Sen. Fran Millar Criticizes DeKalb Schools

Senate Education and Youth Committee Chairman Fran Millar (R-Atlanta) lashed out Monday at the DeKalb County school board for failing to put a priority on rebuilding the school system’s tapped out reserves.

“This is nuts. And next year’s not going to be any better. If they don’t rebuild the surplus, I’ll talk to SACS,” said Millar, referring to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the major school accrediting agency.

In combination with other cuts they are considering, the school board needs to reduce the salaries of most employees by five to 10 percent, Millar said.

He said the two-mill tax increase that’s been suggested would be detrimental to DeKalb homeowners, a disproportionate number of whom are upside down on their mortgages.

That type of a tax increase also would likely kill the chances of the transportation tax, which is on the ballot for July, Millar said.

Read more at the Patch, “Sen. Fran Millar Criticizes DeKalb Schools”

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73 Responses to Sen. Fran Millar Criticizes DeKalb Schools

  1. Miss Management says:

    Fran is right! A property tax increase is not the answer.

    A 10% pay cut across the board for salaries over $80,798.40* would go a long way! And make that cut permanent. 712 people make more than this. Their salaries total $66,978,786.36. Add 30% for benefits and the cost becomes $87,072,422.27. A 10% cut would save $8.7 million. But the superintendent and the majority of our board prefer putting the screws to the already socked taxpayer to continue to pay these high salaries.

    (*According to DSW, $80,798.40 is the top salary on the current salary schedule for certified teachers with experience and a doctoral degree. Classroom teachers — and master teachers — should be the highest paid employees in DCSS aside from their principal. Central office support staff is exactly that — SUPPORT – and should not be paid more than those whom they claim to ‘support’.)

    To try this on your own,

    Go to the Open.Georgia.gov website and find your way to the salaries for DCSS for 2011. Download the whole thing as an Excel doc (or csv or whatever that can be opened with Excel) … Then sort it in a variety of ways – Like salary – it’s SO EASY!

  2. justwatch says:

    Fran is nuts about cutting teacher’s salaries. They are the most important people in the system. Yes make cuts not just in salaries, but in positions at the central office.. And frankly, most voters in DeKalb don’t pay enough attention to correlate a property tax raise with the T-splost vote. They just aren’t that smart.

  3. Miss Management says:

    Actually, I agree – I wouldn’t cut the teachers — just people over that max I stated above. Very few of them are teachers.

  4. Dedicated Dekalb Teacher says:

    I’m sorry, but a 5-10% cut in my pay is hard to swallow. I work hard, I challenge students, and I get excellent results. I have been teaching for 18 years, and have no intention of leaving. I love my job. However, I don’t want to be carrying the shortfalls of management on my shoulders, when I do all that is asked of me and more.

    Already, I am going to have to pay more for health insurance, and if a tax increase also gets approved, I will be hit again for owning a home. It hardly seems fair.

    Sorry Senator, but I do not agree.

  5. Dunwoody Mom says:

    I have 2 issues with Senator Millar’s opinions. #1 – No teacher should have their salary decreased – period, the end. #2 – Many parents that I know, myself included, have written SACS (AdvancedEd) many times about this Board of Education. Guess what? Nothing has been done. Why does Senator Millar think he can get further than the many, many parents who have contacted AdvancedEd?

  6. Miss Management says:

    I agree with you Dunwoody Mom! SACS has shown NO sign that they have ANY intention of taking action. SACS is not about improving schools and student achievement. SACS is about creating a public image that makes it ‘seem’ like we have board leadership that gets along. Period. That’s it. Now, pay up those dues!

  7. SACS is a lost cause. I still do not understand how a for-profit company like AdvancED can tell clients to pay up or not be accredited.

  8. The Deal says:

    SACS is a complete joke. Nancy Jester has done some research on alternate accrediting agencies. That is why she is introducing the idea of cutting back SACS to accredit only high schools. With enough support, she could be willing to request that we drop SACS altogether and be accredited by the other agency in Georgia (based in Athens, don’t know the name off-hand). If this is an idea you support, you need to let Nancy and Don M know because they are willing to start making noise about it.

  9. Dawg93 says:

    We attended the “coffee talk” in Dunwoody with Nancy, Pam & Don last Friday night – they discussed the problems they have with SACS and also discussed a possible change in accrediting agency. Based on what they said about SACS, Fran Millar will get nowhere with them re: DeKalb’s budget woes.

  10. The Deal says:

    This must be the one she was talking about: http://www.coe.uga.edu/gac/index.html.

    It might be a good idea to get away from the very politically connected and involved SACS, make a bold statement for the good of our children, and sign with this agency.

