Phase I of the new DeKalb Schools audit is now available for you to review

We have had Phase I of the new audit in our possession for a little while now, but not wanting to “trump” them, have been waiting for the school system to post it on their website for the public to review (since it was paid for with public funds). They haven’t. So we are going to go ahead and release the 1,100 page document for you to review.

Phase 1 of the New Audit can be found here:

Full Report Phase I (DCSS Audit-Jan-2012)

It can also be found under the tab at the top of the blog called “Facts & Sources” and then pull-down to the sub-category, “FILES”. This is where we will store all files for readers to access in the future.

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40 Responses to Phase I of the new DeKalb Schools audit is now available for you to review

  1. loveliveoak says:

    Clicked on the link but once there the page is blank.

  2. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    It’s a 13.4 MB PDF (Large file). It should download into your downloads folder. It’s called “full-report-phase-i-dcss-audit-jan-2012.pdf” if you need to search your computer. If you use Safari, it should display on screen.

    If you still have trouble, try copying and pasting one of these links to download the file:

    http://dekalbschoolwatch.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/full-report-phase-i-dcss-audit-jan-2012.pdf
    or this temporary transfer link:
    http://wtrns.fr/hgkmZzZgOn-0PY

  3. Just Watch says:

    Worked for me.

    Huge file — tons of information to wade through.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for posting.
    Some of the math on the salary differences as compared to other districts is incorrect. Bus drivers, clerk-typist, coach-instructional starting on page 52 of the pdf.

  5. bettyandveronica says:

    OOh! This is really gonna stink, first glance and the HR dept. makes toooo much money compared to others. I was just talking to the Central Office today, they are worried about this, for sure.

  6. The Deal says:

    The vast majority of the doc is position specifications (job descriptions), for those of you who were worried about wading through 1100 pages. This audit proves what most of us have been saying for years: DeKalb overpays its highest administrators and directors AND overstaffs and overpays vague and purposely undefined positions that do not require certified professionals, such as assistants, secretaries, and other basic administrative positions, i.e. perfect hiding places for friends and family. It is good to see this auditor recognize this, call it out, and propose very clear position descriptions and reporting structures. Dr. Atkinson said when she started, “I have seen many good plans sit on the shelf.” We’ll see what she does with this good plan.

  7. Poster says:

    I haven’t gone through much of this yet, but I did notice that the report talks about moving 117 Public Safety positions from Central Office to School Budget and 56 positions at Fernbank Science Center from CO to Special Schools Budget and 19 positions from DOLA from Central Office to Special Schools Budget. So, when we talk about eliminating 300+ Central Office positions, are these really being eliminated & consolidated or is the expense merely being moved form Central Office to the School’s budget? I did see mention of outsourcing Pest Control (2 positions) and Grass Cutting (6 positions). I guess its a start, but that’s pretty small potatoes, isn’t it? Again, I have barely scratched the surface in reading this report, but wanted to point out these things I noticed.

  8. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    You are exactly correct. This report is almost identical to the one done in 2004 – which literally sat on a shelf (in the back of a closet somewhere for sure).

  9. dekalbdoyenne says:

    In the interests of transparency, Superintendent Atkinson should have had the audit posted online immediately. Surprisingly, she did not. Since before Superintendent Atkinson was hired, the taxpayers have been asking for transparency above all else. By ignoring the reasonable requests of the DCSS stakeholders, Superintendent Atkinson is making a clear statement. She is throwing her lot in with Gene Walker, et al.

    Superintendent Atkinson: Make no mistake. Gene Walker is not through yet with his campaign against you. If he cannot manage you, he will find a way to get rid of you. At that point, you are going to wish you had cultivated the support of DCSS stakeholders — if you want to keep your job, that is. On the other hand, maybe you are on the Johnny Brown Plan?

  10. Cynical In Chamblee says:

    Earlier today, I scanned this report, and found that a lot of the stuff is “boiler plate” job descriptions that were sort of adapted to DeKalb. A point of interest on page 37 was the recommendation to ELIMINATE the “Directors of ES, MS, HS Instruction and support positions.” This savings of close to $500,000 in salaries and benefits could potentially be transferred into 7 or 8 actual classroom teaching positions. If this were real it would be great. But from years of personal observation, these “Director” positions are well connected contracted employees and they will merely be shuffled and/or reassigned into other areas–and their costs will follow.

