Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Only Atlanta surpasses DeKalb in $100,000 administrators per student

It seems that although DeKalb actually has more individual people earning six-figure salaries, Atlanta earns the top spot for the most highly paid administrators per student. Dr. Lewis is about to propose a new budget calling for cuts to administrative salaries. We'll see if he can do better than the meager 2% cut he implemented last year. The sad fact is that a 2% from a $100,000+ salary is an insignificant reduction and is in reality, simply a painless nod to the huge sacrifices made by system teachers.

Atlanta schools top peers – by far – in $100K+ salaries

January 19, 2010 --

Nearly 1,000 employees in five local school districts earned $100,000 or more in 2008-09, with the heaviest concentration by far in Atlanta Public Schools, an analysis of state salary data shows. ...

DeKalb paid more $100,000+ salaries — 223 — than any other Georgia school district last year, the State Auditor’s online salary database shows. DeKalb was followed by Fulton County schools (219), Gwinnett County (214), Atlanta (181) and Cobb County (124).

The data comparing the number of $100,000 jobs per student compiled by Atlanta Unfiltered claims this is how the metro districts compare -

  • Atlanta, 3.69 $100K+ salaries per 1,000 kids
  • Fulton County, 2.56
  • DeKalb County, 2.26
  • Fayette County, 1.94
  • Coweta County, 1.88
  • Forsyth County, 1.81
  • Rockdale County, 1.75
  • Clayton County, 1.62
  • Gwinnett County, 1.35
  • Cherokee County, 1.3
  • Henry County, 1.24
  • Paulding County, 1.19
  • Cobb County, 1.14
  • Douglas County, 1.09

    rumors and preverifcations said...

    I know I will probably get torched for this comment but, what is the magic number of $ 100,000.00 per year that people think is a large salary. Do not get me wrong, it is a good salary. Teachers know what the pay will be when they start college.When they get a job they all start complaing about the pay.
    Teachers take off all summer,and take holidays all the time.

    My wife is a teacher and she does not agree with my views either and I will be in trouble when she reads this.

    Cere,do you know where we can buy the book "black board corruption"?

    Kim Gokce said...

    Side note: It is important to not track the money but also the respect. What Atlanta Supers made "The List?" Beverly Hall of APS.

    All metro Atlanta Supers should if they are widely respected - after all, they are influencing hundreds of thousands of our children.

    ... see below for the list:

    Georgia Trend's Most Influential Georgians 2009

    Anonymous said...

    223 at $100K or more. Do we know how many (if any) of these 223 are in the clasroom?
    One has to wonder how many $100K "administrators" = one furlough day, or one fixed heating system

    Anonymous said...

    I think we are missing a broader point here. We are concentrating on administrators that earn $100,000 while we should be concentrating on the sheer number of personnel we employ that do not teach.

    We have over 13,000 employees in DeKalb County and only 7,600 are teachers. Isn't there a problem when over 40% of your personnel don't teach students. A huge percentage of our budget goes to something other than classroom instruction. DeKalb does a lot of functions inhouse (media production, building and grounds maintenance, technology installation and maintenance - reference the eSIS mess, etc.)

    DeKalb Schools personnel costs are over 90% (highest in Metro Atlanta) while other systems run 85%.

    If we spend 6% more than other systems on personnel and we don't have better pupil-teacher ratios, that would indicate a problem. That's why we can't provide our students with enough technology and science equipment to attain parity with other systems. This is why we have more than our share of dirty schools, broken toilets, cracked sidewalks, and poorly designed science labs (all designed by support personnel - not teachers).

    Lewis and the BOE know this and to his credit Lewis is trying to bring the personnel cost down to 87%. However, the brunt is being born by the one group we absolutely cannot run our schools without - teachers.

    Why doesn't DeKalb look into eliminating or outsourcing some of these functions? I truly don't want to cost anyone their job in these hard economic times, but at some point we have to ask ourselves if we are in the job-creating business or the business of educating children.

