Board scheduled for FY2013 budget meeting Wednesday afternoon


***Thursday, Wednesday, June 20, 2012

J. David Williamson Board Room
Robert R. Freeman Administrative Center
Administrative & Instructional Complex
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
Stone Mountain, Georgia 30083

This meeting will be streamed online, NOT televised.

We sent an e-mail to EVERY board member, Walter Woods, and Superintendent Atkinson asking if this critically important board meeting would be streamed and/or televised.  Their silence says a lot.  NO RESPONSE from the people who are elected by us and paid a salary by us.

By the way, how much is Margaret Francois paid to make errors?
1. Approval of DeKalb County School District Budget for 2012-2013 (FY2013)
Presented by: Mr. Michael J. Perrone, Chief Financial Officer, Division of Finance

*** NOTE – this is a typo that was on the meeting agenda sent out via email from the board secretary. The meeting is actually on WEDNESDAY, June 20 at 1:00 PM.

The Proposed Budget Cuts:

Proposed budget cuts DCSS FY2013 – Click to view larger

The REAL Proposed Budget Cuts – Click to View Larger

: (Hidden Rows Revealed!)

About dekalbschoolwatch

Hosting a dialogue among parents, educators and community members focused on improving our schools and providing a quality, equitable education for each of our nearly 100,000 students. ~ "ipsa scientia potestas est" ~ "Knowledge itself is power"
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323 Responses to Board scheduled for FY2013 budget meeting Wednesday afternoon

  1. Dawg93 says:

    LOL – seriously, did they send out an announcement that it was Thursday the 20th? My faith in anything related to the management of DCSS just gets worse by the day.

  2. Rae says:

    The DCSS website states:
    Called Meeting 6/20/2012 – 1:00 PM
    J. David Williamson Board Room, Administrative & Instructional Complex 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain, Georgia 30083
    Meeting Agenda
    D. ACTION ITEM 1. DeKalb County School System Proposed Budget for 2012-2013 (FY2013)

  3. We copied and pasted from the agenda sent out via email by the board secretary. It used the word “Approval” –

    1. Approval of DeKalb County School District Budget for 2012-2013 (FY2013)
    Presented by: Mr. Michael J. Perrone, Chief Financial Officer, Division of Finance

  4. jnj says:

    Will this meeting be streamed live on the Internet?

  5. You are correct! The agenda they sent said Thursday – it also said “Approve” the budget. Now people say it’s Wednesday and it’s “Proposed” budget. Who knows? At any rate, apparently they are meeting on Wednesday, June 20.

  6. Dawg93 says:

    I remember from their last meeting that it was tabled until the 20th. I see the correction to the day noted above, so looks like this has been cleared up.

    Of course, I’m not expecting anything final to be decided tomorrow anyway!!

  7. ALSO… From Crossroads: DeKalb County School Board members are inviting constituents to weigh in on the district’s proposed budget. A Town Hall meeting will be held (tonight) Tuesday (June 19?? – it says the 20th, but they must mean the 19th), 6:30 p.m., at Columbia High School, 2106 Columbia Drive, Decatur.

    The meeting is being hosted by School Board chair Eugene Walker, board members Sarah Copelin-Wood, Donna Elder and Jay Cunningham.

    “We’re looking for solutions. This is not a gripe session,” said Cunningham, who is helping to promote the meeting. “We don’t have any answers. We will be listenening.” (great, no answers and they vote tomorrow??? sheesh!)

    The School Board is scheduled to vote on the budget on Wednesday. It is suggested that you arrive early to be placed on the list to speak at the Town Hall meeting.

  8. from the K12 emails? They must have taken us off that list! nice.

  9. Dunwoody Mom says:

    The “Patch” networks plan to live blog the meeting. But, it should absolutely be televised. Not that I could watch it at work anyway.

  10. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    No. Directly from the board sec. The body of the email was correct, but the actual agenda that was attached was incorrect. So, we all now know it’s tomorrow – Wednesday. 1:00.

  11. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    Don’t know. Doubt it.

  12. justwatch says:

    no not through the k12 emails, the notices come from the board secretary, Margaret Francois, you can email her and ask her to add you to the notification list..

  13. Fandango says:

    Has anyone seen a budget adjustment with the new figures/cuts?

  14. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    Anyone who has been paying attention the last few years will notice that we have had to revisit budget cuts every single year – and the last two years to the tune of $100 million! That said, one has to wonder if the cuts ordered by the board were ever really enacted. Something strange is going on with the ‘books’.

