Thursday, December 30, 2010

They Just Don't Get It

DeKalb school workers could lose jobs to outsourcing

Our Central Office proves once again they do not "get it". We've talked at length on this blog about outsourcing, especially for DCSS MIS/Information Technology (which DCSS spends an obscene amount on money on with poor customer service and little return on investment) and landscaping (which the Sam Moss Center has never done well). Many local and county governments, and school systems, outsource info. technology and landscaping in some form or another. Heck, DCSS MIS still spends millions a year with Dell for the tough IT work, even though there are over 200 MIS employees in DCSS.

But we all know taxpayer dollars are wasted the most from having waaayyyy too many Central Office administrators and support staff, even as the system's enrollment has actually slightly decreased over the past few years. So we have fewer students, but more bureaucrats, support staff, assistant principals, etc.
The Office of School Improvement needs to be completely ELIMINATED with those staff members put back in the classroom. And as an additional benefit, morale would improve as teachers won't miss being harassed about not having pretty enough bulletin boards!
It would save the system millions and show that this Board of Education and our well compensated Interim Superintendent are serious about focusing on the school house, not the Mountain Industrial Palace with its $2,000 chairs. Not only do we spend approx. $15 mil per year on the Office of School Improvement, they are directly responsible for making some of the largest purchases by the school system, like America's Choice. And their training and travel budget is obscene (why do they need to have trainings at Callaway Gardens??$$$). I'd love for one of the new BOE members to ask some questions of Dr. Audria Berry regarding all of the training and travel by her and her staff, and also demand she show how the OSI provides return on investment to the system.


But the DeKalb County School System has decided to use stimulus money to attend a four-day conference sponsored by America's Choice, which a schools spokesman calls "a great thing." The organization's Web site describes it as a "solution provider," that offers "comprehensive, proven solutions to the complex problems educators face in an era of accountability." The Web site also says America's Choice has "an unparalleled history as a national thought leader." School spokesman Dale Davis told Channel 2 Action News investigative reporter Richard Belcher that 184 principals, instructional coaches, district staff and teachers are scheduled to attend the conference in Hollywood. We found that the primary conference hotel is the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel and Spa. Davis said the school system will spend $91,500 for conference registrations and another $291,400 for hotels, flights, meals and incidentals. That's a total of $382,900 in federal tax money. In an email, Davis wrote, "I am happy that you are expressing interesting in this training opportunity for our employees. We are focused on student improvement. America's Choice is in partnership with the district to help improve the academic success in 40 of our lowest performing schools."

Well, the big news today is that the Central Office is going after custodians. We've discussed here before about outsourcing some custodial duties, as there are many very good local companies like Jani-King who could perform some of those services overnight and take off some staff off of payroll and pension.

Many schools, especially elementary and middle, really do need one custodian present during the school day, definitely for the lunch room—but for deep cleaning restrooms, mopping hallways and classrooms, vacuuming, etc.—contracting with a company like Jan-King to do these tasks overnight makes sense. This plan should provide cost savings and in some cases improve the cleanliness of schools. School custodians should be supervised by Sam Moss staff, and not principals. Some principals hold custodians to high standards, and some do not. It's hit or miss across the system with good, mediocre or poor custodial service.

My best buddy Jeff Dickerson is still on DCSS payroll, as we get this from the AJC (article linked above):

“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.

Dickerson said the district “strongly encourages vendors to give preference to existing employees,” and it is too early to determine who would retain employment.

I applaud Tyson, Bowen and crew for exploring outsourcing, but again, the Central Office always looks for the lowest paid staffs (who do a lot of the grunt work) for budget cuts, and NEVER looks at itself:

"Earlier this year, DeKalb cut about 250 jobs as part of budget cuts, including nine custodians and 19 maintenance workers. DeKalb schools have already outsourced its communications department to Dickerson and Cohn & Wolfe."
When the Central Office outsourced communications to Cohn & Wolfe, while apparently also paying Jeff Dickerson, it retained one current employee, Philandria Guillory, daughter of former BOE member Frances Edwards, even though Philandria had no prior experience in anything communications/tv/broadcast-related. She now runs the DCSS tv station with a $114,000+ salary.
The Central Office and BOE deserve praise for looking at cost-cutting, but it needs to look at itself first.
Release the 2004 Ernst & Young salary audit. That audit estimated that six years ago we overpaid administrators and non-teaching staff by $15 million annually, and it's certainly even more now.
Look closely at DCSS MIS. It's the area where you hear the most amount of complaints from teachers. It may be the system's worst performing department (DCSS Transportation is a close second). This department is screaming for a forensic/personnel/performance audit. This is the department (when headed by Tyson) hired former board member Frances Edwards' son (Philandrea's brother) Jamal, who mostly avoided reporting for work for over 6 months.  He is still on the IT payroll, having earned $57,977.11 last year.
Look closely at the DCSS School Police Dept., with its two chiefs, four administrative assistants and nine detectives. High schools and middle schools need School Resource Officers. But what do they do in the summer and winter breaks? Can retired county police officers be used at middle and elementary schools on contract, so they are not on the pension plan? And why is there so much computer theft (Henderson Middle!) at schools, many thought to be "inside jobs", when we have such a large school police dept. with 9 detectives?
Look closely at school-based Parent Resources Centers, a favorite place for hiring friends and family of BOE members and administrators. How is their performance measured? Why in the heck do PRC staff members (of which Zepora's daughter is one) make more than veteran teachers? Which schools really need them? What do they do during summer and winter break? Can they be part-time employees? Can they be staffed by retired teachers or social workers paid a decent wage on an hourly basis/no benefits? Schools have counselors and PRC that redundant?
DCSS must reduce cost. But the Central Office, Supt. Tyson, Tom Bowen and the BOE still fail to focus on the school house, as there are more administrators and staff than there are teachers. No one wants to "outsource" librarians, cafeteria workers, or school office admin assistants. We want the non-school bloat addressed.
The focus needs to be put back on the school house. Pay principals more than Central Office bureaucrats. Look at MIS, landscaping, school police, and parent resource centers for cost savings and improved productivity and performance.
Look at yourselves, DCSS Central Office. We remember you proposing to spend hundreds of thousands to replace the Palace's parking lot (which is fine by the way) and fancy lights for BOE meetings. Tom Bowen and the BOE always seem to find money for the Palace and Central Office's every want and desire. Properly funding teacher's retirement and STEP increases? Not so much.
Let me be clear: A bloated, overstaffed Central Office will no longer be tolerated by the public. The first department to completely eliminate is an easy one: The Office of School Improvement.
I hope that Donna Edler and Nancy Jester will help lead the charge to downsize the bureaucracy. And we will support them vociferously to do so!

Maureen Downey is also discussing this at her AJC blog Get Schooled.


Anonymous said...

Using a football analogy, if you really need so many (instructional) coaches to get your players (teachers) to perform you probably have the wrong players to start with. It's either a hiring problem or a jobs program.

Anonymous said...


DeKalb to swear in school board members
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

DeKalb County’s new school board members will be sworn in on Monday.

A judge will administer the oath of office to new members Nancy Jester and Donna Edler, who won seats in the runoff election. Three board members who were re-elected, Sarah Copelin-Wood, Jesse "Jay" Cunningham and Eugene Walker, will also be sworn in.

The ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. Monday at the district’s administrative offices at 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd. in Stone Mountain.

Anonymous said...

