

I agree that it's difficult for parents - and even teachers - to have quality, detailed input on budget suggestions since we don't have much knowledge of how the system works. Personally, I think this survey is simply a ploy to get a feel for how much people support a tax increase. Employees who have answered the survey so far apparently suggest increasing our taxes as their #2 suggestion. The rest of us have answers that are all over the board, effectively diluting the opposition to a tax increase.

Bottom line - skip the survey - write your board rep and tell them that they must do some serious across the board cutting, streamlining and consolidating before they propose raising our taxes.

There's no need to offer details. We can't have suggestions as to where or how to make cuts we have no knowledge of the details of the budget other than the fact that we over-spend on administrative costs to the tune of just about the same amount as the shortfall.

Chop! Chop!

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:17, retirement benefits are important. When you contract out, a good company keeps its employees by offering some sort of retirement package. But they also have multiple contracts, so someone doing HVAC or info. technology isn't only working for one contract. What has happened at DCSS is that the entire system is so unproductive, DCSS keeps hiring more and more staff, and pays for more and more large purchases like eSIS, America's Choice, etc. We have hundreds of staff and administrators for academics and curriculum, yet we still pay millions for America's Choice. We have four full-time people for HVAC, and they should be able to handle the large amount of buildings we have, but they don't and can't. There is no regular maintenance. They have no excuse for HVAC systems will mold and mildew. In their defense, we have way too many non-school buildings. Crawford and the BOE can't even give the public a list of all the properties and buildings they own. Check that, that us county taxpayers own.

DCSS parent, awesome blogger, and Dunwoody councilperson John Heneghan is a great person we should ask about outsourcing for DCSS. it's not a cure-all, but it's part of the equation.

Dekalbparent said...

From my experience in the IT business world, if you hire the job out and it is not done to your satisfaction, the contracted company has to come back and get it right in a timely manner, or risk losing the contract. Right now, it is my impression that in DCSS if the job is not done right, you have to file a work order and HOPE someone gets around to fixing it within the next 12 months, maybe. Several of the problems at DHHS linger on and on, because no one can be compelled to come back to fix it RIGHT NOW.

Anonymous said...

From talking to many teachers, it seems for some reason elementary schools get much worse service from DCSS Info. Systems than the high schools do. The high school teachers are alright with Info. Systems, but every elem teacher I spoke to has had miserable experiences with DCSS Info. Systems. My son's teacher (elem school) has a 2001 computer. Yes, 2001. Technology has changed a bit since then, Tony Hunter.

Anonymous said...

Do high school teachers get better service. High school teachers, what do you think?

Anonymous said...

The DeKalb way is to not do things properly the first time. This is why our roofs leak, our heating and air systems fail time and time again. Our buildings are in horrible shape and nothing is being done about it.

My school has put numerous work orders in for the roof leaks that cause mold and mildew in our school building and we have gotten no response.

Hire this work out and get qualified people to do the work. Our kids deserve better.

Anonymous said...

Great comment, DM. I am constantly frustrated by the bloggers on this board. I remember how everyone thought Pat Pope was so great...until charges were brought against her. Everyone wants more transparency...and then they complain when the administration talks to the press. People want input into the budget process...and then claim that DCSS is weak for asking for input.

Lots of people just like to complain.

Anonymous said...

@DM and Anonymous 4:45

On the contrary, I think the posts are getting more constructive with many specific ideas for improvement being put forth. You can tell that many business people, teachers, and parents are doing some serious thinking about DeKalb's budget.

Cerebration has done a excellent job of letting people vent their frustrations while removing offensive posts. It's not easy running and being the moderator of a blog. It's an enormous amount of work. And democracy is often a noisy and sometimes messy proposition.

Some terrific suggestions have come forth with this blog, particularly those that deal with the feasibility (pros and cons) of outsourcing functions to decrease expenses and increase services for our children as well as taking a hard look at the number of Central Office personnel.

Taxpayers need to hear the percentage of DeKalb's salary cost versus other systems as part of the overall debate.

Keep it up Cerebration. You never take your eye off the objective - "maintaining a steady dialogue focused on improving DeKalb County, Georgia schools and providing a quality, equitable education for each of our nearly 100,000 students".

That DM and Anonymous 4:45 can post their own complaints on this blog shows that you're serious about giving all DeKalb County citizens a platform. Thanks.

Cerebration said...

Thanks for the support, Anon. Yes, it is work monitoring this blog, but I do believe that at least we now have a place to even have a discussion and where people can bring the bits and pieces of information they have. And I also have to believe that our board reps, although they grumble, have been making more thoughtful decisions because they know that we are "watching" them. (In all our imperfections.)

If any of you think "democracy" is neat and tidy, I suggest you rent the mini-series "John Adams". That famous picture showing the happy men signing the Declaration of Independence is not at all representative of how it actually happened.

Of course, you can always read the book if you'd rather. Either way, that story will make you an even bigger patriot.

Anonymous said...

Computer from 2001... Mine is from 1994 or 1995. The last number is a mystery.

Can I have his/hers? Sounds like I could do more than with the one that I have.

Anonymous said...

Computer 1994,

You don't have eSIS to contend with...

Count your blessings!

Anonymous said...

Amen 7:29.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dekalb Board of Education members,


Regarding the Budget suggestions:
Teachers are obviously getting sick and tired of DCSS surveys.


These surveys are usually framed to yield the result desired by DCSS survey designers.


Last week I saw the results of the teachers input to the budget. Less than 400 teachers responded. Why? Why? That should tell you 1 of 2 things:


1. Teachers are scared or uncomfortable emailing suggestions under their own Dekalb School identity.


2. Teachers have absolutely no faith in the usefulness of these surveys (like school calendars surveys, DCSS does what it wants!)