    Every job and department that does not directly entail teaching students in a classroom should be looked at and scrutinized to see if it is a necessary function that (1) We cannot do without (i.e. eliminating the job will negatively impact students academically or their safety will be impaired) (2) If it is necessary job, could it be more efficiently performed by an outside vendor.

    Support personnel do not have their performance tied to how well they support teachers and students. That is a huge part of DeKalb teachers' frustration. Support personnel do not seem to realize that if there were no teachers and students their jobs would not exist.

    Concentrating on the $100,000 jobs obscures the fact that DeKalb has become a massive job producing machine, but not classroom jobs. Indeed we seem to be adding more and more students to the classroom (in effect cutting classroom teaching jobs) so that we can continue to employ support personnel.

    I know we're in a recession, but at some point we'll be out of this economy. Students who suffer from increased pupil-teacher ratios, poor access to technology, and abysmal learning environments will never get their education back.

    Anonymous said...

    Anon 4:55 asks "...but at some point we have to ask ourselves if we are in the job-creating business or the business of educating children."

    Until CLew and the board is replaced, we're in the job-creating business.

    Anonymous said...

    anon. 4:55 Very well said.

    Dekalbparent said...

    I need to throw in that there are DCSS employees who do not teach, but directly support the children. They should not be part of the equation.

    Bus Drivers
    Food Service Personnel
    Custodians (at least some of them...)
    Clinic Staffers
    Library Clerks
    Office Secretaries
    Guidance Office Secretaries

    There are probably more. I think a reasonable approach would be to count the DCSS non-teaching personnel excluding these positions. I bet there are still plenty of extra...

    Cerebration said...

    Absolutely, DeKalbParent. I'm sure we can all agree on that. However, at the risk of repeating myself, yet again, I must ask, what do Instructional Specialists do and why do we have so many? They all make more money than teachers and the Instructional Supervisors all approach 6 figure salaries. Personally - I'd put them all in the classroom or out looking for a teaching job somewhere else.

    Here's the quote -

    It really bothers me to hear Dr. Lewis fret over the fact that a full time classroom teacher is a $65,000 expense (including benefits) and then turn around and promote people into high paying administrative jobs. It bothers me that this board plans to request a waiver of the law that requires 65% of the budget to be spent in the classroom and one that would put more students in each of those classrooms. It bothers me that in the area of curriculum, we have our Asst Superintendent of curriculum, Gloria Talley, with her salary of $162,648.00 - 5 directors of curriculum instruction at a cost of $438,500.00, 72 "Instructional Supervisors" at a cost of almost $6.4 million - plus 473 "Instructional Specialists" totaling $23.9 million, yet we have children who do not have art, music and PE teachers - they're entitled to one of each - they shouldn't have to choose. I am bothered by the fact that our superintendent and board seem to cry "poor" when it comes to funding the classroom, but can always find the money to bloat the administration. Our children deserve better.

    To date, I have been unable to find out definitely what these "instructional specialists" do. Some say they are teachers - if so - that's good and fine. But many say that they are "teacher supervisors" or "instructional coaches" - to which I say - get yourself in a classroom please. You are needed there.

    One time I calculated the ratio of teachers to students (1:18) to the number of instructional specialists to teachers (1:13). That's ridiculous, if true.

    (No, I don't add these up - I happen to be pretty good at using Excel spreadsheets, which I have downloaded from the state.) "

    Anonymous said...

    Believe me, I didn't become a teacher for the money. If anyone did, they are crazy! That being said, when people make so much more money than teachers and no one can figure out exactly what they're doing to earn that money, dissension among the ranks grows and moral plummets. Especially when those people who dictate what should go on in the classroom haven't actually been in one in a very long time. One size fits all programs are extremely expensive and ineffective, particularly when we are being told to differentiate our instruction to meet the needs of our students. You can't have it both ways. On too many occasions at the Central Office the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing which creates unnecessary work for the teachers. Let's face it, DCSS is top-heavy and that has not made for a better school system only one with a serious financial shortfall.