  11. You mean to say a Georgia University offers accreditation services… wow.. Mr. Elghart, SACS spokesperson, that’s right Ms. Elghart you are NO educator, has some explaining to do . You run a service by which you threaten a systems accreditation, unless they buy your companies products, and then go on camera and create headlines. plus, you threaten the very BOE’s that approve the money you MAKE! How much do you make on each AdvancED purchase, Mr. Elghart….

    SACS needs to go down, this is the pure misuse of public funds! OUR FUNDS! What does SACS have to show for DCSS…. a failing system that continues to pay for a product that shows NO return except that the High School Kids who graduate can go on the college of their choice! This is ridiculous! SACS is no non-profit folks!

    Is Mr Elghart elected to run our BOE, who hired Elghart to be a hired gun… Geez, this is like Godfather all over again, but it involves OUR kids education. Nancy go get SACS OUT of DCSS! I will stand right behind you as you take SACS out of DCSS. Our states own education system has an accrediting agency, who knew…… {question mark key is broken}

  12. Dawg93 says:

    Thanks for that link – there are a ton of schools in Georgia (both public & private) that are accredited by the GAC according to their website. Assuming this is the one, I wonder if Nancy has reached out to some of the school systems that use GAC to see how happy they are with them. I also wonder what it would take for DCSS to actually make that change in agencies, given how tied-in they are with SACS. Not only who initiates that change but also approves it. Is that up to the board? Or DCSS administration? I’m new to a lot of these issues since our oldest is only at the pre-K level, so pardon the dumb questions. Being a 1988 Redan HS grad, I’m appalled at how much the DCSS has gone downhill since my time in the system.

  13. Educator688 says:

    DeKalb Dedicated Teacher and Dunwoody Mom. I agree with both of you and others who say teachers’ salaries should not be cut any further. The BOE and superintendent should cut a percentage of the salaries of those people making more than $80,000.00 a year. The duplicate central office jobs in the county should be cut immediately. Give those people who may loose their jobs a chance to apply for other openings in DeKalb and other school systems before the fall. Other school systems may have openings.

  14. tomthall@hotmail.com says:

    Amen Educator688! Why aren’t more people complaining about this board paying TWO superintendent salaries… Romona is still making over $200,000 for what??? They have robbed the students and teachers of this district ENOUGH!!! I, too, am an educator and am SICK of taking the hit for the mismanagement of these non-mental giants! UGH!

  15. justwatch says:

    In many (most?) places, the only pubic schools that are accredited are high schools, as most colleges require graduation from an accredited high school. So an easy place to cut expenses is to only accredit our high schools — regardless of the agency.
    I wish SACs had done to DeKalb what it did to Atlanta and Clayton. I suspect we would be better off, Clayton seems to be.

  16. Wondering says:

    Thanks to the DCSS Board I have experienced hell and its prevailing misery. It has taken me a while to respond to the most pitiful display of unprofessional behavior demonstrated there. That mess was filled with irony, incompetence, disorder, and stupidity. The experience was actually surreal. On more than one occasion, I actually attempted to awake myself from what surely must have been a nightmare. Unfortunately, it was real, and it was pitifully sad. I have actually shed tears over the abysmal state of affairs in the DCSS.

    What reasonable person would acknowledge a devastating deficit on one hand, and on the other hand request outlandish amounts of money for one position and still millions for an unproven assessment program? I found the actions to be callous and arrogant. They were very Maria Antoinette like. (The schools have no “bread”, but some will still get to eat cake).

    This arrogance is again displayed by the number of high paying non-student contact jobs advertised on PATS. https://pats.dekalb.k12.ga.us/. Unbelievable!

  17. Nigel says:

    There are 3275 employees listed making more than 60k. With some teachers, the most important employees, making in the 30k range, progressive salary cuts seem justified. Cutting the 2011 salaries 60k and up by 10%, for example, would save $24.3 million. If we don’t want to cut teacher salaries, cuts could begin at 50k, or even at 40k, for all non-teaching positions.
    What really bothers me is the appearance that Atkinson and her staff are not up to speed enough to be proposing wise cuts to programs this year. On Monday she asked the board to approve cuts she’d only introduced 8 hours earlier, which seems either incompetant or underhanded on her part. Given the confusion and late date, I think the board should ask for across the board cuts and wait until next year to make rational changes to the system.

