Full disclosure: We painstakingly put together documentation that we believe showed that budget cuts were not made as directed by the school board. This documentation formed the basis for this article. Then we sent this documentation to Paul Womack on July 15, 2012. We use software (not Outlook) that reports back on when and for how long important e-mails were opened and, presumably, read. He has never opened the documentation we sent, even though it went to both his DCSS e-mail and his personal e-mail.
Now, though, Paul Womack is dishonestly using the copyrighted DeKalb School Watch masthead and the copyrighted first paragraph of our article, The HR and Budget Reports: 2008 – 2011, without permission, combined with his own narrative — designed to look as though it all was published in DeKalb School Watch — in a campaign flyer. He has no shame.
Womack’s arrogance and dishonesty are only two of the many reasons why DeKalb School Watch endorses JIM McMAHAN for District 4.
Recently, Paul Womack called for an investigation of the school system’s finances. He is outraged at the notion that in May, 2010 the Board directed the system to make over $100 million in cuts to the 2011-12 school budget, that now it appears, a majority of which were never made, causing the current budgetary emergency.
This approved budget was supposed to have cut the following for the 2011-12 school year:
- 150 Central Office Staff
- Reduction magnet points by 20 (teachers)
- Eliminated 200 para pros (actual vote only approved cutting 100 paras)
- Reduce paras an additional 61 through attrition
- Cut 59 media clerks**
- Cut 18 CTSS**
- Reduce Asst Principals by 10 through attrition
- Reduce counselors by 10 through attrition
- Increase class size by 2 (and reduce associated number of teachers)
- High school summer school was to be provided through DOLA only
- Cut Montessori by $96,000 (by blending programs)
- Cut $4,000,000 from transportation via efficiency plan (satellite hubs for magnets/choice)
- Eliminate 8 points from DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts
- Eliminate 8 points from the single gender program (? didn’t know we actually had this)
- Collapse Alternative programs (Truancy, Night and Transition) to save $637,790
- Eliminate $2.2 million payment to Academy of Lithonia Charter (but was it just given to another charter instead? Net – 0 savings?)
- Reduce JV athletics by 25% – $313,420 savings
- Eliminate summer interns (save $277,000)
- Eliminate Targeted Assistance points ($3,965,000)
- Eliminate Corp Health & Wellness program ($159,520)
- Restructure textbook payment (save $500,000)
- Reduce small schools points, reduce specials, consolidate/itinerant (save $3,200,000)
Don’t many of those items sound familiar? Paul insists that we are having to revisit the same cuts because most of the cuts were never actually made. Thus he called for an investigation.
Since the board insisted that an investigation must be voted on by the board, and then subsequently voted down an investigation, we decided to dig up some data ourselves. We wanted to know exactly what the budget was proposed to be compared to what actually occurred for the 2011-12 school year.
Below is a sampling of what we found.
16,547 employees (17,885 total, minus 1,338 substitutes)
proposed operating budget:
actual operating budget:
total budget for salaries: $682,700,557.50
October FTE count: 98,815
15,751 employees (17,376 total, minus 1,625 substitutes)
proposed operating budget:
actual operating budget:
total budget for salaries: $685,513,110.53
October FTE count: 99,406
15,615 employees (16,668 total, minus 1053 substitutes)
proposed operating budget:
actual operating budget: $836,598,734,201
total budget for salaries: $672,341,959.87
October FTE count: 98,115
14,962 employees (16,207 total, minus 1245 substitutes)
proposed operating budget: $746.64 million
actual operating budget: $807,823,774
total budget for salaries: $645,373,862.33
October FTE count: 000
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. Last year, in May 2011, 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)
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 at least eight buildings have closed and consolidated! Where are the savings?
Interestingly, after increasing from $682,700,557 in 2008 to $685,513,110 in 2009 (mostly due to an increase in the payroll for “miscellaneous activities”) the budget for the schoolhouse personnel decreased from $672,341,959 in 2010, to $645,373,862 in 2011. That is a savings of $26,968,097 (about $3.1 million of which was a reduction in that ‘miscellaneous activities’ category).
In digging deeper, we discovered that the vast majority of cuts to personnel were done at the schoolhouse. Download the document below to see how from 2008-09, the school system cut (mostly through attrition) 424 people who work directly with children from the payroll. Then, from 2009-10, another 379 were cut. And from 2010-11, 176 more were let go. The Year-Over-Year grand total shows that of the net total loss of 1216 employees, 979 of them worked directly with students, as teachers or other professionals in the schoolhouse.
What is most disturbing about the data we collected is that only about 1 out of every 3 employees (currently only 32.3%) are teachers! Only 1/3 of our entire school system staff actually functions as a classroom teacher of some sort. This includes Gifted Classroom Teacher, Kindergarten, Librarian/Media Specialist, Lottery Pre-K, Middle School Explore Teacher, Military Science, Parapro Preschool, Parapro and Special Education Parapro.
With Atkinson’s proposed cuts to the 2012-13 school year budget (already approved by a 5-4 vote from the board) that include decimating parapros, media specialists and special educators, we are very concerned that the ratio of teachers to other staff will further degrade into obscurity.
*PAUL IS CORRECT: The published 2011 general operating budget, approved by the board was $746.64 million – a decrease of $104.47 million from the 2010 budget of $851.11 million. However, in actuality, the 2011 budget spent was $807,823,774 — fully $61.6 million over the approved projected budget for 2011. Add to this, the $30+ million discovered by Atkinson’s new CFO to have never been accounted for in the books by Marcus Turk – and we are virtually back at zero cuts. Well, except for those pesky teachers, paras and media center staff.
See page 7 of the published 2011 board approved budget below:
**Further, check out the year by year comparison Employee Counts (below) as presented in monthly reports by HR. These show that although many people left their jobs, there was a significant number of new hires – perhaps in different departments – allowing for attrition loss in the classroom, but using some of the savings to employ others elsewhere. Overall, there was a net loss of 735 staff in 2009-10, a net loss of 434 staff in 2010-11 and a net loss of only 47 staff in 2011-12.