Both of these reasons speak volumes on teacher morale!


Instead of these sham surveys, I suggest each board member send invitations via FirstClass to the staff of the schools within their district to 2 to 4 meetings with staff to hear unfiltered suggestions.


These meetings should take place on a non-school afternoon. Perhaps DCSS would be kind enough to provide an “out of area” director to record suggestions so the Area Directors are not taking names for future retaliation.


Vox Noctae

Anonymous said...

Computer 1994 here. Yes I do. And no.. You should count yours.

Anonymous said...

Here are some of my ideas:

Eliminate the magnet and theme programs. Here's why:

1. These programs benefit the few at the expense of the many;
2. Transporting children to these programs is expensive and a waste of money;
3. The money saved from transporation alone can be utilized to stop furloughs;
4. At Kittredge, class size is 17. How is it fair to increase class size in our neighborhood schools but allow Kittredge to operate with 1 teacher per 17 students?
5. Kittredge Magnet School for (alleged) High Achievers offers language instruction 3 times a week with a foreign language instructor for each grade level (4th, 5th and 6th). Dunwoody Elementary School has one foreign language instructor for both 4th and fifth grade. DES has almost double the number of students as Kittredge.
6. Kittredge's teachers are certified to teach gifted children. Not all children at Kittredge are gifted (or qualified for the gifted program at their home school since the standards for Kittredge are lower than the standards for the gifted program). Consequently, nongifted children at Kittredge are being taught by gifted teachers. Gifted teachers are paid more because of their gifted certifcation.
7. These programs and the selection process utilized have resulted in two reverse discrimination cases. Both cases dragged on for over a year resulting in legal fees that could better be utilzed to pay salary increases for our teachers. ( Why hasn't the AJC or Dunwoody Crier reported the latest case, Prelusky v. Dekalb County, Lewis, Copeland, et. al. in their papers? Why wasn't their any coverage of the first reverse discrimination case and the fact that is was settled in favor of the Plaintiff?)
8. The costs of administering the lottery, the IOWA tests in nontest years and Pat Copeland would disappear.

The only reason Superintendent Lewis keeps these schools is because they do not flunk the standards of the No Child Left Behind Act. He can brag about their success while all the other schools in the County are failing. Parents are so desperate to get their children into these school because they know how terrible their home school are.

Anonymous said...

I am not a fan of magnet school funding either, but it is important that we try to be as accurate as possible on this blog.

While significant, the money spent on transportation isn't enough to save a furlough day. (Maybe 1/2 of one though for teachers only.)

Gifted certification, unlike adding a masters degree, etc, does not impact teachers salaries.

DCSS can still have magnets, the schools just need to operate within the same economic reality as the other schools. Across the county, school systems offer strong magnet programs within the same per pupil budget of the other schools.

Anonymous said...

Well,while it is still early let me add my thanks to Cerebration for the effort put into this discussion.
I agree 100% with contacting Board Members and asking them to study many of the things mentioned in this blog. It is amazing that so few school personnel would respond to the question of how to save dollars, but maybe they are indeed tired of what has been going on.
The Board Members can get the details many bloggers are seeking and we just need to ask them.
If a Board Member is not willing to provide the taxpayer with details needed to see where cuts can be made without hurting the kids then that needs to be made known. They were elected by the parents who now need their help.
In looking at the proposals as presented it is hard to believe that Dr. Lewis is proposing to cut the school house 3 times more than the Central Office. If the Central Office cuts are achieved by merely moving the folks to the schools, then how much do you really have to cut the school house to achieve the $13 million in cuts after adding the additional $4 million plus from the Central Office. I may be missing something in all this.
Magnet and theme programs should be looked at for reductions also. If they are kept, then the student/teacher ratio should match other schools,and there should be no transportation provided.

Anonymous said...

Money for Gifted education and the magnet programs:

The money for Gifted education comes directly from state funds to serve Gifted. The override for each student is substantial. And the money must follow the student to his/her school - i.e. you can't just tell the state how many Gifted students you have times the number of hours you serve them and expect the state to hand you a pot of money that you can distribute equally among the schools (a former Gifted coordinator used to do that before a new one came in and began to follow state regulations).

The more students in Gifted, the more money flows to the county from the state per gifted student. That's how DeKalb funds their Gifted program.

If DeKalb doesn't serve the gifted students a set number of hours per week with teachers certified in gifted, then the money from the state goes away.

What another Gifted coordinator discovered 10 or 12 years ago is that the state has many Gifted models or ways to serve Gifted. DeKalb was just doing the Resource (pullout the students for 4 hours a week for example and teach them lessons in a separate classroom) model.

This new coordinator found that if every teacher in a school was certified in Gifted then they could say the classroom teacher was making modifications in his/her lesson plan and get an extra hour counted for gifted money. I have no idea if everyone made/makes the modifications they were/are supposed to make. Let's assume they were/are.

Lest you think an extra hour per week is small potatoes, remember that students went from 4 hours a week in Gifted money to 5 hours a week. By certifying everyone and writing up implementing a new model, 20% more funds flowed to DeKalb County Gifted - i.e. millions. So schools that have a lot of Gifted students had more teacher points (remember the money follows the students to the schools).

At the school level these points did not necessarily have to be used strictly for Gifted children as long as the gifted child received 5 hours of service from certified Gifted teachers (e.g. everyone at Kittredge and probably Wadsworth is certified in Gifted) Now do you see why Kittredge and Wadsworth have lower pupil-teacher ratios than other elementary schools?