  11. Anonymous says:

    page 33 is interesting:
    Security – add 22 SROs and eliminate 95 Campus Supervisors (Staffing from 195.0 to 100.0)

    Public Safety: Eliminate Deputy Director position. Move responsibility for DCA AIC
    Security position from Facilities to Public Safety. Eliminate night shift. Move six positions
    to daytime school assignments. Seek memoranda of agreement with other local law
    enforcement agencies for nighttime alarms. Hire additional 22 SROs. Combined with
    former night SROs, increased staffing will provide two SROs per high school.
     Public Safety: Allocate Campus Supervisor positions at the school level, as part of the
    school funding. Move 117 positions from central office to school funding (two of 119
    campus supervisor positions are part of central public safety). Campus Supervisors would
    maintain joint reporting responsibility (to SRO and school administrator) noted in the
    budget. Staffing from 195.0 to 100.0

  12. Anonymous says:

    @ Poster
    I noticed that too – moving positions to the school budget. The school budgets cannot absorb these positions. They will have to eliminate teaching positions in order to accommodate these non teaching positions. Is that what parents/taxpayers want? Less teachers and larger class sizes?

  13. The Deal says:

    I don’t think this auditor is playing a shell game. I think they’re trying to remove the shell game that DCSS has been playing on us for years. DCSS has padded the central office with not only legitimate positions but also the friends and family ones to the point where no one can unravel it. This auditor is proposing to move all positions where they belong. It is a logical assumption that they would also shift the budget for those positions as well.

    The auditor also suggested a major hatchet job on IT. The funniest part was where they said that most school systems are deploying virtual environments that don’t require so much tech support. DUH!!! They also said tech support should not be a school-based position under principals (duh) and that they should be moved under IT, that a tech should be able to handle 3 schools, and that principals are not appropriate managers for tech support staff. Hallelujah!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Another interesting note is that the Parent Center personnel were recommended to have the same pay (around $40,000 to $60,000) as other systems that have requirements of 4 year degrees and a professional certification or license. The audit clearly states that the Parent Center personnel in DeKalb are not required to have a Bachelor’s degree or professional license or certification. The audit says Parent Center personnel only need an Associate degree. That is two years of college. Gwinnett has comparable salaries as DeKalb for their Parent Teacher personnel, but their Parent Center personnel have at LEAST a Bachelor’s degree and are also certified teachers. Clayton requires a paraprofessional certification (at least they require some kind of certification) which is not contingent on a Bachelor’s degree, but they pay their Parent Center employees a fraction of DeKalb’s Parent Center personnel.
    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2011/11/73000-dcss-secretarial-positions-are.html

    I am also uncomfortable with shifting many personnel to “school based” budgets. Sounds like less teachers and larger class sizes as the schools squeeze their budgets to accommodate these “shifted” non teaching personnel.

  15. Anonymous says:

    @ The Deal
    “This auditor is proposing to move all positions where they belong. It is a logical assumption that they would also shift the budget for those positions as well.”

    I’m okay with that if principals can decide they would rather have a teacher who directly instructs students instead of being forced to accommodate the non teaching positions that are shifted to their school. The problem is if the schools are forced to accept these positions, then they must eliminate teaching positions. This has happened time and time again. When the schools took on more APs, Counselors, CTSSs, ESOL, Special Ed, etc. costs went up (and taxes as our homes were assessed at higher and higher levels), and grade level and content area class sizes stayed the same. When the recession hit, nothing was cut but the grade level and content area teaching positions. How as this done? Simply by raising class sizes and not filling grade level and content area teaching positions (no one even asked why so many teachers leave who are teaching math, science, social studies, and language arts – an enormous problem for students on its own since that is what they are actually in schools to learn).

    Can principals say they would rather retain their current number of teachers and class sizes and forgo these non teaching positions? If they cannot, then this is a indeed a “shell game”. No matter the intentions, if students sit in larger class sizes and thus get less instruction in reading and math to protect non teaching jobs, they are the losers.

  16. Tucker Guy says:

    I checked the reported maximum salary of an area superintendent (audit page 97) against the FY2010 salary of Terry Segovis (open.georgia.gov) and found he made more than the maximum reported salary. What does this say about the “transparancy” of the school system with the audit?

