One of our incredibly smart bloggers, known as DeKalb Parent, has taken a considerable amount of time to conduct an investigation into the compensation and classification schedule of the school system. Read on for a fascinating and enlightening history of the possible waste perpetrated by Dr. Lewis and the board.
Dr. Johnny Brown, DCSS’s Superintendent from 2002 to 2004, had begun the process of looking at the compensation and classification categories of DCSS personnel to ensure DCSS personnel were properly classified by job functions and pay. In September, 2003 Dr. Brown asked to the DeKalb Board of Education to approve $341,000 in consulting fees for Ernst and Young to do a Compensation and Classification Study audit.
September, 2003 BOE Meeting Minutes:
"Authorized the firm of Ernst and Young to conduct a single salary compensation study for the DeKalb County School System at a cost of $341,000."
Dr. Brown was using this study to look at reducing 1400 different salary categories to a manageable number while standardizing compensation for personnel who did the same functions and had the same amount of experience. Of particular interest was standardizing the compensation of non-teaching personnel to reflect market value for their skills.
November, 2003, The DeKalb Dispatch, Dr. Brown’s internal newsletter:
“The DeKalb County School System expects to develop an objective, appropriate classification structure and a market-competitive compensation system. This structure will reflect fewer salary schedules; less distinct job titles; and job titles that comport with current industry nomenclature."
During 2004, the first year of Dr. Lewis’s tenure, as part of the contracted Compensation and Classification Study, over 15,000 employees completed surveys that required them to answer a detailed questionnaire regarding their job duties and the daily percentage of time spent on each duty.
After four Board Meetings regarding Ernst and Young’s Compensation and Classification Study from January through September, 2005, Lewis presented the Board of Education with a document named the Compensation and Classification Position Titling Convention and Position Specifications. This document simply renamed positions by giving them different titles, but didn’t address the job functions or overpayment or underpayment of any non-teaching personnel. The financial impact to DCSS was listed as none.
In December, 2005 responding to a news story which reported that the Ernst and Young study results showed $14,000,000 in yearly salary overpayments, Dr. Lewis stated to the BOE that the DCSS overpayment in non-teaching salaries was $1.8 million, but he was not going to adjust them. $1.8 million overpayment of non-teaching salaries over 5 years is a $9,000,000 cost to DCSS taxpayers for no additional value in personnel performance.
BOE minutes 12/5/2005:
"Regarding the compensation portion, he (Lewis) referred to the inaccurate news story that reported an overpayment in salaries in the amount of $14 million and clarified that the figure was totally erroneous and the actual amount was $1.8 million. He stated that at the beginning of the study, 15,000 employees were told that they would not lose salary as a result of the study and he plans to stay true to his word.” . . . Dr. Lewis stated, “Once an associate superintendent has been named to Human Resources, he will work closely with the individual to identify creative ways to address the compensation portion of the study and will bring his recommendations back to the Board. "
Two months later in February, 2006, Lewis hired Darren Ware, a convicted felon, as Human Resources director. Mr. Ware cut the pay of ten DCSS non-teaching employees. One of them sued because it seemed totally arbitrary (and it was). 28% of the non-teaching employees were over the market value (i.e. over 2,000 employees), yet Ware cut the pay of only 10 employees. Perhaps this is what Lewis considered “…will work closely with the individual to identify creative ways to address the compensation portion of the study.”
BOE meeting minutes 12/5/2006:
"Of the salaries that are over the market value, 28% are employees in non-teaching positions”
It's this kind of thinking - that almost $2,000,000 in annual salary over payments to non-teaching personnel is not important that helped bring DCSS to this financial crisis.
In addition, there is no way of knowing if the overpayment was really $2,000,000 as Dr. Lewis says or $14,000,000 like the news reported.
If the $14,000,000 figure the news reported was correct, the financial impact would total $70,000,000 in over payments over a 5 year period until 2010. Only the Ernst and Young completed Compensation and Classification Study audit to DCSS could tell us if the $1.8 million in annual over payments or the $14 million in annual over payments was correct. The original Compensation and Classification audit attachment is missing from the DCSS Board of Education meeting website. If taxpayers had this audit they paid for, they could analyze it the way the new reporters did. It should be made available on the BOE website.