DeKalb urged to cut 182 jobs; school board votes Friday

According to today’s AJC, the board was scheduled to vote on the proposed reorganization of personnel proposed by Dr. Atkinson.

DeKalb urged to cut 182 jobs; school board votes Friday

“DeKalb County should cut 129 assistant principal jobs and scores of other positions in order to save taxpayer dollars, says a consultant’s report.

The report by Virginia-based Management Advisory Group says the school system has too many employees when compared with peers, and the system could save more than $15 million in payroll and benefits by cutting the assistant principals, plus 40 school secretaries and 11 media specialists. The consultants also recommended looking for savings in other positions, including art, music and physical education teachers, mail couriers, graduation coaches and custodians.

Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson has called a meeting for Friday to vote on cutting 182 employees, for a savings of $12.7 million.

System spokesman Walter Woods said he didn’t know which positions Atkinson wanted to cut, but said she would not be doing what the consultant recommended.

“We would never fire 130 [assistant principals],” Woods said. “It would never happen. We would never even consider it.”

Management Advisory Group is being paid up to $175,420 to determine the need for all 15,000 school system positions. In January, the consultant issued a report that said DeKalb had at least 300 too many employees on the central office payroll.

Atkinson then got the board to approve shifting hundreds of positions from that central payroll out to the payrolls of more than 100 school principals. The shifted personnel included instructional coaches, psychologists and physical therapists who already were working in the schools, but not reporting to principals. It meant about $109 million in personnel spending went from administrators out to the principals.

The idea was to allow principals to decide whether they were needed. Woods said in February, when the board approved that shift, it would save $5.6 million this year, but this week he couldn’t say how many of the positions were actually eliminated.

“We did not get rid of 300 people, or anything close to it,” he said, referring to the consultant’s January recommendation.

School board member Paul Womack, who is chair of the board’s budget committee, said Atkinson is not bound to follow the consultant’s advice, but said she’ll have to cut somewhere.

The superintendent is still crafting next year’s budget, amid reports of a steep drop in revenue. Officials haven’t released a deficit figure yet.

“I don’t know how deep the hole is,” Womack said, “but I’ve got a suspicion it’s $77 million.”

Tom Bowen, the board vice chairman, said Thursday if the board approves Atkinson’s plan, incumbents in cut positions can reapply for new jobs.

“It’s obviously uncomfortable for people to have to compete for a position, but it’s the fairest way,” he said.”


Later, this was approved at the 2:30 board meeting as listed on the county website.
Pursuant to Board of Education Policy GBKA (Personnel Lay-Off), it is requested that the Board of Education approve a Reduction in Force Plan for 182 employees as result of program eliminations, loss of funding, a change in state or local personnel and/or financial practices, which necessitates a change in or elimination of programs or services provided by the District, and other reasons, for a total anticipated District-wide costs savings of $12,740,000.”

To read the discussion already underway on the subject, click on this blogpost:
Executive Summary Recommended Classification of Positions and Aligned Salary Structure 2012-2013

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197 Responses to DeKalb urged to cut 182 jobs; school board votes Friday

  1. anonymous says:

    I did some searching and found out that there are directors over curriculum, technology, communications, and school improvemennt. I am sure that there are more directores. I went into First Class and typed in some names and found out that there are employees in these areas with the title of director.

  2. wiserthanmyself says:

    Those programs aren’t school-based–they happen at, or through, FSC because it’s a central location where ALL students can come to participate. Exactly the point I was making…FSC can reach students throughout the county, not just school-by-school.

    These programs are announced in local media, but more importantly, in News Flashes received by every school and read by every teacher. You can’t get into your DCSS email without seeing every News Flash. Schools have to encourage teachers to share the information with their students and parents. And that’s my point, too–no shuffling around of teachers will compensate for the district’s lack of awareness of, and emphasis on, good science teaching Example 1: your child’s school “forgot” the science fair!

  3. wiserthanmyself says:

    Roger that. The technology piece is particularly awful: we hand-grade students’ papers that could be sent to an online plagiarism-detection/grading site service, deal with Promethean Boards that don’t work, and see staff frustrated when they aren’t trained on the boards and can only use them as projection screens. One argument against more online-based learning is that “some students don’t have computers at home.” Well, all students have libraries in their schools with computers–that are attached to printers! The quality of tech service depends on the individual school’s CTSS, and that is highly variable: many are trapped in the dark ages of computer technology. And just try to get help with the new Office products that were installed on our computers a few years ago…who are the software experts at the schools? The issues raised by your questions reflect, ultimately, leadership at highest levels: too many old (overpaid) fogies, and the new Super wasn’t recruited for her “cutting-edge” educational expertise and philosophy–and by the way, what IS that philosophy?