  17. The Deal says:

    The way I read it is the money would follow the people to the schoolhouse. If the money does follow the people and then DeKalb decides to do something stupid like try to make a school budget fit 10 new people into it, then that is DeKalb screwing it up, not the auditor. The auditor appears to be trying to move people (and the associated budget) to their logical places so that they can be tracked and categorized more appropriately. If DeKalb would follow the audit to the letter, we would be fine. It is how DeKalb chooses to implement these suggestions that presents the potential problems.

    The overall goal of this audit is to clarify every position’s responsibilities and pay, place all positions logically on an org chart, cut pay for the overpaid, cut extraneous positions, and ultimately make the whole organization leaner. I am all for the central office being significantly slimmed down through a combination of position elimination and moving of some jobs (where it makes sense) to the schoolhouse. The smaller the central office is, the better for all of us for budgetary reasons and to get people closer to the kids. This audit does not appear to me to be trying to hide anything; after all, they want to cut 300+ positions.

  18. Anonymous says:

    @ Tucker Guy

    That’s one reason it’s good to see the audit made public. We need to be checking the audit figures against other personnel in other systems. Of course, I’m not sure how you check the 5 “exhibit designers” ($70,000+ each) at Fernbank Science Center against any other “exhibit designers” since no other system has “exhibit designers”.

    Actually, overall we can look at Forsyth and many other metro counties and cross check what the auditors say is the recommended pay at DCSS for a particular position and then look at what they pay for similar functions. It’s a good start with actual data to work from and certainly more than taxpayers ever had before.

  19. Tucker Guy says:

    Anonymous@2:12,
    You are correct, but you missed my point. The numbers reported by the county in the audit may not be accurate. People are making even more than was reported. The central office staff who “assisted” with the audit by providing data did not give the auditors accurate data. What does this say about either their competence or their honesty?
    As a DCSS employee I question both whenever I have to deal with the central office.

  20. Anonymous says:

    @ Tucker Guy

    Yes. I understand your point, and it’s a good one, but for the purposes of this audit, it may be moot.

    For example, Mr. Segovis’s salary should be adjusted from this point forward to match his placement on the salary schedule, and this should be reflected in the Open.Georgia.gov state salary and travel audit that follows his first entire year on the salary schedule. The overriding factor should be a reasonable number of salary schedules set reflecting what other systems pay for comparable functions, educational levels and certification and licensing required. EVERY employee should be placed on the salary schedule that fits their job descriptions. Some may go up or down. That is irrelevant. Just place them where they belong so taxpayers are paying wages that are not below or above the marketplace compensation.

    It would be better from a financial planning standpoint if DCSS HR gave the auditors the correct information. That way, they could more readily predict savings in personnel cost that Dr. Atkinson could plow back into the classroom. However, the most important outcomes must be:
    1. Establish a manageable number of salary schedules that reflect fair market value for jobs performed
    2. Place EVERY employee on the proper salary schedule

  21. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    There’s a night shift?!! Where??

  22. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    Actually, we had exactly this same data and this same conclusion and these same goals when Ernst & Young conducted the audit in 2004. The board didn’t even give Dr. Brown time to dig in to the task before they summarily fired him, replacing him with Dr. Lewis, a long-time insider and friend of friends & family who simply stopped further work and buried the audit. We all know what happened after that…

  23. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    This is the same staff who when Ramona Tyson asked for the 2004 audit, first gave her a song and dance about its non-existence. Then after further pressure from the public, they produced a ‘binder’ of audit findings, then after even more pressure, they mysteriously ‘found’ 7 boxes of work product from the 2004 audit. We never have been given a copy of the final report that was presented to the board by E&Y as evidenced in board meeting minutes. The report that showed $14 million in salary over-payments. No, that is still ‘missing’.

  24. @ Anonymous 9:37 AM

    “It would be better from a financial planning standpoint if DCSS HR gave the auditors the correct information.”

    You are kidding, right?

    Better? Better than what? Better than deliberately misleading outside auditors preparing a costly salary and position audit?

