Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Making Dollars and Sense of DeKalb County Schools Security Force

Number 1: Security needs to be more effective in DeKalb Schools.

Number 2: Security needs to be more cost effective in DeKalb Schools.

The primary function of a school security force is securing the safety of students. Additional functions of a security force are securing the safety of the school faculty, facilities, and property.

Look at this quote from the Oak Grove Elementary School Foundation:

"Today Oak Grove receives only $42 annually per pupil to cover instructional needs and supplies. $42, for the entire year, that’s it."

The expenditure of $12,500,000 on security for 96,000 students equates to $130 per pupil spent on security or three times as much as we spend on the per pupil instructional needs and supplies of most of our schools.

A recent post on DeKalb School Watch pertained to security (or lack thereof) in DeKalb Schools. Looking at the data, we spend more on salaries per employee and aggregately than any other metro area school system and provide above market benefits for security personnel. We employ 218 security personnel to staff our 20+ middle, 20+ high schools, administrative and MIS offices. Our 86 elementary schools are mostly left out of the security loop or make do with locked doors and a buzzer that the office staff tend to.

Gwinnett County Schools with 150,000 students has 49 Security personnel at a cost of $2,500,000 in salary and benefits. This is an average of $51,000 per Security employee. DCSS with 96,000 students has 218 Security employees at a cost of $12,500,000 in salary and benefits. This is an average of $57,300 per Security employee.

Many posters will say this is not a fair comparison since DeKalb has a greater share of citizens in low income brackets, a statistic that generally correlates with a higher crime rate.

So let's look at Atlanta Public Schools. Their demographics are similar to DCSS.

Atlanta Public Schools Security force has 219 security personnel listed for around 90 schools and 60,000+ students. Their salary cost is around $3,400,000 a year. Over 50% of these employees are probably not full time employees since their salaries are under $10,000 a year. DCSS on the other hand spends around $10,000,000 a year in annual salary cost with another $2,500,000 in benefits for 218 employees for a total of $12,500,000.

DeKalb needs to look at alternative ways of providing security for our schools, students and faculty members. If we are determined to spend $12,500,000 a year - more than any other metro school system on security - we should be getting more effective and more cost effective coverage. Break-ins, missing computers, stolen TVs, etc. are symptomatic of an ineffective security force. Most importantly, students are at risk when the security force is lax.

Look at the salary comparison below:

Atlanta Public School System:
1st column - Salary Category
2nd Column - Number of Personnel in the Salary Category
3rd Column - Percent of Security Employees in that Salary Category

$100.000 to $113,000 - 2 - 1%
$90,000 to $100,000 - 0 - 0%
$80,000 to $90,000 - 1 - 1%
$70,000 to $80,000 - 0 - 0%
$60,000 to $70,000 - 1 - 1%
$50,000 to $60,000 - 5 - 2%
$40,000 to $50,000 - 5 - 2%
$30,000 to $40,000 - 10 - 5%
$20,000 to $30,000 - 39 - 18%
$10,000 to $20,000 - 59 - 27%
$5,000 to $10,000 - 47 - 21%
$500 to $5,000 - 52 - 24%

DeKalb County School System
1st column - Salary Category
2nd Column - Number of Personnel in the Salary Category
3rd Column - Percent of Security Employees in that Salary Category

$90,000 to $100,000 - 1 - 0.5%
$80,000 to $90,000 - 3 - 1%
$70,000 to $80,000 - 9 - 4%
$60,000 to $70,000 - 22 - 10%
$50,000 to $60,000 - 50 - 23%
$40,000 to $50,000 - 27 - 12%
$30,000 to $40,000 - 87 - 40%
$20,000 to $30,000 - 8 - 4%
$10,000 to $20,000 - 3 - 1%
$5,000 to $10,000 - 3 - 1%
$500 to $5,000 - 4 - 2%

The 2010-2011 Budget Recommendation Mrs. Tyson presented to the BOE and taxpayers/parents last spring called for:

"Outsource Security Systems (For Future Consideration in 2011 or 2012)"

I assume Mrs. Tyson has had some of those 1,230+ Central office administrators busy:

  1. Gathering information on how DCSS can bring our security cost more in line with other school systems
  2. Figuring out how we can make our security system more effective for students
  3. Soliciting bids from security contractors
  4. Comparing costs and services of security contractors with the current security department cost

Mrs. Tyson's security outsourcing analysis should be discussed by the BOE in the near future. Let's make sure Mrs. Tyson knows we have not forgotten that she proposed outsourcing this $12,500,000 department.