    Anonymous said...

    I agree, rumors and preverifications. As the daughter of educators, I never heard my parents complain about their salary. They knew when they chose teaching as a career that they would not be making big money. Working for the government is not the way to get rich, but there are other rewards, like job security, a pension (which is extremely rare these days) and good health insurance. And while $100k is a nice salary, those employees are working 12 months a year rather than 10.

    Anonymous said...

    If the instructional specialists are working 12 months a year, what do they do when the kids are not in school? If this is the case, this is a waste of funds.

    Cerebration said...

    I swear, I don't think people in government realize just how rare a $100,000 job really is. I'd happily work 12 months a year for a six-figure salary!

    Anonymous said...

    Let's not lose sight of the fact that the $100,000 a year posts are centered in the city and that the cost of living are higher in the city so there is probably some corrrelation to geography in the main story breakdown. That being said, I agree with the comments about DCSS having too much bloat and having become a job machine instead of an education machine.

    Anonymous said...

    It's fairly complicated to determine whether it's cheaper to outsource some of the school system functions or provide these in-house. If the DCSS maintenance people are fully occupied, then it probably makes sense to maintain them as staff. We, as taxpayers, will pay more per hour to outsource a job than to pay a government employee to perform the same function. We may receive a better value for our money, or we may not. Look at Pat Pope's outsourced replacement....would it be cheaper to hire someone to replace her, or to continue to pay the contractor who is performing her function?

    So, DCSS could vastly cut personnel numbers by outsourcing many functions, but save no money in the process. We can't look only at the number of employees to get a picture of the efficiency (or inefficiency) or the organization.

    Anonymous said...

    I work in private industry and it is not hard to place a value on outsourcing. I've seen great outcomes and not so great. It is all in the planning, research and how the contract is written.

    When a service is outsourced the county saves more than just the employee salary. The county saves enormous amounts in supervison and HR costs, insurance and benefits, especially retirement. As Cere has mentioned, very, very few outside government still receive a pension or healthcare upon retirement.

    Anonymous said...

    "The county saves enormous amounts in supervison and HR costs, insurance and benefits, especially retirement."

    The county still pays these costs when services are outsourced...they just pay them to the outsourcing company in the overhead rates.

    The benefit to outsourcing is that you can get rid of someone, either because they are not working out, or because the service is no longer required. But you usually pay more for this in the short run.

    Anonymous said...

    When looking at the salary information across Gwinnett and Dekalb county the numbers that really interest me are the $100K+ folk who are NOT interacting with students. When you factor all the folks who have titles that (from my quick analysis) are "central administration" and not Principal, Counselor or other actual school related funciton I get very frustrated. My quick analysis shows that for 2009 Gwinnett had 85 people in the $100K+ range whereas Dekalb had 110 !!!! When you consider that Dekalb is ~60% the size of Gwinnett doesn't that drive home a HUGE issue !!

    The numbers don't lie - Dekalb administration is bloated and needs to tighten the belt quickly - like NOW.

    Anonymous said...

    Don't forget that outsourcing can also be a great way for large public contracts to be pushed to a relative, friend, campaign contributor . . . there's definitely a potential downside to outsourcing

    greenie said...