    It should be really easy to determine who provided that information to the auditors. The provider(s) of that information must be fired for malfeasance. For those who don’t know, here is the definition of malfeasance:
    “the performance by a public official of an act that is legally unjustified, harmful, or contrary to law; wrongdoing (used especially of an act in violation of a public trust).”

    Our question is this: How much more deliberately erroneous information was provided to the outside auditors? Are there any volunteers willing to take a crack at this? Send what you find to dekalbschoolwatch@gmail.com. Your identity will be kept confidential.

    For the MAG auditors: You had a responsibility, in return for the big bucks you billed for this salary audit, to double-check that you were getting the correct information. You should have randomly selected employees at different levels to verify that you were getting correct information — through open.georgia.gov and W-2 (or 1099) forms sent to the IRS.

    For DeKalb School System employees, ask yourself this: “Am I willing to go to jail for protecting the fat cats at the top of the DCSS pyramid?” You think that can’t or won’t happen? Think again.

    It is no longer “business as usual” in DeKalb County School System. A “sleeping giant has been awakened” and it is a new day in DeKalb County.

  25. The Deal says:

    I wouldn’t put it past certain members of this board to try that stunt again, but, thanks to you guys posting it, it really can’t happen that same way again. What we are going to have to do is stay vigilant on how they choose to implement it because it’s a pipe dream to think they would implement it as it is proposed. The devil will be in the details here, and we will have to watch very closely and report everything we hear because we know it won’t be reported to us clearly.

  26. Anonymous says:

    An estimated savings should be done for this audit. The 2044 Ernst and Young audit said DCSS had about $15,000,000 a year in overpayments. Dr. Atkinson along with the auditors should be able to come up with a bottom line figure in savings.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone know if the auditors are looking at the Teacher salary schedule? I’m pretty sure DeKalb isn’t paying more than other systems in the metro area (I remember DCSS used to have the highest pay for teachers than any other metro system – 10 or 15 years ago).

    Is DCSS paying teachers on par or less? The 2004 Ernst and Young looked at the Teacher salary schedule and concluded DCSS teachers were paid on par and slightly lower than some other metro system teachers. It needs to be publicly brought to the DeKalb BOE if DCSS teachers are being paid substantially lower than other metro system teachers. Teacher pay impacts the ability to attract and retain high quality teachers. High quality teachers are the MOST important component of increasing student achievement. Perhaps even more cuts and adjustments in the non teaching end may need to be made if the audit shows teacher pay is unable to attract and retain high quality teachers for our students.

    Taxpayers should be able to see the teacher attrition rate by grade level (K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) subject content level (science, math, social studies, and language arts), and specialist (music, art, PE, vocational, special ed, etc.) Are we losing science teachers at an unsustainable level? Are we unable to retain special ed teachers? And so forth. If there is a problem with teacher retention – where does it lie and what can be done about it? It seems especially disconcerting that Lewis and Tyson could guarantee that 600 teachers would leave DCSS in two years and not be replaced as they eliminated teaching positions to balance the budget and keep non teaching personnel employed. The teacher attrition numbers must be there. Taxpayers need to know. High teacher turnover is very bad for student achievement and costs an enormous amount in taxpayer dollars.

  28. no duh says:

    DeKalb School Watch… your service to the community is once again invaluable! Thanks for posting this. I appreciate the delicate balance you have to walk to keep info flowing to the blog. But, given that DCSS still hasn’t released this audit to the taxpayers, I think you are absolved in the future for giving them the benefit of the doubt. No more waiting for “them” to do the right thing.

    One thing about the new blog format is going to be confusing. With all the blog threads coming under the name of “dekalbschoolwatch” and comments within the threads coming under the name “dekalbschoolwatch,” it’s hard to know just who is bringing forth information. As I understand it, DSW II is now being managed by a team of people. Could that be the reason why at 11:15 on Feb. 14 a comment from “dekalbschoolwatch” in the thread “Audit: Some DeKalb Schools Salaries Inflated” suggested a poster request the audit through the Open Records Act? I mean, if DeKalbSchoolWatch has had a copy of the audit for a while, why would DeKalbSchoolWatch suggest a taxpayer spend money seeking it under the Open Records Act?

  29. Anonymous says:

    The “schoolhouse audit” is due by March 15.

