Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Outsourcing coming to DCSS?

The week before winter break I heard from two different teachers that custodians at their schools were required to give representatives from private maintenance companies tours of the schools and show them what their job encompasses.

According to an article on the online version of the AJC, DeKalb County School System is considering privatizing custodian and maintenance jobs.

From the article:

More than 700 DeKalb County school workers could lose their jobs to outsourcing.

The school system is considering privatizing custodians and maintenance jobs, including grounds-keeping, painting, window glazing, heating and air-conditioning, equipment repair and pest control.

“The objective is not to eliminate employees, but to save taxpayer dollars,” DeKalb schools spokesman Jeff Dickerson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday.

School officials said the outsourcing is still a proposal and the amount of potential savings was not available this week.

However, the proposal could mean layoffs. Dickerson said about 700 jobs would be impacted. Board chairman Tom Bowen said the proposal impacts 900 jobs – 600 custodians and 350 at the school service center.

Read the entire article here:

I have several concerns with this proposal.

First, have any of you ever been to a football game at a DeKalb stadium with lots of fans in attendance? If so, have you seen how poorly the concession stands are both stocked and operated? If this system can’t successfully outsource and then manage such a small project as stadium concession stands, how well can they manage outsourcing such a large part of the day to day operation of a school and school system? Despite many complaints, the school system has refused to replace the contractor.

Second, call me a cynic, but this will be a large contract and I don’t have much confidence that the bid process will be free of issues. There doesn’t appear to have been an RFP posted, but we have reports that vendors were in the schools already. Have vendors been preselected, is the bid process going to be open and transparent, etc. I think I would like to have a new superintendent hired before we undertake such an endeavor.

Finally, from friends across the country, I get negative reports on outsourcing custodian services in the schools. One friend reports a nearly constant turnover in staff as the positions went from salaried, benefited jobs to hourly jobs with no benefits. Without knowing the vendors that are interested in this contract, it is impossible to know if this will be an issue in DeKalb or not.

Your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

this is the most dumb thing DCSS BOE has ever come up don't know what you are fetting when you outsource...e.a. child molestors, former criminals...and why not cut the top that's where the big savings are...start with the central office...custodians don't have retirement so where is the savings...DCSS doesn't put into any annuity accounts for custodians...these are the least paid personnel....parents should be screaming from the top of their lungs..wth..smdh..another bad decision from this CLewis BOE

Anonymous said...

My husband worked for the Centers for Disease Control and the federal government outsourced custodians a decade ago. They outsourced the entire MIS department as well. They have a skeleton MIS department to coordinate between the company they outsourced to and the scientist and MDs at DCS.

The result has been no degradation in service. The money in benefits they do not have to pay to the MIS and custodial personnel have allowed them to retain the scientists and MDs that are necessary for CDC to fulfill its mission which is scientific research into the cause and cure for diseases - in particular infectious diseases and chronic diseases.

Anonymous said...

About the tours some are referencing to, could these be the assessment tours that took place and compiled recently or were these actual custodial contractors looking for info to bid on something that has not been publicly approved yet?

No outsourcing contracts should be signed or approved until some six figure salaried "leaders" as well as some other Palace dwellers are asked to leave. We also need to eliminate the programs that have shown little to no return on investment, whether it's education or monetarily. Audria, it's time you start cutting back on your army too.

These type of things should be done by Tyson. Tyson has not shown that she has been very honest about keeping an open and transparent system. Keeping the 2004 audit in hiding, the lack of transcripts from many meetings and those that do appear are edited. The fact that no one from the Clew leadership has been fired also speaks volumes.

Transparency is not Tyson's mantra and if there have been companies taking tours, without a published RFP, those companies should be taken out of the search process completely.

In April, Tyson looked me in the eye and told me things would change and she would do her best at accomplishing her goals of a complete transparent and an open DCSS.. But nothing like demanding a 44% raise and have the BOE sneak in a vote, before the newly elected BOE is sworn in. Shhhhhhhh!

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness. I worked for the DeKalb Schools for 7 years and then went to work for BellSouth. I remember that some custodians were good and some not so good in DeKalb Schools. Whatever - we were stuck with what we had.

When I went to BellSouth, I remember that my department moved to a different building and the custodial care was okay, but not stellar. This went on for a few months and then all of a sudden the building was noticeably immaculate. I mentioned this to someone, and they said there had been some complaints about the custodial service so the building owners contracted with a new custodial service. I'll never forget that I marveled that you could get a new custodial group if the first one didn't work out. I was used to the being stuck with "the luck of the draw". What an eye opener.

themommy said...

I did ask to make sure it wasn't the assessment tours and it was made very clear to me that the custodians were asked to show what their day to day jobs were.

As to the Bell South example, I have zero confidence that DCSS will rid itself of bad contractors. Do you think they really will?

Anonymous said...

Well. I would rather outsource this group, and use the money saved in benefits to make sure we have enough teachers for our students. We cut almost 400 teacher positions in the last 2 years. Are custodians more important than teachers?

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent suggestion. Most companies outsource their custodial services. The company I work for outsources part of the IT function - repairing PC's, printers, etc.,

I can only imagine that since the ODE is against this move, that we will see many, many posts blasting this move - even though it is most likely a good move.

Anonymous said...

We cut almost 400 teacher positions in the last 2 years

That's too funny. There have not been 400 teacher positions cut in the last 2 years. Please provide proof. I review the Human Resources reports each month and I can tell you that your statement is an outright lie.

Anonymous said...

Excellent move. One that this blog has asking Ms. Tyson to do all along. I just wish she would outsource the computer group.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 7:25 pm. If this is what we need to do to save teacher positions, then by all means outsource this group. How about the groundskeeping crew? Ms. Tyson's budget recommendation said that she was going to look at outsourcing them as well.

Anonymous said...