This is actually positive for your Gifted child since now they are in their regular classes with lower pupil teacher ratio or the school now has the points for an Art, Music and PE teachers, etc.

Many of the magnet programs have a substantial amount of Gifted children. The greater the number of Gifted, the more money that flows to the school, especially if all the teachers are certified in Gifted. This model only works when you have a high concentration of Gifted (e.g. Vanderlyn, Kittredge, Wadsworth, Avondale School for the Arts, Asutin, Fernbank, Marbut, Oak Grove, etc.).

If you dismantle the magnet programs, then DeKalb will lose money from the state via Gifted funds (and they are quite substantial). I imagine some magnet programs probably pay for themselves (Kittredge and Wadsworth come to mind) through Gifted dollars and some don't.

I hope the Central Office staff is doing the number crunching so that parents/taxpayers can see the true cost of these magnet programs. For all I know the state could have cut the Gifted subsidy. The Gifted coordinator should have all of these figures as well as the magnet coordinator. Perhaps they need to share these figures with the public.

I think the Central Office often thinks taxpayers/parents wouldn't understand the math, and really when economic times were good, most DeKalb Co. citizens didn't care. Now times are tough and they need to be more forthcoming to parents as to cost/benefits of magnet programs.

Cerebration said...

Great explanation, Anon. Thanks. I've always had trouble explaining this.

Anonymous said...

I also appreciate the help to better understand the Gifted formulas. I do have one additional question?
If the students at Kittredge went back to their home schools and received the same gifted services as the current students in those schools are getting would there be any savings overall to the school system due to the closure of Kittredge, or would it be a loss due to the way the State funds gifted? Probably confused the issue, but not sure how to ask it more clearly.

themommy said...

Once again, the additional monies earned by the gifted cluster model used at KMS, Wadsworth and some other schools is used to keep the class sizes down.

DCSS is paying for (using only local dollars) the extras at KMS. For example, the two PE teachers, two band teachers, 3 German teachers, etc for 430ish students.

At the Board Budget committee hearing on Friday, the Board was showed that the high achievers magnet programs cost over 2 million dollars to operate each year. (This is over and above what the state is reimbursing.)

Anonymous said...

@Anon 12:40 pm
Very perceptive question and one of the issues I was trying to explain in my former post.

Let's do some supposition math. 1. Suppose Kittredge has 400 students (actually they have 420 according to the DeKalb website, but we'll just round off).
2. Let's suppose that 70% are classified Gifted (I have no idea the real figure, but I know it's a very high percentage so we'll just use that in our example) which would equate to 280 Gifted students.
3. Let's suppose that the extra funding is $3,500 per student (I don't know what the state is running currently, but that may be close since Georgia allocated funding of 1.66 for gifted in '09 with around $5,000 as the average per pupil state expenditure). That's $980,000 per year in extra funding if they serve 280 kids the maximum number of hours.
4. Kittredge has so many gifted kids they can serve the maximum number of hours because it pays for the faculty to all get gifted certified (they do this in schools with a lot of ESOL kids as well e.g. Woodward ES has mostly ESOL certified teachers).

These are just for example figures, because the funding per child may be somewhat more or less. The hours you can collect per child may be somewhat more or less. The number that are certified gifted could be somewhat more or less.

But if you have the correct figures you can easily arrive at a bottom line number - it's not high level math. The Central Office Gifted and Magnet staff surely have run these numbers and hopefully shared them with Dr. Lewis.

Now if you send those children back to their home schools, some will still be funded at the maximum rate for gifted services if they go to say Vanderlyn or Austin or other schools where there is a large percentage of gifted kids and the teachers are all gifted certified.

In many other schools, there will be a net loss of gifted funds because there are so few gifted kids that all the teachers aren't gifted certified so the maximum number of hours served is less.

So there will definitely be a net loss of gifted dollars if you send these students back to their home schools. Will the net loss offset the gain you get by closing schools like Kittredge? That will take some number crunching with the actual numbers (not guessing like in this post).

Of course, you have to ask how close do you want the numbers to be - do you want Kittredge to turn a profit?

Personally, I think we need to touch the schoolhouse as a last resort. I agree with a lot of the people who have suggested cutting Central Office and support staff, combining job functions and looking at outsourcing opportunities. Only after we have wrung every bit of savings from options such as those should we start in on our school houses and programs that directly serve our children.

It seems that most parents want what is offered in the theme and magnet programs which is competent teachers, clean and safe facilities, and low pupil teacher ratio. If DeKalb provided those few things, we would not have so much controversy about the theme and magnet programs.

I hope that helped.

Anonymous said...

@themommy

Did they give a breakdown by school or did they just lump the entire magnet program together? I'm sure some schools are more cost effective than others. For example, I would venture to say that Kittredge with all its gifted money may be more cost effective than another magnet that does not have this level of additional state funds.

In all fairness, they should be evaluating each magnet and theme school, not just the entire magnet program. Maybe some magnet programs are past their prime and some are not.

Another question is - does the magnet program add educational value for our students?

We have seen some of the most egregious waste possible of our taxpayer dollars this year in lawsuits, shoddy and overpriced construction, sexual harrassment accusations, the expensive and time sapping eSis, and excess Central Office and support personnel. I think we can say that these missteps do not add any educational value for our children.

Should magnet programs be lumped in with all of these missteps as equally deserving of the budgetary axe?

Programs that directly serve our students should be on the chopping block ONLY after Central Office and support expenditures have be brought under control.