I love it.... let's face one fact however, not every person that works at the central office has decision-making power. There are a select few that are making these decisions.

Anonymous said...

"let's face one fact however, not every person that works at the central office has decision-making power. There are a select few that are making these decisions."

Ye, and not one of those people have lost their jobs despite the Lewis/Pope scandal. Bob Moseley, Marcus Turk, Alice Thompson, Audria Berry, Ron Ramsey, etc. all all still their making their huge paychecks.

Anonymous said...

indeed... there are others there in the central office that have lost their jobs and/or are struggling to keep one now.

Anonymous said...

Title 1 dollars need to go directly into the school house, which would lead to budget savings.

Title 1 come from the Fed's, and Crawford Lewis made sure those funds went to the Central Office, not the school house.

Putting Title 1 back into the school house would give principals a chance to address their most important needs, and would take away some of the power from the almighty Central Office.

And would even mean we need less Central Office paper pushers. A true win-win!!

Anonymous said...

"I hope that Donna Edler and Nancy Jester will help lead the charge to downsize the bureaucracy. And we will support them vociferously to do so!"

We really need to scale back expectations for Nancy Jester and Donna Edler. It's going to take them a while just to get indoctrinated.

But if they could eventually eventually look at eliminating/reducing the Office of School Improvement, restructuring and right-sizing DCSS MIS, having an outside auditor/consultant look at school police,DCSS Transportation,Sam Moss and Ron Ramsey's Office of Internal Affairs, that would be a huge step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

What would you have DCSS do? Increase class sizes even more to keep jobs. DCSS is not a jobs program. We are down to a skeleton crew of teachers for our children since not replacing teachers when they leave is easier than letting an employee go. I think Ms. Tyson needs to do some serious trimming in the Central Office, but we have to face the fact that Lewis added thousands of non-teaching employees and programs. We can't keep those people employed unless we cut in the classrooms even more. Since we have over 8,000 admin and support employees and only 1,239 are Central Office personnel, that still leave thousands that DCSS needs to look at cutting, consolidating and outsourcing.

I think people have forgotten we actually need teachers to teach students.

Anonymous said...

"I think people have forgotten we actually need teachers to teach students."

I don't think any rational person is asking for bigger class sizes. This blog clearly supports our teachers.

The 2004 salary audit identified $15 mil in salary savings.

Recommissioning a salary audit and actually carrying out with the salary adjustments would go a long way to closing the budget hole while avoiding cuts to teachers and the school house.

P.S. It's a small amount of money, but I'd sure like to know who many DCSS employees have take home vehicles/free gas. That is an unacceptable perk when there's a $50 mil budget deficit.

Anonymous said...

@ Open + Transparent

I agree. Security, landscaping, MIS and Professional Learning need to be looked at for outsourcing. But we can't really exempt custodians. They cost tens of millions in health care alone. I also agree with you on the Central Office and most definitely on the Parent Resource Centers. They are extremely redundant as the numerous Counselors and Social Workers we pay did, can and should perform the same functions. If the counselors need to work some extra hours, that's okay. Teachers are working many extra hours. And after all counselors are paid an average of $80,000+ a year while teachers are paid an average of less than $60,000.

Last year Ms. Tyson cut paraprofessionals who actually help teach students in the classroom, thus helping the teacher. She cut teacher positions and asked teachers to take on more students. The result was that teachers bore the brunt of cuts. When you overload teachers, you directly and negatively impact students' instruction. No one else had to take on the added responsibilities. How do you think we're going to attract high quality teachers if they are weighed down so much that they can't teach.

This should not be about the "adults" in the county. The only consideration should be about the students.

Every position that doesn't directly instruct students needs to be evaluated.

Open+Transparent said...

Good post, Anon 2:02.

Didn't know counselors make so much more than teachers.

And this is spot on:
"This should not be about the "adults" in the county. The only consideration should be about the students."

Anonymous said...

"I don't think any rational person is asking for bigger class sizes. This blog clearly supports our teachers."

But that's where the cuts will come from. Students have no voice and it's been so easy to just no replace teachers when they leave. Last year it was a 100, the year before that it was 275. Has anyone ever asked why we would be losing all those teachers? Does anyone think DCSS is an attractive place to teach? Most teachers won't even apply here. They avoid DCSS like the plague. You know it's true. But the ones who don't get replaced aren't vocal. They've moved on. the 8,000+ admin and support are very vocal - they don't have the attrition teachers do - that should tell you something about the relative attractiveness of teaching in DCSS.

By all means cut in the Central office, decrease the pay of those 2,500 over paid non-teaching positions, but cuts must be made outside the classroom.

Anonymous said...

The classroom teacher is the most important factor in the education of our children. Class sizes need to be as small as possible so that every student gets the attention they need. Struggling students succeed and advanced students excel when the teacher has time to really work with them. I would like to see our Title I money used to pay for more teachers.

themommy said...

There are so many rules associated with the use of Title 1 monies. I think this would be a great subject for a blog post in the New Year. I will try and do it in January.

Anonymous said...

Why is the starting pay for Parent Center Resource Officers (mid-fifties) so high when only a bachelors degree is needed and the responsibilities are so few? Has anyone actually observed what they really do during the day? You should, then you would really wonder why they make so much! As a matter of fact, a few teachers left their teaching jobs to work in the centers. Higher pay, fewer responsibilities.
Has anyone seen the list of trips planned by School Improvement this year? You should...
Why are there so many created secretary jobs in School Improvement? Has anyone audited what they do during the day?
I totally agree that this entire department should be audited not from a paper perspective but from a combination of methods and the real story will be seen.

Anonymous said...

The parent liaison in my school manages a resource room and also serves as a translator. She translates notes and messages that are sent home and sits in on meetings when a translator is needed. She makes calls for teachers when the parents don't speak English. She could probably make more money in the private sector.

Anonymous said...

"The parent liaison in my school manages a resource room and also serves as a translator. She translates notes and messages that are sent home and sits in on meetings when a translator is needed. She makes calls for teachers when the parents don't speak English. She could probably make more money in the private sector."

You can't be serious. Name one private sector job with such duties that ays in the mid-60's, like many PRC staffers are paid.

On a tangent, we do need more Hispanic staff, teachers and administrators. Almost all DCSS employees are either black or white. Guess what? The Buford Hi-way are is still growing in population, and will continue to do so. Yet almost all the employees in those do not speak Spanish. The administrations of Halford, Brown and Lewis all pretty much ignored the county's Spanish student population.

Anonymous said...

"The parent liaison in my school manages a resource room and also serves as a translator. ....She could probably make more money in the private sector. "

So could a physics or chemistry teacher. Who do you think students need the most?

Anonymous said...

BAM! Nice one 5:43PM.

Actually I see both sides, but couldn't resist the BAM! opportunity now that the Oxy Clean guy has passed.


Anonymous said...

Outsourcing overnight custodians - OK. Every school needs a few during the day though. Also, the custodians in DeKalb are not just sweepers and cleaners. They run the machinery and infrastructure, fix doors, patch holes in walls (especially in the "temporary" buildings that have become a permanent fixture), attend to locker issues, troubleshoot HVAC, stop plumbing leaks, change light bulbs, diagnose and fix electrical issues, handle fencing issues, locks and keys, and who knows what else. To get a key for a locked file cabinet in my room - had to call the custodian. Leaky roof - custodian. Turn on the gas in my science lab - custodian. Get an autoclave fixed - custodian. They keep the school running during the day, and no professional electrician, HVAC, painter, plumber, etc. gets called in until a custodian has seen the problem. At one time the head of our custodial services was a former/retired engineer. So outsource the sweeping, floor stripping, bathroom cleaning to a night crew, sure, but there better be somebody there in the building during the day who is a jack of all trades handyman to keep the ship afloat.

