According to a recent article in The Champion newspaper, “Some DeKalb Schools salaries inflated.”
Click here to read the entire article, but the key points follow:
A recent central office audit found, when compared to similar systems, the DeKalb County School System has some positions paying “substantially” above market and called for a unified salary schedule for all employees.
The referenced audit was the first part of a two-phase project to audit every position within the system; it is slated to be completed in March. It compared DCSS to systems such as Cobb, Gwinnett, Fulton and even the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) School System.
The report states that currently, there is “no clear core responsibility definition for various job families such as secretaries, specialists, coordinators, managers or directors, which makes classification of new positions problematic. In the absence of clear guidelines, jobs can be legitimately placed anywhere.”
Woods said the system has not undergone an audit similar to the one performed by MAG in several years, an Ernst and Young study in 2005 being the closest thing. He said the system is looking closely at the report and its suggestions for central office realignment.
“We’re taking it under advisement—ultimately the final decision will be up to the superintendent. I can tell you the goal here is to drive resources to the classroom level,” Woods said.
It is sickening to think that the DeKalb County School System Board of Education (BOE) had no problem directing the Interim Superintendent, Ramona Tyson, to cut hundreds of parapros, library clerks, in-school tech support and other school-based staff as well as to raise class sizes, allowing for our number of teachers to decline significantly over the years through attrition. In fact, this attrition, combined with increased class sizes has enabled much of the school closure blight found by this blog (see the DeKalb School Watch Two archives post, “DCSS vacant properties causing blight countywide“).
The BOE turned a deaf ear to the concerns that many in the central office and elsewhere were overpaid, under-qualified, under-performing and/or not critical and should be cut. The BOE actually mocked those who pleaded for them to dig outside the schoolhouse to make their cuts. Meanwhile, student achievement continued to plummet — especially in South DeKalb. Now, this MAG report vindicates those outcries, but it’s not a vindication that makes up happy in any way.
The last audit, done in 2004 came to the very same conclusions. The superintendent at the time, Johnny Brown, attempted to redefine jobs and rejuggle the budget away from the administration. He was fired. His replacement, Crawford Lewis*, buried the audit and never implemented the suggestions, instead growing his staff even more and inflating their salaries further.
True to history, the board is once again diverting attention to things unrelated to the classroom: their own redistricting. Don’t allow them to sweep another audit under the rug. Let’s keep our eyes on the board and make sure that Superintendent Atkinson is allowed to do the right thing and shrink the administration, placing qualified resources in the classroom – where the children are.
*Indicted on RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) charges in 2010 and still avoiding trial.