Are we ‘cutting off our noses to spite our faces’?

Today at 12:30, the board will be asked to “RIF” even more employees – including an additional 250 teachers. Atkinson has already admitted to reducing nearly 600 teachers through ‘attrition’ – so looks like we will be losing close to 850 teachers – as well as 120 more parapros — even though the public statement is ‘we have not cut teachers’.

Item D.1 on the agenda of the School Board’s Called Meeting for today (7/11/2012) at 12:30 PM:

Requested Action

Pursuant to Board of Education Policy GBKA (Personnel Lay-Off), it is requested that the Board of Education approve a Reduction in Force Plan to not exceed 120 paraprofessional positions and 250 teacher positions as a result of the FY2013 approved Budget. This action is necessary due to a 2 student increase in class sizes and the restructuring of the Pre-Kindergarten program.

This is in addition to the cuts below approved at the last meeting:

  • The property taxes in DeKalb county were raised by one full millage point.
  • All employees are subject to 2 more furlough days on top of the already scheduled furlough days.
  • 70 more people in the central office will lose their job
  • Pre-k programs will be reduced to only what the state funds provide
  • 52 magnet teachers will lose their magnet job
  • 28 Montessori teachers will lose their magnet job
  • Transportation to special programs: DECA, magnet, themes AMS and STT remains unchanged
  • Transportation for field trips will be cut by $1.6 million
  • Additional transportation (efficiency plan) will be cut $700,000
  • 200 general ed parapros will lose their jobs
  • 25 media specialists will lose their jobs
  • 29 (all remaining) media clerks will lose their jobs
  • 10 SROs will lose their jobs
  • Overtime pay for extra activities will be reduced by $5 million
  • Fernbank will have to cut $1.9 million from its programs budget
  • 10 Asst Principals lost through attrition will not be replaced
  • 10 counselors lost through attrition will not be replaced
  • 20 interpreters will lose their jobs
  • The summer work schedule is reduced to 4 – 10 hour days
  • Employees will have to subsidize health insurance by an additional $35.57/month
  • Employees will have to subsidize dental insurance by an additional $16.02/month
  • Regular Ed Class sizes will increase by 2
  • Special Ed Class sizes will increase by 2

Below is the original Excel spreadsheet with all of the columns expanded.

The REAL Proposed Budget Cuts FY 2013 (EXPANDED)

Also, we are unable to get a true handle on exactly how many central office staff have been cut. Many of the magnet teachers and maintenance workers were considered CO staff, and were moved out from under the CO budget into other budgets. We cannot tell if the administration has performed the cuts recommended by the study commissioned last fall. Results were released in January. Some of the documents can be found under our Facts & Sources tab. The AJC report is below:


But then, here’s the part we don’t get. We downloaded the QBE allocations for DeKalb from the State. Click on the graphic to view the allotments and print it out.

According to this document, we have been allocated funding for 6,002.42 teachers. How many do we have now that about 850 have been cut? We have been allocated funding for 153.66 subject specialists (also teachers), 191.84 counselors, 88.45 tech specialists, 168.51 Media Center personnel, 46.57 special ed leaders, 39.30 psychologists, 39.30 VT/SW (not sure what that is), 194.31 secretaries, 154.97 assistant principals, 133.00 principals, 6 assistant superintendents, 1 accountant and 1 superintendent.

The state allocates $350,075,523 for direct instruction (teachers), $8,212,359 for central office, $19,379,838 for school administration, and $22,896,304 for facility maintenance (an area we get punished for by the state for having too many unused seats/buildings/small schools). This is all just money from the state QBE formula. The local contribution adds more and then there is an additional $30-50 million in Title 1, depending on who you talk to.

So the state, after calculating what they determine DeKalb should be allotted as described above, then subtracted $63,865,717 in what is known as an ‘austerity cut’*, and sent DeKalb $351,419,912 plus $4,477,864 for pupil transportation (327 drivers), and $1,640,516 for nurses, for a grand total of $357,538,292. [*It is up to local taxpayers to make up the difference in what the state does not fund or chooses to cut from calculated funding.]

As one blogger pointed out in the comments at the AJC blog, why is it that the administration seems bent on sticking to state funding when it comes to parapros and media specialist (which we think may now have dipped below funded levels) but not when it comes to transportation?