DCSS is NOT a jobs program. The benefits cost for the custodial group are enormous - a much greater percentage of their total cost is in benefits since they have the same benefits as other higher paid employees. All those benefits are paid at a cost to students. Educating students is the ONLY thing DCSS needs to be concerned about. If the outsourced group is as at least as good, AND doesn't cost us benefits, I say give it a go. You're not stuck with this group since the contract can always not be renewed. That's a terrific incentive for them to do a good job.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 7:27

"We cut almost 400 teacher positions in the last 2 years

That's too funny. There have not been 400 teacher positions cut in the last 2 years. Please provide proof."

Dr. Lewis cut 275 positions two years ago and Ms. Tyson cut 100 positions last year. Go to the budget recommendations that were approved for 1020 and 2011 and compare the teachers in each school. Total it up for yourself.

Anonymous said...

"Go to the budget recommendations that were approved for 1020 and 2011 and compare the teachers in each school. "
... should read
"Go to the budget recommendations that were approved for 2010 and 2011 and compare the teacher allotments in each school. "

I had DCSS in the dark ages!

Anonymous said...

My concern is also what would be written into such a subtract to ensure that there is a security vetting of personnel. In addition contacts should be written to ensure that the company accepts fiscal responsibility for the conduct of employees in the event of criminal behavior. In addition, I wonder if they can give hiring preferences to current employees, with more points awarded in evaluation of proposals for companies who indicate this as a part of practice.

Guess I am at the point of thinking we should contract out the administrative services of the super and palace operatives and continue to keep on contract those who do the real work of education. This way we could give annual contracts with performance requirements to those at the top....seems like a better group to gamble against than the little people..less at stake too.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to Ms. Tysons. This is well overdue. I admire you taking this on. I'm going to write Ms. Tyson and the BOE and express my support for outsourcing rather than cutting teacher positions and increasing class sizes.

Anonymous said...

Teacher allotments have nothing to do with cutting teacher positions.

Why don't you go through the HR reports for the last 2 years - that is a better source of information.

Anonymous said...

If DCSS really wants to save money they need to look at cutting half of the administrators in the central office, outsource the services of the MIS department as well as the huge in-house police department. And, then take a serious look at the highly paid bloated administration in transportation. Again, they are looking to cut the lowest paid group in the DCSS food chain!

Anonymous said...

My concern isn't with the concept of outsourcing, but just whether DCSS is capable of doing this well.

We miss up simple things in this system, really simple things like bus routes, book orders, etc.

With a multi-million contract, how are we expected to have any confidence?

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 7:27

"There have not been 400 teacher positions cut in the last 2 years. Please provide proof'

You do realize that Ms. Tyson has stated that class size increases 1 to 2 students per class were part of her plan to reduce the budget? 1 to 2 students equates to at least 100 teacher positions eliminated (Do the math). You are aware that the budget was approved by the BOE? See Superintendent's budget recommendation 2010-2011.

Why on earth would she increase class sizes if she was going to keep the same number of teachers. We haven't added any more students?
"....increasing class sizes"

Anonymous said...

This is a fabulous move in the correct direction. Thank you DCSS, Ms. Tyson, BOE.

The taxpayers can no longer afford to pay the benefits and retirement to so many people. I have worked for government and private industry with outsourced maintenance services and found them to be satisfactory.

Security requirements are easily included as a contract requirement and will be adhered to in a consistent manner by a private vendor who does not want to get sued or to lose the contract.

Just PLEASE do not give the contract to some fake company created by former DCSS employees or family. Go with a national vendor with a long and positive track record.

Anonymous said...

@ 7:42 pm

"Teacher allotments have nothing to do with cutting teacher positions."

Of course they do. If I'm allotted 27 teachers this year and only 25 next year, I've lost 2 teachers. Parents already went through this and discussed it at length on this blog as they analyzed the school their children went to.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ms. Tyson. I believe you also said you would entertain bids to outsource the Security, Maintenance and Groundskeeping as well:

Keep up the good work.

Bloggers, now's your chance to email the BOE and Ms. Tyson and express your support for outsourcing rather than increasing class sizes. DCSS needs rightsizing. She's taking some positive steps. There will be much opposition - these are a lot of benefits to cut, but we aren't a jobs program - DCSS only has a responsibility to provide the best education possible for students. That can't happen with 36 students in a class (maximum class size for high school math, science, social studies, and language arts).

Anonymous said...

The principal will lose control and flexibility in deploying his/her custodians.

The custodians are needed for after school activities, play clean-up, etc.....

Why are they targeting the least paid and the least numerous group for cutting?

Probably to hand the contract to a former DCSS overlord who will pay peanuts while reaping monstrous profits...

Anonymous said...

I'm writing the BOE and Ms. Tyson to say thanks. Those of us in the private sector have experienced the improved service of outsourcing. If the company does not perform, then a new company can be chosen. We are looking forward to no increased class sizes. Pour that money into the classrooms.

Anonymous said...

For those of you who are so positive about this, what tells you that the system won't mess this up?

I am curious why you have confidence...

One of the articles that I read about whether another school system should outsource their custodian services, indicated that it is a BIG deal to go back to the old way if you do outsource.

I am also concerned about whether principals will be listened to if there are problems.

Anonymous said...

If the company does not perform, then a new company can be chosen.

And what in DCSS' history tells you this will happen? Have you seen the concession stands?

It is a small example, but a relevant one I think.

Anonymous said...

And once again, just like in Washington, everyone accepts that cutting the lowest paid people first is The way to go???

We can't afford the benefits we pay these custodians; hah!!!

Of course we could afford their benefits if we weren't paying so much to a very bloated, inept, and rarely seen in the schoolhouse central administrative gang.

Cerebration said...

I think this is a long overdue wonderful idea. In fact, doesn't Arabia already use an outside company? I have had experience with 8 different DeKalb schools and have never been impressed with the custodial staff - although there was one guy at Shamrock who actually did a good job. I hear the the Henderson staff is good too, but that's because the principal chose them and monitors them closely.

Of course private companies would ensure that custodian's backgrounds are checked (are you insinuating that private industry does not do this?) No - they are very cautious. And they would be able to hire and fire more easily, following Georgia's right to work laws. I think it would be consumer-driven. If the system gets complaints, they will have to change vendors. That said, the bid process should be highly transparent.