We shouldn't balance the budget on the backs of our teachers and student in order to pay for lawsuits, inept construction contractors, and trying to ensure no Central Office or support person loses his/her job.

Anonymous said...

magnet issue - wish i could put that much spin on a tennis ball
clearly , advocates of this program have a vested interest in coming up with a way to explain why it should continue
however, there are many reasons to standardize services and direct those resources back into the community school
i have to disagree that eliminating the magnet structure would save monies ; and sorry i totally cannot pay that they pay for themselves;

themommy said...

This was just the high achievers magnet programs.

And they left off the middle school (by accident). The 2 ESs and the 2 HSs get 30 extra points.

Breakdown
KMS -- 8 extra points
Wadsworth -- 5 extra points
Chamblee High School --9 extra points
SW DeKalb -- 8 extra points

for a total of nearly 2 million.

The actual total will be greater when the middle school teachers are added in.

Anonymous said...

@anon 3:25
I have no vested interest in the magnet programs. My son went to Kittredge, but I wasn't that enthused and still think his local school would have been a better choice for him (my husband and son really were keen on Kittredge). That was many years ago, he's long out of school and holds down a job now.

However, I'm still a taxpayer. I'm concerned we will get distracted and gut the educational programs that directly affect students rather than concentrating on the fact that we are not getting our money's worth in Central Office and support services.

Anonymous said...

It sounds as if cuts need to be considered in several areas. I think central office is certainly one of those and potentially at the top of the list. But, let's face it, programming for the system will also be cut in some ways.
I think that the point is that those cuts would be most fairly made to eliminate those programs that serve a small number of students at a disproportionately high level to begin with ( magnets ). I would much rather see magnets eliminated than see something like nationally normed testing (ITBS) eliminated in the early years (first and second grades ) for all students.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely, the School Board must get to the bottom of what the Central Office costs and reduce where appropriate.
One thing additional needs to be mentioned about magnet schools. If they need to gain students to keep their numbers up, they just take from the other schools. In some years that has resulted in those schools going under enrollment in some grades and losing teachers and having to realign entire grade levels. All after school has been in session.
This is a major impact on an entire school and its students.
If magnet schools are retained they must not do so at the expense of other schools.

Anonymous said...

@anon 4:02 - Good point about shuffling of students to meet the magnet enrollment numbers - seems somewhat self serving and once again, draining of the "regular" school resources. Anyone know if Wadsworth is at capacity and if not, why not?
SO, CLew not up for the battle of doing the right thing for magnet transportation ? Who is surprised about this?

Anonymous said...

Let's keep our eye on the fact that DeKalb spends 91% of their budget on salaries while other metro systems spend 85% of their budget on salaries. 6% of $900,000,000 budget is $54,000,000 annually. Our shortfall is $54,000,000.

We don't have lower pupil-teacher ratios or better teacher pay than other systems so it is obvious that administration and support is higher than other metro schools.

Go to the DeKalb County website to see that only half of our personnel are teachers, media specialists or counselors:
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/about/fastfacts.html

These figures were copied straight from DeKalb's website:
Employees
Total 13,842
Teachers, Media Specialists and Counselors 53.1%
Support Personnel 42.3% Administrators 4.6%

Cerebration said...

I'm sorry, but I just don't think we should have to trust a budget to a leader who is being investigated for buying a car from surplus at a ridiculous "discount" and then using his taxpayer-issued charge card to charge up all his personal gas and then tells a very suspicious story that he pumped out premium gas and re-pumped regular!

Add to this - this very same leader calls for an investigation into his own highest level employee - and then refuses to cooperate with the DA, relieves her of her formal duties, but instead of firing her or filing charges, continues to pay her full $200,000 salary and pays a consulting firm hundreds of thousands to do her job!

Cerebration said...

I've heard this from several sources now - and via email - so here goes -

"FYI - DCSS Budget shortfall for FY 2011 now expected to be 88 Million - up from 56 million."

Anonymous said...

Well, if the budget deficit is even more than expected, then
the Bryant Technology Center needs to be sold. It is fairly attractive location, right off 285. The staff at the Bryant Center could be moved to the Mountain Industrial mega complex. I don't want people to lose their jobs but I hear time and time again from DCSS teachers that they get no selp or service at all from bryant Center staff, even though the staff there has increased dramtaically.

The BOE and Lewis could save the system a million or two or even more by contracting out much if not most info. techonology service. Not only would it save much on salary, pension, benefits, space, staff equipment needs, etc., our teachers would actually get much better service. Cities around the state contract out much of their info. tech service needs, and look at what really good systems like Decatur is doing with Apple and what the Altanta Public School system is doing with Microsoft and Apple Corp.

Cerebration said...

I totally agree with contracting for technology. The business community is light years ahead in this area.

Also - I would advocate for shutting down DOLA (DeKalb Online Academy) completely. The state has a better online academy and the credits transfer seamlessly - so DOLA in effect - is a redundant, unnecessary department.

Anonymous said...

Cere makes perfect sense as always that there is absolutely no need for a DCSS Online Academy when the State of Georgia has a good one in place for any DeKalb students. When are spending a huge amount of money on a DCSS online academy when there is no good reason to, except to feed the DCSS machine of waste and bloat.

But Crawford Lewis and Gene Walker would never shut down DOLA for two reasons: Crawford gave county commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton a DOLA job, and Sembler gave big campaign money to Walker and Banres Sutton. Yes, Barnes Sutton is the same county commissioner who's had major, major financial issues. Still wondering how someone with so many money problems found a way to loan $70,000 to her campaign.

