Good news from Superintendent Atkinson and the board: Streamlining spending to focus on classrooms

Today’s DeKalb News from the AJC
DeKalb schools to shake employees from central office

The school board met behind closed doors Tuesday for more than three hours with Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson, then emerged for a public vote to approve her proposal to reclassify jobs and alter salaries.

The goal, said Atkinson, is to “drive as many of our resources as we can to schools.”

The net effect: a shift in the oversight of about $109 million in annual spending from central office administrators to principals and a savings of $5.6 million this year, system spokesman Walter Woods said.

Few details were made public Tuesday. The 8-0 vote authorizes Atkinson to proceed with her plan, which will shift oversight over potentially hundreds of central office personnel to principals at more than 100 schools. She and her principals still must determine whether particular positions need to be eliminated and others added.

“This is the first step in a very long process,” school board Chairman Eugene Walker said. He was the lone board member to abstain, but he said his non-vote “had nothing to do with the overall thrust of the superintendent’s plan.”

Walker, of South DeKalb, said he had unanswered “legal” and “fiscal” questions. He said he will have opportunities to vote on specific elements of the plan as details emerge.

Read the AJC article linked above for the rest of the story.

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50 Responses to Good news from Superintendent Atkinson and the board: Streamlining spending to focus on classrooms

  1. Anonymous says:

    “That brings up horrible memories of America’s Choice.”

    America’s Choice is not a memory. DeKalb taxpayers are paying around $8,000,000 a year this year for America’s Choice.

  2. anonymous321 says:

    Why are we still paying for America’s Choice?

  3. Brook-Dekalb Parent says:

    If by freedom you mean not burdening teachers with a series of ever changing, bureaucratic curriculum standards I totally agree. Curriculum standards and evaluation are tools that, if used properly, can have a positive impact on education. But it becomes a problem when teachers have to adapt there lesson plans to frequently changing, overly prescriptive stuff–you end up with a lot of time wasted on bureaucratic activities that don’t improve education.

  4. Anonymous says:

    @ Brook-DeKalb Parent
    Very true.

    Much of the data that the Central Office requires never makes its way back down to the classrooms. For example, the every 6 weeks Benchmark tests that students used pencil and paper to “bubble in” and teachers laboriously scanned in by hand were a drain on instructional time and the small amount of information that filtered back down to the classroom teacher was not timely by the time it reached the “lower” level where students were actually taught. The Central Office Assistant and Associate Superintendents, Directors and Coordinators liked to get the data and massage it for their reports, but basically it was useless as a source of real time assessment feedback for students. How this was allowed to go on for so long is symptomatic of the disconnect between the Central Office and the classroom. Dr. Atkinson must be supported in her efforts to make the administrative and support personnel more accountable to what happens in the classroom.

  5. Brook-Dekalb Parent says:

    Geez, so embarrassing, there instead of their in my last post… 🙂
    Are those ‘6-week Benchmark Tests’ still happening?

    This conversation makes me think it would be great to have a platform for citizens to rally around. Something like ‘The Top 3-5 Changes Dekalb Citizens want to see in the Dekalb County School System.’ By covering several issues in one list, it could sustain interest in a way that single issues couldn’t. A platform like that could be a tool for increasing grassroots feedback to the BOE and Superintendent.

    The top 5 items would have to chosen carefully maximize buy-in. The findings of the two audits suggesting that there was a lot of waste in the system seem like the sort of thing that could garner wide support. The list would have to avoid issues like redistricting which tends to inflame people’s self-interest (e.g., I really don’t want to be redistricted out of the L’side catchment area). Another good one for the list is transparency of BOE & DCSS operations (no more last mintue meetings, we need to know who the DA met with, etc…).

    I’ve seen this sort of platform used successfully by advocacy organizations. To recruit people to support your cause, you need clear statements about where you want to see things go.

    What do y’all think? Is this pie in the sky? I have learned so much since I found this site, I just don’t think this information is broadly enough distributed.

  6. The Deal says:

    Would like to start a thread on the state of the district address??

  7. Great idea! You are more than welcome to start one! Send us your thoughts on the State of the District Address in an article. We will be happy to edit it for you, if you wish (i.e., spelling, punctuation, usage). We will publish your article and that will open up a new thread on the blog. This is true for everyone as this is a community blog.

    Our email address is

  8. Tucker Guy says:

    My experiences with Benchmark tests this year have been the tests the county makes the students take don’t match up with the curriculum so all the students end up guessing on the material that hasn’t been covered yet. You can imagine the scores.

    The feedback from the central office has been to disregard the results, yet we keep having to give the tests. What a complete waste of time!

    You would think with all those central office employees making A LOT more than the teachers they could come up with benchmark tests that match what is being taught. One might even imagine (in a world that makes sense) the mandatory Benchmark tests would be suspended until they fixed the problem.

    No. Not in Dekalb County Schools. Benchmark testing is somebody’s pet project and even if it wastes time, isn’t valid, and isn’t used, we are forced to do it every six weeks. Dr. Atkinson got an earful of this at her listening sessions and nothing has changed.

  9. Miss Management says:

    So, torture the kids and the teachers so that an administrator can have a job.

  10. formerdekalbparent says:

    It is all smoke and mirrors….every staff change should be monitored to see if they are actaully reducing staff/reassigning or what. This may show a huge decrease in “administration” but no one actually lost their jobs.

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