Add to this, outsourcing for landscaping, window-glazing and all the rest and you have some serious savings. People who say our benefit program is costing us too much are correct.

Also, yes, we have definitely lost several hundred teachers (and 200 parapros last year alone) - due to cuts. Most were not "RiF'd" most simply retired or left and were not replaced.

We have enormous holes that can be plugged in the $1.2 billion budget in order to focus on spending our resources on students. This is a big step in the right direction, IMO.

Anonymous said...

Consider that a custodian that makes $20,000 a year gets benefits that cost as much as the highest paid DCSS employee. If I'm a custodian with a family health care plan, then taxpayers will be paying around over $1,000 a month for my family's insurance, and as an employee, my part will be around $300 a month.

So taxpayers pay $12,000 a year in insurance alone for every custodian that makes $20,000 a year (plus 10% in retirement - another $2,400 a year). Do you see the savings here? Obviously, Ms. Tyson has done the math.

While I don't like to see people et go and without insurance, DCSS is not a jobs program. DCSS has hired too many people who do not teach students (8,500 admin and support to only 6,500 teachers). We have to cut somewhere. Do parents/taxpayers want their children in even bigger classes (how high do you want to go - 36, 38, why not 40) in order to provide jobs and health insurance for all those admin and support personnel? It's really come down to that. MIS, groundskeeping, Security, Maintenance - all of those areas have possible outsourcing potential. The federal government has already outsourced those areas as has private industry. We can move slowly in that direction until we plow most of our money into the positions that directly impact students.

Children have no voice, and they have only one shot at an education, and then the door closes. Taxpayers ONLY pay taxes to get children educated - we'll be depending on them one of these days.

We must do everything we can to ensure they have every nickel spent in the classrooms for them. We must keep our eye on what DCSS exists for - not to create jobs or provide benefits - but to educate children.

Anonymous said...

The only thing in DCSS that is outsourced right now are the copiers. You know how bad they suck. Can you imagine how bad the foliage are going to suck now.

Anonymous said...

I hate this auto spell on the MAC now. Tried to type toliets.

Anonymous said...

Let's outsource the Superintendent and the School Board's jobs. Better yet, let's outsource the entire "Palace". No expensive retirement packages and, if they mess up like the ones we have now, we can replace them as was done at BellSouth.

Anonymous said...

Outsource 700 custodian jobs, where overall the principals and staff are quite satisfied with the service received, why?... to pay for Tyson's $1M+ retirement bonus.


Cynical? Yes!

Anonymous said...

Not sure who's lower paid than DCSS janitors and bus drivers, both groups who are seeing cuts. Thank goodness no-one is cutting Central Office pay and their $100K+ earners or that would really affect DeKalb's students.

C?Y! again

Cerebration said...

No argument there - as we always lament on this blog - there is PLENTY of room to reduce some areas of the central office and other administrators. We need to seriously revisit the "programs" like America's Choice and others (I believe I recall Ms Tyson promised a "forensic audit" of these) that have grown exponentially under the leadership of the office of school improvement.

Cutting out one $85,000 Instructional Coordinator is equal to about 4 custodians. We have plenty of opportunities to trim the system and put the focus on the students.

Anonymous said...

I support the decision. Thank you DCSS.

Kim Gokce said...

I love this thread because you are all right ... yes, DCSS should use out-sourcing as a tool for cost savings in operational areas ... yes, DCSS does not have a good track record of managing vendors ... yes, there many other areas that might yield greater savings via outsourcing ... yes, yes, yes!

I'm going to bolster my reputation as a whacked out thinker by asking this: Why couldn't each school principal or site superintendent make these earth-shattering decisions about what vendor is or is not performing their job?

DCSS has so many properties, I would think that the ideal solution would be for DCSS to manage a short list of approved vendors for custodial services and let each school pick from that list. Each principal should also have the discretion to fire a given vendor at will and bring in another approved vendor.

This approach takes all the benefits of outsourcing and combines it with greater local control and quality. It also keeps the Central Office from getting in its own way and in the way of the schools.

Cerebration said...

Brilliant, Kim!

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

"Not sure who's lower paid than DCSS janitors and bus drivers, both groups who are seeing cuts."

You need to get behind Ms. Tyson on this one.

For every custodian that retires at $30,000, taxpayers will be paying $18,000 a year in retirement and most likely $12,000 in health care benefits (if they insure JUST ONe family member). That's $$30,000 x 700 custodians or $21,000,000 a year in retirement and benefits.

NOW do you see why Ms. Tyson might tackle this first?

We must remember that benefits are around $12,000 a year in taxpayer dollars for every employee who has a family (most of them). Benefits costs are the same for a custodian as they are for Ms. Tyson and her family. So benefits are running around 40% to 50% override for the bus drivers, custodial, groundskeeping, food service workers and they number in the thousands.

For almost every lower paid employee that we pay $20,000 to $30,000 in salary, we pay another $12,000 in benefits (not even including $2,000 in retirement and the retirement costs of 60% oftheir salaries down the road). Retirement commitments (including benefits for them and their families - $12,000 a year in retirement for health insurance as well) will be unsustainable. I think they're unsustainable now.

All of this will mean a GREATER DECREASE in expenditures and resources for STUDENTS.

Are parents really ready to pay for benefits for these employees at the expense of their children's education? DCSS needs to make some hard decisions.

I'm all for cutting the Central Office - why not outsource MIS and Staff Development? But we have to realize that benefits for these lower paid employees are creating larger class sizes, less money for adequate science and technology equipment, an inability to fund capital improvements from the general fund (forcing us to use SPLOST for all capital improvements), forcing teachers to pay out of pocket for materials and supplies, not giving us the resources to attract and retain highly qualified teachers, etc.

You can't have it both ways - employ and pay for the benefits of thousands of lower paid employees and their families when they can be outsourced and consolidated and then expect to have the resources left to provide highly qualified teachers with smaller classes for our children.

Anonymous said...