  4. Anonymous says:

    If anything, the ITBS should be used instead of the CRCT since it is a nationally normed test. I’d rather know how our students compare to other students across the country than to other students in this state by using a flawed test created by the state DOE.

  5. September says:

    Why print a paper when you can write it using a computer and email it to your teacher? The teacher could then make comments and suggest changes by using the “show changes” (sorry I don’t have the exact terminology) feature in MS Word. Then email it back to the student. Paper and toner cartridges for printers are very expensive.

  6. concernedteacher says:

    @anonymous 11:46am

    Better yet, go to open records and do an advanced search for DCSD. Joseph Heller couldn’t have thought up such titles (and I’m not convinced we still need managers as indicated in the new hierarchy). Last year we paid 40+ transportation directors, many of whom were paid $90,000+ salaries. Then compare this number of directors to the number maintaing the buses. These directors appear to be responsible for a third fewer people than us teachers. And these directors appear to have had their own assistants or secretaries.

    I’d love to know how many directors NY PublicTransportation employees.

    I know there are a number of necessary people who work outside the school buildings, but you will never convince me that cutting teachers, increasing class loads while employing so many “business” people benefits students. The other problem with applying this “business” model and paying people such is that so many of these central office higher-ups were educated in schools of education and no nothing other than DCSS or DCSD. How can that be good? And why is it that the inflated salaries are justified in a “competetive market” when these “educrats” don’t have to take the same risks (absence of a contract; absence of the teacher pension) that those in the business world do?

  7. Teacher Reader says:

    The ITBS is a nationally normed test and shows parents where their children are nationally, which is so much more information than the CRCT provides. Stopping the ITBS would be detrimental to being able to make sure that your child is receiving a quality education and is on par with his/her peers. It’s the test that all of the private schools give their students beginning in 3rd grade, so that should tell you something.

  8. Ned says:

    On the other hand, reliance on the ITBS and other standardized instruments more than, or even to the exclusion of, teacher recommendations for inclusion of children in the gifted program is problematic at best.

  9. Chulrae Bonds says:

    will teachers that won’t receive a contract be notified before contracts come out

  10. youbetit says:

    since contracts are coming out tomorrow, have teachers being notified that they will not receive a contract

  11. Dekalb Taxpayer says:

    “…the constant reiteration of the $7,000,000 figure (never referenced, and completely baseless)”

    But the data does show that DeKalb pay almost $7,000,000 a year for Fernbank Science Center. Click on the link below to see exactly where this figure and the data that comprises it comes from:

    Here are the 2011 CRCT Science Scores for DeKalb students:
    4th grade SCIENCE: 25.5% Exceeded, 41.8% met and 32.7% did not meet expectations
    5th grade SCIENCE: 19.1% Exceeded, 42.6% met and 37.6% did not meet expectations
    6th grade SCIENCE: 9.0% Exceeded, 45.9% met and 45.0% did not meet expectations
    7th grade SCIENCE: 18.9% Exceeded, 40.9% met and 40.3% did not meet expectations
    8th grade SCIENCE: 7.5% Exceeded, 39.7% met and 52.8% did not meet expectations

    Mastery of science content can ONLY happen with DAILY science instruction with competent science teachers in reasonable classes with adequate access to up to date equipment and supplies. You cannot continue to drain the daily science classes of $7,000,000 a year without a negative impact on science instruction and achievement.

    MOST of our science teachers in the schools have 30+ students per class (dangerous and discouraging for hands-on, laboratory based experiential learning) and pay for equipment and supplies out of their own pockets.

    If the Fenbank Science teachers are out in the schools everyday teaching students, why we need to pay for the 30+ admin and support personnel who NEVER leave the science center?

    While bird watching and nature walks offered to the community are very nice, is it the job of the school system to divert money from science classrooms in the schools for these programs? This is especially egregious when so many of our students do not even know the most basic science content and concepts.

  12. justwatch says:

    The state sets the requirements for gifted. It requires a certain level of performance on three out of four tests: achievement (ITBS), aptitude (CoGAT) and then a test in creativity and a test in motivation. A child who scores a certain very high percentage on the CoGAT is in automatically I believe.

    Gwinnett has to be using some kind of achievement test. They may not be giving it to all students but there has to be some measure of achievement. Addtionally in Gwinnett, if a parent asks for their child to be tested and the child does not test in, there is a 20 or so month time period before the child can be retested.

  13. justwatch says:

    They are being required to interview for their positions.