Sources: state Salary and Travel audit, DCSS superintendent 2010-2011Budget Recommendations, Oak Grove Foundation webpage
Researched by DeKalb Parent


Anonymous said...

Easy: Hire retired police officers in middle schools (and elem schools where needed). They only need to work the 180 school days. Pay a good hourly rate. But NO benefits. Win-win.

Our high schools could use two SRO's per school. And between you and me, the Alternative School is a free for all with little control by the school administration.

Anonymous said...

Once again I am impressesed and appreciative of all the eye-opening number crunching that goes on on this blog. This is the type of analysis that should be going on in every dept as they figure out how to cut central office bloat. I'm not saying there isn't a need for security, but clearly we can do it harder, smarter, cheaper and faster and get a better result than we are getting now. Hopefully Tyson's recommendations (and a copy of this analysis) will be taken seriously by the new supt. Thanks Cere and team for all that you do to bring the facts out.

Anonymous said...

I believe the school police dept. needs to be evaluated by an outside firm specializing in security. Not sure anyone in the Cemtral Office has a sufficient background to audit and analyze a school police dept.

I talked to a Board of Ed member about the large summer theft of AC units. He was told it appeared to be an inside job. With nine detectives, and hopefully a good working relationship with the county police dept., you'd think that AC unit and computer theft would be rare. But it's almost a daily occurance.

This is going to be touchy subject with the BOE, since Gene Walker has a son who is a school resource officer and makes $65,000 per year. They are unaware of how poor the return on investment is with DCSS school police.

Do you know how long it takes a DeKalb County Police Officer to make $65,000 per year??? A long time!!! That's downright shameful.

Anonymous said...

DCSS Security Force is a farce! I'm with Tyson, scuttle the entire department and use an outside firm. An outside firm will take a bit more pride in their job than the lackadaisical employees that we have staffing it now.

You'd think we hear from the TWO chiefs we have "leading" the force but we never do. Why?

There is no excuse for the crimes against the students, taxpayers and teachers that this "police force" seem to never investigate.

If the AC robberies were an inside job, how come we have no suspects in custody? Could the DCSS police force be a part of the crime? I'm just sayin...

Anonymous said...

Why does the school police dept. need four administrative assistants?

Why do they need two chiefs?

What do the nine detectives do, especially during the summer?

DCSS: Bloat, bloat and even more bloat.

Anonymous said...

Wonder if there is a legal challenge to the fleecing taxpayers are getting from a bloated central office and security force in DCSS. Clearly we are not getting our money's worth.
Please take the Superintendent Survey and express your concerns there too. http://www.dekalbsuperintendentsearch.com/#boeselections

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8:51

"Clearly we are not getting our money's worth."

DCSS should right size the admin and support area and right size the salaries of non-teaching personnel before they tackle redistricting. Redistricting students without rightsizing the 8,500 non-teaching personnel side (versus 6,500 teachers) is balancing the budget on the backs of the students.

If DCSS would present a plan to reduce admin and support numbers and bring their pay in line with other school systems, then the millions saved could be poured back into the schoolhouse and make schools more equitable across the county. When parents perceive schools are more equitable, they will have less resistance to redistricting.

Title 1 funds need to be transparent with every penny spent available to taxpayers. Let some Title 1 schools make all of their Title 1 own funding decisions and see if they do a better job of improving student achievement. If they show they do a better job than the centralized funding that DCSS has moved to over the last 8 years, then use that data to justify moving Title 1 funding decisions to the rest of the Title 1 schools.

Ms. Tyson and the BOE need to take a data driven look on a macro level, and present a complete plan for savings and budget balancing. The piecemeal reactionary plan of cutting teacher positions and closing schools has been unsatisfactory for students. What proves effective for students should be Ms. Tyson and the BOE's ONLY concern. Personnel can get other jobs, but students only have one chance at an education. Funneling funds to friends and family has brought our schools to their knees. We have more schools NOT Making AYP than any other school system.