Anonymous said...

"So outsource the sweeping, floor stripping, bathroom cleaning to a night crew, sure, but there better be somebody there in the building during the day who is a jack of all trades handyman to keep the ship afloat. "

Okay. But we still need to get rid of some of those personnel in order to save money. Money that can go to getting teachers to teach our kids. Why is it that we can lose almost 400 teaching positions and the kids are ok, but we can't lose custodians? Boy - are your priorities backwards. No wonder our school system is the lowest in the metro area.

Anonymous said...

Great idea. Let's let 400 more teacher positions go and keep the custodians. Maybe they can teach our children. This conversation is ridiculous. If we can reduce money we spend on custodians or MIS or any other non-teaching group, I say let's do it. Move on. We need teachers more than we need any other employee in the county. Getting rid of any more teachers will finally make us a NON-educational system.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Tyson said she was going to do this last spring. Did you think she would forget about it and just get rid of more teacher positions and pack even more kids into the classrooms. Do we want kids sitting on the floors so custodians can have their jobs? Thank you Ms. Tyson for making some hard decisions in favor of students.

Anonymous said...

"You can't be serious. Name one private sector job with such duties that ays in the mid-60's, like many PRC staffers are paid."

Absolutely serious.

Anonymous said...

Parent Resource Centers are all the vogue, but we can't afford them. They do not directly instruct children and we need every warm body certified to teach students in the classrooms teaching students - what do you think children are in school all day for?

Counselors (average of $80,000+ a year) and Social Workers (average $74,000 in salary and benefits) need to pick up the slack and do what the Parent Resource Centers do. Counselors and Social Workers are highly paid employees - much higher paid than teachers who after all do the main and only critical work of the school system. We could save over $4,000,000 by eliminating the Parent Resource Centers and these highly paid employees (Counselors and Social Workers) could take on those responsibilities.

source for average pay for counselors and social workers: 2009 state Salary and Travel audit:

Anonymous said...

Pretty soon we will blame all that is bad in Dekalb education on custodian benefits!

Are reading the posts?

Anonymous said...

Cuts need to start at the county office.Thats where the big money is.

Anonymous said...

Custodians are people with very few options to survive in this economy. I can't believe anyone is advocating for their dismissal.

The work they do during the day to keep the schools running smoothly for absolutely abysmal pay is a great deal for the county.

Look some place else to save money and leave these poor people alone. And yes, they are the poor. Look up the salaries.

Anonymous said...

"Custodians are people with very few options to survive in this economy. I can't believe anyone is advocating for their dismissal."

Children are more vulnerable than custodians. Custodians need to be outsourced if possible. DCSS is an educational institution - not a jobs program. However, the Central Office needs to be rightsized, salaries of non-teaching employees need to be cut (DO NOT cut teachers salaries or we will not be competitive with other metro systems), non-teaching high paying jobs like the Parent Centers ($4,000,000), 90 Instructional Coaches ($9,000,000), ineffectual learning programs like America's Choice (($8,000,000) need to be cut as well.

Anonymous said...

Children have parents that are supposed to take care of them. A lot of custodians are the parents of children. What then?

Start at the top. Even with a pay cut they will still be secure.

Anonymous said...


I want you all to understand that this won't work the way you all think it will.

Until the central office cuts positions and salaries, there won't be more teachers. Until Tyson dos this, she deserves very little appreciation.

Parent Resource Centers, Instructional Coaches, etc are funded from Title I dollars. While these funds cna be used for Title 1 staffing, they will not make an ounce of difference for teacher salaries and benefits. We need to address the use of Title 1 funds but it is important to understand that they won't change class size for most students or salaries for any teachers.

Anonymous said...

No one has mentioned Fernbank Science Center which has 65 employees (only 29 are teachers),each student in DCSS once a year for around 2 hours, and costs $7,000,000 to run. Different rules apply to them. Their Media Specialist makes close to $100,000 a year and has an expired educational certificate (it expired in 1984) yet she's being paid on the salary level of ????

The waste in this group is enormous. But the Fernbank community loves having this beautiful green space in their community.

No one wants to make cuts except in the classroom and then parents wonder why their children aren't learning. Shameful.

Anonymous said...

This was not an easy decision for Ms. Tyson. This is a large group of people. Hopefully, she also will be cutting Central Office personnel (Audria Berry should be at the forefront since her Office of School Improvement has actually presided over declining student achievement), Parent Centers and Instructional Coaches.

Ms. Tyson deserves a round of applause for this one.

Anonymous said...

"Children have parents that are supposed to take care of them. A lot of custodians are the parents of children. What then?"

Children interact with custodians maybe 60 seconds a week. They interact with their teacher 6 hours a day.

Why was there no hue and cry when last year when we were cutting teacher positions and packing kids into classrooms like rats? Yet there is this outcry over custodians. No one seems to care that kids need teachers above all.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Let's cut 400 teacher positions, but if we outsource custodians - most of which by the way will probably be hired by the contractor - people are upset. What strange priorities.

Anonymous said...

There was plenty of hue and cry over the teacher cuts and increased class size.

This is a mirage. Applaud Tyson for this and you will get nothing else.

This is not a hard decision for her. Firing some of the top people, that would be a hard decision. This is not.

Anonymous said...

"There was plenty of hue and cry over the teacher cuts and increased class size."

Not enough outcry to dissuade Ms. Tyson. I'm encouraged that Ms. Tyson will take this on. Do you think the custodians being outsourced can even compare with kids not having teachers who have enough time to help them when they don't understand something? Kids only have one shot at an education. Adults can get other jobs.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Tyson warned everyone last spring in her budget that she was going to addressing the outsourcing or Custodians, Groundskeeping, and Security.

I'd rather see this than more teacher positions being cut. She's doing the right thing for kids.

Anonymous said...

OK. So 700 folks may be losing their jobs, says the media. What says DCSS?

Is there NO compassion?

Something is just heartless about asking janitors to give tours of their own school buildings to consultants who's mission is to find fault so they can make a basis for claim of potential better service. (YES, this is what happened, ask the principals.)

Hey, I'm a blogger, I have no skin in the game. I don't even live anywhere near this school system, but I still know that this approach sucks. If you were a custodian today, 12/30/2010, wouldn't you be looking for a new job? Nice one DCSS admin and "professional" board. You suck too.

Anonymous said...

I want to believe that this is being done in good faith, but until I see Tyson go after the top people, I won't believe that this is anything but a tool to convert some of the critics of the system.

Yes -- we outsourced, but we have program administrators making 6 figures for jobs that should be in the 50000 range. Don't worry about it, we aren't employing custodians anymore.

Anonymous said...

Is there NO compassion? '

You need to save your compassion for our students who are getting shortchanged on their education. They only get one shot at an education. Where is your compassion as these kids are packed into classrooms with 33 other students? You do realize that many of them are in classrooms where they have no more than 2 feet to move in any direction. I don't have any skin in this game either. But packing students into classrooms where they can't move and can't get any help seems pretty callous to me. Kids are the most vulnerable members of our society. Who is their advocate?