I have to wonder how many other friends and family secured DOLA jobs, which are a whole lot cushier than having to be in a decripit DCSS school all day.

http://www.atlantaunfiltered.com/2010/02/02/was-id-theft-to-blame-for-dekalb-commissioners-fraud-charges/

http://www.atlantaunfiltered.com/2010/01/28/debt-ridden-dk-official-says-she-spent-69k-out-of-pocket-on-campaign/

http://www.atlantaunfiltered.com/2009/06/10/developer-seeking-tax-break-gave-45k-to-dekalb-political-races/

"Sembler interests gave $10,000 to Walker’s campaign on Sept. 27 and another $8,000 on Nov. 19, campaign records show. Daniel M. McRae, the bond lawyer who handled Sembler’s request for an earlier tax break last year, also donated $1,200 to Walker’s campaign fund on Nov. 19.
Campaign records show Sembler interests also gave $4,600 to the 2008 campaign of Commissioner Elaine Boyer and $2,500 to Commissioner Sharon Barnes-Sutton."

Cerebration said...

Sharon Barnes Sutton is the county commissioner/DOLA business ed teacher who had numerous outstanding arrest warrants for writing bad checks. She claims it was a case of identity fraud, but you can read all about it and compare the signatures on the checks at Atlanta Unfiltered

Cerebration said...

One BIG budget suggestion -- a serious reduction in take home cars for employees. An inventory of DCSS fleet and a listing of those who get to drive them and gas them up compliments of the taxpayers is a big necessity.

No more take home cars. Let them turn in their mileage on their personal cars like most everyone else in the world.

Anonymous said...

I agree about the Bryant Center. Ask any teacher how satisfied they are with the level of technology and the upkeep of the technology they have in their school.

DeKalb needs to see how much savings they can accrue by outsourcing many MIS functions. Perhaps they can get eSis to work.

So much of our technology dollars get sucked up by technology personnel that we have little left for equipment - what irony.

As for DOLA - open the books and let's see if it can be done cheaper by the Georgia Virtual School. Maybe the people who run DOLA need to focus on placing students into Georgia Virtual School classes.

Anonymous said...

One of the Feed back from the Budget Suggestions was to enact student fees. Well excuse me, are our kids not minors and dependents? Well do they get their money from, us the parents. Haven't we paid our taxpayer dollars to the schools already? How can they possibly enact student fees at the Title I schools. School that already receiving double Federal funds for low-income students. They are already charging our kids money to print. Didn't we vote on SPLOST I, II, AND III, which clearly funds technology equipment and its supplies. The teachers say that the students are wasting their paper. Excuse me, but the paper was purchased from the school's budget, which means the school budget was paid for with my tax dollars. If too many pages are printed, recycle the paper in a math class for scrap. Its my money not the teacher's or bookkeeper's money. Am I not understanding something here about enacting student fees? Sounds very immoral, unethical, and certainly illegal. Very concerned parent.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous2/10 - This is a growing concern. There are numerous, numerous teachers who feel the need to yell at our children on a daily basis. They are taking their frustrations of large class sizes, no pay increase, being in a trailer, etc. out on our children. But, let me warn all of the yelling teachers that they better stop yelling at this students today. It is time out for this long years of verbal child abuse. If I yelled at my child in a public place, everyone would turn around to stare at me. The store manager would call the police, the police would call DFACS. Well, my child has been telling me from day 3 of school that his teaching is always yelling, hitting her hand on the desk. Well, I am getting ready to start calling the police and DFACS on the teacher, because I am fed up with them yelling. The teacher should find out which student is causing the disturbance. Then remove the student to the Principal. Stop taking the disturbance out of all other innocent students. Stop causing harm and affecting these children nervous system. You are causing mental and physical abuse to our children. My child attended ELB Theme 2008, where there were 2 known Grade 5 teachers who yelled. I asked my child when she was in Grade 4, which Grade 5 teacher's class you hope you do not get in? She said the 2 teachers' names. I said, "Why not?" She said, "Because they are always yelling at their students. Thank God she did not get in their classes. This is so sad coming from a 10 year old. Teachers stop yelling today or face the DFACS and State of Georgia Law penalties of child abuse.

Anonymous said...

Great Crawford Lewis quotes:

""This is a bad economy to be considering raising the millage rate,"
5/8/2008
http://www.11alive.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=115552&catid=3


"The fact is something else will have to be cut. The reality is we have more people working for this district than we have money for," said Lewis."
5/1/2008
http://www.11alive.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=115193&catid=3


According to DeKalb Superintendent Dr. Crawford Lewis there are 22 schools in the DeKalb system that have fewer than 400 students. The five schools that staffers are proposing to close are some of the smallest and consolidating with other nearby schools Lewis says "will save a lot of tax dollars". Lewis says the system hasn't done any redistricting in 25 years so he says it's time to make some tough decisions for a better future.
12/14/2006
http://www.11alive.com/news/article_news.aspx?storyid=88958

Cerebration said...

That Decatur Schools video website is wonderful!! My big question is - who does their lighting? It's so nice! I wonder how much they paid for it?

Anonymous said...

More Lewis quotes,

"“I am going backwards,” Lewis said Wednesday. “I can’t continue doing this. I am not a rookie anymore.”

“It’s not reasonable for me to start out with less,” he said. “I am a bargain for this board. I am so underpaid compared to other superintendents.”

http://www.crossroadsnews.com/pages/full_story/push?article-Superintendent’s+pay+proving+divisive+%20&id=5110787

Anonymous said...

My child's PTA just blasted this out to all the parents on their listserv.