    Click on our TAB at the top labeled “FACTS & SOURCES”. Pull down to “AUDITS & BUDGETS”. View or download some of the items we have stored here. Curious: Last year, we went round and round with the same kind of budget cut discussions. In the end, the board voted to make over $30 million in cuts to the 2010-11 budget, and $100 million in cuts to the 2011-12 budget. Now, they’re saying we need to cut yet another $70-$85 million for 2012-13. But oddly, when you compare the budgets, in the document labeled “Budget Detail” found in the Audits & Budgets” tab, the total budgets ring up as below:

    2010 – $836,598,734, 201 (actual)
    2011 – $807,823,774 (actual)
    2012 – $774,598,089 (budget)
    2012 – $799,259,065 (projected)
    2013 – $801,402,815 (budget)

    So – where are all of the supposed “cuts” that were made? In total, we are not that far from our 2010 budget, but that budget included a one-time $42,460,080 ARRA federal grant. So it’s basically the same. We’ve stayed the same!! Not only that, enrollment has DECREASED during this time and buildings have closed and consolidated! Where are the savings?

    “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”

    Sir Winston Churchill

  15. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    They have posted an Excel spreadsheet on the Meeting Home Page for the BOE. We will upload a jpg for you all to view. It looks to be the same document as last week. Here is the line item text:


    To provide a consolidated operating budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2012 and ending June 30, 2013.

    Quick Summary / Abstract
    Presented by: Mr. Michael J. Perrone, Chief Financial Officer, Division of Finance

    Financial Impact

    General Operations – $759,706,033
    Special Revenue – $95,146,114

    Debt Service – $52,439,750
    Capital Outlay – $149,290,048
    Food Service and Athletics – $54,013,769

    Trust and Agency – $19,625,500

    Mr. Michael J. Perrone, Chief Financial Officer, Division of Finance, 678.676.0069
    Department of Budgets, 678.676.0025

    Supporting Documents

    Proposed Budget Cuts FY 2013

    Requested Action
    It is requested that the Board of Education adopt the DeKalb County School System Budget for fiscal year 2012-2013 (FY2013).

    Motion by: ______________
    Seconded by: ____________
    Vote: __________

    Implementation Date(s)
    July 1, 2012

  16. Fandango says:

    Thank you,
    Found it.

  17. Fandango says:

    What is really sad is that I more than halfway believe that last week’s budget will be this week’s “new” budget, and that they found there was a mistake, we aren’t out another $10,000,000.
    And now we should all be relieved that there aren’t even more cuts.

  18. justwatch says:

    More bad news from DeKalb, in terms of the tax digest, another 700+ homes have been automatically reassessed after the tax assessor found mistakes. This time mostly Dunwoody but other parts of N. DeKalb as well. Information can be found here:

  19. That IS bad. They had over-valued these DeKalb properties by a total of $67,067,825 (by INCREASING these property values – really – whose property INCREASED in value last year?) That’s going to be a big hit to the tax projection.

  20. A South DeKalb Parent says:

    I’m sorry if I am late to the game with this question, but is Success For All (SFA) listed anywhere in the budget or will it be included vaguely in “supplies”? As a former DeKalb teacher and a teacher who has taught SFA in another state, I know that it is an expensive program with a LOT of pre-printed/scripted materials and books. Has anyone stated where will the funds come from to pay for this program and its launch into the schools when we are making so many other cuts?

  21. Concerned Biologist says:

    I have the same question – even in the “detailed” budget, there is an astounding lack of transparency.

  22. justwatch says:

    The budget that they are working on now, doesn’t include Title 1 expenditures — and that is where Success For All expenses are coming from. I hate to say this, but Dr. Atkinson has not been straight forward with the Board about how expensive of a program this is and how much Title 1 funding will be used for it.
    Title 1 money cannot make up for the cuts or the budget deficit we are facing.

  23. That is exactly why we continue to advocate that DeKalb Schools post the Check Register Online. School systems all around the country are doing this – it’s elevated the trust with taxpayers exponentially. Ask your board rep to consider posting DeKalb’s check register online.

  24. Fandango says:

    Well that’s a freaking mess. There is a house on that list that is right around the corner from me at 4,000 square feet to my 1,300, 5 baths to my two, built in 2007 to my date of 1968, and it’s now only $10,000 more than mine? Another one in the neighborhood is bigger, 35 years newer, and is now $100,000 LESS than mine. Both lots are the same size as mine but $50,000 less. Something is very very wrong with these.