    First of all, the 2% cut for admin earning over $100K was for six months only LAST year - Clewis announced it last spring; it was gone when the new budget year began Aug. 1.
    As to the cost of personnel and whether or not teachers make decent salaries:
    What other job gives 10+ weeks per year vacation (I"m being conservative, here, b/c there are about 15+ break days during the year), during which the employee can take another job OR at the minimum, avoid childcare costs; gives a full 12-week maternity leave (paid)?;
    Pays good medical insurance, pension and benefits, plus the services of a benefits manager?
    I know teachers who have gotten braces; chiropractors come to the schools to offer massages free and entice teachers to come to them and get orthotics and any other extra they can sell b/c they know that our teachers' insurance covers chiro and other things no private sector insurance covers any more;
    Before anyone complains that now teachers have to pay more of the cost of insurance - so does EVERYONE else;
    "Teachers work longer hours than the classroom day" - They do that in the private sector, too, without a "planning period" during the day;
    "Teachers put up with a lot of stuff they shouldn't have to (bureaucracy)" - So do ppl in non profit and private sector - still, we don't get the vacation and benefits.
    As someone who's paid $600/mo for my family to have medical insurance w/ no pharm benefit and a $5000+ deductible, I understand well the value of decent medical insurance. I know plenty of teachers who keep their jobs for the benefits while their spouses do something that doesn't pay benefits;
    I also know plenty of teachers and admin who retire after 30 years - a LONG time, but when you're 52 and can collect a pension and start a new career, you're not doing too badly.
    Can teaching be a hard, thankless job for mediocre pay? you bet, but the benefits are good. The BAD part of it is knowing that the ones holding the strings and treating you like a puppet get larger salaries, all the same benefits and seem to be the ones creating more problems than solutions for the classroom.

    greenie said...

    Good point Kim, about the respect

    Insider said...

    as for non-teaching positions that some folks consider 'extra' positions. People are needed in HR to hire teachers. People are needed in accounting to make sure vendors are paid for books and other supplies DCSS purchases. People are needed in payroll to ensure that teachers (and others) are paid for their efforts.

    Just because a job doesn't actually involve teaching students, doesn't mean it's 'extra."

    Anonymous said...

    I met the Middle School Math instructional specialist last evening at Peachtree during a special Math Night program. She is savvy, knowledgeable, articulate, and passionate about math.

    The presentation was very informative. But the entire time, I kept thinking - WHY isn't she in a classroom? With her knowledge and apparent skill, she needs to be teaching our kids, not our teachers.


    Anonymous said...

    Anon 2:24
    At the very least, someone like that could be teaching kids part-time and staff part-time. It's hardly a novel idea for an administrator to have at least some classroom duties.

    Anonymous said...

    Cerebration Jan. 19 6:15 pm

    "One time I calculated the ratio of teachers to students (1:18) to the number of instructional specialists to teachers (1:13). That's ridiculous, if true."…..

    I am absolutely certain that you cannot walk into any school in DeKalb County and see the Core subjects of math, science, language arts, or social studies teachers with a ratio of 1:18. These are called the Core subjects because they are absolutely critical to a child's success in life. The vast majority of our math, science, language arts (English and Reading) teachers in middle and high school have 30+ students in their classes.

    To get this magic number of 1:18 of a relatively low pupil teacher ratio, I assume you divided our approximately 100,000 students by 5,600 teachers because you took away the 2,000 special education teachers.

    Working from our number of 5,600 teachers, we need to subtract all the teachers who do not teach the Core subjects to obtain a more realistic divisor of the pupil teacher ratio for the majority of the teachers you see as you walk down the hallways.

    Here are some, but not all of the “non-Core teachers” (none of these are considered as special education so they are part of your 5,600 teachers).: media specialists, instructional coaches, graduation coaches, art, music, band, strings, P.E., America's Choice coaches, Special Reading teachers, Special Math teachers, Gifted, counselors, ESOL teachers, Special Foreign Language teachers, Technology teachers, Connections teachers (e.g. Chapel Hill MS has 12 Connections teachers), Career Education, and Business teachers. I’m sure I’ve missed a few more categories.

    Many of these non-Core teachers by state law have a relatively low pupil teacher ratio (e.g. Gifted can only have 17:1 although many gifted classes may be 8:1 or lower, especially in the lower grades because not that many students qualify).

    As you can see when the pupil teacher ratio is lowered for some teachers, other teachers must take up the slack – it is generally the Core teachers.