Anonymous said...

As Cere pointed out, this is probably just the tip of the iceberg. Many more cuts are necessary to balance the budget and teachers and students have given all the blood they can. I think she'll work her way to the top.

Anonymous said...

Can someone who is pro-outsourcing at this time, please explain to me how you think the system won't mess this up?

Anonymous said...

She should be starting at the top? What has she done so far to make you think she will cut those who need cutting?

Anonymous said...

"Can someone who is pro-outsourcing at this time, please explain to me how you think the system won't mess this up?"

I think if the contractor doesn't perform, then the BOE can get a new contractor. And please bear in mind that the service center managers that you malign are the ones we will not have to depend on to supervise the custodians.

Outsourcing custodial (or landscaping or security, etc.) is the lesser of two evils. We cannot cut the classroom teachers any more nor can we pack more students into the classrooms like rats. This has to be given a shot. Cere is right in that Ms. Tyson probably has this in mind as one of many cuts. If she does not touch the classroom and makes those cuts, I for one will applaud her and say she earned her raise - particularly if she tacked the dreaded and overstaffed Central office.

Now you need to explain to me how cutting 400 teaching positions and packing students into classrooms until they can't move is a smarter way to go.

Anonymous said...

"She should be starting at the top? What has she done so far to make you think she will cut those who need cutting?'

Nothing so I hope we will see her make cuts to the top. But hundreds of employees not getting benefits is a huge savings to DCSS. Those benefit costs come out of our children's education so every employee we give them too needs to be absolutely critical to student achievement. So top - bottom - they all need to be measured by that citeria.

Anonymous said...

Ms Tyson is brave to take this on. She is to be commended. Now she needs to tackle MIS, Professional Learning and some other job descriptions.

Anonymous said...

Commended? She went after the lowest paid employees in the system knowing they have little political support.

She refuses to downsize the BLOATED Cental Office and miserably run MIS Dept.

I'm all for contracting out some custodial duties, but it should have been one of the last departments she addressed instead of the first.

She's not one for making any tough changes, that's for sure.

Passionate... said...

Hire hard working school based certified and classified staff that have a direct impact on student achievement. Reduce class sizes. Stop the insane micromanaging from central office. Reduce central office staff down to "bare bones" operations. Anyone else employed, outsourced, or contracted should be based on needs assessment. Too much bloat in DCSS CO, MIS, etc.

Anonymous said...

I am not trying to throw anyone under the bus, but what does the parent center do?
How many parents use it and what is the purpose of it? Has this ever been evaluated? How much do they cost? How many people are employed at the parent center?

How do the Instructional Coaches benefit the schools? How many of the county level coaches spend time working in the schools with students and teachers? Is there any data on this?How many instructional coaches are in the Professional Learning Dept?

How does the job of the graduation coach differ from the job of the counselor? If this is a vital job, then why doesn't every school have a graduation coach?

How has America's Choice helped the schools?

Again, the proposed cuts seem directed to the school. Rather than experiment with the schools, eliminate some county level positions first.

When there is a problem at a school and the custodian stays late, if the job is out sourced will that person get overtime?

Who is going to check the background of the contractors and their ability to communicate with the staff in the school?

Who will supervise them? On top of all the other demands that a school based administrator has, is that person now suppose to supervise and monitor staff in his or her building that does not report to the administrator?

If there is a problem with the contractor, who is suppose to handle it. Does the principal call someone during the day and ask them to come to the school and handle the problem? How much time will this take away from instruction?

Who is suppose to train these new people. While they are being trained, what occurs in the meantime?

Whoever made the comment about class size. I know you do not think that the custodians will be eliminated and more teachers hired.Or that the custodians will be out sourced and their will be raises. Remember, this is to save money.

If this is to save money, then that money is not going to be spent for something else.

Did the money that was saved last year by laying off paras translate into funds for smaller class sizes?

Again, I am not trying to criticize anyone's comment or opinions.

Is is just interesting that individuals that do not work in a school can always tell the staff in the school what is the best thing to do.
When rumors first started circulating about the school based custodian being terminated, I asked my principal what his comments had been. I knew that this had to have been discussed with them for their thoughts.

Will it surprise anyone that the opinion of the principals or teachers was never sought. The principals are ultimately held accountable for their buildings, but they have not been asked to give an opinion.

Does this seem strange to anyone?

Anonymous said...

WSB TV is reporting that DCSS did a pilot trial of outsourcing janitorial services about 8 years ago. And it didn't work. The vendor quit.

I think Tyson needs to release the results to this pilot and what went wrong and what will be done differently this time, before going any further.

I am not against outsourcing, I am against this administration and this Board managing it.

Anonymous said...

A few thoughts -- (1) please give Nancy and Donna some time to accomplish what they've set out to accomplish -- it takes a vote of 5 to get anything done -- even if they both agree with each other on everything (and that may be a big assumption as they are coming from different places, albeit both with terrific financial backgrounds and kids in the system -- yeah!) --they still need 3 others to agree wtih them and that may be asking for alot.... to do anything more than ask really probing questions.... (2) I've been in 4 DCSS Schools -- one elementary, two middle and one high and only one had really spectacular custodians and one pretty good ones -- the others were pretty mediocre. The difference, I believe, was in how they were managed by the principal and their tenure and work ethic. I have no problem with this function being outsourced. I agree with the posts that there is a general need for 'in house' help during the day for cafeteria help at all levels -- the kids do a woeful job of cleaning up after themselves and the help is needed for hygiene -- the rest of the fuctions (deep clean etc.) needs to be done by professionals who are dismissed and replaced if they can't get it right. In theory, we are creating a neeed for many more janitors by the outsourcing so the good janitor staff should be able to get jobs with the entity that get gets the contracts that will the extra help from people that know how to do the job. DCSS is about educating kids -- it is not and should never be regarded as a jobs program.

Anonymous said...

What Ms. Tyson really needs to release is the 2004 Compensation audit that showed 2,500 non-teaching employees were over paid by $15,000,000. That's a conservative estimate since Lewis added so many more people to admin and support (while he cut teacher positions) and created positions with higher pay in which to place admin and support people. That's been buried too many years. Can you imagine if it was made public now? Taxpayers paid over $300,000 for this study, but somehow it's been "left off" the BOE website when it should have been an attachment.

Cerebration said...

Please remember, that unlike the hundreds of teachers that have not been replaced, this decision is simply a managerial one. We will still have custodians - and more than likely most of them will be the same people. (Look out if you haven't been doing a good job, I'm certain this change will require an interview and recommendation to keep the job.) It's sort of like when your bank changes hands - do they replace all of the tellers?

The need for custodians is not going away in this school system or anywhere else. Perhaps a little competition will bring out the best and cull the rest.

Anonymous said...

As BLATANT as all this is .... nothing is changing. They are not afraid of the research and facts presented on this blog ... why? Because nothing changes. Nothing. I am dumbstruck as to why nothing changes. Will we ever know why things remain the same? Why a head of a failing dept. becomes interim super? Why an employee of that dept didn't report to work for 6 months and is STILL earning $57K? WHY? Who is ultimately accountable for keeping things at status quo? And, money is STILL going down the drain. Will this EVER come together and make sense? If anyone out there can help us understand this, please give a shout out.
For example, has ANYONE that has abused their position of power by corrupt practices OR not doing their job been let go?