Like we have said several times, school system leaders should build a system from scratch. Begin with these state allocations as the bare bones minimum and then see what you can afford to add given the local and federal funds. We will be following up after these cuts to ensure that at the very least, the above stated funding from the state is carried out completely as it is the state that apparently funds the classroom.

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301 Responses to Are we ‘cutting off our noses to spite our faces’?

  1. momfromhe11 says:

    So, there were 7 members in attendance (a quorum, I believe), but 4 or more were opposed. So Dr. Walker calls a recess and then announces the meeting will continue tomorrow (when, one might presume, more members will be present). nAm I paranoid to think I see something here?

  2. momfromhe11 says:

    Where does this say that teachers cannot speak to the Board as private citizens? They can expressly say so and wear their school shirts. Parents and members of the public do so.

  3. atlantawombat says:

    No–you are not paranoid. Put nothing past the palace. Back room bargaining and bribery. It will be interesting (or perhaps “scary” is the better word) to see what they try to pull tomorrow.

  4. atlantawombat says:

    This level of corruption is like a cancer. The only way to heal the body is to remove the malignant cells. To ensure remission, a bout of radiation may be required.

    Crawford Lewis is gone, but we did not excise all of the malignant cells. Thus, the remaining malignancy started to grow again. And it looks like we contracted another terminal disease (Dr. Atkinson) while we were still reeling from Lewis.

    Radical surgery will be required to cure the DCSD patient. A band-aid and an aspirin will not fix this.

  5. howitworks says:

    State Funded Pre-K teachers must be state certified Pre-K teachers! See Bright from the Start requirements. My children were in Private Hope funded Pre-K and they had to have a State Certified teacher with a 4 year degree plus 1 aide. Then on my second child the daycare dropped the program 1/2 way through the year, the only quality program I could find was in a Private funded by myself program. I had to pay $4,000 for 9-12 with a non- certified teacher and aid at the Baptist Church.

  6. Time to cut all Education in the Box programs. America’s Choice and Success for All needs to be scuttled and teachers retained. Seems easy to me. How much for these two programs……

  7. DCSSUnemployed says:

    Curious to know what’s going to happen to those teachers who are unable to go to that fair tomorrow… it’s not their fault if they had vacation planned prior to the short notice.

  8. dekalbite2 says:

    I don’t know what Success for All costs, but America’s Choice cost $6,000,000 last year. Plus of course all those millions for the non teaching Instructional Coaches that America’s Choice requires.

    Click on Other Expenditure Information
    Click Payments
    Local Boards of Education
    Choose DeKalb
    Choose Federal Expenditures
    Export to csv file and sort for America’s Choice

  9. justwatch says:

    Except that Walker is against this. I think they are trying to give Atkinson time to come up with a Plan B.

  10. So, what do you think was happening during that 30-minute delay following the 15-minute “break” at today’s meeting? This board does back-room deals.

  11. DCSSParent says:

    @momfromhe11 – The policy doesn’t state it directly. It is communicated verbally, in no uncertain terms, to employees of DCSS by the leaders of the building. Being a former employee of the system, I heard it every year. Contact anyone above your principal and your job is on the line.

  12. food for thought says:

    People with jobs pay taxes, buy food, shop and spend. So if all of us, no matter what county we live in(mostly Dekalb), if we don’t have money, we stop paying folks and taxes don’t get paid. If the one mill was to raise almost 15 million, it won’t happen because alot of the people who were paying the taxes can’t, NO JOB, believe me I have been looking. We will be visiting this same MESS in March 2013. Not enough money, the tax digest was less than projected.GET READY FOLKS…

  13. Vexed in Dekalb says:

    There are better ways to treat people.

    Assuming the displaced people do get a job, what will their performance be? It is cowardly to rif staff/teachers in the “dark” of summer after they gave up opportunities to be elsewhere—employed or unemployed—and make preparation (selling or buying homes or cars, moving….etc…. or planning a family)

    And now that the school system (Board and executives) have proven themselves both disloyal and incompetent, good luck with retaining people next year….

    Where is the school calendar? Who is recreating the school schedules with 2 more students per class?

    Teachers had better join a professional organization and quit being timid!