Support outsourcing on its face - but NOT if it is not going to yield increased resources directly into the classrooms. While I agree that we need to save money, and am willing to support this as an approach, I'm sickened by the woman and administration who are willing to raise their own salaries on the backs of the lowest paid workers in the system. I DO NOT FOR ONE MINUTE believe that this purported savings will yield increased resources for gifted or remedial education in the classrooms - and am further assured that the "normal kids" of the system will simply continue to see increased class sizes and reduced access to what matters. Where's the saved money going? ..."Let's see, if we can save $76,000 or so a year for the next two years, plus about 14% (for my retirement and healthcare benefits) - yep I can sell this one to Joe public and my raise is completely supported - don't you think Tom?"

Cynical???? Beyond!

Anonymous said...

there will be no savings on outsourcing just ask the folks having printed documents outsourced after the printshop was closed in 2009. This has been a costly nightmare for the DCSS. No one likes to mention it aloud...everyone whispers about it because they are afraid they'll lose their high paying jobs.

The children of DCSS will receive the exact same amount of nothing as they are presently receiving from this mediocre BOE.

Let's see why we are still playing up CLewis's agenda. This was his and Pope's plan initially but that plan was set aside for the moment but Tyson is still being controlled and manipulated by Lewis.

The CDC is changing the way they fact in most of those areas they have hired fulltime stffers..cause guess what it doesn't work out so well when you outsource and must pay additional overtime wages to cater to those MD's..this I know first hand.
Additionally there are so many arears to outsource...and yes DCSS MIS and other areas desperately need to be re-evaluated and dound to be incompetent...SACS will take a big wack at this school system in JAnuary just watch and scream there's a deficit and then turn around and pay for a large salary increase for now that's financial planning...and Tom Bowen is a CPA really? just saying

Anonymous said...

Remember that the incoming govenor has promised more cuts -- including education. So I'm not at all sure that this is a "savings", but rather a hedge against what's yet to come. Either way, hard decision-making is certainly the order of the day. In addition, take care to include the factor of overhead payments to a vendor. While there will be savings if you factor in benefits costs, etc., that will be somewhat offset by the vendor's (or vendors') administrative fees. DCSS may not be providing benefits in this scenario, but a vendor may -- and there will be a cost for that.

Does anyone remember the ServiceMaster contract from several years ago? I believe we've been down this road before -- only to return to in-house for these services. It will be interesting to see what happens this time.

Anonymous said...

"The CDC is changing the way they fact in most of those areas they have hired fulltime stffers."

No. This is not true. Outsourcing has worked out fine for CDC. They didn't see any degradation in service, but the labs did get more money to hire scientists and MDs. The entire federal government has gone this way since benefits were killing them. And quite frankly benefits are killing Dekalb taxpayers and our students.

Anonymous said...

Guys - you gotta look at the benefits cost of retirement and health insurance for 700 employees. This is unsustainable. Do we want to educate our kids or provide retirement and health care for employees in the admin and support area?

Anonymous said...

If you don't like outsourcing, then come up with how you're going to pay for teachers to teach the students without packing 40 to a classroom? It's not hard math. Some posters have shown us the math. Parents need to decide if they want a jobs program or an educational program. It's the benefits of retirement and health care for 700 employees we would avoid.

Anonymous said...

"you scream there's a deficit and then turn around and pay for a large salary increase for life.'

For posers who are concerned about the $1,000,000 in retirement for Ms. Tyson with her raise, just think about the $12,000 a year in health insurance for 700 custodians - much less the 60% of their salary (around $18,000 a year per employee) for the rest of their lives. That's tens of millions a year that will not be spent on students.

Anonymous said...

Some vendors pay benefits. Some don't.

I'm absolutely positive NONE of these vendors pay 60% of their high two in DEFINED retirement benefits for the rest of their lives. That's found no where but in government. Most taxpayers don't get that, and taxpayers certainly can't afford that for every job that is done in DCSS.

Anonymous said...

Why do you think there will be less service? I ask you - are the schools sparkling clean right now? Do all the dispensers have soap? Do the custodians keep everything pristine in your schools? Do they wipe the cafeteria tables? Some do a good job, but some don't. I've swept my my classroom many times and dispensed soap to my students. The principal doesn't seem to be able to do much if he/she gets a poor custodian. The faculty and students are stuck with him/her. At least with outsourcing the system can hire someone new if the service doesn't work out. Do you know what it takes to get a poor custodian out of your school building currently?

Anonymous said...

I think Ms. Tyson has come to the realization that she can't increase class sizes any more than they are now. She just can't shoe horn any more students into the classroom. She's looking to save money and for once it's not by cutting teacher or paraprofessional positions - the ones that actually work with the students. Good for you Ms. Tyson. This is long overdue. I hope we get better service. I've not been impressed all with the cleanliness of our buildings.

Anonymous said...

How many posters have complained about dirty conditions in the schools? Do you think it will get worse? I don't. I would hope for better service or DCSS can get a new contractor.

Anonymous said...

I think Ms. Tyson is running the numbers right now. Hopefully, she'll bring the data to the BOE if it saves money for the county and then they can vote on it.

Burroughston Broch said...

Folks, this is a diversion that's played in private business as well. The outsourcing contractor comes to the Boss and says, "I can save you a lot of money and make you look good if you outsource those jobs to my company." The Boss thinks that sounds good and never asks this question, "How will you supply people who will work cheaper and more efficiently for you than they will for me, so that you can pay them plus make a profit, and still save me money?" The Boss only thinks about how good he will look - and there might be a little something extra under the table as well. The outsourcing contractor holds its prices for a while and then starts raising them because they aren't making any money. After a while, the Boss's Successor (the Boss has retired or been promoted) needs something to make himself look good, so he decides to insource the jobs,stating that he will save much money. So the cycle resets, and then repeats itself later.

Moral: ignore the smoke and mirrors and, as Deep Throat said, follow the money.

Anonymous said...