  25. Hmmm says:

    I thought we were 83m short? And this budget is also dated 5/29? Is this the most recent one? Finally, anyone know what cut pre-k means? Just the additional that dekalb funds? My child got into the lottery and I am wondering if I need to be looking for other options.

    I hope some of the new school board candidates will help reign in our new super and the central office. If not, I am scared how bad it could become. I though we were already at rock bottom, but I have a feeling after seeing all of these escapades, we may have some more.

  26. A South DeKalb Parent says:

    I am finding it to be difficult to compare the previous budget spreadsheets to the new budget categories the district is currently using. I’ve been keeping an ongoing spreadsheet of DCSS budgets since FY2006 and it is nearly impossible to match up categories.

    Sorry for more questions, but how will there be that much of a savings from cutting the Montessori program? Will all of those teachers be fired (after signing contracts)? Those students will still have to be taught and those teachers will still be (presumably) working, so where is the cost savings of more than a million dollars to be had? I can see some savings, but nowhere near what they are proposing. Along those lines, what will be done with the hundreds upon thousands of dollars in Montessori supplies that will no longer be needed/utilized?

    Speaking of fired teachers, have all of the international teachers been laid off? Have their positions already been filled (with existing teachers, I presume, in order to actually see the savings)? That is $5 mil that is listed in FY12 but $0 for FY13. Have we already counted that savings in the budget?

    Also, how will funds be saved in transportation for field trips? When I taught in DeKalb, we had to pay for buses for any field trip we took other than when attending the free Fernbank field trips (where we ALWAYS went to the planetarium… always, always, always… my students hated hearing we were going to Fernbank). Are they planning on cutting transportation for Fernbank field trips?

    I did see that the Board’s budget increases by $3 million from FY12 to 13 (I did not realize their budget was in the millions…). I can see that $2 mil is from moving the various branches of ROTC under the Board’s category, but what is the other ~$1 mil in increases?

    I hate when I have more questions about a budget than answers. Thanks for letting me vent them here.

    I’m still waiting on a plan where they take at least 200 people from the central office (anyone who has ever had a teaching certificate) and physically put them in school buildings assisting students. From my keyboard to God’s eyes/ears.

  27. bettyandveronica1 says:

    the increases to the board and supt are supposed to be lawyer fees…professional services.

  28. Disgusted DeKalb Teacher says:

    Is there any use in asking what will happen to the 100 pre k teachers and 100 pre k paras? Are they just out of a job? I’ve been wondering if cutting pre k is a way to fire 200 teachers/paras without coming out and saying so.

  29. Nepotism says:

    No Hope with thinking the new Superintendent and her people have come to really change the nepotism with family members at all. Someone please make an attempt to explain to me how did several family members get rehire back into the Technology Department over 20 others who were let go. The family member Guthrie was rehired back. The Guthrie family has a long list of family members within the system, with one being the secretary to Director of Human Resources. Wow, get this as well as the Human Resources Director Taskeiha Ward-Smith’s sister was just rehire in the Technology Dept. Then the wife of one of the many Managers in the I.T. Dept. was also rehired. By the way, the top heavy salaries of the I.T. Dept. was not touched by the eliminations at all. Also how did Ward-Smith receive the promotion to the Human Resources Director position. Because her Mother was the twenty year secretary to Ramona Tyson. It is still all a family affair people. When will someone stand up and change these unfair, unethical behaviors.

  30. More Questions says:

    Do the teachers have contracts? The contracts aren’t complete until the county signs them, which I don’t think has happened. Until then, all they have to do is take contracts out of the stack.

    As for Montessori, my understanding is that they have smaller class sizes – since the teachers have students across multiple grades – and that they can continue to offer Montessori instruction but will have a typical class size, which I believe will make it very difficult to continue to offer a quality Montessori education.

  31. Dunwoody Mom says:

    Pre-K is not going away, it is going to be funded at the state level. From what I’ve read, it may mean 10 less days in a school year for Pre-K students.

  32. justwatch says:

    The Montessori program can stay — the principal just has to use their teacher resources that they have in the building. Apparently each school that is Montessori is Title 1, so that helps a bit.
    First, DeKalb has reportedly had attrition of 700ish teachers and that was a month ago. More have left since, I am sure. The expectation is that most teachers can be absorbed. However, keep in mind, that in GA, school systems have all the power when it comes to teacher contracts. A few years ago in Gwinnett when their actual enrollment was less than their projected enrollment , Gwinnett let teachers go after the school year started. Again, though I am hearing that there has been a lot of attrition, I don’t think the system is expecting to lay off teachers.