Anonymous said...

With the new Dickerson/Cohn-suggested public comment policies for BOE meetings, we'll never be able to ask Ramona, former head of MIS, why Where In The World Jamal Edwards was allowed to go six months without showing up for work. And then got a pay raise.

Anonymous said...

When staff are contracted out, they no longer work for the school system but for the contractor. The principal at the school will have no ability to directly supervise the work of the custodian and will have to go through layers of management and delays to get results.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 10:10 AM

I agree 100%. NOTHING is being done. Stating obvious issues and concerns here has not changed the situation. Being "fed up" isn't doing anything. Sadly, I don't think there is anything we can do anymore. Not the taxpayers. Not the teachers. Not the students. What is left for us to do? How can we get them to listen to us? I am a teacher, and my cries go unanswered. My pleas fall on deaf ears, or when they do fall on ears of those who care the response is that those above say so that's why we do things the way we do. What kind of a business runs like this? An out-of-business one!
DCSS needs to hire a Superintendent that is a former business CEO. Give him/her A LOT of freedom to make changes and bring this system back under control. Listen to the employees. Listen to the stakeholders. DO IT FOR THE CHILDREN!
But, still nothing...

Anonymous said...

"The outsourcing is not really to protect teachers. It is to protect DCSS administration jobs, pychecks and pensions."

This is a comment from the AJC blog and this is what I believe as well.

Ms. Tyson is protecting those at top and then being able to argue that she did something radical.

I am surprised more of you don't see it this way.

Anonymous said...

If outsourcing is the only way to keep more teachers in the classroom, then so be it. The only important factor in education is students' education.

Ms. Tyson would garner a lot more support for outsourcing if she dramatically trimmed the Central office and rightsized the salaries of non-teaching staff. I think we are so far in the hole deficit wise that outsourcing is a given. However, it's going to take a lot more than outsourcing to rectify this budget. She needs to make deep cuts in admin personnel, special teachers, consolidate schools, cut out the redundant administration and support in the magnet programs, eliminate the parent resource centers as counselors and social workers take over their responsibilities, and abandon costly learning programs that have not proved their efficacy for students.

I noticed Security has not been looked at for outsourcing yet. Now that's an overstaffed, way to highly paid (more than teachers) group. I guess since Dr. Walker's son has his job in that department, that won't happen.

Anonymous said...

DCSS has a little over 700 custodians and their salary is $17,400,000. They average around $25,000 per employee. Benefits percentages are much higher for this group since they receive the same health benefits everyone else does. $10,000 is a conservative estimate. So each custodian receives cost around $35,000 in salary and benefits. And there are 700 of them. Can you see why Ms. Tyson is looking at outsourcing. Is $35,000 such low pay for a worker?

Ms. Tyson needs to address parts of MIS and Security next as well as the Central office.

Anonymous said...

BTW - my source on number of custodians and their average pay is the 2010 state salary and travel audit:

Anonymous said...

Another group we need to address are the counselors:

We have 326 counselors in DCSS. Their combined salary and benefits are $27,500,000 so the average pay and benefits for each counselor is over $84,000 ($20,000 more a year than the average teacher).

While Dr. Lewis and Ms. Tyson were busy these last two years cutting almost 400 teaching positions, these individuals were not impacted. They are not fulltime (i.e. 12 month employees). They get their summers off just like teachers.

Why let hundreds of teacher positions go and not touch this highly paid group that does not teach math, science, social studies, or language arts to students?

If we want our kids to be able to do math, read, write, understand basic science concepts, and participate in the democratic process, we need teachers. Without them, our kids are lost and so are we.

Who else do you think will teach our kids this content? The last time I looked we have less and less of these employees. That should be our greatest concern.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget about the Prevention Intervention Specialists who do the same job as the counselor and the social worker. They are useless. Especially the one at Atherton. She make $63,000.00 sitting on her behind all day. She has never worked in a classroom in her life, yet she is supposed to provide strategies to teachers. Are you kidding me?

Anonymous said...

A slack Prevention Intervention Specialists at Atherton? No surprise, Atherton was the school where James Berry and Dorothea Alexander threw away any professional and personal ethics and dignity they may have had, and changed CRCT test scores.

Those two sumbags are lucky they didn't have to serve any jailtime.
Remember whwn idiot Crawford lewis wrote a system-wode letter supporting those two unscrupulous clowns?

Anonymous said...

Counselors are the only system employees that are required to work a nine hour day...thus they are supplemented for one additional hour. This is the differential between counselor teacher pay.
The ones who make out like bandits are the head counselors fr middle and high schools. They also are paid for 11 months. While they work the month of June, for middle school hed couselors, there is very little to do. Another source of wasted money is the "Center-based Head Counselor"---are are paid as Head Counselor--even if there is only one counselor at a site ad veryfew students.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with the counselors at least at the high school level. Our high school doesn't have enough. Wait until your child is applying to college and then come back and lets talk.

There are occasionally competency issues but there is also a quantity issue as well.

Anonymous said...

HS Counselors do stay busy...but DCSS counselors are not allowed to be counselors. They are records clerks.
Prevention-Intervention is a joke---but don't forget Frankie Callaway's daughter holds this it will be around forever!

Anonymous said...

Not possible to do jail time for something you did not do. Get your facts straight and learn how to spell. Looks like you're the idiot.

Anonymous said...

As schools are consolidated, we need to trim the counselors.

But that can't be all there is to it. State salary and travel audit figures tell us we overpay them and that we have too many.

Ms. Tyson needs to take a look at the DCSS cost for counselors. This is one of most expensive groups in DCSS. I just looked at Gwinnet's counselors. Gwinnett has 150,000 students to our 96,000 students.

DCSS has 326 counselors costing $27,500,000 in salary and benefits
Gwinnett has 200 counselors costing $13,7000,000 in salary and benefits

Each DCSS counselor averages $84,000 a year in salary and benefits (average teacher $65,000)
Each Gwinnett counselor averages $68,500 a year in salary and benefits (average teacher $65,000)

I did notice Gwinnett has 28 Counseling Paraprofessionals which cost around $900,000 in salary and benefits.

Custodial savings pale by comparison with our overpriced counselor group.

And notice how in line counselors salaries are with teachers.

(source: state Salary and Travel audit -

Anonymous said...

So cut the counselor day by 1 hour and reduce their pay. BTW - most teachers work 9 or 10 hour days and no one compensates them for overtime. They're just told they have to figure out how to get the job done.

Anonymous said...

Look at Cobb County Counselors. Cobb County has around 107,000 students to DCSS's 96,000 students. So they have more students than we d by about 10,000.

DCSS has 326 counselors costing $27,500,000 in salary and benefits
Cobb has 320 counselors costing $21,000,000 in salary and benefits

Each DCSS counselor averages $84,000 a year in salary and benefits (average teacher $65,000)
Each Cobb Co. counselor averages $65,000 a year in salary and benefits (average teacher $65,000)

And notice that counselors make exactly what teachers make in Cobb.

What gives with this group? I certainly hope Ms. Tyson us comparing our counselor cost with other school systems.

(source: state Salary and Travel audit -

Anonymous said...

At last - I see APS has some highly paid counselors (and everyone knows how Atlanta Public is such a model in fiscal restraint).

APS has around 50,000 students to DCSS's 96,000 students.