    Some of the most of the above non-Core teachers are necessary from a legal standpoint (e.g. you must serve ESOL students, you can't be SACS accredited without a media specialist, etc.) It is indisputable however, that children must learn the Core subjects of math, language arts, social studies, and science in order to be considered educated.

    First, we should start from the pupil teacher ratio we feel is appropriate for the Core subjects and work forward from there.

    Second, we begin to add the teacher positions that are not Core teachers. Let’s look at the educational merit of each of these positions, and then maybe we won’t have to choose between art, music, or PE for our children.

    Third, we look at the support personnel outside the schoolhouse. With the remaining dollars, nothing should be off the table - outsourcing, combining job functions, eliminating job functions, etc.

    Currently, the opposite is done. All the support jobs are protected, and then the schoolhouse gets whatever is left over.

    A lot has been said about outsourcing pro and con in this blog. However there are some departments that are so terribly broken and dysfunctional that almost any option must be better. These departments do not just cost us money in personnel costs. They also make inept financial decisions that cost taxpayers millions and our students the opportunity for a quality education.

    Anonymous said...

    Greenie, check your facts. Teachers most certainly do NOT get 12 weeks of paid maternity leave. We get the same as people I know in the private sector: 6 weeks, or whatever your doctor says you need, of paid sick leave to recover, if we have enough sick days. If not, it's short term disability at 2/3 pay. Then any time after 6 weeks is completely unpaid. I'm not going to rehash other arguments about how we really don't get the entire summer off, as they are full of training.

    rumors and preverifcations said...

    Cere, any comment on where to buy the book " black board corruption"

    Cerebration said...

    Justice has promoted the book here on the blog and stated that to pre-order, send an email to


    Cerebration said...

    Very insightful post, Anon 2:53 PM - thanks. I think we all agree that there are plenty of places that can be cut - the hard work has not really begun.

    School closings and consolidations would be a biggie in my book - but for some reason, the board tabled this discussion - which had been "an emergency" at the time... sigh!

    Cerebration said...

    I would like to clarify one thing. There has been a whole lot of press about Dr. Lewis voluntarily taking a pay cut last year. This could very well be true, however, according to the Open.Georgia.gov website, this is what Lewis took home last year -

    $287,991.63 (Salary)
    $9,452.75 (Expenses)

    Ouch! That cut must have really hurt.

    Anonymous said...

    Cerebration 5:08 PM

    I agree that school closings and consolidations would be one of the best ways to pare down support personnel so that the funds could be reinvested in the classroom. DeKalb has more schools than any system in Georgia even though we are not the largest system in Georgia. More schools require more bus drivers, accountants, bookkeepers, counselors, custodians, electricians, roofers, principals, APs, technology personnel, etc. The list is endless. What was the rationale for tabling this discussion?

    Anonymous said...


    I teach in the DCSS, and from what I have observed, most of my colleagues are NOT debating whether or not we make decent salaries. NO ONE becomes a teacher for the money. They do it because they have a passion for teaching and children. The benefits and pension are WELL deserved. The breaks are not determined by the teachers. Do your children go to summer camps? Would you rather they go to school for 11 or 12 months out of the year? The other "15+" days that we get throughout the year are not teacher only holidays, but include national holidays as well. Do you think that teacher workdays are not essential? I bring my work home, but truly do not enough time in the day to get my work done. I have a good work ethic. However, my day only includes two scheduled breaks - my lunch, and my specials time. My bathroom breaks are strategically planned. However, my job and my students always come first. A student might get sick, a secretary might looking for me, parent calls, etc. and interrupt my minimal break time. By the time I make sure my students are seated in the cafeteria, heat up my lunch, use the bathroom, take a deep breath, etc. I have MAYBE 10 minutes to hang up work, grade papers, etc. My specials time is the same. In addition, schools are not TAKING the time we would normally use for classroom business to give professional development etc. In short, I am confident if you added up all of my non school building working hours, I am working MORE than 10 months out of the year. This is typical for any job, but it is getting worse and the expectations that the school on up to the board and super have for teachers is UNREALISTIC. Attrition rates for new teachers are high for a reason!