  14. momfromhe11 says:

    Not to be contentious, but all of the schools where I have been involved with Science Olympiad (7 schools) have used parents and faculty from that school to coach the teams. We have never used (nor have we been offered) help from FSC. Which schools have used FSC employees and how have they used them?Are we missing out on something?

  15. Anonymous says:

    No, according to my child’s teacher’s they have not received inidcation of not receiving a contract. Students will be the ones who suffer if they lose our teachers especially if remarkable changes arre made academically and socially for our babies. Why in the world, did they not downsize the workers in district office? They do not have direct contact with our children? The bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, counselors, and teachers have the greatest impact on our children. I hope Dr. Atkinson would rethink this recommendation!!!!

  16. Dekalb Taxpayer says:

    @anonymous 10:19 am

    Why would you say Gwinnett does not give the ITBS when it is posted on the Gwinnett County Schools website that they give the ITBS? Here is a link to the page that gives the dates the ITBS is given:

    It took all of 2 minutes to google and find this information.

  17. youbetit says:

    so we go to school, ask for our contract, and then will be told yes or no if we have a contract, how devastating that can be! what happened to loyalty, compassion for others. Teachers should have been told earlier than tomorrow. We have to face our peers.

  18. murphey says:

    I think elementary, middle, and high schools should be looked at separately as far as assistant principals go. Elementary schools typically have one assistant principal while middle schools have 2-3 assistant principals (attendance, discipline, specific grades) and high schools have 3-4 (attendance, discipline, instruction, specific grades).

    Before we make sweeping changes we should think about the ratio of AP to students as well as the danger of eliminating the only other administrator at the school, which would happen if we fired all of the elementary school APs.

    What I would like to see examined is the secretary position that goes with each AP. Perhaps that could be a school house decision so that the Principal could decide how much secretarial support he/she needs. Now it seems to be a perk required for each AP regardless of whether it’s truly necessary.

  19. Factor says:

    CTSS’s were not doing tech work anyway. Im in the schools daily and I know most of them were doing hall duty and bus duty etc.. I was told that we have the same amount of CTSS as Gwinnett. I think its a good move personally and has little to do with the goal of bringing technology in. 100 CTSS’s is to much.

  20. anonymous says:

    If they say that they are going to h save 12 million dollars with these cuts, then some people will not be rehired. Maybe they are doing away with some assistant principals so that they can become teachers, principals become assistant principals, and area superintendents and directors become principals. I am just speculating.

  21. Factor says:

    Media Guy, I think this is start of it. MIS ha a pretty bright guy in charge now who is trying to change the support model of how schools are supported. I agree with you that Tyson had to many people in that department. I do know that CTSS’s were not doing tech work as much as they were doing others things like bus duty, office duty and CRCT test proctoring. I was on a tech committee with MIS for the tech plan and let me tell you they are headed in the right direction. I heard they are piloting a new support model and have the data to back up why they really dont need al those CTSS’s. Lets wait and see.

  22. Dekalb Taxpayer says:

    Sounds right. DeKalb has 1446 (504 administrators and 942 support) personnel who have teaching certificates and NEVER teach a child. They supervise and support 6,136 full time teachers and 484 part time teachers.

    BTW – that leaves almost 7,000 other employees who are not certified in teaching who are employed by DeKalb Schools.

    So we have around 6,500 employees who teach kids (only around 6,000 full time) and around 8,500 other employees who do not teach kids.

    And parents wonder why their children are in classrooms with 33 or 34 other students?

    To verify these numbers go to:
    (Click on the Personnel and fiscal tab)

  23. justwatch says:

    At the elementary schools I am familiar with, there is no secretary for the APs. There is a secretary and a bookkeeper. I know the middle and high schools are different.

  24. GTCO-ATL says:

    SIX groundskeepers and they can’t walk across the street to help the elementary school pick up the garbage off the grounds or figure out how to close their windows? Absolutely pathetic. It’s bad enough to be paying out high salaries to multiple people for a single position, but then to realize that they aren’t even collectively doing a good job… wow… what a terrible statement that makes about the adults in this entire area. I’m ashamed for them.

  25. GTCO-ATL says:

    what do you mean by bloated in assistant principals? Are you saying some schools have more than one??

  26. GTCO-ATL says:

    Did anyone here ever have a ‘coach’ for anything in school that wasn’t a sport?
    And did you still graduate okay? For that matter, did anyone here ever have a “nanotorium” at their school?? There are some messed up priorities around here.

  27. September says:

    I disagree. It depends on the school you are visiting. Yes, sometimes principals assigned non-tech tasks to the CTSS. Keep in mind that everyone assigned to a school may find themselves doing tasks that are not related to their jobs. If you look carefully, you will see principals, media specialists, counselors, and specialists doing lunch duty, bus duty, and car duty.