DCSS lost their focus and has become a "job programs". The recession and concomitant problems just laid this bare for taxpayers to see.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we could outsource our security to Blackwater, Enron, or some other for profit venture that would be more efficient at taking our money.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 11:32

Did you realize that Enron was an energy company - nothing to do with security. Outsourcing should be considered for every function outside the classroom. If it's more efficient and saves us money on benefits, of course it's feasible. Any way we can pour more money into the classroom is good good for students. Granted contracts should not be given to friends and family - we have too many of those employed in non-teaching positions already. All departments in MIS should be considered for outsourcing. Very expensive department that can't show their efforts are improving student performance - after taxpayers have spent hundreds of millions on technology in the last 5 years.

Anonymous said...

The school security dept. consist of certified police officers and security guards. The officers are in the building every day and get to know the students just as well and sometimes better than the teachers. For all of you that are opposed to the officers I would like for you to take the time and spend 2 or 3 full days with the officers to see what they handle and respond to on a daily basis. Many of of you wiill find it quite stunning. About 80 to 85 % of school related incidents are not revealed to the public(medical emergencies,sexual assaults, child abuse and case that come off the street into the school)
because of the age of the victim or perpertrator involved. All of the officers are veteran officers from surrounding police agencies with a vast amount of experience. Before we all take side on this issue travel to the middle and schools spend some time. I think you will be amazed at what goes going on. These guys also cover the elementary schools with mobile units. Many of the crimes in local communities are solved because of information and identification assistance provided by the School Officers to other departments. Request end of the year crime statistic reports get the true numbers. Would you rather have someone on site to deal with a gunman or place a call and have to wait for some one to arrive? How safe are our children without them?

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 3:15

DCSS security force costs more than comparable school systems. The bottom line is - can this job be done by contracting the jobs out to a group that will hire the same caliber of personnel - an arrangement in which DCSS can save personnel costs in terms of salary and benefits? Benefits are a large part of personnel costs. Many school systems and companies contract out their security just for this reason - avoiding the benefits costs (around 25% in the case of DCSS employees).

The core business of DCSS is teaching. If you are not in a job directly instructing students, then the DCSS administration and BOE has a fiscal responsibility to look at any and all means of eliminating positions, consolidating positions, and/or or outsourcing.

Resources must be returned to the classroom to ensure adequate instruction for students. DCSS is not a jobs program. It's sole mission is to educate children. There is no other reason for its existence.

Has it ever occurred to anyone that as we cut teacher positions and starved the classroom, we have created a multitude of discipline problems that now must be addressed with costly non-teaching programs like Parent Centers and Security forces?

Creating a large security force that costs DCSS over $12,000,000 a year is analogous to creating a wasteland of poverty and then setting up a police force now that the poor get restless.

Put the money into attractive classrooms, low class sizes, highly qualified teachers, and abundant access to cutting edge technology and science equipment, and you will see a change in those students.

Anonymous said...

"For all of you that are opposed to the officers I would like for you to take the time and spend 2 or 3 full days with the officers to see what they handle and respond to on a daily basis."

You do understand that many students who commit offenses that police officers would arrest them for result in a reprimand from principals when the DCSS Security force is involved? IMO the DCSS Security force is very interested in protecting DCSS's image and not making waves. This is a disservice to the community of students who abide by the rules and the laws.

Anonymous said...

"These guys also cover the elementary schools with mobile units."

Have not seen this. Have seen elementary schools who lock their doors and when you ring the buzzer, the office staff have to decide to let you in.

Elementary teachers, how many of the 217 Security personnel have you seen around your school?

BTW we only have 40+ middle and high schools with 217 Security officers. This is a department that could really use rightsizing.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:15 PM, despite the huge security force, compuetrs walk away daily from DCSS schools, and even the BOE thinks its from inside jobs. Air conditioning units walk away. 9 detectives. 2 chiefs. I'd love for them to post the statistics online. Please DCSS Police, post your info. online!