"The outsourcing contractor holds its prices for a while and then starts raising them because they aren't making any money. '

...or the Boss decides to get a new contractor. Face it - business and the federal and more recently the state has used outsourcing to eliminate the rising cost of retirement and health care benefits. They are getting astronomical.

Anonymous said...

Custodians aren't eligible for TRS membership. So what retirement benefits are they getting, outside of social security.

Here is the information from the TRS website itself.

Individuals ineligible for TRS membership include:

* Public school maintenance and custodial personnel, school bus drivers, cafeteria workers.
* Temporary or emergency employees.
* Substitute teachers.

Anonymous said...

Not only not eligible for TRS but all the projected expenses are based on 1980's thought processes. The sad fact is that very few of the custodians hired by DCSS in the past five or ten years will still be with DCSS for the next ten years. There is tremendous turnover and very few are making school custodian a career choice. (We might want to add Custodial Engineer to our non-existent Vo-Tech program.)

It's another Fool's Gold being perpetrated by the "in power crowd" to distract constituents from 100 grand raises and fat bloated and useless central office staff.

Anonymous said...

If the facilities and their custodial staffs were properly managed a lot more would get done. At many schools the custodian is the go to person for admin if you want someone to pick up lunch. Many school have no schedule for what needs to get done. It appears a lot of administrators have no experience in managing custodial duties. DCSS does not seem to empower custodians as well. Small repairs could be done if there was a tool bank for custodians to use. But most of all schools get stuck with the good and the bad and nothing seems to change.

Anonymous said...

700 custodians do receive the same health care benefits as anyone else in the system. If you have even one dependent, the county's cost is around $1,000 a month.

Anonymous said...

take a look at the 2010 salary schedule on the state audit website....where is the
money going, it's not paying custodians..I am not a custodian but I know what I know..salaries need to be's easy for folks to sit back and say cut the bottom but the truth is that the service DCSS are receiving from their in-house will be a lot cheaper in the long run...

1. DCSS are a bunch of whinny, complaining, lazy individuals (we need more tissue in the restrooms (mind you tissue is right on the stall still wrapped in its original packaging) I guess you want me to wipe your #$$ as well cause you can't reach it.

2. Someone dropped a paper towel on the floor can you send someone in the ladies restroom and pick it up).

3. Someone tinkled on the ladies restroom seat can you send someone to wipe it's a public toilet for crying out loud..

You would need someone standing in the bathroom the entire time to clean up after these grown women/men in the Palace to see to their every need.

The students do not and have not received this kind of treatment..they can't because the BIGS save all the goodies for themselves...they are the one's saying schools only receive so many rolls of tissue packs of paper towels, hand soap, etc. per month..and if they run out then ooh well send notes to the parents requesting more supplies...but if the Palace runs low because grown Men and Women misuse, take supplies home or to their cubicles for their personal use then they call to the service center and have more supplies delivered.

These are the facts...your children go without but your Billion Dollar Babies in the Palace are treated like Royalty.

Now what company is going to provide an over abundance of supplies to a greedy self loathing organization like DCSS...they will be inflating prices like crazy with valid have PTA meetings...BOE meeting these events are taken care of by current staff now you are asking the company to do extra work..sure it can be written into the contract ans so will a hefty fee.

Good luck with saving your tax dollars. These idiots do not know how to save nor shop for great services...and lastly why are they patterening themselves after Atlanta Schools..they have enough problems with the cheating and Superintendent issues...we need to look outside of the state of Georgia for better examples of outsourcing any jobs.

Cerebration said...

Well, there's that.

Anonymous said...

"No. This is not true. Outsourcing has worked out fine for CDC. They didn't see any degradation in service, but the labs did get more money to hire scientists and MDs. The entire federal government has gone this way since benefits were killing them. And quite frankly benefits are killing Dekalb taxpayers and our students."

As a CDC employee, I can say that some of the outsourcing has worked well and some has not. At CDC, and across the federal government, the outsourcing pendulum has actually swung away from so much outsourcing in the past few years. Contract laws prevent FTE staff from supervising contractors, which can lead to mismanagment. Also, contracting out jobs does NOT always save money. Contractors often earn more money than FTE staff and this year, while federal employees received no COLA, many contractors got raises and bonuses. Overhead on contracts can be very high, 100% and higher.

Outsourcing may look like the magic bullet but is not a simple solution. At DCSS, it would require oversight by smart and experienced administrators, who are pretty scarce at DCSS.

Cerebration said...

I infer from this conversation that the apprehension with this idea stems from the possibility of actually not saving money, getting sub-par services (or criminals?) and mostly, the fact that no cuts have been made to the upper administration as of yet (after spending over $30 million on a fabulous new building for themselves).

Unless and until the cuts start happening at the top, I fear Ms. Tyson will continue to have to deal with mistrust in the community.

The biggest step she could make would be to complete rearrange how we spend our Title 1 dollars. Currently, we feel too much of it is spent on "managers" and "coaches" and "programs" and far too little on support teachers in the school house working directly with students in small learning groups. Truly, many of us feel this flip in focus would increase learning and improve test scores. Early intervention is key - especially in reading.

The chart in the post below shows that 14.8% of K-5 students receive early intervention in DeKalb - compared to 23.7% in Cobb and 39.6% in Clayton. Further, we see that a mere 0.9% (less than 1%) of DeKalb middle schoolers and 3.6% of DeKalb high schoolers receive remedial instruction. Compare this to 7.4% and 13.9% in Cobb, 13.4% and 11.7% in Fulton, and 13.8% and 6.3% in Atlanta.

We suffer a serious loss in learning from middle school on up. Perhaps spending some of our over $30 million in Title 1 annual funds on direct, remedial instruction would improve our students' learning beyond 6th grade.

New FTE data from the state

Anonymous said...

Burroughston Broch and Anon 9:11 bring up interesting points with regard to outsourcing. I have experience with companies electing to self perform portions of work in lieu of out sourcing and the results can cut both ways. Regardless of outsourced or handled in house, the key to success is proper management.