DCSS has 326 counselors costing $27,500,000 in salary and benefits
APS has 116 counselors costing $10,000,000 in salary and benefits

Each DCSS counselor averages $84,000 a year in salary and benefits (average teacher $65,000)
Each APS Co. counselor averages $86,000 a year in salary and benefits (average teacher $69,000)

The spread in salary between them and the teachers is not quite as bad as DCSS.

state Salary and Travel audit -
Georgia DOE:

Anonymous said...

Here's the counselor numbers and pay for Forsyth. And BTW - Forsyth has a much higher cost of living than DeKalb.

Forsyth has 36,000 students to DCSS's 96,000 students.

DCSS has 326 counselors costing $27,500,000 in salary and benefits
Forsyth has 81 counselors costing $5,750,000 in salary and benefits

Each DCSS counselor averages $84,000 a year in salary and benefits (average teacher $65,000)
Each Forsyth Co. counselor averages $71,000 a year in salary and benefits (average teacher $65,000)

state Salary and Travel audit -
Georgia DOE:

Anonymous said...

Here's the counselor numbers and pay for Fulton County.

Fulton has 92,000 students to DCSS's 96,000 students.

DCSS has 326 counselors costing $27,500,000 in salary and benefits
Fulton has 213 counselors costing $17,500,000 in salary and benefits

Each DCSS counselor averages $84,000 a year in salary and benefits (average teacher $65,000)
Each Fulton Co. counselor averages $82,000 a year in salary and benefits (average teacher $65,000)

state Salary and Travel audit -
Georgia DOE:

Anonymous said...

employees were being over paid by $15,000,000 a year while teachers were pretty much on par with the other metro systems was such a hot button?

Why would there be such a discrepancy in pay between DCSS counselors and most of the other metro systems. And is our counselor quality so poor that we need so many more per student than other systems?

We are already paying $4,500,000 for 73 Parent Resource Center specialists (Ms. Zepora Robert's daughter is one - almost slugged a reporter over that question) to do what the counselors should be doing (and were doing before the BOE hired 73 more people and set up these Parent Centers. Their average pay is $61,000 in salary and benefits (they are not certified in counseling and very few are certified in teaching).

So now we have $27,500,000 for counselors and $4,500,000 (average pay of for the Parent Centers. That's $32,000,000 we're spending for 399 people.

Has Ms. Tyson or the BOE even looked at these groups?

Anonymous said...

Oops! That last post should have started out with...

Does anyone see why the 2004 Compensation audit that said 2,500 non-teaching employees were being over paid by $15,000,000 a year while teachers were pretty much on par with the other metro systems was such a hot button? Do you see why it was buried and another one has never been done?

Anonymous said...

When you compare DCSS high salaries to private sector, please remember that the private sector requires 12 months of work, 9 hours a day of actual work, two weeks vacation for the second through fifth year of work and high performance or you are out the door. And no defined benefit huge pensions. The private sector quickly used the economic downturn to purge under-performing employees and those with higher paid jobs. They have found that they can require people to work 15% more for 15% less salary.

Too bad DCSS cannot do this.

Anonymous said...

It is all part of the process---the further you get away from the students, the more yu are paid. But don't fault the counselors...look at the money that it thrown away at the central office.

Anonymous said...

"When you compare DCSS high salaries to private sector, please remember that the private sector requires 12 months of work, 9 hours a day of actual work, two weeks vacation for the second through fifth year of work and high performance or you are out the door. "

The counselor figures above are not being compared to private industry. I am comparing counselors in DCSS to counselors in other metro systems.

I also just compared teacher salaries in DCSS to teacher salaries in the other metro systems. Our teachers are on par or just a tad lower than some systems. If we cut our teacher pay, we will not be competitive with the other metro systems. That's what we need to keep in mind for every job in DCSS. Looking at the pay scale for every job and comparing it to like jobs in school systems or in some instances (e.g. Security officer, custodian, counselor, maintenance employee, accountant, etc) also comparing it to private sector wages and benefits (including as you pointed out defined benefit pensions.

This is what the Ernst and Young 2004 Compensation audit did. After it was shown that 2,500 non-teaching employees were over paid by $15,000,000 a year, it was quickly buried by Dr. Lewis and no one has been able to bring it to light.

This study only took 4 months from start to finish and was extremely comprehensive (ask anyone who filled out the survey for the independent Ernst and Young consultants).

If Ms. Tyson and the BOE has commissioned such a study in July, we should have had the results by now and decisions could have been made with empirical data.

Anonymous said...

"But don't fault the counselors...look at the money that it thrown away at the central office. "

I'm not faulting the counselors. But they are over paid and over staffed compared to most other metro systems. DCSS is millions out of line with other systems. It's odd we can do without 400 teachers, but not one counselor, especially since the Parent Centers do many of the functions counselors used to do.

You cannot ignore $27,500,000 for counselors and $4,500,000 Parent Centers.

Cutting the Central Office will help but the counselors and parent center employees number 399. The Central Office numbers 1,239. We need to reduce the cost for both.

If we protect the custodians from outsourcing, we protect the counselors from having their pay brought in line with other metro systems, and we protect the parent center employees from being laid off...well you see where I'm going.

Any and all cuts need to be made to keep teachers. They are the only group that needs protection. We can't cram 40 students in a classroom so we can't cut their numbers any further. We can't pay them less because we will be below the metro area ans just won't get anyone highly qualified to teach.

Do any of you teachers think you students won't be negatively impacted if teacher salaries are reduced and more students are added to your classrooms so everyone can keep their jobs and pay rate?

Anonymous said...

Y'all need to read Dave Marcus' book "Acceptance" -- it tracks a group of seniors from a pretty middle class high school and school system (I think one high school school system on Long Island) through a year of college admissions (one admissions cycle for one group of kids) through the eyes and work of one pretty incredible college counselor in his last year of working for the school system -- I loved our HS Counselor at our local high school and she didn't hold a candle to what this guy did and some of the reasons are pretty basic -- he had fewer kids to work with, more resources to attend conferences and to make connections to benefit the kids, he was able to hold a college essay writing class as an English elective for his students (each guidance counselor at the school co-taught one of these classes with an English teachers and the students could take it or, get this, a study hall... we don't believe in study halls in DCSS .. we don't trust the kids to be adult enough to handle them.... but they're supposed to go off to college). The book left me very jeolous-- the economic diversity was pretty similar to my DCSS public high school but the priorities are quite obviously different. It was a wonderful read -- go get the book and see for yoursel (He even helped his kids get scholarships to Ivy league schools and other expensive schools -- they didn't all land at the local equivalents that the vast majority that our college-bound kids land at).

Anonymous said...

No one says counselors aren't important. DCSS just pays its counselors more than other systems and has more counselors per students than other systems, all the while we are cutting teachers but not touching counselors. And has 73 extra employees in the Parent Centers that they've hired to do the work that counselors should be doing (at a cost of $4,500,000).

If there are not enough teachers to teach students, then all the counselors in the world will not help students when they get to college and don't know the basics. That's what's happening now in DCSS.

Why does no one care if we have enough great teachers? Who do students spend most of their day with. Who do students learn content from?

Anonymous said...