  30. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    The teachers, etc will be in the next phase of the audit, I believe. They are not overpaid in any way, as they follow the state scale, which is published. The 2004 audit stated that teachers were not overpaid. Certainly this one will conclude the same – or perhaps that they are now, in fact, underpaid. We’ll see…

  31. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    Since this is a community blog, we want to encourage people to request information on their own and not rely on us to do it for them (as well as always rely on us to pay for it as we are strictly volunteers, with shallow pockets). We are a very small team and need more people to volunteer to help the blog in any way they can – that includes requesting information, taking meeting notes, doing research, etc. This is how the recent meeting notes came to us. Everything sent will be posted as DeKalb School Watch, unless the writer would like their name in a by line. Anyone interested in participating, please send a written blog post or intent to research to us at
    dekalbschoolwatch@gmail.com

  32. Teachingmom says:

    Please do not lump Special Ed in here. They are certified teachers teaching the curriculum and working directly with students. Special Ed teachers who are co-teaching teach all students alongside their general education counterparts, in the classroom.

  33. Really, I am not impressed at all with this audit, nor is it my priority. However, eliminating the Directors of Elementary Instruction, Middle School Instruction and High School Instruction sends a message of poor stupidity. With the new core standards and the lack of an emphasis on instruction, how can our schools improve. There are still too many unnecessary positions that are not directly tied to instruction. I hope we can soon get to INCREASED STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT> THAT IS WHAT ATKINSON WAS HIRED TO IMPROVE AND I EXPECT TO SEE SOME GROWTH THIS YEAR> THEY MAKE A TON OF MONEY SO SHOW ME THE RESULTS. Let’s clean up this mess and get back to the basic principle of EDUCATING OUR CHILDREN!

  34. The audit should be our priority! When the old one was destroyed, hidden away by Clew we all wondered what was in it that was so bad, why hide it? This one is just as important since it proves they should have pared down non-educational jobs back in 2005. Well we have wasted almost 7 years and our schools are much worse off now! We must have an accounting of all funds in an open and honest transparent public forum. It’s time for someone at DCSS to make a tough decision and tell some friends and family they better start looking for work elsewhere. This audit begins the transformation you speak of Jackie. The dollars must reach OUR classrooms and not the pockets of favored attorneys or other cookie cutter programs that have NO return on investment.

  35. Dekalb homeowner says:

    The problem (for them) with asking the friends and family folks to look for work elsewhere is that most of them would never find anywhere near the salary they are getting from DCSS in the marketplace—and many don’t have the qualifications and skills required for more than a menial job. Hey, I’d love to be greeted by a former DCSS “executive secretary” when I enter Walmart.

  36. Tenbroeck-Dekalb Parent says:

    From my perspective, staying on top of what becomes of this audit seems like it should be a priority for people concerned about DCSS. Would it make sense for people to write School Board members, the SuperIntendent, others (e.g., county commissioners, state legislators) expressing their strong to desire to see this audit acted upon?

    P.S. Am I correct that the redistricting effort has been put on hold?

  37. Anonymous says:

    February 21st AJC article on audit –
    DeKalb schools to shake employees from central office”

    http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/dekalb-schools-to-shake-1357658.html

  38. anonymous says:

    OK so I reviewed the link listed above in this comment. The original parent resource center facilitators (Title I) were required to have at least a bachelor degree and experience in social work and/or education. The other job titles listed (parent coordinator, family coordinator) were removed when GA Pre-K reduced its payments for support personnel and the Pre-K program. IF you access the school system website & review the Sept 12 Title I presentation, you will see what positions continue to be covered under the Title I budget. You will also see the number of positions and if, any, positions are negotiable.It is unfair to compare these positions (those not in a parent resource center) to other school systems. Many of these places have a parent coordinator/facilitator for EACH school, but DCSD is regional.

  39. anonymous says:

    there are police officers who monitor school property via monitors, and some go out on calls along with DeKalb police.

  40. anonymous says:

    I am concerned about principals who see no value of school psychologist, speech pathologists, and who are indifferent towards special education. Many times special education are lacking in resources, but under this new idea of Dr. Atkinson’s, further reductions will occur. When teachers ask about monies sent from their departments to the school, and they are told, no money was budgeted for arts, music, consumer science,what will be the recourse?

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