    Anonymous said...


    Are you suggesting that teachers now take a SECOND job to supplement our incomes? My income is sufficient for me - I am single. However, unless I live in a shack and don't spend my money I will not retire wealthy. (Gets back to the DESERVED pension, etc.)
    The "good" medical insurance is not always true. I have colleagues whose spouses' insurance is better. You also have to remember that the insurance teachers receive is negotiated by the county, so it will be better than many others simply because the insurers want the employees' $! Don't begrudge me my lower insurance costs because yours are astronomical.
    BTW, how a teacher chooses to use his or her money (braces) is up to the individual. I would NEVER get a massage because I cannot afford one. If a chiropractor wants to give free 10 minute massages for ONE day out of the ENTIRE year - FANTASTIC! Should I know pay a higher insurance premium - just because "so does EVERYONE else".
    ["Teachers work longer hours than the classroom day" - They do that in the private sector, too, without a "planning period" during the day;
    "Teachers put up with a lot of stuff they shouldn't have to (bureaucracy)" - So do ppl in non profit and private sector - still, we don't get the vacation and benefits] DO NOT COMPARE TEACHING TO A NON PROFIT OR A PRIVATE SECTOR BUSINESS. The loser in those jobs is the business and the consumer. The loser in education are the STUDENTS, families, taxpayers, THE WHOLE FREAKING COUNTRY.

    "I know plenty of teachers who keep their jobs for the benefits while their spouses do something that doesn't pay benefits;" Again, SO WHAT? Does that mean I do not deserve decent insurance?

    Anonymous said...


    "Can teaching be a hard, thankless job for mediocre pay? you bet, but the benefits are good. The BAD part of it is knowing that the ones holding the strings and treating you like a puppet get larger salaries, all the same benefits and seem to be the ones creating more problems than solutions for the classroom."

    WRONG WRONG WRONG. Teaching can be hard at times (because teaching is SO MUCH more than 2+2-4, etc., and is definitely thankless (you're just a glorified babysitter!?!) and the pay is decent, considering the summer break, but the EFFORT is worth it. I did not become a teacher for the benefits. I LOVE teaching, LOVE children, LOVE being a part of the community. But if I am still teaching five years from now and make LESS than I do currently, (due to no COLA increases, step increases, increased insurance premiums, etc.) I will get a different job.

    The BAD part of teaching goes beyond "...knowing that the ones holding the strings and treating you like a puppet get larger salaries, all the same benefits and seem to be the ones creating more problems than solutions for the classroom."
    ~ I couldn't care less if the people holding the strings and getting larger salaries than me were COMPETENT and not CREATING waste within the schools and system. There are ways to work around in school problems. The DCSS school system is BROKEN.

    I am sorry for the wordy reply, but you have struck a nerve. I have heaps more I would love to say but I sometimes feel like it's not worth it. ESPECIALLY when I read posts like Greenie's that come off like "suck it up teachers, accept that you are just a puppet of the system and be happy you can get braces and go to the chiropracter!

    Anonymous said...

    To clarify my previous comment...

    I meant that many schools are now taking the specials time that teachers are supposed to use to work in their rooms.

    I also want to clarify that I do NOT think teachers deserve to retire wealthy. Simply that our pension is deserved.

    Anonymous said...

    ADP does a fine job with payroll for cities and businesses. Much custodial and maintenance can be contracted out not only for lower cost than in house, but the savings last over decades with the savings in pensions and benefits. Each school needs good teachers, two front desk staff, a school nurse, music and art teacher, cafeteria staff and some more. But the system does not need such a massive number of non-teaching staff and unproductive, overly political administrators (with Ron Ramsey being the most unproductive).

    Unknown said...


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    Anonymous said...

    How many weeks of pay does APS give for maternity leave?