  14. Vexed in Dekalb says:

    Has it been that many months ago when the Board members were congratulating themselves of being such good money managers…. Mr. Womack and Dr. Walker were, in a rare agreement, praising Mrs. Tyson and Marcus Turk for their ability to balance budgets while Cobb County and Gwinnett were doing poorly???? Well, guess what folks: Gwinnett and Cobb teachers have kept their steps and pay raises!

  15. dekalbschoolwatch says:


    The DeKalb Board of Education Called Meeting scheduled to re-convene on
    Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 10:00am in the J. David Williamson Board Room
    in the Robert R. Freeman Administrative Center at the DeKalb County School
    System’s Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial
    Boulevard, Stone Mountain has been postponed. A re-schedule date and time
    will be posted as mandated by the Open Meeting laws.

  16. Cigi says: Please see this article.
    Special ed paras got letters in the mail today stating that they will not have a job next year I have a friend who got a letter She is trained in special education and is at a state school earning her certification in special education. She has also been in classes and training offered by the school system. She and her husband have a special need child. She cannot attend the reassignment fair. It is only for certified staff members. She attempted to get information today.

    She has no one to talk to concerning answers. Five of the six people in charge of hiring are no longer employed. Their jobs were eliminated, so three of them retired and one left HR. The person in charge of subs had her job terminated.

  17. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    We DO have an agenda! We are tired of listening to these band-aid solutions! We have absolutely concluded that the only way to save this system is to tear it down and rebuild it from scratch. That can be done in several ways and we need to choose a direction and begin reconstruction. There is NO WAY to make a silk purse out of the sow’s ear that is DeKalb County Schools.

  18. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    Jester said she understood the need to cut spending, “but,” she said, “this is not victory in the classroom, and I have a problem with that.”

    The $730 million general fund budget was approved by a slim majority June 21. Jester voted with the opposition, saying more non-classroom expenses, such as busing for select children at magnet and theme schools, should have been eliminated.

    Board Chairman Eugene Walker voted for the budget, yet announced Wednesday that he also opposed the layoffs.

    Walker noted that teachers had already turned in signed contracts for employment starting in the fall.

    “I want to honor those contracts,” Walker said. “I cannot issue contracts in good faith and then three weeks before school opens tell them they don’t have jobs. That’s why I can’t vote for it.”

    Only Jay Cunningham, who voted for the budget despite oft-expressed reservations about cutting teachers, said he’d vote for the layoffs.

    Oh brother…

  19. Dekalbite2 says:

    The BOE drug their feet as they did not want to make the tough decisions. Many of these decisions regarding closing 14 schools, downsizing Fernbank Science Center, eliminating transportation to special programs and schools, cutting excess APs and Counselors, cutting non teaching Coach positions, changing SROs from 12 month to 10 months, etc. we’re too tough for the BOE to make so we could get our finances in order. Instead they pushed them down the road and they are still pushing them down the road. That’s why we have no surplus and are borrowing money just to meet our payroll. They just figured they would keep raising class sizes because that was the simple and easy way to balance the budget.

    Dr. Atkinson may be in over her head, but she is not nearly as responsible for this mess as the prior administration and the Board of Education members. They refused to make the necessary changes, and now the students and taxpayers will pay for their incompetence.

  20. dekalbite2 says:

    So Womack is putting his head in the sand and pretending this problem doesn’t exist. How did this guy get to be the Chairman of the BOE? This is an abdication of leadership.

  21. Truer, sadder words were never spoken Dekalbite2. Sickening.

  22. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    Do you mean Walker? Gene Walker is the Chairman of the School Board.

  23. dekalbite2 says:

    Oops! Should read:
    So Walker is putting his head in the sand and pretending this problem doesn’t exist. How did this guy get to be the Chairman of the BOE? This is an abdication of leadership.

    Easy to confuse Walker and Womack.

    Look at this video of Womack regarding the pay raise he voted for Lewis:

  24. teachermom says:

    Do you know how long your friend worked for the county? I am so sorry to hear this. But not surprised…

  25. The Deal says:

    I love this synopsis. Very clear. There is NO reason we shouldn’t make our board members and superintendent answer the question of why this method is not being used.