How to learn about DCSS budget issues

As many of you know, the DeKalb County School System is facing a $56 million deficit for the upcoming school year. As reported on the AJC's web site, to address the deficit, our Board of Education is considering the following:

Teacher/staff/administrator salaries reduced through % reduction or furlough days.

Pre-K eliminated at all but Title I schools.

Music, Art, and PE teachers shared among schools.

Fernbank Science Center programs reduced

No ITBS or COGAT for 1st grade.

High school summer school only online.

DCSS central office staff reduced

Non-high achiever magnets (science, math, etc.) eliminated.

Montessori eliminated.

For those parents who would like to learn more about how our Board of Education plans to handle these issues and to provide input to the Board, its remaining budget meetings are:

Thur., Feb. 11, 2010 10:30 am BOE Budget Work Session Freeman Administrative Center 3770 North Decatur Road Decatur, Georgia 30032

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 6:00 pm Public Budget Hearing William Bradley Bryant Center 2652 Lawrenceville Highway Decatur, Georgia 30033

Wednesday, April 28, 2010 6:00 pm Public Budget Hearing William Bradley Bryant Center 2652 Lawrenceville Highway Decatur, Georgia 30033

Monday, May 10, 2010 6:00 pm Final Adoption of Budget FY2011 Freeman Administrative Center 3770 North Decatur Road Decatur, Georgia 3003

Finally, additional information about the proposed budget cuts and the concerns of other DeKalb County parents may be found at two parent-generated sites:

http://www.dekalbparentsareunited.com/

http://www.dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/

Also, the DeKalb County Superintendent's budget information may be found at:

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/superintendent/fy2011- budget.html

Cerebration said...

If anyone attended the budget meeting this morning, please share your notes with us here on this post.

Anonymous said...

Those quotes from C Lew are priceless. What ever happened to his big push in 2006 to close the smallest schools?

Cerebration said...

They did consolidate some schools. This is from a Powerpoint presentation about the 2008-09 consolidation plan - (they closed Forrest Hills and split the kids into Avondale and Midway, moved Kittredge to Nancy Creek, moved the International school to the old Kittredge, moved the Browns Mill High Achievers into Wadsworth, merged LJ Steele ES, Terry Mill ES, & Tilson into a new ES, closed the big Druid Hills campus - due to asbestos - moved DSA to Avondale, Open Campus and the offices to the new giant Memorial Drive facility which was an old "American Fare" the system bought several years ago.)

Phase 1 - (2007-08)
Montessori
Design Teams
(Planning Year)
Attendance line
relief at Stone
Mountain HS and
Montclair ES

Phase 2 - (2008-09)
Forrest Hills ES
(Avondale ES & Midway ES)
Nancy Creek ES (Huntley Hills ES &
Montgomery ES)
Kittredge Magnet (Nancy Creek ES)
New McNair Area ES
(LJ Steele ES, Terry Mill ES, & Tilson)
Wadsworth ES (Columbia ES & Toney ES)
Browns Mill HA to Wadsworth ES
Design Teams (Begin School Choice Options)
Expansion of Montessori at Midway
(add an Elementary 2 class)

Phase 3 (2009-10)
Relocation of
Performing Arts
Magnet Programs

In the PPT, they list the following programs at Midway -
􀂄 Services to Support Special Needs of Students
􀂄 Title I Program
􀂄 ESOL Program
􀂄 Gifted Program
􀂄 Montessori Program
􀂄 Prime Time After School Care
( 2:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. / nominal fee required )
􀂄 After School Art Club
􀂄 After School Garden Club

And the following 08-09 limits on class sizes -
􀂄 Pre-kindergarten–18 to 20 students with paraprofessional
􀂄 Kindergarten – 18 to 20 students with paraprofessional
􀂄 First Grade – 21 students
􀂄 Second Grade – 21 students
􀂄 Third Grade – 21 students
􀂄 Fourth Grade – 28 students
􀂄 Fifth Grade – 28 students
􀂄 Special Education – Based On Needs

Anonymous said...

Budget meeting was canceled after the news was released that new budget shortfall is estimated to be 88 million dollars. The staff wasn't ready to present to the board a new round of cuts, apparently. (There is a concern, at least from one or two board members, that because the state's most recent revenue report was so grim, that DCSS' shortfall will even be higher than that.)

There was a presentation made to principals at the end of the day yesterday and perhaps others? I saw a brief summery on another post, but the only new thing I read on there was the announcement that if your position is eliminated and you take a lower paying position in DCSS, your pay will be adjusted immediately. This is huge. (In other words, your central office position is eliminated and you return to the classroom, your salary will be realigned to a teachers salary.) At the meeting, it was reported that the savings in this would be 3.5 in salaries and benefits.

With a budget shortfall this large, aren't layoffs inevitable?

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:48 I concur....layoffs are looming abd I wouldn't count on any contributions to any retirement plan from now until 2015, contrary to popular belief. I just think that CLewis is not taking this 88 million serious if he believes small cuts will save the DCSS. He's got to let his friends in high places go home and offend some board members by closing old, under performing school and merge with others. DCSS has far too many school open for the number of students in the county. We saw this day coming a long time ago. You can't keep spending like we are growing our own money and that's exactly what has been happening. It's like build a school and forget about it.

Anonymous said...

Some of the surplus buildings need to be sold or transferred. Just by transferring Heritage to the county will save a huge amount in upkeep. The school system owns the Clarkston Community Center. It is well past time that Clarkston purchases the building from the school system. C Lew has hid the amount of surplus properties and land parcels from the public, knowing we'll freak if we ever saw the full and accurate list.

Cerebration said...

