The above photos are charts that allow you to "Follow the Money Trail" (in 10 easy steps). Click on them to view them larger or to download them. The data for the graphs came from the Georgia Department of Education - School System Financial Reports.
Perhaps you are familiar with this state website. It offers a wealth of information in a nicely condensed format. One of our bloggers very kindly made graphs of the state data because DeKalb Watch posters grasp visuals easier than numbers - true of most of us.
Going through the charts you can easily see that direct instruction (i.e. interaction with students) has been where DCSS has placed the LEAST emphasis. This category/area has grown slower than revenues and every other expenditure category. Revenues have risen 28% while expenditures on Direct Instruction have only increased by 10%. Meanwhile, Pupil Services, Staff Services, and General Administration have grown by astounding percentages far outpacing increases in revenue. There is a direct correlation in the decline in direct instruction of students with the decline in student achievement over time in DCSS. The schoolhouse has been starved of funding (reference not only Direct Instruction but also School Administration as contrasted to General Administration), and this is showing up in student achievement.
2003 was chosen as a starting point because this was the last year that Dr. Brown was superintendent. This allows us to see what happened to revenue and expenditures when Dr. Lewis became superintendent. Where did he and the BOE spend our money? The largest increase was not General Administration (although that saw an 84% increase). Pupil Services experienced the largest increase with a 133% increase in expenditures - understandable since Dr. Lewis headed up staff development before he was superintendent. Staff Services was third in expenditure increases with 61% more in expenditures.
One other interesting factoid is that more and more of our funding is coming from the Federal Government - currently 14% up from 3% in 2003. This is extraordinarily high for a school system, even by today's standards. We are running $128,000,000 in federal funds most likely concentrated under the Office of School Improvement since they handle federal funds—making this department a real power center within the Central Office.
Look at transportation cost in the last two years (chart #9) as the DCSS administration reined in "choice school" transportation. We can actually see the decline in transportation costs in the last two years. This gives us definitive proof that prudent fiscal action by the DCSS administration and BOE can result in an immediate and substantial decline in non-instructional expenses.
A real storm is coming in terms of budgetary cuts. The federal government money that has taken over a large percentage of the DCSS budget is short term and will end in the near future. This administration and BOE must make some real cuts outside the schoolhouse now, not later. They must understand that cutting direct instruction for students has disabled our core business of educating students. The schoolhouse has no more to give.
The BOE needs to ask Mrs. Tyson for the data, analyze that data, and make decisions based on that data. They are responsible for our tax dollars and ultimately for our students' achievement. They have to have the tools and information necessary to make responsible, future-minded decisions.