A principal who is pleased with outsourcing the custodial services for his school. This was a posting from the AJC Get Schooled blog


January 1st, 2011
10:06 am

"I am principal in a school that uses a private custodial service. They come in at 10:00 at night and are gone by 5:00 the next morning. For the first time in 14 years as a principal I don’t have to worry about the cleanliness of the building or custodial absenteeism which is a never ending nightmare. The crew is managed by the contracting company and if there is a problem the company makes it right. There has been no theft since the private company started. I can focus on other things rather than the lack of paper in the bathrooms and trash being removed from the classrooms each evening. You think it is difficult to terminate a nonperforming teacher? Try termminating a nonperforming custodian. 10 times more difficult. They just move the nonperforming custodians from school to school"

"catlady @ Principal: What happens when you need services during the day? Our custodians are continuously cleaning up vomit, blood, or spills, replenishing TP, etc. You just leave it till the night crew comes in?"


January 1st, 2011
12:11 pm

There is one person on duty during the day to take care of issues that come up. Works just fine"

Anonymous said...

Our schools are not that clean. I say give a contractor a chance to see if we can have cleaner schools. It would be worth the same money just to get cleaner schools. It would shock some of you to see how unclean some of our schools are.

Anonymous said...

-And has 73 extra employees in the Parent Centers that they've hired to do the work that counselors should be doing (at a cost of $4,500,000).-

It's statements like this that show some people don't have a clue. Parent Centers are funded through Title 1 dollars, primarily for the PARENTS in the Title 1 communities they serve. These are earmarks associated with these dollars. PARENTAL involvement is a key component to Title 1. Parent Centers provide resources and training for PARENTS to help their children with school.

Eliminate Title 1 dollars and programs like these go away along with the staff and resources. You want counselors to pick up this responsibility in addition to their other requirements? At least try to understand the program and its objectives before making wild statements like yours. Have a suggestion to improve it, that would be welcome.

If you want to know something about Title 1, try reading from this link,

Anonymous said...

"Eliminate Title 1 dollars and programs like these go away along with the staff and resources. "

I also know that Title 1 dollars can be used to hire teachers to teach math and reading to small groups of struggling students. We need more "boots on the ground". Someone has to teach our students math, science, social studies, and language arts and those very students the Parent Centers serve are the ones who have so many students who can't read and/or compute basic math problems.

Parent Centers have not improved student achievement. Witness the many schools that have parent centers that could not make AYP. Parent Center personnel need to have performance objectives tied to student achievement.

The majority of Title 1 dollar expenditures should be decided by the local school who earns the Title 1 dollars. You seem to think "one size fits all". I've worked with students in almost every school in DCSS - particularly Title 1 schools and I can assure you that is the biggest problem with Title 1 money spent in DCSS - the "one size fits all" mentality. Until we correct that, and hold the Office of School Improvement accountable for - well - school improvement - our student achievement will continue to spiral downward.

Dr. Berry has guided the Office of School Improvement and less and less of our schools have made AYP. She needs to be replaced with someone who can do the job. That's true accountability. Student achievement is squarely on the shoulders of the Central Office personnel and the BOE. If they can't do the job, get personnel who can.

Anonymous said...

This is a post from AJC blog Get schooled from a teacher in another county:
"How many parents use these parent centers? We have one in each school but the librarian runs it, at no extra pay. I don’t think a single parent has gone in, despite signs all over and other publicity for it. That is an easy savings."

Anonymous said...

Seems like you issues with Parent Centers and Title 1 is more with the Federal Government than DCSS. The Federal Government dictates how those dollars should be spent. While Parent Centers are primarily for those in Title 1 areas, anyone can use them. Should I blame you if you never used the center?

You obviously have no idea what a counselor does if you think they could pick up the duties from the Parent Center. Have you ever been to observe a counselor at a Title 1 school? You want to do that before you look at add more duties to them.

If you eliminate all the people and resources you want to get rid of, who do you think those responsibilities will fall on? The teachers.

Anonymous said...

What does anyone know about Kittredge having a teacher that just handles the Science Olympiad and Beta Club, but has no real teaching duties?

Cerebration said...

FWIW, January 1, 2011 12:54 PM is correct. We do have to keep in mind that programs funded with Title 1 dollars are not part of the regular budget. The "cuts" made by the board never touch Title 1 because that is money sent to us by the federal government. That said, we do all have pretty strong opinions as to the most effective ways to spend Title 1 dollars - most of us would like to see it spent mostly on support/resource teachers to work directly with students in small groups in reading and math.

The parent centers are a good idea - but I'm not sure if anyone is tracking their effectiveness and/or their rate of use. The people who run them are definitely well-paid as compared to teachers. Seems if they would have been paid less, then some of the funds could have focused on other areas of support.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration.

The benefits portion of employee salaries is NOT funded by the federal government - that's picked up by local taxpayers. Overlaying DCSS benefits over the $3,000,000 salary expenditure for Parent Center employees means DCSS local tax dollars pay a cool $1,000,000 in benefit costs (25% benefits figure being the rule of thumb DCSS uses). $1,000,000 buys a lot of math, science, social studies, and language arts teachers.

Besides, DCSS has many ways of providing Parent Resource Centers under Title 1. Dr. Berry and Dr. Lewis decided on the most expensive job producing way possible.

DCSS has 11 Parent Resource Centers. Within those centers are 63 employees. Their salary and benefits are $4,000,000 (benefits running $1,000,000).

Adding to the cost are two Parent Liaison Specialists in the Central Office – Office of School Improvement – one makes $84,000 in salary and benefits and the other makes $78,000. NEITHER one of these coordinators in the Office of School Improvement have any teaching certificates – not even SUPPORT PERSONNEL LICENSE many of our non-teaching, have no education degree managers got in order to supervise certified personnel.

The Parent Center group has long been a favorite place to employ friends and family members. Ms. Roberts' daughter is a coordinator of one of the centers. She started there around 5 years ago. In 2005 her salary was $11,384 in the Parent Center. In 2008 her salary jumped to $53,292 as a Family Services Coordinator. In 2009 her salary jumped to $59,895 still as a Family Services Coordinator. As of 2010 (2010 state audit), it stands at $61,196 ($76,500 with benefits) -while at the same time teachers took a pay cut. She does not have a teaching degree and makes more than a DCSS Masters level physics teacher with 18 years of teaching experience.

Remember the 2004 BOE meeting where Dr. Lewis said "that at the beginning of the study, 15,000 employees were told that they would not lose salary as a result of the study and he plans to stay true to his word." (See BOE meeting notes from 12/05/05). Lewis refused to bring the pay levels of non-teaching employees down.

Now fast forward to 01/09/06. "Dr. Lewis recommended a change in salary based on verified years of experience for Chanda White, a relative of a board member, in her current position as a Title I Parent Facilitator. In discussion that followed, Dr. Lewis stated that Ms. White is one of nine people in this category requiring a salary adjustment based on verified years of experience as identified in the Compensation Classification Study." (see BOE minutes 01/09/06)

So Lewis refused to save millions by moving the non-teaching salaries to marketplace value, but he used the 2004 Compensation Study in order to give this raise. All the BOE members voted yes with..."and Ms. Roberts abstaining"

Now you can see why this is a favorite place to tuck friends and family into.

IMHO there is room to dramatically cut expenditures in the Parent Centers even if they are not closed. No statistics on the efficacy of these Parent Centers have been presented to the public. When I have the time, I'm going to look up every school that has a Parent Center and see if the student achievement has gone up or down and are more making AYP or less.