This is the problem with DCSS, many of the folks in management positions (in and out of the school house) should not be there. Individuals that may be very effective teachers and administrators are promoted to positions requiring experience as well as superior management and decision making skills. We all have our list of misplaced, ineffective administrators to hold up as examples. Cutting staff and outsourcing only goes so far. DCSS needs to streamline and eliminate/replace ineffective management folk too.

Another problem DeKalb county has to overcome is clueless voters. Just take a look at how this county voted in the recent election. More specifically, look at the school board election. We are reaping what we sow as the voter population for the most part is the product of public education. Don’t believe me? Did you see the report about the percentage of Georgia educated citizens failing the military entrance exam?

Over the past two months I have met several folks that have decided to move out of DeKalb County. Their reason? Incompetent county government, the bombshell of an education system they are forced to support, and the incredibly naive and ignorant voter base in this county. For the most part, they are young folks with children that will soon be school age, nearing retirement or are retired. All have resigned themselves to leave now and take their loss on their property value. Getting out now is that important to them. As a lifelong DeKalb resident this concerns me and I do not see the trends prompting their decisions reversing.

A once great county, DeKalb, is now becoming the land of the idiots.

Anonymous said...

It seems no one wants to address any hard decisions because - it's hard. The decisions have been to cut teacher positions and increase class sizes, cut teacher positions and increase class sizes - until it's getting to the point where this is no longer an option. We are sending more and have hired more staff, yet we have some of the largest class sizes we have ever seen. When does it end? Who is looking out for students? Never mind teachers - they can escape from DCSS classrooms, but students are trapped there.

I have continually heard of the dirty classrooms and moldy conditions of DCSS schools on this blog. Well, if the work force is so fabulous, why would the classrooms and bathrooms be filthy and teachers need to be wiping down cafeteria tables?

We have to make changes and changes don't mean more cuts to the classroom.

Of course, the Central Office needs to be thinned out, of course over paid employees throughout the system need to have their wages adjusted (it would be great if Ms. Tyson released that 2004 Compensation audit they have been hiding). Saying that we can't outsource because the printshop didn't turn out right is nonsense. Let's try it in some schools and see if it works. If it does then try it in some more schools. Evaluate the contractors regularly.

Not doing anything but increasing class sizes is not an option any more.

Anonymous said...

Re. the decline of Dekalb county. North Dekalb is actually quite vibrant, diverse, and viable. South Dekalb, on the other hand, has become the millstone that will take us all down.

Staffing Need Supplier said...

There are people who are supporting and not supporting the outsourcing move, but 700 people loosing jobs is a worrying thing.

Anonymous said...

I think that we should outsource the entire school system to a more competent system, like Gwinnett county.

December 30, 2010 12:25 AM asks the question
"Guys - you gotta look at the benefits cost of retirement and health insurance for 700 employees. This is unsustainable. Do we want to educate our kids or provide retirement and health care for employees in the admin and support area?"

The taxpayers, particularly those of North DeKalb, are not entitled to answer that question. It already has been decided by the Bishop and the voters of South DeKalb that education of children comes in second.

By the way, a number of municipalities now outsource transportation. There are several companies that manage all of the buses and drivers. I had suggested one to DCSS BOE. No response.

Anonymous said...

You're striking a nerve here -- it is not helpful to paint with the wide brush. As a South DeKalb citizen and avid reader and fan of this blog who applied logic, reason and an educated perspective to my ballot, I don't appreciate this wholesale conclusion that the whole of South DeKalb puts education second and is a "millstone" dragging down you good folks in N. DeKalb. Stop it. There are FAR more people like me in S. DeKalb than you may think.

Funny, "race-card playing" is the very thing decried on this blog. But what is it called when you do it? Cogent dialogue? Please. That's a little like saying involved parents are in N. DeKalb, but involved parents in S. DeKalb are trouble-makers.

Anonymous said...

Sad and predictable that there's no response to the above post. Carry on, business as usual. Ho hum.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:40 PM, please disregard the rare and random comments here that denigrate South DeKalb. Most posters on here make intelligent and thoughtful comments. Every popular blog has "troublemakers".

We are one county with one school system. We have to work together to improve. And us "Central DeKalbers" don't even know where "North DeKalb" and "Central Dekalb" begin!!

Anonymous said...

"And us "Central DeKalbers" don't even know where "North DeKalb" and "South DeKalb" begin!!

Cerebration said...

Please don't take the random comments that we allow to freely flow as the "opinion of the blog". The blog loudly applauded South DeKalb for sending Donna Edler as their newly elected, very professional rep.

The articles we post come from administrators of the blog. The comments - well - we just let them fly. As moderator, I do remove them occasionally if they are inflammatory or give out personal information.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 12:40 PM

"Striking a nerve here ..."

If, in fact, there are far more people in South DeKalb just like you, then where were they on Election Day and the weeks leading up to Election Day? How many volunteered to help Donna Edler's campaign? It would be interesting to see where Donna Edler's financial support came from.

If, in fact, there are far more people in South DeKalb just like you, then where were they when Jay Cunningham needed to be unseated from the BOE? Why were they not supporting Kirk Nooks?

If, in fact, there are far more people in South DeKalb just like you, then why is that part of DeKalb in trouble economically? Some large parts of South DeKalb look like giant wastelands.

I think you are engaging in "truthiness" -- defined by the Urban Dictionary as, "The quality of stating concepts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than the facts."

BTW -- You are the one who played the race-card, not Anonymous @ 11:42 AM. That's one of the huge conundrums posed by you folks in South DeKalb. The slightest negative comment and you see "race" everywhere. It is your fall-back position.

You engaged in race-baiting in your post. It is your tired and worn-out excuse for not doing the hard work required to turn around South DeKalb and its schools.

I agree with Anonymous 11:42: "North Dekalb is actually quite vibrant, diverse, and viable. South Dekalb, on the other hand, has become the millstone that will take us all down."

Before you get all in a huff, stop and consider that DeKalb County and the DeKalb County School System are majority black. For all you know, I am black, speaking truth to truthiness.

Anonymous said...