  33. John Hope says:

    Sounds like you want to tar and feather all of those that happen to be related to another employee in the school system rather than determining whether you have the best employees going forward. Face it, personal references and connections, whether it is for a family or friend, is how hiring works in both the private and public industry. Even the Harvard Business School acknowledges and teaches that.

    The key is to make sure someone unqualified isn’t hired over more qualified candidates, solely based on connections. When you find situations like this, you have a clear case to fire someone. Getting rid of someone only based on a family relationship, especially if everything has been open about the hiring, could result in legal action. Everyone should note that there is probably more employee litigation in school systems that we don’t hear about due to privacy rules than anything else.

  34. John Hope says:

    I thought I heard it would go away from DCSD, as Cobb did a few years ago as a cost savings. This would allow the private vendors to provide the services. In addition to savings with staff, this would also open up 1-2 classrooms in schools that have Pre-K. Pre-K for special needs students could remain. Regardless, I hope this is made clear during the meeting today so parents can plan accordingly.

  35. justwatch says:

    The cost to DeKalb, besides the use of the classrooms, is in the fact that the system is paying teachers and paras more that the state reimburses — in some cases a lot more, and the state pays Paras about 1/3rd less than DCSS starts paras out at. During the last budget crisis, when Tyson wanted to place the pre-k staff salaries at the state level, the Board’s budget committee couldn’t reconcile having two pay scales in one building. This time, I think there is no choice. Add to that the fact, that this year pre-k was only funded 160 days and DCSS did 180 and well, you get the picture. Next year, pre-k is only funded 170 days, so the system will need to limit the program to that.
    In most parts of DeKalb, there is no time for the private sector to absorb these children. I am not even sure Bright from The Start, the group that certifies pre-k programs for the state, could get 100 classes certified by Sept. In my community, the day care centers are full. They have no physical space to add classrooms.
    The advocacy surrounding Fernbank has effectively drowned out the few parents who realize that pre-k is on the chopping block. If it totally goes away, 2000 or so families will be impacted. That is huge.

  36. justwatch says:

    Are you planning on appealing your assessment? Sounds like you should…

  37. Dunwoody Mom says:

    Yep and the local media has played right into the hands of the FSC supporters. All we hear on the local news when the discussion turns to DeKalb Schools Budget is that Fernbank is on the chopping block – very little to nothing about other items. It’s a shame really.

  38. John Hope says:

    This goes back directly to the post by Mpaza S. Kapembwa about political power. Because the Fernbank advocates are influencing and maybe controlling the media, other important issues that could impact far more people are not getting attention. I think this also contributes to the suspicions that exist throughout the county regrading how the powerful advocates know how to mobilize, organize and save sacred cows, maybe to the detriment of others.

  39. Dawg93 says:

    If I were you, I’d make backup plans for your child’s pre-K education this year. We’re in the same boat and have already arranged to keep our child in her current preschool in case pre-K is either eliminated altogether or watered down severely. I can’t imagine it will stay in its current form in DeKalb.

    And to answer your question – there are basically 2 options on the table in terms of cutting pre-K:

    1. Eliminate the entire program and direct the state lottery funds to private facilities (doubtful they can accomplish this in such a short period of time).

    2. Keep the program but eliminate the extra $2.7M that DeKalb spends to supplement the funds from the state lottery. I don’t know the details of how the program would look under this option, but I can’t imagine it would be a good pre-K program.

    My guess is they pick #2 because option #1 would put a LOT of families in a bind to find a pre-K program in less than 2 months. The best programs are basically full. Cutting it entirely would require too much legwork to privatize it in such a short amount of time and quite frankly I don’t think it could get done.

    What I’ve pushed for (with emails to the Board and face-to-face interaction with Nancy Jester, Don McChesney & Pam Speaks) is to keep pre-K in it’s current form for this school year, then take this next year to determine if we should privatize it and make that happen for 2013-2014 if it’s determined we should. Gwinnett & Cobb schools don’t have pre-K, they’re all in private preschools/daycares Fulton has it in some of their schools, although I’m not sure why they have it in some and not others.

    After hearing the additional $12M shortage due to the lower tax digest, which puts DCSS at $85M over budget, I have little hope that pre-K will stay in its current form. Which basically will cost me around $10k to keep our daughter in preschool. Ouch.

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