  28. GTCO-ATL says:

    Sorry Screwed, so many of our hearts go out to you and those in your position. And, a large part it because we know that it is often the teachers like yourself who have only a few years into the profession who are actually the ones the nicest to our children because you haven’t been jaded by this mess.

  29. September says:

    What has happened in the past is that when contracts come out a teacher who is not getting a contract will receive a letter instead. The letter explains why the contract is not being issued at this time.

  30. justwatch says:

    This area was a big friends and family hiring pool.

    I have heard they are also increasing the minimum job requirements which is a brilliant move.

  31. Teacher Reader says:

    Ned, it’s easy to fudge the numbers on any of the “assessments” used to get a child into the gifted program. The assessments are easy to fudge to get children into gifted and it happens quite frequently.

  32. A natatorium is, simply put, an indoor swimming pool. My high school did not have one, but, then, we did not have a swim team, either. The swimming pool to be built at Chamblee Charter High School is replacing the old one that will be torn down with the rest of the building. (I have no idea if that makes sense or if using the old one could have and should have been part of the plan.) DeKalb County School System has 3 indoor swimming pools that accommodate swim team practices and swim meets for all DCSS high schools.

    My question: Is DCSS going to make Turner Construction build the pool for the accepted bid price since it was clearly part of the RFP?

  33. Teacher Reader says:

    As a former teacher, not being tied down to a school district so early would have been a blessing, and something that I would have used to my advantage to try and get the heck out of DCSS. When the contracts are out in February, teachers complain that they are tied down too early, and now they complain because it wasn’t early enough. Teachers can’t have it both ways.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I’m not sure if we can trust those numbers. Dr. Atkinson has already said that several positions that were coded as central office were actually school based positions. Just because one does not teach a child does not mean they aren’t providing value to the learning process.

  35. Dekalb Taxpayer says:

    Yes. That would be be the special education lead teachers, coaches (not to be confused with the Instructional Coaches), and coordinators (not to be confused with the Instructional Coordinators). There are 90+ DeKalb Special Ed Lead Teachers, Coaches and Coordinators (termed Special Education Specialists on the Salary and Travel audit) serving 130+ schools costing $8,000,000+ a year in salary and benefits. They are in charge of paperwork for the special education program and never teach a single child.

    By contrast, Gwinnett Schools has 20+ Special Education Specialists serving 130+ schools costing them around $1,7000,000.

    DeKalb has 7,500+ Special Education students while Gwinnett has 16,000+ Special Education students.

    These Special Education Specialists have never reported to principals in the schoolhouse so they have always been considered Central Office personnel. Contrasting this group of personnel (90+) with Gwinnett numbers (20+) and their respective costs, perhaps there is room for some β€œrightsizing” in this cost center.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Good post! As I understand, the special education lead teachers help with a lot of the federal compliance paperwork required for special needs students. I don’t disagree, this area should be looked at for ‘rightsizing’, as long as the reductions don’t overburden the teachers with the paperwork, that take time from the classroom.

  37. Anom says:

    Remember, Dr. Eugene Walker was the ONLY Board Member to vote AGAINST eliminating these school house downsizing..firings..whatever it is called. Atkinson needs to go. The South will suffer while Chamblee gets an 80 million dollar school. Sad, Sad, Sad! Where did this little loss lady come from? The Board should resign!!

  38. anothercomment says:

    I grew up in a top 10 state in a small 1 high school district. Both my high school and middle school had a natarium. They both had olympic size pools. I was shocked when I moved down here and discovered that most of the schools don’t have pools. We even had a syncronized swimming team in middle school that I was on. In Middle School the coaches had me teach any 6th graders that did not know how to swim when they reached 6th grade. I did this in 7th and 8th grade. I learned how to swim in our acre pond. You did not hear about the the drownings like down here.

  39. GTCO-ATL says:

    Wow, that’s unreal! Btw, do you know what “Resource” means as a department at an elementary school? When the staff was introduced at our school the largest group was this Resource unit and we had no idea what they do. I never once saw the school counselor in her office either and I was there twice a week. We also desparately needed bilingual support but only had one person available for the entire school. Those poor kids were so in the dark b/c they didn’t understand English. How can they be expected to keep up with the ohters and, at the same time, how is it fair to hold the rest of the class back b/c these kids are not ready for public school in this environment?

  40. anothercomment says:

    Walker only voted to save his own Family and Friends. Anom, might you be one of Walker’s Family and Friends?

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