I really don't care who and what you are or where you live -- it's still smoke and mirrors to shy away from the inaccurate statement that all of S. DeKalb lives in a wasteland and is chalk full of unintelligent voters. Last I heard, Edler was in fact elected by a small but determined crowd of people who knew better -- I'm one of them. I can't speak for all of my community just as you can't speak for all of yours. Idiocy and ignorance is equal-opportunity, which is why we should not paint with the wide brush. That was my over-arching point.

Anonymous said...

Is anybody really arguing that all of south Dekalb is a "wasteland"? Substantial parts of the area are becoming a suburban slum. As a result, property values throughout the region will probably never recover while decay will supplant growth. Not unlike in the APS, a culture of failure afflicts most of its schools. Not unlike in the APS, the bureaucracy feeds off of the failure. Change can only come from within. Since that probably won't happen, the Republicans will lead the change agenda -- by further deepening the gulf between south Dekalb and the rest of the county through far-reaching changes in how things are funded and apportioned.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:30 PM:

Your insinuation that conservatives are divisive is extremely insulting and shows ignorance on your part.

We are talking about cleaning up a really troubled school system. I think most of us that pay property taxes, have concern for the operation of the school system, quality of education in DeKalb and its ramifications for our quality of life here welcome positive, productive change. Regardless of party affiliation, the people in charge presently and in the past have failed us miserably. If conservatives can lead the way for more responsible management of DCSS and in the long run turn out better educated students, I welcome them.

Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with "conservatives" per se. The real point is that the corruption, social decay, and embarrsassingly bad educational system in south Dekalb all serve the Republican agenda, which may or may not work. One thing is for certain: south Dekalb contains precious few Republican consitutents and is hence not likely to be high on the list of Republican priorities. Crawford Lewis, Ramona Tyson, etc. are all part of a game they either don't understand or, for selfish reasons, care not to think about. Many of the DCSS administrators and teachers who can neither speak nor write proper English also belong to this category. A tsunami is coming. Greed and willful ignorance are a dangerous combination.

Anonymous said...

Outsource our custodians at our school! I'm jealous of those on here who say they have good custodians... ours do not do what they are supposed to! Nothing has been done -- if a teacher had not done what they were supposed to do, they'd be gone. Outsourcing can't be any worse than what we're not getting now!!

Anonymous said...

Why don't we outsource the math teachers? English teachers? I mean why pay retirement and healthcare?

Be careful what you wish for: by dint of outsourcing to save up on "health benefits" and retirement, you will negatively affect your "private" or "corporate" health benefits!

Are we really saying that because 700 custodians receive the same health benefit costs as the other 10 000 employees DCSS is broke and out funds?

At least the custodians do something while Guillory and others do nothing!

Anonymous said...

Better yet, let's do like the "cruise ships": hire a huge staff of folks from 3rd world countries for next to nothing to keep our schools clean just like they keep Carnival Cruise Lines ships spanking clean?

Another advantage: we won't need to house them, feed them, treat them, or tip them!

Anonymous said...

"Why don't we outsource the math teachers? English teachers? I mean why pay retirement and healthcare?"

Well, that's a thought.

If you can tell us how to outsource teachers, I think that's not such a bad idea. However, it's really supply and demand at this point. Teachers (particularly science and math)are in demand just like other highly educated professionals. We are having a difficult time getting them, and that means we need to see what we can do to attract and retain the best ones. Outsourcing is not an option for teachers at this point.

It seems you don't understand that teachers and students are the classroom. 90% of what happens in education is inside the classroom. Everything outside the classroom is just to support teachers and students. That's understandable - DCSS forgot this a long time ago.

If DCSS could figure out a way to cut students and keep everyone employed, they would do that as well.

Anonymous said...

"Are we really saying that because 700 custodians receive the same health benefit costs as the other 10 000 employees DCSS is broke and out funds?'

Custodians are just the tip of the iceberg. Maintenance, MIS, landscaping, staff development, food services, transportation - all of these people do not teach students (the only reason the school system exists). Every one of them needs cuts in order to provide more teachers for students. More custodians, more MIS employees, more cafeteria workers, more landscapers, more staff developers - none of these people will improve student achievement except teachers. If these jobs can be done by someone else at a cheaper rate (and in this economy that should be not too hard) then let that happen so we can have teachers to teach out kids.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing that most of you who have nothing nice to say about the competency of DCSS expect outsourcing to work.

Who are you kidding? On top of the fact that the contract(s) will have to be well managed, there is tremendous potential for graft and kickbacks.

Let's get a new superintendent who cleans house first and then move forward with these kind of initiatives.

Remember who the bosses are before you look to turn over millions, perhaps more than 10 million, to private contractors.

Anonymous said...

Also, before we can add teachers, we need to restore teachers' pay to where it should be and their retirement benefits.

Anonymous said...

Yes----it's for the children!

If my kid can get into Duke because Tucker High get 1 extra teacher with the custodial medical health saving bonanza then I don't give a fig if the Tucker high School custodial staff makes effectively $1000 less per year!

Further, custodians don't get cancer or heart disease like other employees nor do their kids need dental care.

Keep your eyes on the Ramona's raise!

Anonymous said...

Dr. Lewis did everyone a great disservice when he added so many personnel on the admin and support side while cutting teaching positions. Now it's going to be like pulling teeth to right size DCSS to add more teachers for our kids.

Anonymous said...

If my kid can get into Duke because Tucker High get 1 extra teacher with the custodial medical health saving bonanza then I don't give a fig if the Tucker high School custodial staff makes effectively $1000 less per year!'

500 custodians getting $1000 less a year would be $500,000 or 10 extra highly qualified teachers with Masters degrees teaching our students.

Anonymous said...

This is only about students - adults can take care of themselves. I'm for cutting, consolidating and outsourcing every job outside the classroom Ms. Tyson can. Do not touch the classroom - meaning teachers and students. The classroom is the only reason we pay taxes.

Anonymous said...

If we can save money by outsourcing admin or support jobs, then by all means do it. We need more teachers. We can't pack more children in the classroom in order to keep the DCSS jobs program intact.