  18. Nigel says:

    I just posted this above as well:
    There are 3275 employees listed making more than 60k. With some teachers, the most important employees, making in the 30k range, progressive salary cuts seem justified. Cutting the 2011 salaries 60k and up by 10%, for example, would save $24.3 million. If we don’t want to cut teacher salaries, cuts could begin at 50k, or even at 40k, for all non-teaching positions.
    What really bothers me is the appearance that Atkinson and her staff are not up to speed enough to be proposing wise cuts to programs this year. On Monday she asked the board to approve cuts she’d only introduced 8 hours earlier, which seems either incompetant or underhanded on her part. Given the confusion and late date, I think the board should ask for across the board cuts and wait until next year to make rational changes to the system.

  19. Most of the Clew Crew is still there… WHY??? Beasley. really??? In charge of Race to the Top funds… Unreal! Has he missed any Federal deadlines? Teachers should not have another cent taken from them. However, I am still waiting of the Clew Crew to be shown the door. Atkinson must have enough of her own folks hired by now.. Ms. Tyson resign.. do what’s good for the children, OUR children….

  20. bu2 says:

    The teachers have already had their salaries cut with the furlough days.
    And 10% is pretty steep for everyone else on such short notice. They need to make tough decisions on what positions are essential, not just discourage everyone by cutting everyone’s pay. Every little bit helps. Maybe they could cut the board’s travel budget.

  21. dekalbite2 says:

    You all do realize that to get around the idea that secretaries are paid more than teachers, they retitled the executive secretaries Office Specialists and are paying them $45,808.80 to $63,808.00. Go to PATS and click “view by job families” (left hand menu bar):
    https://pats.dekalb.k12.ga.us/

    This is the new title for an executive secretary for the upper management personnel since the last time they tried to pay high salaries for an executive secretary it made the AJC. The pay is a little less, but they have already hired these “Office Specialists” for a couple of other upper management personnel:
    http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2011/11/11/dekalb-teacher-why-is-county-hiring-a-secretary-at-an-annual-salary-of-53186-to-72285-good-question/

  22. Fed Up with DCSS says:

    The new 12 mil short fall not being a surprise to the board is certainly not the impression they gave the public on Monday night when the budget was tabled. Somebody is playing games with the public. They gave everybody seated in that room the impression that they were suprised at the reported figures that Mr. Perrone, the CFO for DCSS, gave during his report. Copeland-Wood even asked that he give it to them in writing before they meet. If they already had it, why would she ask for it. As a tax payer, parent, and employee I feel lied to. Don’t play games with peoples’ lives. This whole board needs to be wiped clean.

    And why is Romona Tyson still making $237,000, and what is her job title? Between she and Dr. Atkinson, that’s a half million right there. While the board argued about thier travel expense accounts, the question should be why do they have one with the magnitude of the budget crisis. They make enough to pay for thier expenses out of thier checks like everyone else. The rest of us can’t afford to travel. All of those extra perks we are paying for should be used for the schools and the people who do the real work

  23. dekalbite2 says:

    @bu2
    “Maybe they could cut the board’s travel budget.”

    Why not cut everyone’s travel budget? Ms. Tyson reinstated many of the travel budgets this past year that had been cut in 2010-2011. DCSS spent $1,500,000+ in the 2010-2011 school year. The latest year’s travel figures are not out yet, but I’ll bet they are higher. What kind of a travel budget should DeKalb have when they are eliminating hundreds of teaching positions?

  24. wiserthanmyself says:

    I don’t think you can just set an arbitrary cut-off point to cut pay above…how would you decide what that point should be? But, your main point is really important: hearing the random nature of proposals, including Dr. A’s proposals about Fernbank, released just that morning to the AJC, confirmed how in chaos our “leaders” are.

  25. booksrkool says:

    I don’t think that the Board knew. Did you see Mr. Walker’s face. Perhaps Mr. Perrone knew and he was waiting on something more concrete.

  26. The Deal says:

    Perrone had only found out, at most, a few hours before the meeting because he didn’t know about it at the budget meeting that morning.

  27. The Deal says:

    Just contact Nancy and Don McChesney and let them know you are in support of their investigating another agency. I’m sure there are political connections they are up against, but let them know you are in support of it.

  28. The Deal says:

    AMG, just let Nancy hear from you. She is up against a lot of opposition and needs to know which issues we are aware of and support.

  29. melaniestef says:

    There is definately a lack of transparency and trust in this school system. Woods must go. He is terrible. He talks too much and put a spin on a fact to make it a complete lie. This is more than the property tax assessment, which is bad. How much money have we paid for outside consultants who are freinds with the new administration? Why are we recruiting folf from Charollete- Meck. to come here and paying their moving expenses?