I agree. We need a full accounting of the properties owned by the system and the annual cost of upkeep.

I personally, don't think Dr. Lewis has what it takes to make these cuts. He has as much as said so himself. He can't do "battle" with magnet parents or transportation. Heck, he couldn't even fire Mr. Chelf and stick with it - he had to waffle, rehire him, garner promises from parents that they wouldn't fight him and then fired Chelf again. He gets far too stuck in the muck - one small decision can take up an entire month. We need a leader who can see clearly, gather and evaluate data and make prudent spending decisions and stick to them.

A change in leadership is the only way to avoid hitting the iceberg.

Cerebration said...

Apparently, the DCSS website has been updated to show the $88 million dollar number…

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/superintendent/fy2011-budget.html

Anonymous said...

When I went to

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/superintendent/fy2011-budget.html

and looked at the Budget Suggestions pdf file, I was surprised to see only 2 emails had suggested outsourcing.

Poor service (we hear about it all the time from teachers on this blog - eSis, broken technology equipment, air and heat problems, unresponsive HR employees, etc.) and high cost of benefits seems to point in that direction.

What gives? Did only 2 people really suggest outsourcing?

I just sent my budget suggestions to:

budget-suggestions@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

and it suggested outsourcing. I'm going to check and see if it's still only 2 responses that suggested that in a few days.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Those 2 outsourcing suggestions came from the employees suggestions responses - not the public suggestions. Where are those anyway?

Dunwoody Mom said...

Interesting that the most suggested item from employees was going to a 4-day work-week? That item would definitely effect our children directly, I would believe.

Anonymous said...

I sent a long list of suggestions which included outsourcing. On a later day, I sent a shorter email that suggested that every Central Office department (especially those that do not involve direct student instruction) be required to examine their own staffing and budget and immediately identify 10% in reductions.

I have worked for the government and that is what we always had to do. It is amazing what happens when senior management is required to reduce their own budget by 10% or face demotion.

Anonymous said...

I was told that a 4-day work-week is being considered over the summer, which makes sense. Might even be a goodidea over the long holiday break too, when I'm assuming the Central Office staff should be working unless they are taking vacation days.

Wonder how many vacation days Ron Ramsey gets ;)

Anonymous said...

Surely DeKalb Schools don't need 6,240 support and admin personnel when they only have 7,041 teachers, Media Specialists and Counselors.

No wonder our students are in such huge classrooms, and our teacher turnover is so great.

Dr. Lewis and the BOE decreased our total number of teachers this school year 2009-2010. They state on the DeKalb County website this teacher reduction is through attrition. It doesn't matter if teacher reduction is through attrition or layoffs, the results to our children are the same - larger class sizes and less personal attention.

Dr. Lewis and the BOE are planning on letting more vacant teacher positions go unfilled this upcoming 2010-2011 school year.

Surely they can find areas to cut in the 6,240 personnel who do not directly work with students.

I sent every BOE member an email asking them to cut, consolidate and outsource support and admin positions.

I said I did not think our classrooms should be impacted.

I pointed out that 91% of our cost is in salary while other metro systems are running 85% (6% of a $900,000,000 budget represents $54,000,000). Since DeKalb doesn't have a better pupil teacher ratio or higher teacher salaries, we must have excess support and admin personnel.

I referenced each BOE member to the Dekalb County website page which states that only slightly more than half of our personnel teach:
See Dekalb County website Fast Facts:
Employees
Total 13,842;
Teachers, Media Specialists and Counselors 53.1%;
Support Personnel 42.3%; Administrators 4.6%

Please write or email every BOE member. We need to fill their mailboxes and Inboxes with how we feel about increasing teacher pupil ratios in order to retain such an enormous support and admin group.

Go to the address below and click on each BOE member to send him/her an email.
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/board/members/

If the BOE puts support and admin personnel ahead of our children having competent teachers in reasonably sized classrooms, they need to be replaced next fall.

Anonymous said...

Many school systems have tried outsourcing with mixed results. Under the current administration, I can't expect that we will have clean bids and contracts.

Keep in mind that the operation of the concession stands at the stadiums is outsources to a small handful of companies and service is routinely terrible. The issue has been raised again and again but the same companies maintain the contracts.

Anonymous said...

One of the biggest problems we have is what salaries are paid for certain positions.

For example, Mr. J has the same job for 8 years but routinely has the position title changed while the job description hasn't really changed. With each job title change comes a raise, even though the responsibilities haven't changed. (Check the magnet department for specific examples of this.)

Also, Mr. X has the same job for 20 years and now makes a lot more than when he began. But the job is really not appropriate for someone with that much experience and so we are paying for years experience that is unnecessary.

Finally, Mr. X retires. But wait, when the job is posted, it is posted with his last salary, which again is higher than the market demands.

And lastly, we have some jobs that have titles that make the pay scale higher than it should be. In other words, we have directors who should be whatever is less than directors, instructional supervisors who should just be teachers, etc.

Anonymous said...

Well, 6240 support and admin employees versus 7,041 teachers, Media Specialists and Counselors (Source: DeKalb Website Fast Fact page) is just unacceptable.

No wonder our teachers are frazzled and our students are distracted as they packed like sardines into classrooms. I would say there is plenty of support and admin to cut before we pack even more kids into classrooms. I saw on the DeKalb website that Dr. Lewis now wants even worse pupil teacher ratio. Why not cut some support personnel and hire some more teachers? How many thousands of support personnel do we need?

Anonymous said...

If the current administration cannot handle outsourcing in an efficient manner, I wouldn't discontinue outsourcing as a cost savings idea. I think that means we need a new administration.