Anonymous said...


Let's hope your kids don't learn from you and outsource you to a nursing home run by contractors!


Can we get our humanity back. Let's get rid of all who don't carry their weight but, in the name of decency, let's not build our kids' future on the misery of hard-working and much needed custodians!

Anonymous said...

First, cut the central office ot the bone. Then make those that are left work so hard for those overly high salaries that they beg to go back to the school house.

Only then, mess with those at the bottom.

Anonymous said...

The custodians actually TOUCH the classrooms, the libraries, and the cafeterias----they directly impact learning!

The coaches do not! PDS-24 does not! Jim Dickerson does not! Cut them!

Anonymous said...

Looks like David Schutten sent out his attack dogs....

Look, this blog and most of its posters were pushing for outsourcing last spring when the budget ideas were being solicited by DCSS. In fact, the survey showed that outsourcing was a very popular idea among all of the stakeholders.

Anonymous said...


I am not anyone's attack dog. My sense of fairness gets a little pricked when we try to build on the back of any one person or groups for But as the Merchant of Venice reminds us "...if you prick us, do we not bleed? ...Are we not warmed by the same sun?.."

If we need to outsource custodial care, let's do so with new hires; with new schools; consolidate custodians who want to continue with Dekalb at some schools...and open other schools to contractors. With the help of retirement, death, changing circumstances, firing for cause Dekalb can ease into this new era in a humane manner.

I am not for the way Wall Street and the majestic US business model closes a factory/airline/retail chains under US Bankruptcy protection and re-emerges with much cheaper employees but with an even more highly paid management.

Anonymous said...

This from someone SMARTER than me :

The other perception is that any outsourcing company can also do it cheaper than you. A MAJORITY OF THIS DEPENDS UPON HOW WELL YOUR COMPANY NEGOTIATES THE CONTRACT. If the contract contains limitations or maximum levels, penalties may start to be assessed. Suddenly, THAT "FIXED PRICE" CONTRACT TURNS INTO AN OUTRAGEOUS FINANCIAL OBLIGATION of DEKALB COUNTY SCHOOLS.

Anonymous said...

"Let's hope your kids don't learn from you and outsource you to a nursing home run by contractors!"

That's actually not my concern. I'm old and my concern is for my children - they are my future. This is not about custodians or MIS employees or all those other grown up workers. This is about a school system that only exists for children. That's gotten lost in this discussion.

It's a competitive world out there. Children need every nickel in the school system

Anonymous said...

Scandalgate II ?? -- And just how much does Dave Schutten make with benefits as president of ODE? And what exactly does he do to earn it?

I bet he's qualified for the Central Office!

Anonymous said...

If we don;t outsource and cut in the admin and support area, I can assure you parents will not like what happens in the classrooms next year.

If Ms. Tyson backs down from this and packs more kids into the classrooms because she fells sorry for the custodians or any other group, children will suffer and parents will be screaming.

Lewis made sure she's caught betwen a rock and a hard place. By all means - make children a priority in our school system.

Hold fast Ms. Tyson.

Anonymous said...

I don't think parents care about custodians or anyone in the school system being cut or outsourced. We only care about more teachers to teach the students and more money going directly into the classroom.

Sorry. But that's what the school system is - educating students.

Anonymous said...

"However, the proposal could mean layoffs. Dickerson said about 700 jobs would be impacted. Board chairman Tom Bowen said the proposal impacts 900 jobs – 600 custodians and 350 at the school service center.'

That sounds like a start. DCSS has over 8,000 admin and support staff and only 6,500 teachers. We should have the opposite. We have to start somewhere.

Anonymous said...

I like to say that DCCS should cut at the top, With people double dipping. I must say I'm a custodian and I do a dam good job, I think of my school like my kids go there. I need my job.

Cerebration said...

Remember, we had to cut $100 million from last year's budget and projections say that we will have to cut at least another $50 million next year.

This will be painful no matter. However, students and teachers have already given all the blood they have. Next! (I think the line will be long... custodians are just the beginning.)

Anonymous said...

Yes. I'm sure you do. But kids need an education. And we've let 400 teacher positions go in the last 2 years. Can you teach those children? To be fair Ms. Tyson needs to cut in the Central Office as well. All non-teaching personnel need to feel the cuts. We need more teachers - not less - and we are lower paying for teachers than almost any other metro system. How would ou propose our children learn if we keep cutting teachers?

Anonymous said...


Thank you for DIRECTLY supporting learning! We all learn better in well maintained facilities!

You agree that teachers or custodians can be fired if they don't do good work.

The County Office does not do anything--We should start with them. Stop balancing your budget on the least well paid people!!

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration

So true. There are no more teaching positions to cut unless we want to close our school system. Custodians, MIS, Staff Development, Landscaping, HVAC, Security - all of these areas need to be looked at for outsourcing if we're to keep our educational system afloat for children.

The Central Office and pet programs like the Parent Centers (started by Lewis, staffed by many friends and family - Ms. Zepora Roberts daughter comes to mind among others - cost $4,500,000), America's Choice ($8,000,000), 90 Instructional Coaches ($9,000,000), etc. All of these need to be cut as well.

School systems are not school systems without students and teachers. Those two groups are the ONLY necessary components that if either one were gone - the school system would cease to exist. We seem to have forgotten that teaches and students are the only ones we can't do without.

Anonymous said...

@ Cere
Yes. The custodian group will be the first one to feel the "rightsizing" effect. Hopefully, the very expensive and ineffective MIS (290 employees costing us $20,000,000 in salary and benefits) can have some savings wrung out of them. Dell already does most of their work for them.

Get rid of Parent Centers ($4,000,000+) and let the Counselors and Social Workers absorb those duties.

Send most of the Instructional Coaches and Coordinators back into the classrooms to teach students.

We can't cut the classrooms (teachers and students) another $50,000,000. Our kids have no more to give.

Anonymous said...

On another note . . . Please give some positive suggestions for helping parents send their children to school ready to learn.