  30. Miss Management says:

    I guess you must ask too many questions, AMG!
    LOL

  31. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Uh, wait a minute. The parents of this school system have been screaming for Burrell to get off his butt and take notice and step in, it’s in the county’s collective best interest. He hasn’t said a word. Along comes Fran who has been in an around this school system and how it was working withing the last 10 years. Why does this nonsense surprise him? This sounds like some constituents have reached out to him and he had to say something. He knows he can’t do anything. but if he thinks that SACS will listen to him, let him join the ranks of folks that have emailed, called SACS. C’mon Fran, why are you waiting, pick up the phone. Why issue a hollow threat…we want you to go ahead and make that call. Now.

  32. anothercomment says:

    Cobb had 7 Asst Principal Positions posted last week. Amazing since they were reducing 350 teachers through attrition.

  33. DeKalb Observer says:

    Well, DM, like many of us DSW veterans once did, Fran mistakenly thinks SACS is actually about the business of school improvement. I would love for him to approach SACS, if only so a vociferous elected official realizes that there is no remedy there. I hope he gets really, really hacked off. Then he might take it further up the flagpole – like to Governor Deal, perhaps. That truly is the only hope for this school system – a state takeover by people who understand what is at risk in DeKalb and do not have an interest in preserving status quo so their grown children, cousins, in laws, and siblings continue to draw a salary from the school system. SACS is SUPPOSED to ensure school systems are fiscally responsible – that is one of the areas they monitor and make recommendations about. But of course, they continue to fiddle while Rome burns.

  34. DeKalb Observer says:

    melaniestef: to your comment “Why are we recruiting folf from Charollete- Meck” which I have entered into my Google Translator to mean: “Why are we recruiting FOLKS from Charlotte-Mecklinburg:” Do you also ascribe to Donna Edler’s expansive world view – that we should hire only residents of DeKalb? You do realize, do you not, that the incestuousness of this school system is part of what has driven it into the ground. We need good people, untainted by DeKalb corruption.

  35. anothercomment says:

    While I fully appreciate that teachers are underpaid. I personally feel that the good ones should be paid $100,000 +. ( Not the ones who go to inferior schools and can not speak proper English; eg. use “ax” for the word “ask”. I will correct you, it is not a Southern thing.) There are some positions, in some area’s that the pay listed will not obtain a highly qualified individual. They may only end up with someone on the take again, unless they have someone already receiving a pension. The Director of Facilities, position is listed as $85,000 to $112,000. They are looking for someone to be over basically all of the Engineering and Facilities Services, the Staff and Contracts for 155 buildings. They are looking for someone who has had over 5 + years past experience managing multiple facilities , with engineering, architectural experience, knowledge of budgeting, local, state and federal regulations. They also should be familiar with HVAC, Plumbing, Controls, Custodial, Grounds maintence, etc…. They do say you can have an Educational or finance degree, however, those with those type of degrees would not have the Facilities knowledge. They want you to join and be certified by one of the Facilities manager organizations within one year of being hired. This is an extremely low salary for someone with all this experience being required. Just a Project Manager in Facilites Management for the Federal Government is a GS-13, They make up to about $100K with experience of 15 years or so. That is without all of the Management responsibilty. Deputy or Assistant Directors make up to $122k or so. Where Directors in the Federal Gov. make from $120 to $155k and they don’t have to worry about the politics like in Dekalb. In the Private Sector and Engineer in Facilties Management with that many Facilities would make $225-250k plus bonuses easy. Good Facilites Staff can save you alot of money. Bad Fake Engineer’s like Pat Reid Pope can cost Millions of Dollars.

    A good intelligent facilities staff will be proactive, they will implement energy savings in concert with the utilites at little to no upfront cost and save hundreds of thousands of dollars. A good intelligent facillities staff will value engineer projects to make sure the owner is getting the best value for their money. That means the best value over the life cycle of the project, 10, 20, 30 years.

  36. Mystified about Everything says:

    Plus aren’t additional furlough days effectively a salary cut for teachers?

  37. Mystified about Everything says:

    Can someone please tell me why Tyson is still here?

  38. Nigel says:

    I seem to recall a few years ago the system implemented a 2% cut for all salaries over 100k. Does anyone else remember this?

  39. melaniestef says:

    Be Ware…All that sparkles AIN’t Gold! Compare Apples to Applesa. The quality of the new folk are sub-par to the ones they replaced. Poor grammer, bullying attitudes and lack of proven records!… Hello! I am all for improved leadership fro a national pool of applicates but not relocating freinds from Charlotte- Meck to Dekalb because they drink your kool-aide. Give me quality, professionalism and a record of success and I could care less where you come from! Don’t be blind-sided by perception and spin. The truth will come out …and soon. Lord, help the children.

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