Anonymous said...

The county can no longer continue to provide door to door transportation service, especially since millions of dollars are spent on transportation each year (bus driver salaries, fleet maintenance, fuel costs, etc). While changes in the transportation policy will affect millions of DeKalb County students and families, efforts should be made to revisit transportation in lieu of making cuts to instruction.

Solutions:

• Provide full service transportation to K-6 grade only.
• Students residing on MARTA routes can ride MARTA (outsource portion of transportation). Resulting in reduced fleet maintenance, transportation staff, etc.
• K-7-12 on bus route will receive monthly MARTA pass from school transportation office.
• Miscellaneous students not on direct bus route will travel to pick-up locations to access transportation.
• Smaller fleet can be retained to cover after school activities, field trips, etc.



MAGNET TRANSPORTATION WAS CUT THE PREVIOUS YEAR. PARENTS COMPLAINED BUT THE DECISION TO CUT MAGNET TRANSPORTATION WAS NOT RESCINDED.

Anonymous said...

open.georgia.gov lists all salaries of public employees. There you can find the pork in what some of our overpaid central office personnel earn. Why so many deputy this that and the other? Some instructional coaches near $100 k? Plus travel expenses? I wonder if I can deduct travel expenses on my way to renew my certificate, get fingerprinted or professional development. Cut the travel expense goodie bag for someone to just do their job. The salary ought to be enough. Can you beleive clerks making more money than a critical shortage area master's degree teacher? moreover - If you compare the amount of instructional costs to administrative costs, DeKalb's ratio is out of whack as well as compared to superior districts such as Fayette and Forsyth.

Cerebration said...

I think we are really going to have to take a deep, serious look at Fernbank Science Center. This has been a very expensive endeavor for our school system. The transportation alone for the winners of the STT lottery is extraordinary. Apparently, Johnny Brown attempted to close it but was met with harsh resistance. Want to add insult to it all? There are about 38 certified science teachers there. Think what putting them into our local high schools could do for the science programs at those schools.

Fernbank Science Center should be on the table.

Anonymous said...

I think the 38 certified science teachers at Fernbank Science Center would be a real boon for the schools. Science is one of Dekalb Schools weakest academic areas in great part because of the dearth of qualified science teachers.

Fernbank has become a "frill" in the "no frill" education world DeKalb Schools inhabits.

I agree with other posters who are more knowledgeable that Fernbank more appropriately belongs in the as an independent non-profit rather than continually being funded by DeKalb Schools. Fernabk should merge with the Fernbank Natural History Museum and/or become self sustaining.

Cerebration said...

This arrived via email from a school PTA

Parents;

At the PTA Council dinner this evening, Dr. Lewis updated us on the budget crisis for DeKalb County Schools. The deficit has gone from $56 to $88 million dollars. He stated that 20 parents have been appointed to a Citizens Planning Task Force to recommend school closures and redistricting. He also stated that sometime in March it will be announced that 4 elementary schools will be closed and that for the '11-'12 school year 8 - 10 mix of elementary, middle and high schools will be closed. The properties will not be sold immediately.

He said there will be layoffs and program cuts but could not give out details. There may be more itinerant music and art teachers serving more
schools.

I urge everyone to forward this information on to your neighborhood groups
and stay aware of the changes affecting our communities and schools.


Personally - I really can't see a clear path to cutting $88 million. Not without some major destruction - and it doesn't look like the central office has been touched yet.

Anonymous said...

I wrote every BOE members pointing out that:
1. Only half of DeKalb employees are teachers
2. We have higher salary costs (91%) than other metro counties (85%) even though we don't have lower pupil teacher ratios and higher salaries therefore our admin and support staff is too numerous. This accounts for $54,000,000 in our budget (6% of $900,000,000 budget)

I've heard back from 3 BOE members so far.

Keep writing and asking them to cut, consolidate and outsource before they pack more students into the classrooms. Our students need competent teachers in reasonably sized classrooms more than we need to guarantee every employee a job.

Competent teachers in reasonably sized classrooms is what we pay our taxes for.

Keep writing. Fill their mailboxes. Below is the website page with the BOE members. Click on each picture to email each one.

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/board/members/

Cerebration said...

Good news! I actually figured out how to create a link that will generate an email to the entire board! It is found just above the Recent Comments list on the home page - give it a try!

Cerebration said...

There is a very good written synopsis of the budget issues at the DCSS website page linked in the article above.

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/superintendent/budget/

You can access all kinds of specific budgets at the link.

This part is of special interest to teachers -

Further proposed reductions include an increase to class sizes. The increase in class size will still keep DeKalb Schools below the state maximum requirements, prior to the state’s increase. This action will save $18.1 million and will reduce the staffing needs by 275 teachers. DeKalb will also discontinue the practice of providing funds for certain employees to buy years in TRS. This will save $1.9 million. Also, the Springboard program supported in all middle schools currently and centrally administered will be an option for Title I middle schools in fiscal year 2010. Moving this program to Title I will relieve the General Operations budget of $1.4 million in expense. The Transportation department is developing a proposal to contract with a parts supplier. This action will save approximately $500,000 in the 2010 school year. Other items such as reducing the number of Administrative Coordinators from eleven to six, reducing the five unfunded Graduation Coaches, merging the Snapfinger Magnet program into the Clifton Magnet program, merging the Heritage Center population with the Margaret Harris High School population, and strictly funding the state portion of the National Board Certified Teachers’ supplement combined will reduce expenditures by $1.8 million.

Overall, expenditures directed toward Instruction and school-based initiatives make up 77.8% of the General Operations budget.

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