Somehow it is assumed that Title 1 money is "free" money because it comes from federal taxes. It's not free because we pay federal taxes and local taxes pick up the very expensive benefits. It's time someone looked into these Parent Centers and Title 1 money. $128,000,000 of federal money is handled by the Office of School Improvement. Does DCSS present any statistics to the public regarding this money?

How do teachers feel about the Parent Centers?

Anonymous said...

@ Cere "Perhaps a little competition will bring out the best and cull the rest."
December 31, 2010 10:07 AM

Where is the competition for the Central Office Staff...some of you just don't get it at all...and I just don't understand how anyone can beleive for one second that cutting/outsourcing these 700 positions will pur any oney into the classrooms or improve the level of education the students will receive.

What is the going rate for a failing leader that's making over 100,000 a year with no proven track record of success...not one of them has a productive level of success..why are parents and teachers allowing Tyson to snow everyone with this easy decision and not make her tow the line with the sorry bunch who she is surrounded with daily and not doing a darn thing to help in student success.

I have given my opinion a lot on this blog and while employed at DCSS am very disgusted because no one really wants to lose his/her job. But you know what, it's going to happen and sadly it will happen to a teacher, custodian, printer, painter, or a paraprofessional before it will happen to a Central Office employee believe that.

You proud parents should be urging the BOE and Tyson to cut that central office staff at the top and only at the top..there is no one competing for those jobs.
Maybe a little competition from those leaders who have not produced enough successful results from the underperforming schools should have them removed. All of those Central Office positions should be listed so that you, the tax paying public, can see where your money is being spent. It's not in the clasroom. It hasn't been since CLewis took the reigns and Tyson is continuing in his giant footsteps or should I say missteps...

Tyson had better watch where she places her feet because the rug may slip from under her when this trial begins...I think Pope is going to bring a lot of fire power to her defensive strategy and this will affect the cabinet and the BOE. Pope has the attitude that if I go down You all are going with me.

No Duh said...

I think the "Demand" is setting us up for the Board to offer the job to Tyson. I think she realized she can do the job (no one seems to care whether it's done well).

I am hoping by her having the job "permanently" it will give her the leverage and power to cut central office staff. She can't do that as interim. She'd never be able to go back to MIS.

But she is going to have to get thicker skin.

Cerebration said...

January 1, 2011 4:07 PM - you are absolutely correct. Although I do believe that outsourcing is a good idea, I sincerely believe that Tyson should have cut from the top down -- not the opposite. Doing is this way does not garner trust from the people.

Cut your own friends and family and bloated administration first - and then the people will believe you when you deem outsourcing and other budget changes necessary.

Cerebration said...

And Anon, 3:31 PM - Wow. That is an incredible post - in fact, I think we need to make that it's own thread... I'll put your comment up for discussion after themommy finishes her research on Title 1 spending. There's a lot to dig into here. And it is very infuriating that Tyson has not addressed Title 1 spending whatsoever. Regardless of whether the funding comes from the federal government, and as you say, we pay the benefits anyway - there are ways to responsibly spend the money that will directly support teachers and students. Parent Centers are good - but a highly paid full time staffer is a slap in the face to teachers. Morale is a big problem these days and our school system needs to address the chasm it has created between the low paid "working" staff in the school houses and the well-paid support staff in the administration. First and foremost, Tyson should ask and trust teachers regarding what they think will help student achievement.

Anonymous said...

I think the actual competition you're really looking for is really called vouchers and we'd be surpised at how much they might really accomlish to make everything competitive and remove the fraud and corruption (I admit there might ultimately be other fraud and corruption but it would take more players and be more spread around -- you would need more people cooperating).

themommy said...

In the early days of the charter school movement, Arizona was at the forefront. There were at least two schools that were found to have enrolled scores of fake children, one of which, when checked in its second year of operation had no students at all and the address was a dilapidated house.

Government has deep pockets and is generally an easy target for fraud.

themommy said...

The research behind parent centers suggest that they have helped in other places, the question I have, as is always in DeKalb, is what are we not spending money on if we are spending money on something else.

I think the point about salaries at the Parent Centers is a very valid one. The first place I saw parent resources centers was in the Clark County School System, Athens, and I had hoped to be able to compare salaries. However, the few names of the parent center resource centers in Clark don't seem to be on the state salary list.

themommy said...

Posted to soon.

I will keep working on tracking down the salaries in Athens as well.

I think that you first have to pay for the basics before you get the luxuries.

pscexb said...

Cerebration commented,

First and foremost, Tyson should ask and trust teachers regarding what they think will help student achievement.

In many of the Title 1 schools, I believe teachers would say having greater parental involvement would help with student achievement. To paraphrase an old saying, You can make parents aware of the Parent Center and resources but you cannot make them go. Let's face it, the family structure that many of us knew of from the Leave it to Beaver days is in the minority in much of DeKalb. When you consider the combination of many single head of households, parents working multiple jobs, and the growing number of grandparents raising their grandchildren, there are challenges that Title 1 dollars alone cannot overcome. Not an excuse but a reality in today's school systems.

Knowing the school system does not have much control over parental involvement, I would want to believe teachers would ask for greater flexibility with discipline, more early intervention strategies to help children master reading in the lower grades, and lower class sizes. I bet if teachers knew they could address behavioral issues within the classroom, they might tolerate higher class sizes.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 6:48

Now you see why it's important that BOE minutes are posted. Ms. Tyson and the BOE aren't posting the BOE minutes anymore. They are there in the Central Office just like the 2004 Compensation audit, but they are not for "public consumption". The law says they need to be public. When posters write their legislators, please ask why the BOE minutes are not longer posted. They are public meetings.

Also, take a moment to email the BOE members and ask them why the BOe minutes are not longer posted since they are public record by law. Please ask them to ask Ms. Tyson to post the BOE minutes on the DCSS BOE website. Let us know what they say.

Anonymous said...

DeKalb Janitors Not the Problem, Properties Are

Regarding the article reporting the possible replacement of Dekalb Schools' janitors, the employee union leader's quote about "family" was correct--that feeling is irreplaceable. However, the "family" atmosphere doesn't need to extend beyond the schools, which are only about 70% of the floor space owned by the system. Although school buildings are the better part of DCSS real estate, there are too many schools, administrative buildings and surplus properties. Every one of them require regular care by employees. DCSS is the largest property owner in DeKalb and combined with the county government's properties, that tells you why the tax roles have historically lagged, not to mention the cost of taking care of them. Cut down the number of properties and combine county and school services and you can keep the "family".

Tom Doolittle
NE Atlanta-DeKalb

Anonymous said...

Are I off base her but why do we still support Fernbank Science Center which consumes $7,000,000 in the DCSS budget and teaches children one science lesson a year. Transporting 30+ children to a science center for the teacher to teach them for 1.5 to 2 hours once a year is not only ineffective from a science content aspect but it is an ecological nightmare to put thousands of buses on the road and spew pollutants into the air (is that oxymoronic for an ecology lesson?).

Has anyone looked at the gas prices lately? Do we want to continue pay the price of transporting 30+ children on a bus to a teacher? This is going to get more and more expensive to do. At what point isn't it feasible?

Thanks to the outcry of Fernbank parents Fernbank Science Center last year was impacted very little. While we lost science teacher positions in the school, Fernbank Science Center was above the fray and had one of the lowest percentages of expense decline of any cost center.

See the DeKalb School Watch for an article on the financial particulars:

Anonymous said...

Oops - typing too fast:
"Are I off base her "
Am I off base here...?