  26. Kiko Jewel says:

    Common sense should tell HR that when you increase class size, the number of teachers needed decreases. Why wasn’t this done correctly the first time? $160,000 salary is a heck of a lot of money to confuse simple math logic. Hire a certified HR person and get rid of the magnet buses.

  27. RIF'd Dekalb Teacher says:

    They just posted a health/P.E. position on PATS today. One of those 7 teachers could have kept his/her job…

  28. teacher1234 says:

    HELP!! After looking at the list of personnel to be hired, all Title I schools using Success for All will be hiring a faciliatator for that program and a employee in charged of “data”. These positions are to be funded by Title I money. These are positions that can be used to pay for extra teachers using Title I money. Many times a principal will lower class size by categorizing a teacher as a “Title I” teacher. That is two positions per school which could lower class size in two different grade levels. You don’t see Gwinnett wasting their precious Title I money like this. I am sure that those instructional coaches will have some of those new titles.

  29. Tanya Graham says:

    I think it is very obvious that there has not been enough due diligence into all of the expenditures made by the School System. The Board relies on the information provided to them by the superintendent and her staff. The Board does not exercise any due diligence themselves. I find it unfortunate that sometimes it appears that suggestions are made by the board members with no thorough thought process. The most important part of the school system is the students and the teachers. I like how Mrs. Copelin-Wood says don’t make cuts that affect the “school house.” A picture pops in my mind of a traditional school house. The proposed budget cuts is not a battle between teacher pay and magnet school transportation. Both are important. It is imperative that we pay our teachers, but it is also essential that there be bus transportation to magnet schools. Arabia Mountain High School and Champion Middle School have students from all over the county. For AMHS, our students have to be dropped off by their parents at 4 satellite locations. If we cut magnet and theme school transportation, 891 of 1400 students at AMHS will not have a ride to school. So, if we have teachers at AMHS, there won’t be enough students to teach. Further, the 891 who could not attend AMHS would have to return to their “home” schools, which are probably not able to handle a large influx of students one month before school starts on August 13th. What about canceling bus transportation for neighborhood schools? Those students can get to school right down the street or around the corner easier than the students that attend magnet and theme schools… See how ridiculous that sounds? The $1.8M spent on magnet and theme school transportation does not cover the $6M hit that our teachers will take. What needs to happen is the superintendent’s number cruncher, Mr. Michael Perrone, needs to effectively evaluate all expenditures with a view on cutting items that do not negatively impact students OR teachers. Cut the obsolete ITBS test. That would save $20M. Period. Cut SACS accreditation for elementary schools. Cut “Success For All” reading program. Eliminate “America’s Choice.” Review some of the vendor contracts to see where some fat can be trimmed. Don’t just casually talk about eliminating school bus transportation one month before school starts for almost 3,000 DeKalb County students, especially since that $1.8M cut won’t keep our teachers from losing more pay. The CFO, Mr. Perrone, and his staff, should do their jobs and evaluate every vendor contact, every expenditure, every position, and make cuts of items that are inefficient, obsolete, and just plain unnecessary. Cut some of the 6-figure staff instead of teacher pay. Keep what is essential; eliminate what is ineffective. The cuts that will save our school system’s teachers AND students need to be done with a scalpel, not an AX.

  30. The Deal says:


  31. Under-utilized schools will vastly change after Title I goes away and so do the checks that are sent out for transportation reimbursement from the non-AYP schools to the school of their choice. Please don’t suggest we close more schools when an abandoned building brings more crime, more eyesores, greater loss of property values, greater loss of community involvement, greater loss of individualized attention for the children. A student / teacher ratio of 1:12 sounds ideal for elementary school, but middle and high school students can definitely be larger than that. Most state colleges have handreds of students so there is nothing wrong with preparing the kids for that type of atmosphere, but the pre-K and elementary kids are so young and need that extra time and attention. A lot of learning disorders do not have to be so crippling if caught young, but that cannot happen in a large institutionalized school with 30 to a classroom. Chaos begets chaos. And we have a lot of chaos right now. What will this school year bring?

    By the way, DSW’s list of your U.S. constituional rights includes:
    ” Petition: The First Amendment says that people have the right to appeal to government in favor of or against policies that affect them or that they feel strongly about. ”

    This is a right that is being denied by our local government, with the help of our school board, in the case of the cell towers on school grounds. The people who live near these schools should have been informed about the proposal by T-mobile in time to address their concerns. They were not informed and the cell towers are planned for a Special Administrative Permit to be signed by Burrell Ellis, our county CEO, but not to take effect until Aug. 1 which will be AFTER the election.

    The referendum on the ballot will likely be the only way to let your government officials know how you feel about a cell tower planned for your school, or your neighborhood, so please vote competently on this question. Regardless of what anyone has told you, a yes vote could do damage to your own school or neighborhood because all the telecomms need is one door to be opened to them to construct a tower on school grounds and a federal law kicks in that over-rides local control. It will mean that any telecomm can make a similar offer for any school and cannot be denied equal acccess. This is an issue that truly requires all of DeKalb to work together to send a strong message that “NO, we do not want these towers at our schools or near our homes, and we do not want our neighbors to suffer with the unknown effects of RF radiation for the next 30 years either!”

    Please help us educate as many people as possible before July 31 about the fact that this question is on the ballot and it requires their thoughtful consideration. A NO vote will only mean the cell tower companies must find other ways to accomplish their goals without putting our children in harm’s way

  32. Which is why SCW was asking about this and a lot of folks here made fun of her or thought her questions were pointless. Pay attention people! There is no such thing as a stupid question – only stupid answers.

  33. Aug. 31, 2011 (less than one year ago) H. Paul Womack,Jr. addresses a group of taxpayers upset about the leasing of public school land for cell tower construction without alerting them and Womack takes the time to brag about how it was not about the money, in fact, the school system is in great shape, maybe the best in the state. And, I quote:

    “Well, let me, let me respond to the taxes. THE SCHOOL BOARD DOES NOT RAISE TAXES… since 2000. Ah, I was chairmen of the Budget Committee WE CUT 104 MILLION DOLLARS OUT OF THE BUDGET. A lot of it was in the area that most people were concerned about. And that was in staff. And we got rid of a lot of things that we shouldn’t have. That we know of. This year the administration was pushing through another budget and I was able to stop it. I’m vice chair. And WE CUT ANOTHER 15 MILLION. We are NOT going into the classroom. We have INCREASED THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS. But we have, I think, AS GOOD OF A FISCAL RECORD AS ANY SCHOOL SYSTEM, PROBABLY BETTER THAN MOST. We did not do what the county did – raise property taxes, what? 28 percent? We didn’t do that. ” – H. Paul Womack, Jr.

    Full text here:

  34. radiation is on the way, remember? cell towers, wireless infrastructure … just wait till the newly elected school board members find out what is in store for them Aug. 1 after the election is over and the cell towers start going up in the middle of uninformed communities. They will inherit a mess!

  35. Atkinson may not be responsible for the mess here entirely, but she isn’t innocent either. And who is very responsible? Ramona Tyson. She should be investigated and fired for not making the cuts as directed, for not budgeting the interest on SPLOST III and for not budgeting for fixed expenses.

  36. justwatch says:

    The school system is the second largest employer in DeKalb. All those other elected officials who have turned a blind eye to the dysfunction that is DCSS should be ashamed.

  37. Murphey says:

    @Tanya Graham – NO! We must NOT cut the ITBS test. That is the only nationally norm-referenced test that our students take. It’s a “real” test, not like the CRCT. The CRCT only assesses how students do on the Georgia curriculum and GADOE gets to decide what a passing score is. I want my child assessed on a REAL test. In high school the PSAT/SAT/ACT fulfill this role but the ITBS is essential in elementary and middle school.

  38. what a sham says:

    I am sorry to hear that. I really hope my sons’s para will be in the classroom on the first day of school. There is no way his SID/PID class could survive without the paras (and yes they have 2.)

    I have already removed my other children from DCSD but there is no private school option for severe/profound.

  39. Bye bye says:

    Nope. Non-state reimbursed busing is a luxury we can’t afford. It is time to make Arabia Mt a neighborhood school as it was originally planned. Theme school parents, along with magnet parents, have far to much power.

  40. anon says:

    anyone who thinks that there’s anything really “off” with money and board behavior maybe should filter info to the FBI…

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